writing, we’re told to ‘Write about what you know’. But what do children know? Their world is necessarily limited, their
experiences – hopefully – benign. To a
young child, the imagination can be almost more real than reality. My imaginary
world was peopled with princes and princesses, red Indians, knights in armour,
fairies, witches and magic.
sought out books about cavaliers, highwaymen and pirates; stories where the heroine
is imprisoned by an evil relative; books about houses riddled with secret
passages and priest holes. To be set an
essay about ‘what you did in the holidays’ was not only boring, it was also
divisive. I would have spent most of my
summer in prosaic occupations – drawing, reading and writing, and taking our
dog for a walk, then holidaying in Cornwall. Lovely though it was, in the
one-upmanship of the playground, Cornwall was no match for sailing around the
Greek islands, flirting with waiters in Majorca or camping near the French
Riviera. Always far safer and more
interesting, to invent something
at least 3 decades under your belt that you can understand what writing from
experience really means. By then you
will have been touched by one or more of life’s big events – falling in love,
marriage, childbirth, divorce, heart-break, illness, bereavement – and now have
the maturity to draw something deeper from the life you have lived. But ‘write about what you know’ is still a
misleading adage. If you were only
‘allowed’ to write truthfully about what you had personally experienced, you
wouldn’t be producing fiction: you’d be writing autobiography.
It’s a story! There are some authors
who almost make it a point of principle to set their novels in countries
they’ve never even visited. I admire
their chutzpah, but I haven’t the courage, or energy necessary to do the
research. I set my stories in a world I know, but seen through the distorting
glass of my imagination. And I draw on
events from my past, but only after a passage of time has filtered the rawness
of the emotions as well as the irrelevant detail. The experience is then trimmed, tucked, tailored
and embroidered, to fit my story.
taking events from your own past and reimagining them. It can be a far more
subtle and nuanced than that. When
creating your protagonists, you also invent a landscape to set them in; you
give them their own problems and their own hopes and fears. In doing so, you
are mining everything you have absorbed about life, about people, about
motivation and instinct. And to make your invented characters’ experiences come
to life, you call up your sense memories of sight, sound, smell, taste and
touch. These may be nostalgic – a hill
top in early summer, the fields below gilded by a sheen of yellow buttercups;
the scent of may blossom, lady’s lace and nettles; the feel of the chill, dewed grass against
skin; the song of a skylark; a distant tractor. But there are some sense memories you recall
which may be horrific, like the jarring impact of a car crash, the screeching
tear of metal, the smell of petrol, singed rubber and asphalt, and those long,
cold moments of stunned silence, before the first cry of a baby.
Nothing is forbidden to the writer’s
palette. Everything you have ever known,
seen, felt, smelt, suffered, is there to be used, to turn your imaginary world
into a world the reader believes in.
child writing and art were Gilli’s hobbies. Writing was side lined in
adulthood, when she worked in advertising as an illustrator.It
was only after having her son that Gilli began writing seriously. Her first two
novels were quickly published but her publisher ceased to trade. After years in
the wilderness Gilli went independent with the emergence of E-book. Still a
keen artist, she designs Christmas cards and has begun book illustration. Gilli
is delighted to have secured a three book deal with Accent Press.
all have let her down.
Escaping London, she sets out to recreate
herself in the idyllic countryside, and this time she wants to get it right!
She wants to lead a responsible, tranquil life
with her young son Rory, but soon discovers stresses which pull her in opposing
directions – conflict over a new bypass, between friends, and worst of all,
Educated, experienced, and pragmatic, James is a
widowed farmer whose opinions differ from, and enrage, Jess. His young
shepherd, Danny, is an uneducated and inexperienced idealist. Jess is attracted
to them both, and realises if she wants her idyllic countryside life to
survive, she must choose her Mr Right.
you Gilli and good luck with your novel.
Everest and Natalie Kleinman
like to write a piece for the blo please contact us on email@example.com