Friday, 21 February 2014

Pt 2: What I Learnt While Writing a Book
(or: what I won’t do next time)

I let myself be distracted too readily.
            When I’m working on a big writing project it is just too easy to say, I should make something nice for dessert tonight, or ring someone I haven’t spoken to in a while, or linger too long over breakfast with the crossword (I ‘m not a morning person and getting up from the table takes WILL power!). I am now determined to have a set time to write EVERY week day - no ifs, buts or, I feel inspiration-deprived.
            I WILL set myself to write a daily word quota. And I won’t beat myself up if it’s all rubbish; at least I will have written something and ‘something’ can always be worked on for improvement. I have set quotas in the past, but not dealing with the ‘rubbish’ issue always de-railed me.
            One thing a University education teaches is that you have options, and you learn which options you’re good at. But the broad spectrum of an undergraduate course of study means you tend to flit from one subject to another, retaining only the basics of each in order to pass an exam or submit an assignment. It’s possible to be competent without excelling. Until three years ago I wrote only short fiction, which may be likened to undergraduate course study – got that one down pat, done the assignment, on to the next thing.
            Writing a book taught me that focus is essential. Writing a book requires a mindset that’s prepared for the long-haul while still keeping an eye on the high calling to complete  the project! Not focusing means the book takes longer to write than it should do. I won’t let that happen next time. 

For me, daydreaming is best confined to the period of time I'm thinking about the next book and that oh so glorious time when I've completed it!

Monday, 17 February 2014


Life seems very full with the demands of ‘the must do’ pressing in on every side. Virginia Woolf spoke of needing a ‘room of one’s own’ in order to be creative.  I’m thinking I need such a room but without door, window, telephone or internet - preferably without human contact altogether!
Feeling the need for a little solitude…to breath, to commune with One greater than I, to recharge. I’ve forgotten what a comfort zone feels like!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

(or: what I won’t do next time)
Part 1

I will not have a lone ranger mentality

Past experience of sharing my writing during the Masters in Creative Writing confused me. There were always many suggestions for alterations, additions, omissions, and explanations – that was, after all, the purpose of the weekly group meeting- and being a teachable and conscientious soul I took every suggestion on board. The result was two-fold: I wrote endless back story to accommodate their suggestions, ended up with a cast of thousands with much telling-not-showing, and ruined what had been a good plot; and I lost all confidence in the story and my ability to write it. They were all bright young things and I admired their writing. Of course they would know more than I did!
            It took several years to undo the damage and get back to writing. And several more before I enjoyed and appreciated the value of a writing group. Even so, I was stingy with how much I shared with others as I wrote Cambodian Harvest. I’m sure it would have been a better book for more input, and increased my satisfaction in the process of writing it.
            So, with my next book I will seek out a range of reader-mentors who will help me to sift chaff from wheat early in the process and help me kill off mere ideas rather than the darlings I have birthed and nurtured to adulthood! These readers can’t be my husband or best friend who would fondly tolerate even my sloppiest lines.
            My mentor-readers will also be drawn from a range of different skills and interests. I need people who will tell me what does and doesn’t add to the flow of the story, to help me refine and achieve what I always had in mind. And while I may not need a lot of help with spelling and punctuation I do need someone who will pull me into line regarding the use of intensifiers – those pesky adverbs and adjectives – and rein me in on those long descriptive passages I love. Oh, and someone to keep an eye on formatting!
            There was one other reason for not having the number of readers I needed. I was scared of giving away all the ‘goodies’ and there’d be no one left to buy the book when it was finished. Now that’s negativism of the worst order!