Loch Awe in spring - Photo courtesy of Neil Donald Photography






Monday, 15 April 2013

Jacks and Jills of all trades by Mary Smith

This blog post was supposed to be on The Next Big Thing, which is doing the round of writers’ blogs. I was tagged by Anne Stenhouse after she had blogged about her next big thing. This put me in a bit of a quandary as I am so far away from my next big thing being written, never mind published, no one would remember it when the time came. Anne thought it would be okay to blog about my current big thing although it’s a non-fiction book and not a novel.
The other problem was not being able to find three more writers to tag in turn. You’d think it would be easy, wouldn’t you? Not least because I know several writers who have new work coming out soon. However, they’d either already taken part or they would like to but don’t have a blog.
The idea behind it is to generate publicity for new work and each person who blogs about their next big thing links back to the person who tagged them. As I am not going to blog about my far distant next big thing I thought I should at least provide a link to Anne’s blog as she was kind enough to give me the chance for a bit of promotion for my book.
Anne Stenhouse’s next big thing is a historical romance called Mariah’s Marriage, published by MuseitUp. Her one sentence synopsis reads: “When Mariah is knocked over by a pig her world of service to education collides with the privileged world of aristocrat, Tobias, and nothing is the same thereafter.”  Sounds very intriguing. It comes out on May 3rd.
Here is the link to Anne’s Next Big Thing blog post where you can read more about Mariah’s Marriage.  What you won’t see there is the additional exciting news that it has been shortlisted for the RNA’s Joan Hessayon New Writers' Scheme Award and Anne will be off to the RNA’s summer party where the awards are announced.
You are probably wondering about the title of this post and what it has to do with anything I’ve written so far. Well, I first knew Anne Stenhouse as a playwright – and now she is also a novelist. It got me thinking about how many of us try our hands at different forms of writing.
I had to introduce myself recently at a writing course I was teaching with Margaret Elphinstone and felt I was a bit of a Jack (or Jill) of all trades. I also wasn’t sure how to introduce myself. Am I a journalist who also writes books? Am I a writer who also works as a journalist? As a writer do I class myself as a novelist or a non-fiction writer – or a poet?
Jenny Harper is now writing novels but has been a non-fiction writer, a journalist and an editor. Gill Stewart writes novellas for People’s Fried (as Gillian Villiers) but also writes full length contemporary romance and is working on young adult fiction. It is not only women writers who mix and match. Michael Malone is a poet who also writes crime novels and has had a non-fiction book published recently.
What makes us decide to have a go at a different form of writing? Does it stem from being readers of all kinds of writing? Or, is it just that as we practice the art and craft of putting words on the page we enjoy moulding those words into different forms? What do others think? Do some writers stick to one form above all others?

16 comments:

  1. Hullo Mary, and thank you for posting such a lovely article about my writing.
    I share your frustrations about blog buddies. The very ease of doing all this now means people are very likely to have been tagged already.
    Jobbing writers is what most of us are, isn't it? Good luck with all your projects and particularly The Next Big thing when it arrives. Anne

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    1. My pleasure, Anne.
      I think the Next Big Thing has perhaps been done to death now and we need to find some other way of attracting attention to our work.

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  2. I think writers write, Mary. Nowadays, many novelists write short stories that link in some way to their latest novel, by way of promotion. Veronica Henry (who blogged here last year) does this, and so does the redoubtable Jojo Moyes. I saw an article by Marion Keyes on false eyelashes in the Sunday Times Style magazine this weekend (with a mention of her forthcoming new book, of course). In the past, many poets have also been essayists and critics (Pope, Eliot...), Hardy is best known for his novels, but wrote a vast body of poetry too (I know, I did my undergraduate thesis on them!).

    As you say, I was a journalist. I wrote hundreds, if not thousands, of articles on anything from profiles of famous people to corrosion in central heating systems or horizontal drilling techniques in the North Sea. It has been suggested that I should keep my hand in with articles but, to be honest, the market has changed hugely and I would feel a bit insulted if my work was knocked back! (Confession time...)

    I decided to try novels because I didn't have any burning topics I wanted to write another non-fiction book about.

    Anne, your blurb sounds brilliant and I can't wait to read your book!

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    1. I didn't know that about novelists writing short stories (and articles) to promote their latest novel. I guess as the publishers spend less money on marketing authors are having to do much more of it themselves, and find new creatve ways in which to do it.
      I find the trouble with freelance journalism is that, while it does keep me writing and earning a bit of money, it can become so time-consuming there isn't time or energy for 'my' writing. I always feel pulled each way - which is why my next big thing is still so far from being written!

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  3. For me I don't think 'I'd like to write in that genre' it's more 'this is what I need to write' - and then I discover what genre it is! Interesting to see how many writers (past and present) have worked in a number of different areas.

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    1. Gill, I think Jenny put her finger on it above when she said 'writers write'. Our choice of ficiton, non-fiction, poetry or whatever led by what we want to say.

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  4. Interesting post, Mary - I'd agree that writers write, in whatever genre or way they feel inspired!

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    1. Thanks, Rosemary. You have certainly been inspired to write in many different genres. Good luck with your online book launch party - I'll be there.

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  5. I, too, think Jenny has it right. If you're a writer you'll write almost anything...just because you can't help it. The trick is to see if you can do one sort of writing better than another, perhaps? I don't think I could EVER come up with a play, for example.

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    1. I hadn't thought of that angle Jennifer. I don't know whether I'm better at writing fiction or non-fiction. I could imagine writing a play and enjoying the process even though it may not be good - but I can't imagine writing a teen novel.

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  6. I think Jenny has it in one: writers write. There's no one factor that dictates what format they use to channel their writing. It depends on what's most appropriate for what they want to say and how they want to say it.

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Joan. You are right, of course, it depends on what is appropriate or what works. It reminds me of when I wrote a poem which did not work and no matter how much I tweaked it and changed it I coudn't make it say what I wanted to say. Eventually, I realised it should be a short story, not a poem.

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  7. I'm a little late to this party as I've been up in London at the London Book Fair - a first for me, and a dizzying experience. The book in paper form is not yet dead, trust me!
    It's good to read what you are all up to. I write short stories as well as novels and have a novella coming out with Choc Lit very, very soon - watch this space. I've also done quite a bit of journalism, writing mainly about artists and writers. Each is useful in giving me ideas about the other. I've also just heard that my sequel to TO TURN FULL CIRCLE has just been taken up - contract coming soon. So...we are all busy in our own ways...and long may that be so. Good post....:)

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  8. Glad you enjoyed the post, Linda. I knew you wrote short stories but didn't know you were also a journalist. Congratulations on your novella and it's brilliant news about your sequel coming out.
    Are you going to blog about the London Book Fair. I've never been so would love to know more about what goes on.

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  9. I really enjoy all the posts on Novel Points of View so have awarded you all the Sunshine Award!

    Do pop over to my blog this week if you'd like to accept it.

    Janice xx

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    1. Ooh, Janice, thank you - how lovely. I'm sure we'd love to accept it. Thank you.

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