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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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takeonestepback

Q&A with Ian Collings

This week I’m chatting to Shropshire based writer Ian Collings, who tweets as @ibc4 and blogs at Take One Step Back.  I’ve split this email into a Q&A format.

Which part of the writing process (condensed as it is into such a short period) do you find the hardest?  The editing? Re-writing? 

Because the writing process is condensed into such a short period with this project, editing and re-writing don’t actually get a look in.  Not yet, anyway.  The plan was to leave all the drafts for a minimum of 3 months before going back to look over them, but so far I haven’t had the time to go back and start editing any.  The hardest part of the writing process with this is therefore the purely practical aspect of fitting in writing time – when I sit down and do it, it’s a race against time to get the words out there so I just write and write, even if some of it’s nonsense.  These first drafts are littered with asides like “she said, by way of exposition,” which all add to the word count!  But generally speaking I think editing and re-writing are much harder work.

Secondly, have you ever wanted to ‘throw in the towel’ and walk away from  twelve books in twelve months?  Or, rather just concentrate on one through to publication there and then?
So far I haven’t wanted to walk away from the project at any point, although I’ve had to let go of the notion that I’ll make the 50k word count every time.  I think because I haven’t given myself the opportunity to get bored of it or even to get stuck by overthinking (there’s no time to think, after all!) that’s made it quite easy to keep going.  If I was reading back over it all the time I’d probably feel a crushing sense of doom about how much work there is still left to do on all of them, but the no-editing rule means I can just go yeah, I’ve written most of a book, go me! Now onto the next one!
How have other writers supported you? Have any derided your ‘project’?
Nobody has derided the project, although Debbie Taylor (Editor of Mslexia and author of The Fourth Queen) was a bit disbelieving when I told her about it at first.  She tends to write for a maximum of about a fortnight before having to take a break from it.  I haven’t really talked to a lot of authors about it yet though, although my intention is to do a series of author interviews on how they approach writing for book 13 (the one where I write about writing 12 books in 12 months).  Ian Rankin wished me luck on Twitter at the very beginning, which was kind of him, and I know from an interview I read with him that he drafted the first Rebus book in about a month – the difference there being that he didn’t then do the next 11 in quick succession, I guess!

I’ve had a lot of support from other people though, especially on Twitter.  The general consensus seems to be that it’s a slightly mad thing to do, but in a good way!

And finally, for today only, if you could take the credit for writing any book from the last hundred years, which would it be? Which of your current works in progress most resemble it?
The book I’d like to take credit for writing… brilliant question.  A difficult one, as well – there are lots.  I think maybe The Book Thief, by Marcus Zusack, because it was so clever and well written and made me cry – which is really rare, actually.  None of my books resemble it in the slightest, though!
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Writing Style

This week I’m answering questions from Ian Collings, a writer based in Shropshire who blogs at Take One Step Back and tweets as @ibc4

Of the twelve books you’re writing which falls into your natural writing style the most? Which do you find the easiest to pick up?

My natural style tends towards the silly, often by accident, and even though I haven’t written a kids’ book yet, I’ve harboured ambitions to be a children’s author for about ten years… Essentially I forsee July’s book as being the best – or at least the most enjoyable to do!  That or fantasy, actually.  I’ve written a bunch of short stories that fall across both of those fields and have probably read a lot more of those than any other type of book.

I would love to strike a balance between well written, engrossing but often humorous fantasy written by Neil Gaiman / China Mieville and the silliness of Spike Milligan (whose picture book for little kids, Sir Nobonk, is one of my favourite books ever), with an element of the dark or unexpected twists that you get in Roald Dahl.  And I think May and July’s fantasy and kids’ books are the ones where I’ll be able to give that a proper try.

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