What a great start to the week. I gave two talks on ” My Life and Works” and sold five books at each. The audience at these social gatherings are always so kind and friendly that they are a joy to do, even if I do have a half hour walk to a train station pulling my trolley. My fault for refusing to take the car!
It is always interesting to discover which part of the talk interests them most and it is usually the fact that I used to tutor dyslexics. It is amazing how many people tell me of someone in their family with the same problem and the stories about help or lack of it depending on where they live.
Tonight I am taking some poems to a folk club as they sometimes allow me to recite.Hopefully by Saturday my printer will be operating and I can start advertising our next Charity Gig. Pity I’ll miss Crawley Book Fair but I do like my annual weekend in a hotel and this time it’s Cardiff.
On Sunday the Sea Scribes had a stall at a craft fair at the High Salvington Windmill. We were displaying our books and offering to sign them.
People came up and expressed an interest, one lady said to me “I have read one of your books and enjoyed it,” but she didn’t buy another. Maybe it was because our pitch was next to a stall selling second hand books for 25p each!
It was a beautiful day and the entertainment was good, a bunch of Morris Dancers and a mechanical organ. The non fiction books always go down well, especially if they have ‘Worthing’ in the title. Never mind, we made some good contacts with a local charity and look forward to working with them on an event of our own later in the year.
I was cheered today when a friend who had bought one of my books a year ago said she had started to read it although she didn’t usually read books. That was “Never Run Away” and it does seem to chime with people. How many women have secretly wished they could?
Have you ever got to that stage when you are starting a new project but you aren’t sure if it is good enough to continue?
I have a couple of unfinished novels packed away somewhere but this is a different feeling. I think it needs to stew in my imagination for a while until I have enough to start writing. When your work is character driven, as mine is, you need to be really certain about your characters before you put them into a situation. Then they usually behave consistently and the story makes sense. I need to flesh out the personalities and backgrounds of the people in my next book before I concentrate on the plot.
Meanwhile we have a Craft Fair on Sunday where I am taking a few of my most popular novels, “Never Run Away” and “Never Pretend,” as well as the latest two, just in case there are some local readers who would be willing to purchase them. I think there will be a number of second hand books for sale so I don’t hold out much hope.
The more I read the less confidence I have in my own work. For one thing, most books I enjoy are twice as long as the ones I write. What is it, I wonder, that makes it possible to keep a plot going that long? If it is, as I suspect, a deeper understanding of what the characters are thinking and feeling, then I have to introduce that. If it is a broadening of the plot to include more related events, I need to try that. It gives me something to aim at and I’ll let you know if any of it works!
If they do, I’d like to enter Sticky’s latest edition of “The Complete Spanner’s manual – Lambretta (third Edition) isbn 9780954821654. I can’t believe anyone can know so much and be able to take such great pictures but he’s done it!
A book I am reading at present uses the multiple first person. Each mini chapter is from a different point of view, but it is specified who at the start.
After writing five books in the third person I tried something similar and, knowing that a book written from a single viewpoint has to be really gripping or the reader starts to wonder about the other characters I also chose to use multiple viewpoints. This book was “A Lesson for the Teacher.”
This means one has to switch from person to person and make certain each individual has a clear and distinct ‘voice,’ attitude, set of opinions, including getting into the head of both male and female characters.
I think the most emotionally satisfying books are written from a single point of view – as long as the reader can identify with the protagonist but I have gone back to writing in the third person in “A Bend in the Lane” as there are too many folk in the story to use any other method.
Do you use your local library? I am lucky, as not only do we have a library in the town but we also have a mobile library that parks quite near the house. This is the one I use and get four books each time, which usually last me a fortnight.
The main library also serves as a computer centre and has talks and group meetings. This is where I took the four copies of my most recent book to add to the County’s collection. I donate four each time and enjoy picking up a copy if I see it and checking how often it has been taken out.
I also send a copy to any library in an area I have written about in a story, just to spread them around the country. They have gone to Wales, Oxfordshire and Kent as well as the West Midlands.
The mobile library is very efficient and if I order a book it usually arrives within a week, unless there are no copies in the country, which sometimes happens when the book is American. I do buy the odd book if I think it is one I will want to keep but they often end up in a charity shop or as a raffle prize as we have little room for books in our bungalow.I certainly couldn’t have a personal library as some folk have – I haven’t even got an office. I write on a laptop on the dining table. It stops me spending too much time on the computer as I have to pack up for meals!
Thinking it was about time I wrote something about the writing process I asked myself what is it that helps a writer to do their own first edit?
We all try to spot spelling, punctuation and continuity errors before we send our work off but I don’t think everyone reads their written work out loud. I suppose it is easy with poetry but perhaps some folk think reading prose is boring and makes them doubt the worth of what they have written.
When we read in a familiar writing group we often find mistakes and correct them as we go along. Also, we get feed back as to whether the dialogue actually fits the character or the period, but if you do not belong to a group, what do you do? You could record yourself reading or just shut yourself away and try not to feel stupid! You don’t have to be an actor – if no-one else is listening just think of it as an alternative editing method. I believe you’ll find it useful.
Of course, nothing is as helpful as another pair of eyes!