This time last year, I had the absolute joy of attending one of Emily Quinton's Makelight Workshops. I learned so much it felt like my head would explode and I came away so inspired about photography that it's just become part of my every-day. One of the very best things about the day was the company. Spending blissful hours with a group of exceptional women made me so happy and it makes me happier still to say we're still all in touch. Sat at the corner of the table on that Saturday last September was the brilliant Alyssa Aldersley of Agnes & Miller (well, Agnes & Miller was just the twinkle in her creative eye then but you get what I mean). I love Alyssa's blog - her photography is brilliant, the way she shares her adventures is brilliant and her recipes are oh-my-heaven brilliant. So, when Alyssa asked if she could tag me in a blog hop post, I couldn't have been happier.
Admittedly, it's taken me a while to get around to writing this. I'll not descend into one of those 'the summer holidays were so hard' posts but hey, if I said I wasn't just a little bit happy when the school bell rang last Thursday morning, I'd be a huge liar. Now I've got my schedule back under control, I'm very happy to write this little piece about, well, my writing.
It's only during the last few months that my head has made the switch and I would now define myself as 'a writer'. I write for a living, I write every day and I write because I might just go off pop if I didn't. Writing cheers me up and calms me down. It helps me order my thoughts and explore new ideas. It is a part of me and I love it.
Question - why do I write? - Why wouldn't I? I've written ever since I was a kid. I know we all have and I'm not claiming special writing powers here but it's just always been a huge part of who I am. I guess it stems from reading like a demon when I was young and becoming full to the brim with words, plots, people and places that just had to flood out. So, I wrote stories for myself, I wrote for a national children's newspaper and got a big kick from seeing my words in print. University rather slapped the love of writing and reading out of me - the relentless pressure to plough through so many books every week, to pull them apart and critique every flipping sentence just ruined the magic of it for me. It took a while to get back into reading and it was only when I was planning weddings and writing for wedding magazines that the words and I rekindled our passion. I always wanted to write a book so approached a literary agent with a pitch and ta-dah, my first book was published just before my 30th birthday. Another has since followed and, if I have my way, there'll be another soon too.
I now write for a living and I have to say that writing about weddings for blogs such as Love My Dress is a huge honour. I write for other clients too and I still write for myself.
I write because I love words. I write because I love stories.
Question - what am I working on? - Happily, I've got a list of features to write that stretches over two pages in my notebook and when one is delivered, another inevitably arrives. I love this rolling writing rota and I feel pleased that I don't get overwhelmed by the long list of pieces that need writing. To me, this feels like a huge step forward and that I'm now able to 'turn on writing mode' when I sit at my desk has probably contributed to my recent mental shift.
Aside from all of my wedding features, I'm planning a chunkier piece of wedding goodness and in my free time, I'm writing some historical fiction. I fell out of love with fiction for a long time having been supremely irritated by lots of books I read. Historical non-fiction got me through that patch and everything I absorbed then is certainly coming in handy now. I'm a history geek and the stories of women in world war two float my literary boat so it's not too tough to guess what I'm writing about hey?
Question - how does it differ from others in its genre? - Looking at the wedding words first, I guess it differs because of my experience. I came to write about weddings have worked in and on weddings for years. I've been there, done that and got the blisters on wedding days to prove it so, when I write about suppliers, gowns, venues or boutiques, I hope a little of that knowledge and understanding comes through. It's my perspective on things that makes it unique and it's the way that I interpret and convey facts and thoughts that make my writing different.
As for the historical writing, I hope what makes it different is the understanding of the period and the factual knowledge that I have. I am truly the person who complained to a jigsaw manufacturer that you can't possibly have a plane with D-Day markings in a Battle of Britain picture (for goodness sake!) and I tut at the tv every time a wartime inaccuracy pops up. To make it real, it needs to be real and I'm really happy with the people that are coming to life in my story. They're not cliched caricatures because, let's face it, we're all a little bit more complicated than that.
Question - how does my writing process work? - Wedding-wise, I always want to find the story because that's what's interesting. Suppliers submit their information and I read through their answers to questions and look to find the stand-out feature. It might be how they got into their line of business, it might be one phrase that really strikes me, it might be that they take their dog to every wedding or it might be something else entirely but there's always something unique in there and it's my job to find it, amplify it and convey it to anyone reading. It's those details that appeal and can make readers feel they have something in common with a supplier or business. Telling our own stories can be really hard, all those years of training ourselves not to show off have a lot to answer for. Yet when someone else looks at your story with fresh eyes, they can find the best bits to talk about. When I see e-mails from people I've written about saying they got quite emotional when they read my words, I can admit to feeling pretty chuffed with myself.
Quite often, I like to write longhand in notebooks before starting to write 'properly' at my desk so wherever I go, there'll always be pens and paper in my bag. I think reading definitely helps the writing and so my office bookshelves are pretty much sagging under the weight of the ever-increasing stacks and rows. I like my office to be neat, warm and light and there's usually a mug of tea to hand as well. My dog is inevitably by my side and I know when it's time to take a break as she'll nose-nudge my leg to sweetly ask for a walk or a game. Like she is now.
So that's pretty much it for this blog hop. I'll pass the baton onto the lovely Emma of Coco Wedding Venues and the oh-so happy Helen of The Wedding Bazaar. Enjoy ladies - I can't wait to see how you write and I'll add your links to this piece when you've published them too.
Alyssa, thank you so much for prodding me into action with this game of blogging 'it'. And now, I leave you. I've got words to write...
**10th September Update - So Helen has picked up the blog hop baton and sprinted away with it as her post has just been published. Nip over to The Wedding Bazaar to have a read...**