Book Signings!

Last night I met Sarah Winman, author of bestselling novel When God Was a Rabbit and the recently published A Year of Marvellous Ways. The first time I read When God Was a Rabbit I was mesmerised and immeasurably hooked. I loved it so much I even cracked the spine a little bit (something I rarely ever do with books).

So I’m certain that A Year of Marvellous Ways will hold just as much magic for me as Rabbitdid, if not more.

To meet an author – published, famous, and successful – always washes a tidal wave of excitement over me. And, of course, last night was no different on the crowded shop floor of Waterstones, Truro, the tiny capital city of sunnyside Cornwall. There was an informal interview between Sarah and a lovely employee of the iconic bookstore which weaved the stories of Sarah’s childhood memories, the people she’s known in her life and, ultimately, how the book and its characters came about.

I was captivated.

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The evening went on and, as she was talking, I became hugely gratified to discover that, when she writes a novel, she usually writes roughly 1000 words a day. This, for me, was monumental, in that while I am currently writing my own novel I also tend to write 1000 words a day.

(In no way am I comparing myself to this bonafide successful writer, but hearing those words gave me hope: it said, ‘I can do this!’)

It was truly a comfort in itself; knowing that an author like this also simply writes 1000 words a day and still gets the novel finished on time.

Because, you know, when you aspire to be a full time writer yourself, you always imagine bestselling authors to be hammering out 5000 words a day or more, scribbling page after page after page.

She read clearly and calmly, with just the right emphasis on the right characters when speaking their own dialogue. Her words written on the page and then spoken from her own mouth were entrancing and not even for one second did I actually find myself bored.

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To my joy, she signed my copy of her book which is now sitting on my shelf. And, not only this, but I asked her if she would sign my own journal; a notepad I use to scribble all my thoughts and story ideas in whenever I’m on the move. She complied and asked if I was a writer too. I told her yes, I was, and she listened as I spoke about my own fiction writing and the novel I’m continuing to write over the summer.

She listened.

Of course, I was in a queue so had to hurry along, but she gave me the utmost hope for my writing (not to mention a truck load of inspiration) and told me good luck with my writing adventures and said that, if I stuck to it, I could publish a book too one day (with a lot of hard work and torturous rewrites. I know.)

Everything takes a little bit of time and a whole load of patience, and most importantly, a great deal of work. As a current participant of CampNaNoWriMo, I’m mostly keeping to my word count goal of 500 words a day, if not 1000. Watching my stats go up is like watching a plant grow; it can be really, painstakingly slow, but the progress is still there and visible!

By way of word count, my goal is to have 36,000 words of my novel by the end of the month in total. But, the way I’m going, I’m hoping I can totally beat that!!

So, ultimately, here’s to Sarah Winman – on a brilliant and captivating debut novel and what I already know to be a truly wonderful second novel in A Year of Marvellous Ways, even though I haven’t read it yet.

Here’s to inspiration.

Gone With The Wind

Gone With The Wind. It’s the story of the dramatic upheaval of the American Civil War and the constant feuding romance between that of determined Scarlett O’ Hara and the taunting ‘soldier of fortune’ Rhett Butler. From this epic novel comes one of the most famous lines of dialogue in movie history:

‘Frankly, my dear, I couldn’t give a damn.’

I remember the first time I read this pinnacle of a book, bracing myself at almost every page turned, looking for the words that had become so famously recited from the star studded movie screen of 1939. It wasn’t until finishing the book that I realised I had to wait until almost the very end of the brick of a novel, yet when the moment finally came I was deeply and movingly satisfied.

I cannot begin to describe what this novel means to me. I can only try. But it is a novel I hope to read every summer – for the rest of my life – and it is a novel I would urge you to read as well. It’s just that good.

With an affirming love of the Deep South and anything to do with the land of Dixie, I found in this novel a sense of place and a sense of oneness. And above all, I found a story I could get lost in and find the past; a past I have never known or  experienced but nonetheless a past I hold a passionate interest in.

I have an internal attachment to it. I can’t help it. I know it might sound ingratiatingly schmaltzy, but it’s true.

I think, no matter what, everybody has that one book in their lives that means something incredible to them; that stirs something within their soul, that makes them feel something. It does not necessarily have to be a book. Perhaps it could be a film, a movie score or even just one plain and simple song. Anything at all.

We all need something to convey meaning in our lives and, sometimes, things like this can be it. We crave something that it gives us, whether we realise it or not. It’s a special thing and it works like magic.

Gone With The Wind is an historical epic; one story told and delivered through the generations.

Scarlett O’ Hara can be mean and spirited, yes; yet she is also a woman who knows what she wants and, when paired with Rhett Butler, she is no longer a wiley female temptress with glinting green eyes and a curving upward smile. He sees her for what she is and, knowing this, he plays on her vulnerabilities.

He is, to be sure, a cad, no less. But I love to see their relationship unfurl; how one minute she wishes to see him dead and the next she is wishing for him to take her in his arms and kiss her, like a girl wants to be kissed.

Far from a healthy relationship, they play against each other like animals and, throughout it all, I am devouring every page.

There can be no book like Gone With The Wind which matches up to its strength and entirety. It is, without a doubt, a book I will keep on my shelf for the rest of my life and, even if I don’t read it every single year, I will be happy, at least, just to know it is there.

‘Since its first publication in 1936, Gone With The Wind has endured as a story for all our times.’

This is, quite simply, how much I love it.