The Amazing App


I haven’t been up to much lately. Maybe due to the weather. We’re in Cambridge right now – one day bright and freezing, the next day mild and wet. Both of which induce me to hibernate. There ought to be a law against weather like this. Of course, when Britain gains full control of its destiny after Brexit, such a law will be passed straightaway and the future will be eternally sunny.

Or it could be the change in routine. Two weeks ago, our second granddaughter was born so we’re busy trying to entertain the first, who now has a rival Centre of the Universe to contend with. As a result, it’s harder to retreat to my own universe to write.

Without the routine, concentration is elusive. It’s like playing golf with a ping-pong ball. Not that I’ve ever done that. Nor even with a golf ball. Or actually, yes, I did try once, but the divots flew further than the ball. When I’d finished, they had to replant the whole fairway.

Anyway, you see what I mean. In order to write, concentration has to be swift, straight and compact, soaring unerringly to the green. But right now, it’s blown into the rough at the slightest breeze. Or adorable granddaughter’s clamour for attention.

I adapt. No point continuing draft three of the WIP – it’s precisely the stage where concentration needs to be maximum. But since not writing at all is an impossibility,* instead I dream up a different story altogether. You don’t have to concentrate for that because you’re not actually writing. You’re just imagining characters, settings and plot. It’s the idea stage, which is wonderful because at that point you’re convinced it’ll turn into a masterpiece. It’s only when you start to write that disillusionment sets in.

I’m going to invent an app. You upload your idea, click on ‘Transform’ and three minutes later you have a novel. Or a film, if you prefer. In the premium version, you’ll be able to choose the actors.

My latest idea is a love story and ghost story that flits between the present and 1855. Brilliant, isn’t it? The main character is Samuel, who’ll be played by Ralph Fiennes. Or maybe Daniel Day-Lewis, I haven’t quite decided.

* A more serious, more complete analysis of the compulsion to write can be found in Carl Reed’s latest post on the Writers’ Co-op.

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  1. Dear friend… you say you’ve been without writing for a long time… sorry, I’ve been “forgetting” (not really) your entries. I’m liniving in the same city, Barcelona, but I’ve moved and it brings a lot of work and (blushing)… I felt soooo lazy. I hope to read and comment you again. Congratulations for the new grandaughter.
    And about Brexit… you think it’ll be good for Great Britain or the rest of Europe??? I don’t know, really.
    My best regards!!!!!!

  2. I’d purchase that app. You might also try pumping Granddaughter #1 for murder mystery fodder — children whose Center of the Universe status changes can dream up diabolical ways to eliminate their competition. But you don’t want to wait too long because in a couple of years, she’s going to realize she has someone to boss around who has no veto power. The sibling dynamic is never democratic. Second of five children speaking.

  3. As someone who is intimidated by authors who not only define a writing and publishing schedule, but stick to it, I’m pleased to learn you can take a break. What a delightful reason you have, enjoy your time with the girls. Best wishes for 2017. X

    • Thanks, Yvonne. Best wishes also! Although not writing does leave me vaguely dissatisfied, there’s renewed energy when I return to it, so it probably balances out.

  4. Congrats on the birth of your granddaughter! I fully appreciate the distraction, as my daughter constantly distracts me from my own writing.

    Maybe the weather in the U.S. will take a similar turn with Trump coming into power soon and de-funding all those silly climate change programs.

    I’ve finally picked Tiny Shadows back up for a 2nd edit, although to be fair, I never quite made it through the first. Can you please post more about editing, to keep me motivated? I know it’s a purely selfish request, but we writers need one another, and you’re one of the driving forces behind my desire to finish this damn book.

    On a side note, I apologize as I got distracted and haven’t finished reading Perfume Island. It will happen eventually, I promise. Have you published it yet? I remember reading about your agent dropping it, but I haven’t been good about keeping up so I’m not sure where you landed with it.

    Hope all is well. Sending concentration vibes your way!

    • Thanks for the lovely comment, Amanda. No hurry for Perfume Island – whenever you get round to it is fine! I need to send out a newsletter to explain what’s happening, but I’ve rescheduled my whole strategy and won’t publish it till April or May, I think.
      Yes, I’ll think up an ‘editing’ post – it’s not a selfish request at all. On the contrary, it warms my heart that you should ask for it. All the best – keep plugging away and you’ll get there!

  5. Thanks Tammy. Back home now – a little frazzled! Busy on a prequel to One Green Bottle and not blogging much. But intending to get back into it. Wishing you all the best!

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