Everyone needs emotional support from time to time. We’re human, no-one is an island. And even if you ARE an island you’d probably still enjoy company.
It’s something I’ve taken for granted for quite a while: having someone close who supports your creative pursuits makes such a massive difference. My partner has always been supportive, whether its reading my stories for me, making me tea whilst I write, or just having blind faith that it’ll all lead somewhere.
I can’t stress enough how much blind faith is needed when it comes to creative things.
I guess what I’m saying is – if you have someone who supports you then make sure they know you appreciate them.
And if you don’t have someone like that don’t despair! If you have that creativity within you then it’ll find its way out. It better to be alone but believe in yourself than it is to be with someone who puts you down/gets between you and your dream.
Discworld is a comic fantasy book series written by the English author Terry Pratchett, set on the fictional Discworld, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin.
Isn’t it perfect? How many fantasy books are out there with their own worlds? How many weird, made up names have authors created? Yet none are so memorable as the Discworld. None match its creative simplicity. Why is this? I think there are three reasons:
The absurdity of it – (see above description)
It plays on the silly idea of a flat earth – (Any flat earthers in the house??)
and perhaps most crucially:
The word makes sense!
This last one I find the most interesting. Go up to someone and say ‘Discworld’. They may well tell you to fuck off, but at the same time they’ll get an image in their head, perhaps not of the turtle and the elephants, but of a disc shaped world. It marries two words that people understand: ‘disc’ and ‘world’ and builds something amazing around it.
How can a writer match that?
In my current novel: ‘Proper Magic’, I have a fantasy world. I have a concept that I hope will set it apart from its peers, but it still needs a name and I can guarantee it’ll be no Discworld…
Ah well, aim for the stars. Who knows: you may hit an elephant.
‘But all my effort is going into this one project!’
Neither response is wrong and we all have our own systems, but if your answer was the latter then might I suggest having two projects on the go?
Back when I focused on one thing at a time I got mired in the effort. This is partly due to forcing my storytelling into one particular type of story, even when my mood was elsewhere because ‘I have to focus on this to get it done.’
I don’t suggest writing loads at once. Having a dozen novels on the go leads nowhere and you end up drowning. But have two stories, or like in my case I have the Death Echo series in the background while working on my novel, Proper Magic.
It helps clear out the creative cobwebs which turn up after too long spent cleaning the living-room but ignoring the attic!
When you hit a block in one project dive into the other. The less wasted time the better, and the more you’ll learn about your writing.
I often see fellow writers on twitter post about not being able to write, and I’m guilty of the same posts.
This got me to thinking – how hard do you all find it? I always feel like I don’t have enough time, like whatever I do there’s always more to write. I tend to have a few projects going on at once and chip away at them. Nearly every free moment is spent working on them – research, planning, editing etc.
There’s so much more I know I could be doing, but there’s only so many hours in the day. Like many writers I dream of a day my writing will support me financially. Would I be more productive with every day spent writing? Or would all that free time be detrimental?
Perhaps I’ll look back at this period of working two jobs and writing and think ‘Damn I was motivated,’ or alternatively: ‘How did I ever manage to get any of it done?’
I think I DO find writing easy, because I enjoy it. I love editing paragraphs down, making them slicker, I revel in finding my own mistakes and restructuring scenes so that they flow better. I love starting a new short story, I love deleting pages of unnecessary text.
As mentioned in my previous post I’d never been to the annual literary festival in Hay-on-Wye. It’s not too far from where I live but getting there without a car is a bit of a nightmare. Fortunately two lovely friends of ours were also going, and offered us transport!
I didn’t really know what to expect, other than books, and there were plenty of those to be found. When it comes to book shopping I’m awful. I tend to grab something that catches my eye then um and ah about it for an hour. This time was no different. I was captivated by Yiyun Li’sbook Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life from the moment I saw the cover:
I don’t know what I liked about it so much. It was sitting alone on a desk full of other titles. I picked it up and read the first few extracts, then put it down, feeling guilty that I wanted to buy the first book I’d picked up. What followed was roughly an hour of walking around, occasionally returning to see it still alone on the table. I bought it, obviously, and I don’t regret it. I’m only a dozen or so pages in but already it’s shaping up to be a stunning read.
After that we bumped into two people. Firstly Amanda Palmer, a very talented singer-songwriter from America, who just so happens to be married to Neil Gaiman – the reason for our visit. My partner didn’t want to pass up the opportunity and stopped her to say hello. We didn’t want to bother her with any photos as she was busy and in a rush, but Nicole was incredibly happy to have had a moment to speak to her.
After that we were waiting around for our friends to come out of their talk with Chris Riddell – UK Children’s Laureate. It was his final public event in the role when who should walk past us but Neil Gaiman himself, having just left the talk.
I’d brought a few copies of Death Echo: Vol. 1 with the intention of leaving some around the event as surprises for anyone who wanted them. This didn’t go to plan as it was an awfully humid day with dark clouds overhead. Leaving a copy of my book out in the open to possibly get ruined by the rain didn’t sit right with me so I kept a hold of them. Giving one as a gift to a writer I’ve long admired is another story.
With some convincing by Nicole (behind every awkward man is a strong, confident woman ready to kick them into action) we nabbed him and gave him a copy. He could have snubbed us and I wouldn’t have blamed him, these events can be insanely busy and it’s difficult to stop and chat to everyone. He very graciously accepted it as a gift (making sure I’d signed it!) and even posed with us for a picture:
We learnt later that by stopping him a small queue built up and he didn’t get away from there for some time (sorry!). I hope he enjoys the collection. Just the knowledge that a writer I respect so much reading my stories gives me a wonderful tingly feeling.
Onto the main event:
The main reason for our visit was to see Stephen Fry interview Neil Gaiman. This wasn’t until later in the day but there was plenty to see an do. All the same when the time came we first in line:
The event included Neil reading a story from Norse Mythology, Stephen reading a story from his upcoming collection on Greek Mythology, Amanda Palmer reading a beautiful poem, and Chris Riddell, drawing sketches of everything in the background on a projector. It was a beautiful thing to witness. After that was a book signing by Neil. I think perhaps the organisers didn’t realise how popular it would be, with a queue that apparently didn’t die down for four hours!
Fortunately Amanda was nearby to entertain the masses:
If we could have stayed for her full show we would have, but what with the drive home and work the next day we had to go 😦
In many ways I couldn’t ask for a better experience. I got to see some brilliant people do and talk about the things they love, and I got to be a part of it.
p.s. Big thanks to all the organisers and staff who worked their butts off (and are still there now, still working their butts off.)
You can buy my first collection of stories available in paperback and Kindle here: Death Echo: Vol. 1