Saturday 31 October 2009

Shelving Stupid White Men

More moving books around. Last year I organised them into categories: novels in the conservatory, books about writing in the study, to-be-read in the bedroom and so on. As I move books from the landing I come across Michael Moore's Stupid White Men. It's been on the shelf for books I don't really have a category for. I weigh the book up in my hand, trying to think where it should go. Reference, probably, downstairs in the dining room, but it's not going to sit comfortably with The Shock of the New or The Timetables of History.

There's been a bit of a flurry around the Crime Writers Awards: someone referred to romantic novelists as being back-stabbing bitches, or so it's been reported. I've been told that the original remark was made about fifteen years ago and the CWA regularly trot it out. No one's quite sure why - perhaps they think a little professional rivalry might drum up some publicity, but it seems unimaginative, like expecting all romantic novelists to dress like Barbara Cartland.

After a few moments of consideration, I decide to shelve Stupid White Men along with the crime and thrillers. I don't suppose that this will be its permanent home but it seems to fit in quite nicely for now.

Thursday 29 October 2009

The First Book I Bought

I've been moving books around ready for the painter to decorate the hall and landing. It's taking for ever because I keep stopping to read bits. One of the books I came across was the very first book I ever bought for myself, using my own money. I can remember the shop clearly, a little gift shop in Barnes with a small book section. I was waiting for my mother to buy something, and browsing the books when I discovered Venetia by Georgette Heyer.

I can't remember what prompted me to buy it - it's not a great cover - but I can remember the thrill of reading the first few pages, the initial difficulty in understanding her style, then suddenly 'getting it' and avidly devouring the whole book at one sitting. I felt I had discovered a new world, one that had nothing to do with school or family, or even friends. Private, delicious, my own.

Holding that old battered copy of Venetia in my hands, the characters flooded back: beautiful Venetia, dashing Lord Damerel, the abominable Mrs Scorrier. And with the characters came echoes of sparkling dialogue, witty ripostes, vivid descriptions. I turned to the first page and started to read...

Wednesday 28 October 2009

The Lure of NaNoWriMo

November approaches, and I need to start on the next novel. I know who the main characters are, where it's going, the overall theme and things like that, but I haven't started on the writing. I'm toying with the idea of joining NaNoWriMo as the idea of having written 50,000 words by the end of November is wonderful. Of course, it means I will have to actually do the writing which is a less wonderful prospect given November is shaping up to be a busy month, culminating in the launch of A Single to Rome on the 26th. Will it just mean yet another layer of guilt to add to the stress of writing a novel a year? But on the other hand, I do like a deadline...Decisions, decisions.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Writer's Blog Block

Having decided to start blogging, I find myself gripped by the same anxieties that I face before starting a new book. Which given that I am about to start a new book means my stress hormones must be in overdrive. I write brilliant, witty, concise blog posts in my head while walking the dog but the ideas dry up in front of the computer. I've told students many times that their ideas are meaningless while they remain in their head, it's only when they hit the page that their worth can be assessed, and here I am doing the same. In my head I am pithy, original, entertaining. It's rather disappointing to discover that on the blog page I am a bit pompous...