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Discussing commercial/literary divide on Natasha Lester’s blog

My good friend Natasha Lester has invited me onto her blog to talk about that tricky business of the commercial/literary fiction divide. It’s a frustrating but necessary topic that both of us have become familiar with over the last year or so. To read our thoughts, click here, or visit Natasha’s blog at http://whilethekidsaresleeping.wordpress.com/

Thanks for having me, Natasha!

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GUEST BLOG: NATASHA LESTER, author of What is Left Over, After

Why does inspiration never strike at a time when I can write it down?

I blame my children for this – they’ll end up blaming me for almost everything when they’re older so I might as well get in first. Except that, in this case, it’s true.

 Having recently had the luxury of nearly a whole week to do nothing but write, courtesy of my lovely husband who subjected himself full time to the 3 cherubs, I have discovered that I get the best ideas in the most uninspiring places. Places where there are no pens. And even if there were, it would be impossible to write anything down.

 The first day inspiration struck in the shower. I was washing my face and the solution to a major plot problem that had been niggling me for months suddenly and perfectly appeared. Short of inscribing myself with shampoo, there was no way to make a note of the idea. But I’ve learned that if I don’t write it down, I won’t remember it later. So I had to chant it in my head – Dan gets run over, Dan gets run over – while I jumped out and dried myself. My mental monologue was interspersed with shouted directions at the children: ‘Your headband’s in the doll’s cradle’ – Dan gets run over – ‘Your shoes are in the fridge’ (don’t ask) – Dan gets run over. I’m just lucky that, when I got to my study, I didn’t end up writing in my notebook: Dan runs over a doll with the fridge.

The next day we were at the Disney Live concert surrounded by a million mini Cinderellas and my two year old needed to go to the toilet. While I was holding her on the toilet seat, more inspiration struck. This time a brilliant plot twist that I knew would make the book impossible to put down at the critical halfway mark. ‘Please hurry, darling,’ I begged, desperate to get out of there and back to my notebook and pen. ‘But Mummy,’ she piped up, ‘I shouldn’t rush. I need to get it all out.’ Of course my oft-repeated advice, which was never remembered if she was in the middle of jumping on the trampoline, was thrown back at me the one time when rushing would have been very welcome.

 The day after that, the ideas came while I was driving on the freeway. No way to jot things down at one hundred kilometres an hour and I’m sure it wasn’t quite the emergency that the stopping lanes were designed to accommodate.

 Later, I realised that the reason I keep finding inspiration in unlikely places is because they are quiet places, places where the kids are either absent or silent – shower, toilet, car.

 I wonder whether this means that the ideas are there all the time but I just don’t hear them, drowned out as they are by the four year old yelling at the two year old, ‘She took my Barbie,’ and the baby delighting in his new found ability to shout Mum-mum-mum at the top of his voice.

 So my New Year’s Resolution is this: to somehow build a quiet moment into every day. The girls received a cubbyhouse for Christmas so perhaps I need to rig up some kind of lock on it – not to lock them in but as a place for me to hide! I know I won’t be lucky enough to dream up a new story idea, solve a plot problem or come up with an unexpected twist in every quiet moment, but the important thing is, I’ll be ready, pen and paper in hand, if the ideas do choose to come.

Natasha Lester lives in Western Australia and is the author of What is Left Over, After, winner of the TAG Hungerford Prize, published in 2010 by Fremantle Press. Check out her website, www.natashalester.com.au, or visit her blog, While the Kids are Sleeping.

Pages

My Contribution To Other Blogs

I am sometimes lucky enough to be allowed to write on other people’s sites or blogs. You can check out some of my previous posts by following the links below:

On Writing (10 August 2011) on The Australian Bookshelf

Writer on Tour (14 April 2011) on Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

The literary/commercial fiction divide (14 Feb 2011) on Natasha Lester’s blog http://whilethekidsaresleeping.wordpress.com/

A shifting landscape, a perfect backdrop (13 Feb 2011) on www.lisaheidke.com

Inspiration (9 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Mothering and writing for a living (8 Feb 2011) on http://anjwritesabout.com/

Endings: Beginnings in disguise (4 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Stories within stories (3 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Losing the plot (2 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

The North Yorkshire moors, the perfect setting (1 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

At long last, meet Grace (31 Jan 2011) on The Random Blog

On writing and editing (31 Jan 2011) on http://www.ahthepossibilities.com/

Sara Foster is grateful for… (31  Jan 2011) on http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com/

Breathing Life into Landscapes (4 Nov 2010) on www.fleurmcdonald.com

On pursuing publication (9 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Finding the time to write (8 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Friends and family readers (7 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Your editor is on your side (6 April 2010) on The Random Blog

When characters get minds of their own (5 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Media

MEDIA

To see reviews of All That is Lost Between Us, click here.

