Friday, 30 November 2012

I'm A Writer Get Me Out Of Here

There's only one thing worse than writer's block and that is having too much to write...

When I finished writing my first novel and whilst in the process of drawing up a list of agents I could approach, looking at publishing companies and going through the long hard process of editing my novel to the best of my capabilities, I would also keep up my running.  I run along my local canal towpath and, sometimes, the river.
It was whislt runnig that I hit on my second book idea - strangely, it's about a runner - and I rushed home and drafted the whole plot in a tatty notebook. I ran the idea by several people, wrote some opening chapters which I asked a couple of people to read and they liked my idea. So, I couldn't wait to start writing this second novel. But that all came to a standstill when trying to get the first novel off the ground took precedence and also took me to an editing frenzy of the first book in an attempt to get it just so. So - second book idea was shelved for the time being.
But whislt editing the frist book, I found myself deleting various, superfluous plots and stories but, painfully so. I liked those scenes but they didn't help the novel along, I felt at the time. So I hit on the idea of keeping those stories and making a collection of short stories and use the ideas I had to delete from my first novel. That meant second novel idea was still taking a back seat that was even further back on its shelf than ever before. I got so engrossed in the short stories collection that I couldn't stop writing them (I'm on the last one now) and I would only wave and smile at novel number 2 from my desk each time I put the laptop on.
The point of this long winded post is that I'm missing novel number 2 but I still haven't got time to write it. I wondered if it was possible to spilt myself into several versions of me so that I could do all the things I want to do and not feel like I'm missing out on something.
So I suppose I have to take comfort in the fact that at least I'm witing something. And having too much to write is better than having writer's block - right?
Happy writing!

Monday, 26 November 2012

I Wish I Was Wonder Woman

Whilst I'm over the moon that my first novel is going to be published next year, my publisher has just given me a list of things to do before the publishing process gets under way.

By profession I'm a singer-songwriter, I also teach vocals. And I won't begin to list all the other things that happen in my life because, well, I just don't have the time to.

How is it done? How can I balance my music, my writing, my family, friends, drinking red wine and a long list of really, really important things?

This is a particularly busy week for me and I'm finding it hard to keep my composure. I practically barked at my son who wanted to show me a karate move before my husband took him off to his class. I hope he forgives me. I don't know how tactful a person can sound when they've just said, "stop talking, I'm working."

So let me just take a breath and try out one of my old, tried and tested coping skills. Make A List. That's what I do. I remember now. Just write everything down that you can possibly, but most of all, realistically, do in one day. Remember that within some of those 24 hours you will have to sleep/rest. Be generous about that part of your day because it can help you cope with the next day better. Tick your jobs off as you go and if you don't get it all done then stick those jobs on the list for tomorrow.

That's what usually works for me and I have to remember this everytime I have a week like this one. By the way, I have 10 new songs to learn for a gig that's in three days. Well, two days now because it's getting pretty late.

But I did take courage in this Guardian Article

All my tasks are ticked off for the day. Now for some rest. Tomorrow beckons and so do all my jobs.

How do you cope?

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Writing Circles

So, tomorrow morning is Yoga Morning - that's what I call Sunday's now. Every other Yoga Morning I go to my writing circle straight after yoga. I'm packing yoga mat, laptop, notebook and sometimes croissant. I know the coffee will be on and a warm welcome from my fine writer friend.

You notice I say friend - not plural. That's because there are only two of us and rather than calling ourselves a Writer's Circle we are the Writer's Line. I figured two people do not a circle make.

As writers we all the know the importance of seeking opinions and getting feedback from others when you're writing. I am lucky to have a few people I can pin down and obtain valuable feedback from. It helps the writing process sort of in the way reading your work aloud does - only better. Having the Writer's Line is like having your own personal editor. Someone who knows and understands your style and sometimes knows how you wanted to say something even if you didn't get it right the first time.

We are very protective of our Writer's Line and when it looked like other people wanted to join we had to close ranks. If they brought their own croissant,or better still, croissants all round then they might be worth considering. A new member would make us the Writer's Triangle, next thing you know we'd be a square.

