look back

Nano this year, whilst I succeeded in making the post count, was not what i deem a great success. I didn’t work on my historical novel but instead wrote a lot of crap about fairies. It sucked. It was horrible, but i have to deal with it and move on.
I did however manage to glean an interesting character from it, so maybe she will be useful one day.
in the emantime i relaxed over new year and wondered when i will ever finish ‘rest for the wicked.’ i have the prequel all planned too so yeah, it needs doing.


I started to plot my Nanowrimo novel a few days ago, ok, well rather I bought a new notebook from Paperchase and decided it needed a high purpose. The idea I had for an epic romance/historical drama still flutter about in my head, so I think it would be an excellent time to get it kick started. Particularly as i will need to do alot of plotting for this story.

Normally when I write I just start witht the first line and go from there, I enjoy seeing where it takes me and what happens next, it helps the characters to live for themselves and once they do the telling gets so much easier. This time I am plotting, simply because the timing is so important and the period of history is inflexible. Historical events are a great framework of facts and figures of what is known about the time period, but how you dress it will be the key part to keeping people interested.

I remember when i was growing up, the books by Cynthia Harnett were totally delightful to read and not in the least boring way of learning a little bit about history. My favourite (of which I found a 1st editon for £3 in a charity shop years ago) was ‘The Load of Unicorn’ which was to do with scribes and the advent of printing as a boy from a scribe’s family was sent as an apprentice to Caxton. There was intrigue as well and you really learned a lot about that small section of time. ‘The Wool Pack’ was another favourite and I hope I can make my historical novel just as interesting and educational.

Sso far i have a vague outline of each chhacter’s story and the time line for each, its like having the fabric but not the framework. Now i need to start on the hard facts and then follow that with initial research. I have had books for this for some time too, so it will be great to finally dive into them and also will teach me alot too about that particular decade of history over which the story takes place.

It is your job to write 1000 words a day about Joe and his aunt. Write the story, and if you get stuck then just write 1000 words on what kinds of clothes Joe wears, or what happened at his first day at school. That way you’ll eventually find your way into the story. You might not know what the story is until you’ve written the whole first draft and you can suddenly see what it is. That’s fine – that’s part of the writing. – Fiona Robyn

This morning when i checked my mail i had an invite and a link to an authors blog whose post contained the above advice which is incredibly timely and just what i needed to boot my butt back into creativity again. The practical kind of creativity that will have me dashing out of work and home to the General to start typing.


I have less useable hours int he day now because of commuting and it puts a serious dent into my writing and ability to start or finish anything. Its making my life stressful that i can’t get time to actually write and live my raison d’etre.

I will solve this next month i decided by buying a mini laptop so i can write on the train and go somewhere other than my desk at work to do some creative expressing.

I need to write, seriously.

I have been on goodreads a short time now and, last month thought i was lucky when I won a book in their giveaway. I received about 5 books from the one author who thought I might like the others and after my initial astonishment i had some doubts which proved to be very accurate.

I won’t go into details on the why and wherefore, but it certainly makes me appreciate more the books we see sitting on shelves in stores just waiting to be discovered. I appreciate not so much the actual stories and authors now, but more the whole process that goes into getting a book to that shelf.

The books i won were self published and now something i would swear never to do. The publisher that helps people self publish says in their site that they offer evaluation to get it to the basic requirements needed to self publish and give advice on how to promote etc etc. I don’t decry their efforts, but essentially they are giving false hope to a lot of people who should simply self publish for friends and family.

The lack of any editorial guidance can be disastrous for a novel. Books are often gems that need a little refining and pruning – Jay Rubin does this when translating Murakami (in consultation with the author of course), and every author needs editing. They need someone to tell them what works and doesn’t, not because they have any personal like or dislike, but want to help the work be the best it can be. Its a process that takes time, effort and teamwork and its not about spell checking and punctuation.

The 5 books were, as i explained on goodreads reviews – pretty awful and i didn’t like them. The author cliched himself within one book with a set number of events – cancer (ovarian), sport, investigating a crime and ending up hired by the FBI, at least 1 virgin per book, too much sex and not enough detail or thought into events and emotions. eg: spending 2 pages on honeymoon sex and 2 lines on the death of a son …

There were also some oversights in wording such as ‘insight his furore’ rather than ‘incite his furore’, hippos that scamper, water that changes direction from one side of equator to the other (whole rivers not just a glass). They might not seem important, but they do irritate. Persist ant use of ‘imagine that’ made me grind my teeth.

The descriptions of what the books were about were also misleading to the content and the selected artwork was obviously stock images which doesn’t help. while i don’t think books should be judged by their covers, they do have to attract attention and not look cheap and tacky.

I understand why there is a slush pile now…

I would definitely want to go through an editorial process, however painful it could be, simply because i wouldn’t want a critic like me to get their hands on it in a self published state😉

Fear of submission

I knew a woman who couldn’t finish her novel because she was afraid of what her mother would think. This writer decided she would have to wait for her mother to die before she could publish. Good luck or bad – the novel died long before the writer’s mother ever did. ~ Alice Hoffman

These three sentences resonated with me very much, more than I like to feel comfortable with. I am happy sharing my writing with friends, some more than others and some stories written for a close friend exclusively. I do worry what people will think of what I write if I should try to submit it anywhere though I am not scared to write the stories I would not like some people reading them. I know as a writer we shouldn’t be picky, but expressing oneself through writing, writing from the heart makes us vulnerable.

I am most comfortable writing for my friend Lynne in the Phillipines becasue I know I can write anything and she will not judge me, just my writing. I have written for her exclusively a series of stories and I love these stories with all my heart because they are me writing honestly and true to things I think and feel. Its liberating to have a friend who is this way and I love the characters I have created for her. I want to send them out in the world, but yes, I am scared to.

The Crystal Word

The world is a little more obscure today. Not in the literal sense of course, but in the literary sense with the passing of J.G. Ballard.

The first book of his I ever read was ‘Hello America’, not associating it with the ‘Empire of the Sun’ until much later when looking at the inside cover of the book and discovering i had actually read his work before. My interest in his writing continued when I read ‘Running Wild’ and the ‘The Unlimited Dream Company’ Each novel was one I would lose myself in, greedily snapping up words and and pages, revelling in the ideas and psychology of his world perception, crystal words that spoke truths that are sometimes hard to deal with.

His work fascinates me – the clarity of his vision of the dystopia in which we live, the idea of man versus machine and the self destructive way in which we can relate to it. Isolation, crime, the need for order and its negative impact all deliciously portrayed with believable characters and situations.

The ideas he put forth, the candidness with his portrayal of his life and the passion he invokes with each new novel created a staunch supporter and follower of me.

It is not often that an author with have a dictionary definition based on their name, nor a whole genre of fiction defined by their view on the world, nor even a multitude of punk and rock bands using titles from his work for albums and songs.

It is not often that I cry at a stranger’s passing.