Writers on Writing: Jo Baker



I always wanted to be a writer when I had a child I was one of those kids that if they weren't reading a book they were writing a book and that persisted all the way through till I was an undergraduate but doing a literature degree kind of sort of squashed my creativity for a while I was very intimidated by these wonderful books that I was reading and it began to feel like there was no space for me I couldn't pretend to to write a novel compared with all these wonderful great monuments that other people had created and that lasted for quite a while and I thought I would probably be in academic I thought I would sort of have an academic engagement with with writing but I'm pursuing that I moved to Northern Ireland to Belfast and it turned out I wasn't I didn't know this when I went there but it became apparent to me what a vibrant city it was how full of writers and you would I would got to meet some some of these people and I got to realize that they were not so very different from me you know they they were real living people who not you know dead great men and it just began to open up again I begin to began to have a sense at this this was something that I might be able to do and I did what a lot of people do which is start write by writing short stories and sending them out and then I managed to get a little bit of attention from from an agent who said well you really need to write a novel because they they always say there's no market for short stories well they did then and so I said yes of course I am sort of six-month I sort of you know I'm halfway through writing one which I wasn't but I then had to just sort of get on and do so so that's how I started writing again after a period it seemed like a long time of not writing but really the reality is it was only about four or five years when I wasn't writing other than that I've just written all my life I write every day that I possibly can I get up I get the kids to school and then I write and that means very often that the house can be in complete chaos sometimes I'll just walk away from the chaos and go and work in a cafe in town there's a place where they don't mind me sitting for three or four hours over one coffee and just working away so essentially I would just write when the children are at school and then we get they get back I try and be mum and be available as mum it didn't used to be that easy until relatively recently I also had a full-time job at that point I would work all day see the kids in the evening go to sleep and then wake up at about 3:00 a.m. and then right through till about 7:00 a.m. when the kids got up and inside starts again so I was in this constant state of jetlag so I really appreciate actually the fact that I now have that kind of dedicated time that chunk of time while the children at school where I can just get on with some writing I tend to be quite sort of in some ways mechanical in the sense that I will work you know I will just sit down and work there's no question of waiting for inspiration to strike you just have to dive straight in and this can mean sort of deciding that today I am going to write 2,000 words or I'm going to edit five pages it all depends on what stage at the book I'm at just keep at it because I think a lot of it has to do with persistence as well as as talent I think part of any kind of talent as a writer is also inherently about bloody mindedness about not giving up when people say no and just keeping on with it because you know it's it's a long hard slog it's a marathon writing your novel and you've got no one else is forcing you to do it so you've really got to be very self-motivated and I think just sort of finding that sort of the rhythm and the trail as it were and the persistence of just doing everyday even though nobody else cares if you do or you don't

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