Friday, 3 January 2014

What do you do when you can't go over, under, or round?

There's a lot of wisdom to be found in children's literature. In We're Going On a Bear Hunt, Michael Rosen offers us the valuable insight:
'We can't go over it, we can't go under it.
Ohhh NO!
We gotta go through it

That's true of life and writing. In both there are things you can side-step but there are lots of things that you know you've got to go through because they matter to you. In my life I will prioritise the needs of my children and grandchildren above all things (thus the blogging silence over Christmas); especially the education and care of my autistic grandson. Autism would make a good obstacle in a Bear Hunt. It's a deep, thick swamp, with unexpected pot holes where you go down over your head and wonder if this time you're going to come up again. That said, he is the adored heart of our family; the funniest, sweetest and most loving little boy, and every achievement he makes lightens and warms our lives.

In writing there are also things you have to go through in order to reach your goal. Who hasn't muttered about the need to write or edit when there are so many other things to do, or when the task seems endless and it would be so pleasant to curl up in the armchair and watch TV. However, at the end of the day, there's nothing to compare to the feeling of triumph and fulfilment when you've got your chunk of writing, even if it's in desperate need of editing and polishing. Of course, there's the other writing quagmire to go through, submission and rejection. However with all the new independent publishing options, it is now possible to go round that particular alligator filled swamp.

For me there's the added writing deadline of monthly articles for Mystery People on the topic of authors of the Golden Age of Crime. It's on my list to put my past articles on my website ( but, for the moment, check them out on Before I get started, the prospect of researching and writing the articles seems like an immense mountain to climb, but as soon as I'm into it I'm totally hooked. It has benefited my own reading and writing, and I've discovered some incredible authors that I hadn't encountered when I read the standard Golden Age novels as a teenager. If I'd gone over or under instead of through the article writing I might never have read the incomparable Edmund Crispin... scary thought!

Of course, there are the things that don't give you an option of going over and under, like the stroke I suffered on New Year's Eve 2011. When I woke to find my right side paralysed and my speech a muffled mess, I only had one choice, go through it and keep on hoping. I was fortunate in recovering pretty well, but nobody knew just how terrifying each step back into the world was, especially, less than six months later, when I made my first public appearance as the moderator of the Deadly Dames. Even worse was the fear that my brain, with a proportion of my 'little grey cells' eliminated, wouldn't be up to the creative task any more. Fortunately it is, although probably creakier and less confident than before. Ironically I have probably done more in the past two years because of the stroke than I'd have done without that kick into action, including moderating several panels and giving presentations; returning to teaching Creative Writing; editing and, last but by no means least, setting up, in collaboration with two good friends and colleagues, an independent, co-operative publishing company, Pentangle Press. My first contemporary crime novel, The Terminal Velocity of Cats, was published in July 2013. It's selling steadily and has got some great reviews. My second police procedural, About the Children, is due to be published later this month, so I'd better stop writing about it and get on with that final edit.

With life and writing, there are lots of things to get in your way, but it's all down to hard work, staying focused and going through all the things that get in your way.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post, Carol, I've only just discovered your blog, but I'll certainly be keeping an eye on it from now on. I'm looking forward to the arrival of ABOUT THE CHILDREN. If it's as gripping as TERMINAL VELOCITY OF CATS (what am I saying, I'm sure it is!) then it'll be a real page-turner.