The Fiction Versus Non-Fiction Debate: Is One Better Than the Other?

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I recently spent time with a group of friends I see roughly four or five times a year and one of them asked me how my writing was going, knowing that I was doing it full-time. Well, I told her. Did I have a daily routine? she asked. Just to sit down and start, I replied. And when would my next book be out? In a few months. Non-fiction, I clarified. My next novel would be published in about a year’s time. Oh, she said with a hint of disappointment and then moved onto conversation with someone else.

That “Oh” gave me pause. Everyone else I’ve ever discussed my writing with (which isn’t too many people as I find it a little self-indulgent and difficult to do justice to when I’m the one talking) has had the exact same response, which is admiration – admiration at the fact that I’ve written and published books. After all, so many people talk about it and never get around to doing it but continue talking about it until anyone hearing them talk about it wants to beat them over the head with their non-existent book.

I also found it a little strange because I’ve always thought of non-fiction as a slightly higher, slightly more respectable calling than fiction (not my non-fiction, though, just the non-fiction of others) because it requires knowing what you are writing about (or it should) whereas in fiction you can just make up any old thing. Still, they both require effort and commitment over a reasonably lengthy period of time. Why would one let alone the lesser other (whichever you happen to think it is) elicit an “Oh”? Continue reading

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Project October 2017: Week Five

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Five: Abandonment or Accomplishment
It’s strange to say it but I think this Project October has resulted in both abandonment and accomplishment. No, I didn’t write a single word and ended up abandoning my plans to finish Trine but I’ve got some fairly well-developed plans for another book and a list of women wanting to participate, to have their stories told. Continue reading

Project October 2017: Week Four

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Four: Roadblock
I’ve started discussing the idea of my book on motherhood with the people whose stories I want to include. The three sisters I’ve written about previously are all eager to participate and so are many other relatives, friends and friends of friends. My own mother is hesitant though. She’s a very private woman and judges herself and some of the motherhood choices she made harshly – I think she fears others doing the same. Continue reading

Project October 2017: Week Three

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Three: Continuing

Week Three and I still haven’t written a single word. I can’t stop thinking about my sister and how much I want her to be able to tell her story. It probably wouldn’t support an entire book on its own but it would certainly be a powerful chapter in a book of motherhood stories from multiple women. And I know a lot of women with diverse and important experiences of motherhood. Continue reading

Project October 2017: Week Two

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Two: Beginning
It’s amazing how something small and seemingly unrelated can destroy all of a writer’s good intentions. It’s Week 2 of Project October and I should have written between 3,500 and 4,000 words in the past week, a very attainable writing goal. Instead I’ve haven’t written a single word. And the reason is a phone call with my sister. Continue reading

Project October 2017: Week One

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week One: Preparation
Before I even start, I know this Project October won’t be like any other Project October I’ve done. Normally, Project October is about writing as many words as possible. Normally, I aim for 1,000 words a day, which equates to 31,000 words over the course of the month. But this isn’t normal. Because the book I’ve chosen to work on is Trine and I’ve already written 85,000 words. It doesn’t need another 31,000 words. According to my calculations, I only need to write another 7 chapters, another 16,000 words and I’ll be finished. Continue reading

Memoir versus Faction versus Fiction

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When I enrolled in a master’s course at university to study writing at the postgraduate level in my late twenties, it came as something of a shock to me that almost all of my fellow students were retired or much older people interested in writing just one thing: their own story. Perhaps it was my relative youth and my correlating lack of life experience that meant I didn’t really understand why. After all, nothing much had happened to me at that point. (In fact, it’s over a decade later and nothing much has happened to me even now.)

But it wasn’t just that I’d stumbled across a rare collection of people focused on telling their own stories. These people, I’ve since discovered, are everywhere. And since there are just as many – probably a lot more – people wanting to read the real life stories of others, it makes sense that so many people pursue this avenue of writing.

But it’s not just as simple as putting it all out there. Writers who want to tell their own stories have plenty to consider. Continue reading