Writing – The Fantasy versus The Reality

The other day, I shared on social media a scrappily-put-together meme of the me I like to think I am when I write… and the truth. My publisher, Karen Sullivan, was rather tickled, and we invited other writers to do the same. And what delights were revealed in the wake of my honesty. Want to see them? Of course you do.

So here’s my #RealWritingFace…

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The beautiful Claire King – author of The Night Rainbow and Everything Love Is – shared hers. I find this warm and comforting. I also want to get spectacles.

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And then Mr John Marrs – author of Welcome to Wherever You Are and The One – pinged me this beauty. I recognise the hunk at the bottom, but not sure who that nobody at the top is…

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Amanda Prowse – author of way to many novels to list here, my favourite being Three And a Half Heartbeats – sent me her own treat. She and Claire King have the same fantasy. They should get together. Could be fun.

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Craig Lancaster – author of the 600 Hours of Edward series – is quite a dandy. I reckon I need me a quilted jacket with gold trim…

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Gill Paul – author of The Secret Wife and Women and Children First – fantasises about writing in a tidy, calm and orderly environment. Her real life is another matter. Nice bottom though. Have to admit that kind of derriere is definitely my fantasy.

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David VideoCassette… sorry, David Videcette – author of The Theseus Paradox – adores writing. See how he needs no encouragement. See how happy he is at his desk.

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Cassandra Parkin – author of The Beach Hut and Lily’s House – cheated a little. Her writing face is way too pretty. Boooo! Nice ‘almost going to cry at this writing malarky’ eyebrows though.

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Louisa Treger – author of The Lodger – is Wonder Woman. At least she feels that way. So do I. Then I tighten my dressing gown, scratch my Brian May hair, and get on with real life…

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Kate Furnival – she of The Liberation and White Pearl fame – is a creator of fiction in more ways than one. She tells guests she writes in a place at home that she doesn’t! Never in my life! Writers are such fibbers!

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Hemmie Martin – author of What Happens After – also dreams of a trendy and minimalist writing space. Then she falls asleep in her chair…

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Pete Domican apparently doesn’t turn the heating on. Me neither, Pete. I like to write as though I’m in 1800s Russia…

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And Matt Wesolowski – author of Six Stories – has 1980s Stephen King-esque fantasies of creating his literature. The truth? Definitely more 2017…

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And the gorgeous Lizzie Lamb simply sent me her #RealWritingFace… and it’s lovely.

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It’s A No…

Recently, I’ve been watching Dave Gorman’s Modern Life is Goodish each night in bed, while attempting to switch off from all the writing and editing and reading and promoting and thinking of something new to have for tea. He offers a look at life that is interesting enough to stimulate, and light-hearted and bite-sized enough to let me unwind. He argues, via PowerPoint presentations, that life isn’t bad or good, but goodish. He has a nice beard too.

I particularly like the Found Poem segment. In this, Dave finds the most random comments that have been left on various websites (in response to some bizarre current topic) and fashions them into a poem. He then reads said Found Poem aloud, accompanied by the Billroth String Quartet, as though reciting TS Eliot. They have included such masterpieces as Not a Very Nice Biscuit, Badgers Don’t Vote, Spray Gravy, and I Like Eggs.

I don’t always understand poetry. It scares me a little bit. And so it occurs to me every single time I watch that this is my kind of poetry. Real. Surreal. Funny but somehow serious. Silly and beautiful. Accessible and relatable. Dave takes life and makes it into… well, art. Such has been the popularity of it, there is available a thin volume of his works.

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Which you can apparently purchase here… Dave Gorman Shop

Being a writer, I felt I wanted to have a go. To take the comments actual people had made, somewhere, and turn them into something bigger. But which comments? Whose comments? I had a piece to write for a wonderful gig I take part in every month at Kardomah in Hull, the Women of Words  event. I realised the Found Poem was made to be read aloud; perfect in its multi-voice format for sharing verbally. My writing is usually part of a large thing – the novel – so not always ideal for a five minute slot.

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The many performers at Women of Words, Kardomah, Hull

And then I knew which comments I would use for my Found Poem. Negative ones. The 1 and 2 star reviews my novels have received on Goodreads, Amazon, and other places. The critical words that tore apart my books, the opinions that reviewers were fully entitled to have, but that naturally sting a bit. Why not make it into art? So I did. I had a blast too.

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I read it aloud at Women of Words, to much laughter and encouragement. People came up to me afterwards, said it was the best way to deal with criticism, and they were inspired to keep going with their writing. But criticism is not the hardest thing to cope with as a writer – rejection is. And so – on a passionate wave of creation – I wrote my second Found Poem, using lines from the many, many rejections I had for my novels and short stories. I took eight years and probably a thousand rejections, and turned them into something glorious. Thank you Dave Gorman, for your fantastic beard and your genius idea. This is, It’s A No.

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