Tag Archives: blogging

My Writing Process–Blog tour

A fellow writer, Linda Huber, who I met on Twitter, invited me to take part in a blog tour during which authors and writers talk about their process. I don’t have a current book to promote but I wanted to be helpful and I think it’s good to analyze the ways in which we approach our work.

Of course the main question might be Why do we blog? Well, it’s obvious. We like to think we’ve done some cool creative things (like the guys in the photo above) and we just wanted to show you.

You can enjoy Linda’s blog here. (She has a much prettier photo.) Her second novel, The Cold Cold Sea, will be published by Legend Press this summer.

What am I working on? I have just finished the first draft of a historical novel set during the fall of Singapore in WWII. It’s about a young British woman who falls in love with a Chinese man in the midst of chaos. I lived in Singapore for a year and became fascinated with the Peranakan culture. I wanted to attempt to write a romance. The first draft is a cringe-making mess. I am now trying to salvage it. To get at that vision I had which was smooth, clever, sexy.

How does my work differ from others of its genre? I began my career writing satires but wanted to try my hand at other genres. Perhaps I thought I would be taken more seriously. Get invited to the Booker party. I don’t know. But I haven’t been wildly successful lately until I wrote a darkly comic short story called My Wife the Hyena and it was included in the Best British Short Stories 2013. So perhaps I should return to my roots.

Why do I write what I do? I have a friend who laughs when I tell her what I’m writing next. She says Where do you come up with these ideas? Not sure but I do know that writing for me is compulsion. It is how I process the world and my place in it. I examine themes which pertain to me. For example, one of the Singapore story’s themes is nationalism. Because of the several number of nationalities in my family, this holds fascination for me. Successful writing, I find, involves a fine line between using that compulsion and fine-tuning it to interest others. Yes, I write about what interests me but I try very hard to write in a way that will interest others.

How does your writing process work? I write and write and write. Then I write some more. And then a bit more. I wish I had more control. Every time I approach a book I tell myself, Be more focused, Know where you’re going, Understand what you’re doing. But it never works. I just wrote a 85,000 word novel that frankly stinks for the first half. But I had to write that first half to know where I was going. The problem arises when I am loathe to give up sections of writing and spend too much time trying to squeeze them in other spots in the book. My best days are when I can finally kiss those large sections of darlings good-bye and toss them. Sometimes good material, like good men, will only show up if you get rid of the slackers.

Next Week Sarah Wesson will blog about her writing process. Here is her bio:

Sarah Wesson blogs at Earful of Cider so she can avoid writing while writing, and sometimes even while writing about writing. She’s a mommy of two, a spouse of one, a reader of anything, a public librarian, and a biographer of local dead people and rehasher of local history (not your local, her local).  She’s also a keeper of half-written fictional shipwrecks, completer of four drawer novels, querier of what is not a caper novel, because those don’t sell, and WIPping girl for a couple of new projects.
 

photo by Ari Helminen

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Thank you!

T’is the season to be rushed. T’is the season to fall behind. T’is the season to be just a wee bit grumpy.

I was thinking this the other day as I watched the early morning snow falling from the sky, trying its best to remain snow and failing. On the radio doom threatened: strikes, war, misery, all accompanied by the Wagner-esque symphony of possible global financial collapse.

My own season was becoming increasingly a list of things to tick off. And oh, the guilt. Yes, I was now personally responsible for the destruction of the high street by buying 85 % of my presents online.

I was thinking this when the door bell rang. I rushed downstairs, still in my robe, bleary-eyed and wild-haired, and at the door stood a delivery man, delivering yet another package I had ordered online (See? I told you). This package was big and round and he grinned at me—a delightful elf of a smile–and did a little bow as he twirled it into my hands.

And as that package passed from his hands to mine we both laughed. A joyous cosmic chuckle. A bright spark on a cold winter morning. Here we were two strangers, one up driving around in the early morning dark, the other still in her bathrobe, hurrying her children through breakfast. Such different lives and such different days ahead.

But in that split second we became one—sharing an unspoken joke, a joie de vivre on Dec. 16 at 8:05 on a nondescript street in London.

And as I closed the door, grinning, infected with this man’s joy, I thought ‘Now that’s the spirit!’

And I kept it with me for the rest of the day. So I thank him for that.

And I also give a HUGE THANK YOU to my subscribers and everyone else who has read my blog (you know who you are!).

Thank you so much for visiting. I appreciate the time I’m taking up in your head space. There is constant demand on your attention so I thank you for hanging out with me. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy your company.

I’m looking forward to meeting up again in the New Year. But right now it’s time to put down our pens, toss some tinsel and party!

X Nina

photo by Amber B McN (flickr)

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Is blogging bad for writers?

I’m not thinking of the usual reasons. The usual trio of: it’s a waste of time, who cares, it doesn’t sell books.

No, mine is more personal. Mine is–how can I put this delicately–I don’t really want to tell you what is really going on with me. Which in theory is the whole point of a blog, isn’t it? Someone out there in the cloud telling the world how it is to be them?

The idea was that I would write an author’s blog and the people would come. Readers want to know you, said the publicists.

Actually they said, We haven’t a clue but you might give it a shot.

So I did.

And I wrote very bland things. And the couple of times I wrote less bland things, I lost my agent, upset a friend, and well, luckily there wasn’t a third disaster because by that time I’d learned my lesson.

