Approaching the Page with Joy

I'm reposting this from 2009 as I'm just back from tour and wiped out to be honest. But I have lots to tell you on the writing front, lots to share - so back soon, I promise!But until then . . .

Approaching the page with joy

I’ve been having some slow writing starts these mornings. Christmas is looming near and I’m not at all on top of things. No cards sent, few presents bought – apart from the kids’ stuff on Amazon – toys and Xbox games. All Jago, 3 wants is a rubbish truck, bless him. Amy, 6, a bike; Sam, 15, horrible gore-fest X box games. Books I buy from my local bookshops – as a former bookseller I feel it’s really important to support them always and forever but especially when things are a little tough.

Every morning I’ve been taking a walk, an attempt to shake me out of the Munch funk – feeling a little down and slow and sluggish and not all there mentally. I try telling myself how lucky I am, how thousands, millions would give their eye teeth to have one book contract, let alone several.

And I do feel lucky, really I do. But I must admit that now and again it all seems a little overwhelming and I feel swamped with work and scared at what I have to do.

So I have to take a step back (after moaning to some of my fellow writing friends of course, I’m only human), calm the voices in my head (you can’t write, it’s all nonsense, one day someone will realise how rubbish you are . . .) and just get on with the business of finishing the darned book.

I have to stop thinking about deadlines and start concentrating on my plot and my characters. And most importantly, as my lovely and very wise London editors told me, give my story room to breathe. I have to strip back all the unnecessary scenes from the book and let the main characters shine through.

I was at a talk by Carlo Gebler on Monday and he said something very interesting. He said that he only got published (after trying many times) when he started telling his stories simply – going from A to B to C with embellishment. It’s as simple at that. If you get that right, you can add a little sparkle to the writing later. It’s excellent advice.

A to B to C.

I’m currently rewriting Amy Green book 3, Bridesmaid Blitz. It’s set in Dublin and Paris, and Mills (Amy’s best friend) was the star of the Paris scenes. But I see now that Amy was being sidelined and it wasn’t quite working. Yes, even my carefully researched rapping scene starring Clover will have to hit the editing floor. And it’s hard. But it will be a better book for all the cutting and rewriting.

I have to stop worrying about deadlines and reconnect with the joy of writing – the reason I started writing in the first place. Write for the sheer love of it. The privilege of sitting down at my desk and losing myself in a story for hours and hours. You know the feeling you get when you’re lost in a brilliant book and you just don’t want it to end, ever? That’s the feeling I get on a good writing day.

Sometimes it takes days to get to that feeling, sometimes, if I’m lucky, minutes. But today I’m feeling lucky . . .

Back to the blank page . . .

May the joy of writing (and reading) be with all of you.

Sarah XXX