Who and what am I?
I have been giving some thought to just who I am and what I am about to update my on-line biographies. This has been quite a reflective experience. Quite a rite of passage.
Here we go …
Having written long and short fiction to pretty safe contracts I have responded to the radically changing state of opportunities in publishing by redefining myself – to myself and others – as a freelance artisan writer
I am rather charmed to know that the word artisan comes from the mid 16th century: from French and comes from Italian artigiano based on Latin artitus past participle of artitr.
So in now labelling myself as a Freelance Artisan Writer I am pleased to think that I come from a long and honourable tradition.
So how has this come about?
Having relished a life of writing and traditional publishing I continue to write with commitment and enjoyment. I once wrote a poem on the blog called Writing is the Sound of the Soul Breathing. (Also see below) This profound excitement about putting words on the page is at the heart of my writing process.
The difference is that these days I have the opportunity and the freedom to write across a wider range-which includes novels, novellas, short stories, short think pieces which I call ‘postcards’, articles, essays, and poems. In further artisan-mode I draw and paint pictures. Much of this gets into print or I share on the blog. Some of it earns me money.
Also as a writer I have always honed my skills of observation and focus with my habit of drawing and painting. And I take many photographs as life and location notes and occasionally create collages and kinds of summary of an event.
As well as ‘giving out’ in this way an artisan writer needs to absorb the art and skill of others to replenish her own imagination and skills. So I go to galleries and exhibitions, theatres and cinemas. I do my diverse researches. I read a wide range of books and occasionally review them. This is all a delight and refreshment. It is concentration combine with escape.
And now we come to the democratisation of the publishing process through platforms like Amazon. A useful shop-window for the artisan writer. I have loved dabbling in the process with the support of writing friends,
This fascinating approach to publishing is a creative process in itself – involving writing, book design, and the almost magical processes of producing books in electronic and paperback form.
This precise, practical and demanding procedure is well suited to the artisan writer. I have made use of it to re-issue several of my backlist and two new novels. It is not an easy process and I have learned a lot on the way. And – like a good apprentice - continue to learn. I have certainly not yer mastered the arcane processes of promotion and distribution.
The Freelance Artisan Writer at Work
My current artisan writing projects are a novella set in the years after World War 2, a contemporary short story, an historical short story, several ‘postcards’ and of course my blog ‘Life Twice Tasted’ which I increasingly see as a journal recording my current obsessions, including new publications – all new rites of passage.
I live in a lovely part of historic South Durham a few hundred yards from Auckland Castle, which is buzzing with burgeoning creativity these days. My Victorian house is in the middle of the town and has featured in at least two of my novels.
And I am so lucky that I can be the free-lance artisan writer in the context of a distinctive family with a cleverly ironic story-telling husband, a clever, creative historian son and a clever creative writer-daughter, and a scientific grandson now studying for his PhD in molecular physics, who also writes. I also value my close circle of friends who don’t think being an artisan writer is a crazy thing.
And still, still, here I am with my most precious artisan tool- my notebook in which I love to write and find out what I think, to see what emerges from my imagination, to discover what I want to say. My greatest joy is to know that there are people out there who are enjoying my work, whether it is a novel, a novella, short story, a ‘postcard’ on the blog, or a collage of photos that tells its own story. And - now and then - I earn some money from all this.
I suppose this why now when people ask the inevitable question – so, Wendy, what is that you do? I will say I am a freelance artisan writer.
From my Blog Archive Writing is the Sound of the Soul Breathing
Writing is the sound of the soul breathing-
it is measured, shapely, intended
every breath out predicates every breath in
each sentence brings forward another one
every word is a platform for the next jump in meaning
We breathe in lines, in paragraphs,
in pages in chapters, in volumes -
our life laid there in a trillion words -
a million separated, well formed
Writing is the notation of the quiet soul-
not blasted out by trumpets and clarinets -
dark smoke in the air, rising -
but the words lie there, just
They lie there in ranks and lines
waiting for you to add your world
to my notation on the page
creating a different world
new to your soul and mine –
Writing is the sound of the soul breathing