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Emma Darwin
I write fiction and creative non-fiction, and I live in South East London.
Interests: fiction, creative non-fiction, novels, short fiction, short stories, historical fiction, academic writing, writing, reading, editing, teaching
Recent Activity
Yes, it's very noticeable, isn't it. Traditions continue - even the fonts will be different...
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" For some reason, the US covers put more make up on the woman and make her look more groomed. I am not sure if this is also a difference between the UK and the US in real life." I think it IS something of a difference in real life: nail bars, blow-dries, endless orthodontistry... The British tradition of amateurism, the sense that it's slightly naff and definitely un-cool to be obviously trying to hard, perhaps?
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A couple of weekends ago I had the pleasure of holding two workshops, as part of the Festival of Women's Writing - which doesn't at all exclude men - organised by the Brontë Parsonage Museum, and held at the entirely wonderful Ponden Hall. We covered a lot of ground, and in the nature of things, many topics cropped up which are expanded on in posts here on Itch. So these are links to the ones I particularly remember mentioning. If anyone remembers any others, do drop me a line, and I’ll try to dig it up. These, and a lot... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
I've got a novel to revise. At least the York Festival of Writing and the Historical Novel Society Conference have been and gone. But the next Self-Editing Your Novel course is about to start, I'm off to Yorkshire for the Bronte Parsonage Museum's Festival of Contemporary Women's Writing and life is decidedly busy on other fronts. Then there are the writers I'm helping as a tutor and mentor, and occasionally boring old real life has to be dealt with. And did I mention (no, surely not!) that I have a new book coming out in February? So there are press-releases,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
You're welcome, Deborah. I think it's one of the things which is so taken-for-granted by industry people that they forget it's not so obvious to us.
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You're welcome, Chuck. And I'm so glad you like the cover; I am genuinely thrilled with it. Best of luck with getting to the next stage!
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Emery, I think the whole business of writing for therapeutic purposes sheds fascinating light on writing as a whole. I don't know huge amounts about it (not even for myself - so not a journal-keeper). But I was fascinated by a writer friend who runs courses in it explaining that a lot of the therapeutic value doesn't come - as I'd assumed - from the cathartic splurge onto paper, but from the editing: the revisiting and reconsidering, the thinking about other ways to say things, the framing and cutting-down-to-size. Which makes sense - and is useful to think of when a writer's feeling that editing is dry and uncreative compared to that initial splurge. As Auden said, good writing originates in the gut but only flowers in the head...
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You're welcome, Josie - so glad it's been helpful! Good luck with the next stage.
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Sarah, you're SO welcome. So glad it's that useful for you and your authors. It is why I keep banging on about psychic distance: it's amazing how many problems it sorts out, all in one chunk of understanding...
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Ah, yes, I get it. Hence my last point - that you don't have to listen to anyone, however shouty, who doesn't understand the difference between fiction and non-fiction. Plus, of course, who says Twitter gets to command our creativity and cultural life?
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This is the third in a series of posts which I'm planning in the run-up to next February, when This is Not a Book About Charles Darwin will be published. In each I'll try to shed light not only on the practicalities of what happens when your book is being published, but also the sometimes surprising ways that this stage of the writing life can affect you and your writing. Part 1: Contracts is here. Part 2: Editing is here and Part 3: Permissions is here. Your book is (not) your cover The cover of a book is a hugely... Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
Ruth - yes, absolutely, this whole post is exploring how you CAN write beyond your own shoes, but in a way which doesn't tread on other people's toes. Like it or not, these days we are MUCH more sensitive to the history of the white, western, male and abled writing about other groups without checking in with those other groups' actual experience, if only by the kind of default assumptions and "othering" - if not downright offensiveness - that I've suggested further up. And, as I also suggested, it's doing a service to your own writing to challenge those defaults and assumptions.
