It is with pleasure that today I welcome Jacqueline Grima onto my blog to talk about her books and writing.
1) CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF – HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS AND ARE YOU WRITING NOW?
I have been writing for about twenty years and was lucky that the first few short stories I sent out were accepted for publication. After that, however, family life sort of took over. I have three sons and became a single mother twelve years ago so any writing had to be put aside for a while. I started to take it more seriously when I was made redundant from my job as a teaching assistant. Finding another job wasn’t going to be easy as, by that time, I had been diagnosed with a long term health condition, fibromyalgia, which causes me constant pain, was due to go into hospital for a hysterectomy and was also primary carer to my middle son who has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of autism. I decided, therefore, to use my time at home to finish the Literature degree I had started with The Open University, and to make my first serious attempt at writing a novel. Coming Second, the story of a young man called Leo,was finished approximately three years later and, much to my delight was shortlisted for the 2014 Luke Bitmead Bursury, which even though I didn’t win, has opened a lot of doors for me, I am currently trying to find a publisher for the novel and have also embarked upon a Masters in Creative Writing. The novel I am currently working on will eventually be my dissertation. I am also working part-time as a commissioned writer for student magazine http://www.humanityhallows.co.uk and am working on short stories as I would love to put them together in a collection one day!
2) HOW MUCH RESEARCH AND PREPARATION DO YOU DO IN ADVANCE – DOES ANY OF THIS CHANGE WHILE YOU ARE WRITING?
I like to do quite a lot of thinking and note-taking before I start writing and I usually start a new notebook for each novel where I jot down ideas for the plot or notes about each character – where they were born, where they work etc. as well as their relationships to each other. I also think a lot about where the novel is going to be set and often go out to take photographs which helps me ‘set the scene’. In Coming Second, Leo takes a lot of comfort from the church and his bible so I did a lot of bible reading beforehand and paid a few visits to the local church and cemetery! Usually I have a vague idea of where the story is going before I write but I don’t set it in stone as my ideas often change. The ending for Coming Second changed three or four times!
3) DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TIME TO WRITE? HOW DO YOU BALANCE WRITING WITH OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES AT OR IN WORK?
My writing has to work around the care of my son, my health and, unfortunately, lots of other everyday things I have to do like cleaning, washing, ironing and walking my two dogs! I mostly write in the day after I have finished my chores and my son has left for college. I usually write a list at the beginning of the week of the articles I have to complete or the amount of my novel I want to get through and try to do as many hours as I can with just short breaks for lunch. I usually finish when the boys come home and it’s time to cook. Sometimes, however, if my health isn’t too good, I have to finish earlier as the physical act of writing often causes my muscles to stiffen and my condition causes me to have chronic fatigue which means I am dozing off by 3 o’clock! In the evenings, I usually spend time with the boys or catch up on my reading.
4) WRITING HAS HIGHS AND LOWS – HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?
Good question! Writing is hard work and I do have lots of ‘low’ periods, especially when the inevitable rejections are coming in! I try to keep myself motivated by treating it like any other job. If I were going in to an office, I wouldn’t have a choice about how much work I’d do so I try to sit down and write in the morning and promise myself I will keep going until a certain time. With my article writing, I work to 24 hour deadlines, which is always a great motivator! If I am feeling low or not particularly well, I usually do some editing , perhaps going back to a short story that needs some work or going over the opening chapters of my novel. I find that editing is much easier than facing a blank page!
5) DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND/OR BLOG? HOW USEFUL DO YOU FIND THIS?
I am an avid Twitter user and find it incredibly useful for connecting with other writers and for getting my work out to a wider audience. If I have written an article I usually include it in a tweet and tag as many people as possible who I think might be interested in reading it and it can be read by hundreds of people in a matter of minutes, It’s also a great way of keeping up with writing competitions and submission opportunities, The only drawback is that it can be distracting but I tend to think of it as a pet – if you give it a little bit of attention every day then you tend to get it to behave the way you want it to! I have recently started a blog where I talk about the experience of doing an MA and post writing tips. I do find it hard to keep up though and think I need to blog more often in order to entice a wider readership.
6) IF YOU COULD GIVE SOME ADVICE TO A NEW WRITER, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
Read, read and read, when you have finished, read some more! I firmly believe that, in order to be a successful writer, you have to be a reader and have often got two or three books on the go. Although it’s a bit of a cliche, I would also say don’t give up. I have had hundreds of rejections but I know that, with perseverance, I will one day be where I want to be!
MANY THANKS TO JACQUELINE FOR SUCH AN INFORMATIVE POST, YOU CAN FIND HER BLOG AT http://www.grimajgrima.blogspot.co.uk OR YOU CAN FOLLOW HER ON TWITTER @GrimaJgrima
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO READ ANY OF HER ARTICLES YOU WILL FIND THEM AT http://www.humanityhallows.co.uk/?s=jacqueline+grima