Well, I’m back at the desk after a very lazy festive season, during which time I was able to rest both mind and body. This rest cleared the decks, so to speak, so that creativity could flow once more. And here I am, tippy-tapping away at lightning speed, on the broken desk chair that sinks every so often so I look like a hobbit at a too-large desk, the ideas flowing, fighting fatigue and the other bodily urges that interrupt my flow.
So, it’s a mixed bag at the moment. My novel, Inshallah, is due for publication 17 July 2014, and I have sent the final draft to the editor, and contacted marketing. I have a very keen sense of the need to market myself and therefore have been thinking about the ways in which an author can connect with others and make their presence felt. Do I talk about the book? Do I tell them how radical and controversial it is? How do I package myself as a writer? I have plenty of ideas but no real concrete way forward for this, other than blogging, thinking, and using social networking sites. But how can I represent my novel in a few brief words, on a post on some site or other? Do I talk about its frank and uncompromising approach to dealing with sex and sexual violence? Its explicit nature? Its similarities to a misery memoir? Its foundation in a few scattered facts? Do I discuss its exploration of Islam from the point of view of a converted British woman? The way it attempts to distinguish between Islam as a faith and Arabic culture as a construct? I had never realised, in my original ambition to be published, that much of what I would be doing would be outside the realm of creating the work itself, and would be focused on writing about writing.
The mixed bag also contains two current projects. One, a novel, is being drafted, as Inshallah was, long-hand first, in busts and incidents that will be drawn together eventually to make a cohesive whole. The other, which has consumed the last two days (during which I wrote 10,000 words!!!), is a memoir of my life as a midwife, starting with my midwifery training. I am really enjoying writing this – typing directly onto the laptop means I can achieve my highest writing speed, and can draft very roughly. At the moment, it’s just about getting the ideas down on paper, drawing on the many memories, and knowing that I will go back and flesh out the descriptions and explanations more later. Memoir writing is not alien to me, as I have been keeping a journal all of my adolescent and adult life, but viewing it as something that will be (and is being) read by others is another matter. Parts of this memoir are on one of my other blogs – onceuponamidwife.wordpress.com, but the whole project aims at producing a book that provides a real insight into midwifery that is more relevant to the current context. I am tired of seeing application forms for midwifery citing that they watch Call the Midwife. Yes, it’s a great book, and the tv series is nice. But it is nothing like midwifery is today.
The fact that I am drawing together my two identities – writer/author and midwife/lecturer/author is something I find quite pleasing. This might be why the memoir is flowing so well. It takes different kind of concentration, and a different kind of focus, and feels entirely different to writing fiction. That I enjoy it so much is a surprise to me, as the intense incursion into my fictional brain is so powerfully compelling as well. I wonder if other writers have a similar schism in their writing minds?