It’s a blustery Saturday morning in the sleepy seaside town of Shorehem-by-sea. Barely 5:30am and a pebbles throw away the beach plays it’s part in a stormy scene with large white waves and wild winds. The little home here sits firmly and obstinately still against a tempest of wind and rain. A warm mug of tea and barely a soul awake just me, my laptop and you now.
It is the first job of every storyteller to get you all on the boat. To provide you with a sense of place and location. If I have any hope of keeping your attention I must get you aboard. Only then can I hope to transport you somewhere. So are you comfortable? ok let’s cast off.
This week I went to Oxford Library to see and hear the wonderful Mick Herron, author of the Slow Horses series talk about his writing. He read from his first book ever published, Down Cemetery Road. I love listening to authors read and talk about their writing. He shared a number of observations which I wanted to relay today:
- Give yourself the time to think. He talked about being grateful of the time to mull things over in his mind on a commute to London. He felt that writing and all problem solving deserves time to reflect and ruminate. I agree many decisions you make require quick and assertive decision making but often the problem deserves more time.
- The gap between writing and filming. He described a section of his book which is barely three sentences long. One of his characters drove a bus into a shop front. It took him just minutes to write and it was him alone that conjured up the image and you the reader can see and imagine it all as if you were there. But now his books have been turned to a TV series the filming of such scene requires so much planning and resources that it requires so much effort that the effort has an inevitable factor in the final writing of it, decisions made if it makes the cut are costed and considered. When you read a book you are playing an active part in the scene. When you watch something on TV or a movie you are a passive onlooker and the work so much work has been done on your behalf.
- Libraries and their importance Mick was keen to acknowledge the role that libraries played in forging him as a reader and a writer. The library affords a person the possibility of making mistakes more than buying books alone would. When you consider a purchase unless you have an endless budget then you will mostly only read what you know you like. The library allows for creative expression and exploration.
- If it was an easy thing to do it should have been done. Mick spoke about the editing process of his books. He happily shared that his editor and him barely disagree and that he was thankful that the changes the editor made were easy things to change. He went on to reflect that if it were an easy thing to change it probably should have been done anyway. That was interesting to me.
I have already taken far more of your Saturday than I intended so if you are ok I will drop you off here at The Perch On The Pier in my beloved seaside town of Worthing. I am here for Lunch but I will drop you all off here for Breakfast. I can smell the coffee and bacon waiting for you.
Hearty handshakes from me to you.