I’m delighted to welcome author S. Lynn Scott to my blog today with a guest post as part of the blog tour for her new novel A Patient Man. Thank you to Anne Cater and Matador Books for the invitation.
About the book:
When Mikey’s neighbours, the Freemans, win a great deal of money, the old couple become the targets of a criminal act that leaves Peggy Freeman dead and her husband, Bert thirsting for revenge. Believing that young Mikey’s family is responsible, Bert devises a highly unusual but devastatingly effective form of reprisal. But where does the guilt really lie, and will there be punishment or redemption?
Told from Mikey’s viewpoint with light touches of humour, A Patient Man is a gripping crime novel peopled with believable characters who are drawn inexorably in to a story that explores the effects of greed, money and the human need for retribution.
About the author:
S. Lynn Scott began her adult life determined to take the theatrical world by storm. The theatrical world, it turned out, wasn’t quite so keen to embrace her as she had expected it would be, and so, nothing daunted, she successfully turned her undoubted talents to Terpsichorean entertainment in dark, exotic places. There she learned that a jewelled bra and a very large feathered fan are no substitutes for a good book and a cheese and Branston Pickle sandwich. Her further youthful adventures are, mercifully, lost in the mists of time and she now lives with suitable decorum in Leicestershire where she writes, insists on directing others who are better at acting than she is, dreams of working for the RSC and then writes some more. “Elizabeth, William…and Me” is her first published novel. There are others waiting nervously in the wings.
And now a guest post from S. Lynn Scott:
To Write, or to Grout? That is the Question.
I am stuck, stalled, impotent, frustrated.
I have finished two novels (published by Matador). I have a third of another written and a nearly completed film script that I am toying with the idea of converting into a novel. (Yes, I know it is usually done the other way around, but I like a challenge.)
I also have ideas for a comic novel about a community centre (a subject of which I know a great deal), a light-hearted story about the spy who came in for a cardigan, a tale of love and teapots set in an English village and a post-apocalyptic novel that takes a somewhat unexpected route to an uplifting ending.
Ideas are not my problem.
I sit down with every intention of taking my stories forward…and then I am overwhelmed with the sudden, inexplicable necessity to re-grout the bath, trim the dog or my toenails, buy a burger press, take up boxercise, watch all the programs on television that I absolutely loathe or re-read all the books that I absolutely love. At the time these things appear to me to be urgent and essential and so the laptop or the notebook is neglected until I have achieved a tidy dog, a grouted bath or have been depressed beyond measure by some ghastly soap opera. I then return hopefully to the dusty keyboard, until some other meaningless distraction (probably my husband) will give me the excuse I’m looking for to stop chewing my bottom lip and staring in to the middle distance and to abandon writing until another time.
Steve Martin said, “Writer’s block is a fancy term made up by whiners so they can have an excuse to drink alcohol.” As I am sitting here sipping a cold glass of Gavi, I must admit that there might be something to that.
Neil Gaiman also said that “being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.” My blank screen is currently triumphant and there isn’t a piece of paper in the house that isn’t cruelly mocking me, but it’s nice to know that a writer like Gaiman also has his moments.
One of my literary heroes is Anthony Trollope. That man was a marvel! He wrote 50 very, very long and detailed novels, had a family, worked full time for the Post Office and even found time to run for office (unsuccessfully) and invent the Post Box. There is no doubt that he was a very disciplined writer. He admitted as much himself and, as a result, was dismissed as a lightweight by the Victorian literary world who expected their writers to sit around agonizing until divine inspiration decided to visit. Much as I have been doing for the last two or three (okay six) months.
So how to move forward? I bought a new laptop and copious amounts of workmanlike stationary. I tried writing in the living room, the kitchen and in bed. I also tried writing in the office at work. Luckily, I can report that that was not successful and as a result I am still employed. Every cloud etc. I tried writing at night and first thing in the morning, on trains and busses and in cars. The last three produced vomit, but not of the literary kind.
I tried setting myself deadlines and discovered that, like Douglas Adams, I enjoyed the whooshing sound they made as they flew by.
So, what to do? I have always written and churning out whatever was required, albeit with some sweat and toil, has not been a major problem – up until now. Even though I have a host of vibrant characters just waiting to be told what to do, a sparkling setting and most of a storyline, I find that I am… stuck.
What about a blog? Suggested the Ocado delivery guy when I detailed my inadequacy to him at some length. Well, he did ask how I was and if he didn’t want to be told the whole story he shouldn’t have sounded as if he cared. I didn’t like to tell him that I wasn’t at all sure what a blog was.
I’m still not entirely sure what a blog is, or what it is supposed to achieve or who will read it, if anyone, but what I can say is that I haven’t written this much (612 words so far) in one sitting for months. So perhaps the answer is to write something, anything.
Write what you know is the perennial advice given to writers. ‘”That should leave you with a lot of free time,” added the poet, Nemerov. Harsh but true. However, I know what it feels like to want to write but for some unfathomable reason to be unable to put pen to paper. Or fingertips to Qwerty keyboard. So that is my chosen subject – writers block.
Let’s be analytical for a moment.
Perhaps I have too many ideas. No, I don’t think so.
Too many projects on the go? Well, none of them are ‘on the go’ now, so I don’t think it is that.
Perhaps my life is too busy. I should find some isolated spot in this world with a lonely view of the sea or mountains and then my muse would visit, and I would become prolific. Lovely as that sounds I can’t afford it and anyway there is no guarantee that I wouldn’t find something to grout or a goat to trim.
Perhaps, having experienced how much hard work it is to actually finish a novel, having (twice) struggled through the trauma of writing, reviews, editing, re-writing, more editing, proof-reading, publication and having experienced sudden exposure to the cold hard world of opinion, the thought of starting all over again, with that long, stony road ahead of me was too daunting.
That sounds about right. Cowardly maybe, but understandable.
Orson Welles said there was nothing to writing, all you had to do was “sit down at the typewriter and bleed”. I know what he means. I don’t find writing easy. Like anything that is ultimately satisfying (well, almost anything) it takes effort. And time, a lot of time.
We will have to see if this blog has had the effect of chasing away my writers’ block and releasing my inner muse. Sylvia Plath said that the worst enemy to creativity was self-doubt and she should know.
H. G. Wells advised, “If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn’t expecting it.”
So that is my plan. I will take the wise words of all these sublime authors. I will put away the Gavi (when I have finished this glass), refuse to allow self-doubt to take hold, I shall leap out of the darkness at the blank screen when the house is quiet and my computer is under the mistaken impression that I have given up writing for good and then perhaps, just perhaps, the words will flow as quickly as the ideas.
If not…back to the grouting.
Thank you so much to S. Lynn Scott for sharing her thoughts with us today. Her new novel A Patient Man is available to buy now: Amazon UK
Check out what these other lovely bloggers have to say about this fabulous book: