What Twitter Has Taught Me This Week

Two things have caught my eye on Twitter in the past week (well, lots of things actually but 2 things about writing and not puppies or food and that might also be of interest to you), namely, an interview with Stephen King in which he talks, amongst other things, about endless editing of your work as being like ‘picking a scab’.

Yuck, I know. But come on, we all did it when we were children with permanently scabby knees and elbows.. erm, didn’t we? OK, just me then.

Anyway, in answer to the question ‘does he ever make himself deliberately write more slowly?’, King answered with a resounding NO. “Poke along and obsessively polish? No.You keep picking a scab, you’re gonna make it bleed instead of heal.”

Oh, this is so true! And this is what I do. I fiddle and tweak and change names and amend, which results in my taking ages to write anything! I must stop it! Leave that scab alone!

Another wise person on the Twitters – writer Anne Brooke advised (re Writer’s Block) that if you’re stuck “maybe you’re trying to control the story. Trust it to reveal itself to you. It will!”

Now this is a bit like tennis, if I may talk about sport for a moment. Sometimes, in tennis, you try to ‘steer’ the ball with your shot – and 9 times out of 10, when you do that, the ball lands in the bottom of the net. It’s almost like you’re trying too hard. Anne’s comment reminded me of that and also of another person that I worked for once, on a ‘spoken word’ project. When I expressed surprise (and pleasure!) that everyone’s performances on ‘the night’ were so much better than in rehearsal, she explained that that always happened and it was a case of ‘trusting the process’.


And still on the subject of Twitter, I like muting words on there. It’s very satisfying to know that I won’t get any messages that include the word ‘Trump’ or ‘Brexit’, for example (because I go on Twitter for a bit of light relief, not to get depressed by the news).

I’ve muted loads. In fact, soon, the only words left will be: ‘Marian Keyes’, ‘dogs’ and ‘writing’. But today, was a first for me: I muted ‘Christmas’. Hurrah. I’m sorry if you’ve got a Christmas-Lit book coming out and you’ve started to go on about it promote it but I really, really, really don’t want to think about Christmas yet. I’m not completely miserable: I will be unmuting the word ‘Christmas’ on 1st December. (erm… if I remember).

The Testaments

Unless you’ve been cut off from the news for the past few days, you’ll probably know that Margaret Atwood’s much-anticipated sequel to The Handmaid’s Tale – ‘The Testaments’ – has just been published. Ooh, that green cover! I’d buy it just for that. It’s just about my favourite colour!

I have decided I should re-read the original before I allow myself to read the new one. I didn’t watch the TV series and it’s been a long time since I read The Handmaid’s Tale (in fact, so long that my paperback copy was priced at £4.99!) and I can’t remember exactly what happened.

Interestingly, I don’t often keep books once I’ve read them. I pass them on to friends or give them to charity shops and I know lots of you will be horrified by this but they just take up too much room! And if I’m not going to read them again, I don’t really see the point. BUT I did keep my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale and of course, now I’m very pleased that I did.

Margaret Atwood, one of my favourite authors (whom I saw speak at Stratford three years ago, you may remember), has admitted that thieves tried to steal the manuscript of The Testaments and her publishers had to devise all kinds of cunning ways to stop the book getting book-napped or copied before its release date.

It’s a story almost worthy of a novel in itself…

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3 Responses to What Twitter Has Taught Me This Week

  1. pennywrite says:

    This was at first why I tried NaNoWriMo. But even that (x5) hasn’t stopped me going back and back to make sure it’s all okay so far.. oh dear. Nevertheless, it has to be wise advice!
    I find it so hard to part with some books, too. (My Dorothy Dunnetts remain on one shelf, to be re-read yearly :-)) But only today, we reached the overspill point and marched a cohort of them down to the BHF shop where we hope they will go on to delight other readers.

  2. christinemhowe says:

    As a child I was definitely a scab picker and now I fiddle and tweak at my writing. I know that I should press on and finish each draft but if I get an idea about a scene in a previous chapter I simply cannot resist back-tracking. Instead, I should make a note and continue going forward. I’m a hopeless case! This very morning I’ve been ‘tweaking’.
    I still have my copy of The Handmaid’s Tale but am selective about which books to keep and which ones to recycle to charity shops. I’m pleased that Margaret Atwood is now reaching wider audiences.
    As for Dorothy Dunnett, she is a friend’s favourite author. Years ago, when I worked in libraries, she was popular amongst fans of historical fiction. Maybe her work is due for a revival.

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