Displaying items by tag: creative rituals

Friday, 03 February 2017 13:30

12.1.2017 - Interview in The Book Diner

Thank you to Sharon Zink for interviewing me for her blog, The Book Diner!

The blog title says it all - "History, Time Machines and Circuses: Novelist, Poet and Rock and Cabaret Star, Rosie Garland, brings her Magical World to the Book Diner"
… with some ruminations on research & how to keep going thrown in...
you can read the full text here:
http://sharonzink.com/the-book-diner-interviews/history-time-machines-and-circuses-novelist-poet-and-rock-and-cabaret-star-rosie-garland-brings-her-magical-world-to-the-book-diner/

Published in News
Sunday, 20 November 2016 10:57

18.11.2016 - Interview in Ink Pantry

Many thanks to Deborah Edgeley at Ink Pantry for kindly interviewing me about writing and researching my novels, singing in The March Violets, my passion for great book covers… And how I’d change the world! No pressure, eh?

You can read the text of the interview here –
http://www.inkpantry.com/inky-interview-special-rosie-garland/

Published in News

Thank you to Write-Track for featuring me on their blog for a second time!
Here is the text in full, with the link at the end.

On the Write Track - Adventures with writing habits
Rosie Garland – the bonus interview: channelling characters and living a creative life

In our first interview with Rosie Garland we found out how she kept going using rituals to support her writing and overcome the fear of the blank page. She spoke about having to "hack out time for writing" amongst work and grown up responsibilities. Here we find out how she took steps to adjust the balance of her working and creative life, and get an insight into how she writes such amazing characters.

The work-writing balance

Rosie made the decision to go part time in her job, not to write novels specifically, but to shift the balance of her work life and creative life, which she felt was out of kilter. She describes her life as being a process of getting off the career ladder: decreasing the amount of time given over to conventional work and increasing opportunities for creativity.

"When I was a kid I was always writing and had time to draw pictures, write poems, and create alternative universes. Then at the age of 18 'real' life happened. Time to get a sensible job and put creative self-indulgence away. It may only have been a handful of years, yet it felt like a long sojourn away from what I really wanted to do. I realised that all that creativity I had as a kid was a vital part of my existence, not an add-on. What I was doing was moving away from it and denying its importance. Since my late 20s my life has been a slow process of going back to it, partly by taking part-time jobs that gave me time to think."

Despite day jobs taking Rosie away from herself, she didn't resent it: "I got gifts from work and I am very grateful for the things it has given me. I don't think I would have been right being a full time writer back then. I needed to go and engage with the outside world and not stare at my navel."

Writing is the process not the end

Like many writers, Rosie says she writes because she has to. She describes writing as being a process and uses a Zen proverb to illustrate. "If you meet the Buddha on the road – kill him." I must admit to being rather puzzled by the idea of killing the Buddha, so Rosie explains.

"Rather than being literal, the proverb symbolises the creative 'road' I travel as a writer. The 'Buddha' could stand for some idealised faultless novel and therefore the end of needing to strive, grow, create... you get the picture. This deceptive Buddha suggests that I'll reach some magical, perfect endpoint. That a magical endpoint exists. No it doesn't. So I need to throw out that illusion and keep writing. There is no retiring from being writer."

Character: it all starts with a question

The rituals Rosie previously talked about help open her up to ideas and characters. She said "Part of the process is to find ways to put myself in the way of characters, to make it easier for them to come to talk to me." I was fascinated about this approach to developing character and asked her to tell me more.

"When I'm at the absolute beginning of developing a character it will often start as a question that niggles me. So for Abel [the central character in The Palace of Curiosities] the question in my head was – 'what would it be really be like to live forever?' I began to daydream and found that a particular character was answering. He – and his answers – developed into the voice of Abel. He's one example. It happens with the others in a similar way. Often, inconveniently, at 3am..."

"I write pages and pages of conversations with these characters in notebooks, longhand. I might fill six or seven notebooks with rabbiting, unedited scribble. When I've done that I start typing up to see what I've got, where all the gaps are, whether there is a story in the mess. And if, out of all the whatever-thousand words, I see the root of a story then I will start writing."

