Woman, wife, mother, cook, domestic superwoman, fixer of all things broken, including hearts (although not so clever at mending her own), knitter of baby blankets, singer, animal lover, wildly enthusiastic child at heart and writer.
Actually, there are many more labels I could add to that list, but there comes a stopping point in any long sentence, to avoid losing the drum beat, the rhythm – and writing good prose is about musicality in all ways. If the sentences don’t sing along, a reader will find their attention wandering. Mine can wander just reading a recipe, and I cannot bear to read bad writing. In fact, I just won’t. If I have begun a book, any book, and find that by page 3 I am thinking how dull and mundane this is, I snap the book shut and send it off to the local charity shop.
Even when I wasn’t writing, when my five kids were young and the only words laid out before me were homework diaries or to-do lists, I still couldn’t bear anything tuneless or without a beat. I thought……life is too short for any such wasting of time. It wasn’t good english I looked for, nor fancy explanations using big long words nobody had dusted off or brought into the light since the reign of Julius Caesar….not at all, but if I found I couldn’t believe what I was reading, that the writer him or herself didn’t believe in what they were writing, I felt a huge yawn rise up from my boots and that, in a word, was that.
And I read a lot of books, sometimes two a week, now that I have more time to do so. I think good writers must read avidly, greedily, to hear other voices, learn other ways of doing the ordinary everyday things we all do, and, most importantly, how each character feels about this ‘doing’ thing.
As I wrote Island Wife, my first book published by Two Roads, I wrote all about how I felt as I worked through the ordinary days of my life, and found, to my delight, that it lifted them into the extraordinary. Not because everything was extraordinary all the time,, but because I said honestly how I felt about mopping floors, milking cows, skinning rabbits, cooking for hotel guests, or plaiting the mane and tail of a carthorse. We all do these things, or some of them anyway, but how do you feel about the dull task of mopping a floor? Once you begin to think about how you feel, really walk into the feeling, you will find a whole world of depth and texture you never imagined possible – taking you far beyond the black and white checked lino, or the red handled mop and matching bucket, or the way the bubbles go brown after the third dunk.
I do the same when I paint, when I sing, when I knit a baby blanket for a new grandchild. I look at whatever it is, then ask myself, how do I feel about this or that or the other? And then I write that down, or paint it down, or knit it.
I create spontaneously, and work quickly. Once I begin to write, I don’t stop to amend, repair or correct anything. I just keep going until I know that part is done. Its dangerous to question whilst the creative flow is upon me. Once it is down, then reason can be applied, but not before. And when I am creating I have no sense of time. Hours can pass as minutes, for I am truly a part of the process, a channel for the rhythm and music, the colours and swirls, the smell and the touch of whatever I am working on.
You can read my story, out now. I hope you do. People, so far, seem to love it. They ask…..what will your next book be? Well I can’t write another memoir, so its going to have to be a novel. I have the notes, the ideas all scribbled down in my A4 pad. I just have to begin.