Ten Things Every Writer Should Think About

I am suspicious of lists. I can only feel suspicious about definitive lists of essential knowledge. I would not, for instance, post Ten Things Every Writer Should Think About here. I would put it, say, elsewhere.

In truth, I would rather stay close to this end of the professional spectrum. The still-getting-the-hang end. It’s kind of warmer and more sociable here than out there where the stars hang in a winter sky and the plank you’re standing on is kind of fragile and public. So I am not going to take on the responsibility of declaring what (today) I think is essential. I have no idea. Tomorrow it will be different. There will be so much I haven’t thought of.

I am considering a pen name. Is that short-sighted? Cowardly? Missing the point? It’s like coming up with the name of a band. Fun but who cares?

Literary-wise, it’s all been a bit of a ride lately but the most exciting thing that has happened by far has been my son’s new obsession with reading. Under covers when he should be asleep. Legs crossed, reclining on the sofa. Splashing milk over his open book at breakfast. Getting dressed in a hurry so he can go back to his book. Always with a slight frown.

I ask him: “Do you understand all the words?”
“What do you do when you don’t understand a word?”
“I make it up.” (He is slightly irritated – well? What else would you do?)
When bits are boring he skips chapters.
When he’s really enjoying it he goes straight back to the first page when he reaches the last.
When he doesn’t quite get what’s going on he reads on until he does.  He thinks this is all obvious.

I do not think any of this is obvious. I carry an (electronic) dictionary with me at all times. I compulsively make lists of the books I have read and choose them by their relevance to – well – me. Obscurity makes me feel inadequate. On some level I am still trying to get it all right.

The same son also speaks French. (No, I don’t.) He has a few words and has watched some French language dvds. He knows what it sounds like (his voice becomes slightly quavery as though he is on the edge of a song.) How hard can it be? Of course he can speak French. Looks fun. Listen to this.

One Thing Every Writer Should Think About: Not thinking too much.


9 thoughts on “Ten Things Every Writer Should Think About

  1. I use a penname for my real name is too long and very difficult to pronounce.
    Maybe there is a short-sighted and cowardly point to it but there is definitely a liberating side of it as well. I feel like when I’m writing I am Lua and free from all the labels my daily life sticks on me. Also- it’s fun! 🙂 Good luck choosing yours…

  2. Thinking pen names (as I began to while reading) how about Bic Parker for zippy chick-lit, or Staedtler Rotring for historical romances?
    When I was very young I had the idea that foreign languages were just the same as english but having different sounds for the letters, so all you had to do was learn which forrin sounds stood for which english ones and you’d be away.

  3. NOW I have to think about WHETHER I could write zippy chick-lit or historical romance. I read some zippy chick-lit for an audio book recently… it was brilliant (mostly) I had to keep stopping to giggle.
    My youngest speaks French like you did – he calls it “Bonjour language” – it’s all accent and attitude pasted over English made to sound slightly incomprehensible. He’s a chip off the old block – my writing is a bit like that.

  4. Federay Holmes is a great name, with the advantage of being gender ambiguous to many.
    I thought about having ‘Roberta’ instead of ‘Bobbie’ as my pen name. But when I did a gig, e.g. went along to a bookgroup discussion, drank their wine and chatted, there’d have been this stranger ‘Roberta’ to impersonate and answer to, and I wanted to be myself.
    You have a (great) public persona through your acting, Fed. It’s been first for me to uncover/grow a public dimension. It’s a dimension I thoroughly enjoy: a new aspect of myself, not a role as I feared it might prove to be. I think a pen name would have got in the way of that.

    • Yes, thanks Bobbie, it is a good name. I like it.
      I am glad you decided against Roberta, that would be weird. One has enough to deal with in a bookgroup, eh? without secret identities… x

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