Right character wrong novel

Rosie says that her characters have very insistent voices and they can stay with her for a long time. Abel began in "awful novel two which was woefully in search of a plot" and couldn't tell his story. Rosie carried him around in her head until she introduced him to Eve in The Palace of Curiosities who enabled him to grow and develop. "He just needed to meet the right people at the right time."

Abel has left Rosie alone. She explains. "He has told his story now. It's like closure. He gets the last line in Palace, 'I am joy, complete, forever'. And that's it. Abel has told his story and has left me alone."

Don't get it right – get it written

Tom Clancy summed it up when he said "just tell the damn story". Rosie believes that you don't have to get it right but get it written. It's very easy to get carried away with research, especially when writing novels set in the past. Because Vixen is set in 1349, it's important the historical details were correct, but they mustn't get in the way of the story. She explains,

"I did some research about mediaeval laundry and some of the awful stuff they used to bleach it, but none of it is in the story – what's important is that Thomas makes Anne do the laundry far more often than necessary and it drives her nuts having to waste all her time. That's the important thing, the interaction between them, not about what paddle she uses. Just tell the damn story."

If you get stuck over a detail Rosie advises putting it in brackets for checking later and carrying on with the storyline. She says "No one cares whether the arrow is tipped with pigeon feather, eagle feather or goshawk feather, what's important is who the hell does he shoot with the arrow."

Read our first interview with Rosie Garland. Find out what she's been up to by following her on Twitter @rosieauthor and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/rosielugosi. Or better still read her excellent novels Vixen and The Palace of Curiosities.

Click to go to Write-Track blog page

Published in News

Thank you to Write-Track for featuring me on their blog!
Here is the text in full, with the link at the end.

On the Write Track - Adventures with writing habits
Keeping going – novelist Rosie Garland on persistence and creative rituals

Three years ago Rosie Garland had pretty much given up all hope of getting her novels published. Her agent wasn't taking her calls, rejections were coming thick and fast, and she'd been diagnosed with cancer. She had spent 12 years writing four and a half novels – perhaps it was time to call it a day? As her second novel is published to great acclaim she shares her experience of keeping going through the tough times.

Overcoming creative self-harm

Rosie had an early taste of fame as a singer in post-punk band the March Violets. Grown up responsibilities soon got in the way and full time work as a teacher pushed her creative projects to the side. She wrote short stories and poetry, and performed her cabaret act Rosie Lugosi, then at the turn of the millennium she got an idea "that was too big to be a poem or short story." Rosie made the decision to work part time to shift the balance of her work and creative life, she landed an agent, and dedicated more of her time to writing novels.

However, after 12 years Rosie had pretty much given up all hope of being published. She said:
"My agent wasn't getting back to me and I felt I had to stop continually putting myself through the self-cruelty of writing and having it rejected. It felt like a bizarre form of creative self-harm."

She needed to protect herself and go to "the places that weren't harming me. That was the poetry and singing and performance. So I made a decision to do that and that was when I entered the Mslexia competition as a last ditch attempt."

Mslexia ran its inaugural competition for unpublished novelists in 2011. Rosie not only bagged the top spot with The Palace of Curiosities, but got a place on the shortlist with another (as yet unpublished) novel. From this came a bidding war between publishers and a six-figure two-book deal with Harper Collins. Her second novel Vixen has just been published to rave reviews.

The apprentice novelist

Rosie believes if success had come earlier she might not be where she is now. "I might have sunk without a trace – become one of those people who has one book." She refers to the years of writing as her apprenticeship, and doesn't resent the time spent refining her writing skills. "The amount of time I have had to work to become a novelist has paid off. I have learnt my craft, I have done my apprenticeship."
She learned from her mistakes, referring to the second novel she wrote as "awful". She said, "it's going to stay under the bed forever. I will keep it as a reminder to never get above myself. The second novel was a process of writing something really badly – I can point to it, as an example of how not to write."

Keeping going: habits and rituals to support creativity

Over the years Rosie developed tactics to support her writing. The first is being open to feedback. She told me:
"I try to give myself as much input as possible. That might be going on a writing course, or Arvon retreat, getting full, frank feedback from tutors, my agent or editors. I don't want to write in a vacuum – 'bring it on' is my mantra! Part of being a writer is always wanting to grow, always wanting to learn, never taking for granted that I am a writer. Because I think the day that happens is a really bad day for me."

Her other support mechanism has been creative rituals. This is vital to someone who admits to being terrified of the blank page and needs a routine each day to get words on the page and the creative juices flowing. Rosie starts the day with three pages of journaling – she says this isn't creative writing but "rubbing the crust out of my eyes" and getting out of the way all the 'what I did yesterday' stuff.

She continues:

"The next thing I do is write six images. What a snail looks like climbing up a leaf, what it felt like to stub your toe. I do it every morning without fail, if miss one I do a catch up session later. Coming out of the six images I write a haiku. Then I do the classic three pages of morning pages – free writing coming out of the six images or using a writing prompt."

These rituals sound like a lot of work, but taken individually they are small tasks and quick to perform, and that's the secret for Rosie. "For me it's all about small commitments. Don't set yourself up to fail. If had to write a full chapter I wouldn't be able to do it."

Dealing with an inner critic – silencing Mavis

Morning can be a special time for writers and artists, and for Rosie it's when she's open to more playful non-linear writing, but also because her internal critic hasn't got out of bed yet.

Throughout her writing life Rosie has battled with a vicious internal critic. A few years ago she gave this critic a name: Mavis. She found that naming her was a release; separating the cruelty from herself made it easier to deal with the criticism.

Rosie says "My rituals are there to nurture and support me. They enable my writing; provide nourishment, support and food for my writing. Yet Mavis will say to me, 'call yourself an artist when you enjoy rituals so much.' That's Mavis telling me an artist flounces around in clothes pulled together from a bunch of headscarves."

A weekly reflection inspired by Julia Cameron

The rituals are the foundations of Rosie's writing, a way of keeping in touch with her creativity. She's a big fan of Julia Cameron, though admits it took nearly a year to complete one 12-week programme and felt it "nearly killed me!"

Her final ritual was inspired by Julia Cameron from her creativity bibles The Artist's Way and Walking in the World. Rosie takes time each week to reflect on four things:

How have my morning pages been going this week?
Have given myself an artist date?
Have I gone on an artist's walk?
Other issues – what else has been going on?

Keep going

For most of her life Rosie has worked while writing. "I haven't had the luxury of being a writer as my full time job. I have had to hack out time for my writing in around all the things that put bread on the table and keep the rent man from chucking you out the time at the end of week."

Getting cancer made Rosie realise that life is too short. She told herself, "I'm not doing this any longer. I don't care what's in the future, I'll just trust." Rosie's advice to others struggling to find their creative balance is to just "keep going". It might take a long time, but it will happen.

I'm going to give the last line to one of Rosie's characters, Anne from Vixen who says "I shall live that life like the gift it is, and waste neither it nor myself. I am my own woman. I like her. She has stories to tell and all of them are interesting."

Vixen was published in July in hardback, and The Palace of Curiosities is available in paperback. You can find out what Rosie has been up to by following her on Twitter @rosieauthor and Facebook Click to go to Rosie's Facebook page

Click here to go to Write-Track blog page

 

Published in News

News and Events

  • Cover reveal for 'What Girls Do In The Dark' (Nine Arches Press)
    Cover reveal for 'What Girls Do In The Dark' (Nine Arches Press)

    I thought it wasn't possible to feel any more thrilled about joining Nine Arches Press
    - then I see the stunning cover of my new poetry collection, 'What Girls Do In The Dark'.
    Out October 2020
    https://www.ninearchespress.com/publications/poetry-collections/what-girls-do-in-the-dark.html

    Written on Tuesday, 14 July 2020 13:31
  • April 2020 - The Night Brother, Must-Read Manchester
    April 2020 - The Night Brother, Must-Read Manchester
    Manchester Confidential chooses The Night Brother as a must-read Manchester novel!

