Writing feels like driving on a country road

Countryside in FranceWhen I was young my parents had little money to spare so we often went on country drives for our weekend entertainment. My father loved driving and my mother found narrow roads for him to explore. As far as my brothers and I were concerned, the best parts of the journey were our picnic lunches with wonderful treats like devilled eggs, sandwiches without the crusts, fudge brownies, and a late afternoon stop for ice cream.

My writing career has that country road feel with twists, turns, dust, gravel, t-junctions and the clang of a railway-crossing bell. I’ve felt lost on occasion and have had to change course from time to time. I’ve been mired in the mud of rejection and experienced the fog of a dead-end story. Perhaps these words sound negative, or at least less than positive, but in reality each corner and dip has taught me something and the views have been spectacular. Wide-open spaces in which to think, hills where the far side is unknown, clouds pregnant with imagination, a refreshing jolt of chocolate ice cream.

Are we there yet?

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

Is Writing an Obsession?

I'm obsessed with writingI’ve been writing full time for five years and part-time for four and the more I write, the more obsessed I become. I suppose I could use the word passionate to describe how I feel about writing, but lately the word obsession seems more accurate.

And what are the clues that tell me I’ve tipped into the obsession zone? Consider these:

  • While trying to fall asleep, I compose sentences. Worse, I often get up to write them down so I won’t lose the creative thought.
  • While on the subway, in a plane, or at a restaurant, I takes notes about the features, gestures, clothing, or other attributes of the people I see. Sometimes I record what they say, a flirtation glance, an awkward moment.
  • I never go out without my small notebook, just in case inspiration strikes in the sounds, smells, tastes and sights around me.
  • I am jealous when I discover a beautifully crafted phrase in another author’s work. Such discoveries can easily undermine the confidence I may have been feeling about my own writing.
  • I look at the world around me in terms of my fictional characters. How would Grace react? What would Helene think? How would Edward feel?
  • I get distracted by a plotline that isn’t working or a flawed character arc or a chapter that doesn’t flow. Such distraction can strike at any time – while I’m driving, or out with friends, on the golf course, or watching TV.
  • I worry that a newly released book by another author will steal my intended audience, but in the next moment exult in the possibility that the very same book will help build an audience for my kind of writing.
  • I frequently realize that the house is dark except for the light at my desk where I have been writing for hours and hours. This realization is often accompanied by feelings of hunger because I’ve missed dinner.
  • I no longer read books without underlining interesting phrases or jotting ideas for one of my novels, a future story or blog post. I do this even when reading an e-book.
  • I can happily research for hours in order to compose one or two sentences.

Obsession – something that preoccupies a person to the exclusion of other things. Hmmm – sounds like obsession to me. Or is this how all writers behave?

FOR MORE ON READING & WRITING HISTORICAL FICTION follow A WRITER OF HISTORY (using the widget on the left sidebar)

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available from Amazon, NookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Her debut novel, UNRAVELLED: Two wars. Two affairs. One marriage. is also available from these retailers.

Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

 

Killing my darlings

Kill your darlingsThe first time I heard this phrase, I had no idea what it meant. And now I can toss it around like any other seasoned writer.

Time & Regret is my third novel and having paid attention to some advice Emma Darwin offered on her blog, This Itch Of Writing, I’m in the midst of deleting the first eleven chapters of the story. Let me tell you, friends, eleven chapters represents a lot of time and effort, a lot of imagining, a lot of phrasing and rephrasing. But it has to be done.

Emma said the following:

One of the very first bits of clear writerly advice I ever came across was the short-story writer’s dictum of “Start as near the end as possible”. Later, I encountered the thriller-writer’s “Get in late and get out early”, which is a double-ended version of the same idea.

 

Emma’s advice came at just the right moment. With so many life events going on, I haven’t had time to write for months, but the niggling thought in the back of my mind whenever I considered Time & Regret was the need to pump up the drama. I had a few ideas but nothing had seemed right. With Emma’s post a lightbulb went on. She had nailed the problem.

So now I’m going through the first eleven chapters looking for bits that need to be woven into some other scene – character details, essential facts, a few lovely bits of description. The rest, I’m killing off. Rather invigorating I might add.

Thanks, Emma.

M.K. Tod writes historical fiction and blogs about all aspects of the genre at A Writer of History. Her latest novel, LIES TOLD IN SILENCE is set in WWI France and is available in paperback from Amazon and in e-book formats from AmazonNookKoboGoogle Play and iTunes. Mary can be contacted on Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.