Do click on this to see it in all its glory – the cherry trees in our road

Thought I’d just start with a picture of what I see if I stick my head out of my study window and look to the right – never fails to cheer me up!

Anyway, I’m ridiculously busy at the moment, not only in terms of the redrafting, of which more in a moment, but with teaching work. As you may know, I’m an associate lecturer with Sheffield Hallam University and have been supervising some students on the writing MA this year. It’s all been a bit frantic in the last couple of weeks because four of my students were about to hand in their complete novels (so proud of them!) They handed in last week, and I thought I’d have a bit of a break before it all starts again in October. I hadn’t realised I would be called upon for marking….

So basically, I now have a phenomenal amount of reading to do over the next few weeks. It all needs to be read, marked and comments written by 12th June, and between now and then, I have a week’s holiday,(yay) a few days on a writing retreat (double yay) a dental appointment, a hospital appointment, three days of babysitting, and a visit from my mother! Pass the gin!

With all that coming up, I find myself slightly on the verge of hysteria. On the upside, The Secrets We Left Behind has just been published in America – the cover is very different to the UK version, but I rather like it.

Also, I’ve just received my copies of the German edition of The Things We Never Said. The German title translates as, I Have Always Loved You.

Pretty cover, isn’t it?

Anyway, back to the current novel, my third. With all this work piling up, the thing that I’m most concerned about is the resultant lack of progress on the redrafting. Progress is slow. This is the most extensive redraft I’ve ever done, and while I’m convinced that there is a good, deeply emotional story at the heart of my idea, my confidence is wavering on my ability to do it justice. As the late, great Iris Murdoch once said, “every book is the wreck of a perfect idea”. You weren’t far wrong there, Iris!

Having said that, on Monday I had a lovely reassuring chat with my agent, who said she thinks I’m much further on than I think I am – I hope she’s right! We’re going to touch base again in a few weeks, when I hope I’ll have made a significant surge forward – I’m hoping to get a fair bit done while I’m on holiday, and then I have a few days’ retreat, and I always get more words down in that situation than in any other.

A quick word about writing on holiday – I’ve had one or two writer friends express surprise that I do this. One once said, ‘a holiday should be a holiday’. But although writing is a job, to a certain extent, a writer is who you are, and you can’t take time off from being who you are. While I can’t compete with Stephen King who writes 364 days a year – he takes Christmas Day off to please his family, then admits that he usually sneaks off and writes a couple of hundred words even then – I am of the opinion that if you have a work in progress, why would you want to take a whole week or even two away from it unless you were stuck? I was chatting a while ago to Gavin Extence, author of The Universe Versus Alex Woods, and The Mirror World of Melody Black, and he said that he loves writing on holiday, because even if he just does a few hundred words a day, every one of those words feels like a bonus, because he’s been enjoying a holiday at the same time.

What do you think? Do you write while on holiday? If not, do you spend time thinking about your WIP, or do you take a complete break in the hope that your subconscious will crack on while you’re relaxing?

That’s about it now. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks, hopefully with some significant progress to report!

If you’d like to know more about me and my work, please visit my website, like my Facebook page, or follow me on Twitter (Though I’ll probably only be sticking my head in to Twitter now and again over the next few weeks for obvious reasons!)


  1. Sarah Miller Walters says:

    I'll be having a week's holiday soon and there would be an outcry if I so much as picked up a pen! Writing's not something my partner approves of anyway so I tend to do it in private when I'm alone, taking secret days off work. However, I do find that a few days away, taking bracing walks along the beach with my children, does give my head space to start developing new ideas. I usually return from a holiday with a whole new story in my head. I look on it as thinking time rather than doing.

  2. Susan Elliot Wright says:

    That sounds like a very productive way of 'using' your holiday to further your writing. It's a shame so many writers have to be secretive, isn't it? But so many people don't approve.

  3. JO says:

    I write differently when I'm away – because I go to some unusual places I find I can keep my curiosity about what's in front of me in my head and – at the same time – allow characters from a novel space to play. So I send them to sleep while I'm and write about what I can see and hear and smell and taste and touch.

  4. Jo says:

    I love sitting down with my notebook and pen on holiday and jotting down images, snatches of conversation and general observations. This can fuel my writing for a whole year. I usually get bored on holiday, so working on my novel-in-progress might be the way to go.

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