So many words, so little time!

Elaine Everest, wishing there were more hours in the day and days in the month!

I know it’s been said before but where has the year gone? It doesn’t seem five minutes since I was writing last month’s blog piece and only days since I declared my writing intentions for 2014.

For some crazy reason I’d decided back in January that I was going to increase my output of articles and research new markets for my journalistic work. This was mainly because the Everest household was facing redundancy. ‘Him indoors’ was being cast aside by the American owners of the company he worked for, along with every other long serving employee. The company was making excellent profits, and providing a much needed service to the medical industry, so it made no sense that the work force (most being over the age of 55) were faced with possibly never working again. Sorry, rant over! However, ‘Him indoors’ secured a lovely job after we wrote to over fifty companies in Kent enclosing an SAE, letter and CV – we didn’t mention that he was over sixty. Seven replied. I almost started a fresh rant about people who can’t reply to a letter… We tackled the problem head on by writing those letters. Employment agencies are ageist and can be so depressing to the older person. We needed to stay positive. It worked. In July, American Independence Day in fact, he leaves the employ of the Americans and joins a good old British firm.

Something else happened in January. I found myself an agent – imagine me dancing around the room at this point – I had to pinch myself. Had she made a terrible error? Did she mistake me for someone else? It seems not. Isn’t this the dream that every writer hopes will happen? So, instead of thinking about the aforementioned article research I found myself researching World War Two and the people of Kent once more. Yes, I have my dream job, writing Sagas set in the war years. Vera Lynn sings in the background as I work and old black and white films are constantly running on my television. I’m back in the zone. My word goals for the week, along with research, leave no time for much else in my life. I’m not even sure I’ve stepped outside the front door since then!

The other big event for me was in May when along with sixteen other novelists I attended the Romantic Novelist Association’s Summer Party as one of the nominees of the Joan Hessayon Award. It was fabulous. So many people were complimentary about Gracie’s War that I felt just like a winner even though that honour went to Jo Thomas. There’s nothing better than being in the company of so many lovely authors most of whom I first met on the shelves of my library and Waterstones.
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Looking forward I’m hoping to be able to hand my new book over to my agent Caroline Sheldon, who has been so helpful as I move onwards in the writing world. Fingers crossed that a publisher will like my book. If not I may well be researching new markets for my articles!

The Sound of Silence

Elaine Everest explains how sound affects her writing.

As a writer I need to have sound around me. I find that I cannot function in silence. Furthermore I am unable to write in silence. I always have the television on in the background while I write. For me it’s a form of white noise. I’m unaware of Holly Willoughby wittering about babies or Jeremy Kyle screaming for a lie detector. However, the moment something of importance hits the screen I am alert and listening. I’ve tried having the radio on in the background – it doesn’t work. News disturbs me and radio phone-ins annoy me as I need to stop writing to join in. I’ve tried playing CDs but stop writing to jump a track or browse the covers – I come from the days when we read LP covers whilst the music played.

Music can help me when I’m writing one of my WW2 sagas. I’ll put a DVD of a wartime film on the television or perhaps play Vera Lynn songs. At once I’m pulled back to the era where my characters would have lived. I’m able to absorb the atmosphere of times gone by. My fingers speed up on the keyboard and ideas flow.

Music also helps with my story telling. Last night I researched a tune that my main character would dance to in the arms of her new boyfriend. It was the last dance of the evening and sadly many decades before Englebert Humpedink would record his ’Last Waltz’.  His words would have been perfect. Instead I spent a few happy hours using YouTube to listen to music from the 1930s. I discovered a lovely song, memorable from happy family holidays at Warners’ holiday camp (albeit with the right words). Goodnight Sweetheart fitted the bill perfectly and set the scene for the start of a long romance.


sea pic

 

I always find that I’m inspired to write when by the sea. The sound of waves lapping against the shore – or crashing if the weather is rough – is the perfect setting for my mind to wander and stories to evolve. I find a walk along the shoreline, where the only sound, apart from the crashing waves are the gulls squawking up above, clears my mind ready to get back to the keyboard. No wonder my favourite writing retreat is a cottage by the sea, in Whitstable, with my writing friends!

Sounds I cannot work with are summer sounds. I have a lovely garden and always plan to sit outside, when the weather improves. However, youngsters without volume controls, their parents continually chatting on mobile phones and builders erecting houses at the bottom of my garden have somewhat put paid to my plans to write al fresco this summer. Indoors windows are closed against the ‘outside noise’ and I can control what I wish to hear while I write – but it won’t be silence. To quote Simon and Garfunkel, ‘silence like a cancer grows’ and for me to sit and write in silence does not create words.

 

Please return on 15th May to read what Francesca Burgess has to say about the sense of touch.