One tentative step for the writer within

I have been thinking a lot lately about how to share some writing with you all, following the overwhelming good wishes and belief you have in me. I can’t share my draft. Firstly because it’s still a draft. Secondly because I need to keep you all in suspense waiting for the published copy!

I am desperate to share some of my other book ideas with you, see if anyone shares my interest and if they would be a hit. It is possible though that my self doubt, the belief you wont like them, are a little louder than my desire to share. Also, truthfully, my husband has me a little worried about sharing any of it electronically in case someone steals my ideas and beats me to publication (His belief in my ability to do this appears to grow stronger everyday and he is somehow louder than my self doubt). 

My other option is to share some of my shorter work with you. I have one away at the moment, awaiting judgement for a competition, so that one is out. Another, which failed to win a shortlisting for a magazine publication has grown into a book idea and I have just, after a little editing, sent it away in an entry for the Faber Writing Scholarship.

This leaves me with just one option, my furious fiction entry for June 2020. While it didn’t win (or rate a mention) I enjoyed working on it, and within the rules of the competition. The rules for this one were: 500 words of less, It must start and end with a word beginning with J, contain a game within it and also the words ‘missed the boat’.  It certainly was a challenge telling a story in so few words but I am happy with the end result and it doesn’t feel like a failure to me that it didn’t win. So please have a look and feel free to leave your comments on what you think. 



I Did It!

For the last three days I’ve been walking around in a little of a daze. You see Monday night, as I was writing my final chapter something extraordinary happened…..I finished my first draft of the book I’ve been working on. Just short of 65k words, and quite a few notes I have around additional earlier chapters and changes that happened later that will result in re writes of earlier chapters, it is a long way from finished, or even second draft completion. Nevertheless, my first draft is complete.

I can hear you all saying ‘Wow. That was quick”. Truth is, it has been anything but quick. The idea for this book has been brewing since 2017. I still have the first five pages of notes I scribbled down as I was on the runway about to take off to the Goldcoast on a family holiday/ work trip. I was well versed in the workshop material I was presenting, sitting separate from my husband, who had a child either side of him I took advantage of the time to myself. 

So not so quick, three years in the making in total. Granted there were large gaps where I didn’t think about it at all, and I really only found the courage to start chapter one in February of this year, but it certainly doesn’t feel quick to me. Now I’m trying to wait patiently the two weeks I have been advised to wait before I rush into the re-writes and editing. It hasn’t been too hard to pull it off, partly because I’m still a little surprised, and thrilled, I managed to get to this stage. Also I am still trying to finalise client reports from my previous career, and it’s school holidays! 

So while I wait I figured I might blog more? Maybe enter a short story competition? Or just get stuck into another good book? I might do them all, why not, I’ve got the time.  

Another detour? 

Yesterday I finished another chapter of my first draft. It was epic, in the best kind of way. The words flowed easily, characters actions, thoughts and words appearing as black text across the white page. It was magic. Ok, so it wasn’t exactly magic, but something about it felt magical to me. 

I have no deadline as such for this book and the closer I am getting to the finish of the first draft I am pondering two questions. The first is ‘Do I want to finish it?’ I love the characters and stories that I am creating and I know when I am finished these last chapters part of me will miss them. It is the same when I come to the end of a novel I am reading. During the novel I become so invested in the characters and their lives that when the book ends my grieving starts. I find myself wondering do the authors feel this same way? Will I feel this way about my own characters? Is this why some authors write a series of books with the same characters? I have a few questions here and I am making a mental note to ask this question to an the author of the next workshop, book launch or discussion panel I attend.

My second question is in direct opposition to this one ‘Will I be so over writing, re writing, and editing that I can’t wait to be done with you?’ Right now I am in the love phase…or maybe it is lust. Everything is new and interesting, and some may say I have my rose coloured glasses on. Eventually this will pass though, I will know all there is to know and the characters stories will come to an abrupt stop. Will the combination of the frustrations of the next stage of the writing for publication and the stagnant nature of the lives of the characters, suspended in the end point, be enough for me to get past any grief I felt rather quickly? In other words will I be happy to see the end of my relationship with them? 

