Write Now with Clyve Rose

How one writer creates historical romance from the bathroom

Write Now with Clyve Rose
Photo courtesy of Clyve Rose

Who Are You?

Clyve Rose, historical romance author based in Sydney, Australia.

What Do You Write?

I began writing as a kid. It was mostly poetry about the ocean and meadows. I was, and am, a compulsive reader. I worked my way through all the books I could get my hands on as a child. I was particularly addicted to thumbing through encyclopaedias for historical snippets.

I found myself drafting short stories around these little-known facts, and eventually those stories grew into novels.

There are themes: I think a lot about the stories that aren’t often spotlit in history. ‘Who else was there’, is a question I find myself asking over and over again. I come from an oral culture, and a people who have been marginalised throughout history — and yet I know they were there because here I am. It’s the intersection of real people with history that interests me. These stories feel richly relevant to me, and I want to explore them in my work.

I love the research and the writing — it’s a frustrating, almost mentally unhealthy, activity to spend my time doing. Paradoxically, I find that writing keeps me sane. It certainly keeps me curious. If love is the most powerful force on earth, curiosity is at least as creative.

Where Do You Write?

This is a little embarrassing, because I have been known to write in the bathroom. It has the best lighting and the fewest interruptions. I also have one of those heating lights so in winter it’s also the cheapest way to stay warm at my place.

I also write in my head, almost all the time. I have notebooks and a beat up old laptop that I carry with me just about anywhere. I’ve been known to jump in the car and drive one street over to finish my edits with uninterrupted focus. The car is great for that: I can’t even avoid editing by making tea. I just sit there until my allotted pages are done.

I use MS Word and a whole library of research books, most of which I have digitally but I still have a dictionary and thesaurus in hard back.

My ‘actual’ desk is used to page through my drafts. I rarely actually write there. There’s a huge window and it can be distracting. A blank wall is better. I use earphones as well, and soundscapes — this is essential for blocking out distractions. I can ‘white-noise’ anyone but my own family. COVID19 has been challenging because there are so few places to sit and tap away now, so, again, I’ve been using my car.

When Do You Write?

I write when I need to and when I can. Often very early in the morning to set up a scene. In the evening I’ll go back over what I wrote that day and tweak it. I aim to create a beginning before I go to bed, by which I mean I’ll start a scene or a chapter or even a description. This way, I can dive right back in the next morning.

If I close off a scene entirely, I have trouble finding my way back to the rhythm of the story. Sometimes I pen half a paragraph before bed, just so I’ve a quick way in the next day. I think of it as leaving a door slightly ajar.

I aim for 1,000 words a day. I don’t always hit that but really, there are words and there are the right words. I cull a lot in edit, so if I write fewer words but they’re better words, less is more valuable to me in the long run.

When the story’s finished, it’s finished. I don’t keep writing because I’ve not ‘hit goal’.

I do set time limits when I am struggling to focus. Usually an hour or 30 mins. Once I get started, I just keep going. I sometimes work with other writers for accountability reasons, and we set goals with each other. I’ve found that the best thing is to let the story lead that.

Why Do You Write?

I have to write. I’ve tried ‘not-writing’ and I became decidedly loopy. It’s how I relate to the world, and how I process it.

People inspire me. Human interaction is as fascinating as it is wonderful. Life is peopled with such fantastic characters that I can’t help but absorb them and tell them back to you.

How Do You Overcome Writer’s Block?

Meditation can help lift a block. A walk helps as well. I also find soundscapes useful. I’ll use all of them if I can.

I sit down and describe something: a garden, a painting, a flower. Anything. It doesn’t have to be good. It just has to be words. Then I might tweet out a poem. Character limits keep it brief, no pressure, but it lubricates my writing brain. After that, I’ll go back to my WIP and pen a scene. Again, it doesn’t have to be good. It just has to progress the story. Oftentimes these ‘word-blurts’ as I call them will be culled. It might be a page of the heroine describing her breathlessness at meeting the hero — no one wants to read a page about that, but it’ll get me into some dialogue and/or action and away I go again. The muse is fickle, but she’s never gone for long.

Bonus: What Do You Enjoy Doing When Not Writing?

I enjoy the beach in both winter and summer. Jogging and bushwalks work for me, and I love to swim. Live music is one of my other great loves, as I used to pen lyrics for local bands.

I am a proud history nerd. I also like etymology. Massage and aromatherapy are hobbies of mine, and I still haven’t evolved past my habit of reading anything and everything, so there’s that.

Justin Cox Justin Cox

Justin Cox is a donut-loving, word-writing, nonprofit consultant based in Orlando. He also runs The Writing Cooperative on Medium. Come say hello!