Saturday, 8 January 2011

Guest Post: Author Jane Lovering shares the secret of the "OFF" button and tells us how she finds Time To Write


People often ask me about my writing. Which is good, you know, me being a writer and all because it would be bizarre if I was, oh, I dunno, a tax inspector or something. But I’m not, so it’s fine and I like to encourage a ‘stop me and buy one’ approach to my books, so I will talk about my writing all day, since talking about it means I don’t actually have to do it.
And one of the things they most often ask me is – when do you find time to write? Well, this is the question they ask after they’ve asked if I’m a millionaire, if I know JK Rowling and if I can get them a book deal for their three page pamphlet on the history of their grandfather’s wooden leg. Since it would be churlish to walk away at this point (besides, I’ve still got a book to sell), I usually smile and answer the question – when do I find time?

Between the day job and the five kids and the two dogs and the four cats and my poor grimly-smiling husband and the dust and the laundry, I managed to turn out "Please Don’t Stop the Music" in around nine months. [And for a chance to win a copy, carry on reading to the end!].

Released Feb 2011
So, nine months of trying to keep control of my characters and their lives, when none of them are willing to confide in the others and none of them are telling the truth. That’s nine months of searching for spare time, which is tricky to find in this household, bearing in mind I still can’t find my good biro or that book of stamps I bought in March. But I managed to track it down by the simple method of never watching television.

It’s amazing how much time I used to spend, staring at the corner of the living room with my eyes open and my brain in neutral, and sometimes the set was even switched on. So, by keeping away from the moving pictures and using the time to write instead, I got my tale of Jemima and her secrets and Ben and his enigmatic hidden identity onto paper. Their story became more real to me than anything I might see on the TV and as I got more and more involved in their interactions I found that I didn’t miss watching television at all. Except, maybe Doctor Who. And Merlin. And Big Bang Theory – all right, I missed some of it.

But the freedom it gave me, not being tied to the screen (although I did sneakily iPlayer a few episodes of the above...ow, yes, all right, I watched all Doctor Who, now stop twisting my arm) meant that my book got written, not left half-finished locked in my laptop whilst I spent every evening flipping channels and moaning about that book ‘I always meant to write’.

Of course, when I typed the words ‘The End’ and looked up from my laptop, I realised that I hadn’t only stopped watching television, I’d also stopped dusting, ironing and cooking and my entire family, plus dogs, were sitting at my feet hopelessly begging for a square meal. But they’ll get over it. Eventually.
And barely had I started to watch the new series of ‘Strictly Come Dine with Me Factor’, than I felt a new book coming on...

Publishers Choc Lit are offering Strictly Writing readers the chance to win a copy of Jane's book, "Please Don't Stop The Music". All you have to do when you leave your comment is tell us who your favourite rock star is and why, and we'll announce the winner after the weekend.

Jemima Hutton is determined to build a successful new life and keep her past a dark secret. Trouble is, her jewellery business looks set to fail - until enigmatic Ben Davies offers to stock her handmade belt buckles in his guitar shop and things start looking up, on all fronts. But Ben has secrets too. When Jemima finds out he used to be the front man of hugely successful Indie rock band Willow Down, she wants to know more. Why did he desert the band on their US tour? Why is he now a semi-recluse? And the curiosity is mutual - which means that her own secret is no longer safe ...

You can find Jane here:

19 comments:

Julie P said...

Thank you, Jane. Great post. It's amazing how much time staring at the TV screen takes - time that we could be writing.

My favourite 'glam' rock star is Noddy Holder. When me and my sister were kids we noticed that one of our aunties had more than a passing resemblance to dear old Noddy - frizzy hair, West Midlands accent etc. It did tickle us! Every Xmas when the Slade classic would ring out across the shopping centre and radio it always reminded us of our auntie - still does.

Must take note of your post, Jane, and switch of the TV and go do some writing! You're living proof of what can be achieved when you set your mind to it.

Julie p

Jane Lovering said...

Thank you Julie, although I'm not sure that I'm living proof of anything much, other than that you CAN succeed with really bad hair! Which makes my sympathies lie, I'm afraid, with your Holderesque aunt! Noddy Holder, eh? Well, well, well..

Jess Baker said...

Thanks Jane, this is one of my new year's resolutions - to turn off the TV, or rather, not to turn it on. Not even for my one guilty pleasure, ANTM.

My favourite rock star would have to be Bono - not for his rugged look, although that charmed me in my teens, and certainly not for his political insights, but for the moving lyrics of the ballad Running to Stand Still and the melancholic MLK.

I think my new challenge is trying not to get locked into random internet searches, in the name of 'research', any thoughts?!

Jane Lovering said...

Jess, if you have trouble leaving the internet alone, try setting yourself an alarm that gives you twenty, thirty, hell, be a devil and give yourself forty minutes! Make a deal with yourself, when the alarm sounds you'll get back to work. Reward yourself with chocolate if it works - you'll soon mentally condition yourself to leave 'research' when the alarm sounds. On the other hand, you'll acquire a bottom the size of Manchester, but, hey, you'll be getting on with the writing...

