Thursday, 22 February 2018

Purple Paisely

Today I have a guest post by Gail Aldwin (and not just because her book cover is purple!)

Hello Patsy,

Thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog to share my writing experiences. Paisley Shirt my collection of short fiction is now available on Amazon or it can be ordered from all good bookshops.

What is the process of putting a collection together?

I searched the range of short fiction I had written over time to find a thread that wove the stories together. I discovered resilience is a theme in my writing and this helped me to select the best pieces. Several of the stories have won or been placed in competitions I learnt about through Patsy’s blog. Others have been published online and print anthologies. This publication history helped to secure me the offer of a collection published by Chapeltown Books. (I notice Allison Faye was on Patsy’s blog recently – my collection is in the same series, hence the similar presentation.)

What are the highpoints and pitfalls of your writing journey?

You have to get your work out there in order to experience highpoints such as competition wins and publishing opportunities. Putting writing forward also means preparing for the pitfalls. Rejection is a professional hazard for a writer and as soon as I realised that success depends on the individual taste of an editor/judge, it helped me through the lows of writing stories that struggled to find a home. It’s even harder trying to place a novel that has been tirelessly worked on. Even when the writing is of publishable standard, the story won’t suit everyone.

Do you think of yourself as a writer?

I have always taken my writing seriously and see it as work rather than a hobby or distraction to fill time, but it has taken years to acknowledge that I am a writer. We have many roles in life from relationships with family members to paid and voluntary employment or educational studies. Although my role as a writer has been a priority, admitting this to others in social and professional contexts was something I avoided. It has always been much easier to say I am a student of creative writing or a tutor in creative writing. It was only upon acquiring representation by a literary agent that I began to tell people of my occupation as a writer. Representation did not last long as my agent took maternity leave and decided not to return to work but I still continue to consider myself a writer.

Can you describe your writing process? 

When I get an idea, I muse on it for a while, then I decide which style of writing the content is suited to. Fragments or moments lend themselves to poetry, short fiction needs a story arc, I usually work collaboratively to develop scripts and novels are a home-alone process. The first draft of anything is about getting the words on the page, then the fun begins: shaping, deepening, and layering through drafting and redrafting.

Why is your collection called Paisley Shirt?

The title comes for the opening story in the collection. It’s about Piotr who returns to the neighbourhood of his childhood to visit the woman who used to look after him. For the woman, this prompts unravelling memories about a love affair with his father.

What plans do you have for future writing?

This Much I Know is my current WIP. It’s a novel with a six-year-old narrator that gives a child’s view of the interaction between adults in a suburban community where a paedophile is housed. The trick in writing from a child’s perspective is to exploit the gap in understanding between the child and the actions of adults around them. I’m having a lot of fun playing around with strategies and techniques to capture the voice of a young child.

Thank you for inviting me onto your blog, Patsy. I hope we’ve been able to uncover a thing or two that gives encouragement to writers who follow your blog. 

I hope so too, Gail!

Gail is the chair of the Dorset Writers Network. You can find her on Twitter as @GailAldwin and on Facebook and via her blog.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

An affair with his father - awkward!
I think a lot of us write around a theme whether we realize it or not.
Congratulations on the release, Gail.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

best of luck, Gail. Hope you get tons of excitement

Carolb said...

Hope the collection does well Gail, and thanks to Patsy too.

Jen said...

Very interesting reading this, very insightful. Best of luck

Gail Aldwin said...

Thank you for having me on your blog, Patsy.

Patsy said...

I think so too, Alex.

Patsy said...

Glad you found it interesting, Carol.

Patsy said...

I'm sure she will, Mac - the cover's purple!

Patsy said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Jen (not that I can take the credit!)

Patsy said...

You're very welcome, Gail.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Patsy and Gail ... I'm going to be coming back to read properly - it looks really interesting ... thank you! Cheers Hilary

Patsy said...

I always find other writers' methods interesting, Hilary.

Tara said...

Best of luck and congrats, Gail! I'm off to check out the collection now. :)