Wednesday, 5 December 2012

#IWSG: 2012 round up.

Since this is the last #IWSG post for 2012, I thought I'd do an end-of-year round up. Filled with anguish, of course.

This year, I've written four novels (first drafts, I hasten to add!), each varying in length. If I add last year's NaNo novel, I now have five first drafts under my belt, and I love each of them dearly.

So, why didn't I just write one novel at a time, from first to final draft, like a normal writer?

Looking back, I was too insecure to take these first drafts further, so moved on to another project and put everything else on my "To Be Written Properly" shelf.

I guess 2012 was my year of learning how to write, voraciously and inexhaustibly.

Aside from the WIPs, I've filled several notepads with notes, ideas and observations. I keep a journal on my laptop (started on 1st Jan 2012), which is now on its 296th page (with size 8 font to keep prying eyes away!). I write two pages as soon as I get out of bed, before I get ready for work (it's disgustingly difficult, but always worth it). If I'm not writing, I'm thinking about writing. If I'm blogging less on here... it's because I'm writing instead of talking about writing.

It's fair to say I'm obsessed committed.

2013 will be my year of learning how to write well.

The end of NaNo left a big gap in my writerly life. I'm filling this month with writing craft exercises and extreme notepad entries, but I feel like I'm weaning myself off the high-volume output, ready to get set for... *drum roll* editing.

I'm happy with my structure, action and dialogue. I'd just prefer to articulate the words in a more... beautiful manner. I take great pleasure from reading a well-written book (such as The Blue Notebook by James A. Levine, or The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford) and I hope to create that same enjoyment in anyone who reads my books.

I'm terrified I won't live up to my high expectations. But we'll see.

So... here's to a year of writing well.

What are your goals for 2013? How has your 2012 been? I'd love to know!

Please visit all the other lovely people on the Insecure Writer's Support Group. We all thrive on encouragement, we really do.

Take care,
Catherine x ◦

Sunday, 2 December 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012 - A post match analysis

A few months ago, I came across this blog post on how to write 10k a day, by the author Rachel Aaron. In the post, she wrote about documenting each of her writing sessions in a progress table, and I loved that.

Ever the spreadsheet geek, I took on this process myself, back when I was writing my last WIP "Brothers", and I'm sure I'll use it for all my future projects. Here's how my NaNoWriMo progress table looked, in its entirety:

I should probably point out that the majority of these details were worked out AFTER I finished NaNo. Whilst writing, I focused only on when I wrote, where I wrote, how long I spent writing and how many words I managed. The rest I worked out later. I'd have run screaming from it otherwise!

There was also an extra column titled "comments". I would briefly summarise my thoughts at the end of each writing session, but I shan't bore you with those obscenities!

When I look at it, all laid out like this, it's a bit of a double-edged sword. 

Part of me is like "Amazing... look how easily I breezed through NaNo this year. I even skipped a few days. What's more, I didn't even spend more than three hours writing on any given day. Plus, I got most of it out of the way in the mornings before work and on my lunch hours. I must be much more experienced as a writer compared to last year."

The other part of me is saying: "Look at the state of that. Four minutes you wrote one day, and on a Saturday, no less! That's premium writing time! I don't care how bad your headaches were. Do you know what this whole exercise tells me? You can do better. You must do better. You could have pushed yourself a lot harder."

It's hard to compare it to last year's NaNo without a similar progress table, because I know for a fact if I hadn't documented my progress this year, do you know what I'd have thought?

I'd have thought I was constantly working on the novel. That I'd spent so much time and effort agonising over it. That I must have worked so hard if I finished the NaNo early. I mean, the early finish speaks for itself, doesn't it?

I have learned a lot about my writing with the progress tables. I've learned that I get distracted easily by phone calls and "lose my mojo" at the slightest disturbance. I've learned that my morning pages and lunch-hour writing sessions are invaluable to me. I've learned that I let myself off "writing duty" far too easily, but that I feel guilty and make up for it with great enthusiasm at the next writing session. 

I have learned that I much prefer the word "learned" to "learnt". There's something not right about that word. Anyway...

Most importantly, I've spotted many areas for improvement. If I add an evening writing session to my morning and lunch hour sessions, I'd be pretty happy with that. I can still make time for reading at night and... housework *shudder*. 

There's loads of writers out there with full time jobs and twelve kids to look after and they still churn out eight books a year (warning: slight exaggeration). So it won't kill me to keep stepping up my efforts.

Again, I'm so grateful I took part in NaNoWriMo and think that anyone who criticises it is a numbskull. I'll take part in it every year, even when I'm outselling Danielle Steele and swimming in literary awards... *ahem*.

Where do I go from here? Well, I'm saving that for the next #IWSG post on the 5th, as it's sure to be angst ridden and fraught with dilemma.

In the meantime, I'm just going to get on with my writing journey, and wish all you writers every success in yours.

Catherine x

Monday, 26 November 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Check!

Just a quick post to say...

I just passed the 50k mark for my NaNoWriMo novel! 50,395 words to be exact!

I'm off to do a victory lap of my house (maybe the street too, but it's a bit nippy outside...). I'll be back at some point to do a wee post about my NaNo experience this year and hope to hear all your writerly news too.

Good luck to everyone still taking part, I hope you're all coming along splendid!

x ◦

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

#IWSG: How do you commit to a story?

In my last post, I spoke about how I was being a wee cool cucumber with regards to NaNoWriMo 2012. Indeed, on the 1st November, I still didn't have an inkling of what I was going to write about.

Every time I thought up a new idea, it didn't grab me, or excite me enough to want to commit 50k words to it. I have a plethora of ideas in a document at home, but I was reluctant to revert to it. I wanted something new. Something fresh. Something experimental.

That's when the insecurity set in. What if nothing looks appealing enough to write about? What am I all about, not creating an outline? Why am I making it hard for myself?

As the panic set in, my mind instantly started to cloud over. The gates of my imagination welded shut.

There was only one way to get that gate back open and I'm blogging about it today so that every time I start a new project and feel stuck, I can look back and remember what to do...

I need to, at all times, immerse myself in creative expression. You'd be hard pushed to find anything better than the Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum. I defy you to come away from it unscathed.

I'd covered no more than a mere corner of the gallery (The Glasgow Boys gallery, to be exact. Go see it. It's splendid), when my NaNo story appeared from nowhere and practically assaulted me. I had to keep perching on a nearby seat to scribble down ideas before they disappeared forever, and when it came to typing them up, I was finally grabbed.

Seven days in and I'm currently sitting at 11,056 words. I'm really happy with that, considering I've been blighted by sinusitis the past few days. It's hard conjuring up the motivation to write when it hurts to move your eyeballs even a fraction. I don't like moaning about illness though, it's depressing. On a brighter note, I did discover that I don't need my eyeballs to type. I seem to drift off into a weird gaze whilst my fingers navigate my well-worn keyboard.

I just knew that "Teaching Yourself to Touch Type" CD ROM I purchased eight years ago would come in handy one day...

I suspect many members of the Insecure Writers Support Group will also be doing NaNo and might not have the time to visit their usual amount of blogs. That's not to stop you visiting them, though. Go do it here! They're all lovely.

How are you all getting on with your writing projects? Also, what is it about your story that made you commit to it? How did you get the balls to see past your "blank page" insecurities? Do share... :) x ◦

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

Who's all taking part in NaNoWriMo this year?

I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into a brand new story. The thing is... it starts in less than 17 hours and I haven't settled on an idea yet!

This is highly unusual for me. Last year, I posted about my NaNoWriMo planning in September, for crying out loud. I had a spreadsheet and everything!

Sometimes I cringe when I look back at my previous posts, full of naive promise and unrealistic targets. In that September post, I said "It's important for me to keep as organised as humanly possible. It's how I work. I need to establish routine and commit to it fully."

On the 2nd October last year, I panicked about only having 29 days left to "plan and prepare" for NaNo.

Oh how things have changed...

