Guest Article: Sinead Moriarty on Writing ‘Mad About You’
I recently sat down to write my tenth novel. Ten novels in ten years. You would think it gets easier. You would think that your confidence would grow with each book. You would imagine that facing a blank screen is no longer daunting…you would be mistaken!
In the strangest way, each book becomes more difficult to write. Why? I think it’s because as a writer you want each book to be better. You strive to grow as a writer. You want to engage your reader. You want to grab their attention and keep it. You want them to turn the page and the next one and the next one…
Starting a new book can take a while. You often hear of writers, cleaning out their offices, clearing their desks, tidying their attics. We have so many avoidance techniques. The sight of a blank screen or blank page is just as daunting now as it was when I started my first book thirteen years ago.
My first two attempts at novels were turned down by everyone. But instead of letting it stop me in my tracks, I dusted my very bruised ego down and started a new book. I think it’s very important to keep writing. When I’m working, whether it’s on a novel or a column for the Irish Independent, I’m happy. I find I’m quite grumpy when I’m not working on something. I need writing; it’s like eating and drinking to me. I realise that may sound a bit ‘hippy-dippy’ but it’s how I feel.
I am happiest and calmest and most at peace when I’m in the middle of a book and consumed by my characters, my plotlines and my writing. There is no greater feeling than the one after a constructive writing day. But every high has a low and there is no worse feeling than the one after one of the days when the words just will not flow. Those days when writing is like dragging blood from a stone. You go to bed feeling depleted and despondent.
But…the good news is that often, you’ll wake up the next day and find the words will flow and you will once again be in your happy place. Writing, like all jobs involves a lot of hard graft. It’s not all creativity and inspiration, it’s a lot of hard work, focus and discipline.
My new book, Mad About You, deals with the theme of trust. How much do you really trust your partner? What would you think if your husband began to get sex texts from a strange number? When he protests his innocence and seems genuinely upset, would you believe him? Or would a seed of doubt be planted in your mind? Would that seed grow bigger and would it eventually destroy your relationship?
The idea for the book came to me when I called over to a friend’s house for coffee and her neighbour called in. She began to tell me the story of what had happened in her life when her husband had been stalked by a ‘stranger’. She said it had affected their marriage and as things got progressively worse and the stalking became more aggressive, that it affected her physically as well as emotionally. She ended up becoming completely paranoid and having panic attacks. They eventually found out who the stalker was. It turned out it was someone they knew but would never, in a million years, have suspected.
The couple in Mad About You, Emma and James, have been married for over ten years and have two children. Their marriage has become a bit stale. They take each other for granted and they’ve stopped making an effort with each other. Like so many marriages, when children come along, your relationship takes a backseat. Children can be all consuming and suddenly you find that weeks (and even months) have gone by during which you haven’t had a proper conversation. So when James begins getting sex texts from an unknown number, the trust in their marriage is tested to the limit.
Whenever I have a book that is about to be published I always want to run away and hide. A month in the Witness Protection Programme sounds like a good idea. Even though this is my 9th book to be published, the nerves never subside. I think they actually get worse.
But the book is finished, it’s printed and it’s about to go into the shops and so I have to set it free and just cross my fingers and hope for the best.