My writing day: Jacqueline Wilson
theguardian.com – Friday April 29, 2016
I once wrote in a Lett’s School-Girl’s Diary “It would be so wonderful to be a proper writer when I’m grown up. Imagine what bliss it would be to stay at home all day and just write!” Well, I’m a writer now, proper or improper, but sadly I don’t often get to stay at home all day and write. I meet journalists, I go to endless meetings, I do charity work, I talk at festivals, I take part in conferences, I lecture at universities, I visit ill children, I open libraries, I talk on panels, I give interviews on radio and television, and I judge all kinds of competitions. It’s all very interesting and enjoyable, if a bit nerve-racking at times, but it’s ultra time-consuming. It’s difficult managing to produce two full-length books each year. I cope by writing early every morning – even Christmas morning.
Are most romance novels badly written?
theguardian.com – Monday April 18, 2016
Isabel Allende more than annoyed crime fiction writers a couple of years ago when, after writing her first mystery Ripper, she said that “I’m not a fan of mysteries” because they are “too gruesome, too violent, too dark; there’s no redemption there”. Instead, Allende said, she decided to “take the genre, write a mystery that is faithful to the formula and to what the readers expect, but it is a joke”.
Can creative writing be taught? Irish authors give their answers
irishtimes.com – Monday April 18, 2016
“Why are you here? Why aren’t you sitting at home writing?” John Steinbeck once asked a group of students he was tutoring in the art of fiction. As with other crafts, his point was that writers learn to write by writing. You don’t become a good cook by reading recipes, you don’t learn to drive by watching Top Gear, and you don’t sit in a classroom and emerge a few semesters later with the formula to the next Booker.
My writing day: Hilary Mantel
theguardian.com – Saturday April 16, 2016
Some writers claim to extrude a book at an even rate like toothpaste from a tube, or to build a story like a wall, so many feet per day. They sit at their desk and knock off their word quota, then frisk into their leisured evening, preening themselves.
This is so alien to me that it might be another trade entirely. Writing lectures or reviews – any kind of non-fiction – seems to me a job like any job: allocate your time, marshall your resources, just get on with it. But fiction makes me the servant of a process that has no clear beginning and end or method of measuring achievement. I don’t write in sequence. I may have a dozen versions of a single scene. I might spend a week threading an image through a story, but moving the narrative not an inch. A book grows according to a subtle and deep-laid plan. At the end, I see what the plan was.
Why writing diverse children's books is tough
theguardian.com – Tuesday April 12, 2016
What’s the point of having another shoddily-realised feisty girl or two-dimensional token wheelchair sidekick to add to the massive pile of rubbish attempts at diversity? Author Ross Montgomery on why it’s hard to write diverse – but that’s no excuse not to.
Breda Wall Ryan on writing In a Hare’s Eye
irishtimes.com – Wednesday April 6, 2016
When judge Kevin Barry announced my debut poetry collection, In a Hare’s Eye (Doire Press 2015), as the winner of this year’s Shine/Strong Poetry Award at Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival, it marked a new milestone on my poetry journey, a journey begun in childhood. Poetry came to me first at the ear. My mother used to recite narrative poems to us as bedtime stories and I was captivated by their rhymes and rhythms. I can still recite swathes of poetry I learned on the cusp of sleep, that tipping point between the conscious and the unconscious. The marvellous imagery and skewed logic of dreams is one of the places my poems are born. If I held a sure key to that otherworld of the unconscious, I’d go there more often, to bring back embryonic poems. One strand of my poetry explores the borders between the real and surreal, between acquired and personal mythologies. A second strand concerns nature, the environment, and our human mistreatment of the earth.
Let It Go! Improve Your Writing and Free Yourself From Attachment
huffingtonpost.com – Monday April 4, 2016
In writing and in life, it behooves us to remain as free from attachment as possible. Now, you may immediately wonder, “What does that mean? Especially when it comes to writing?!”
Here are a few thoughts to consider. It’s not uncommon for writers to occasionally get attached to certain words, phrases or passages, which inevitably feel essential to getting our message or story across. The problem with such “attachment” is we find ourselves disappointed when we’re told (by editors or agents or publishers or readers), “That part didn’t really work for me.”
The Book Inside You: The Business Of Selling It
boston.cbslocal.com – Thursday March 31, 2016
There is inherent passion in the written word, but there is also the business of selling it.
Enter Esmond Harmsworth, a founding partner of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth Literary Agency, which has offices in Boston and New York. He says every agency has a common ingredient – “You have to insanely love books.”
Harmsworth reads at least one full-length book a week, and the first 20 pages of another ten. He generally makes a quick decision.
Inspiring writing advice from the greatest women authors
telegraph.co.uk – Monday March 28, 2016
Virginia Woolf (centre) died on this day in 1941. The pioneering modernist writer addressed the position of women after the war throughout her fiction, but with her collection of essays, A Room of One's Own, she contributed advice and thinking that still sounds fresh and relevant for women writing today.
Writing Sci-Fi? First Understand How Elephants Aren't Dragonflies (Op-Ed)
space.com – Saturday March 26, 2016
Animals come in all different sizes, but the laws of physics mean that you can't just arbitrarily scale up a dragonfly to the size of an elephant and expect the body plan to result in a functioning creature.
For one thing, mass increases much faster than other qualities like strength or surface area as you scale up a body, and so the legs and wings of an elephant-size dragonfly would have to be proportionately much larger to support the extra weight — and it's doubtful muscle power could be sufficient to propel such a creature into flight.
Moreover, insects are generally small because they rely on diffusion to distribute oxygen to interior cells instead of the active oxygen-pumping systems found in animals like mammals. This imposes an upper limit on just how big an insect can get. It's true that there were gigantic dragonflies — still not the size of elephants, however — during the Carboniferous period (as well as housecat-size cockroaches and other horrors), but the oxygen level in the atmosphere at the time was much higher, and that likely played a role in making such bodies viable.
Let's pause for a moment and give thanks for the fact that we don't have to live in a world of pet-size cockroaches and meter-long scorpions.
All of this presents an analogy for fiction. It's tempting to think of novels (the elephants) as scaled-up short stories, or short stories (the dragonflies) as miniaturized novels. But having written both 100-word drabbles as well as 200,000-word epic fantasies, I can assure you that's not the case.