Glynis Scrivens is a name that will be familiar to many readers and writers. Her short stories and articles have been published in magazines and newspapers all over the world and she is a regular contributor to UK magazine, Writer’s Forum.
I am delighted to welcome Glynis to my blog to talk about writing in general and the publication of her new book, Edit Is A Four Letter Word.
Welcome, Glynis. I’ll start by asking, did you always want to be a writer and when did you first start?
I think I’ve always been a writer but it took me a while to realise. Ever since I was a child, I’ve found it easier to express myself in writing. When I turned fifty, I finally gave myself permission to write.
I’m very glad you did. Some of us have lucky mascots or charms on our desks, do you?
I’ve framed the drawing my daughter Amy did for the cover of my eBook of stories – still on my to-do list. I also have lucky notebooks and pens. If someone goes overseas, I ask them to bring me back a pen or pencil. I have pens from Alaska and Canada and some lovely pencils from Florence and also Jodrell Bank.
That’s a terrific drawing, Glynis. Your daughter is very talented. I love collecting pens from different places too. Do you have a dedicated writing room?
Yes – and no. We have a room under the house which I’ve claimed, but it’s not always usable. In mid-winter it’s an icebox and in mid-summer there are mosquitoes. It’s multi-purpose, being the only place we can store spare mattresses, an old wardrobe, assorted memorabilia and STUFF.
I’m usually there for a short while every day. I sit in a big armchair, feet up, working out my priorities. I edited my book in this chair, taking time out from life upstairs. The writing I do here is the hard projects – the commissioned articles I find hard to knuckle down to. It’s such a plain room with no distractions that I can shut the door and just get on with whatever needs doing.
I also like to write on our veranda. Or when I have the luxury of an empty house, I sit at the kitchen table.
How perfect, Glynis – apart from the cold and the mosquitoes! You’ve written both successfully, but do you prefer writing fiction or non-fiction?
I’d have to say fiction, for its greater freedom. You can literally let your imagination go anywhere it wants. And there’s nothing quite like the buzz of a story acceptance.
I enjoy non-fiction, particularly interviewing, but it’s me, my imagination AND an editor’s expectations. I like to let go of the latter when I can.
I agree it is lovely to let the imagination run wild. Do you write every day?
No. I can go for weeks without writing. It’s always a hard time for me. Then the drought ends and the words flow, and it’s a wonderful feeling. Some days I’m not well enough, other times there’s just too much going on. I need to create/find an empty space in my mind before I can write. And I also seem to need these fallow patches.
I’m sure a lot of writers will identify with that. I know you have a lovely beach house – do you write more when you’re there?
There’s no wi-fi at our beach house so most of my time-wasting activities are unavailable. Instead I relax and recharge my batteries. Sitting in the sun. Watching my kelpie chase waves. Looking out to sea for migrating whales. Everything lends itself to writing and I sometimes get an amazing amount written there. I drafted my editing book there, sometimes actually sitting on the sand watching the ocean as I wrote.
Other times, though, I simply clear my mind and come home in writing mode.
It sounds just wonderful, Glynis and a very inspiring place to be. You mentioned your Kelpie, do you have any other pets?
How much space do I have to answer this one? We have seven hens – Mildred, Gwendolyn, Marion, Elsa, Octavia, Roberta and Susie. Plus a Pekin rooster called Baxter who spends every night in my writing room, under a laundry basket, so his crowing won’t disturb our neighbours.
We also have two ducks, Odette and Hamilton. Odette is sitting on her first clutch of eggs. We candled them the other night and they’re fertile. The ducklings are due to hatch soon.
We have two rescue dogs, Lucy and Benny, and a magnificent Maine Coon cat called Myrtle.
On the veranda are a rainbow lorikeet called Rufus and a scaly-breasted lorikeet called Vincent, an evil pair who like to bite fingers that feed them.
That's my idea of heaven. I’m very tempted to up sticks and move in with you! But we should move on to your new book, Edit is a Four Letter Word. What gave you the idea to write a book about editing?
I wondered about collecting some of my Writers’ Forum articles together for an eBook. Then I noticed Suzanne Ruthven’s comment on Facebook about wanting a book on editing as part of the Compass Points series. I already had more than the required 25,000 words just in articles, so felt I could put a book together. Writing buddy Lynne Hackles made sure I submitted a proposal. Funnily enough, none of the WF material ended up in the book. But its presence made me feel the project was do-able and I’ll always be grateful to Carl Styants for that.
It seems as if it was meant to be from the very beginning. Finally, do you have a favourite tip/advice for anyone just starting out?
When I started writing, my brother Jim said I should write what was inside me to write and then look for suitable places to publish it – rather than doing things the other way around.
It’s advice I return to.
It’s easy to become pragmatic. Write what sells. And often this is necessary – bills need to be paid.
But the magic gets lost in the process.
We need to remember who we are and what it is we want to say in our work.
That’s great advice, Glynis. Thank you for being interviewed on my blog. It’s been lovely getting to know more about you.
Edit Is A Four Letter Word is published by Compass Books and is available to buy from AmazonUK and Amazon as well as other outlets.
Good editing skills are very important, more so now than ever. Your work, whether it is a novel, an article or a short story will stand a better chance of being accepted if it is well presented and properly edited. Not everyone has the same approach to editing, but Glynis will help you find what works best for you. This book is an invaluable addition to the writer’s bookshelf.