Monday, 3 February 2014

Sarra Manning: I would be a much better writer if I didn’t have a dog…

Sarra Manning is one of my favourite "chick lit" authors.  Whenever people tell me that they can't stand the saccharine sickly sweetness of romance, I pretty much shove them in her direction.  Here characters are sassy, they're far from perfect and they've bite.  In other words, realistic and gorgeously written.

She claims, however, that she'd be a far better writer if she didn't have a dog...

Whenever I read writing tips from other authors, they usually extol the virtues of having a dog so you can go on long walks with them and think hard about your novel. Which I completely agree with. I’ve done some of my best plotting when I’m tramping about the woods with my rescue Staffy, Miss Betsy, but when we get home, she does everything she can to stop me from writing.

1)  Distraction
God forbid, I’m sitting in front of my laptop trying to write and not paying Betsy any attention. This is when she likes to get her toys and fling them about in the mistaken belief that this will tempt me away from my work. Eventually she flings the toy somewhere that she can’t retrieve it and I have to get up and find it for her. This can take quite a while. It always amazes me that Betsy knows the names of all her toys if I tell her to get Wubba or Tuggie, but she refuses to respond to a simple, “No!”

2)  Noise pollution
There’s the resentful snoring with her eyes wide open, which is actually quite soothing after a while, but the huffing which ends in a very human sigh of frustration always freaks me out a little bit.

3)  Headbutting
Miss Betsy had absolutely no respect for my personal space bubble. She likes to sit as close to me as possibly can and I’ve learned to ignore her because if I start to scratch behind her ears, then I’ve made a rod for my own back. However, Miss Betsy can’t be ignored for too long before she starts clonking my leg with her huge head just to remind me that she’s there.

4)  Noxious gases
Sometimes in winter when my feet are cold, it’s quite nice when Betsy scooches right under my desk and drapes herself over my feet. Oh, they’re so toasty! But then she starts farting, I’m sure she does it on purpose, and there is absolutely no way I can stay where I am. I get up, do does she, rolls onto her back and demands a belly rub.

5)  Creepy staring while sitting like a tiny human being (see photo)
Then there are the times that Betsy leaves me alone and I’m lost in my writing. Then I look up, look round, and she’s just sitting there, staring at me. She can go hours without blinking. Once I know she’s there, eyeballing me and giving it her best sadface, it becomes impossible to continue. She particularly loves to do her most creepy staring when I’m trying to write a sex scene.

So, there you have it. If you want to be a productive writer, don’t get a dog.

Sarra's latest novel, It Felt Like a Kiss, is out now.  When Ellie's loser of an ex-boyfriend decides to sell her out to the press, her entire life is turned upside down.  Suddenly everyone wants to know what it's like being the secret lovechild of an aging rockstar...all accept the gorgeous David Gold.  His her father's lawyer and is convinced that she's a gold-digger.  Just as well she doesn't fancy him...

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