Question Time
Category: Writing
Tags: Writers Abroad writing writers

You know that thing where you look at the WA planner and realise itís your turn to write the weekly blog post and youíve been occupied with visitors all week and your head is devoid of ideas and other members seem to have far better ones than you do. That.

So I sat down to chew over what I could write about. After a few minutes looking at a mental blank sheet of paper, my thoughts turned to other things. Chief among them was an author session Iíve been invited to do at a literary festival soon. Iíve done a few of those in recent years (pic of me above signing copies at one) and I always enjoy the opportunity to talk with readers and other writers in person. You get some great insights and they are an excellent sounding board.

Occasionally, though, you come across someone who wrong foots you with an undiplomatic or just slightly daft remark. These are the ones that leave me struggling for a response.

So, today Iím imagining that I have carte blanche to be honest with impunity. Here are five selected observations/questions Ė all of which have been addressed to me Ė and my imaginary responses.

Will I like your book?

Since I donít know what you like to read, itís hard for me to answer that. Naturally, I hope you will, but if you donít, please donít give it one star on Goodreads without saying what didnít appeal to you about it.

How much money do you make from writing?

I think you might object if I asked you what you earn. You would be surprised at how low the figure is, anyway, at least for fiction. Very few authors make a living from writing fiction.

I lent my copy of your book to all my friends.

I hope your friends enjoy it, too. And if they do, perhaps they will buy it as a present for their friends and family.

Iíd love to have a copy of your book! (I.e. please give me one).

Iím so pleased youíd like to read it, and you can buy it from these retail outlets (list).

Iíve just finished a novel. Would you read it for me?

I lead a busy life. I work, write and have plenty of other activities to keep me occupied. I also do this for a number of writing colleagues already. So, no, Iím afraid I donít have time. And if I criticised it you would probably be very unhappy. I suggest you find a writing buddy/buddies and/or a writing group and share your work with them.

This is all tongue in cheek, of course, and the vast majority of the time one has sensible and enlightening conversations with readers.

As fellow writers, what tactless questions have you had to parry? And how did you reply?†

A Sisterly Inspiration
Category: Writing
Tags: writing content

As we were checking out of our hotel in Slovenia last month I cast my eye over the souvenir stand. Sitting in a wicker basket were a pair of hand knitted socks. Just before we'd left on holiday a package had squirmed through the letter box at home and, yet another, pair of hand knitted socks from my sister fell to the floor. The urge to return the favour proved irresistable. In the spirit of 'coals to Newcastle' I purchased a pair and sent them flying westwards with a suitably frivolus message in the enclosed card.

About a week later a picture of my sister's feet encased in her new socks came through together with a heartfelt thank you. We fell into chatting about my writing and her craft work. She complimented me on my embryonic writing career and I complimented her on her knitting and quilting. My sister knits hundreds of pairs of socks with elegant patterns and designs and, when she isn't spoiling her grandchildren, makes home made quilts.

She gives them away. For our house warming present she sent us a beautiful quilt featuring the state tree of Maine, a glorious pine. I've told her several times how beautiful it is and didn't see any reason why I should stop so I said it again. My sister confessed to having been urged to sell the things she makes. But she refuses for two reasons.

First the materials don't cost very much. The only real expense she incurs is her time but more importantly she said that if she began charging it would change the dynamic and rob her of the joy she gets in creating. Because she gives things away she feels free to express herself exactly as she likes, without compromise, with total honesty.

There was a seed of inspiration in what she said. While I have no intention of matching my sister's generousity in my writing career what she said about the importance of expressing oneself as genuinely as humanly possible, no matter what the discipline, has to be true. I'd spent the previous month puzzling over what sort of shape my writing career should take and my sister provided the final piece. Whatever comes out this escapade, good, bad or indifferent, it will be exactly what I want to express, without compromise, with total honesty.

Life is sometimes the excuse...
Category: Writing

Having read everyone's writing visions, I am encouraged by seeing some common ground. There are points put forward that resonate with me, some on the negative, others on the positive.

I will be posting my vision later tomorrow, after morning Spanish with a friend, followed by a widowed neighbour's trip for coffee and shopping.

That last sentence feels less of an excuse not to get more writing done than it would have previously. I now see how other members have things going on in their lives which impede the desire to put pen to paper or tap away at the keyboard. The impracticality of dropping everything and creating that masterpiece seems to be shared by most of us.

I have been away for a few days - enjoyable but tiring - so I decided to ignore today's chores and that has proven quite productive in other ways. I began the process of printing paper copies, some for the first time, of all my poetry. I intend to start blogging this week and will begin by posting a weekly poem. My flash fiction is next on the agenda, then a move to my short stories, and so on. It will take some time but I desperately need such order in my writing life.

At this point, all I require to do is keep my motivation high. It's a bit like yoga - one is always tranquil and stress-free during each session - all that's needed is to maintain that wonderful feeling!

†††† † Images courtesy of pinterest.com


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