Listening to writers: what’s in your bottom drawer?

We were very lucky today to have a visit from a published author and creative writing academic, Tiffany Murray. Her book “Diamond Star Halo” has been on my to-read list for some time with glowing recommendations from friends. The session was part reading from her two published works, part on how she came to write them and part on the process of getting published.

I love hearing anyone talk about their creative process – Tiffany spoke in particular on how she weaves books and characters she has loved into her novels. She read a passage from “Happy Accidents” that incorporated Jane Eyre and Mr Barlow from “Salem’s Lot” – two figures who loomed large in my teenage years too. I love the idea of populating your invented world with these familiar characters, old friends who perhaps you don’t get to see so much any more. She also discussed the question of how much of yourself as an author you place on the page. Any writing will be a combination of imagination, lived experience and things you have read/watched – it all feeds into a bowl of ingredients which somehow you have to bake into something nutritious.

She also admitted there was, as there is with most novelists, an early novel which will remain in her bottom drawer. Talking afterwards, it seems to be almost a requirement or rite of passage to complete something and then to be content to abandon it. I suspect this may well be where my first novel is heading! As long as you enjoy the process of writing, and re-reading, I guess it will not have been a waste of time – especially if it leads on to better things.

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Photo Credit: mrmanc via Compfight cc

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