Thursday, 9 January 2014


Lionel Shriver - pic from The Guardian
I am in a very weird position at the moment in that I am working on crucial end-of-writing things on two separate novels. It's all good fun but my mind is having to leap from one book to the other in alarming timeframes, and there are plenty of other things going on besides.

This week, I have seen covers for Novel #2,  The Closet of Savage Mementos, (exciting!) and have narrowed it down to two possibilities. The designer is rejigging both at the moment and I am dying to see the finished products. I have just written blurb for that novel too and am waiting to see what my editor makes of that.

Meanwhile, my agent and I are toing and froing across the Atlantic about the title for Novel #3, which she will be submitting to publishers this month. My original title is not all-encompassing enough so we are trying all sorts, from the wordy to the downright plain. Nothing has satisfied both of us yet so we will continue researching, then batting things back and forth until we land on the right title.

In the middle of all this I have two deadlines for stories, one of which is proving baffling to me (the story that is, not the deadline). The other is nearly done but it is mournful and I am not 100% certain it will suit the publication. Hmmm.

I was reading an article about Jennifer Weiner this week in the New Yorker (on gender imbalance in publishing etc.) in which she mentioned personal dressers and personal assistants and all sorts. I'm not quite at that stage (!!) but, sometimes, I feel there should be three of me: The Writer, The Admin Person and The Mother.

All this busy-ness reminds me, too, of that recent Lionel Shriver article in the New Republic, about being pulled 20 different directions as a writer, and which one sniffy commentator called 'a writerly diva fit'. Pfff. Lionel was making the point that being too busy means less time for actual writing (which is very agitating for a writer). A quote: 'Now that every village in the United Kingdom has its own literary festival, I could credibly spend my entire year, every year, flitting from Swindon to Peterborough to Aberdeen, jawing interminably about what I’ve already written—at the modest price of scalding self-disgust.'

I'm with Lionel. I'll end on a more uplifting quote from her about the whole business: 'If sometimes stressful or distracting, even subsidiary commitments are also opportunities: to connect with flesh-and-blood readerships, to air views and grievances, to exploit a more theatrical side of one’s character (I’m a ham), and for pity’s sake to get out of the house.'


RichR said...

Good luck with all that! Excited to think of not one but two novels on the way.

I was surprised at the vitriol directed at that Shriver essay. Everyone seemed to focus on the success she's had and discount the distractions that success creates for somebody in a profession that requires so much time for focused, solitary work. A whole lot of sour grapes from the commentariat. Ah well, the grass always appears greener, I suppose.

dan powell said...

Being about to attend my first festival as a guest author, I read this post with a little grin on my face. While I can understand Shriver perhaps not wanting to spend all year attending all the festivals, I can't wait to get my first under my belt. Looking forward to the whole thing.


Thanks, Rick.
Yes, I know plenty of people who give writers NO credit for hard work. Maddening.


It's cool to be asked, for sure and I love festivals.
But it rather takes over your life at a certain point. Hotel rooms on your own are lonely when you stay in them a lot. I just accept it as part of the deal but it doesn't make it easy when you miss your family.