This week I will mostly be answering the questions of The Rogue Verbumancer, a scientician who occasionally masquerades as a writer on the internet, blogging here and tweeting as @Glempy. Here’s what he had to ask me.
It’s obvious that you enjoy writing, otherwise you wouldn’t have embarked on a project of such herculean proportions. But why do you enjoy it? What is it about writing that keeps you coming back for more?
First of all, I find writing fun. I don’t know why, exactly – I just enjoy doing it and I would blow other stuff off in its favour.
It’s an impulse I’ve had for a long time, I think because the process of creating feels good and I like the notion of engrossing people in a story as much as my own favourite authors engross me. I remember being really annoyed when I was ten, because I wrote a story that was about 12 pages long for a language exercise in school and my teacher kept not reading it. She probably had other marking to do, but I distinctly remember thinking she was being a hypocrite cause she used to bang on about how much she loved Gone With The Wind, which was much longer! The story was about a ghost called Jenny, who I think lived in a cabin in the woods and needed a bloke to help uncover the truth about why she died so she could move on, and I think maybe they fell in love? I don’t remember a lot more than that, although reading that back I wonder whether I should have re-used it for my paranormal romance! But I do remember one of the girls in my class telling everyone it was only that long because I wrote really big and left massive spaces between the words. I was deeply offended at the time an denied everything, but who knows, she might’ve been right! Can’t do that anymore though as I’m typing everything out!
I find that writing helps you process things – particularly when something is bothering you. That’s why the advent of blogging is a strange and terrible thing… When it comes to fiction, it’s fun because quite often things come out that I wasn’t necessarily expecting (although sometimes these things aren’t necessarily that good – eg when I was a teenager I wrote a series of stories that included some very embarrassing, deeply personal monologues when I was in a bad mood. They’d probably have been better in a diary or blog, TBH..). It’s only since I began doing this project that I’ve started trying to plan things, before that I’d sit down with a vague story idea and pretty much just write till it was done. That’s not the best way to do a novel, though. Not if you’ve only got a month, at least!
Is writing something that you’ve always wanted to do? Did you, from day one put your foot down and cry ‘I shall be a writer! And woe to all those who stand in my way!’ Or is it a career goal you’ve just stumbled upon unintentionally and decided to stick with?
In terms of how long I’ve wanted to be a writer, I can definitely date it back to primary school. I remember in primary 6 thinking I was very cool with my 3 As that I had in my career ambitions – I wanted to be an actress, an artist or an author. I kept up the acting in the local am dram group till I was about 18 or 19 but by that point I think I had lost my tendency to show off – I don’t know why, maybe because felt a lot more comfortable in my own skin so I didn’t need to borrow somone else’s anymore? That sounds ridiculously trite, doesn’t it. Clearly the real reason was that I could only do about 2 accents. And to be honest the writing took over – I started writing for local press when I was about fifteen and thought yes, I could be a journalist and make a living from that and then maybe segue into fiction later.
I was always pretty interested in writing books for children, and I applied to art college to do Illustration because I wanted to write the books and do my own drawings. I was accepted, but by the time I got the letters back from the places I’d applied to I was going through a practical phase where I thought doing an English degree more sensible, because as I said before then I could go make a living out of journalism and be an author later on. Essentially writing for a living in one form or another has been my goal since I was at least ten, so that’s fifteen years of it with varying degrees of focus!