The 5 Questions of Writing by guest author Patricia M Osborne
I am thrilled that my friend and fellow Swanwicker, Patricia M. Osborne, has agreed to visit my blog today to explain about her writing journey. Over to you, Patricia.
Hi Val, thank you for inviting me over to your blog today to talk about my writing.
When Did I Start To Write?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, and won my first poetry competition when I was around seven-years-old. The poem was titled ‘Clothes’ but that’s all I can remember about it. I can’t even remember the prize. However, it was only once I started a creative writing course as part of my Open University degree that I began writing more seriously. At first learning the technical tools stifled my creativity but my tutor assured me this was quite common. After finishing this module I embarked on an online visual poetry course during the summer break. This was fabulous for overcoming my writing inhibitions and by the time the advanced creative writing module started in the autumn my creativity had returned but now I was equipped to produce better writing.
After graduating with my BA degree in 2013, I spent a year adapting a screen play, written for my dissertation, into a novel and House of Grace was born.
In June 2014 my mum died. I’d been her part-time carer for her last seven years and losing her left a huge void in my life, so much so, I didn’t know who I was anymore. My husband suggested I study an MA to give me focus.
At first, I wasn’t interested in anything, including writing and study, but in September 2014, I spotted a new MA Creative Writing Course with Brighton University. The content was enticing so at the last minute I took steps to enrol. For my first assignment I produced a sequence of fictional poetry using a theme of lost identity. While writing these poems I was able to give the characters my pain which was great therapy. I was on my way to finding ‘me’ again.
In the meantime, my novel, House of Grace, sat on the computer doing nothing while I studied. It was only after my first visit to Swanwick Writers’ Summer School in August 2016 that I was inspired to finish my novel. When returning home, I revisited House of Grace, shipped it into shape for publication, and to be honest never looked back. I love writing and become grumpy if I’m not allowed to play with my characters and I love living in a writers’ world.
How Do I Write?
For short stories and poetry I plot. Starting in a notebook with a mind map, I build up a frame, and complete a first draft. This is then typed up into a word document on my PC so I can move words around with ease while layering and editing to bring the story to life.
My process of novel writing was similar. I plotted out chapters in my notebook making sure I had a beginning, middle and end. I’d stay with the notebook, writing the first few chapters out by hand, until I warmed up into the story and moved to the computer. So I suppose you could say I was a ‘Plotter.’
However, that was until November this year when I managed to complete NaNoWriMo for the first time and was able to do something that I never thought I could. ‘Keep my editor hat off.’ Therefore, instead of my normal routine, not moving on to the next chapter until I was happy, I marked what needed editing and researching in red font on the manuscript and moved on.
This technique was applied to the second half of ‘The Coal Miner’s Son.’ In other words, I stopped being a ‘Plotter’ and became a ‘Pantser.’ I found this method a more efficient way of working as my manuscript was ready for me to begin researching and editing in a very short time.
Why Do I Write?
I write for several reasons but mainly because I love writing. I find it great fun. I like playing around with words, creating characters and building up images. In poetry I love to create not only sensory images but musicality and sound echoes within the lines. My final reason for writing, and why I write fiction, is because it means I can escape into any world or time era and become anyone I’d like to be.
Where Do I Write?
When writing in my notebook I can, and do, write anywhere. I carry a notebook in my handbag at all times, and always have a pen and paper at the side of my bed. If it’s in the middle of the night and I don’t want to turn the light on in case I disturb my husband then I use my iPad to make notes.
For novel writing and developing my short stories and poetry, I work on my PC in my study. I’m very lucky to have a study and spend most of my waking time there.
What Do I Write?
I write poetry, short stories and novels, and I’ve even been known to write a couple of screen plays. However, my favourite genre is poetry which for me goes hand in hand with my novel writing. The reason for this is that it takes me time to warm up into my novel and I don’t always have that time, whereas it doesn’t take long to build a framework for a new poem.
Here’s a little poem that won me first prize in Brighton and Hove Arts Council Poetry Competition 2017 (Student Category)
I turn the cone upside down,
it changes to a flower,
like the dahlias
in Grandad’s garden
where creepy earwigs
I paint my pinecone fiery orange,
use a green-striped straw for the stem,
wrap it in mistletoe paper,
place it under the tree
as a special present
on Christmas Day
to make her smile,
cos she cries in bed, every night,
since Grandad died.
Patricia M Osborne (2017)
This poem was inspired by Alison Chisholm (Swanwick Writers’ Summer School, 2017) when she handed out pinecones to the class. When I turned my cone upside down all I could see was a dahlia which took me back to my grandad’s garden when I was a young child. He used to grow huge dahlias and chrysanthemums and always picked some for my mum to take back home after we visited. I especially remember the earwigs falling out of the huge heads.
Staying on poetry, I write about birds, trees, and anything to do with nature. I also work from photograph prompts which is great fun. Mostly, I tend to write in free verse narrative. I spend a lot of time strolling around my local lake to lap up inspiration.
Upcoming Poetry Collections
I have a couple of collections that I hope to have published this year, the first ‘In a Delightful Country,’ which I wrote in 2017 when I was Poet in Residence at Worth Park, a local Victorian Park. This shows a fictional timeline of the park, broken into four sections.
The second is a collection of poems using myth, folklore and legend around trees, titled
‘Spirit Mother,’ which I completed for my MA Creative Writing dissertation.
My short stories often originate from prompts but I also like to write about people. My short story ‘Cold Sheets, Porridge and Penicillin,’ first published by Writers’ Forum magazine 2014 is free to read on my blog.
So far, my novel writing has been family sagas. My debut novel, House of Grace, was published in March 2017 and acts as Book 1 in a trilogy. The second, ‘The Coal Miner’s Son,’ which I hope to be released later this year, and the final, ‘Return to Granville Hall,’ with a bit of luck will be ready for publication by 2020. All of my books may also be read as standalones.
In the future I plan to experiment and write fantasy short stories and/or a novel.
Once again, Val, thank you so much for having me. It’s been great fun answering your questions.
About the Author
Patricia M Osborne was born in Liverpool and spent time in Bolton as a child. She now lives in West Sussex. Apart from novel writing, Patricia writes poetry and short fiction. Her poetry and short stories have been published in various literary magazines and anthologies. Following four years of study with the University of Brighton she is an MA graduate in Creative Writing. House of Grace is her debut novel. Patricia is currently working on ‘The Coal Miner’s Son,’ the next book in the ‘House of Grace’ series, although may be read as a standalone. She anticipates this being published during 2019. Watch this space.
Where can you purchase House of Grace, A Family Saga?
House of Grace is available in both paperback and kindle form and may be purchased on Amazon: http://mybook.to/HouseofGrace or ordered from all good bookstores. It is free to read on Kindle Unlimited.
Where can you find Patricia M Osborne?
Facebook: Patricia M Osborne, Writer
For those interested in Swanwick Writers’ Summer School https://www.swanwickwritersschool.org.uk/