Creative Spaces — Guest Post by Susan Buchanan

Creative Spaces

I find I can write pretty much anywhere, but these days, since I am writing full-time, I tend to do so at home.  I am meant to write in my home office, but I get caught up with emails in the morning and Twitter/FB /blog posts etc and before I know it half the morning has disappeared and I am still sitting on my sofa with my feet up on the coffee table, laptop resting on my cushdesk, writing the next installment.  But, I have very bad posture, as I spend so much time at the computer, so I HAVE to write in my office sometimes. When I’m in my office, I have a view.  When I’m on the sofa, I am facing the TV (which is off).  So it would make sense to be in the office, looking out at the rain/snow/very occasional sunshine.  In our old flat, I used to sit at the dining table in the bay window, as we were on the top floor and the window looked out onto woodland, which was very pretty and I could see a little family of foxes occasionally.  Now, since I live on a new estate, I am more likely to see diggers and articulated lorries!

I think the main thing my office means to me, is a) it’s mine – I had to chuck my other half out first, though! b) it’s my retreat – although I don’t always write there, I know I can.  I have the freedom of writing wherever I like at home, because my partner is at work during the day.  However, when I want to write in the evening, as I need complete quiet, barring a little classical music, I know that I have that special place within the house, on a different storey, where I can go to get peace and quiet.  I think I would struggle now, not having that space. I am so used to it and probably take it a little for granted.  I love the whiteboard where I can put up all my ideas, or scribble down things I know I need to correct, additional items I need to do specific edits for, continuity checks, appropriateness of names, etc.  And I love the map (I have three actually, but two of them wouldn’t fit in the office – they are in my library – where I go to read, relax on my massage chair and chill out)  The maps help me decide where the next adventures abroad will be in my books.  Combined with my having been fortunate enough to visit forty-five countries so far in my life, plus twenty of the US states, I have plenty of material to work with.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Susan Buchanan

Susan Buchanan adjusts her writing habits during her pregnancy

I wrote Sign of the Times in our flat and The Dating Game in our new house.  What If, my next novel, due for release in November 2013, was mainly written from the home office.  I am 6 1/2 months pregnant, so really need to work on my posture (she writes, as she sits on the sofa again) What If is a mix of chicklit and manlit.  It has a male protagonist and tells the story of what would have happened to him if he’d made different decisions in his life.  Of course a great part of the novel will centre around his various relationships, but also on his extended family.  The main challenge I had with What If is that being pregnant, I was so much more tired, so I found it difficult to stick to my usual writing schedule – which is quite frankly, usually pretty intense. I can still reach the keyboard, but bending down to turn my computer on etc, is becoming more and more difficult, plus writing for any length of time is a no-no.  Maybe that’s why I have not been writing from the office so much recently either – the refrigerator with all my goodies in it is further away!  When I came up with the idea for What If, I wasn’t pregnant and didn’t have any children, although I have three nephews whom I adore.  However, since becoming pregnant, I probably am thinking a bit differently about the children in the book and about parenthood in general, so it will be interesting to see if readers note any difference in the style and content of my writing.   I wonder if there will be a grumpier note in my writing – I certainly feel grumpier with all the aches and pains!  My beloved telling me he feels like the little yellow duck in the Silentnight mattress advert, sharing a bed with the Silentnight hippo, doesn’t help this. Thank God I’m a pachyderm and can take it.  He has a problem with my taking up eighty percent of the space – personally I think he’s lucky to get twenty percent!

I am relatively but not 100% organised. I am not formulaic when I write and although I do chapter plans and character plans, so as not to forget any details, if I am writing a scene and another idea appears in my head, I run with it.

Personally I think a creative environment exists in your head. I had some ideas for the sequel to Sign of the Times today, as I walked to the supermarket in the freezing cold to buy milk.  I do, however, prefer to be alone to write.  When I am home alone, the TV is off, whilst often classical music plays in the background, as that soothes and focuses me, but doesn’t distract me. But everyone has to find what works for him or her.  I sometimes find I get great ideas when I am in the shower.  Unfortunately I don’t have a pen and paper in there – it’s about the only place in the house I don’t have.

Creative Spaces Guest Post by Susan Buchanan               Creative Spaces Guest Post by Susan Buchanan

Bio: Susan Buchanan grew up in Scotland, although she has also lived in France and Spain. She now lives with her partner, Tony, near Glasgow.  She is about to become a mum for the first time.

She graduated with an Honours degree in French and Hispanic Studies from the University of Glasgow (although Italian is actually her most fluent language) and put her languages to good use in various European and International sales roles over the years.  Before turning her hand to writing full-time in February 2012, she worked in IT, electronics and the test and measurement industries. Her jobs and her passion for travelling took her all over the world, so she has plenty of fodder for her novels, which although set partially in Scotland, always have a portion set overseas.

Susan has been writing since she was seven, but started seriously writing novels in 2002. She even took a year off work to finish Sign of the Times, her first novel, which was published in March 2012.  The Dating Game is her second novel, released in November 2012 and after a break for maternity leave, her third novel is due for release in November 2013.

Here Susan speaks about her reading habits: ‘When I read, I love to read books about foreign parts that I have visited – it immerses me more in the story. I wanted to do the same in my own novels. I love reading, always have – romantic fiction, crime, contemporary drama, pretty much everything.’  Find Susan on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog.