What I Did on My Bank Holiday

This is no time for gardening!

Most of the freelancers I know have an untraditional attitude to holidays. It's either a case of 'if I don't work I don't eat' or that clients don't expect you to be available so you can use the time to catch up on other stuff behind the scenes. 

In my case that meant some morning yoga (don't be too impressed - we're only talking a few daily minutes here), a five-mile walk, and an unplanned meeting with a centenarian. He didn't say a lot but he was surprisingly spritely. He lives on a strict vegetarian diet and mostly sleeps in the wintertime. Okay, he's a tortoise. Apparently he was bought from Woolworth's in the 1920s.

After I'd got back and put aloe vera on my head (note to self: always take a hat with you; you can no longer remain in denial), I spent a little time reviewing my shiny website, beautifully reconstructed by Beth from https://lollipopsandrainbows.co.uk 

Along with flitting in and out of http://www.professional-writer.co.uk I also sifted through old blog posts to see which ones deserved to make the cut. It's interesting to read the early material and to see how much character I put into those posts. Back then, I think, I wanted the reader to know me and to empathise with / be amused by my situations. As the calendar rolled on a few years I can see more book postings - mine and other people's - and a few sponsored posts that paid for meals out and other treats. 

I wonder what I'd say to that writer who, back then, was still writing novels and stories in the abyss where readers fear to tread. Obviously, if he hadn't kept plugging away I'd be stuffed now and my book shelf would be a little more spacier. Maybe I'd tell him to write more - more material, more depth and more honesty. But here's the thing. Writers have a whole internal process of which readers - and often the writers themselves - are completely unaware. As a mental health professional recently said to me in a conversation about dream symbolism: it's all about the self. So every character, every murder or treachery or triumph or failure, comes from somewhere inside us. We may mine your names, situations and snippets of dialogue but the heart and soul of whatever we're writing is torn from us like pulsing flesh. We can only write what we're ready to write, at least if we want the words to emerge authentically. That means writing the crud as well as the gems. It means revealing some small part of oneself (and often not so mall) in every scene. 

I'm joining a webchat later this week with a group of readers who have just read Standpoint, my first Thomas Bladen spy thriller. I don't know how other authors do it but I plan to answer every question head on, ducking nothing, in an effort to be as honest with my readers off the page as on it. They've chosen to journey through the world of my imagination so it's the least I can do. If I can I'll post some of the questions and answers in a blog next month.

Take a look at my books!


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