The process of writing #amwriting #writing

This wonderful quote really captures the essence and process of writing for me.

I love that I don’t know exactly where the story will take me when I start.

I love that ideas just pop up as I am writing, and also when I am not.

I love that some ideas are so good you just want to jump up and down, and you wonder, where did that idea come from?

Ideas don’t arrive in a vacuum though. We feed and nurture them in our subconscious mind by reading other books, reading articles, and reading and thinking about what we have already written in our current work in progress.

So, if we want our ideas to flourish, we need to take the time and the care to provide the perfect environment for them to thrive in.

Doing this is really simple, we just need to Read, Read, Read!

You are not defined by the things you own, except for your books #writing #books

Once upon a time, I aspired to own a home where I could dedicate a room to a library.

I imagined the walls filled with all the beautiful books I had collected over the years.

I imagined it becoming a legacy.

I imagined it as a window into my life and my book reading journey.

I imagined growing old and looking back on those books with fond memories.

And then along came a Kindle “sigh”.

🙂

Another year. What are you hoping to achieve in 2017? #amwriting

January 1st 2014 was a bit different to all my previous new years. I decided it was long overdue that I did something about my parked and buried writing dreams. I bought a journal, and I wrote stuff in it. I wrote down exactly what I wanted to achieve.

And what I wanted to achieve was publishing a book.

So, here I am, three years later . . .

The road to publishing a book is a long one, but for all that, an enjoyable one. With hindsight, publishing a book was both the hardest and the simplest thing I have ever done. Simple, because basically, a book is just a bunch of words written down. But hard because you drag those words out of your imagination and then go over those words many, many times before you feel anywhere near ready to share them, and after you do, you realize you were still not quite ready!

I will liken my experience publishing a book, to my experience emigrating from the UK to Australia. It took me a couple of years to make it happen, nine months to get the residency visa, another nine months to sell our house, cars, and most of our furniture, buy a plane ticket and leave. But once I did emigrate, I realized that it wasn’t anywhere near as difficult as I originally expected. Sure, it required planning, and effort, and there were a huge number of steps along the way, but it wasn’t impossible.

I didn’t know what I would find on the other side, I had no job, no home, and I knew no one besides my husband. Moving country, and especially to the other side of the world, requires a certain leap of faith, and so too with publishing a book.

I published my science fiction novel, Divided Serenity, on 8th December 2016, ten years and five months after I arrived in Australia.

There is no connection between the two events, other than they both happened to me, and that in some ways they were life-changing, and in some ways they were not.

I still get up every morning, go to work, enjoy my cappuccino, and the rewarding aspects of my day job, and then I come home and write. None of that changed because I am in a different country or because I published a book.

The difference is all on the inside.

I love that I was brave enough to move to another country and that I was able to start again, to reinvent myself, and to be someone new. Moving to another country is invigorating, and it instills a sense of self-belief. I still miss my friends and family in the UK, and I know I always will. I miss the funny, quaint little villages and the British sense of humor. I swapped my umbrella for sunglasses and factor 50 sunscreen, and if I ever leave Australia, I know the new list of things I miss will be just as long.

I love that I was brave enough to publish my book, even though I had no idea how it would work out or whether people would like it—I still don’t. Publishing a book is an amazing feeling, but what’s more amazing is the support I have had from my family and friends, and the encouragement from the writing community.

The funny thing about being brave is that it’s all kinds of addictive, and you realize that you can do this, whatever this may be. And you realize too, that whatever happens on the other side you will get through it.

I have learned something about the other side of life changing events, and that is, they don’t really change you, or your ideals, or who you are, at least not in my case. You still get up and do the same things, say the same things, laugh and love the same things, but inside there is this little happy glow that knows—I did it—and nothing can take that away. Not even a bad review, or a supersized bug 😉

So if I had one wish for 2017, it would be for all the people who have a dream or wish or hope that they have been sitting on, to be brave and make it happen.

Wishing you all happy writing in 2017

Selecting a book cover…I’ve found something else to procrastinate about #amwriting

Throughout the process of publishing a book I have had to navigate numerous stumbling blocks: the dreaded analysis paralysis, indecisiveness, and a great deal of procrastination.

First there was the character names, and I have excelled at indecisiveness in this area. I am about to publish and I am still changing character names! I am even—at this late stage—contemplating changing the sex of one of my main supporting characters! I am the living embodiment of a Tom Gauld cartoon.

Then there was the book name, and many an amusing conversation between myself and my father (an other people) has taken place about what to call the book.

And now <DRUM ROLL> there is the book cover…

I honestly thought the cover would be easy (what a fool I was!), but no, yet again, I have discovered new degrees of procrastination due to the choice available to me. My book is sci-fi fiction, which typically can have:

  • A picture of a planet(s)
  • A picture of a spaceship
  • A picture of a person
  • A picture of a landscape
  • An obscure symbol

My book, while sci-fi, also has elements that would appeal to fantasy fans. So you can probably throw a sword in there because hey-ho, there are some swords.

And let me tell you that is way too much choice for my brain to cope with.

Let’s layer over the top of this some angst from all the articles I have read talking about the vital importance of getting your book cover right to attract the right audience.

Ahhhhh!

I fear many more days, weeks (hopefully not more than weeks) of procrastination about my cover design, after which I will probably pick something incredibly mainstream out of sheer desperation.

Ah the joys of writing 🙂

…And if only I could pick a cover so I could get back on with the writing part.

The writing apprenticeship #amwriting

At the bottom of the article is a wonderful video, and well worth a watch for those who might be struggling to match their writing passion to their desired quality of work.

There are a few takeaways, but amongst them, that it is Okay for it to take time between starting your writing journey and achieving that illusive thing called quality.

Here’s a great notion to wrap your head around…most writers, even successful writers, still consider themselves to be amateurs. Not sure what that makes the rest of us, but I guess at its heart, we should simply only ever strive to do better tomorrow than we did today, should make our next book better than our last, and should not judge our first work too unfairly.

We have to start somewhere, and we have to learn along the way.

I recently went to a writing seminar, and as always at such events you quickly get into a discussion with fellow writers, about what you have done so far in your writing journey, and what you are planning to do next.

I was surprised by the number of people who wanted to be a writer but had written virtually nothing to date.

I realised that I was nothing like them, and that my own journey was considerably longer and slower.

Were these new writers being overly ambitious? Perhaps they were, or perhaps they were simply starting from a higher baseline than me. One thing I have realised from my own writing journey is that I am incredibly slow, and I have (in my old age) become comfortable with simply reaching my writing destination at my own snail-like pace.

So, here is my writing journey.

As a child

Sometimes parents just know their children love books – I was one such child. As long as I can recall I was either being read to, or reading for myself. I consumed books at a voracious rate, and my whole family indulged me. Not sure what to get me for Christmas or birthdays? Just get me a book, and they did in vast numbers. I read them just as fast. Pretty much at any point of my childhood I was reading age relevant books. I loved the fairy tales of mythical places and imaginary kingdoms, talking animals, dragons, castles, that was right up my street. My mother bought me a new ladybird book every week, and it was my absolute favourite treat. Sleeping beauty, The Princess and the Pea, The Roald Dahl collection, Aesops fables – these were my staple reading as a child. Later, I progressed to books such as The Mill on the Floss, and The Hobbit. 

Young adult

I started writing myself just after university (over twenty years ago now), and I have been writing pretty much ever since. It ebbs and flows as with all things in life. That pesky thing called reality and work can get in the way, but I have always been drawn back to write. And of course I never stopped reading.

I write a lot

During the last 20 years I wrote hundreds of parts of books, and a total of 2 full books, before I considered myself close to proficient. That’s a lot of writing. I wrote whatever and whenever I fancied. I didn’t constrict my ideas or my genre; I just leapt right in and wrote.

I considered this my apprenticeship of writing. I have no formal writing qualifications, I have the usual high school exams and good grades in English language and literature, but went on to complete a degree in maths and computing, and my career is based around that.

Regret 

If I had one regret it would be that I did not stop to consider what I loved doing when I was younger, and that I had selected a degree that would complement my love of writing. But that’s just life isn’t it, we don’t always make the perfect decision, and we learn from whatever we do.

You know when it’s the one

I guess some people, such as the ones I met on my writing course, just know straight off that they have found the ‘one’, and some people, like me, have to battle through a vast and extended apprenticeship before they decide to commit to publishing a book.

One thing I do not regret is all the years I have spent writing, or the books I wrote that were not quite right. They taught me a lot.

We all have to start somewhere.

As the video mentions, we all must pass through an apprenticeship of some kind, whether that apprenticeship is long or short doesn’t really matter, the important thing is that we keep going and we come out on the other side.

I realise that I am not a finished product, that my life will teach me much more about writing, and that I will ultimately look back on my first published novel and realise it wasn’t my best. And that is a wonderful thought—to expect that I will always keep improving.

I also realise that we all have to start somewhere, and that the most important step is simply to start.

I hope you enjoy the video 🙂 and happy writing!

Divided Serenity out now on all Amazon stores, and free with Kindle Unlimited.

Divided Serenity Book Cover

Writing and Mead – What else do you need? #amwriting

Last Monday I had just reached the 50% mark of my novel, and now, just under a week later, I have completed another 17k of my draft.

I feel like I’m on the home straight, and making good progress towards my completion goal of around 100k by the end of April. My daily target was originally around 1600, but it’s down to 1200 now, which is reasonably easy to achieve even if I miss a few days.

As a reward for my progress (I don’t need much of an excuse) we decided to head out to the local wine region. For those who don’t know much about Western Australia, there are quite a few wine regions. The main one being the Margaret River region, but one of the smaller regions, Swan Valley, is about ten minutes from our home. Swan Valley has plenty of wineries, and the usual additions like boutique breweries, cheese shops, olive farms, chocolatiers, as well as independent cafes, coffee shops and restaurants.

A spot of lunch at the winery was followed by coffee and cake at ‘The House of Honey‘, which as well as selling every flavour of honey imaginable and delicious cakes, also houses a mead brewery. It seemed rude not to indulge in a little mead tasting. And yes, we may have bought a few bottles home.

I’ll let you know if the mead has a favourable impact on my writing progress 🙂

Snow overdose – January 2016 in Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks

I thought given all the snowy pictures everyone is putting up on internet that I would share some of our snowy pictures from the last few weeks when we were travelling to Sequoia and Yosemite national parks. Apparently, they had not had snow this bad in seven years and it unloaded just for our walking holiday! We still managed to get out and about, which was great and some beautiful pictures as a result.

Pass to Yosemite National Park
Pass to Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park
El Capitan, Yosemite National Park
Out walking, Fish Camp, just outside Yosemite National Park
Out walking in snow shoes, Fish Camp, just outside Yosemite National Park
Out walking, Fish Camp, just outside Yosemite National Park
Out walking, Fish Camp, just outside Yosemite National Park
Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park
Giant Redwoods in Sequoia National Park
Giant Redwoods in Sequoia National Park. I am the dot at the bottom!
Heavy snow in the Sequoia National Park
Heavy snow in the Sequoia National Park