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Posted on 17 September 2017 17:17

Summary:

I’ve been a bit all over the place this week, finding it difficult to settle to anything, and not feeling as if what I’ve been doing is particularly worthwhile.  Still, recording it all for Weeknotes shows me that I am getting things done, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

 

Monday:

I had a writing date with Ann, though I felt unfocused and as if I didn’t have anything I really wanted to work on.  I read through a workbook from a daily writing programme I came across some time ago and reminded myself why writing every day really doesn’t work for me.  It becomes a chore, something I have to get done to complete my tasks for the day, and I end up obsessing about the number of words rather than thinking about the content and quality.

So, I switched to some pre-writing worksheets and did some brainstorming for a project that’s in the first stages of creation.  I’m excited about it, and I’m keen to produce something, but it’s intended to be a comic book series, which I have no experience of, and the learning curve feels way too steep at the moment.  I wrote some interesting and useful notes, but I’m really not sure what to do with it now.

I spent the last half hour of the session going through and marking up the submission opportunities at the back of this quarter’s edition of Mslexia, which I have just subscribed to.

After the writing date, I walked from Brick Lane to King’s Cross for what was billed as an ‘editing workshop’ by London Writers’ Cafe.  It turned out to be more of a lecture by a professional editor, which contained some useful tips and amusing anecdotes.  Perhaps if I’d read the description of the event more carefully, I would have been more prepared for the format, but it didn’t feel particularly useful, overall.

However, I did happen to sit next to one of the other writers from the Six Month Novel Programme, and we walked back to King’s Cross together afterwards, so that was nice.

 

Tuesday:

I decided to give myself the rest of the week off from actual writing.  Hannah wasn’t free for our writing date on Wednesday, and I wanted the whole day to myself on Sunday, so didn’t sign up for the Let’s Write Together session.

 

Wednesday:

I read an article in Mslexia, which was very appropriate to my situation.  It pointed out that a run of small publication successes is inevitably followed by a period of nothing, because successes raise your ambition and you start submitting to places that are more difficult to get accepted by.  I made the decision recently to start submitting only to paying markets, and I haven’t had any acceptances since.  I have, however, had quite a bit of positive feedback, which is very encouraging, so it’s important that I don't give up!

New Urban Writers’ Retreat dates were released so I booked onto the only one I can make, in October.

 

Thursday:

I booked a place on another London Writers’ Cafe workshop, which involves a real-life agent providing feedback on the first 300 words of every attendee’s novel.  Got to be worth it!

I spent some time adding all the submission opportunities from Mslexia onto my rolling spreadsheet.  Plenty of potential projects to think about and work on!

 

Friday:

Earlier in the week, Dave sent me details of two YouTube channels about writing - Ellen Brock and Chris Fox.  So, I watched a couple of videos from each and decided to subscribe to both.  One of my biggest problems at the moment, though, is that there are so many resources available to me as a writer, and not nearly enough time to consume them all, so new YouTube subscriptions isn’t going to help much with that!

 

Saturday:

Nada. Zip. Nothing.

 

Sunday:

I submitted the novel for two competitions and also submitted a short story for consideration by Fireside Magazine.

I generally find the process of submitting work both time-consuming and frustrating, as it involves very careful reading of guidelines, much irritating formatting and general annoyance related to form-filling and attachments.  Today was no exception, as I failed to save changes to a document, which resulted in me submitting my manuscript without the cover page to one competition (which may disqualify me), and the other competition guidelines were extremely unhelpful as they didn’t specify how, where, and what to actually submit.

I also discovered that my posting window for this month’s GYWO discussion post (on balancing personal time and writing time) was 14-16 September, not 16-18 September as I had thought, which meant I was late posting.  Luckily, the topic matched a personal blog post I wrote a few weeks ago, so I amended that a bit to fit the purpose and send it off to the moderators.

I read a bit of Wonderbook, a weird and wonderful reference book about writing fantasy, which I started much earlier in the year but put aside some months ago for reasons I can’t remember.  It’s got a ton of really useful and imaginatively presented information about writing - I’m just not sure how best to capture and retain any of it, to use in my own work.

Lastly, I caught up on my reviews, including the one for the September category of the Wordy Birds Reading Challenge, which was to read a children’s book.  So, hopefully, that will be read out on East Point radio (based in Lowestoft) later in  the month.

 

According to the above, I did quite a lot today (and the rest of the week) - so why does it still not feel as if I’m really achieving anything?