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Blimey, does King say that? I can't help thinking of all the editors and agents I've chaired, who would, for the most part, feel that except for certain genres perhaps, that long is... at least a problem. Not insurmountable, but definitely a drawback for all sorts of reasons both creative and industrial. So my goodness the book needs to be good in every other way to make up for it. I know lots of people who really rate the King book, but do think it's a risk with writers who are very successful, to tell it how it is for them, without checking with enough others about whether it's true more widely. (I took the late and very lovely Carole Blake to task for saying in her book about getting published that a synopsis should be 3-4 pages long, despite the fact that she was just about the only agent on the planet who wanted that from unsolicited subs.) And yes, one-to-one industry folk are not always good readers - because by habit they're reading for whether they want to read on and buy. Some are amazing feeders-back, others... less so. (In their defence, if they are doing a full set of sessions at the York festival, say, they may have had to read 50 or 60 3,000 word scripts in less than a week while doing the rest of their job too). The best of the festivals etc. do listen to feedback from attendees, and don't ask agents/editors again who haven't been useful.
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Rebecca, my apologies for having missed this, and I'm so glad you were enthralled... SPOILER ALERT!!!!! With Cecil - lost children is a hugely important theme in the book, but how you think he connects the two strands depends on whether you believe in ghosts or not. If you don't, then he's Uncle Ray's son by a disappeared woman, and his resemblance to the small, lost semi-feral village boy in Stephen's time, who doesn't seem to have any parents, is just coincidence. If you do believe in ghosts, then he's still Ray's son, but becauses he's so lost and neglected he's not even anchored securely in his own time, and sometimes shows up in Stephen's, as Stephen's nightmares show up in Anna's sleep. I don't believe in ghosts, but I do think they are an endlessly fascinating way of thinking about human psychology, and our sense of time, so it was important to me to make it work for both kinds of reader. With Idoia - yes - she married into the local Jocelyn family, and Anna's father was a later member (I did calculate the generations, at some point), who seduced the young, war-damaged Nancy. Nancy ran away from her abusive mother and weakling brother to have Anna, and changed her surname. But she gave Anna "Jocelyn" as a middle name, as a discreet nod to who her father really was. The clues are tucked away in that last scene with Crispin...
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You're very welcome! Glad it's helpful.
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So glad it's a help, Rajib. Good luck with the proposal.
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Lynn, you're welcome! Best of luck with the application!
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As you may know, I also have a column, Doctor Darwin's Writing Tips, over at Historia, the magazine of the Historical Writers Association. A version of this post first appeared there, but in an era when we've all become more sensitive to questions of cultural appropriate in the arts, it's relevant much more widely. Certainly if you want to build your story on people of another ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, (dis)ability, class or perhaps just wildly different life-experience, there's work to be done compared to what you'd need if you stayed inside your own. So the ideas and strategies I've... Continue reading
Posted Jul 18, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
So glad you think so, Philippa (And apols that in all that excitement back in Feb I missed your comment!)
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Yes, it's one of the more baffling commands, isn't it, in it's most naked form. And most writers, being contrarians, can instantly produce examples of when an adjective or adverb is exactly what's needed! So glad this post make things a bit clearer.
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You're welcome Susanne - lovely to see you here. So glad you're finding the post useful.
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You're welcome, Samantha! It's strange, isn't it, how it always feels like there's nothing, and... there always is actually something there...
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Ah, yes... You'll be getting some funny looks at the next family wedding...
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Hi Julie - that's a great story, and certainly fits with what I've heard elsewhere. The plus of getting images from museums and publishers is that they have a clear setup for clearing permissions (usually: I know of one or two publishers who are notoriously hopeless), the minus is that they have a clear scale of charges which have been set assuming that it's a profit-making business who wants to use the image. But, like any contract terms, those clear terms are only a start, so what's to lose by negotiating? Especially if, as you say, you have a strong argument for why they shouldn't charge - either the origin of the pic, or the cause you want it for, or in your case, both!
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Hi Victoria - in principle, as far as I know (nb: not-a-lawyer) if the painter has been dead for 70+ years, your uncle can do what he likes with the picture and, say, the painter's heirs can't do a thing. Indeed, AFAIK, he couldn't even sue you if you did use a reproduction without his permission, unless you trespassed in his house, or stole the painting to get it reproduced - and then he could sue you for trespass or theft, but not breach of copyright. It's only the physical painting he controls, not the right to reproduce it, though of course, practically speaking, physical control tends to mean reproductive control, with art, in a way that doesn't quite follow with writing. BUT - if a publisher was nervous that the heirs might kick up a fuss, they might be twitchy, unless you could show clearly that they didn't need to worry.
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