Tuesday 29 March 2022

Anne Wilson tells us about her life as a writer



I write short stories, memoir and, currently, early ideas for a third novel. It comes naturally to write what I know, born of an interest in natural history, people I encounter, and to fill in the blanks with some research.


I wanted to write when I discovered how powerfully the written word could take you on journeys you would never otherwise have taken. I particularly remember going to meet Alm-uncle with Heidi and exploring the forest with Children of the New Forest. I also devoured travel books and nature books at every opportunity. These subjects were my inspiration, honing the writing skills to which I aspired.


Routine works for some writers but I can’t claim to be so disciplined. I am a haphazard writer who jots down notes on a tissue at 4.00am, makes notes whilst on a bus or in a coffee bar and fleshes them out when I come to the end of the book I happen to be reading, perhaps once or twice a week. However, my writing output has always been governed by “life getting in the way”.


Do I have a dedicated working space? See above. My too-small desk is covered in paperwork of many different kinds and I favour first drafts written in a comfortable chair on a large pad on my knee.


Calling myself a writer has always seemed too pretentious and invites a lot of annoying questions generating unsatisfactory answers. I would probably say “I write a bit” then change the subject.


As to support from friends and family – family are divided between a studied disinterest and some pride in any success I may have. Friends do their best without yawning. They all understand I’m writing something and wonder why. I live with my son who manages I.T. systems involving complicated codes and fiction is a far country.


I am probably most proud that writing in some form has endured through my life and defines me to people who know me, even if they don’t understand why anyone would do it. I find it strange that even avid readers often have no interest in who wrote what they’re reading.


I quite like the process of editing and enjoy research because my subject, by definition, will interest me.


I have had the same goal now for years which is that of having at least one of my novels published. If that happened it would encourage me to stop procrastinating and take my writing more seriously – a case of better late than never!


The question of which writers have inspired me always comes up and the answer would be so long. Even, which writers have most inspired me is very difficult to answer. I can say that beside an eclectic assortment of books and reading material and some biographies, I keep everything ever written by Joyce Carol Oates, early Hilary Mantel, Peter Mayle and Lisa St Aubin de Tehran. I also have a large assortment of nature books. Other authors, past and present, are discovered, burn brightly and then go (usually to Oxfam).


A recent review of Anne's latest collection: 

'Stylishly vivid stories from a literary artist of first rank. At heart a nature lover with supernatural persuasion:

Do you, dare to be led down the garden path ...... to meet the bogey-man?' 


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