 

 

Posted on 11 September 2017 13:40

Summary:

 

Weirdly, I think I’m missing having a big project to work on.  I’ve been doing writing-related stuff, but I haven’t felt very focused or motivated this week.  Perhaps I need to pick my next novel and throw myself into it...

 

Monday:

 

I spent the morning going through all the stuff I brought back from NAWG Fest and adding all the Writing Magazine competition and submission info to my rolling spreadsheet.  I also sent my Editing Action Plan and first 3000 words to Amie for her editorial feedback, which will be the official end of the Six Month Novel Programme.  I also sent the whole novel manuscript to Tony, Jane and Beckah for their comments, though I stressed that I don’t want any feedback before December.

 

I generally felt quite demoralised about writing in general and my lack of editing motivation in particular.

 

I went to my scheduled writing date with Ann anyway and did manage to get stuff done - not least editing the competition entry I got feedback on at the weekend.  I also caught up on my reviews and wrote a blog post about needing constant reinforcement of lessons learned about writing.

 

Tuesday:

 

Nada.  Zip.  Nothing.  Which is fine.

 

Wednesday:

 

I felt very demoralised about the day-job and had a splitting headache at the end of the day, but still went along to my writing date with Hannah, since she promised she would actually turn up this week, and I didn’t want to be the one to cancel.

 

We had a very encouraging conversation about balancing confidence and complacency, versus falling into a pit of despair about the quality of one’s writing and chances of ever getting published.  Writing can be a very isolating activity, and it’s always a good idea to talk to other writers to gain some perspective and exchange moral support.

 

I sent a pitch paragraph for the novel to Dave’s nephew, Laurence, as he said he had some friends who might be prepared to read it and send me feedback.  It will be very useful to get comments from some younger people (early 20s) as they are more likely to be my target market than the people who’ve read it so far.  It’s quite terrifying, though, as they are completely unknown to me, and might be painfully honest (which would be good, if not pleasant).

 

I edited and submitted my entry for the Retreat West Short Story Competition (based on feedback from Write Club over the weekend).

 

I also wrote one of my better reviews for The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, discussing enjoyment of a book as a reader versus analysis of a book as a writer.  I’m struggling with this a bit at the moment because I’m at the editing stage with my own novel so I’m finding it very difficult to take off my editorial hat and just read stuff for fun.

 

Thursday:

 

Nada.  Zip.  Nothing.  Which is still fine.

 

Friday:

 

A trip to Bristol for work would normally mean writing on the train, but I got engrossed in my book and didn’t do any in the end.

 

Saturday:

 

Back in May, I submitted a sample of ten pieces of flash fiction to a publisher specialising in collections of the same.  The editor emailed me to say my ten pieces weren’t strong enough in total to make a collection, but that she had particularly liked five out of the ten, and could I send a further five for her consideration.

 

It was a very long day, involving a flight in a four-seater prop plane, which ended in an unexpected landing at an airfield in the middle of nowhere in Somerset, and a long train journey back from Yeovil.  But I was enthused by the at least partially positive response from this editor, so I spent some time in the evening selecting and formatting five more stories to send across to her.

 

Sunday:

 

I posted on my website about The Wishing Star, adding it to my publications page.

 

I also wrote and posted a Bear story about our aborted trip to Guernsey on Saturday.

 

So, overall, plenty of stuff done and plenty of days where I worked on writing projects.  But it all feels a bit nebulous at the moment.  Maybe, after six months of intensive work on the novel, my brain just needs a break for a while.  Or, maybe, if I launch into something huge and new, I’ll rediscover my enthusiasm.  I guess I’ll never know until I try...

 

Posted on 04 September 2017 14:24

Someone my husband, Dave, knows started a project called Weeknotes, whereby he puts together a summary of what he’s done at work each week and posts it online.  Other people have started to do it too, and I wanted to join in.  I wasn’t overly enthused about compiling Weeknotes for my day job, but I thought it might be fun to do it for my writing, so here goes...

 

Monday:

 

I made good use of the train journey back from Edinburgh.  I wrote and posted all my Fringe reviews, and remembered to Tweet them (1,314 words added to the word tracking spreadsheet).  I read through the final worksheet for the Six Month Novel Programme (I can’t believe it’s over already) and despaired of my ability to apply all the editing suggestions to my novel manuscript.  However, when I then read the first chapter backwards, I discovered how useful an editing trick that can be, which just goes to show that Amie and Charlie really know what they’re talking about.  I duly completed the Editing Action Plan for the final submission of the programme, and I feel pretty good about the Grand Plan for the novel.  Finally, I did a Tarot reading for a new short story, which I find can be a fun way to generate and develop ideas at the start of a project.

