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Today's guest columnist, Judith Flanders, has written two New York Times bestselling books: The Invention of Murder and The Making of Home. She is one of the foremost social historians of the Victorian era, a contributor to the Daily Telegraph, Guardian, Spectator, and the Times Literary Supplement. Before turning her hand to writing, she worked as an editor for various publishing houses. Judith lives in London and she'd love to hear from you. http://www.judithflanders.co.uk/contact/
Please welcome author Judith Flanders...
One of the strangest things about being a writer is that people expect you to be interested in talking about it. How do you get your ideas? Do you write at regular hours? Straight onto a computer? (That one is asked less these days. Everyone writes on a computer.)
Imagine if you were to ask a dentist, Seen any interesting molars recently? Do you like working with amalgam best, or those old silver fillings? What's the most fun you've ever had with plaque?
Or a lawyer: So, how have those torts been? (I must confess, I'm not quite sure what a tort is, but bear with me.) Do you file divorce petitions straight onto a computer?
I get it. Writing is a desirable job. People want to be able to imagine it, whereas the only imagining we need to do with lawyers is striding into court and shouting 'Objection!' a lot. The paperwork passes us by.
And writing is paperwork, especially non-fiction, which is half my job. I spend more time shuffling papers around than almost anything. I have more stacks of printed out manuscripts than is healthy, or even useful. And endless drafts, not just of books, but of jacket copy, catalogue copy, author's notes...
Then there are the outlines of plot-lines, and the chronologies, all wildly scribbled over, with arrows pointing every which way except the one I need when I'm desperately trying to work out how old a character is, or what year the Puritans banned Christmas, depending on whether I've got my fiction or my non-fiction hat on. It doesn't matter, ultimately, it's all paper.
Writing is a job, at the end of the day. I get up, and I go to work, just like everyone else. I spend eight to ten hours a day researching, making notes, filing the notes, putting the notes into order, sending emails back and forth--oh, and yes, writing. A little bit of writing. Then more printing out, editing, re-writing, more printing, re-reading, notes, filing, more filing, digging out the previous notes, checking the files, more re-writing.
I'm not complaining. I'm lucky. It's a great job. But it is a job, with better parts and those long boring paper-filled less good parts. So, I'm asking you, doc, what's the most fun you've ever had with plaque?
--Judith Flanders Please do say, "Hello."
Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends.