Abruzzo, Italy

On Writing – Part 2

I still do all my writing long-hand in an A4 notebook before typing it up on the computer.  For one thing, I can write where I feel most comfortable, preferably with as few distractions as possible, but also it enables me to have several chances to edit and make corrections.  It’s easy to cross sections out, or scribble inclusions in the margin with an arrow drawn to where the new piece should go, then the two-fingered typing-up process provides another opportunity for further editing.

Something I can’t do is to follow the advice I’ve been given which is that I should discipline myself to write for a set period of time every day.  That doesn’t work for me.  Sometimes I don’t write for days or even weeks, while at other times I can spend a whole day unable to write fast enough.

Author Paul Hencher with his dog, Britza.

Sadly, a few months ago, I lost a friend and companion that was an unwitting helper.  At the age of fifteen, our beautiful dog called Britza went to the great kennel in the sky, so I was left without the motivation to go for two walks a day when I used to indulge in a lot of thinking and imagining in the development of plots.  Britza was the ideal foil.  She didn’t disagree with any of my ideas, and very rarely distracted me from my thoughts, unless she spotted something worth chasing, or demanded the removal of a thorn from her paw.  It was, however, impossible for me to graze on whatever fruit happened to be ripe along the way, be they cherries, figs or blackberries, without Britza wanting her share.  Unfortunately, she also developed a taste for my cultivated strawberries, so I had to fence them off.

I owe a debt of gratitude to all the people I knew at the amateur drama groups in Thame, Tynemouth, and Alnwick, for teaching me so much about how different characters speak and how they react to different circumstances.  The lessons I learnt have been incredibly helpful in developing characters for my books.