I'm hoping my current calm is a sign of growth and confidence in my ability, rather than apathy. I am still committed to my 50k in November. In truth, I've been so wrapped up in finishing the first draft of my current WIP "Brothers", I've not given myself the chance to think too much about NaNo. I know that I have a few novels to edit in 2013, that I'm really passionate about, so the pressure is off for this one.

I'm quite excited about the possibility of going with the flow and being a bit experimental with my story. I'm still getting up at 4:30am to do my freewriting Morning Pages, which have proved beneficial, amusing and slightly eccentric. It's probably the reason I'm less interested in structure this time round and more interested in seeing how far I can stretch my creative muscles.

On the NaNoWriMo website, I named my novel "Solid Ground" because the words flashed up on the telly at the time of writing. Chances are the real title won't transpire till the end of November. But who knows? It could be a sign!

How are you all getting on? Are you all set for a month of writing?

Best of luck to everyone participating!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Letting Go Bloghop

I knew the minute I opened the door to him, things would be over between you and I. 

I could hardly contain the tremble in my voice as I gave him directions to our home. In truth, I didn’t want him to come, but you’d left me no choice. You were the one who decided not to work at it anymore. I would’ve happily continued our union forever.

You had other ideas.

It wasn’t always like this. I used to scoff at people who claimed there was truth in “Love at First Sight”. That all changed when I saw you. My eyes drank you in; devoured you. I needed you in my life from that moment on. I still do.

Things were so wonderful at the start. We’d go on long drives; you’d take me anywhere I needed to go. Remember our first winter together? It was so windy outside, not a day had passed when a truck hadn’t blown over own the motorway. We’d have to brave the elements every day, but you’d always keep me warm and safe.

That was, until you decided to abandon me in the snow. I was so devastated, two strangers came out of their homes to see if I was alright. What a state you left me in.

That spelled the end for us. There was no coming back from that, no matter how much I loved you.

When he rang the doorbell, my first reaction was to hide. I’d never done anything like this before, and I was still hurting. But it had to be done.

“Miss Noble?”“Yes.”“The best I can offer is fifty quid.”I sucked in my breath. “It’s better than nothing, I suppose.”

And so I signed on the dotted line. He hooked you up to his truck and towed you off to the car park in the sky.

You taught me a harsh reality the day your engine exploded. Reliability and beauty are rarely combined traits.

Letting you go was the hardest thing I ever did. *sniffle*

(My old Ford Puma - My One and Only Heartbreak)

I hope you enjoyed my wee story :) I signed up to Kyra Lennon's Bloghop to celebrate the release of her latest novella "If I Let You Go". Go download it immediately, it's FREE for the next 24 hours!

If you'd like to take part in the Bloghop, here are the details:

Was there a time when you had to let go of someone or something? How did it make you feel? How did you handle it? Or if that's too personal - which I completely understand - how about writing a piece of flash fiction? The only rules are - obviously - it has to be related to letting go, and please keep it to a maximum of 500 words.When the day arrives, I will hop around to all the entries, along with my independent judge (otherwise known as "Mum" LOL), and the story that touches us the most will win a $10 Amazon gift card!

I can't wait to read it! x


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Don't give up the day job, hen.

It’s been a month since I last blogged. How did that happen? Where have I been?
Well, I’ve been writing. I’ve been tearing through the first draft of a new novel I’m working on, and I’ve been learning my craft. I’ve been doing my Morning Pages every day as soon as my eyes flicker open (4:30am on workdays. Ouch). I’ve been clustering and journaling and plotting and spending all my time either writing or thinking about writing.
I’ve sacrificed my bubble of ignorance for observation; overhearing and capturing snippets of conversation that I find hilarious or disturbing.
The downside of observing others for research purposes, however, is the obligation to tolerate humanity. I despair! 
Overall, though, I couldn’t be happier with my progress at this point in time.

Nobody is immune from insecurities. So what am I insecure about this month?

