Monica McInerney’s Writing Regimen

Monica McInerney Bookcover 02

An interview extract on the writing regimen of Monica McInerney, best-selling Australian-born, Dublin-based author of twelve novels, Monica was voted into the top ten of Booktopia’s “Australia’s Favourite Novelist” poll 2014, 2016 and 2018.

The following quote is from Books+Publishing Q&A and Monica mentions two of her earlier novels which I can highly recommend:


Q:  Could you describe your approach to writing and your working regimen?

A:  “I spend about six months plotting in my head before I sit at the computer and start writing.  There’s usually an overlap between my books.  I had the idea for ‘At Home with the Templetons’ about three months before I finished ‘Those Faraday Girls’.  Similarly, I had the idea for what will be my next book halfway through writing the ‘Templetons’.

I aim for 2,000 words a day minimum in the early stages of writing, getting very attached to the word-count button.  A day always comes when the word count is irrelevant, when all I want to do is be at the desk writing.

The final six months are usually seven days a week.  I edit as I write, and also show the manuscript to two people in the early stages, my husband, who is a journalist, and my younger sister, who is an editor.  I completely trust their feedback, and their encouragement keeps me on track until the manuscript is as polished as I can make it before sending it to my publishers.  I also love deadlines.  They terrify me into finishing.”


Monica McInerney Author

Author http://www.monicamcinerney.com/
Interview Books+Publishing https://www.booksandpublishing.com.au/
Booktopia https://www.booktopia.com.au/

 


Synopsis of Monica McInerney’s latest novel ‘The Trip of a Lifetime’

“I always thought memories were unchangeable. Set in stone, shaped by the years. But there are always others too, ones you haven’t let yourself remember ...”
The wilful and eccentric Lola Quinlan is off on the trip of a lifetime, taking her beloved granddaughter and great-granddaughter with her.  More than sixty years after emigrating to Australia, she’s keeping a secret promise to return to her Irish homeland.  But as she embarks on her journey, the flamboyant Lola is still hiding the hurtful reasons she left Ireland in the first place. What – and who – will be waiting for her on the other side of the world?
Books by Monica McInerney:
  •    The Trip of a Lifetime
  •    Hello from the Gillespies
  •    The House of Memories
  •    Lola’s Secret
  •    At Home with the Templetons
  •    All Together Now
  •    Those Faraday Girls
  •    Family Baggage
  •    Alphabet Sisters
  •    Spin the Bottle
  •    Upside Down Inside Out
  •    A Taste For It

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Interviewed by Self

Computer 03

INTERVIEWER:
How many unfinished manuscripts do you have on file?
ME:
I have nine in varying stages of incompleteness.  I love them all, they start off well, the concepts are intriguing, then I stall.
INTERVIEWER:
How do you get over writer’s block?
ME:
At this point my stories can veer one of two ways.  Boringly predictable or Man-I-didn’t-expect-that!  And believe me, you will know the difference when the creative spark ignites.  The momentum is strong, the words flow and come alive.  I run with it and don’t look back.
INTERVIEWER:
What has made you stop writing a particular story?
ME:
When that inspired catalyst fizzles out, mundaneness moves in.  My tale slips into the writing doldrums and my incentive fades away.  I no longer feel the need to flesh out the plot.  Of course, a looming deadline can always prod me into action.
INTERVIEWER:
Do you prefer plot structure or character development?
ME:
Oh, I much prefer characters, I love creating their voices, habits and lifestyles.
INTERVIEWER:
Do you delete your unfinished work?
ME:
Perhaps it sounds better if I say I have nine good story ideas pending completion.
INTERVIEWER:
Does that mean you keep everything you write?
ME:
Yes, and I return to scrappy stories on a regular basis to see if they are worth saving.  Maybe one of them is a work of genius.  To find out, I must keep writing.
INTERVIEWER:
Do you want a coffee?
ME:
Sounds like a good idea!

Gretchen Bernet-Ward       

Notepad and Pencil

Win a Prize by Cheating

Reading Girl 43
Hmm…

Fleur was sick and tired of the competition rules, regulations and conditions which surround the submission of a manuscript.  She decided to cheat the system.  But one of the worst things is to think you are going to get caught, that you are double-dealing the system, that you’ve done something you shouldn’t have done.  Be self-assured?

“Sure, you justify it to yourself that you aren’t going to win a prize in that writers competition anyway so what the heck, give it your best shot, enter four competitions with the same short story under 3,000 words.”  Fleur finds her handbag and house keys.  “And who cares?  First world problems, right?  They can only disqualify me.  They’ll get an entry fee without the hard slog.  What hey, they will do the hard work first.  Judges will find out later that I’ve cheated.  Well, not exactly cheated, more bent the rules.”

Fleur submitted the exact same story to four different organisations in the hope that one would succeed.  Of course, deep down she knows that the story will not succeed.  But there’s that tiny little glimmering hope that one entry will win.  “Ha,” snaps Fleur’s psyche, ‘you’ll win first, second or third place in each competition and cause a furore.”  There will be a lot of huffing and puffing, but Fleur says “I don’t care!  Keep the entry fees, frankly I don’t care!”  There will be tedious emails pointing out her indiscretion and how naughty she’s been – she don’t care!  They can sort it out by themselves.  Go ahead, eliminate her, but questions sneak through before the front door closes.

Fleur’s shoes pound the pavement as her rant continues “At the time I think I said to myself that I had not submitted to another competition, however, by the last entry I had.  And I didn’t change a word.  But here’s two questions for you.  How come books and authors can win the Pulitzer Prize, Nobel Prize, Ned Kelly Award, Prix Goncourt, Man Booker Prize, etc, even though they have already won another prize?  Or magazine articles which have been reprinted elsewhere with author permission?  Like I said, I don’t care!”

“Please, please,” Fleur takes a breath “don’t let me win a place in any more than one competition.  I couldn’t stand the hassle.  As a matter of fact I don’t quite understand why I did it.  Well, in the case of the smaller organisation, I think I did it out of pity to bolster their entry numbers.  And in the case of the larger organisation, I think I did it out of spite to prick their egotistical speech bubbles.”

Fleur is expounding this tirade now because three of the organisations have announced their cut-off date, entries have closed.  The minor one is still struggling on.  “Oh,” she says, her pace slowing “I forgot to mention that I have submitted another manuscript, quite a different story but the same copy to two interstate writing competitions.  Their game plans are miles apart, one laidback and one stiff and starchy.  The story is rather laidback itself so I will be interested to see if it gets anywhere, I do like it.”

On the subject of slightly ignoring their instructions on the grounds of “get over yourselves, bloody gatekeepers” Fleur couldn’t help adding “If they don’t like it then that’s tough.  I don’t care!”  She knows she will have second thoughts after formal announcements are made in a few months’ time, and she voices the unsettling assumption that she may be victimised.  Fleur has heard tales of editors, indeed publishing houses, blacklisting people and the writing fraternity shunning one of their own for not following the guiding principle of “doing it the right way”.

Fleur stops walking.  “Publishers want unusual, they want different, but mostly they are just as rigid as the public service, any spark of individuality snuffed before it ignites.  Death to the formula!”  She hears her bulky envelope fall into the metal post-box and slams the flap shut.  The guidelines stated that all entries must be submitted by email attachment.

Gretchen Bernet-Ward

Reading Girl 42
Rubbish!