Saturday, 27 July 2013

The Witching Hour

3 am and I can't sleep. I've tried the relaxation exercises. I've counted backwards from 500, got lost and started again, and again. Nothing helps.  It's going to be one of those nights when I simply won't be  going back to sleep. 

Once this situation would have thrown me into a blind panic. Fear of being tired at work the next day, of being too woozy to drive, or to concentrate would have sent my heart racing and the chances of any sleep whatsoever flying. 

Now I look at it all differently. 

Lying in bed and letting my mind drift is a very productive way of spending those witching hours. I've written whole stories which the next morning have been transferred onto the computer. I've had ideas for characters round whom there is a novel waiting to be written. I've realised just what is wrong with a particular piece of writing and how I can put it right. 

Not sleeping is now something to be welcomed and embraced.  It truly can be a magic time. 

Anyone else feel this way? 

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

What do Agents and Publishers Need?

What is the one thing literary agents and publishers can't do without? Surely the answer to that is writers. Without us they would lose their business, their sources of income and their lifestyles. We are their raw material, on which everything else depends, so why do they treat us the way they do?

First of all there is the general assumption that we, the creative ones, must package our work the way they want us to. The query letter must entice, the synopsis must be the right length, the right tone, the right voice. Never mind that both those forms of writing are amazingly hard to get right, and do not necessarily indicate that you are a good writer of fiction, this is the first hurdle that must be negotiated. Why is it not possible simply to say "Here is my novel, do you like it?" After all it is the novel that will be sold to the readers, not the synopsis or the covering letter, or the CV.

Speaking of which this too seems to be crucial. Surely all that anyone needs to know is whether I can write a good book and follow it up with another. A list of previous publications, if any could suffice and if I'm brand new to this game then you either like my work enough to take the risk, or you don't. Whether I am married, bake muffins or kill sharks in my spare time is surely irrelevant.

Assuming that you have done all this and fingers crossed, heart thumping, stomach churning you have sent off your work what happens next?

Mostly nothing. A few agents and publishers will acknowledge your e mail. Many won't.

Then you wait. And wait. And wait.

And wait some more.

If they like your work, they ask to see more and great celebrations and rejoicings take place.

If however they do not, then..............


And more nothing.

OK. They don't like it. But surely they can at least e-mail  a "Thanks, but no thanks".

It takes seconds. It's only polite. It's treating you like a fellow member of the human race with hopes and feelings.

It also might be one way of not alienating a possible source of income.

After all in this day and age, sick of being treated as if they don't matter how many successful writers have gone on to sell huge numbers of e-books and all without recourse to a single agent or publisher?

Thursday, 11 July 2013

What to do when feeling Blue

The sun is shining, the sky is blue and I'm feeling down. It's one of those days when counting your blessings, being grateful for all the good things you have in life doesn't make any real difference. 

I could go and sit in a corner and howl. I could stuff myself with rhubarb muffins.  I could start early on the bottle of red wine on the kitchen counter. 

Or I could re-read Josh Allerton's blog on three positive things about having cancer. 

Now that really puts things into perspective. 

Josh has had to face the thing that most of us dread,  life threatening illness at a very young age and he has dealt with it with honesty and courage and a sense of humour. 

He has written about his illness without the slightest shred of self pity or that awful "misery memoir" tone that drags you down to wallow in some voyeuristic pit of second hand emotion. He's just got on with his life. He can talk openly about what he has experienced but he never lets it take over. 

No victim status for Josh. 

Great stuff.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Keeping the balls...

in the air.

Years ago, when I sought advice about why my writing career wasn't exactly taking off, I was told that I had too many things on the go and once.

That was true then and is even more true now. Not only is there a short story which needs polishing, but I am currently editing my YA novel, promoting "Dark Angel" on Wattpad, looking for small regional publishers for my children's book "City of Secrets" and blogging.

As well as all that, I should be working on the "Dragonfire" trilogy.  I need to step up promotion for the e books and kindle the final volume "Master of Trades". I also have to re-read "Slipping Through the Net" my contribution to Hag Lit, the first few chapters of which, in a moment of madness, I sent off to an agent.

Then there is Face Book and Twitter. The first I love and can manage, the second I'm still working out. I know I have to get to grips with it, but I need to sit down and spend some time following and tweeting to see what works for me.

Between letting the world know what I'm doing, and actually writing my head feels like it's spinning. Much more importantly I feel as if I'm dabbling here, there and everywhere and not focusing on finishing anything.

The trouble is that as a writer nothing is finished until it's bound solidly in a cover; even e books can be scratched and re-written at the click of a key. So there will always be countless balls in the air. The trick is, I guess, to keep calm and focus on the one thing you've chosen to do today. Keeping a list of what has been done and what still needs attention could be useful too.

I should imagine that being in this situation is quite usual for a writer, so if any of you out there have any hints as to manage your work in an even vaguely sensible way, I'd love it if you would share.