Well, all this heightened writing activity has naturally had an effect on how I spend my days. Considering I don’t tell many people about my writing (you know, apart from the thousands of people who’ve read this blog), it would appear to most that I've either:

a) become obscenely lazy
b) become (even more) anti-social
c) developed a cleaning & organisation fetish

Let me illustrate this with a few conversation snippets.

A colleague asks: “What did you get up to this weekend?”
  • Me (internally): “Oh, just opening a few veins, bleeding on to a page or ten.”
  • Me (externally): “Oh, I just had a quiet one, I didn’t do anything, really.”

Mum calls me:“What are your plans for the day?”
  • Me (internally): “A few clustering & freewrite exercises, followed by a mammoth writing session”
  • Me (externally): “Oh, just rearranging my wardrobe and cleaning the windows.”

When disappearing from my desk every lunchtime (when for the last 5 years I’ve taken lunch at my desk), I'm asked: “Did you have a nice lunch?”
  • Me (internally):“It was wonderful. I managed 1249 words in 34 minutes.”
  • Me (externally): “Aye, it was alright.” (No further elaboration)

Why do I stop myself from mentioning my goal – nay, my purpose – in life? Because... people will act like you’re a weirdo, like you've just admitted to skinning cats for fun, if you do something as silly as that. Which makes them the real weirdos, really, but I remain silent nonetheless.

For me, telling someone you’re a writer is like telling a fellow Glaswegian you’re teetotal. You’re met with a glazed, confused stare. It’s beyond comprehension to many. 

In the “Start Writing Fiction” podcast from the Open University, author Michèle Roberts gives some sage advice: “Don’t tell the wrong people that you want to write, because they’ll mock you and laugh at you.”
So who are the “wrong people?” Personally, I consider that to be everyone who doesn't infact write themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I talk about my writing, to an extent, to my nearest and dearest, but I wouldn't hark on to my neighbours or colleagues about it.
So why allow myself to come across as someone I'm not? Why not just confess my writerly ways?
Because it was hard enough convincing myself that writing isn’t simply an act of self-indulgence, without having to convince other people too.
The more involved I am with my writing, the more precious it is becoming to me, and the more fiercely I will protect my right to write.
I’ve opened that can of worms before. In a more gallus temperament, I’ve spoken of my writing ambition to some "wrong people". It invariably created questions. Sceptical questions. “What, so you think you’re going to get published? Do you fancy yourself as the next J. K. Rowling? You’ll have to keep your day job, of course.”
Calm down, pal.
In order to explain your writing dream properly, you’d have to spend a hell of a lot of time talking about yourself. And I don’t care for talking about myself. I’d rather go and write about other people, to be frank.
Sometimes I wonder if it scares some people, seeing someone pursue their dreams. Perhaps it forces them to wonder about their own dreams; ones that remain unfulfilled. The path to writing is unique because you can’t really follow step-by-step instructions to becoming qualified (believe me, I’ve tried), like the way you can in another career like a mechanic or a midwife. Maybe this is why most people don’t consider writing as a real profession.
One of the most common attributes of writers, I like to believe, is their ability not to care too much about what other people think of them. Otherwise, they’d be too terrified to even think about writing, don’t you think?
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all sinister attitudes and ugliness. Perhaps people genuinely are happy for you and wish you all the best with your endeavours. Maybe everything I just said above wasn’t a reflection on other people, but of my own insecurities as a writer.
In that case, when better to divulge these insecurities than in my post for the Insecure Writers Support Group, hmm?
How is everyone getting on? Have you had any experiences of sharing your writing dream with the "wrong people"?

I shall catch up with all my fellow #ISWG writers over the weekend. Looking forward to it! x

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

#IWSG: Self-Sabotage

(My second IWSG post. Yay!)

I'm almost embarrassed to ask this question, for fear of exposing myself as a psychopath, but does anyone else suffer from an overwhelming compulsion to sabotage their own efforts, in writing or anything else that's important to them?

I do. It's like there's a tiny monster in my head pretending to be my wee pal. Lets call him Bampot.

My lunch hour writing sessions have fast become the most productive of all my writing. Every time I go back to my desk, I'm brimming with a feeling of accomplishment.