BE CAREFUL. BE VERY CAREFUL.

Authors, if they know what’s good for them, are not going to bare it all in a blog.

I never gave this blog a title because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to focus on: writing, living in London, parenting. There are so many excellent writing blogs out there that I didn’t know where to place myself. Then I thought, I know,  I’ll write about being a struggling midlist writer!

All the squirrels outside my window fell from the trees with boredom.

So I’ve hopped around, trying to give a sense of what a novelist might think about. But always inoffensive. Light light. Nicey nicey.

But to get an involved following an author is supposed  to offer something of herself. Warts and all. Real opinions. Real feeling.

But sorry, I can’t do that. All the good stuff I have to keep close to my chest. Anything interesting I’m not going to divulge facelessly through the ether. To be read by those I don’t know. Or even worse, by those I do!

This reticence is why I became a novelist in the first place. To divulge the workings of my conflicted soul in the safe anonymity of my characters. Where I can let lose all those uncomfortable, sometimes cruel observations and opinions that lurk inside me. That bubble up in all of us. Which are acceptable in characters but not usually in real people. Which is why we all love fiction so much.

If readers want to know a writer, the best they can do is read his or her novel.

Where we can be conflicted, twisted and snarky to our heart’s delight.

photo by mugley (flickr)

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Oink Oink Flu

swine-flu2I have half a mind to run to the closed schools in London and run my children’s hands over any surfaces hoping they will pick up the swine flu virus. Because as of now it seems to be quite mild. And, if the 1918 version is anything to go by, a stronger version in the autumn is supposed to come back and wipe us all out. So if we got it now we’d have the antibodies in the fall and be would be sitting pretty. Starving and thirsty and horribly scared because all society would fall apart. But alive.

But then today there was this article.

So who knows what is in store.

And yes, for those, oh, one or two, of you out there who are wondering why so few blogs now, well I decided not to blog every day.

Because one, who cares?

And two, who cares?

I think I was starting to approach it as a marathon. Damn it, I can do this. I can. I told myself I would try to do it for a year. But luckily for me I went on vacation and got a life.

And found that I loved not having to look at life through the eyes of a webmonster. (Can you say that again? I’d like to use it in my blog.) I loved not having to stop in the mid-morning rush and publish. And I loved not having to think about it.

Of course, no one was putting a gun to my head.

But there is a fine line between self expression, keeping in touch and…rambling. Not saying I’m no longer rambling but here is the new, not really improved, version of my blog: weekly. For now.

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No Buy

no-buyI just finished reading another book. And being very topical for this G20 summit in town, it’s called Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping by Judith Levine.

It’s an interesting read specifically because it was published in 2006 bang in the middle of our consumer rush. Reading it now, in our credit crunch, is like watching a Ferrari fly by you at 350 miles per hour, knowing there’s a 100-car pile-up ahead.

I must say I picked it up feeling slightly smug. I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a miser: My gifts tend to be small. I make fun of my husband’s wide range of shoes for every subtle change of terrain. ( I shouldn’t, he’s a much better gift-giver than I am). My poor children are still riding first bikes so small their knees touch their ears.

I once even tried a moratorium on shopping: I forbid my family to buy anything for six months.

I don’t think we lasted two hours.

Turns out, I burn money like Shell drills oil. We always seem to need something: more underwear, a zebra patterned swimsuit, art books, children shoes, a piano book, endless birthday presents, peppermint scrub shower gel.

And yes, I did desperately need that Boden flippy spring skirt in that enticing shade of peach.

But Judith Levine and her significant other, Paul, have showed me the way. You can live without buying most things. So I’m going to start. I’m going to impose a serious, no-buy-except-for-food-and-real-necessities-ban. (OK, maybe new bikes).

After our trip to the US.

photo by reebob (flickr)

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Multinational Family

easter-bunnyI’m chewing my nails waiting for my daughter’s American passport to arrive. I suddenly noticed it is due to expire right in the middle of our Easter trip to the States.

To get her another one I had to round up her birth certificate, her Consular Report of Birth Abroad, her social security card, her, my Australian husband and his passport, me and my passport, and present us all at the American Embassy on Grosvenor Square where we had to wait at several security checks, stroll by men with very big guns, pass through the bullet proof door and present ourselves at the window.

And this was just for a renewal.

I’m not going to complain here. Did enough of it already.

But that’s the problem with a multinational family. We have passports coming out of our ears. My husband has an Australian passport. I’ve got an American one. My daughter, who was born in London, has a British and an American passport. My son, who was born in Singapore, has an American passport and an Australian passport. It’s funny, two passports from countries he’s never lived in. But he is not eligible for Singaporean nationality and we haven’t gotten round to getting him British citizenship though I think he might be eligible by now for having lived here at least five years.

Needless to say, passport control officers cringe when they see us coming.

Anyway I hope it comes in time. We have grandparents to snuggle with, friends to visit and an American Easter Bunny to find.

photo by Scott Kinmartin (flickr)

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Only in Great Britain

ukulele

You want a laugh?

Click on this.

It’s the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. Playing the song from the movie, Shaft.

It’s brilliant. It’s eccentric. It’s wonderful.

It reminds me why I love this country.

If you ever wondered– and I know you did — Ukulele supposedly comes from the Hawaiian word for dancing flea. Check out the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain’s website for other fascinating tidbits.

Have a great weekend.

photo by Tywak (flickr)

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