World of Words: Ruth Hawe on her writing

GETTING published is never easy, but Ruth Hawe, author of Holy Cow, set herself a final deadline of December 31 to finish her first novel – and stuck to it. Holy Cow follows the journey of heroine Daisy, a sensitive young woman fleeing from her troubled early years. When she arrives at university, can Daisy transform her life and find the love she craves?

In no more than 10 words why did you become a writer?

I’m compelled to express that which wills to be said.

How do you come up with ideas?

I can’t honestly describe how ideas come to me, but as soon as I start to write, the writing develops its own momentum and the characters seem to have a life of their own.

I only write when I feel inspired to, though, so it is not a matter of trying but of compulsion.

I have always had the urge to express myself in words, and used to write poetry from an early age.

I love words, and never use a dictionary, there always seems to be the exact word I need right there at the tip of my fingers.

I’m a very spontaneous person and this reflects in my writing,which is stream-of-consciousness style.

I am a two-finger typist so it is impossible for my hands to keep up with my mind, and this can be frustrating, but it is still way better to type than to write in longhand, because I have books of scribblings going back years which I’ll probably never get around to touching again.

I love Wordpress for its ease of use, and never would have finished my novel without it.

How did you get to be published?

I had Holy Cow sitting on my laptop for a couple of years, then got talking to a lady writer friend, and told her that although I love writing, I can’t face going back and doing the typos and tidying it up. She offered to read it for me, said she thought it was good, and so I trusted her and spent a while polishing it a bit. It almost didn’tget published because then I became critical of it, and too close to it to be objective, and disillusionment set in. Again, my friend stepped in, told me to set a deadline andstick to it. I decided that it was finish or throw it away by the end of the year. It wasliterally 11.45pm on new year’s eve that my downloaded pdf was accepted!

Some people find writing easy – and other’s find it a struggle. What do you think is the worst thing about the life of a writer?

I was a podiatrist and reflexologist for more than 30 years, which meant being able to chat away with my patients all day long. Writing is a solitary, lonely business, especially when your friends and family aren’t interested in what you have written!

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

The best thing, for me, about writing is that there are always things happening, or thoughts arising which prompt me to reach for my pen and paper. My desk and backpack are littered with words on scraps of paper, backs of receipts, old envelopes, and notepads which I usually don’t get round to looking at as I’m always onto the next thing.

Can you name a book that changed your life?

There have been many books that changed my life, but The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon is probably the most recent. I was deeplymoved by it, and inspired by the free sharing of intensely introspective meanderings to indulge in a similar style myself. I have always liked books that take you into the mind and heart of another person, this is so compelling and fascinating.

Can writing change the world? And if so, how do you hope to change it?

Yes, most definitely, writing can and does change the world, arguably more than all the politics and policies ever devised. Art in general has always been the most direct and fastest way to convey expanded ideas, and also the easiest for people to accept, because it gets under the armouring with which we tend to shield ourselves from uncomfortable truths. In terms of film which is of course words in visual form, humanity can both explore and explain ideas which feel outlandish or inspirational, dangerous or forbidden in real life. My primary aim when writing is to awaken the innate compassion within all people, to challenge our unexamined habits, and prompt honesty about the true cost of our choices, both individually and collectively. I have always had a keenly strong sense of equality, and sympathy for the underdog in any situation. I believe it is both my right and my duty to use my voice for the voiceless, to speak out boldly, regardless of the consequences.

What are you reading at the moment?

My current read is India’s Unending Journey by Mark Tully. I tend to steer clear of most novels because so many of them contain graphic descriptions of sex and violence, which I find offensive and unnecessary. The same goes for most films, sadly. Once dark images are downloaded into your head you can never erase them. I force myself to watch graphic footage of human and animal rights abuses, environmental degradation and real life tragedies because they fuel my activism and prevent apathy.

What are you ambitions for the future of your writing career?

I am already halfway through writing a sequel to Holy Cow, which follows Daisy, the heroine, into the next phase of life, where she travels abroad, falls in love, has a child and intensifies her activism. Towards the end of Holy Cow, she is starting to unravel, and the writing reflects this chaotic turmoil. I also enjoy and feel compelled to share my deepest ideas about spirituality and where humankind is heading, and am starting up my blog again which I haven’t done for a while. To be condemned to holding all my ideas within my own skull would be sheer torture!