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The Usual Suspects

I am drawn to authors who share their writing process, knowing that others daren’t begin to analyse it. When I approached Ruth Rendell, she was apologetic but to the point:

‘I’m sorry this isn’t longer and more searching but the fact is I don’t like writing about why and how I work. It oppresses me and tends to destroy something. It’s a dream world or a world of fantasy, you see, and shouldn’t have too much reality let in.’

And what a world she created.

For twenty years, I have collected a file of author profiles and interviews, culled from magazines and weekend papers. I’ve pored over them, memorised quotes, followed their advice. My reading and writing life has been enriched by it.

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In this digital age, it’s arcane to be surrounded by reams of paper and I’ve always thought I should do something with them. So I’ve begun a scrapbook, of which this blog is a kind of electronic version. I’ve cut out the key revelations, discarding the inevitable repetitions.

(We all contradict ourselves, but it’s amazing how consistent writers can be over a twenty- or even fifty-year career. Books don’t change but reactions to them do, as often in the perception of their creators as their readers. But who’s to say who was the more possessive to begin with? You know what it’s like to fall in love with a book.)

I love bloggers who read ravenously and daringly, blasting through comfort zones, absorbing information and experience. For me, book blogs are like travel writing, and I’m mostly a vicarious traveller.

This blog will keep drawing on the same names, and making connections between them.

That’s not to say the writers I like all write the same sort of book – or that I never try new authors, because I do – but there is a pool of writers to whom I often turn to show me, first of all, how good a book can be; and, second, how you make a writing life work.

As I get older, I find I whittle away, rather than accumulate. (No wonder I’ve wanted to tackle those folders full of clippings.) With my writing, I’ve gone back to what I first set out to do, having been distracted and diverted, encouraged and deflated. I’m not regretful about that, but I am intrigued.

How did I get here? How do other writers make the journey? That’s what this blog will be about. But I want to know, too, where are you on your reading or writing path? And how did you get where you are?

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