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Elizabeth Day
" Don’t be put off writing a novel by the thought that the plot has to..." More

Tip From Jane Rusbridge

A writer looks for ‘the extraordinary magic in the everyday. For me, this statement from Flannery O’Connor is most important. No rules. Instead, revel in the sense that stories are all around us – in the detail, and in the past, present and future of our everyday world. Inspiration, ideas and creative energy come from chance encounters, accidental discoveries and the excitement of connecting: with our characters, our characters with the world, the imaginary with the ‘real’, with other writers and other texts.

There is magic to be found too in the everyday process of writing. Natalie Goldberg has written a book about the ‘wild mind’ of the writer. The way to imagine your wild mind is this: put a marker pen in your pocket and fetch a ladder from the shed. Take both down to the beach. For maximum joy, choose low tide at dusk in Autumn. Scramble down the shingle bank; take your shoes and socks off at the edge of the wet sand. Carry the ladder and head across the sand towards the distant scrawl of sea. When you reach the shallows, stop and prop up your ladder – on air, the wind, or someone who paddles or shrimps beside you in the lapping waves. Look up. Above you, roiling with cloud and sunset-tinged is your wild mind. Climb up to the top of the ladder and take out your marker pen. Put a dot on the sky. This dot in the sky is your worrying, editing, controlling and ‘conscious’ mind, the part that says you can’t write, you have nothing to say and you will never get published. Natalie Goldberg says ‘our job as writers is not to diddle around our whole lives in the dot but to take one big step out of it and sink into the big sky and write from there.’

So, remember your wild mind – that huge sky of the seascape – because in the ‘un-canniness’ of the process and the mystery of engagement with our ‘wild mind’ is also where, for the writer, the magic lies.

Published by Bloomsbury, an extract to the author’s own opening chapters from The Devil's Music can be viewed below. Click to view The Devil's Music on Amazon

‘Jane Rusbridge has a gift for evoking both characters and place – The Devil’s Music was pure pleasure to read. Sensuously written and beautifully woven together, the various strands of the story converge in a heartrending – and heartwarming – climax’  Kathy Page

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