Today I am delighted to welcome author Lyn Farrell to the blog. She has done a lovely post about how starting a blog really helped her writing and the completing of her book.
Her debut novel, The Wacky Man, is garnering rave reviews and I cannot wait to read it. I also have to say that the cover is absolutely stunning.
My new shrink asks me, ‘What things do you remember about being very young?’
It’s like looking into a murky river, I say. Memories flash near the surface like fish coming up for flies. The past peeps out, startles me, and then is gone . . .
Amanda secludes herself in her bedroom, no longer willing to face the outside world. Gradually, she pieces together the story of her life: her brothers have had to abandon her, her mother scarcely talks to her, and the Wacky Man could return any day to burn the house down. Just like he promised. As her family disintegrates, Amanda hopes for a better future, a way out from the violence and fear that has consumed her childhood. But can she cling to her sanity, before insanity itself is her only means of escape?
FROM A BLOG TO A BOOK
I’ve been thinking about the long road to finishing my novel, specifically about a time where the writing hadn’t being going well and the manuscript very neglected. I had an allotment at this point and was giving my team mates regular updates on everything I was doing there. My colleague Mike said ‘You should write a blog.’ This could have been a polite way of telling me not to take out my enthusiasm on my work team but, despite my initial scepticism, I started a blog and it did wonders for my writing.
I got into the habit of writing twice a week. I also learned how to edit and hone the pieces, found more literary ways of telling stories about the seasons, the flowering of plants, the wildlife I saw there in the early mornings and the sense of peace and quiet I managed to carve out in a busy city. I wrote of newly discovered things; leaf cutter bees and the links between Marie Antoinette and potato flowers, the tiny flies called no-see-ums that attack your most delicate parts. I put links to Chekov and T S Eliot, to songs by Dylan and art made up of cauliflowers.
The most unexpected benefit was that I started looking at my novel in a different way; not as a struggle but as a progression, as something to be nourished and grown the way you might take any seedling to maturity. I had a more technical eye for it; focusing in on paragraphs and chapters and links between the different parts of the story the way I linked allotment events in my blog. I even incorporated a piece I’d written for the blog into the novel.
I’ve been asked a lot recently about the advice I’d give to other writers. I would of course say never give up and that everything you write now is a stepping stone to writing better stories in the future. But I would also say, try a blog. It gives you the freedom to experiment with your writing, to play around with structure. It gives you the motivation to write as well as the discipline. It is said that the deepest learning happens when you’re not even aware that it’s going on. That certainly happened for me. I had great fun, rekindled my creative spark and managed to finish my debut novel.
Lyn G. Farrell is the winner of the 2015 Luke Bitmead Bursary and The Wacky Man is her debut novel.
Lyn grew up in Lancashire where she would have gone to school if life had been different. She spent most of her teenage years reading anything she could get her hands on.
She studied Psychology at the University of Leeds and now works in the School of Education at Leeds Beckett University.
Follow Lyn Farrell on Twitter @FarrellWrites
You can purchase a copy of The Wacky man here