So why, then, does little Bampot say to me in the mornings: "don't bother taking your laptop to work with you today, you might drop and break it. You'll just hurt your shoulder humphing it around anyway. You can freewrite at your desk..." and so on.

It's not the first time Bampot has reared his ugly head. He fast appears when I want to do something creative with my life. When I was thirteen, my music teacher invited me to join the Strathclyde Arts Jazz Group. I was terrified, but went along anyway. And I was so glad I did. I'd be up there, doing my flute solo (yes, Jazz Flute, just call me Ron Burgundy), being part of this amazing musical creation. There's nothing else like it, I tell ye.

So why, then, did Bampot convince me to "forget" to take my flute from the school's music cupboard the night before our practise sessions? "You can still go and watch," he'd say to me, "it just means you don't have to play. Don't put yourself under that pressure. You might mess up your solo and look like a fool."

So I'd turn up empty handed, making my excuses. But my music teacher, Mr. Gourlay, he knew the score. He'd bring my flute with him when I "forgot". I have a feeling he knew I was at it, and I'm grateful to him for that; for pushing me out of my comfort zone. It's one the best things you can do for someone, in my opinion. By the time I made my way back home, I was high with adrenaline, so happy to have been part of the magic again. That creative buzz is quite addictive, you know. Shame I'd always try to "forget" my flute the next week, and the next...

I think everyone has a little Bampot in their head. One that tells you: don't bother applying for that job, you won't get it. Give your boyfriend one more chance. He treats you like shit, but he's alright sometimes. He's more than you deserve anyway. What's the point in dieting? Would you rather eat rabbit food and be miserable for the rest of your life? Here, have a chip. You can't give up smoking, you enjoy it and it's good for your stress levels. You could get knocked down and killed by a bus tomorrow, for all you know. Life's too short.

Don't write that book. You don't know what you're doing. There are millions of books out there, all written better than yours. Look at these authors, spouting out three books a year and you're still working on your first. Never mind being an author. It's not what it used to be anyway; you have to be a PR mogul whilst you're at it these days. It's not what you write, it's who'll review your book. Just do yourself a favour and stick to reading books and writing the occasional journal. You'll save yourself a lot of pain and time. How wonderful would it be not to be plagued by feelings of inadequacy anymore? Just give it up. You tried your best. It wasn't meant to be.

Sometimes defying Bampot feels like you're going against your natural instincts. But from what I've experienced in life so far, he only pops up when you're on the cusp of improving yourself; at risk of becoming a better person. Don't let him win. See him as a test. Really good things don't come without a fight.

I shouldn't let Bampot wear me down with my writing. I've refused to surrender to him for many things in my life. And it's been more than worth it every time. He won't get me this time either, I'll make sure of it. And all my fellow #IWSG lovelies should fight against Bampot too!

How are you all getting on anyway? I've been away on a trip to Dublin, so it feels like forever since I immersed myself in the bloggy world. Do give me your gossip! I'll come visit you when I can :) x


Saturday, 18 August 2012

Whoopsie... I found Polyvore

This past week has been, on the whole, very productive. Having read my plea for writing discipline, my colleague, fellow writer and talented playwright Kris took pity on me and arranged an enforced writing day, whereby we met up at one of his secret writing locations and spent the day writing. It couldn't have been timed better!

Only the night before, I'd had an epiphany regarding the WIP. Originally intending to write the novel from two POVs (an elderly woman and her teenage granddaughter), it became less feasible as the story developed. Their situations became too big; too separate.

I love both of them, so it was decided. One novel became two. Nanny's story is being put on the back burner until the time comes to revive her. She joins my NaNo 2011 novel on the "To Be Written Properly" shelf, waiting to be plucked from hibernation and smartened up.

Armed with this new outlook, I tidied up the outline of my current WIP (I should probably give it a title), and everything seemed to just fit into place. Before, I'd used Nanny's story to flesh out the novel; to keep things interesting and give it a comical, eccentric break from what is essentially a very harrowing story. When I lifted Nanny's part away from the WIP, I also lifted a plethora of restrictions and obstacles.

