Time – it’s like magic dust sometimes isn’t it, and it can seem as hard to keep hold of. Like probably most people, time management is often not my strong point – but when it comes down to juggling a day job, family commitments, and minor necessities like eating and sleeping around fitting in some quality writing time than a bit of management is sadly needed! I’m in awe of the many writers I know who also add kids into the mix.
So, why do we do put ourselves through it? :) I think when it comes right down to it then it’s a test of just how much you want it. If you have an hour or two free time, and the option is between having a well earned rest, or getting on with your writing then sometimes, much as you love the writing you may think longing of some nice chilling out time – watching a movie, catching up on your latest tv show, having a long bath with a book.
I know a lot of writers and some do seem take it more ‘seriously’ than others. I would never criticise those who may wish to do simply for the enjoyment of writing, or who might be quite happy to write maybe once a week, or once a month even – if that’s what makes them happy then it’s great, some might even say it’s a purer form to do it just for the joy of the craft. But I do believe that if you want to make a career out it, if you want to make a success in such a competitive business, then you need to put the time in – and that sometimes means doing the juggling act and making the sacrifices. It’s what the priority is for you – and you have to hope it will be worth it in the end :) I’ll leave to the words of the master…
It’s probably no surprise that as a writer (and of course, a reader) I love stories. But it’s more than that. If you think about it then stories are the cornerstone of our society, of civilisation itself.
Long before the invention of books, or even writing or paper, then our ancestors would pass stories down by word of mouth, because even back then they understood the importance of holding on to history, to ideas, to lessons learned – of keeping them alive and passing them on. Stories to me aren’t just words on a page, they are a way of sharing ideas, thoughts, a part of another person that you may never have met but can now connect with on a soul-deep level. It’s a beautiful thing :)
In many ways that is why writing is much a personal thing. No one else can share the same stories that you can, they are as unique as you are. By putting them down on paper, by letting them out into the world, then you are sharing a part of yourself. It’s a lovely thing when someone else ‘gets’ what you have written – because it’s as though they ‘get’ that part of you.
In the same way, when you discover a new writer and feel that connection with their writing, that feeling that you understand exactly what they were trying to say and by understanding that you ‘get’ a part of them, even though you may never meet or get to tell them that personally. I know books that have got me through hard times, ones that have made me laugh or cry, that I still go back to if I’m having a bad day and it’s like a cozy blanket or a warm hug in paper form. Those writers will probably never know that they have done that for me – just as I will probably never know if I ever provide that for someone else. But in a way, that’s the dream :)
Hope you’re having a good bank holiday weekend – tbh I’ve been working most of it so hasn’t seemed much different. Ah well. Today, I wanted to briefly mention reviews. I’ve seen a few things going round lately – authors criticising reviewers for not giving them them 5 stars, reviewers leaving nasty reviews that make authors want to leave the business. It just makes me rather sad. I know, like most authors, that reviews are invaluable. More than that though, it’s a chance for you as a writer to get some honest feedback from a reader on what they liked and didn’t like in your book, what they thought worked and what didn’t.
While no one is going to lie and say they wouldn’t love a 5 star review, then any decent author should be happy with one that’s simply honest and fair. If someone doesn’t think a part of your story works, or they disliked something about it, then that’s their opinion and they have a right to it. Everyone is different and you’re never going to please everyone all the time. At the same time, authors are only human – it takes a lot to put yourself and your work out there, it’s a personal thing and therefore anything that comes back, especially if it’s negative, is hard not to take a little personally (no matter how hard you might try not to sometimes!)
Even that aside though, I love all reviews I get, it means someone has read my work and took the time to comment – how can you not appreciate that? :)
Don’t worry about the title – this is more about ‘how not to’! I know a lot of people who write, both in ‘real life’ and over the internet (wonderful place for writer support!) and one of the main things it has helped me realise is that everyone is different. Might seem a little obvious, of course we all write different things in different styles – but what might be a little less obvious is that we all write in completely different ways as well. Some people may churn out thousands of words in a day, some may do a few hundred, some may write every day, some may not be able to fit that around their other commitments. For some people they may scribble out a full draft in rough form, others may need to work over word over and over before they can move on to the next part. Some writers may plan out every scene, every plot point, and every setting while others may just let their characters pull them along.
What does this have to do with my theme, you may ask? Well, if you don’t have the chance to meet other writers, and realise these things then it can be quite intimidating to hear people talking about the way they do things when it is completely different to your way! If someone is talking about how they have easily written 10k that week and you’re struggling with only 1k that you can feel like a bit of a failure. If someone has every tiny point of their story planned out in minute detail and all you have is that your characters are starting in x place and you’ll see what happens, then it can feel like you’re just winging it and there’s something wrong with you.
