At last, a real How to Write book...

Welcome to my blog

Hello, and welcome to This Itch of Writing (and thanks to John Donne for the title).

I wasn't going to start a blog, though so many writers have, because I spend quite enough time on the computer and online as it is. But one of the drawbacks of being a novelist is that your big writing project - however excited you are about it - takes so darned long. For months and years you're immersed in particular voices and places and times and ideas. And it's all very well being up to your neck in such rich and rare substances, but what do you do when you get an itch on your nose?

When his itch of writing needed scratching Donne wrote letters to his friends: fellow lawyers and gentlemen-at-arms, his mistresses and patrons. I'd love to think it wasn't a coincidence that one of his best love poems begins, Mark now this flea... The drawback of writing letters in the early seventeenth century was a postal system which relied on a friend to remember to drop the letter off in the alehouse in the next village but three, and hope it didn't fall behind the bar before someone found it.

Blogging is a bit more reliable. I have a website, here, which is my public face as Emma Darwin, novelist, the author of The Mathematics of Love and other works. This blog is, if not private, then certainly more personal. I spend much of my waking life writing and thinking about writing - my own and others' - and I even dream about it sometimes. So my blogging can't help but reflect that. But I'm feeling my way, really, about what and when I want to write here. Mind you, feeling one's way comes with the writer's territory: how do I know what I think till I see what I say? I'm hoping to see what I say, and what you say, over the next few months...

p.s.: 4th June 2013. I can't believe it, but This Itch of Writing has been going for more than five years, and more than five hundred posts. For a quick dip into some of my favourite posts across all the things that get discussed on the blog, click here.

Comments

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Anne Brooke

Hi, Emma! I'm in - hurrah! Well done on the new blog, babe.

Hugs

A
xxx

Emma

Hi, Anne, thanks for christening This Itch of Writing!

Nik

Welcome to the blogosphere, Emma.

Nik.

The Mockling

Hi Emma. Looks great. Just doing a bit of scratching for you here. Looking forward to checking in regularly. I like the title too.

J

I think I'm in too, Emma!
J X

J

I'm in too, Emma.
J x

Poppy

Hi Emma,

Am reading TMOL and loving it - it's fantastic!

Px

Tracy

I'm in too. I'm looking forward to reading your musings here.
Take care
Tracy

Dee W

Looks great, Emma.

Good luck with it.

Dee
x

Juliet O'C

good luck with this Emma, looks great.

Juliet

Another Anne

Great start. I've always suspected that keeping a blog must be a bit like keeping an animal... Good luck!

Alexandra

Excellent! Good to see it's up and running.

Claire

Welcome to the world of blogging!
Claire
xx

Anne Brooke

Ooh, I can come in without signing in now - I think! - hurrah!

Hugs

A
xxx

Writer Girl

Hey, I'm sure this will soothe that itch! Be interested to hear what you thought of 'Love in the Time Of..' One of my all time favourites. (Shika)

lisa

Great! I've bookmarked it. I love the title!! Lxx

dovegreyreader

Just wait, you'll be doing daft things like getting up at 6am to make sure that post you timed to go on at 5.55 am has gone up OK! Lovely to find your blog Emma, so now I'd better read the book:-)

Emma

"you'll be doing daft things like getting up at 6am to make sure that post you timed to go on at 5.55 am has gone up OK!"

Yes, I was away from the Internet for a couple of days and found myself worrying about how it was getting on without me... Hope you enjoy TMOL.

Thanks to all for all the good wishes.

Shika, I loved Love in the Time of... I'm always fascinated by real explorations of marriage, especially. It's so rare that their complexities are explored in fiction, compared to them merely being the obstacle.

Joan L. Cannon

I can only say I wish I'd found you sooner.

Emma Darwin

Well, it's lovely to see you here now!

publishersplace@gmail.com

Emma - Great blog. Trust you received my query re: frame narration. Apc your time & reply. John Patrick Grace

Emma Darwin

Hi Patrick - good to see you here and thanks for the query. I've been horribly busy and am catching up slowly with queries - will get there soon!