 

When we got home, I planned the next submission opportunities for the stories that were rejected over the weekend (one with some lovely feedback about the writing), and emailed Hannah to check she was free to meet up after work on Wednesday for our writing date.

 

Tuesday:

 

I couldn’t sleep because my stupid brain was thinking about the novel, and Dave was snoring like a pneumatic drill.  I tried kicking him, punching him, waggling his pillow, and bouncing on the bed while sighing loudly, but there was no response.  I finally got a reaction by poking him in the arm with a fingernail.  He apologised for disturbing me, rolled over and immediately started snoring again.

 

So, I got up at 4am and used the extra time to prepare and submit a short story to Strange Horizons, to update my current project list, and to write some notes for the support call with Amie and Charlie at the end of Six Month Novel Programme.

 

Wednesday:

 

I remembered to pack my tablet, and made my way to the usual tea shop after work.  I edited a 12,000 word story, re-read the Tarot notes from Monday and wrote the first draft of what was was intended to be an entry for the upcoming Writing Magazine Single Character Competition.  It turned out way too short, but was easily adapted for this week’s Hour of Writes prompt, Back To Normal.

 

Partway through the session, I got a rejection from a publisher with some very harsh feedback about the story (not how I’ve been taught to give feedback at all!), which was a little demoralising.  I’ve got to the stage now where stock rejection emails don’t bother me, and I really appreciate it when editors take the time to write something positive about the submission.  I’m generally very happy to receive constructive criticism, but this was phrased very baldly, and not in a helpful way.  Hey ho.

 

I texted Hannah after 90 minutes and discovered she wasn’t coming after all, so packed up a bit early and headed home.  It was a shame not to see Hannah, but the existence of the appointment meant I got a lot done that I wouldn’t have done at home, so it felt pretty productive overall.

 

Thursday:

 

I had dinner with Geena and talked about my plan for the novel, how to deal with bad rejection feedback, and writing in general.  It’s always good to talk to Geena.  I think we’re very good for each other’s mental health.

 

I got an invite for a London Writers' Cafe editing workshop on 11 September and signed up for it immediately.  I need all the help I can get in this area.

 

Friday:

 

I submitted one short story to Freeze Frame Fiction, another to Centropic Oracle, and also entered the EFG Short Story Award.  I currently have 29 submissions out for consideration, with six more waiting in the wings, which I think it pretty good.

 

I typed up and submitted my first Hour of Writes entry since June.  I’ve only entered a couple of times in the last few months, and certainly not every week before that this year.  After submitting 104 weeks in a row up until December 2016, I wonder if my relationship with Hour of Writes is coming to an end.  I’m still getting the prompts every week, and I still have about 30 credits to use up, so I’m not going to cancel my account just yet.  Maybe I’ll get back into it properly at some point.

 

I gave myself permission not to write on the train to Coventry. Instead, I went through the Writing Magazine competition supplement and marked all the stuff I might be interested in entering.

 

At the NAWG Fest open mic session, I was presented with my copy of The Wishing Star, a collaborative writing project where 19 different authors wrote a chapter each of a teenage romance/adventure.  It’s still a rare enough occurrence that I get excited about seeing my name in a printed book, and it was even more fun when various people asked me to sign their copies of the book.

 

Saturday:

I attended workshops on common mistakes writers make (I only make one out of the five but it’s quite a major one and difficult to fix) and Show Don’t Tell, which is the mistake I make, so that was handy.

I organised a Write Club meeting with Tony, Jane and Beckah, which was the first one I’d managed to attend in person.  They gave me tons of useful and encouraging feedback on a competition entry that’s due soon, and I really enjoyed spending time with them

 

Sunday:

 

I attended workshops on creating conflict and getting in touch with the subconscious.  The first gave me the opportunity to develop a story I’ve been thinking about for some time, and the latter reminded me of all the great lessons I learned on this subject at last year’s NAWG Fest.  I’m going to write a blog post about the need for constant reinforcement of lessons learned.

 

 

So, in summary, I feel like it’s been a good week for writing.  Lots of variety and lots of opportunities to work on projects and spend time with other writers.