I guess time will tell. If it is grief, it will pass with time…or I’ll write another book about the characters I miss the most. If I can’t wait to see the end of them then that will also take time, at least I hope it does. Time to talk to publishers, get my book released, talk with media and hopefully a stack of fans. Honestly, I’ll take either option, or both. 

Procrastination? Or writing for the love of writing? You decide?

Over the past few months I have been spending some of my rare writing time away from my first novel and dipping my toe into the world of short stories. My earlier post alluded to this being in response to some advice given by respected Australian authors, and also to ease me into the world of rejection. Incidentally (I did warn you about the detours), I received some good advice from a client in my last day as a Psychologist, about rejection. She indicated it would happen frequently in the arts and that it didn’t mean my writing wasn’t good, or that I was barking up the wrong tree, but that it was just the reality of the industry. As she was building my resilience at the start of my new career, it struck me how well we had worked together in my past career, that she could confidently and rightly give me such advice.

Up until tonight I had submitted a total of three, two rejections and one more decision pending. Tonight I pushed it to four by entering the Olga Masters Short Story Competition. I’ve been composing my 4000 word entry for the past 6 weeks, shaping and reshaping my entry with a little help from a trusty friend and adoring husband. With two days to spare the final tweaks were done and the story submitted. 

Whilst I have no doubt that I am competing with writers with more time and experience behind them, I have to say I am proud of myself. Whilst I know it’s the end of the journey for Carly (female protagonist- surprise, surprise), I feel I have done her justice. I can’t share it yet, but after judging and the result is known I think I will post this one for you all to read. Carly deserves some airtime and I need to let her go so I can get back to the novel! 

Speaking of the Novel, I created dialogue for the first time between characters after 56000 words…..sounds interesting you say? Well tune in for another blog post once I’ve finished the chapter. 

You win. I need that book!

You can be in no doubt of my love of books by now. Not just fiction but all books. Ok so not exactly all books, I don’t really subscribe to books about baby growth, pregnancy and child development after a traumatic experience of first time motherhood at the hands of them (ok so this might be a slight exaggeration,  but my husband did dispose of them as I found myself judging my every move as a first time mother and declaring myself a failure each time my son didn’t do something at exactly the right time according to the books). I’m also not a huge fan of science fiction or fantasy, but I am currently trying to work on that and expand my reading library. Brandon Sanderson a lot is riding on your work here, don’t let me down.

At the writers workshop I went to at the beginning of the year (told you it would come up again) I gladly took the time during break to devour the books on display, taking photos of most of them to add to the professional library when I was brave enough to dive in to my new profession. I scoffed at the baby name book, why would I need that? I apologise for that Scoff Fiona and Jaye. Please send me a copy of any baby name book you have, I beg of you. 

I have just spent the last hour pouring through the draft of my first book (just three not so short chapters from complete) digging out all the names of minor characters so that I can follow up on some feedback from a friend who patiently reads my first draft. You see she needs me to be consistent with the names. Apparently when I change someone’s name, otherwise known as forgetting I called them something already, she is struggling to know who I am talking about. She has also suggested not giving two characters who have a relationship a name with the same first letter, it can get confusing. 

This sounded like a reasonable request so I set about making a map of the characters, relationships, families etc. I quite liked it because I got to use coloured pens and create a mind map, which is one of my most favourite activities to do. Imagine my surprise though when I realised that five of my characters had a name starting with T, four with R, three with J, A and S and barley any other letters. Apparently I struggle with naming characters and I desperately need that Baby Name book after all! 

I’ve renamed them all now, even managed to double up again in the renaming process. I’ve decided for my second book (yes I am optimistic)  I’m going to use the mindmap as I go and invest in google to help me name them evenly across the alphabet. Maybe not entirely evenly, I can’t imagine myself using Q, X or V very often. 
    P.s. This was not an attempt to avoid writing those last three chapters……well I am not admitting to that anyway!