Thursday, 6 December 2012

A Wee Catch Up

A friend of mine has started blogging and it reminded me that I haven't written or even looked at my blog in quite a while.

Perusing through my ramblings I notice that I tend to say things and never follow them up. So, here's a wee catch up on the submission half promise I made under the blog post entitled "Resolutions and Books".

I finally sent off a whole novel, not to a publisher, but to the New Writer's Scheme which is part of the Romantic Novelists' Association. I struggled terribly writing that novel and I wasn't overly happy with the finished product. I knew it needed a whole lot of work. I was encouraged by friends and other writers to send it off anyway as I was paying for the critique as part of my membership. 

So I did. I sent it off.

And it came back about two months later.

And, oh heck... my fears were confirmed: it needed A LOT of work.

Yes, there were a few tears shed. It's funny how you know that there is much wrong with what you've written and you fully expect confirmation of that, but when you get it, you're still not quite prepared for it.

I got an amazingly detailed and constructive report (15 pages!), which listed the four main areas the reader felt needed improvement: characterisation, internal v external conflict and development of romantic relationship, the use of POV/Show not Tell, and developing individual voice.

As you can see A LOT of work required.

I thought it probably best to put the NWS novel on the back burner for a while. I'd spent nearly a year working on it and to do it justice I need to step back from it and evaluate how I'm going to tackle it.

Then November was upon us. You know, that month where many writers take the mad inclination to write a book in a month? Well, I embraced the madness and on the morning of 31 October I got my idea, made an outline ready for me to begin writing on 1 November. 

A SHINY NEW STORY! Oh, the excitement of something new is just the tonic I needed. A new set of characters, a new set of problems to tackle and the good thing is I have the advice I received from my NWS story to bear in mind whilst writing it.

Sadly, this year, I didn't complete NaNoWriMo. My Mac's hard drive failed, I was already two days behind target (but slowly catching up), most of my novel (19k) I had emailed to myself but I lost 2k of new words that I hadn't had the chance to back up. It really threw me and I just lost the enthusiasm for the madness.

But I haven't lost the enthusiasm for the story and Fergus and Caitlyn's romance will be finished, hopefully in time for the next NWS submission.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

It Feels Good

I can't believe that I've finally done it. After years of battling with my lack of confidence in my writing abilities I've actually finished a novel and edited it. Okay, it is far from perfect and needs much more work, but it's done and is on its way to an anonymous reader for the New Writer's Scheme of the Romantic Novelists' Association. 

But you know what? I learnt something. One of the things I learnt was: listen to my CPs and when that first chapter is proving problematic, leave it and move on. That's the advice they gave me, but I was hung up on getting this chapter right. I felt I couldn't move on until it was sorted. Twenty days it took me to write a 50k draft. It took eight months of frustrated hair pulling, threatening dire consequences to the whole MS, and close to packing it in altogether, to get a grip and work on the rest of the novel. Another thing I learnt, and it's something I knew already, but it wasn't until I'd experienced it that I really understood: a novel won't be right first time and it's a process of evolution, where an idea grows and develops with each layer, splitting and dividing like the cells of an embryo to become something real, complex and more solid.

At the moment I'm feeling quite proud of my achievement and fairly chilled that it's winging its way to a professional writer for feedback. I know that feeling won't last and that I'll be chewing my nails wondering at my temerity in sending an unpolished piece of work out and stalking my post box for signs of its return. 

I attended my very first RNA conference this year, held at Penrith, and it was an amazing experience. I met so many new people and best of all I got to meet two out of my three lovely critique partners - Jane O'Reilly and Jessica Thompson. Sadly, we didn't get to meet the fourth member of our group - Julia Broadbooks - as she lives across the pond in a much warmer climate and couldn't attend (not because of the climate - I just thought I'd throw that one in because our summer has, frankly, been pants!).

The encouragement I received from people I'd never met before and the inspiring workshops I attended at the conference really motivated me to get my novel ready to send to the NWS. For three weeks I got up before my family (at stupid o'clock) and got in a good two to three hours of work editing and re-writing and for the first time ever I felt like I was really trying, really putting in the effort. I put aside my lack of confidence and instead worked with my determination to get it done. 

It feels good...