It’s a real pleasure to welcome you all to my stop on the blog tour for The Glass Diplomat by S.R. Wilsher. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to join! Author S.R. Wilsher joins me on the blog today to talk about his writing process but first, here is what The Glass Diplomat is all about.
Author : S.R. Wilsher
Title : The Glass Diplomat
Pages : 421
Publisher : n/a
Publication date : August 20, 2018
In 1973 Chile, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family.
Eleven years later, Abrego is the Chilean Ambassador to London and Charlie is reunited with the Abrego sisters. Despite his love for them, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from being used as a political pawn by her father.
His connection to the family is complicated by the growing evidence that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.
As the conflict of a family divided by love and politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots in Santiago, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.
My approach to writing has changed over the years, generally dictated by the job I’m doing. When I first started I was working as an installation rep and used to speed through my work to park up out of the way and write. Later, when I had my own office, I was quite productive. I’ve never been the prefect employee. But my productivity really increased in 2009 after I had a renal transplant and no longer wanted to work 50 plus hours a week. That’s when I developed the process I keep to now.
I always have more than one project on the go. One I’m writing and one I’m rewriting.
When I have an idea, I tend to let it roll around in my head for a while to see if it takes root. Once it does, I’ll start making notes and see if the idea is big enough and interesting enough to live with for a year or more. I always want an idea of how it will end at this point as well. I think the ending is the most important part. It doesn’t matter to me if it’s a happy, sad, or ambiguous ending, as long it suits the story that’s been told.
Once I start writing, I try to work through from beginning to end but, if I get stuck, then I’ll skip ahead and write other parts, returning to fill in. When the first draft is finished, I put it away for a few months and work on something else. I like to put some time and distance between the first draft and the second as I’m better able to see what doesn’t work.
An idea can come from anywhere; the news, a conversation, a song lyric, or a picture. The Good Father came from the image of a man behind the barbed wire of a refugee camp holding a child up for the press to photograph. The Collection of Heng Souk was based on a story about my father’s time in the Korean War.
I write every day. But I don’t insist on writing 3000 words before anything else can happen. I don’t find daily word counts helpful. My aim is simply to make progress every day. That way it’s never a chore. It’s hard enough for my family living with someone preoccupied with unreal people and situations living in their head without subjecting them completely to the solitary lifestyle of writing.
On a writing day, I will write early in the morning before breaking to carry on with life, returning to write at night when the TV is off and I’m up alone. This is when I achieve the most. On a non-writing day, I still think about the story, and I take a notebook everywhere to jot down ideas, or puzzle through conundrums the story has thrown up. I like to stay close to a story and not spend too long away from it.
On a longer term basis, it generally takes more than a year to write something. When it’s finished, I then rest it. In the old days, the resting period would be forced on me as I waited for the rejection letters. Now that I rarely submit anything for consideration, it just sits and waits for me to get back to it.
When I’ve rested and returned and rewritten, then I rest it again. These days the final edit involves highlighting all the words I have a tendency to overuse, and working through the list (58 at the last count) to remove as many as possible.
I’ve learnt several things the hard way. Don’t rush to publish is the main one, because there’s nothing that can’t be improved. Although there clearly comes a point when you have to let it go. Getting that right is the hard part. My biggest mistake was with The Collection of Heng Souk. I wrote the main body of the story in UK English, but used US English for the journal part written by an American. That didn’t go down too well in the US and I received a lot of flak for spelling and grammar. In the end, I rewrote it all in US English because it was predominantly an American story.
I’m still living with that mistake, and so I’m more careful these days.
It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.
After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing.
I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.
I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve.