Writing about writing

The post that is most regularly read on this blog is one I did in 2010, called What Is Line Editing Exactly? In my ten years of trying to get published, and obsessively reading the Writers and Artists Yearbook, I thought I’d imagined every aspect of writing, but in fact there was so much I didn’t know and couldn’t guess. Line editing was just a small part of that.

I imagined my writing signature in books (useful – have to do that a lot) and one day meeting fans (not so much of an issue – I’m a writer, not Angelina Jolie). I imagined how my young children would play, adorably at my feet as I wrote reams of prose at my kitchen table (hahaha – my kitchen’s too small for a table and young children tend to climb over you as you write and get honey on the ‘M’ key so it sticks forever, or hide rude words in your manuscript when you’re not looking, so you end up seeking refuge anywhere they’re not). I imagined the film deal and the clothing franchise (still waiting …). I did NOT ever, even once, imagine my books being translated into German, or Japanese, or French or Dutch, which turned out to be one of the best bits. I knew I desperately needed an editor, but I pictured long lunches over a glass of white wine, not Track Changes and agonising over jokes that didn’t work. Basically, I didn’t really have much of a clue what ‘being a writer’ would be like. And as it turns out, that doesn’t matter at all. Once you get there, like everything else in life, you just get on with it.

While I was doing my most intense imagining all this wrong stuff, or trying to work out what the market trends were in UK fiction, I tended to daydream about it more than, y’know, doing the writing. Then one day I somehow managed to realise that this was a bad thing, stop obsessing about the detail of a life that might never happen, and just write. That was one of the best decisions I ever made. So if you’re reading this in your daydreaming phase, promise yourself that for every thirty minutes you spend imagining, you spend thirty minutes writing your story. At least thirty minutes. You won’t regret it.

Having said that, the life of a writer fascinates me just as much now as it ever did. Yesterday, my fellow Chicken House author Rachel Ward wrote a great piece on the 5 things she’s learned since she got published, all of which I agree with. I recommend you read it on Author Allsorts, here.

And not too long ago Non Pratt, an editor and debut children’s author, wrote a fabulous guide to being edited, funnily enough, also on Author Allsorts – a truly great blogging resource for writers, which I also recommend.

Look them up! Then get writing. Because none of the rest of it can happen until you do.


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