Thursday, 18 June 2009

Writing a go-go

Romance writer Christina Jones came to a Reading library Monday. I'm not really into romance novels, but the books are set in Berkshire, which spiked my interest. Besides, hearing an author talk about how she works seemed amply worth the £2 entry fee. I really hoped she'd go into how she found a publisher, but it turns out she never had to try too hard to get one, and I didn't feel like asking questions (I've become a bit reclusive and shy, must work on that).

She seemed very down-to-earth and basically like a nice, average Jane. The kind of person it'd be nice to have a pint with, and in fact she works in a pub when not churning out a book at the last minute to meet deadline.

That's what I found truly interesting, that she works best if she leaves things to the last minute. I find that helps me, too. I don't wait until the last minute necessarily, but it's the deadline breathing down my neck that makes me actually finish something. I keep wanting to rewrite, take a different direction, start over. Ever since I've gotten off the treadmill of full-time journalist and freelance columnist on the side, I haven't written very much, even though I have more time. And I've started far more pieces than I've finished. With a deadline, it's the knowledge that I can't keep changing it, I have to finish and be done with it whether it's perfect or not that forces me to wrap something up, smack it on the ass and send it out into the world.

Of course, the deadline also helps because that means you already have someone waiting to publish it; it's a bit harder working on something when you don't know if or when anyone will actually buy the damn thing, and that you'll have to actually hunt someone down and convince them to take it. Then there are submission deadlines for magazines/journals, but that's the deadline for everyone jockeying to be selected rather than a commissioned piece, so it's not the same motivation because you don't know if you'll make the cut. A deadline for a commissioned piece or full-time job may be stressful, but in the end, it's a magical, lovely thing to have.

Of course, I've never written anything the length of a book. It's hard enough to decide I'm actually done with and can stop re-writing something that's 1,000-2,000 words -- can you imagine actually staying on the same track without second-guessing it all for 60,000 words or so and actually deciding it's ready to hand in? Hats off to that accomplishment.

I checked out a book by Jones before she came, because I didn't want to go if it was unreadable tripe. Luckily, it was an enjoyable book. It was light fare that distracted me from other worries for a brief time, and that's probably the whole point of romance novels.

I really didn't intend to blog on and on about this, but it was interesting to see how another writer works, even if it's a rather different sort of writing than what I do or what I typically read. I should've bought a book and said hello after the talk, but at the time I was just thinking of the mountains of books I already have waiting to read and that I didn't know if I'd get around to another romance novel. But now I wish I had, as I'd enjoyed the talk and I'm sure I'd get around to the book eventually. Ah well, maybe next time.

1 comment:

  1. I didn't realise her books were set in Berkshire. That makes me a little intrigued..


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