This week I am delighted to introduce fellow RNA New Writer Scheme member Alison May. She is a fab blogger (one of my favourite blogs as it covers such a wide range of interesting topics) writer, creative writing teacher, freelance trainer and consultant to the voluntary sector. She had a recent writing success, winning the Elizabeth Goudge trophy at this year’s RNA conference. You can read about her account of it on the RNA blog here http://http://romanticnovelistsassociationblog.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/alison-maynard-on-rna-conference-2012.html
I am wishing Alison all the best with her writing career…
Q. Alison, it’s lovely to have you here. Firstly can you tell us about your writing?
A. I’m a pre-published (love that term!) writer. Genre-wise I write like I read, so a bit of romantic comedy, a bit of straight romance, a bit of literary fiction. I know, I know, it’s far more sensible to stick to one genre and build up a reputation, but don’t you find that new shiny different thing over there always looks sooooo much more interesting?
I started writing about ten years ago thinking I wanted to be a playwright. It only took about six years (and a degree in creative writing) to work out that wasn’t for me, and since then I’ve been trying to do novels. I’m currently working on my second, but keep getting distracted by my Very Good Idea for the third.
Q. I know exactly what you mean. Butterfly writing – a.k.a flitting from one project to another – can be exciting, but also very frustrating as it’s hard to get anything finished! So, any rejections you want to tell us about?
A. My favourite rejection came by email about fifteen minutes after hitting “Send” on three chapters + a synopsis and started, “After careful reading of your submission…” Ah well, time to send it to somebody else!
Q. Well perhaps they were a speed reader like Dr Reid in Criminal Minds? (Perhaps not)! You’re a creative writing tutor. With that in mind, and thinking about your personal experiences of writing, can you share some of your top tips for writers?
A. Sure, they’d be:-
1. Write stuff.
2. Edit stuff like you have no emotional attachment to it whatsoever.
3. When you’ve done 2 to the best of your ability, move on and write some new stuff – don’t get bogged down tweaking and revisiting the same piece of work forever
Q. I think that’s excellent advice. Tell us about your work/ job. What’s a typical day for you?
A. Not sure there’s such thing as a typical day for me. I make a living as a freelance trainer and consultant in the voluntary sector, so if I’m working the day will probably start by catching a lovely London Midland train to Birmingham or Wolverhampton or some other equally glamorous location. I teach interview skills and social welfare law, so when I’m working it can be Welfare Benefits law in Telford one day and Dealing with Aggressive Clients in London the next.
That creative writing degree I mentioned also allows me to teach introductory creative writing courses, so I might also be teaching an adult learning evening class or a first year university module at any given time.
I’m super-lucky in that, to a large extent, I control my own work pattern, so I tend to try to have periods where I work a lot and then periods when I don’t work very much at all. During those periods, I can hide in my tiny purple office and write and write and write. Basically, I work as little as I can get away with while still paying for the twin endeavours of being alive and trying to do writing.
Q. Wow, sounds really interesting and varied. No wonder your posts follow the same pattern in terms of the range of subjects. Is there anything you love or hate about the job?
A. I love all the different people I get to meet when I’m out training, but I equally love hiding at home in my scruffiest clothes and writing. Sometimes the lack of regular colleagues to moan and gossip with is a downer, but, thankfully, twitter provides a virtual set of writing colleagues always willing to skive off and chat.
Q. Sounds great. So, last but by no means least, can you tell us what your favourite wine is?
A. As in all things, I’m a fickle-hearted girl when it comes to wine. Red wines I can generally only drink in moderation with food. They make me feel all warm and fuzzy to start with, but then it all turns very ugly, and leads to long periods of having to be very still and talk about how wine is not my friend.
So something white has to be the winner. Generally, whatever’s on special offer is my top pick. I did mention that I work as little as I can get away with to support the writing, didn’t I? But as an absolute favourite, I’m going to say Prosecco. It makes me think of Italy and holidays and parties and fun, and somehow it makes me feel giddy and giggly whereas champagne does nothing for me at all.
So that’s me – writing a bit, skiving off on twitter a bit and drinking Prosecco, happy days.
Thanks for popping in Alison, good luck and I hope that many more wins (and wine) is on your horizon.
You can follow Alison on Twitter @MsAlisonMay or check out her blog, where she pontificates on random things that catch her attention (her words, not mine!) http://alisonmay.wordpress.com
And a nice treat for you – I am happy to share that there will be an extra Writing, Work and Wine With… guest post this weekend with the lovely Gilli Allan. Look out for it on Saturday.
For now Happy Writing, Nikki 🙂