Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Aspiring Author Speaks!

Just over a month ago, I received an email from Ann Chadwick, who has been commissioned to re-write the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival website. As you may know, the festival, previously called the Harrogate Crime Writing Festival, is the must attend event of the year. It's the case for me and many others in the crime writing industry, whether they be published authors, budding writers, agents, publishers or fans (or sometimes a combination of the above). This is an event not to be missed.

Ann's new content for the website includes interviews with established authors of the genre, but she was also interested in speaking with aspiring authors and my name had been put forward, sourced from my attendance at the Creative Thursday events at the last two festivals.

I was delighted and more than happy to answer Ann's questions about the dreams of being a full time writer, the benefits of writing classes such as Creative Thursday, and any tips I might have for other budding authors.

I happened to check the website out today (looks great BTW!) and found that my interview has been posted! Check it out HERE!! Very happy with the results and absolutely stoked that I was able to contribute, in some way, to this wonderful festival.

Check out the rest of the website too - Ann has done a stellar job. There are other interviews, including those with authors Mark Billingham, Val McDermid, Laura Wilson, Kevin Wignall and Simon Kernick, as well as fan file interviews with some of the fans that are regulars at the festival in Harrogate (many of whom are budding writers in their own right (and are BTZ members to boot!!)).

Thanks again to Ann Chadwick for the interview and allowing me to contribute to the website, and thanks to Erica Morris for suggesting me to Ann in the first place.

And, just to let you know, I will be attending the festival again this year, including Creative Thursday, so I hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

"All Work And No Play . . ."

I've come to the end my week as a quasi full time writer. Seven days of wall-to-wall 2nd draft shenanigans (with one day off in between to experience what it's like to step outdoors and feel the sun, wind and rain on my face).

All in all, it was a very successful experience. At times it was sublime, other times frustrating, but overall it was something I enjoyed. Yes, my dreams of being a full time writer have not been shattered by endless hours of sitting in front of a computer, not speaking with another living soul, and living off packets of Cheese Doritos.

However, there were a few items noted for improvement for my next foray into full time writing:

- A bigger and better computer. Not to hurt the feelings of my Dell laptop bought back in the heady days of 2004, but staring at a petty 17inch screen for too long ain't good for the old noggin. The Nurofen had to be cracked open a couple of times to erradicate severe mind cramp.

- A reduction in hours worked each day. Some may say 7.5 hours a day is a bit pissweak, but I found I had no time to do other things, like leaving the computer to experience that funny thing they call LIFE. There was a two day stretch there where I hadn't left the house; I found myself talking to bees outside my window and wearing tissue boxes on my feet.

- A comfy chair. Not necessarily a deluxe leather super comfy chair but something that doesn't have a wooden back or a seat that contours to the ass of someone who sat in it in 1979.

Other than that, it all went very well. Thirty nine hours of rewriting and reviewing, 20% of the way through the 2nd draft and, as can be seen from the Noise Reduction meter, nearly 20,000 words culled from the manuscript.

A long way to go but a very, very successful week - both in output and experience.

As celebration, on my last day, I ate a large Pizza Express American Hot pizza and garlic bread right before bed. I read an interview with Jack Nicholson about the making of The Shining from an issue of Empire and then hit the sack. That night, the pepperoni taking its toll on my digestive system, I dreamt that I had looked back on my week's worth of writing and found the manuscript consisted of only one sentence, repeated over and over:

"All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy."

Reality was, I hadn't written anything that good.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Full Time Writer

The Full Time Writer: a long way off for me, but from tomorrow for six days, I will get a sense of what it feels like. In order to make significant inroads into my second draft, I've decided to take four days off work and hit it full time. My plan is to work seven and a half hours a day, the minimum amount of hours to do my day job. Yes, as the great writers say, you've got to treat it like a job, and that's what I plan to do.

Besides using the time off to catch up on getting this second draft done, the next six days will give me an opportunity to see what it's like to be doing this gig full time. I'll get a chance to find out whether I can sit in front of my computer and write for complete days, instead of the one or two hours I catch here and there. Good opportunity to experience the daily grind of the full time writer firsthand - definitely worth giving it a test run given it's a major goal in my life.

Of course, there will be established authors out there saying that being a full time writer isn't just about writing. And I agree - there's book tours, festivals, signings, radio and TV, blogs to update, fan emails to answer, editors, agents and publishers to meet, and all the other commitments a writer has these days. I recognise that I can't really experience those things yet - all that will be a separate challenge when the time comes, but at least I will get a chance to see if I enjoy or loathe the writing process on a full time basis. 'Cause if I don't like that part of it, the rest of it won't mean a thing.

This little exercise raises a few intriguing questions - what if after these next six days, I absolutely hate the full time writer malarkey? What if I yearn for my day job, sitting in the front of the computer, playing with spreadsheets and numbers? What if I can't take the pain? Will I give up?

Nah, probably not. But hey, it's a good excuse to post a series of blogs about the experience - and it's worth it just for the possibility that I'll stand up from my desk on Monday night and scream - I WANT TO DO MORE OF THIS!!!