We're delighted to welcome back Elisabeth Hobbes to the Pink Heart Society as she talks about just how to fit everything in!!
I’m not the world’s fastest writer. I’d love to be able to sit down and rush off pages at a time like Jessica Fletcher in the opening titles of Murder, She Wrote but that’s never going to happen. I get sidetracked by the cats, the weather or suddenly realising I haven’t had a cup of tea for at least 30 minutes (I’m English- it’s a stereotype for a reason).
The internet is a killer too. On one hand it has made research so much easier with an abundance of facts, images and documents readily to hand.
On the other, I’ve lost count of the hours I’ve spent looking at examples of swords for my blacksmith hero to craft or what a medieval forge would look like, to say nothing of finding the perfect model for the hero himself (ahem…Aidan Turner). Since I started writing this piece I’ve broken off three times to check she really was called Jessica Fletcher, to watch the opening titles (there’s a lot more walking by boats and peering through doors than I remember) and again because the cat rolled over and chirruped and I felt guilty for not stroking him.
With all that going on I’m constantly amazed that I’ve written a single page, never mind four books.
Something I’ve heard so many times is ‘I’d love to write a book if I had the time’ or ‘I wish I had as much time as you to write’, but I’m discovering more and more that isn’t how it works. There isn’t a Writing Time Fairy who whizzes down and sprinkles a few extra hours into the day from a glittery bag. It’s a cliché but the truth is you don’t find the time, you make it.
Juggling the ever-ever-increasing demands of my day job as a teacher along with family life isn’t easy. I grab every moment I can to write whatever and whenever I can because I firmly believe that every word helps. A phrase becomes a sentence, becomes a paragraph, becomes a chapter and so on until you have something you can delete half of and start again because your characters turn out to have been married before, or adopt a dog, or something else you didn’t expect to happen.
That’s why I’ve run down the road muttering into my phone so I don’t forget lines of dialogue when I’ve got into the swing of things so it comes as a shock that it’s five minutes before the school run and I can’t bear to abandon my characters mid scene.
It’s why every room in my house is littered with post-its, half used notebooks and pens. The notes I write in the dark, leaning over in bed when I wake up at 2am need more deciphering than the Dead Sea Scrolls to make sense.
It’s the reason that while my kids are at their swimming lesson on Tuesday evening I’m sitting by the pool scribbling out plans for my next chapter rather than going for a swim and why the Friday evening supermarket wine run while they’re at band practice also involves a café stop to get another few hundred words down.
Sometimes it can get embarrassing. I once glared at friends in the supermarket when they interrupted an argument my heroine was having with the hero and I’d got so caught up I forgot where I was.
Even a trip back to visit my mum turns into research. The Blacksmith’s Wife, is set in my hometown of York and on the surrounding North York Moors so every visit for the past year has involved persuading my poor mum to walk around the snickelways (isn’t that a lovely word, shame it’s too late for my heroine to use it) and medieval buildings while I take photos and lose myself in one piece of research or another. That’s the beauty of picking somewhere you know well to write about. It makes creating a setting so much easier if you already know it, though comes with the drawback of agonising over small details such as whether it really is possible to get from one street to another in a certain amount of time which the majority of readers probably won’t question.
Though as I discovered on my most recent visit describing Spring in York as ‘warm enough to walk around with only a light cloak’ turned out to be one example of artistic licence too far!
How do you fit it all in? Is there a balance between your writing life and everything else? Join in the discussion below!
A passion forged from fire
Rejected by her favoured knight, Joanna Sollers knows she will never love again. Especially when the man she’s now forced to marry is none other than her beloved’s half-brother!
For blacksmith Hal Danby, marrying Joanna makes his life-long dream of entering the Smiths’ Guild possible, even if the secrets in his past mean he’ll forever keep his distance. But everything changes with one stolen night, and in the arms of his new bride, Hal wonders if this loveless arrangement could transform into something real…