My fellow Ward Wood novelist, Shauna Gilligan has asked me to join The Writing Process Blog Tour where each writer answers four questions about the writing process and then passes the baton on to another set of writer-bloggers. Thanks Shauna, like any other relay race, the current runner is scared of dropping the baton and ruining the race. Anyway, here goes.
Firstly though, here’s some information about Shauna whose novel, Happiness Comes From Nowhere, is simply terrific. Inventive and unconventionally structured, it’s a gripping multi-dimensional tour de force.
Shauna Gilligan was born in Dublin, Ireland and has worked and lived in Mexico, Spain, India and the UK. She currently lives in County Kildare, Ireland with her family. Her fiction has been published widely and she has read from her work and presented on writing at conferences in Europe and the USA. She holds a PhD (Writing) from the University of South Wales (formally University of Glamorgan). Happiness Comes from Nowhere (London: Ward Wood, 2012) is her first novel.
To read Shauna’s answers to these questions go to:http://shaunaswriting.com/wordpress/2014/02/my-writing-process-blog-tour/
Right, my turn:
What are you working on now?Now that my first novel, Stephen Dearsley’s Summer Of Love has been published (Ward Wood Publishing, 2013 – see below), I can put my mind to other things. I’ve just finished the third draft of my second novel, Blue Notes, Still Frames, like my first, it’s based in Brighton but it’s set in the 1990s with a completely new cast of characters. I am also writing a lot of new poetry and revising many of my older ones. This year, I hope, is going to be the time when I raise my game with poetry so I shall be concentrating on that and on a number of short stories that have been languishing on my desk looking for a little love. I’d like to clear my desk before settling on a number of ideas for the next novel but I’m already itching to get on with it.
Why is your work different from other work in the same genre?
This question scares me! I don’t know if my work is different from others’ work but I hope it is – otherwise, why bother. So much of writing is about finding confidence in your own voice so this question sends me scurrying away to my inner world of insecurity. I came to writing after a long career in the television industry, working for Granada Television, where serious and often complicated ideas had to be expressed in clear, direct and entertaining ways that were intelligible to every viewer. I believe that spirit of directness is important in my fiction too, as is humour, and I hope that I achieve at least some of this without sacrificing any of the passion and respect I feel for the great canon of Western literature. If my work is different from others’, it might be that it is a mix of the old and the new expressed from what I’m told is a rather quirky worldview. God, I hated that question!
Why do you write like you do?
I love words whether it’s in conversation or on the printed page. I was thrilled, as a child, by the impact and power of words. The years between childhood and my actually becoming a writer, were about honing down and refining what had always, I suspect, been my individual voice, an impulse that has been with me ever since I can remember. If it doesn’t sound too weird, I think I have always listened to that observational voice in my head. It grew up much earlier than I did! I think I’m only just catching up with it now realizing that I don’t really have any other choice but to write in the way the distinct voice dictates. Discovering this has also lead to my relatively new enthusiasm for writing poetry which often comes quickly in its first draft form.
How does your writing process work?
I always wanted to be a writer and always got a real kick out of the act of writing – The Joy Of Writing I suppose you could say, like The Joy Of Sex. That feeling has never left me but has been fueled by great writers and artists from other genres, who have regularly turned me on throughout my life. I internalise what I love and let it mix with all those insubstantial and subconscious impulses and memories that rush around in the brain. I suppose my interest in the world around me and my fascination for our own oddly contradictory species is fed into that almost abstract thing, the mind. In some ways, I’m a passive witness to my own writing but when I start, I write in a great flow of enthusiasm even if the subject matter is dark. The difficult bit is before that, sitting in an armchair quietly waiting while these thoughts are formed. It’s a matter of opening portals in the brain. When it’s a novel, this requires a lot of discipline, a daily ritual that begins meditating in a leather armchair and then moving on to some frantic typing at the computer. The real “work” comes with the second draft and beyond. I’m always trying to improve and experiment with style and I anguish over these later drafts but, deep-down, I have to obey an internal force and, as humbly as I can, write down the words as they are formed in that place in my brain that is often quite dictatorial. It’s an exhilarating ride whether it’s a short poem or the extended writing of a novel even if I’m always left with the wish to have done it all better.
Now, with my thanks, I’ll introduce the authors who will be continuing the writing process blog tour a week from now. Their answers to these questions will be on their websites next Monday, 17th. February:
Adele Ward is a publisher, Ward Wood Publishing, a novelist, Everything is Free (2011) and a poet, Never-Never Land (2009). She lives in North London with her sons Stefano and Danny. She worked as a journalist and author of nonfiction before spending four years in Italy where her children were born. She was one of the first students on Andrew Motion’s postgraduate creative writing programme at the Royal Holloway, University of London. Her poetry has been anthologised and broadcast on national and local radio, and other publications include a selection in the first Bedford Square anthology published by John Murray. In summer 2010 she set up Ward Wood Publishing with Mike Fortune-Wood, and in 2011 she started the regular Friday Night Writers event in London.
Peter Daniels published his first full collection Counting Eggs with Mulfran Press in 2012, following pamphlets including three from Smith/Doorstop, Mr Luczinski Makes a Move (HappenStance, 2011) and the historically obscene Ballad of Captain Rigby (Pronoun, 2013) based on court records at London Metropolitan Archives. He has won first prize in a number of competitions including the Ledbury (2002), Arvon (2008) and TLS (2010), and twice been a winner of the Poetry Business pamphlet competition. His book of translations from the Russian of Vladislav Khodasevich (1886-1939), published by Angel Classics, was the Poetry Book Society’s recommended translation for Autumn 2013.