Monday, 28 September 2009

The Lion, The Bitch and the Gloria

I've read that Stephen King writes 2000 words a day six days a week, always listening to heavy metal music. JK's been known to write longhand in busy cafes. My own act of writing involves sitting at my familiar desk looking out over the garden, cup of tea by my side - in complete silence. I begin by re-reading what I wrote the previous day, do a mini edit on it and usually, most times, it's at that moment that the characters come out to play. And I don’t just mean the characters featuring in my Work In Progress. I mean my own character traits made flesh, who regularly turn up to help or hinder me in the writing process. What I'm writing, where I am in the story, or how I'm feeling in general will completely dictate which one may make an appearance.


Take the Lion. She’s a hunting Lioness, strong and dependable, sure in her ability to take care of business. She urges me to be strong. Keep the Faith. She nurtures me, feeds me, encourages me to grow. She's most apparent during first draft months.


The Bitch makes regular appearances during all stages of a manuscript. She throws all the proverbial toys out of the playpen, ‘poo poos’ the publishing industry and snarls at anyone who mentions how many attempts it took JK Rowling to be published. She sabotages my work regularly and reminds me how crap I am. She also happens to be gorgeous, you know the type - tall, leggy, slim, blonde. (Note to self. From now on your inner bitch must look dishevelled, ugly and be so inarticulate that you have no choice but to ignore her.)

Which leads me to the Gloria, and I don’t mean the ‘in excelsis Deo’ Gloria. Er, no. Though I’m sure that sentiment rings true somewhere in my psyche, I actually mean the Gloria of the Gaynor type. You know…the one who survives? She tends to appear at submission time. She berates the Bitch with a withering silent look and then bursts into song….’Oh now Go, la la la la. I will survive etc etc’ I need Gloria. Oh, how I need Gloria.


Today is my first day back writing after a long break and it feels SO good to be at the desk. My hands hovered only momentarily over the keyboards before they began tapping rhythmically, almost of their own accord. It's quiet. The only sounds are birdsong in the garden and Gloria singing, sounding quite tuneful in fact.

The Lion is snoozing in long grass, one eye half open, there if I need her. The Bitch is hovering to my left, glancing nervously at her ragged fingernails. Actually, she looks like hell today.


I feel a good writing day coming on.

12 comments:

Samantha Tonge said...

Great post, Fionnuala.

The equivalent of my bitch is very whiney and mousey, telling me i'm not as good as anyone else, whispering in my ear and each and every stage of the process - thank goodness for lions though. I think well all need one of those to fight the gremlins...

CarolineG said...

Oh I just loved this post, Fionnuala. I've never thought of it this way before and my mind is now racing as I start picturing my own equivalents. My inner bitch is a real doozie though...you really wouldn't mess with her as she is able to reduce me to a quivering wreck, convinced my every word is crap, with just a curl of her lip.
I'm going to imagine she has lipstick on her teeth from now on...

Helen Black said...

Still smiling at this post.
And singing along with Gloria.
HB x

Kate said...

Love the post -I think we all have our innter bitch - good luck keeping yours away Kate x

Roderic Vincent said...

I have to disagree, here. I don't think I have an inner bitch.

Fionnuala Kearney said...

LOL Rod. Are you sure? What about an inner sabateour? (Spelling??!)

Susie Nott-Bower said...

LOL, Rod!
Fabulous post, Fionnuala. May your Gloria keep playing!
Susiex

Kate said...

LOL Rob what about an innter bitch as per my embarassing typo?

Kate x

Susannah Rickards said...

I love your posts Fionnuala. So true. The bitch always comes and watches what you type over your shoulder.

Gloria is fab. Where d'you get her? Can we all have one?

Clare said...

A long time ago I did a workshop about the inner editor. Mine turned out to be a stout and red-faced woman of vulgar appearance who screeched at me from the top deck of open buses across the street.

Once I knew her, it was a lot easier to ignore her. In the end, I stuck her on the train to the south coast. She hasn't been seen since.

And then I hired a replacement, who is efficient and compassionate. I think I might advertise for a lioness and gloria now.

Fionnuala Kearney said...

LOL Clare! I love the fact that you sent your vulgar inner bitch packing!
Susannah, Glorias are few and far between but if you imagine her as having a kindly face, someone who's really after your best interests and she can sing - Yes, she has to be able to sing 'I will survive', I'm sure you'll be able to summons her when required?!

Karen said...

Love it!

My inner Lazy Cow threatens to take over all the time, but I've banished her to a distant field for the time being :o))