Jun 17

A Day in the Life of award winning author Christopher Donaldson.

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Christopher Donaldson won 1st Prize in the International Words for the Wounded Independent Author Book Award with Not a Girl – his fabulous collection of short stories, and he is now taking us into his life, for one day only. So over to Christopher.

I can conquer the world at five a.m. on a summer day, less so past eight in the evening, and so I tend to write early.  I’m also a keen road cyclist and so these two disparate things constantly vie for attention.  Cerebral day?  Sweaty day?  They do sometimes combine as I pound the Fenland lanes.  Cycling is amazing exercise but basically the most boring thing on earth, therefore I’ll mentally review a story in progress, try sentences aloud to see if they work, if the voice is right, if the rhythm is there.  Old ladies clutch their bags more tightly and children throw rocks.

There’s a madman abroad.

By seven I’m back at the desk writing.  It’s going to be something strange.  I don’t know why I’m drawn to ‘speculative’ fiction, but I am.  Ghosts, Aliens, dark things, bleak things.  There it is.  Lock up your children.

I guarantee that by eleven I’m flicking through my two (unpublished, mucho rejected) novels on the shelf.  In hindsight all the rejecters were right – they simply aren’t good enough.  However, they are a repository of some excellent sentences which I constantly poach for my current story – much as you might keep an old car for spares.  These two novels resent me greatly and scream in pain as I cut out one of their wordy children and transplant it into a new favourite.  I am a scoundrel and have no shame.

Over a Midday sandwich I’ll doubtless do a bit of hopeful surfing for an Agent (they love the coast – just kidding, Internet surfing).  It seems that there are a very small amount of people willing to take on an unknown who writes exclusively short fiction.  I get this, but remain hopeful.  Hello?  Hello?  I’m so shallow.

There’s too much life to do for me to write all day, but I, as I suspect many writes do, trawl for characters when I’m out and about.  Those two gossips in the Supermarket will combine will combine to become an acid tongued Landlady, and that old guy in the pub with service medals on his chest and the twinkle of wisdom in his eye will enjoy a new life as a Sea Captain.  The world is full of characters, they just don’t know.

I don’t write in the evenings. I simply can’t, and the myth of waking up in the small hours with a flash of inspiration is simply that for me – a myth.  It’s hard slog at my desk, with very few things born fully formed.  That’s why short stories I guess.  Much easier to make into something as perfect as you can without a year of your life vaporising in the process.  Sorry Novelists, it’s only envy, and I have a short attention sp…

Then I’ll go to bed – bet you didn’t see that coming eh?

However I don’t feel I can finish without thanking the organisers of ‘Words for the wounded’ who created this competition and unwittingly gave me the chance to win and unleash some weirdness on the world.

Did I mention I was looking for an agent?

Not a Girl  pub Matador (Troubador) pb £8.99 (Amazon)