Marcus Sedgwick: Insights from an author

October 2022

Okay, so I started writing The Thing. I did 2,000 words or so this morning and that is where I will stop for today, I think. Not the largest amount of words but not the smallest and at least it is a start.

The weather has changed. The long hot summer days are firmly gone and while next week promises low 20s again, the days are shortening rapidly and the log stove is back in action in the evenings. What does autumn do to you? Does it do all the usual things – the things it does to me? Is there a wistful air hanging around your head? Are you planning on doing things that make you feel cosy? Are you thinking about the past? Are you thinking about the future?

I am doing all of these things and there is much to be done in the house, and more to do in the garden, before winter comes. I have to get that oak tree that blew down in the storm chainsaw-ed up and the logs stacked, not for this winter but if I’m lucky for the next. The garden takes a lot of my time, but I never resent it, I am finding it a refuge and a resource, it is what everyone says gardens are. All those things – a place free of value and judgment, as life should be, but isn’t. Stuff happens in the garden, I go there and deal with some of it. But as I enter into this autumn period, I find it’s a better place to be writing from anyway. I wonder. I am trying to remember the time of year when I have written various books, and I guess I have probably written at all times of year. I know I wrote Saint Death in the autumn the particularly pesky French flies that emerge in October were about then, as they are about now, sitting on the top of my computer screen and really being very distracting if I let them. I guess the screen is warm and it’s getting chilly in my writing room, so I can’t blame them for that, but either they will have to go or I’ll have to, if The Thing is to get written. 

I should not call it The Thing. I am building it up in my mind. I am making a hard thing even harder by giving it personality and form. It needs to stay what it is, just some words on a computer screen, and I need to have fun writing them. I need to get lost. I think I will get lost, in a landscape I sort of know and sort of am creating – it’s a bit hard to tell the difference at the moment. But it is the autumn and something else about that really makes me feel like it’s a good time, a great time, in fact, to go wandering off into the landscape of a book and get a bit lost. As long as I get home in once piece at the end of each day, and that by the end of the year there is a first draft looking back at me from the computer screen. Just some words, after all. Just 80,000 of them, yes, but just a book, and no big deal. And I will keep repeating that to myself every day till then.

Want to learn more from Marcus?

Author Marcus Sedgwick is 2022 Novel Writer-in-Residence for the Hub, WriteMentor’s community learning platform that connects like-minded storytellers and provides all the tools they need for writing success.

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