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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
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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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 post, I'll try to shed a bit of 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. and Part 2: Editing is here. I've had to get permissions for all my books, starting with various epigraphs and quotes... Continue reading
Posted Jun 3, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
As Deborah said at the top of the comments, sometimes it's as hard to stop writing as it is to start - and, yes, the discipline has to cut both ways, doesn't it: not just to get you writing, but to get one coping with the rest of life. And one can be physically present - at least to avoide a shirty phonecall from the school - and yet not mentally present... Good luck!
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You're welcome, Ruth!
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Given what a VERY high proportion of professional authors have another job of some sort, to which a good few of the office hours must be devoted, I think finding the way that's best for oneself is key.
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Good to know it rings true. I do my best to think about how other writers think, but can't ever be sure till the post is up there!
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So glad you like it!
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Glad you like them, Mary, and you're welcome - and YAY to even notional bonfires!!!
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I agree that discipline - the power to get on with it when you decide to get on with it - makes a huge difference. There was Jenn Ashworth's #100daysofwriting idea: just show up to the page... And the idea of the "writing sprint" is very interesting too, though it's the opposite of your large blocks: very small sections of time, very often, with very little censoring of what you do... The Wait but Why blog is fantastic, isn't it - so glad it's useful. The Instant Gratification Monkey who sits on my desk is waving at you - he's changed (like any good character in a story) and is now guardian of my not-procrastinating: I praise him when I've done a good day's work.
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You're welcome - and yes - what those folk are saying is nonsense.! It's like saying that at the moment white sourdough bread is what everyone's eating, so we should only make white sourdough bread. I love white sourdough bread, but it's only one kind of loaf, and for some sandwiches not even the best kind ... Although one thing I notice about the people who write and talk with great authority about "what's passé" in terms of storytelling are the people who don't expect their writing to last more than six weeks. Those of us who want to write with a bit more substance need to think a bit more widely. Which isn't to say that one can ignore the wider literary context of one's work. All agents and editors (and teachers of writing) have read the manuscript which is a really nice version of something that would fit nicely on the equivalent of Amazon in the 1940s: "If you liked Stamboul Train, you'll love this." I adore Graham Greene, say, but there's scarcely a sentence in him which his equivalent now would write the same way. It's like a post-Stravinsky composer writing excellent Mozart...
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Andrew, I'm so glad the post is helpful. And yes, I agree, the idiotic command "show don't tell", faithfully followed, can make for some incredibly tedious writing. I often talk about learning to "make your Telling Showy" - i.e. make even your swift exposition of context vivid and individual. It's not actually that hard, once you've mastered the trick of the telling detail. It's arguably a good deal harder to "make your Showing Telly" i.e. make even your apparent leisurly evocation of places and people actually a forward-moving force for the story...
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It's part of what I've called the schizophrenia of the writer - the fact that we are always divided between being in the moment (or the emotion, the experience) and being outside it, observing it: "Ah, so this is what it feels like to have one's heart broken..." And, similarly, both making creative and ethical decisions about writing awful things, and diving into the awful things to recreate the moment and the experience... That, I think, is what creates the sense of a splinter of ice, Plus, o fcourse, that it means we draw on things which may be different from what we draw on with family. My young-teen niece, reading The Mathematics of Love, said afterwards to her mother, "Aunt Emma's book is very RUDE!"...
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Well, we all are that in some ways, aren't we. There's an undercurrent (I hope) in the book is about how my situation in terms of trying to write about my family is only an acute attack of what we all suffer from to some extent: how to find our own way of being, as ourselves, while still staying, as it were, in relationship with where we come from.
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R.N.Morris is an old writer-friend of mine, and ever since his debut, A Gentle Axe, starring Dostoevsky's Porfiry Petrovitch, the examining magistrate from Crime and Punishment, I've known his work for pulling no punches but also being subtle, complex and thought-provoking. Has a superb sense of setting and period and (which isn't the case with every good writer) he's also good at articulating what he does. I'm not a crime-writer, though I love the detective/mystery end of the genre particularly, and am awed by anyone who can fit all the bits together and simultaneously make one care, shiver, and stay... Continue reading
Posted May 18, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
... and a few I forgot in the excitement. If there's one I mentioned there and haven't remembered here, or you can't find via the Tool-Kit link up there in the right-hand corner, do say in the comments and I'll try to dig it up. With many thanks to Philip Gwyn Jones for being so fascinating and informative about publishing from the publisher's point of view, and the lovely team at the Clapham Book Festival, and the Omnibus Theatre for all the organising, and for the delectable chocolates (from MacFarlane's Deli, since you ask...) For more about my forthcoming memoir... Continue reading
Posted May 12, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
So the writing's going well. You've realised you're happier writing than doing anything else; you've re-found the confidence you had in your childhood and teenage years; you're a nicer and better person in the rest of your life for having those hours on your own with your words. Perhaps you've had successes in getting short things published or placed in competitions, or a self-publishing venture is doing much better than the average sold-it-to-my-family numbers. Maybe, even, an agent or three have said they can't sell this book, but they'd love to see the next one. Writing is no longer just... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2018 at This Itch of Writing: the blog
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Richard, you're very welcome!
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That's very interesting, Virginia. It's one of the most off-beat-y ones, isn't it. Rather syncopated - which is exciting, isn't it, compared to something more regular.
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Yes, reading aloud is so important. Although there are sentences in my work which work just how I want them on the page, but I tweak for readings, because the best sound and the best sense can't always be combined.
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