The Writing Process – with Isabel Costello

111011403-21 Isabella

Today, I’d like to welcome, Isabel Costello to my blog, where she will talk about her books and the writing process.

1)CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR WRITING? HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS AND ARE YOU WRITING NOW?

I’ve been writing fiction for five years. My first novel took two years to write and with the benefit of hindsight, I then sent it out on submission when it was nowhere near good enough. After a lot of nice rejections, I had the manuscript professionally edited and ended up completely rewriting it. I really believed in the story and couldn’t get it out of my head. Anyway, it did the trick as I now have a wonderful agent who is about to send the manuscript to publishers. We’ve worked together to polish it. The collaborative part of the process is something I particularly enjoy.

2)HOW MUCH RESEARCH AND PREPARATION DO YOU DO BEFORE YOU WRITE? FOR EXAMPLE, DO YOU DO CHAPTER PLANS AND CHARACTER PROFILES? DOES ANY OF THIS CHANGE WHILE YOU WRITE?

Both my first novel and the one I’m about to begin originated in short stories I’d written, which is great because it means you’re not starting from scratch. The one my new novel will be based on already has a complete narrative arc for the main thread, so instead of taking it forward in time as with number one, I am developing the breadth, coming up with secondary characters, sub-plots, etc. I need some idea where I’m heading but a lot changes along the way. Although my main interest is character, the best way to develop that is through action/reaction/interaction, so for me a strong story is essential.

3)DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TIME TO WRITE? HOW DO YOU BALANCE THIS WITH OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES SUCH AS FAMILY LIFE OR OTHER WORK?

Not really. In theory, I should write during the day as I don’t have a full-time job, but in reality I get just as much done late at night and at weekends. I often seem to have too much on and my mind is buzzing with four real people’s lives in my head, not to mention the fictional ones! But family life in all its madness is a source of joy and inspiration. It feeds into my work a lot.

4)WHAT PART OF THE PROCESS DO YOU FIND MOST IMPORTANT? fOR EXAMPLE, FIRST DRAFT, EDITING, REWRITING ETC.

I think they are all vital stages, although you could argue that rewriting and polishing have the biggest impact on the quality of the finished book and therefore whether it is likely to be well received by agents, publishers and – most importantly – the reader. For me personally the most important part is something you didn’t mention, which is thinking: processing ideas, puzzling things over, delving into the characters’ heads. I probably do more ‘writing’ that way than sitting in front of a computer typing.

5)WRITING HAS LOTS OF HIGHS AND LOWS. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?

I am naturally very driven when I really want something and I thrive on big challenges. I’m also willing to work very hard (I think you have to be) and like it when others keep raising the bar. Emotional resilience, on the other hand, has never been my forte – I’ve had to toughen up a lot. My husband is a completely different personality type and from him I’ve learned to put every knockback in my tank and use it to fuel my motivation. That has become second nature now. Managing your state of mind is one of the hardest things for a writer until you find your own way of doing it.

6) DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND/OR BLOG? HOW USEFUL DO YOU FIND THIS?

I started my blog http://www.isabelcostelloliterarysofa.com/ in September 2011. I enjoy it hugely – it’s become an interactive forum where people come to discover new fiction and discuss reading and writing. I’ve made some great friends through the blog and Twitter and social media has rescued my morale in bad times. But I don’t let it interfere with my writing.

7)IF YOU COULD PASS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO A NEW WRITER WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Say what you want to say. That’s what I did when I was rewriting my novel knowing there was no guarantee anyone would ever read it. Don’t think about the people who might hate your work – you’re not doing it for them. Writing with honesty is risky, but the kick is like nothing else.

ISABEL COSTELLO IS REPRESENTED BY DIANA BEAUMONT OF THE RUPERT HEATH LITERARY AGENCY

Thank you so much, Isabel for coming to talk about the writing process. Good luck with your novels!

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8 thoughts on “The Writing Process – with Isabel Costello

    1. electrasmoped says:

      Hi Katie,
      Thanks for your comments. Isabel gave some very interesting and thought-provoking answers and showed what hard work and determination can do. I felt really inspired by it.
      Thanks again!

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