Sunday 27 February 2011

The Space Between

By Addy Farmer
Guest Blogger

So I'm at Point A ready to take flight.

I'm wearing my sparkly Captain's uniform and I'm just brimming with confidence, eager to reach Point B.

I have a fabulous crew of top notch characters, well rounded yet vulnerable, all ready to do my bidding.

My ship is beautifully constructed both inside and out. With such a crew, with such a craft surely a swift flight to literary stardom is assured.

No, of course not; stuff happens in space and not all adventures end well.

There's Scotty ...

'You'll never make it, Captain. Not unless I fry the inverters and change the laws of physics!'

There's Mr Spock.

He's always chipping in with some quite annoying comments about the illogicality of my plots leading to the inevitability of failure.

And of course there are the occasional inhospitable aliens who can't understand what the bleep bloop I'm on about and maybe I should try another world.

But lest you fear for my mental health and before I strain the Star Trek analogy beyond the realms of endurance ...

I will tell you that the space between the start of your writing journey (A) and publication (B) is not a lifeless vacuum to travel through at warp speed because:

a. B is not the end
b. A is just the start

So drop out of warp drive and embrace the space. It's good for you, it will make you better. Talking of which

I feel better already.

What am I on about - apart from any excuse to gaze at the 2008 Chris Pine version of Captain Kirk?

Well, no matter what, in order to begin any writing journey, you have to sit down and plonk out some words in the semblance of a story.

Once you've done that you can choose to launch your baby at once. While you're waiting for baby to land, you can rearrange the furniture, drink many, many cups of coffee and check the in box until you feel sick.

After a few light years the rejection letters, be they good or bad will arrive. Then you can:

 a. Rail against the publishers and give up.

b. Rail against the publishers and send it to someone else

... or c. Rail against the publishers, have a think and write another story ...

Conventional but sturdy part of my space between - the home planet desk and Inky and Oinky the fish. Percy watches, just in case ...

It is in C that we see a glimmer of the fabulous space you could create for yourself. Maybe you take another look at the story that's come back, you write some more.

Perhaps there were some words of encouragement from a friendly editor. First contact. Excellent.

The building blocks for your writing space have been set in place.

Whatever you do, don't stop, keep writing, writing, writing. But let's really make it ping.

Take courage, slow down for a while and delve down in between the words. It's not a void, it's not just a way for words to make sense, it's connective tissue, binding the whole.

It is the dark matter you can't see which is just as important when it comes to creating a story as the matter of the story in your hand. It is your creative space.

Every story has layers, the stuff that you do and say and the people you know.

First landing place outside of the home planet, brimming with friendly folk.

Here are just two of them, Lucy and Laura from my local coffee shop!

So expand your universe. Stories are formed by what you put into them and by what you take from what's around you. So make the space as bubbling as you can.

Sustain yourself with other people's stories and read, read, read ...

... offline ...

Feed yourself with useful and interesting bookish information online. Something tells me this is a good place to start.

Take yourself off to the places that might generate story.

Seek out conducive company.

SCBWI mates in Lincoln. Priceless.

Boldly go and attend the SCBWI Lincoln event on May 14th with Kate Wilson, publishing director of Nosy Crow!

Do whatever you can, whenever you can, even for a bit and you'll be adding the stuff of story to yourself.

So, my star ship Writestuff continues on its glorious mission to seek out new stories.

Here I sit at the helm, in my smart yet cosy uniform of whatever comes to hand. I land on strange new worlds and dispatch expeditions peopled with my fabulous crew. Along the way, stuff happens, good people are lost, bad people get what's coming, monsters are tackled, my ship takes damage to its thick skin. But we always, always carry on to the next adventure. Embracing the Space isn't always easy but it's so much more than A to B.

It's a whole way of life.

Write long and prosper.

Addy lives in rural North Lincolnshire with husband Angus and three outstanding children. She is the author of Grandad's Bench, (Walker) and Siddharth and Rinki (Tamarind), She has a short story published in Northern Writers 5 and a poem in a Tony Bradman anthology called, Look Out! The Teachers are Coming (Macmillan). Her next picture book, Worlds Apart, illustrated by Jim Kay, is out with Frances Lincoln in 2012. She is currently working on a supernatural novel for 12 plus called 'Close to the Bone'. Addy helps keep the SCBWI network co-ordinators connected and is regional co-ordinator for the Central North. She is an occasional special needs teacher and also runs primary creative workshops. 'Story Bag', is Addy's interactive story times for young children – it's magic! Visit Addy's website


  1. The writing journey - embracing the final frontier and going boldly where no sane person would dare to go...
    Great post, Captain!

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Wonderful. I shall now boldly split infinitives that no-one has split before on my journey through the infinite number of words in the galaxy arranged in an infinite number of ways.

    But what will Spock say when he discovers that space is not a vacuum after all but a room full of books, two goldfish and a cat?

  4. No. Tonja and Jackie - a hydra-Kirk would not work at all. Maybe choose someone with a red shirt ...

  5. he will say nothing, the vulcan death grip will do all the talking, Claudia

  6. Ahh Addy, you do make me smile - loved reading this and maybe it explains my Star Trek addiction ( I was SO relieved they didn't mess up the 2008 film, weren't you?) x

  7. Love the pics! I loved the original show, especially because William Shatner is Canadian. You're right, lots of stuff happens between starting writing and getting published and as a writer you can't give up! Love the 'write long and prosper'!

  8. A brilliant blog. Something I could really relate to. :)
    I love the new Star Trek film. I am also partial to a little Enterprise.
    However, I am having serious Star Trek withdrawal symptoms since they shut down Channel One. No longer can I fall asleep with Scott Bakula.

  9. Could I just point at my computer and say 'Make it so!'instead of having to think of the plot, the characters, the setting, the blah blah, the etc etc.

  10. I completely loved the 2008 version - Chris Pine helped.

  11. anita - you used to sleep with scott bakula?

    @addy i loved the 2008 version too!

  12. Fun post, Addy. I had heard rumours that Sci Fi was going to be the next big thing in children's books: here is the proof.


    p.s. oh my, Anita! the things you learn on Notes from the Slushpile never cease to amaze & astound.

  13. Anita - I beleive Scott Bakula can still be found on'Quantum Leap'which I never watch.

  14. Terri, perhaps Sci-fi will only become the next big thing in children's books because we're all saying it will. Anyway, I suppose I'm writing a slightly sci-fi book at the moment, so I shouldn't complain.

    Addy, I do my best writing away from the keyboard - so I agree with the advice to get out there and actually, like, do stuff.


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