Okay then. Let’s see. Last week I asked if there was anything any readers of my blog wanted to know and I received a few questions. So now to answer them as best I can.


From Lauri:

I want to know do you write short stories with that snazzy pen?

Pens for me are for notes-creativity happens on the computer.

 

The snazzy pen Lauri’s referring to is my new Pelikan. And the answer’s a definite Yes. A couple of years ago I thought: I’m a writer so I really ought to own a nice fountain pen. So I bought one (A Lamy 2000 for those who are interested). And I bought a notebook. And something changed. It was the writing process, my writing process. Instead of putting a rough first draft of a story straight onto my computer I created it by hand. This felt, for want of a better word, more organic. I felt as though I could take more time with it. Play around with it more than I could on a computer. Start things again. It definitely provided more freedom for me and also made me feel as though the stories I was writing were truly mine. And a notebook and pen are far more portable and less obvious than a laptop.

 

The biggest advantage I’ve found with writing first drafts longhand is that editing is so much easier – usually. I can be more selective about what stays or goes when I’m typing it up, and so the process of typing up becomes a half-edit. It works for me. Not that all the stories I’ve written like this are wonderful; there have been some stinkers.

 

Mostly though, I like the actual act of writing. It feels more intimate.

 

But I reckon it all comes down to what works for you – and I was definitely someone who used to do all the actual writing on the screen, using books for nothing but notes.

 

Now I use a Pelikan Traditional, or one of a few older ones, in a Moleskine, and with Pelikan brown ink. Just so you know.

 

Jessica said:

Your starter for ten, How old were you when you decided being a writer was the thing for you? and also, do you have any plans to write a novel?

Plus – if you could be any book in the world which one would like to be?

 

Um, not quite sure. When I was at school I was convinced I was going to be a rock star. I wrote a lot of songs. And then, as I mentioned here, thanks to two wonderful teachers – one of English and one of history – I discovered First World War poetry. I started writing poetry then, I think. And the odd story.

 

Then back in 2001 (I think, it might have been the following year) I was made redundant from the car dealership I’d worked at since I’d left school. Which was a shock but also an opportunity. I’d always fancied writing so, instead of going out and getting another job straight away I decided to do what I could to learn how to write. Initially I wrote features and had a little success with magazine and papers. And then I tried fiction which I found came really naturally. Then, when I was 25,  I wrote a children’s book

 

Do I have any plans to write a novel? I don’t know. Do you think I should? The short story’s what I’m comfortable with (in a good way) and what I love, but I’d never say I wouldn’t write a novel. I’ve written at least two very bad ones in the past. And there are a couple of things I’m working on now which could end up being novel length. I guess we’ll all have to wait and see (me included).

 

Which book would I like to be? God, that’s a difficult one! According to the quiz I did a little while ago I’d be Anne of Green Gables. I’d probably like to be in anything Aimee Bender or Etgar Keret’s done, for the experience. Or a Star Wars book, so I could have a lightsaber. I’d take any with a happy ending though.

 

And May wanted to know:

Do you ever ask yourself if you are doing anything you can in order to become a good/famous writer?

 

That’s a really good question. I certainly like to think I’m doing all I can to become a good writer (that’s the goal, I’m not too sure that fame’s all that attractive) – some days I even feel like one. I read a lot. I write a lot. I revise a lot. I run workshops. I run a writing group. I share my work with good and trusted writer friends and reciprocate that. I do readings. I actively seek publication. I blog. I’ve had a book published and toured it.

 

The one thing I haven’t done is taken any sort of formal training. I’d never rule that out but, really, I’m not sure that’d be for me.

 

And really, when I detach myself from me and look at me from a distance away, I see that I’m right at the beginning of a career, or what I hope will be a career. I’m a newby. And on happier days I think I’m quite happy with what I’ve achieved so far. I’m young and I haven’t been doing it that long. I think my biggest problem is my impatience. That and the fact that I have really high expectations of myself and if anything I work too hard to combat all that pressure. After all, this isn’t an easy job – far from it. The competition, although mostly lovely people, is fierce because those lovely people are so damned good at what they do.

 

So am I doing my best to be a good writer? I try and I want to learn. And I think that’s about all I can do.

 

I think the fame thing’s worth mentioning. I don’t think that there can be many people who achieve fame through writing if achieving fame’s their reason for writing. I’ve said this many times before but I think being good (and/or successful) is a million times more important than being famous. And there’s a logical pattern to this:

 

If your writing’s good it’ll, more than likely, get published, which means it’ll be read by people. And so on.


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So there you go. Bit strange taking so much time talking and examining myself. If there’s anything else you’d like to know feel free to ask.


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Now it’s back to writing for me.

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