Motivation - by Sandra Horn

A huge thank you to all the kind folk who helped me untangle the
Suvi and the Sky Folk by Sandra Horn
knot I made last time.

I wish I were the kind of writer who sits down at a desk after breakfast and writes until lunchtime, pausing only for a swift coffee, then starts again until late afternoon. I wish I had a desk uncluttered by scribbled odds and ends. I understood novelist Alice Thomas Ellis only too well when she thought about going outside in a thunderstorm. She said she didn't REALLY want to get struck by lightning, but it might be better than going back in to try to get on with the book. Yet I love writing. It's one of the major pleasures of life. Playing blasted Solitaire on the pc isn't - so why? I wish I knew.
          The odd thing is, if someone gives me a commission with a tight brief and a short deadline, I'm in there! I'm like the proverbial ferret up a drainpipe and I pause neither to eat nor sleep until it's done. I'll write 13+ drafts and be utterly antisocial - head too full of THE TASK to engage in chitchat.
          Sometimes, when I've sent it in, I'm still buzzing (buzzing like a ferret? hmm) and I'll blast off revisions. I blame my old Headmistress, Alice Lunn, known (of course) as Sally. She was very small with immaculately coiffed white hair. She had two deadly weapons. One was that she addressed us - individually - as 'Old Lady' when we were in trouble. It was years before it dawned on me that it was probably a ploy for when she couldn't remember names. She said it in a devastatingly shocked and reproachful voice. 'What's this I've been hearing about you, Old Lady? EATING ON THE BUS!' Killer. How could anyone do such a depraved thing?  It had probably kept her up all night, weeping, and sent her coronary arteries into spasm as well.
          The worst thing by far, however, was to be sent for by her because NGI had been written by your name in the register. Oh, the blistering shame of those three letters! Where's the samurai sword? I'll do it now, rather than live with myself a cringing moment longer! NGI. Not Given In. I'm going all pink and bothery now, thinking about it. 'Can you explain this, Old Lady?'
          'Instead of doing my homework, I was out round the estate being a hoyden, Miss Lunn.' No. Better to grovel and howl and promise to be good and never ever do it again. So, thank you, Sally, for sitting on my shoulder whenever someone gives me 'homework' - eg this blog. Now, if only she had found a way of prodding me along all the time. Nah. Wouldn't work. Writing is about being free, being naughty, being cheeky, being a tad chaotic, being out from under. It's the antithesis of NGI. That's why being Old Lady'd doesn't work. That's my story, anyway.

          This is the latest picture book up on Kindle. I will post about making e-picture books .We've (that's the unroyal 'we' - it means him) just moved to using Kindle comic book maker from the agony of having to create page-by-page pdfs. It's much quicker and easier. Apparently.


CallyPhillips said…
Agree wholeheartedly about the 'frisson' of short deadlines. BUT I'm afraid I've always been a 'get it in before the deadline' kind of person. Without prompting. Mainly because I find that LIFE throws me enough curve balls that if I'm not well ahead of the game it's too stressful. I agree creativity is all about freedom etc, but getting written work in well before time is not a denial of this freedom. Old Lady. I have employed this over years to avoid what I have termed 'the spaghetti trick' which is a long (and probably boring) personal story about spaghetti being thrown down a sink in times of stress. I find that someone always does 'the spaghetti trick' on me to try and prevent me meeting a deadilne so I am even earlier. For example. Wordpress has just tried this on me for the ebook festival. There I was happily scheduling the 160 posts when they BANNED me at 100. Can't schedule more than 100 in advance apparantly. Or the world will end? So I've had to go back ,save into draft (which I'm sure takes as much space) and will have to redo it all as the festival gets underway. See - all that stress is unnecessary. I shall get your old headmistress onto Wordpress and sort them out.
Great blog post though - and came in in a 'timely manner' (LOL)
madwippitt said…
Blimey Sandra, I thought you were writing about me when I read those first few paragraphs. Glad I'm not the only one! Commissions and tight deadlines make me curse, but by golly they make me productive.

Look forward to reading your post about making e-picture books - hope you're going to reveal a painless way of doing it after the horrors of including illustrations in my last one!

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