Gazette column: Getting older shouldn’t mean you get forgotton

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the loss of the police station in Thornbury, how sheltered housing – not family housing – is to be built on it and how, when people get older, they shouldn’t get forgotton.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Is sheltered housing more vital than affordable family housing or do we have to provide more for our ageing population? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My latest column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

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Diary of a hopeful author: Why silence is golden – even in the words of a book

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

 This week I am channelling silence. Well, I say silence, what I mean is editing.

You may recall I have been editing my novel for some time now, and I am here to tell you that edit is still continuing. I know, I know, it seems to be going on longer than a speech at the Oscars, but hear me out. See, this edit is going well. It’s edit round two of a novel that’s: a) turned out to be a psychological thriller; b) is bloody good fun to write; and c) has taught me more than anything else I’ve written. It’s point C here that’s the clincher. And the reason is this: it’s taught me less is more.

Less is more. A little phrase we all know, but turns out is quite handy in the book editing department. Who knew? See, I have ended up cutting loads these past few weeks, loads. I have gone down from 90,000 words – let me say that again 90 thousand words – to 75,000. 75. Maths ain’t my strong point, but I calculate that’s 15,000 words of my sweat (and, admittedly, at times, tears) on the cutting room floor – or this case, the study-floor-that-used-to-be-the-spare-bedroom.

And I feel better. I do. It’s not just the book that’s lighter, it is me. I feel better, more hopeful. Because the writing, writing my novel, the thing I have been working on for getting up to a year now, is tighter, sharper, more focussed. I have learnt a lot in the process, I have. And the biggest thing I have learned is the fact that, when writing, you have to think of the reader. The reader. The person who will kindly purchase your book and sit there and read it.

I may be teaching you to suck eggs here, but, see, the reader is not daft. They have thoughts of their own, feelings, emotions. They think for themselves. And that’s it, that’s the golden nugget that thinking for themselves bit. Because, when I wrote the first draft of my novel, fresh on to the page, I wrote it all down, and I mean all. Every description, every emotion. I thought I had to explain everything to the reader, spoon feed them, if you will, as to what was going on. And then I edited. I edited and edited and I realised: spoon feeding grown-ups, like onesies on adults or a sultana in a salad, is just wrong.

So I stopped. I let the words sit on their own on the page, ready to be eaten, or not.  And this is how I did it: I quit explaining everything. I ceased telling the reader all the stuff that was in the protagonist’s head or every tiny detail that was in a scene. Because, when you are a reader, just like you don’t need your mum to feed you, you don’t need to know all the details.

 In fact, as a reader, a book is better if you don’t know all the details. See, the fun, the reading a book, the thing that makes you want to turn the page over and over, is that you are using your own head, transferring your own emotions, ideas, imagination on to the characters, on to the plot. My novel’s a psychological thriller so leaving details to the reader’s imagination works particularly well, but think of the good novels you’ve read. Think of what made them work for you, what made you want to read on, and you’ll be looking at a book where the author has edited to death and left the between-the-lines thinking to you, you clever thing.

So that’s it, really. My slogan to you this week is this: when in doubt, cut it out. Cut it. Like teaming no jewellery with a black dress, less is definitely more. I shall be continuing doing this cutting malarkey, this silent writing, if you will, this week and the next and the next. It’s a slog. I ain’t finished yet. I will have to write completely new chapters and take old ones out, but boy it’s better. Enormously. And that’s why silence, people, is golden – even in the words of a book.

How do you edit? Are you in the middle of cutting out what you don’t need or do you think you need to hang on to it?

 **Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  sheltered housing vs family housing…**

My Citizen & Echo column: The Oscars – like stickers for grown-ups

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

My Weekend column on Saturday was all about the 2013 Oscars and how award ceremonies are like sticker for grown-ups. I’ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

Love or loathe the Oscars? Do you like to get recognition or can ou do just fine without it? Let me know.

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: The real cost of the horsemeat fiasco

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the recent UK horsemeat fiasco, local butchers and how it’s the people we know least about are the most affected.

To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Is the provision for libraries enough? Should people make their own way, no matter how far, to a library, or should there be more local access to libraries? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My latest column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Diary of a hopeful author: The library – a place, in the page of a book, you can be whoever you want to be

It’s “Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author…Photo of a Diary

**This week I am honoured to be ‘Tweeting for the Week’ for the great Voices 4 Libraries campaign group. So my Wednesday Waffle blog today is a post I have written for their website all about me and libraries…**

I grew up in a library. And by ‘grew up’ I mean I went there every Saturday morning for almost my entire teenage time. Money, see, was tight. Back then, in the early 1980s when Maggie Thatcher was at the helm, interest rates were through the roof and Danger Mouse was on TV, money for books was a thing of luxury.

