Rules of Writing: Tea and Biscuits

Someone once said that there are only three rules to writing fiction. Just a pity no one knows what they are…

But lots of people try and explain them. Successful writers, not so successful writers, and non-writers who think it’s all easy anyway, because anyone can do it.

I think the most important after a love of words and language, though, is a plentiful supply of tea or coffee, whichever you prefer, probably accompanied by a plate of biscuits…

POTM June (2)

A Room of One’s Own

Completing a novel is all about writing. About finding the time to write, every single day, whether for five minutes and a hundred words or eight hours and two thousand. It’s also about having the space to settle down, hopefully undisturbed, to use that time to write.

I lost the habit of writing in the last six months of last year, except for blog-posts. It’s easily done when Life makes other demands. Life does that, sadly. No time, no energy.

It didn’t help that the room I meant to use as my Stitchery and Office was filled with all the junk we hadn’t managed to get rid of just yet. There was barely space for my laptop, let alone me. No space, either. I can write while curled up on the sofa, but there are distractions.

Last week, though, the spare room became this:

Stitchery Office

Clean, tidy, and available for use. So far (touch wood), it’s working. I am writing again.

There is much to be said for Virginia Woolf’s claim that a woman requires money and a room of her own in order to write. Certainly the room is indispensable. Money would be nice, too, but we can’t have everything…

And yes, I do sit on the giant bean-bag, and yes, I do know how bad it probably is for me to spend so long hunched over the desk with no back-support.

It’s comfy, and I like it.


Quick Novels

‘Anyone can write a novel, given six weeks, pen, paper, and no telephone or wife.’

Evelyn Waugh

With the first week of NaNoWriMo behind us, I thought a quick round-up of some famous novels written in under six might help to encourage all those whose pens have stilled for various reason.

First up, Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, written in six weeks while convalescing for a war-injury in the spring of 1944. I really enjoyed Brideshead. I like the language and the imagery, I like the way it deals with Catholicism (Waugh was a Catholic), and I like the bittersweet ending.

A childhood favourite, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women was written in just three weeks. I always liked Jo – I think there’s something about the name in fiction whereby she has to be feisty and a writer (Jo in The Chalet School, anyone?) – and Beth’s near-death was always emotional, no matter how many times I read it.

For people who think mysteries are all about obsessive plotting, A Study in Scarlet, the first Sherlock Holmes story, was also written in just three weeks, while Arthur Conan Doyle ran a medical practice.

And Robert Louis Stephenson wrote The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in about two weeks. I found that one strange. I don’t remember it being particularly horrifying, perhaps because of already sort-of knowing the story.

To be fair, none of these are particularly long books, all quite reasonable lengths but not door-stoppers, but I do think that Evelyn Waugh has a point about the lack of distractions. Would be nice not to have to worry about the Real World and such pesky things as bills and so on. Would make it much easier to write a novel.