Marsha Ingrao

This is a great explanation of why writers blog. It isn't a professional blog so much as an outlet. I'm writing a book, Because of Blogging, for non-professional bloggers. I'd love to quote parts of your welcome in the book as I introduce reasons that people blog - even professionals, who write non-professional blogs. :) I love this! :)

"I wasn't going to start a blog, though so many writers have, because I spend quite enough time on the computer and online as it is. But one of the drawbacks of being a novelist is that your big writing project - however excited you are about it - takes so darned long. For months and years you're immersed in particular voices and places and times and ideas. And it's all very well being up to your neck in such rich and rare substances, but what do you do when you get an itch on your nose?...
This blog is, if not private, then certainly more personal. I spend much of my waking life writing and thinking about writing - my own and others' - and I even dream about it sometimes. So my blogging can't help but reflect that. But I'm feeling my way, really, about what and when I want to write here. Mind you, feeling one's way comes with the writer's territory: how do I know what I think till I see what I say? I'm hoping to see what I say, and what you say, over the next few months..."

Esther Bradley-DeTally

I just discovered you; I am a writer who lapsed her blog because of life events, but I write, teach, and I liked your work very much

Emma Darwin

Hi Esther - lovely to see you here! And I'm so glad you like the blog. I'm always specially pleased when other teachers find it useful. Good luck with the re-found writing!

Emma Darwin

Hi Marsha - and I'm so glad my reasoning makes sense.

Mind you, I wrote that many years ago now, before I was doing much teaching: these days it's closer to a professional blog, though I don't monetise it in the obvious sense.

I run the blog under a Creative Commons licence, which normally doesn't allow for quotations for commercial purposes. However, I'm happy to let you quote that extract, with acknowledgement, if you feel it would be useful for your readers. Best of luck with the book - it sounds very interesting.

Claire

Hi Emma,
I read your post about free indirect speech and found it very helpful.
I was hoping you could maybe shine a light on how focalisation works?

Emma Darwin

Hi Claire - Focalisation is a term that's been borrowed from Narratology, but it's very useful. Closely allied to our native ideas of Point-of-View - but it allows for the idea that the focalisor of a passage may be different from the narrator.

So if the narrator of Emma is "Jane Austen", the passage about "Mr Knightley must marry no one but herself!" is nonetheless focalised through Emma.

Not that the narrative has to be flavoured with Emma's voice and thought, as it is in that Free Indirect Style example. If the narrative just said "Emma walked on down the street, then caught sight of Mrs and Miss Bates, arguing with a carrier about the price of a letter to London" - it would still be focalised through Emma, although not using FIS.

Hope that helps?

Peter Griffiths

 That’s fantastic information, Emma.
One thing, though, regarding italics for thought: To my inexperienced way of writing, they’re very helpful for keeping track of the story. Another point: I understand your very good reasoning about Free Indirect Style, but I’ve written my first two books using italics, so it’s a fait accompli. I wonder what most readers would prefer? Sadly, to my way of thinking, most readers don’t read the genius that is Jane Austen.
I wish I had taken your course before I started writing fiction. But …
Peter Griffiths
Sorry it's a bit out of date, but I had difficulty emailing FREE INDIRECT STYLE - SEPTEMBER 2013 LOOKING AT AVAILABLE COURSES

Emma Darwin

Hi Peter - Readers of every kind, of every kind of book, are utterly used to Free Indirect Style. It's one of the basic ways of admitting readers to a character's consciousness, and to my mind the best and most fluent, which is why it's worth learning to use it. I very rarely write thought any other way.

But that doesn't mean you have to, of course. There are plenty of books which do it with directly-quoted thought - "silent speech" - and if so, italics are a way of making sure readers read it for what it is.

Good luck with it all!

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