Confidence trick

At the weekend, I went to the Gerhard Richter exhibition at Tate Modern. I was blown away, not only by the richness and variation of his work, but also his methodology: sometimes planned and ordered, sometimes random – sometimes both. It made me think long and hard about the way I write, and it occurred to me that the one quality all his work had, however it was generated, was confidence.  Here is a man who knows what he is capable of and who is not afraid to experiment and take risks, but at the same time is very definite about what he has to say.  Whatever image he ends up with, his voice is always loud and clear.
It made me realise that confidence is the most important item in the writer’s toolbox.  With confidence, you can write what you like and how you like, instead of slavishly following a formula.  Confidence, of course, comes with experience, but the danger there is that one becomes complacent instead of pushing the boundaries.  Something that Richter was clearly never afraid to do. And that is when genius emerges: when talent and confidence and craft combine with risk.
I’m going to throw away the rule book for the next month.  Forget about inciting incidents, character arcs, reveals, back stories and just see what happens.  After all, any good storyteller will instinctively shape a strong narrative, but it’s all too easy to get bogged down in following the check list peddled by the myriad creative writing gurus out there.  Is it any wonder that the fiction charts have been accused of becoming cynically formulaic, when everyone is singing from the same song sheet?
It will be like going on a journey without the sat nav. I can’t wait to see where I end up.

Twitter Authors’ Secret Santa

I set this up because most authors working from home don’t get the fun of an office Christmas party or Secret Santa, and why should we miss out on the fun?

So how it works is:

Authors DM or notify me on Twitter to say they want to take part – deadline 15th December – and I compile the Secret Santa list.

I allocate each author a Secret Santa from the list.

So then - 

!  Each author gets the name of another author to send a copy of their latest book, beautifully wrapped of course!  

2 Each author will also be contacted by their own Secret Santa so they can be sent a book.

It is all organised by DM on twitter.  The only slight glitch may be if you aren’t following your Secret Santa in which case they can’t DM you, but people usually send a discreet open message to alert you so you can follow them.

The only rules are you must be a published author with a UK address – this last rule is to keep the postage fair.

Follow me on Twitter – @veronica_henry – if you want to take part.

I Don’t Know How She Does It

Last night I went to see I Don’t Know How She Does It (having managed to clear away the Sunday lunch, supervised homework, collated the uniforms and put out stuff ready for lunchboxes – just in time to get to the cinema for 8).  It was mildly diverting and entertaining, and had some funny relateable moments.  Yet SJP’s character, Kate Reddy, didn’t really seem to be juggling all that much.  She just seemed to be away a lot, which, as any working mum knows, is the easy bit.

I am looking at my to do list for this week:

Get verucca cream and up to date epi pen from the chemist
Beg/borrow/steal white robe for photoshoot
Order tulips from for mother’s birthday
Buy rabbit hutch and accessories
Chase carpenter for skirting boards
Find missing bank statements for accountant
Fine tune talk for Appledore Book Festival
Book flights for writing course/order euros
Get new tracksuit trousers for youngest
Get middle son’s hair cut

That’s before I even take into consideration the school runs and after school activities (find double bass bow!), cooking, washing, cleaning, general admin/bill paying and shopping.

Oh, and the other important thing on my list for this week: write a book.

There are women all over the country with far  more gruelling To Do lists than this. Women who can’t just say to their boss ‘I’m not doing the bits I don’t want to’, as Kate Reddy did in the film.  Women who aren’t working for self approbation and to pay for the weekend home, but to put food on the table. Women who don’t have a choice.  So before we start moaning about multi-tasking and juggling, we should spare a thought for those with punishing working hours, who have to make less than satisfactory childcare arrangements, who don’t have the luxury of flouncing around in Prada and flirting with Pierce Brosnan but who work their fingers to the bone, and are constantly exhausted, just to keep body and soul together.

Woman who Get On With It.

Baby Harper – what’s in a name?

So intrigued as to how Victoria and David came up with the name Harper. I love it – it’s cute and tomboyish (the less said about Seven the better). But what was the inspiration? The only other Harper I have ever heard of is Harper Lee, but I can’t imagine To Kill A Mockingbird on their bedside table. Maybe they employed a name consultant – a sort of Rachel Zoe of the moniker world, who trawled through history and literature finding suitable names and compiled a bespoke shortlist? In which case, job well done. Naming kids is an art in itself – I nearly called my first son Jacob Toulouse (for obvious reasons) but bottled it and named him Jacob Henry (my maiden name). Of course, now he’s in a band he’s desperate to be Jacob Toulouse, though admits he would have been ribbed all throughout his school days.

And I’ve never had a daughter, but often fantasise about what I would have called her if I had. The current favourite is Violet Silver. No doubt she would have grown up hating it …

Spend the day with Veronica Henry

Have you ever wanted to write a novel? A day with best selling novelist Veronica Henry, to learn a few tricks of the trade.

Charity Auction – West Buckland Festival

Lot 6: An intense and stimulating workshop for a group of two or four individuals given by the best selling author of ‘The Beach Hut’. This is a workshop designed to get your creative juices flowing. Read more…

Bidders are invited to make secret, silent bids from 15th August – see details below. You may place an email bid here.

The objectives of the West Buckland Festival are to:

Provide music, art and entertainment for the purpose of enriching the lives of people in North Devon and raise monies for the upkeep of St Peter’s Church, West Buckland and to provide additional funding for another Charity or Charities chosen by the Festival Committee each year.

In 2011, the Festival Committee will make an allocation of surplus funds to the North Devon District Hospital Chemotherapy Unit Appeal, to the PCC of St Peter’s Church and to East Buckland and West Buckland Village Hall.

Some 5,000 cancer patients attend North Devon District Hospital each year for chemotherapy. The care and attention are good, but the surroundings aren’t. This vital Appeal is to raise £2m+ to create a purpose designed Unit that is comfortable and welcoming. We hope that you will give as generously as possible and support the Festival so that we can give as much as possible to this Appeal.