Friday, 29 June 2012


The story I was wrestling with last time came to heel in the end. I decided that I'd been rushing it, and not giving it my full attention. With that in mind, I sat and plotted it more; I spent more time on and with the characters and then I chose to use the first person, which freshened it immensely. Feeling quite pleased with the result, I intended to come back to it, and the other story I'd recently typed, for a good edit or tow, hoping to send them off.

Instead, my 3 year old was taken ill, and the doctor took one look at him and sent for an ambulance. The good news is, he's home now with a short-term inhaler, but of course it was immensely disruptive in every other area. This week I feel as if I haven't seen any of the children much, and haven't been at home for long enough to do the laundry, even.

I've managed a little writing, which I will post about soon, if possible. But the stories will have to wait again now, till next week, and may have to take a reduced priority while I catch up on other things. Sigh.

Friday, 22 June 2012

A brick wall

I've been attempting to work on some short stories this week, despite the record-breaking rejection time of the last one. I've sent one to a magazine competition, and paid to get feedback, which will be valuable, I know.

Then I had two ideas I thought were great. Well, they had promise, at least. I got a rough draft of one down fairly quickly, but the other is eluding me. It hasn't helped that the 3-year old had a bout of something contagious and yukky that meant he wasn't allowed to go to playgroup this week. It was quite blow to lose two mornings of writing time, even though it was entirely my fault for crowing on Sunday night that I was about to have some time to myself. I should have known better.

Being determined, I ploughed on with writing in the evening, but every time I try to get this second story down, it doesn't seem to work, and I end up starting it again the next night. I wonder why it is proving so temperamental. Is there a flaw in the plotting that I haven't identified, or another reason my sub-conscious isn't letting me get on with it? Either way, it's not going to beat me - inspiration being mostly perspiration and all that.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

The rejection routine

On Tuesday I was so energised to finish editing a short story and I sent it off hopefully to a high-circulation magazine.  Another story I sent off two or three months ago is also still 'out there'.  This morning a fat white SAE plopped onto the doormat and I assumed it was the story from two or three months ago, but it turned out it was the one I sent on Tuesday.  Is a four day turn around a record? Just how dreadful must my story have been! I'm able to laugh about it, but it is surprising to me how it soured part of my day. 

I also surprised myself by being able to accept all the advice I've read about rejection.
*I recognise that a rejection is a positive thing, because it shows I'm submitting material, and not just dreaming.
*I know that I'm learning, and I can learn from rejection.
*I know that the rejection might not be about my writing or ideas, but might be about the market being wrong, or personal preference.
*I'm glad that I have other irons in the fire - the story from two or three months ago, and my novel.
*I decided this evening to tackle my residual disappointment by starting to plan two new short stories. The resulting absorption and excitement have taken my focus off the rejection, and I think they both have a lot of potential.  In terms of having learnt something, I'm plotting the stories far more tightly, rather than writing with only a woolly idea of where I'm going, as I sometimes do. I think I have been guilty of skimping on preparation time with short stories, because they are not my first love...but I'm not prepared to give up on them yet, nor on the lessons I can learn from trying to get published.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Trying to surf Amazon

As an aspiring writer, I've been through a few phases of hope and despondency.  I was seventeen, naive and with the world at my feet when someone I respected pointed out that my dreams of becoming an author were unrealistic.  It's been a long journey back, but my novel is nearly complete... 

The sense of achievement is immense, even though these last few hurdles sometimes seem so challenging. And, while the difficult hunt for agent and publisher lies ahead,  the e-book revolution peeks from the side-lines, alluring.  With my new kindle in hand, and twiddling my thumbs at my in-laws' house at the weekend, I decided to try to find a kindle book written by an unknown author.  I supposed that I would learn something, whether the book was good or terrible. 

What I discovered was that trying to find what I wanted was like looking for a needle in a haystack.    I scrolled painstakingly past countless erotic novels, German books, fantasy...I tried different search terms; I tried to look for e-books priced at 99p. Amongst the tens of thousands of books on there, how can any author be noticed? How can anyone attract the target audience they have written for? After an hour I was thoroughly discouraged, and still hadn't found what I was looking for. (I think there's a song in there, somewhere...!)

 In the end, I settled for a book with hundreds of five-star reviews which Amazon had been recommending pointedly for a few weeks. (It was a good book. I did enjoy it, and it was my kind of story. But it wasn't the unknown author I was after).

So now I feel less secure in e-publishing as a back-up plan, and I'm wondering what on earth an unknown author can do to market their work successfully.  I suppose the first thing is to make sure my novel is the best it can be.  With that in mind, this week I must make time to meet up with my police detective friend and exploit his experiences.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Time Poor

It's all very well writing while the kids sleep; if only they did all sleep simultaneously!

Friday, 1 June 2012

Writing better

The last few nights, I've been sitting up late, working on my book. At last I finished reading it, and then I went through highlighting passages, and then compiling a lo-o-ong list of questions for my detective neighbour.

So I'm far too tired tonight to do more than write a quick blog to say: amongst all the observations I could make about my own work (and probably will), one of the most encouraging is: the later chapters were much better than the earlier ones. 

I'm taking this as proof that I am learning and improving, even without any critiques or feedback.  And that means my potential for  further improvement need only be limited by how willing I am to learn and to practise.