The path is clear now, and I'm happily running down it.

Remember I said I was considering buying a rucksack so I could bring the laptop into work (without being mugged on the way in), to write on my lunch breaks? Well... I asked my twin, Irene, what she thought of this and she calmly replied "I'd rather be mugged than seen wearing a rucksack. Take the laptop bag and carry a knife."

I managed to compromise and found myself a gorgeous bag, big enough to hold the laptop (a fiver from Primark. Result!). I've since spent a few lunch hours writing and have been surprised by how much I can get done in less than an hour!

It's just as well I'm getting some work done, as I spent a ridiculous amount of time on Polyvore last night, creating outfits. I'm making a public promise to stay away from it (until next weekend), lest it take over my life. In the meantime, I want to share the beautiful little outfits I made with you. Sigh... aren't they precious?

Pretty in Pink


Black & Plum


Sunday, 12 August 2012

Game On Blog Tour

Most participants of the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2012 are probably seeing this image splattered all over their news feed at the moment:

Kyra had the genius idea of using the challenge to write a scene each day, from the POV of some of the lead characters. It was an excellent way for us to get to know them and drummed up a lot of excitement for when the novel was released a few months later.

I haven't followed many blog tours, admittedly, but there's something about this one that strikes me as original and a thousand times more interesting than the usual ones you see, where the author jumps on someones blog, shouting "here's my book. Buy it." 

So far, I've seen her design character outfits with Clare Dugmore, talk about what music inspired her writing with Alex J Cavanaugh, and we've even been taken on a design tour of Leah & Freya's apartment with Dani from Entertaining Interests.

I wanted to ask Kyra two simple questions that I'd love to ask all authors (and feel free to answer them yourself in the comments box!). So I asked her:

What was the process of writing your book like (for instance, did you use software like Scrivener to compile it? Did you do timelines, or each POV in whole before splitting them up? [I asked this when I thought Radleigh was getting a POV too])

The only tool I use for writing is Microsoft Word. I'm not a planner by any means, so I just wrote the whole story right out of my head and onto the page. Game On only has one POV, though there were many times when I considered making it half Leah, half Radleigh. Generally speaking, I find timelines restrictive, BUT, I did have to work out a few dates and things in my head at certain times. Now I'm keeping the story going for a few more books, though I will have to break tradition and draw up at the very least a simple timeline to make sure I get everything just right!

What advice would you give to new writers, trying to write their first novel?

I think the best advice I can give is that you can't rush it. There is a lot to learn, and it can't be done over a weekend. It can't be done over a few weeks. Writing a book that feels just right to you takes a long time, and you have to be prepared to put in the work, and to learn the best ways to craft your writing. Keeping that in mind, you shouldn't spend too long trying to learn. The more you write, the more you learn, and the same goes for reading. Read blogs by writers, and absorb their wisdom because it is absolutely invaluable. And don't ever give up on yourself, even when it gets tough - and it will! Self-belief is the key!

Excellent advice, Kyra! :)

I'm still reading Game On at the moment, and enjoying it thoroughly. If you like your "will they/won't they?" contemporary romances, this one's for you! Here's the details if you'd like to read it yourself:

Game On Synopsis
After swapping her small town life to work for one of the top soccer teams in the U.S, Leah Walker thought she could finally leave the ghosts of her past behind. However, when she meets serial womanizer, Radleigh McCoy, the memories of her old life come swarming back, and she is forced to ask herself whether she has really changed at all.

Game On Buy Links


Friday, 10 August 2012

Sunny days...

Just popping in to say... I took my last post to heart and have been writing short stories comprised of bizarre (and sometimes outrageous) memories and musings, instead of looking elsewhere for inspiration. Retreating to my old desktop computer (with no Internet access... this is vital), I made a list of all the possible things I could write about. My fingers near flew off the keyboard, I tell ye! :)

I've completed two short story first drafts already today. Thank you to my virtual prison guards for locking me in. It's utterly glorious outside, so I have been taking the occasional break in the garden. Not without my notepad, I hasten to add!