    Dystopian classics to modern crime - Nine must-read Manchester novels

    “Fantasy, romance, sci-fi, comedy…we’ve got a genre for everyone
    There’s a very good reason Manchester is a UNESCO City of Literature, as we highlighted before its bid to join the prestigious network in 2017. Innovative publishers, diverse bookshops and a lively events scene make it an unrivalled literary melting pot.

    Rosie Garland’s The Night Brother is our historical highlight
    Ever the entertainer, Rosie Garland sung in post-punk band The March Violets and now performs ‘twisted cabaret’ as Rosie Lugosi the Vampire Queen. But she’s also a literary maverick with an array of essays, short stories and poetry to her name (much of which she also reads at spoken words events citywide) and three acclaimed novels. Her latest, The Night Brother, navigates themes of gender and identity through two siblings in Victorian Manchester. Rich and Gothic, it’s a must for fans of Angela Carter.”

    https://confidentials.com/manchester/dystopian-classics-to-modern-crime-nine-must-read-manchester-novels

    Written on Thursday, 16 April 2020 18:18
  • April 2020 - The Night Brother - Best Northern Read
    April 2020 - The Night Brother - Best Northern Read

    An unexpected & encouraging piece of news!
    Northern Soul has selected 'The Night Brother' as a Best Northern Read

    Desmond Bullen, Northern Soul writer
    “In days that can seem desolate and uncertain, there’s a lot to be said for windows into a better world and, ultimately, joyfully, that is exactly the view that The Night Brother by Rosie Garland affords. Not that its window seat is cheaply achieved. Far from it.
    Rooted with disbelief-suspending specificity in Manchester at the end of the 19th century, Garland’s novel blossoms compellingly from the exquisite simplicity of its central conceit, one which owes the tiniest debt to the 1971 horror film Dr. Jekyll And Sister Hyde. Edie and her brother Gnome are joined in a very particular symbiosis, so that their singular sibling rivalry threatens to be the undoing of both. Themes that could be leaden in other hands emerge from the premise with a beautiful lightness of touch, developing into a persuasive fable of inclusivity and self-acceptance. This is a book that sings a rainbow at its end.”


    https://www.northernsoul.me.uk/books-best-northern-reads-part-one/

    Written on Thursday, 09 April 2020 15:26
  • 'What Girls Do In The Dark' - new poetry collection with Nine Arches Press
    'What Girls Do In The Dark' - new poetry collection with Nine Arches Press
    New collection forthcoming in October 2020 from Nine Arches Press

    I’m thrilled to be on the 2020 list of Nine Arches Press!
    I’m in the company of a fantastic group of poets. I couldn’t be happier.

    https://www.ninearchespress.com/about-us/news.html

    “Midlands-based independent poetry publisher Nine Arches Press, which achieved Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation status in 2018, will publish eleven new books of poetry in 2020, from a mix of established and emerging poets from across the UK and across the world…

    Acclaimed novelist Rosie Garland will also join the 2020 list in October with her third full collection of poems What Girls Do in the Dark, a book alive with galactic, glimmering energy. Rosie’s award-winning short and long fiction, poems and essays have been widely anthologised and in 2019 she was selected by Val McDermid as one of the 10 most compelling LGBTQI+ writers working in the UK.”

    Image: Poets confirmed for the Nine Arches Press 2020 list
    Top: l-r: Jennifer Wong, Rishi Dastidar, Abegail Morley, Geraldine Clarkson, Nina Mingya Powles.
    Bottom: l-r: Peter Kahn, Maria Taylor, Gregory Leadbetter, Rosie Garland, Kate Fox

    Written on Saturday, 08 February 2020 14:20
  • 11th & 12th January 2020 - Bhubaneswar Literary Meet & Mumbai Spoken Fest
    11th & 12th January 2020 - Bhubaneswar Literary Meet & Mumbai Spoken Fest

    I’m deeply honoured!
    The British Council has invited me to read, perform, and present workshops in India…
    I’ve been invited to TWO exciting literary events: Bhubaneswar Literary Meet (11th January 2020) AND Mumbai Spoken Fest by Kommune (12th January 2020).

    I can’t wait – not only for the opportunity to share my work in India for the first time… but to meet so many inspiring writers!

    Written on Monday, 23 December 2019 14:19