Today it’s the turn of author Anne Stenhouse to give us a glimpse into her life as a writer. Anne writes both contemporary and historical fiction and she’s a fellow Scot. She’s also a friend from my days in the Edinburgh Writers Club and at the Scottish Association of Writers conferences. So, over to Anne.
Anne Stenhouse’s Writing Life in a Day
A day in the life of this writer varies a lot. The strange times of Lockdown have meant that I’ve experienced that phenomenon known as ‘Be careful what you wish for.’ Not that I wanted a pandemic or anything like it, but who hasn’t longed for unexpected free, or freed-up, time? Then when lockdown came there it was. There was also a sort of mourning and with that a brain freeze.
So, deciding that strange times merited a new or different approach, I began to write a daily diary called The Lockdown Diary. In it I began with the idea of recording the folk I encountered on my constitutional walks around the area, but it has morphed. Today might be No 117 and I’ve mentioned items from the news, other writers’ launches, my submissions, local businesses trying to stay above the water-line, idiocies of high-ups, the changing seasons, and more. It got me out of bed in the morning and ensured I read the newspaper.
Eventually, the writing mojo kicked back in and I’ve completed a short novel, a short story and a synopsis with first instalment of a magazine serial.
Let’s take the serial. This one is set in late Victorian Edinburgh and it’s about a highly specific and well known issue. So, the research was and is a big part of the undertaking. These serials have to be planned and that goes against all my writing instinct. The description ‘pantster’ was invented for me, I’m sure. It doesn’t wash with these publishers, however, and I have to have a plan. Then, if it’s accepted, writing it is amazingly straightforward. Why, I think, don’t I do this with everything?
Once the writing is underway, the general knowledge I have of the period requires bolstering and research has to be undertaken as I write. One has to be careful as research is just so interesting and before you know it, it’s coffee time and not a word has been written. I try to stick to the point I need to confirm or understand with a wee promise to myself that I’ll look back later.
When writing a serial, instalments are divided up among the principle characters. If I have a lot of time, I might write all three sections in one sitting, but more commonly, I’ll write the section relating to one character and come back to do the others.
Research is also needed for contemporary work. There are so many things we’ve known forever that turn out to be slightly off. While I am writing fiction, I don’t want to draw any reader out of my story because of a careless reference. For example, in my lifetime it has become the norm for men to wear a suit but not a tie on even quite formal occasions. When did it become acceptable to go to a restaurant without a tie? When did it become acceptable for women and older girls to go to church without a hat? These little touches can make or break your constructed reality.
Most days will begin with a read through of the previous session’s writing and I edit as I go. I rarely print stuff off but will if I’m stuck with progressing a plot and always print off a short story so I have a copy. At my stage in life, writing is an enjoyable and sometimes paying hobby. I’ve been a story-teller all my life and I don’t see me stopping anytime soon.
Thank you, Anne, for sharing your day – and all the best for your new book. And readers, do go and check out Anne’s regency romances on her Amazon page at the link below. They’re fab.
About Anne’s new book:
Her next publication is scheduled for 23rd July and is a contemporary Pocket Novel, entitled A Debt For Rosalie for women’s magazine, My Weekly, MW2009, available from Sainsbury’s, some newsagents and by phoning the DC Thomson shop on 0800 904 7260.
Here’s a bit more about it:
A DEBT FOR ROSALIE
Rosalie Garden arrives at Maldington House, an upmarket guest house, to work as a chef and earn enough to repay her father who has bailed her out after her Ex brought down her catering business. David Logie is the house’s owner and son of the guest house proprietrix, Agnes. Still mourning the early death of his wife, David wants to sell his inheritance. Together with Agnes, Rosalie works hard to frustrate David’s plans and bring him to realise he can love again.
Anne Stenhouse is a novelist and has written both historical and contemporary fiction; a magazine short story and serial writer and a performed one-act playwright. She has worked on a factory conveyer line, in a supermarket, for the civil service and in an addictions’ unit. Anne likes to dance Scottish Country Dancing and the absence of class has been a big frustration through the lockdown. She is married and lives in Edinburgh with her husband.
Anne is a life-member of Edinburgh Writers’ Club, a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of authors; and one of the four Capital Writers with whom she has published three collections of short stories set in Edinburgh. Anne has an Amazon author’s page HERE where details of some of these publications can be found.
You can read the daily entries in Anne’s Lockdown Diary on her blog, Novels Now here
Anne has a facebook author’s page here
And she tweets, as @anne_stenhouse here