Writing from Home
I went to the second Alison Baverstock talk today, part of the Kingston Readers’ Festival. Tonight was on the subject of Writing from Home and featured the authors Sophie King (journalist Jane Bidder) and Catherine Jones/ Kate Lace, it tackled the topic of writing from home on two fronts; the obvious physical act of writing from home plus the use of what you know as inspiration.
On the act of writing from home, it was nice to hear others acknowledge how hard it is to write whilst looking after small children. It was also quite comforting that two of the authors actually, when they were starting out some years ago, writing with small children like me, were actually pretty much living round the corner from me, so not that it actually makes any difference at all but it’s nice to know that two local writers in a similar situation to me made it!
On the subject of using your life as inspiration, it was nice to hear how other people take aspects of their life in their writing. It’s been quite timely for me, I’ve resurrected recently an old project, set on a street not too dissimilar to the road I live on. I’ve actually been writing it longhand after a suggestion from the first talk and so far it’s going well, I’d been abandoning various projects over the years partially because I feel I’m developing so much as a writer and writing something takes so long, that within a few months of working on something, the beginning is a completely different standard to the middle and I feel I’ve lost continuity of style. So the resurrected old project is an attempt from me to rewrite the beginning of an old story of mine using what I know now, that I didn’t know at the time.
Other interesting bits that came up in the question and answer session included:
- if you’re going to use a pen name pick a surname roughly in the middle of the alphabet, as when people go into a bookstore they tend to first look in the middle bookshelf at the top apparently, also choose a name that’s easy to spell. Funnily enough the pen name I use (and no it’s not Lacer) is pretty close to the middle of the alphabet, chosen because a) I needed one, people have trouble spelling my real name, I had visions of failed searches on Amazon (if only) b) the surname is quite tough and no nonsense, which I like and the name was chosen as it’s the same as a screen hero I’m a big fan of. They also said pen names were useful to provide a ‘fresh start’ for a writer.
- a chapter should be no more than 2000 words and have at least two big action events and a cliff hanger. The ideal book length these days is apparently 80,000 words as paper is getting expensive!
- not having a chance to write actually helps, as when you can write you get a ‘subliminal uprush’ and the ideas all come rushing out.
So, a good session. I ended up breaking my no fiction book buying rule and got two Sophie King books and an Alison Baverstock book as well. Buying some new fiction to read was such an amazing relief, regular readers will know I’ve been trying to get through the dregs of my to be read pile and it’s been dreary trying to get into books I’ve had for three years unread, so actually my rate of reading has dropped dramatically. So I literally felt like a dog with fresh prey between my teeth taking those books to the till and I want to devour them now, instead of picking over the left overs I have had!