Writing is something that a lot of people seem to ‘want’ to do, but the reality is often very different to how you had imagined it. There will be times when you wonder what the heck you’re actually doing, and whether you’re just deluding yourself in hoping to make it in such a competitive and difficult field. That’s when you need to remember these things – that it doesn’t matter what anyone else is doing or how they are doing it. It just matters what you are doing. No one can tell your personal stories, and no one can do your particular writing. Remember why you started, why you love this more than anything in the world, and quite frankly if you’re like me you probably couldn’t shut up the wee voices in your head if you wanted to! :)
The sharp-eyed among you may have noticed that there was no post yesterday. O is apparently for oops! This has been a rather crazy busy week and while I had meant to post when I got home from work yesterday I got the chance to go and catch up with a friend instead and it turned into a much later one than I’d expected :) So, please accept my apologies and this cute kitty picture (go on, no one can resist kitties surely?)
Anyway, we shall ignore that wee blip and move on! Today P is for Publishing – yup the big one! I’ve been very lucky to have several works published, and while that still sometimes feels a little surreal to me I thought I would share a few things about the process. The main learning point for me was that while being accepted for publication is one of the most amazing feelings in the world, it is just the tip of the iceberg. When you start writing then being published seems like a shining beacon, something to aim and strive for – which of course it is! But there’s also an implication that when you do reach that point then that’s it – you’ve made it. In actual fact, it’s just the first step in a great deal more hard work.
The first time I got edits back from a publisher, well let’s just say there was a lot of red all over those pages :) A wee bit intimidating to start with, but once you get over the initial shock being able to get professional editing and feedback on your work is absolutely invaluable, and is only going to make you a better writer. Then there’s promotion. Another terrifying process to start with, and something I do sometimes still struggle with today. Perhaps it’s the ‘English’ in me, but I always find it quite hard to ‘big myself up’ – it feels like I’m being vain or arrogant if I’m telling people how great me and my book are :) (well, not that I would say it like that, but you get the general idea!)
There’s also perhaps the slight (and you know it’s slight) hope that your book with magically become an overnight sensation, and let’s face it the rational part of you knows that isn’t going to happen. It takes time and effort to build up a fanbase, to build up your craft, and to make any impact in the market. The best thing to do for that is keep going, the bestselling writers didn’t do it with their first novel. If you are still waiting to be published, hang in there – when you do get there, enjoy the feeling, but don’t get discouraged if it’s not the be-all and end-all straight away.
Today I wanted to talk about something that always gives me trouble as a writer – names! I get quite envious of those who seem to effortlessly just ‘know’ their characters should be called, or even have the name before the character even appears to them. Before now I’ve been sat there three quarters of the way into a manuscript and still not knowing what one of my main characters should be called :) I will usually have a general idea of what it should sound like – and I tend to know it when I hear it/see it. It’s kind of like when you’ve met someone once and you know they introduced themselves, then you meet them again and can you remember their name – can you hell! You know you know it – and it’s an annoying nagging at the back of your brain as you try and try to remember.
I will do all sorts to try and ‘find’ it – this can include trailing through baby name books and websites, checking mythological sites, scoring lists of names from certain countries. And don’t get me started on place names, ssecondary characters, companies and world building details :) My WIPs tend to scattered through with ‘xx’ which is where I didn’t want to break the writing flow by having to take half an hour to think of the right name for something.
What do you think, do you find names come to you easily – or do you share my pain? Readers, do you ever think that character names don’t suit the character, or on the other hand that they’re such a perfect fit that you always associate that name with that particular character?
Running a bit late again today – oops, so this will just be a short one! Today, though M is for Magic :)
I love the idea of magic, when I was a kid all the stories I loved were about wizards, witches, fairies and other magical creatures – I used to write stories at school where people were sent to magical worlds and met strange creatures. When I got older I moved onto fantasy books, sticking with the theme and I still love them today, along with ‘urban fantasy’. Most of the books I write have some element of magic or the paranormal, though usually set in the modern world. After all, there’s something very appealing about the idea that there might really be so much more to this world than we realise :)
I think that’s probably one of the things that attracts me to romance writing as well – the fact that a love-story has it’s own kind of magic. It’s two people fighting their own battles and their own inner demons in order to be able to find their ‘happy-after-after’. If we can’t find fairies at the bottom of the garden then we can find our own magic in the world around us.
If nothing else there’s surely magic in the opening of a book, the ability to be transported to another place, another time, another world. The chance to hear words from someone who we have never met, or who may be long gone, but still feel a connection to them purely from the words they’ve left written down. It’s a wonderful thing :)