Here's to a weekend of productive writing, everyone. Have a good one. x

Somebody want to cut my grass for me?


Saturday, 4 August 2012

Writing from the inside out

This morning, I was thinking to myself: what would happen if I were to go somewhere, far far away, for one year, with no laptop/computer, no Internet, no communication with the outside world, no books to read (shocking, I know!); just a stash of pen & paper, basic maintenance like food etc, and my own company?

Quieting all the instant objections (what about your loved ones? Your work? Money?), I imagine I would have to make a new writing routine for myself. One that didn't involve research (Internet or otherwise), social networking, reading other people's work, or finding new writing excersizes to try out.

What would happen?

I suppose I'd probably get some actual writing done. Unspoiled writing; untainted, using only what's in my head and heart to fuel my words. That's how they did it in the olden days, didn't they? The works of Shakespeare and Charles Dickens weren't too shabby, were they?

But what would I write about?

Probably the same things I'm trying to write about right now; things I'm allowing outside factors to interfere with. I know what this is... I've so little confidence in my own words, I'm looking to others for direction and improvement. And, what's worse, I'm looking in places that make me feel even more inadequate! 

At this moment in time, I don't need inspiration. I don't need new ideas. I just need to work with what I've got, inside.

“All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.” 
― Ernest Hemingway

I need to find out what my truest sentence is.

I have no inclination to abandon my current life for a life of complete solitude (as much as I jest about my desire to live a hermit lifestyle), I am, however, going to become a part-time hermit, mentally. I'm going to try "reclusive writer" on for size. 

Like René Descartes, I'm going to discard all my prior beliefs, and just work with what remains in my heart. It might be shit, but it's my shit, goddammit!

Anyone who's read more than two of my posts might notice a pattern evolving here. One minute, I'm glorifying all the great writing resources available, the next I'm turning my back on them in defiance. Yes, I'm a bit mental. I hope to look back on this indecisiveness one day and say "ah... I'm so glad I've got my act together now." Fingers crossed.

There will come a time when I have to share my work with readers and critics, and when it does, I'll know every word of it was written earnestly, comprised 100% of true sentences.

Consider myself locked up in my writing room. Does anyone want to have the key? I may have to be forced into the room, every now and then!


Wednesday, 1 August 2012

#IWSG: Déjà vu

Today is my first post as part of the Insecure Writers’ Support Group, which consists of a bunch of lovely bloggers who post on the first Wednesday of the month with all their writing insecurities. I’ve got plenty of these, so it's a given I’d be into this.

I'm the 226th member! Click here to see the list of other participants (and to join up yourself, perhaps?).

So what are my writing insecurities? Well (CAUTION: ANGST AHEAD), my main fear at the moment is that, in my effort to learn how to write well, I'm going round in circles and absorbing nothing! I keep having all these “epiphanies” about what step to take next, then realise I’d already thought of (and dismissed) that idea some months previously.

It’s like I'm taking one step forward and two steps back.

The other day, for instance, I started thinking about a TV Program I used to watch, called Fat Friends. Anyone remember it? It was a show based around a slimming group, and we got to delve into the lives of each of the slimmers. It was a warm fuzzy comedy with likeable characters and plenty of emotional issues.

Realising how important the community aspect could be in a good story, I resolved to come up with lots of good “community” ideas for future stories.

But then I thought to myself: wait, this sounds familiar. I consulted an old “story idea” spreadsheet made in June last year, and found this:

(By the way, I have no idea what the hell a Cider Farm is. Is that even a real thing?)

And that's another thing: all these spreadsheets and print-outs and worksheets are just feeding my insecurity! The only thing that will get rid of my insecurity is getting it done, for crying out loud (sorry, I'm in complete despair at my lack of progress). 

I've resolved to start bringing my laptop into work to do a bit of writing on my lunch breaks. I need to get a big bag/rucksack first, though. Cutting about Glasgow with a laptop bag at 6am just screams *mug me, please*. Here's a hilarious Limmy sketch to back this up.

