Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and sixty-third, is of debut novelist Louise Walters. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Louise Walters was born in Banbury in 1967. She lives in Northamptonshire with her husband and five children. Her first novel Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase was published by Hodder and Stoughton in February 2014.
And now from the author herself:
Shutting the door
While I was working on the story that would become my debut novel, I read On Writing by Stephen King. I found it an inspirational read, mostly. It’s entertaining and informative, but, I couldn’t relate to all of it. King postulates that in order to write, we need a room of our own. He says: ‘…you need the room, you need the door, and you need the determination to shut the door.’
But, I thought to myself, if I shut myself in my room (what room, anyway?) to write my thousand words a day, or whatever goal I might set myself, there is nobody to watch the children. Stephen King had a wife, Tabitha, to do that for him, of course. But what if you are the wife and your husband works full-time and you have sole charge of young children for much of the day? Stephen King doesn’t cover that in On Writing. I don’t blame him, of course. It’s not his issue. But it was my issue.
I think, for me, the “room” that King talks about is metaphorical. My room is actually my laptop. When I began serious work on my novel in 2010, my youngest child was just a few months old. I also had a toddler at home all day. I would set up my laptop at the desk in the corner of our living room, and write whenever I could. Sometimes I didn’t manage any writing at all, other days I’d get in a few minutes, often while feeding my baby. I’m quite good at typing with one hand. It was productive to write even for a few minutes. Every word counts, and I totally agree with King that all writing is ‘accomplished one word at a time.’ But I didn’t bother setting goals for myself because that was a direct route to disappointment.
I more or less gave up on TV in order to write in the evenings. The evenings were valuable, child-free times, and I made the most of them. Often I felt “too tired” to write. But I still tried to, as I couldn’t bear to waste those few hours between the children’s bedtime and my own. I trained myself to go to bed later to carve out more time.
Weekends were good too. My lovely husband furbished the summerhouse in our garden for me to use as a room of my own. It gets used occasionally, but somehow I feel selfish locking myself away in there and leaving my husband in charge of the children. Weekends are a time for us all to be together as a family. So in the winter I’ll usually stay in the house and set up my portable “room”, usually at the coffee table, and be there to help with the kids. In the warmer months I use the summerhouse, because the kids are outside more and I can still keep an eye on them. But it’s not often that I shut the door.
I got my novel written, and I’m a published author, and now I’m working on another story that I hope will also be published. Things are a little easier these days. My youngest is at kindergarten in the mornings, so I have a few hours to myself every week. The bliss of an empty house is something I treasure. I try to make the most of it. But kids get poorly, there are school holidays, there are chores to do, groceries to order. Many people have asked me ‘How do you find the time to write?’ and my answer is: I just do. I have to write, it’s a huge part of my life and identity. But I don’t set goals, I take each day at a time, and I feel good if I get anything written in any given day. It works for me.
You can find more about Louise and her writing via…
Thank you very much, Louise… and Emma Daley at Sceptre, Hodder & Stoughton for arranging this spotlight.