Four weeks to go…

It is just less than a month until ‘The Storyteller’ is published. Four weeks from today I will be relaxing with friends post-launch. (If you haven’t had an invitation and you’re in London and you want one, then let me know. The more the merrier: Daunt, 31st May, 6.30pm.)

There’s still a chance of some reviews in major publications; we sent the book in; it’s on the piles on their desks. I’m still oddly hopeful and excited that this will happen. ‘Oddly’ because the probability is low. Once the new books by major authors, and the major books from big publishing houses have been reviewed, there remains little space for the debut literary novelist at an independent press.

In this context small personal activities matter, and my head is swimming with things I should do.

Continue reading “Four weeks to go…”

The Problem of the Trite, of the Feminine, Self

There’s one issue I’m facing again and again as I try to become whatever sort of writer is the right writer for me to be: my first book is a coming of age novel, its central character is a young woman, and depression and recovery are writ large. Told that, people assume it is autobiographical, and I assume they will assume that and so I’m embarrassed to talk about its content at all. Here’s one for the record: it’s a novel – it’s a work of fiction.

This blog, on the other hand, is not fiction. Here I’ve been experimenting with different postures towards the writing world, sure, but I’ve been ‘honest at the time’ in the way I’ve tried each of them. The blog is autobiographical not primarily in the sense that it tells you what happened (though sometimes it does that too) but instead in its attempted true reflection of what I’m learning about myself, my writing, and where that writing might fit in. It’s an attempt to tie down my current thoughts, to translate fluctuating neural networks that are at times disabling onto the relative stability of the page. (Many of you have said that exploration has benefited you. Thank you for telling me that.)

So: blog autobiographical, if inevitably faultily so. Fiction not. Why does it matter?

Continue reading “The Problem of the Trite, of the Feminine, Self”

But am I really a writer?

My first blog asked ‘Am I now a Writer?’ Readers charmingly chimed in saying I write so by definition am A Writer. I didn’t quite believe them.

The question has continued to haunt me. My Facebook and Twitter profiles have picked up followers who are undoubtedly Writers. Every time I’ve used ‘writer’ of myself, or (worse) ‘author’, I’ve felt unworthy. Truth told, I’ve waited for Real Writers to point and laugh.

As I’ve waited, here’s what I’ve wanted to say:

Continue reading “But am I really a writer?”

How to be an unknown literary author (part II)

In Which An Unknown Literary Author Googles Herself

Google ‘Kate Armstrong’ and you will find a multi-millionaire insurance magnate who restored a medieval Scottish castle and is currently reenacting the Highland Clearances on its estate. She hails from Sydney and is an internet tycoon. She and I are not one.

Delve with more specificity into the networked world, and ‘Kate Armstrong Writer’ exposes artists, curators, travel writers, editors. They have engaged in projects ‘focusing on experimental literary practices’. They slaked a childhood thirst for adventure by running away from home, and now inhabit The Lonely Planet. They ‘love the way haikus teach the writer to focus on the briefest, most microcosmic fraction of a moment.’ On this first page of Google results they are, I think, despite their multiple entries, three – like the witches of Macbeth. They are in Vancouver, travelling, and offering global editorial services from no stated location. Google assigns their works to them collectively: one to all and all to one. These are the perils of a common name.

Continue reading “How to be an unknown literary author (part II)”

How to be an unknown literary author (part I)

I have a novel coming out in June. Someone else is taking the financial risk on it and therefore must believe it is good. But there are as yet no reviews or sales declaring me to be the next Plath. Nor (you will be reassured) am I holding my breath that they will come.

I have learned a lot about the literary publishing world over the last year. Here’s a sample of that hard-earned wisdom to enlighten and cheer you as we enter 2016: Continue reading “How to be an unknown literary author (part I)”

Writing an emotional novel?

I’m forty thousand words into the next novel. The writing experience is completely different from last time. Some of that is deliberate. With Suspicion, I’m aiming for clearer plot, more characters, at least one important male viewpoint. I’m writing loosely in this initial draft. My sentences are passable but not gorgeous; there is little that I will feel unable to delete in the next version as I pare down to what the story is.

I’m also feeling emotions as I write, and that is entirely new. Continue reading “Writing an emotional novel?”