Did anyone else watch Ian Rankin on BBC's Imagine the other night? I thought he was very brave to do a video diary of his book-writing process.
I watched the programme absolutely riveted – because so much of what he was saying and doing resonated with me. I wanted to hug him when he confessed that he still found it hard, after 28 books! I felt better when I realised that my first drafts are marginally more finished than his first drafts. And I wanted to jump up and down and yell, 'Me too!' when he told us that the 'magic' begins to happen on the second and later drafts.
Writers, I believe, are either plotters or pantsters - that is, they either plot every last detail of their work before they start writing, or they do the whole thing by the seat of their pants. Ian is a crime writer, so I was a bit surprised to discover that he is a pantster. There was a strange kind of alchemy that happened once he started, but I was quite surprised that so much of the detail still needed to be filled in even after he had finished the first draft.
Another thing: when Ian writes, he apparently withdraws from – well, from pretty much everything, including his family. That seems like a luxury. Does it happen to women writers too? Or do they still have to shop, clean, cook, tidy? Sometimes I think it would be fantastic just to be able to sit and write all day, but then I realise that characters and plot points need to be mulled over. They need to mature and ripen in their own time and, actually, doing the cooking might be as good a time as any for this process to happen.
On another topic – briefly – it seems that 'granny lit' may at last be on the way in. http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2012/nov/11/hilary-boyd-thursdays-in-park
Has it had to wait for a generation of tech-savvy mature women to buy e-books before the publishing world has woken up to the fact that 'older women' read books too?