Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Writing News. (Or should that be writing lies?)

If you're a writer, you no doubt subscribe to that very fine publication Writing News. Turn to page 34 of the April issue, out now, and you'll find an interesting article by Adrian Magson about one of the Macmillan New Writing authors.

OK, yes, it's me. Sorry. Perhaps I should have mentioned that a little earlier.

I see that I repeated that claim about the unseemly speed at which the book was apparently written, though Adrian does make clear that I had been thinking about and planning it for a long time, as well as writing it as a screenplay (which if I remember correctly existed in a number of drafts) before biting the bullet and sitting down to write it through as a novel.

I checked with Rachel about how long it took me. "You did write it very quickly," she said. Then she scanned the article. "But I don't think it was that quick. Was it?"

The honest truth is, I can't remember how long it took me to write it, because I wasn't, at the time, paying much attention to the question. I do remember that I finished it on a laptop while we were on holiday in Norfolk (Wells-next-the-Sea). I got up at six even on holiday, but I had a bit longer to myself because the kids were actually lying in. If you call 7.30 a lie-in.

So have I lied to the world? Have I created a myth that's actually turning out to embarrass me? I mean, it can't actually be that good, can it, if I wrote it so quickly? Shades of Ernie Wise, with the plays what he wrote.

It seems to be a question people are fascinated by. And I'm sure Adrian asked it because he knows it's the sort of thing readers of Writing News want to know.

I suppose the answer I gave is as good as any, when the truth is, I honestly don't know.


Charlie Williams said...

So how long did it take? Have I missed something?

roger said...

Well, I guess the thing is I'm being very coy about how long it took me to write. Let's put it this way, it was longer than it took Dostoevsky to write The Gambler.

The thing I feel slightly embarrassed about, is that I've sort of given an answer which hasn't included all the pre-writing, early abortive drafts that are actually very important. And I also forgot to mention all the editing afterwards. I was concentrating solely on the time it took me to write through one complete draft - which did substantially turn out to be the novel that was published.

I haven't really given you an answer, have I?

Tom Saunders said...

I remember Wells-Next-the Sea. Nice windmill there. I'm amazed by how quickly people write. Wish I could get a move on.

roger said...

I'm not always fast. It's just that, by the time I came to write it, Taking Comfort seemed to be ready to be written, if I can put it that way. I can think of an analogy, but it's not a very nice one, so I'll keep it to myself.