I often say to people that one of the drawbacks of being a writer is the isolation. Essentially I make an agreement to write a book for a publisher and then for six months I am on my own in front of the computer. I am currently working on a book called MOTH GIRLS for Hot key Books. It’s going well and I am close to finishing it. But the last six or so months while I’ve been writing it has been me ALONE facing the screen placing one word after another on the page breathing life into characters and making bad things happen.
Or so I thought…..
It occurs to me that many other people are involved when I write a book.
Here are the ones I can think of.
Other writers: I read constantly, a book a week perhaps. In six months that’s 26 books. 26 other writers have contributed to the stuff in my head and my emotional state while I’m writing this book.
Writers who I know: people I talk to on the phone, have lunch with, email frequently. These are people who I try out ideas on.
My agent: she was the first one to hear the idea for MOTH GIRLS and she didn’t roll her eyes.
My editor: She listens with enthusiasm. Sometimes she demands too much story from me (I hate to give away secrets) but the talking about the planned book firms up ideas.
My husband: I talk to him about books, movies, box sets. We talk ‘stories’ a lot. He deals with low periods when it’s all going wrong and he waits (I like to think impatiently) to be the first reader.
My mum: I tell the stories of all my books to my mum who listens avidly.
My son: who gave me a cracking idea to use in MOTH GIRLS.
Fans who send emails: I read the things they say about my books and it reinforces what I do or it make me reassess what I do.
Reviewers and Bloggers: I take seriously the views of these people and shape my work accordingly (note to Kirkus – not more ‘awkward exposition’ from me!)
Students who I teach from time to time: I love teaching creative writing because it really makes me think about how a story is put together, what makes it work well. In order to teach them I have to work it out in my head. And the things they say teach me too.
People I see on trains and tubes: I watch their mannerisms and listen to the way they talk to each other. I try to imagine their lives and their problems. Some of them appear in my books.
School Students: I visit schools while writing my books and the students ask revealing questions and make interesting suggestions and ask me to use their name in one of my books (sometimes I do).
So, maybe being a writer isn’t such an ‘isolated’ thing after all.
Back to MOTH GIRLS……………