I think insecurity breeds on silence. It’s good to talk to other writers; to vent and not be considered a weirdo for having the audacity to dream of being a writer.

Yesterday, I met the lovely Anne from Is Anyone There for a coffee and a gab. Not only was it great to meet such a sweet person, it was wonderful to just talk about writing with someone who can relate.

Speaking of people who can relate, I look forward to visiting the other #ISWG bloggers when I get home from work tonight!

What are your writing insecurities? Feel free to share (and make me feel less exposed haha) x

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Where are all my writing elves?

Last night, I found myself browsing writing courses in my area. I attended a creative writing course a few years back, which was utterly dire. For two reasons: I wasn't as committed to writing as I am now (although the passion was obviously always there), and there was too much poetry for my liking. I've tried. I just can't get into poetry. What's wrong with me?

Tell me, what are your thoughts on writing courses? Have you been on one and did it improve your writing? Am I better off just trawling through the free online courses (on that note, any suggestions?)? Or do you think the best form of learning is through living?

Forgive the barrage of questions. I'm desperate to write well. I want to write as beautifully as Nancy Mitford or Elizabeth Jenkins, but with the lure and page-turning-against-your-will ability of the likes of Virginia Andrews and Stephen King. Is that too much to ask?

In other news... over the past few days, I've found myself poring over all the writing advice on author Jody Hedlund's website. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for a gentle nudge. I especially like the post: 4 Ways to Hook Your Readers and Keep Them Wanting More.

Despite being somewhat dubious, I've also printed out a Character Worksheet from The Writer's Craft. It strikes me as potentially useful, as it doesn't require me to write down what the character's neighbour's goldfish looks like. Time will tell whether it will prove beneficial; I'll be sure to let you know!

Aside from doing some housework (which simply cannot be ignored any longer), I hope to chain myself to the writing desk today. After all, as Neil Gaiman once told us, the Writing Elves aren't going to come along and finish my work for me!

Have a lovely weekend :) x

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Get back to work, you!

Hellooo, everyone. I've missed you so.
Coming down from my holiday, I'm still trying to get back into a routine. I've missed my wee writing schedule, and hope to get one set up again ASAP. This time, however, my schedule will be a bit more... *takes deep breath* sociable.

As much as I love being holed up in the corner of my room for hours on end (I genuinely do. I’m a weirdo.), I think it will do me good to interact with other writers and attend workshops, writer events, etc. I’m rewriting my novel to the best of my ability, but I believe the quality of my writing could be better. Much better.

Coming from a city so rich in creative talent, it would be ridiculous not to take advantage of everything that’s on offer.

I joined the Glasgow Writer’s Group months ago, and chickened out an hour before I was due to attend one of their meetings. I was sitting in the Mitchell library with SIXTEEN printed submissions for that evening alone, and felt completely out of my depth. I hope to have the balls to attend one of the meetings, with a submission of my own, in the near future.

As much as I adore it, working solely on my novel can get a bit tedious at times and I want to keep my creativity alive. I’m hoping writing things like short stories will improve my writing style, which will ultimately improve the novel's content.

I’ve also become one of the latest members of the Federation of Writers (Scotland), and am looking forward to attending some of the events coming up, such as the Moving Forward with Writing event. It's an open learning day for authors to display or promote their work, as well as attend taster classes (which is the bit I'm most interested in!).

Tonight, I’m going to the book launch party of Wild, a book by Gill Hoff. Gill is a member of the Glasgow Writer’s Group and everything I’ve read of hers has the tendency to stick in my head long after reading it. Her work is wonderfully dark and disturbing at times. Have a browse of some of her stories here. This story gave me the dry boak… in a good way (strong stomach required!).

How about you? Do you find working on other things helps keep you enthusiastic about your novel? Or do you just think it’s another form of procrastination?


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Not dead...

I'm still alive... probably more than ever.

Lets catch up when I get back.

Speak soon, lovelies! x