The Send Button...
Is everyone okay with all the Corona virus news? Hopefully, we can all pull together and support each other and our elderly folk. I think it’s okay for those of us active on social media, but I am concerned about the elderly who can’t manoeuvre social media and how lonely they’ll feel? I'm going to pop round to all my vulnerable neighbours and give them my phone number so they can call me for a chat.
Writing news. Press the send button! That’s my mantra since my last blog post. Remember I was bemoaning my writing ability and struggling to finish my piece for the illness anthology? The day before the deadline I just said ‘what the heck’ and closed my mind to the image of the publisher sniggering into her cup of coffee with her colleagues. My finger hit the button. A month later an email pops into my inbox: ‘Congratulations! We have accepted your work in the anthology.’ Comments on my work honest, affecting, illustrative. I had a Scarlett O’Hara moment! If you’ve never seen Scarlett O’Hara swoon in Gone With the Wind it’s a useful scene to mimic in moments of procrastination and self-induced crisis. Trust me, I’m well-rehearsed! I went back to my story, read it with fresh eyes, and it was good. A month back, it was bin worthy. How can this be? One moment despising my work and a month later patting myself on the back?
The key is distance. I’ve chatted with several writers these past weeks, published writers who’ve been through the process. The messages were loud and clear. Finish the first draft. Step back. Put it away. Leave it for a month or two. As I mentioned in my last post waiting is difficult for me as I ‘do’ life swiftly but I now realise I have to slow down, take things easy, mull. Anyway, during my waiting period I can start another writing project so I won’t be twiddling my thumbs or pushing the hoover around the living room or dusting the furniture. Now that’s a foreign concept!
Clicking the Send button has benefitted from other writing. I heard last week my novel has passed the first round of Retreat West First Chapter competition!
In terms of my MA journey, I’ve been knee-deep in theories of the Self for my MA module. One of the key things I’ve learned in this module is writing fictional autobiography can be incredibly freeing and have a major impact on who we are in terms of identity and understanding ourselves.
One way to free early memories is to use a photo from one’s personal past such as Celia Hunt writes about in her book ‘The Self on The Page.’ She suggested to her students they ‘walk into’ the photo and ask questions from the senses; what do I see, hear, smell, taste, what do I feel as I touch things in the photo?
Caroline Topperman explores this idea of using photography as a writing prompt. I watched Caroline in her video presentation with Alexa Bigwarfe during the Women in Publishing Summit.
I followed Caroline’s advice and used a photo from my novel research. A social worker with her patient in an asylum. As I wrote what I saw, using my senses as described above, a story emerged. This will be helpful as a warmup exercise for my novel before I jump into my scenes. She’s styleontheside on Instagram. Caroline has a super book called Tell Me What You See. On my TBR pile!
My MA module has been over for a week and I’ve jumped back into my historical novel. As I manoeuvred my way around my research and photos in Scrivener, I knew I needed to call on an expert so I had booked a weekend in Devon with Anne Rainbow of Scrivenervirgin.com. Anne is a Scrivener expert, so productive to spend time with her. Unfortunately, I cancelled due to Corona Virus but we will meet soon and have some edits to work on as Anne edits in Scrivener!
I like to learn everything I can about writing so I booked on an editing day with Writers and Artist with my writing buddy Michelle, but again postponed because of Corona Virus.
Love writing retreats so I’m possibly attending a writing retreat with Blue Pencil Agency in May which looks to be productive and I’m hoping to learn lots but watch this space for cancellation and re-book in the Autumn. Finally, in September I am attending the Historical Novel Society Conference in Durham where I’ll be learning all things historical and pitching my manuscript to editors. Fingers crossed, I stick to timelines of a first draft and multiple rounds of edits.
I’m a big fan of David Lyons of Openauthor.com and his videos on Beats and Drafting are top class. He’s edited some of my work and he ‘gets’ it and has been encouraging without sugar-coating things I need to change. He suggested Nancy’s voice wasn’t on track (as did Amanda Saint and Anne Rainbow) and it was only Cynthia’s voice in my head so Nancy is sitting in a Scrivener folder for now. I’ll leave you with myself and Benny The Siberian writing my blog post. Say hi to him and his sister Choo Choo @siberian_supreme on Instagram.
Enjoy it until next time. Please email me with your writing thoughts and experiences? Is there anything you’d like to know about the MA journey?
Drop me a line!