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Saturday, January 16, 2010
Why Don’t I Update My Blog More Often? Well, I’m Going To.
The function of this blog up until now has been as a news platform, to promote upcoming publications, book tours etc and I will still use it for that, but I've now decided to start using it also as a very personal reading diary.
This was inspired by a fascinating book I read last year by Stephen King, called On Writing, which is about – funnily enough – the process of writing.
Although I've enjoyed all the films I’ve seen of his books (I think 'The Shining' is the best horror film ever made), his novels are not in a genre that interests me, but after a fellow novelist told me about this one, I thought it would be interesting to see how one of the biggest-selling authors of all time approaches his craft. Might pick up some tips...
The book changed my life. Seriously.
I had been getting quite low sitting on my own in a room from 9 to 5, five days a week, which was how I was writing my books. I felt guilty if I didn’t give it all my possible working time. Then I felt guilty for not enjoying what I do, when I know I’m so very lucky to make a living as a writer. Ooh, lots of lovely guilt – great for the creative process. Not.
But then I read about Stephen King’s rationale: his writing day is finished as soon as he has chalked up 2,000 words. Revelation! Sometimes he’s done by 11am, other days he’s at his desk until tea time, but once he hits the magic number he’s free.
He then went on to relate how other writers approached it. Victorian novelist Anthony Trollope – who had a full-time job running the Royal Mail, but also managed to pop out an astonishing 47 novels – wrote for a precise amount of time each morning. If he finished a novel with five minutes left to go, he would start another one. If he was three sentences from the end of one, it had to wait until the next day.
Another thing that fascinated me in King’s book was a list of all the books he had read in the previous year. It was a very long list, because that’s what he does when he’s finished his daily word count. He reads.
My reading has come down to a few minutes each evening before I drop asleep, so it takes me ages these days to read an average-sized book, and I was doing it passively, not fully engaged.
I used to rip through several novels in a week, reading while I was wide awake with synapses in full snap and Stephen King made me realise that to continue developing as a writer, I need to get back to being an active reader.
Add to that a growing awareness of the ever diminishing finite number of books left that I will be able to read in my lifetime, and I knew I had to take affirmative action
So my plan for this year, is to stop work when I’ve written 2,500 words, to read more, and to keep a list of what I read. And that list will be in the form of posts on here.
It's been a diverse career. Not many people have written for Allure and (the late-lamented...) Gourmet mag.
I've been a magazine editor, an op ed columnist on a broadsheet newspaper, and for years covered the fashion shows in Paris, Milan etc.
But while I shifted between the worlds of food, fashion and current affairs, there was one overriding passion: books.
Now I write them - five novels published, with another due out this year, and several books of journalism.
Here I write about them.