by Meridith Mckinnon
Far from putting TTW to bed – I mean, I am only one month into the release of my first ever published novel – but it is time to tidy my writing space and pack up my research to make way for my next book! I thought I’d go through a few questions that have been often asked during the launch of TTW.
Where do I write?
My writing space is quite structured. My office, as I call it, is centered in the house making it the hub of my daily routine. My office has books from my favourite authors ...
wall to wall shelving, a long desk with my laptop, printer and enough space to spread out with my notes. I surround myself with prompts, planners and of course what would I do without sticky notes! Having a designated writing space is essential to me. I write in silence, no music or TV and I put my phone out of the room so I have no distractions. When I have studied I was more flexible on where I wrote, at the kitchen table or living room but novel writing has been different. I need the space that takes my mind into writer’s mode! But I think I will update my chair soon – one luxury I might give myself for writing the next book!
When do I find time to write?
I have had lots of questions about my writing routine and how I have found the time to write a book. Working part time in my ‘real job’ has been a help and I am fortunate to only work part time. Many writers I follow work full time jobs and that would be challenging!
Well, this also goes to the fact that I work part time and I have a great partner, husband Phil, who is a great support. I was saying this the other day to some work colleagues and they laughingly asked was I recording my response in my praise for Phil! – but he really is the best! We like an organized household and domestic bliss doesn’t flow when one person is consumed for hours at a laptop! Sometimes I have good intentions – get the dinner on, feed the cat, hang out the laundry – and before I know it hours have gone and it’s wine o’clock!
But in all seriousness, when I was full on writing TTW it was about 5 to 6 days a week that I would at some stage of the day sit in my office and write. At one stage I increased my ‘day job’ hours temporarily but was very glad to drop back! After work I would write into the night, and days off I would start at 10am and finish 5 pm. Once a week I would stop and tidy, organize my notes and print off research that I wanted to keep and file. Which reminds me of an important point, to also say that I regularly saved my work on an external hard drive for safety. This is the ‘housekeeping’ of writing, the stuff that is essential, creates organization and lets me get on with the job of writing.
How long did it take me to write the book?
I started TTW about three years ago. Then I lived in South Korea for 6 months on a scholarship in Seoul and when the winter months came and the nights were long I began to put my mind more seriously to the plot. When I returned from Seoul I then threw everything into it and had about 40,000 words easily. Then the ‘fear nots’ came and went – I call the ‘fear nots’ the doubts I had that haunt most writers. At many intervals I feared I wasn’t good enough, feared I wasn’t qualified enough to write, feared that my story would be too hard, feared I couldn’t write any more – self doubt crept in often and then I would get my second wind and off I’d go. I had to have the confidence to ‘fear not’ and move forward.
By about June 2016 I had a complete manuscript. I had re written it about 4 times, including the first major re write that actually took me to Thailand specifically to do this. Phil came too and we stayed in a part of Thailand that we hadn’t been to before. It was remote and isolated and perfect. Every day we would wake and swim, Phil would head off on a local adventure on his own and I would write until lunchtime. I also met two other writers doing the same thing! One, a screen writer from the UK and another novelist, also from UK.
After the June in 2016, I stepped back from it for 3 months while I reflected on it as a whole piece of work and planned for publishing. I was then ready to go the editing stage with confidence and a fresh mind. This process began in January 2017 and the final proof read was completed in April.
Am I writing another book?
So now that the launch is done and various book events have been scheduled, I have been all the while planning the next book. It has been difficult while releasing TTW to find the time to begin but that is slowly changing. I think the time is about right to start writing again. Hence, time to pack up TTW research and notebooks and today I packed them in a box and shelved them. As this is the first time for everything, first book released, first time starting a second novel, it was kind of cathartic packing it all away, clearing the desk and also clearing my files on the laptop. My mind now prepared and focused I also have decided to structure a better writing schedule, making a clear time aside for walking and bike riding!
How do I get my ideas?
I guess my writing so far has been drawn so much from personal encounters and experience living in Thailand and my close relationship with the country and Thai people. But it is not enough for the type of international crime fiction that I have been writing and so imagination plays a large part of it. My creativity for plot and character development is always on my mind. For me it is quite solitary and reflective and although I do a lot of research, my story lines are often thought of in the car or walking where I am in silence with myself and my characters. As with my first book, my story was well planned before writing, but characters do evolve and plots take me places that I hadn’t planned and I always need a notebook handy to jot these down when they strike me.
This may be my last blog for a while as I will throw all my energy into my novel. See how I go! But for the time being, TTW is neatly packed up and stored for reference as I may need to draw on this as I begin the next journey of Lek and her family. Did I just give something away??!