How many people will it take before we could consider ourselves to be a real circle and how many croissant would we need?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Writing Routines

I came across this today

Maya Angelou shares her day with Paris Review in 1990:
I write in the morning and then go home about midday and take a shower, because writing, as you know, is very hard work, so you have to do a double ablution. Then I go out and shop — I’m a serious cook — and pretend to be normal. I play sane — Good morning! Fine, thank you. And you? And I go home. I prepare dinner for myself and if I have houseguests, I do the candles and the pretty music and all that. Then after all the dishes are moved away I read what I wrote that morning. And more often than not if I’ve done nine pages I may be able to save two and a half or three. That’s the cruelest time you know, to really admit that it doesn’t work. And to blue pencil it. When I finish maybe fifty pages and read them — fifty acceptable pages — it’s not too bad. I’ve had the same editor since 1967. Many times he has said to me over the years or asked me, Why would you use a semicolon instead of a colon? And many times over the years I have said to him things like: I will never speak to you again. Forever. Goodbye. That is it. Thank you very much. And I leave. Then I read the piece and I think of his suggestions. I send him a telegram that says, OK, so you’re right. So what? Don’t ever mention this to me again. If you do, I will never speak to you again. About two years ago I was visiting him and his wife in the Hamptons. I was at the end of a dining room table with a sit-down dinner of about fourteen people. Way at the end I said to someone, I sent him telegrams over the years. From the other end of the table he said, And I’ve kept every one! Brute! But the editing, one’s own editing, before the editor sees it, is the most important.
And it occurred to me that I don't really know what my writing routine is. Do I have one?

I know that I feel an urge to write everyday and I mean everyday, but the opportunity doesn't always present itself because the rest of my life has to have some space. Is this wrong of me? If I call myself a writer then shouldn't I have my laptop handy no matter what. Write a chapter in the cue at Asda? Am I a real writer?

My answer to me is yes you are and you've got notebooks, short stories, plot lines all over your office to prove it. (I always have a notebook with me). Just because my routine isn't written in stone, I shouldn't worry. I write. I write and I enjoy it when I do.

I'm working on my final edit of Holding Paradise before the publishing process gets going and I've been writing a collection of short stories which budged my second novel idea off top spot. I'll get back to that one when I get the short stories out of my system. Shouldn't be too long now.

So - when do I write? All the time, actually, but at no fixed time. It could be 4am, it could be after I've said goodnight to my husband, it's usually whenever I am alone in the house. One thing I know is, I love to write and if I could never find the time at all...well then I wouldn't be a writer.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Learning to Network

I can't avoid technology no matter how bad I am at it. I signed up for a Twitter account last night and am still suffering the trauma.

Yesterday, so that I can start promoting my book (not due to be published until next year) I networked a bunch of friends from Facebook for some help and advice and got a wonderful response. Some of them got back to me with some great ideas about who I could approach and what I could do. That's what prompted the desire to start Tweeting and I already have two followers. I suspect one is spam so I'll have to find out how to weed that follower out.

I've been reading only good things about Twitter for writers and authors. That goes for readers too.

I found these links from Book Baby helpful and so might you.

Good luck!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Let's Begin

Today is my birthday. A good day to start my blog, I thought. Just as I was always waiting for a good day to start writing my book. That day took a good ten years to come.

You see I had this idea for a story. I wasn't sure of the idea was any good or not but it wouldn't leave me alone. And you may wonder why it took so long to write. Now that it's all complete, I know why I couldn't have written it earlier. It just wouldn't have come out the way it has now. I went through several trial runs in my mind, possible beginning words and chapters, how it should end and who should my main characters be. What should I call them and what would they look like? Well the answer was simple. Wait and see what comes out.

After a few false starts in notebooks I can't even find now, I began. Then I stopped, started, continued, read, re-read and one day I was finished. Or so I thought. I wasn't quite happy. The people I'd asked to read it were impressed but something inside me told me the story still wasn't being told right.

I sat back for days and pondered my dilemma. Then a new way of working the plot came to me - as if by magic - and I went straight into edit mode once again. The ideas were coming thick and fast. The book was writing itself, telling the story right this time. Finally I was happy.

My book, Holding Paradise, will be out in 2013 and published by Indigo Dreams

The journey continues as I enter the world of publishing, marketing and promotion. I'm in for the ride of my life but I'm ready and I'll be back to let you know how it goes.