Monday, 7 May 2012
There's writing, and then there's writing - Linda Newbery
Until recently I thought I was the laziest writer alive. I know I'm not really, because there's a bookshelf lined with books to prove otherwise, but when I'm idling at my desk - or doing something else altogether to avoid facing the screen - I feel incredibly lazy. There are writers who turn out three thousand words a day, or write tirelessly for hours on end. I just can't do that. Sometimes, especially at the start of a project, I have to cajole, bully and threaten myself in order to get anything done at all.
Fortunately it's not always like that, or why would I do it? A book usually takes off for me when I'm about a third of the way in. And I love revising. When I was revising THE DAMAGE DONE for its Kindle edition, I found myself working at all hours, reluctant to stop. Revising is so much easier than first-stage writing.
It's come as a surprise, this last month, to find that writing non-fiction feels so very different. I'm co-writing a commissioned book about writing children's fiction, and there's not only the knowledge that the other author is busily working away at her sections, but we have a Plan. I know what to do, even if not quite how to do it.
But the biggest difference is that I'm not worrying about it in the way that I do when writing fiction. No, perhaps worrying isn't quite right. Writing a story brings with it a tension that feels like concentrating very hard on walking a tightrope. If I fall off, everything will be ruined. This how-to book doesn't feel like that at all. I can leave off at any point, even for a day or two if necessary. I can spend all morning happily searching for a quotation from C S Lewis in order to add a footnote. I can find satisfaction in getting one little thing sorted out.
Above all, I've found that I can sit at my desk and work. But it can't last. The fiction-writing part of my brain is impatient to get to work on a new novel.
- Linda Newbery is the author of many books for children and young adults, including the Costa Children's prize winner, SET IN STONE, a Victorian Gothic mystery. Her latest children's novel, THE TREASURE HOUSE, is published this month by Orion Children's Books. She is currently finishing an adult novel