Lynn said...

I like your idea of how to shut the internet off--giving yourself time on it first, then shutting down. That's my weakness, more than tv (ohh..but I can't give up Supernatural)! My favourite rock star gotta be Jon Bon Jovi, just 'cause he still looks fab, is still married to his highschool sweetheart, and been knocking the tunes out for a lot of years now!

liveotherwise said...

I'm another Jon bon jovi fan. Especially because of that film he made, can't remember the title now. Moonlight and something? Love the interview. Twitter is my downfall but I'm weaning myself off it gradually.

Kath said...

Great post, Jane. Every time I say I'm a writer, people gaze at me wistfully and say they would love to write a book, if only they could find the time... Like you say, it's more about making the time to write, by cutting down on other stuff, like watching TV, the dying art of cleaning house and feeding people...

My favourite rock star/pop star is P!NK. I love her energy, her ballsy, feisty attitude but, most of all, I admire that she genuinely seems to be doing something that she loves and having a lot of fun with it.

(Please don't include me in the draw though, as I already have my copy of Please Don't Stop the Music.)

Anonymous said...

I admire you Jane - i am a terror for trash tv, and usually end up watching something like 'My hamster grew an extra penis' if my husband is out for the evening.

Without question, my favourite rock star has got to be Ozzy Osbourne. His is a story of excess and survival which, as a chocolate lover and aspiring writer, i can relate to.

Sam

Jane Lovering said...

I suppose here is where I should wade in and admit that my own rock star crush (apart from the delightful Ben Davies of course) is Gary Lightbody from Snow Patrol. He may not be everyone's idea of gorgeous but..poetic, sensitive, nine foot tall and skinny as a goalpost? That's my kinda man!

(Incidentally, anonymous...my hamster grew an extra penis?? Is it on Iplayer...? Ahem, for research only, you understand...)

Anonymous said...

LOL, Jane! Better not say, i wouldn't want to distract you...:)

Stephanie_C said...

I'm probably cheating a bit here - my favourite rock star is fictional! I spent some years deeply in love with Stewart Townsend as Lestat in Queen of the Damned, and the crush hasn't entirely worn off yet. He wears more black eyeliner and black leather than I do, carries a violin around graveyards, and has the vocal talents of David Draiman, Marilyn Manson and Chester Bennington combined. How could a real rock star compete?

Chris Stovell said...

No here to blagger a freebie, Jane, but to cheer you on. Most of my fave rockers seem to be dead ones; Phil Lynott, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix... I did want to be Chrissie Hynde when I grew up and she's still here. So, hurray, is Nick Cave!
PS Is that new hair I see in your photo? You are looking tres glam.

Morton S Gray said...

It has to be Marc Bolam, simply because he conjours up my teenage years.

Thank you for the post. I only watch taped TV these days, very rarely anything live as it wastes so much writing time. Mx

Jane Lovering said...

Ooh, Marilyn Manson, I like Marilyn Manson. I want to be him when I grow up..err..when I grow up a man, I mean. I also get the T Rex thing, although Marc was a little too pouty for me.

And Chris - thanks for dropping by! Glad you like the new head...

Kate said...

I'm totally with you on Dr Who and Merlin - those are two programms I just can't miss! Otherwise I don't watch much TV at all.

For me it's more about making time rather than finding time.

Fovorite rock star - Freddie Mercury because he was the ultimate showman. ;-)

Debs Riccio said...

Jane, it's been great having you here, thanks so much for guesting and being so hands-on! It's a shame I can't enter the competition myself,but I have noticed a pattern emerging with some of our favourite rockers - make-up! - So in the spirit of Make-Up, my ideal (made-up) Rock star would be a combination of Capt.Jack Sparrow, Marc Bolan and Adam Ant. Plenty of face-paint there to keep me happy - who cares about the voice, eh?!

Mary Witzl said...

I make writing time by turning off the t.v. too. People have wondered aloud how I find the time to write. When I tell them I've stopped watching t.v., I can see by their faces they would never consider such a drastic move.

Ry Cooder is my favorite rock star because he's versatile and incredibly talented and a great performer -- and even older than I am.

Jane Lovering said...

Thanks so much to Strictly Writing for hosting me here! I've been enjoying myself so much I've almost forgotten to do any writing. Kate, Doctor Who is not a TV programme, it is a religion. And Mary... great, I'm glad I'm not the only person who doesn't watch TV in order to make time to write!

Karen said...

Bit late in the day, not sure how I missed this - probably faffing about with Loose Women and dusty skirting boards. Anything to avoid actually writing! Your book sounds great.

My favourite rock star is Robert Plant/Led Zeppelin (giving my age away here!) but not for his looks I hasten to add.