“How do you do it all?” is the question I get asked more than anything else about my writing career. It’s honestly the first thing people always ask me. And understandably so because I do have other jobs. I work for The Elaine Show on TV3; I co-own Park Pictures, a Film & TV production company where we make films and documentaries in house; I’m adapting my last novel, The Week I Ruined My Life for a commissioned Canadian/Irish TV movie; and I’m purposely active about all of this on social media – plus I am a full-time mammy to Grace (9) and Maggie (5).
So, here’s my honest answer: I work my ass off!
Now, please pardon my flowery French but that’s the only truthful answer I can give. None of it is easy. Writing a book (especially the 6th one!) is exceptionally hard work. Exceptionally time consuming. Exceptionally anti-social. Even more difficult as I mentioned already as a parent, a double, triple, jobber which I know a lot of my other fellow writers are!
My girls actually hid my lap top at Christmas because they said it takes up all of mammy’s attention. They were right it does but mostly when the dreaded deadline looms. That’s when it’s the hardest slog. It’s your bum on that seat hitting those keys to create a word until you’ve hit them almost one hundred thousand times more. There is no magic solution. I constantly have five or six balls in the air but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love what I do. I feel exceptionally lucky to have the opportunity to write a novel that will be published. That will last forever. I’ll work as hard as it takes for that achievement. I tell this to the girls when mammy is grunting at the keys and buried in the screen.
“Hard work pays off girls.” This is one of the greatest lessons they can learn.
However, as with all my books I can’t seem to motivate myself to tip away at a word count every day. Oh, how I wish I could! Tortuously though, I wait until about ten or twelve weeks before delivery looms and then I panic and start speed writing. I write marathon sessions – fourteen hour days on Saturdays and Sundays when my husband is off work to take the kids. I’ve been known to write 20,000 words in a single sitting (with a very sore bum!) I wish I could write all year round, set myself a target weekly but I can’t seem to do it. This is what I am aiming to do on my next novel, a slow, enjoyable write but it may take longer than a year. I have delivered six books in six years. The seventh may not come next year I’m not sure yet.
As with all my books after the first one, (I got a three-book deal on my very first novel with Poolbeg Press) I now purposely sit down to write them to fulfil my contract. Creatively speaking I don’t really have an idea most of the time nor am I a plotter of any description (in fact you’d be hard pressed to find a note jotted down, except maybe character names, dates for any of my novels!) but on this novel I did something different.
For The Importance Of Being Me my publishers, the brilliant Black & White Publishing, flew over from the UK at my request, and we all discussed where we might go with book number 6. To be honest I found it incredibly beneficial and really, really helpful. We pretty much discussed what type of book I would write. I pitched them some very loose ideas and we talked them through. This was a very new thing for me – none of my previous five had ever been discussed with anyone. Just written and delivered and accepted. So, when I sat down I knew the type of characters I was going to write about. The theme of the book was laid out. I knew I wanted to look at social media in younger girls and tie all this in with a lighter summer read. Strong female characters who face challenges obviously but ultimately win at life. My last novel was very dark and I wanted to feel that this was a lighter story both for me and for the reader. This may not work for every writer to dissect a book and write to order if you will but I found it exceptionally beneficial. But still the dreaded deadline loomed and I had nothing done.
So how do I start? The first line I write I put a character in a situation and I just keep going. Pretty much like an English Essay in school. One word after the other. Who they are I have no idea until I have written the first three chapters. Somehow a sentence will trigger something in me and off I go until it becomes a fully-fledged novel.
Let’s just say the girls will have watched every episode of Austin & Ally during these ten to twelve weeks and do not always get their 5 a day!
(c) Caroline Grace-Cassidy
About The Importance of Being Me:
When Lisa’s husband leaves her for Gemma – a local beautician years younger – she’s upset but nowhere near as devastated as she thought she’d be. Her marriage to David hasn’t been great for a long time, never helped by his constantly roving eye.Now that he’s gone, Lisa and her fifteen-year-old daughter, Susan, are left on their own at home. But Susan is a complete daddy’s girl and likes to spend all her weekends in his new modern apartment that Gemma owns. Susan still thinks David is the greatest father on earth and Lisa has no intention of ruining that illusion for her daughter. In addition, Susan and Gemma have a fantastic relationship. In fact Susan says, they are as close as ‘sisters’, and constantly refers to the fact that ‘Gemma just gets her.’ And, of course, Susan and Gemma Snapchat their every waking moments.But when Susan then decides to spend the whole summer with her dad and Gemma, Lisa is devastated. She needs a change, and some time for herself. With her grandmother’s legacy, she decides she needs a complete change of scene, on her own, and a run down cottage in Cornwall looks like the perfect solution. At least for the summer it’s a new location, new people and a project to keep her busy. Then, when she bumps into a client she’s worked with but never actually met, it’s like being hit by a bolt of lightning. But can she ever have what she wants most in the world, a whole new relationship with the most important person in her life – her daughter?
Order your copy online here.