Category Archives: Literary conversations

Writing Targets

I have just read a post by Steven James about writing targets and why many writers have them. You can read it here :

We all know about the words-per-day target, or the hours-per-day target but he questions whether either of these really work in actual writing life – other than for those who are required to submit a certain amount of copy each week to their editor, or they get fired. We are talking about novelists rather than journalists, here.

All writers have their own method of staying on task; for many it has to be some sort of routine whether it is quantity or schedule. Steinbeck believed in writing one page a day, ignoring your audience and only writing to one person instead. Others insist on getting up at O’dark thirty to complete their word count before the day begins, while there are those who operate at the other end of the spectrum and write as bats and owls go about their business. Joyce Carol Oates – a prolific writer of over 80 novels alone – insists she spends much of every day staring out of her window. Each to his or her own writing clock.

James concludes with the notion – derived from calculations that will produce a 90,000 word book per year – of writing 300 words/day for 300 days/year. I haven’t checked his math, but I’ll take his word for it and understand he is being ironic. For how frustrating would that be? To get to your word limit, and ‘limit’ is the word here – 300 words is nothing – and still have another page or three to go before your ideas are all down? I understand his point, though, which is to show us that writing does not have to be this all-day slog on the days when nothing is coming. That we do not have to sit for a certain number of hours or words, as some authors insist upon, and feel guilty when all we can do is look at a blank screen or spend several hours revising. (Or writing blogs about not writing!)

I have tried forcing myself to write – both by word count or time: it didn’t work. I ended up hating the story, and writing in general. And without fail, all of the forced writing didn’t fit into the end product, exactly because it was forced.

I do not write every day. I do think every day, though; my story and characters are floating around in my head as I go about my business. I wait until one of them says or does something, and then I need to get it down immediately.

Do not get in my way.

Once I have that idea down, I can be writing for hours and then re-reading and tweaking for days until the next fallow period of thinking sets in. Somehow,  I have managed to produce several  novels this way.

So, that’s how I work. My characters have been quite chatty recently and so there has been a lot of writing going on and I like where they are taking me. I will write as far as I can and then set myself some questions to ponder for the next stage, and the next, and eventually, there will be another novel come out of it.



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Working on it …

Just getting back into the swing of the backstory again – Felicity in Marriage Part Three is emerging from the brain percolator. It’s been bubbling away there on the back burner, giving off lots of tantalizing aromas and ideas, and now, finally, it’s at full strength and ready to be poured.

I’ll keep you updated …add-heat-espresso-maker

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July 19, 2017 · 8:59 am

Old Books

Given the choice, I would always choose the old, battered, secondhand book over the brand new version. I’m not sure what it is about old books – whether it’s the feel of the well-worn cover in my hands; whether it’s the faded name on the flyleaf written in an elaborate hand no longer seen nor aspired to these days; or whether it’s the idea that so many other people have used it, read it, carried it around with them. Well: maybe I am sure. It is all of those things combined.

I long to know who “Frances, Christmas 1940” was, other than being the recipient of a lovely collection of poems by Longfellow. Did she read every poem, I want to know, because there is no clue left on the pages: no pencilled-in thoughts or questions; no dog-eared corners; no tiny notes slipped between pages – Oh! the excitement that would cause! Perhaps Frances did not even like Longfellow and forced a thin smile in thanks for the unwanted present; or perhaps it was such a treasure that it remained unread, unopened, unappreciated on a shelf except for its cover which would be dusted religiously every Monday – that would be a shame indeed.

If a library is giving away books,or a second-hand book store is having a sale, I can’t walk past, and the idea of a book being tossed into a recycling bin and being mulched up is horrifying. While I know I cannot save every book I see, I certainly have come home with many more than I should. These books have all had a life and deserve to have it extended as long as possible.

Not that I can hang onto every book I save; please don’t imagine some crazy hoarder person gradually losing rooms to increasing piles of salvaged books. Some prove themselves to be worthy of the recycler’s chipper; some smugly hiding behind a very artistic and gripping cover, prove themselves unable to live up to the outward show, but I still can’t be the one to actually throw them away. I guiltily pack them up and hand them over to the nearest charity shop in the belief that someone else will not only be intrigued, as I was, by the cover, but might also find the content worthwhile, too.
One book-lover’s trash, hopefully, is another book-lover’s treasure.

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Wickham’s Wife

In a divergence from my usual posts about other writers and their novels, I thought I would introduce my new novel instead! Wickham’s Wife: A Backstory to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is now published. The cover image is taken from a 19th century playing card, and, considering the protagonist of the novel, seemed a most fitting background.
I am quite pleased with this story and hope readers will enjoy it also. Wickham’s Wife goes into the colorful back-story of that gentleman; his past, his secrets and his motivations are not quite what readers of Pride and Prejudice might have imagined! It covers more territory and time than Prudence and Practicality did, following Wickham from Cambridge to London to Ramsgate, back to London, and thence to Meryton, Brighton and back to London. We all know the hints given by Darcy in the original story with regards to Wickham’s past, but in this novel I hope to have filled out his character and presented him in a slightly different light than has previously been shone on him. After all, even Darcy couldn’t know exactly what his life was; even he admits to losing contact with him for over three years!
It has been great fun imagining how Wickham’s life unfolded between him refusing the living at Pemberley and his meeting with Darcy on the Meryton street, and has involved many hours of reading and research about the Regency lifestyle in London, Ramsgate and Brighton; particularly that of the Regency Dandy. Hopefully, I have managed to capture the essence of the time period as well as of the man.
Naturally, I bow to the imagination of the great lady herself whose vivid writing brought these ideas for her characters to light and upon which I depend for my inspiration. I often wonder what Austen would think if she knew just how much pleasure her writing has given to so many people, and just how much inspiration she has given to writers like me! I hope she would be pleased, or amused at least.
Wickham’s Wife is now available for download at Smashwords and at the e-bookstores Smashwords supplies: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes amongst others, and on Amazon.
Go to any of those sites and enjoy the free sample of Wickham’s Wife. Happy reading everyone.

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Backstory to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice #2

For those of you who have read Prudence and Practicality, this post is to advise that the next one is just steaming along and due for publishing early 2014. It is, happily, requiring much research of Ramsgate, Brighton, and  London during Regency times, and for those of you really familiar with Pride and Prejudice you will probably already be figuring out who and what this next novel deals with; suffice it to say that “the woman in whose character we were most unhappily deceived” plays a leading role, and we have all certainly been deceived by Darcy’s opinion of her!

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