To see reviews of Shallow Breath, click here.

To see reviews of Beneath the Shadowsclick here.

To see reviews of Come Back to Meclick here.

Links to author interviews and general articles:

The Wonders of Research, Write Note Reviews, Jan 2016

What Lies Beneath: Interview with Sara Foster, Rowena Holloway, Jan 2016

The Psychology of Georgia, Book Muster Down Under, Jan 2016

AusRom Today’s Must Read list 2016, Jan 2016

Teen’s Secret Anguish: The West Australian, Jan 2016

‘Deep Connections’: Interview with An Adventure in Reading, Mar 2013

Interview with The Musings of Monique, Mar 2013

Interview with The Australian Bookshelf, Feb 2013

Interview with The Reading Room, Feb 2013

Interview with 1Girl2ManyBooks, Feb 2013

Q&A with Book Muster Down Under, Feb 2013

‘Sara Foster visits deep, dark places for her third novel’, The Examiner/Skinny Cap with Two Sugars, Jan 2013

Interview with Book’d Out, Dec 2012

Jenn J McLeod’s Author Harvest ‘bales up’ Sara Foster, Dec 2012

Interview with Write Note Reviews, May 2012

Interview with The Examiner (WA), 2 May 2012 (and on Skinny Cap with Two Sugars)

Interview with Auslit’s Authors Compare site, October 2011 (on setting)

Interview with thereadingroom.com, October 2011

Interview with Monica Kade at Career Confessions, May 2011

Sydney Writers’ Centre podcast (Beneath the Shadows), April 2011

Recommendation on www.shesaid.com.au, April 2011

Interview with Colosoul (Independent Youth Magazine), April 2011

Interview with femail.com.au, April 2011

Interview with Aimee Burton at Poisoned Apples and Smoking Caterpillars (a Boomerang Books blog), March 2011

Interview with The Australian Literature Review, 16 February 2011

Interview with Claire Williams at Flourish online magazine, 11 February 2011

‘Online extras add to thriller’s mystery’, North Coast Times, 1st February 2011
(www.inmycommunity.com.au)

Sara Foster answers Booktopia’s Ten Terrifying Questions

Sydney Writers’ Centre podcast (Come Back to Me), March 2010

Interview with www.chicklitclub.com, February 2010

‘Sara turns over a new page in Perth’, North Coast Times, 2 February 2010 (www.inmycommunity.com.au)

‘Perth helps to bring out the creativity in author’, West Australian, 2 February 2010

Links to my blogs elsewhere:

I am sometimes lucky enough to be invited to write on other people’s sites or blogs. You can check out my guest posts by following the links below:

New Year, New Beginnings (14 January 2013) on Fiona Palmer’s website

Researching Shallow Breath (29 November 2012) on Nicole Alexander’s website

On Writing (10 August 2011) on The Australian Bookshelf

Writer on Tour (14 April 2011) on Adventures of an Intrepid Reader

The literary/commercial fiction divide (14 Feb 2011) on Natasha Lester’s blog http://whilethekidsaresleeping.wordpress.com/

A shifting landscape, a perfect backdrop (13 Feb 2011) on www.lisaheidke.com

Inspiration (9 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Mothering and writing for a living (8 Feb 2011) on http://anjwritesabout.com/

Endings: Beginnings in disguise (4 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Stories within stories (3 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

Losing the plot (2 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

The North Yorkshire moors, the perfect setting (1 Feb 2011) on The Random Blog

At long last, meet Grace (31 Jan 2011) on The Random Blog

On writing and editing (31 Jan 2011) on http://www.ahthepossibilities.com/

Sara Foster is grateful for… (31  Jan 2011) on http://anitaheissblog.blogspot.com/

Breathing Life into Landscapes (4 Nov 2010) on www.fleurmcdonald.com

On pursuing publication (9 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Finding the time to write (8 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Friends and family readers (7 April 2010) on The Random Blog

Your editor is on your side (6 April 2010) on The Random Blog

When characters get minds of their own (5 April 2010) on The Random Blog