In her own words, E R Murray, also know as Elizabeth Rose, existed before the internet. She once had dreadlocks down to her knees and she still has a mysterious scar that runs the length of her forearm.
She also writes books. Her debut, ‘The Book of Learning’, is available now.
Hi Elizabeth. Welcome to GHB.
Whenever I talk to people about writing and reading, and why I love both things equally, I always describe books as magical doorways.
When you open a book to read, you have no idea where you’re going to travel to, who you’re going to meet, what is going to happen, or how you’re going to feel. You know you’re going to go on a journey and you also know there will be characters travelling along with you on the way, but that’s where the certainty ends. Will you like the characters? Will you and the characters reach the same destination? How will the journey make you feel? And what will you learn along the way?
When you walk into a bookshop or library, you have a wealth of magical doorways to choose from. You can pick a book up and smell it, or listen to its pages as you flick through. You can run your fingers over the cover and flip it over to read the blurb. Exciting, isn’t it? But the most beautiful, wondrous thing about it all is – no matter which book you choose, the journey will be personal. That magical doorway exists just for you – and only you will experience the journey in your particular way.
Likewise, writing a book can be a similar process. Some writers plot meticulously (authors are like snowflakes, no two are the same) but for me, any kind of planning kills the story and my enthusiasm before I’ve even begun. So when I write a book, I start with perhaps a character or a feeling – an idea of the tone that I want to convey – and I walk through the magical doorway onto a blank page. Then, I just start typing like crazy, without editing, and let the story lead me.
If you choose to write this way, you need to know two things:
1) You are going to make lots of mistakes and wrong turns
2) There will be lots of rewriting and redrafting if the story is going to be any good. If you don’t like the sound of these, then plotting and planning might be a better way to go.
However, working from a blank starting point can be extremely liberating. You get your words down on the page much more quickly, and you also get swept up in the journey. For me, this is the most exciting time when you’re writing. I do love editing, but this is when you’re truly free. Characters arrive and disappear, sometimes changing their names and personalities along the way; story twists pull you in directions you didn’t expect; and surprising settings pop up, bringing you to new shores. And because you’re not editing, you just keep moving forward, rarely getting stuck.
What you write won’t be great. It might not even be good. In fact, it’ll probably be terrible. But books have a lot of words and if those words don’t come out, they will never become a book.
So if you’ve always wanted to write a book but you’re finding it difficult to get going, what have you got to lose? The world will always need more books, and every book has to start somewhere. So, whether you’re writing or reading, what magical doorway will you go through today?
E.R Murray’s debut The Book of Learning has been chosen as the Dublin UNESCO Citywide Read for 2016. You can watch The Book of Learning trailer here.