Trouble was, I wanted books. I wanted books more than I wanted food, more than I wanted water – more than I wanted Morten Harket from A-ha. I was hooked. Books you see to me were my oxygen. And if books were my oxygen, then the library were my lungs. Without the two, I couldn’t breathe. Knowledge was what it was – is – all about. Knowledge is the nutrients you glean from books, from the library, and just like nutrients, knowledge makes you grow.

And grow me I did. I devoured everything. Fact, fiction, goblins, boarding schools, hobbits, workhouses, magical wardrobes, sweeping fields. I would sit, cross legged in Leyland library for hours on end, books stacked by me like small towers, each of them in sections, ready for me to read.

And read them I did. Fast, slow, again. You name it. Some I took home, others I finished there and then, but each time I picked one up, each time I inhaled the woody scent of a new page, of a worn spine, I would smile, because I knew. I knew that I was learning, that this library, this wonderful place of knowledge, facts, world news, fantastical journeys, would help me figure things out. And if not, at the very least, I knew a good read of the page would send me off to sleep at night.

Some two decades on, and that love of the library is still with me now. My job is a writer, freelance, and I surround myself with books and words. In 2012, I became a newspaper columnist for the Gloucestershire Gazette newspaper, and also a magazine columnist for the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspapers. Before that, for years, I was an advertising copywriter working on words for big brand ads.

In and around all this, I have written radio sketches for the BBC, plays, short stories, and in 2012 I was runner up in the Wotton Arts and Literature Festival Short Story Prize. I write a regular blog. I’ve had a stab at TV scripts, too, ending up long- listed in a BBC Talent scheme for a script I wrote for the TV show, Casualty. And for The Guardian newspaper, I was short-listed in their travel writing competition.

All the way, the library throughout everything has seen me good. So good in fact, I’ve ended up writing fiction books of my own, my first, The Boy Who Played Guitar, published in digital and print last year. 2013 has seen me complete the first draft of my second novel and now it’s the long edit process and then I’m done.

So that’s me. Nikki Owen. A lover of the library. My obsession with all things knowledge, with all things right, fair and equal being the reason why I’m tweeting for @VoicesLibrary. With two kids of my own now who love the library just as much as I do, who read so much that there just aren’t enough books. Two kids who also now want to be writers, illustrators, farmers, vets, doctors, because books, knowledge – it is who they are. And that’s the library in 2013. A place where, in the page of a book, you can be whoever you want to be. For free.

Links: Twitter: follow @VoicesLibrary and join the debate (and me!).

 To support the campaign online, you can click onto their website here.

What are your experiences of libraries? Do you think there is still a place for libraries today or do you think, with the digital era, they’ve had their day? Let me know.

Out tomorrow “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my latest Gazette newspaper column to my blog. This week I’m talking about  fox hunting in Gloucestershire…**

My Citizen & Echo column: Me, false tan & my first time

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

My Weekend column on Saturday was all about my first time with…false tan and how that stuff has marked so many points in my life. I’ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

False tan- love it or loathe it? Are you bronzed bottle or perfect pale? Should it matter what we look like? Let me know.

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**

Gazette column: The council must provide equal access to libraries

It’s “Thursday Thoughts” where I post my weekly Gazette newspaper column to my blog so you can have a read…

This week my column for the Gloucestershire Gazette is about the new mobile library scheme in Saul, Gloucestershire, and why the county council has a duty to provide equal access to libraries. To read it, simply click to my Column page.

What do you think? Is the provision for libraries enough? Should people make their own way, no matter how far, to a library, or should there be more local access to libraries? Let me know.

**OUT THIS SATURDAY: My latest column for  Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo newspaper.  Catch the Weekend Magazine on their website link here**

**Look out for  Wednesday Wafflings next, um, Wednesday, where I post the latest entry in My Diary of a Hopeful Author**

My Citizen & Echo column: Me, kiss chase & Valentine’s Day

Welcome to “Monday is the new Saturday” where I pop the link to my Weekend magazine column ‘The Last Word’ from the Gloucestershire Citizen and Echo…

My Weekend column on Saturday was all about Valentine’s day, how it’s our island in the sea – and how, as a kid, I used to play kiss-chase every Feb 14th. I”ve stuck the column on my Citizen column page here so you can have a read.

You can also catch me each week on the Citizen and Echo Weekend magazine website. There’s lots of other lovely weekend stuff on there, too. 

The Citizen & Echo Weekend magazine comes out every Saturday. 

Do you love or loathe Valentine’s Day? Let me know.

**Look out for Wednesday Wafflings on, um, Wednesday, where I post my weekly entry in my Diary of a Hopeful Author**