Books · Digital Publishing · Publishing · The Writing Process

The Living is Easy

Lake Como, where I like to spend those long summer days...
Lake Como, where I like to spend those long summer days… Image credit: Aconcagua | Wikimedia Commons

One of the good things about living in Italy is the general consensus that, from June onward, the weather is much too hot and sticky to keep students locked in school. By now, then, school is well and truly out, and the once-crowded school corridors are a spectral place of lone cleaners mopping the floor and the plaintive shrill of phones that never get answered. Of the students and teachers, there is not a trace. Well, who am I to argue with such a wise and humane policy?

Anyway, I now have the better part of three months in which to pretend that I’m a full-time writer, and I intend to make the most of it. When I’m not spending happy days on the lake shore, I’ll be scribbling away like mad – I hope. Things are looking good so far, not least because I recently discovered an abandoned manuscript while I was rummaging around in my desk. I’d put it to one side some time ago, thinking that it was flawed, possibly fatally so. Now, re-reading it, I’m not so sure. It needs a fair bit of work, certainly, but perhaps it can be knocked into shape. We shall see…

A fun collage - all images c/o Wikimedia Commons - showing some of the themes running through my soon-to-be-revived (perhaps) manuscript.
A fun collage – all images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons – showing some of the themes running through my soon-to-be-revived (perhaps) manuscript.

It’s fun, this writing lark, at least when it’s going well. (When it’s going badly, it’s akin to root canal surgery sans anaesthetic (shameless exaggeration #1)). It’s not quite as much fun, certainly, as many people seem to think, not least the 60% of the British population who apparently fancy being an author. I could be wrong, but I’ve a sneaking suspicion that many of the respondents to this survey were under the impression that authors spend most of their time swanning around in their country manors or Knightsbridge penthouses, swigging champagne and rolling in the money that somehow never fails to, er, roll in. Ha! According to this survey, almost a third of all published authors make less than £350 a year, which is probably just about enough for one night in a Knightsbridge hotel, minus the champagne.

Still, writing is about as much fun as you can have. You get to create, shape and control entire worlds, which is magnificent. You test your own powers constantly, and while the results sometimes make you want to howl, there are also some magic moments when you look at what you’ve written and think, “Wow – I wrote that.” It’s a little bit like magic, or how one of our long-forgotten ancestors must have felt when he or she created fire for the first time (shameless exaggeration #2).

On the 21st of this month – that’s Sunday – the Authors Electric anthology, cunningly titled A Flash in the Pen, will be published (available for preorder at or, for a measly 99p/99c). Anyone who knows me will also know that self-promotion makes me cringe, but I hope I’ll be forgiven on this occasion, as I’m just one of the twenty-nine contributing authors. And, believe me, it’s a considerable honour for me to see my name alongside the likes of Carnegie Medal winner Susan Price, Dennis Hamley, Kathleen Jones and Catherine Czerkawska, not to mention the other dedicated and talented writers who help to make AE what it is.


We’ll be hosting a special Facebook event on Sunday to mark launch day. At the risk of sounding like the pitchfork-waving Luddite I undoubtedly am, I have never attended a Facebook event before, so I don’t know exactly what it entails. Those in the know, however, tell me that it will run from 11 a.m. until midnight (GMT, I believe), and that attendees will have the chance to plunder a goody bag. If you’re on FB and want to attend, let me know, as I am apparently authorised to send out invitations. It’s my idea of a good party, not least because I can attend from the comfort of my own sofa and don’t have to get dressed up.

Here’s to a happy and productive summer for all!

14 thoughts on “The Living is Easy

  1. I just want to congratulate you on being included in that anthology, Mari, mentioned in your ever self-effacing way. That and living in such lovely surroundings should make for a wonderful productive summer for you. I no longer have a school age child, but we bad tempered, intolerant UK parents would probably find three months of school holidays made us into parents from hell…

    1. Hello Lucinda, and thank you! I really do hope for a productive summer. I can also understand a parent’s dread of the summer holidays, as with hindsight I think I probably drove my own parents half-mad during the summer break…

  2. Congrats Mari, and I can oh so relate to your comments on self-promotion. Sometimes, I think that aspect of writing feels as much like root canal surgery as does the times when my creative muse decides to take and unapproved extended vacation.

    The images that you provide that follow your potential manuscript are intriguing. Please do keep us readers in the loop with your progress on this project. My curiosity has certainly be piqued!

    Oh, and by the way, you had me at “living in Italy” along with the picture of Lake Como – beautiful and inspiring, thanks for sharing 😉

    1. Hello Dave, and thanks for commenting. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

      I’ll certainly keep you informed of progress on the manuscript – if there is any to report, of course!

  3. …I meant to mention, too, that sounds like one fascinating manuscript. I hope you do decide to salvage it, I can’t wait to see it, if so. I am still unsure about my ‘Villainous Viscount’ and the problems with gothic structure and serious theme, though at the moment its been relegated to that famous black hole of the
    infamous ‘drawer for unfinished manuscripts’ we all know and hate. No light escapes; at the moment it’s in the event horizon….

  4. I am very excited about your novel in progress, Mari! I cannot wait to see how you weave those themes together with your distinct, clear, and haunting voice. What a read that will be!!

    Three months to write full time, what a dream! You’ve earned it. I think teaching must be one of the most demanding professions, and I wish you many days of contented writing, and possibly an afternoon nap or two!

    Have fun with your Facebook event! I will probably fail to register, as I have failed to log into face book in… at least a couple of months now. That said, i hope you have a lovely time and a fine turnout!


    1. Thanks for commenting, Aniko! I hope the manuscript finds its way out of the darkness, because I really think it might have some potential. Of course, I can’t really judge that, so I’ll need some beta readers – would you consider volunteering?

      Yep, three months – though those three months will soon be whittled down when I consider all the other things I have to do in that time. I won’t have any time for afternoon naps, sadly… 🙂

  5. Good to see you so fired up and positive, Mari!

    How exciting, to rediscover a manuscript and find that it has mileage in it. I’m guessing it’s somewhere in the steam-punk field? Three months to please yourself on the shore of Lake Como, doesn’t sound too taxing… I’m not remotely jealous! I hope that those months are productive for you. And good luck with your latest publication.

    1. Thank you, Paul! It surprised me to find that the manuscript wasn’t nearly as awful as I seemed to remember. It still has many problems, but I think I can see a way forward. We shall see! I wouldn’t say it was a full-on steampunk novel, but it does have some similarities with the genre – ‘steampunk lite’, perhaps? 🙂

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