Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Creative Process Blog Tour

Emma Jane Unsworth is about to launch her new novel Animals. She has been tangled up in a blog-web entitled ‘The Creative Process Blog Tour’ in which you answer four questions about your writing process and then pass the baton to two more writers. I am one of Emma’s chosen two, how flattering! Below are my answers, here are Emma’s answers, and I have scored two terrific contributors for my part: Zoe Lambert, poet, and Alex Niven, poet and music writer, who will post their responses soon. And the chain goes on! It's lovely to be part of it. Hope you enjoy!

What am I working on?

I’m tweaking my novel The Shakespeare Girl. At this stage the notion of second and third drafts is no longer applicable. It feels finished but I suppose I won’t be able to leave it alone until an agent wrenches it from my badly paper-cut hands. So what I’m really working on is finding an agent. In terms of writing, my blogging and arts work is ongoing and thankfully about to increase. I’ve started the research for a non-fiction project which I’m already very excited about. I’ve finished the research for another novel about the Blitz Kids and black magic. But the next thing I’m actually writing is a play. I sound like Daisy from Spaced now I realise… Trust me, these things will materialise though! I recently saw two of my ideas turned into finished pieces by somebody else and it made me realise with a start that you can’t sit on your ideas for too long because they are all floating around out there for other people to pluck out of the air…

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is definitely a question for a more seasoned and experienced writer than myself. If I knew what genre The Shakespeare Girl was I would be able to find a home for it much easier I’m sure! Literary-comic fiction perhaps? And a bit of pastoral. Maybe ‘tragical-comical-historical-pastoral, to quote Hamlet. I have a good idea of who my readership might be at the very least, if not the genre of the writing.

Why do I write what I do?

It’s really the strength of an idea that compels me to get something down. The first thing I ever wrote was a silly novella about a couple of temps who fall in love and win a huge amount of money and go on an adventure to experience life all over the world. I was lonely and broke at the time, no passport, no girlfriend, no boyfriend, and the fantasy of the story was a comfort so I ended up writing it all down and it proved to be great escapism. With The Shakespeare Girl the idea of digging up the playwright’s grave is so tantalising, not just because of what we might find but because of how it might make the world react. The idea never fails to fill me with curious energy and it was sufficient to construct an entire narrative and cast of characters around it.

How does my writing process work?

I’m still very much learning the craft but for the most part I know what the final point of the story is and I try to move the story methodically towards it. For instance, character A needs to learn something about character B: what’s the best way to unfold that discovery? The funniest or saddest or most unexpected way? I try out various scenarios in my head, often involving dialogue that I say to myself. When I’ve settled on the ‘method’ I map the chapter and fill it with detail and then I write that in one sitting and edit the following day, and then it’s done. It won’t get edited again until a larger chunk of the story is written because the context is such a big part of it, you can’t edit in isolation. I’m a very good editor but a nervous writer; the initial writing incubates for a good while before it hits the page.

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