What Kind of Writer Do You Want to Be?

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Hi, all. This is another chapter for my writing book for children. Any feedback is much appreciated.

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Saying you want to be a writer is a bit like saying you want to be an athlete. There are lots of different kinds of sports. And there are lots of different kinds of writing. Most kids start out by writing fiction (such as stories about aliens or adventures or animals) and non-fiction (such as essays about what you did over the summer). But by the time you’re all grown up, you’ll realise that there are a lot more – sometimes very specific – options for the kind of writer you might want to be.

Here are a few that you will have heard of and maybe a few that you’ve never even thought about. Continue reading

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The Thirty Books That Spark My Joy

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Anyone who doesn’t live under a rock will have heard of Marie Kondo, the tidying expert. She helps people to declutter their homes and their lives and when it comes to books, she lives by the following motto: “I now keep my collection of books to about thirty volumes at any one time.”

As happens frequently on the internet, this statement went through a huge round of Chinese (or perhaps that should be Japanese, in light of her nationality) whispers and suddenly everyone was saying that Marie Kondo was telling people to throw away most, if not all, of their books.

She wasn’t saying that. Her general advice is that the items you do keep should spark your joy. And if books spark your joy, then feel free to have as many of them as you want.

Books spark my joy. I have thousands. I have an entire room just for my books. I could have bought a cheaper house if books didn’t spark my joy so much. Still, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to find the thirty books that really spark my joy. Continue reading

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

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