Welcome to the forth installment in my new blog series, The Writers Den. Each month there will be a guest post from a special guest author with each author offering something different and informative on a particular area of writing and publishing.
This month I welcome best-selling rural romance author Maya Linnell. Maya is no stranger to the blog having shared a day in her life here. This time, Maya is sharing her tips on how to refill your creative well. This is such a great post for these current times where uncertainty and stress are filling our days and sometimes we can feel our creativity is lost under all the worry. So sit back, enjoy while Maya shares how she refills her creative well.
Most writers are united by a love of reading, but it’s the extra creativity-fuelling hobbies that always pique my interest. When my writing’s done for the day, and I’m not running around after my young bookworms, I turn to baking, gardening and sewing.
I grew up watching my mum and both my grandmothers sew. Barely a birthday went past without a hand-sewn or hand-knitted gift, and as a young girl I squirreled away scraps of fabric, just like I now squirrel away little phrases and plot ideas for my novels.
Back when I was a cadet journalist on minimum wage, I picked up an old Janome for $50 at a garage sale. It’s the machine I still use today, and together we’ve attended patchwork classes, stitched quilts for friend’s babies, my own babies and my precious newborn niece who never made it home from hospital. We’ve made ragdolls for my daughters, a tea cosy for Dad to keep his Earl Grey warm, and enough skirts to last me at least two books tours.
Sewing, and the giving of handmade gifts, brings me joy. Whenever I pop the Janome on the kitchen table and pull out my scissors and fabric stash, I know I’m in for a treat. I’ve never been good at reading patterns, but I can sew a straight line and if I mess up, there’s always the Quick-Unpick tool, the sewers equivalent of a delete button.
Even though I’ve sewed dozens of zippers, and written thousands, maybe millions of words, there’s always days when I’ll unpick a zipper THREE times, throw my hands in the air, threaten to toss the Janome in the rubbish bin, watch a YouTube tutorial for assistance and apologise to said machine. It’s the same sense of frustration when I follow a subplot for a few chapters, drop it in the second half of the manuscript, remove it in the next draft and then painstakingly weave it back in three drafts later when I realise it’s an integral part of the story I’m trying to tell.
My sewing machine spent many years in the cupboard while the children were little and we were building our house. Then, with my inaugural book tour looming, the Janome was a Godsend. My budget didn’t stretch to a whole new wardrobe and I wasn’t keen to wear the same thing at every event, so out with the sewing machine and off to the fabric store I went. I whiled away my pre-launch nerves creating unique skirts with pretty material that made me smile, and just like that, my author wardrobe was off to a great start.
Sewing (and writing) takes patience, perseverance and confidence, and it attracts a hefty dose of doubt, too. Will people notice my wonky hem? Will readers empathise with the characters I’ve created? Will the donut-print fabric that was fun and quirky in the sewing store look ridiculous at my book launch? Will my character’s actions offend, annoy or upset someone?
Sewing’s a lot like writing, really. I’m far from perfect at either, but years of doing both have given me enough confidence to know that if I keep writing then I’ll complete the first draft. If I keep sewing, then eventually I’ll finish hemming, mending and gathering. Even if I don’t know where my story is heading, or whether anyone will like the finished product, I have to trust in my ability to string a sentence together that’ll please my readers. And if I’m lucky, those readers will also have a soft spot for donut-print skirts and things made with love.
Are you a sewer, photographer, surfer, artist, baker or gardener? Drop me at line at www.mayalinnell.com to share your favourite way of replenishing your creative well.
Bestselling author Maya Linnell was recently shortlisted as the ARRA 2019 Favourite Australian Romance Author for her rural romance debut Wildflower Ridge. Her new novelBottlebrush Creek went straight into the bestseller lists on its June release, with both stories gathering inspiration from her rural upbringing and the small communities she has always lived in and loved. A former country journalist, Maya now blogs for Romance Writers Australia, loves baking up a storm, tending to her rambling garden and raising three little bookworms. Maya lives on a small property in country Victoria with her family, her menagerie of farm animals and the odd snake or two. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook, or sign up to her monthly newsletter for behind-the-scenes news and regular book giveaways at mayalinnell.com
Maya’s latest book, Bottlebrush Creek is out now!
Between managing a bustling beauty salon, hectic volunteer commitments and the lion’s share of parenting two-year-old Claudia, Angie McIntyre barely has time to turn around. And with each passing month, she feels her relationship with fly-in, fly-out boyfriend Rob Jones slipping through her fingers.
When Rob faces retrenchment, and the most fabulous fixer-upper comes onto the market, Angie knows this derelict weatherboard cottage will be the perfect project to draw their little family together.
There’s just one catch: the 200-acre property is right next door to Rob’s parents in south-west Victoria.
It doesn’t take long for rising tensions to set a wedge between the hard-working couple. Angie and Rob have to find out the hard way whether their grand design will draw them closer together or be the very thing that tears them apart.
A sparkling rural romance of changing relationships and family ties from the bestselling author of Wildflower Ridge.
‘A heart-warming, funny and poignant story about the joys and heartbreaks of country living. A winner.’ Victoria Purman, bestselling author of The Land Girls
BUY Bottlebrush Creek and Wildflower Ridge here.
Follow Maya online