Yippeee…. the old laptop seems to have recovered from its toddler paddy last week and here we are once again dear friends! I guess I could have tried to use the iPad, but it’s more fiddly and I seem to make more typos on there and correcting seems to take an age! Anyhoooo… for now, we’re here!
I’m getting to a stage where I know that Draft 1 is soon to be ‘completed’ and I can get back in to start re-working, editing and perhaps just trashing the whole damn thing! It feels like this last lap is starting top drag out and perhaps some of that is of my own doing. I mean, once it’s done, I’m going to have to think about putting it out there, in a totally professional sense of course! That means finding professional people who like what I do; editors, publishers and agents exist in a world I know NOTHING about and I suppose that’s what makes the journey exciting/petrifying* (*delete as appropriate!). Once it’s done, it’s out of my hands! I’ll also need to find trusted critical friends, people who will read my ramblings and point out what works and doesn’t work for them (any takers folks?!) whilst I also pull it apart and reconstruct it – that’s if I haven’t binned it first! But I’ve lived with these characters for a while now and their homes and lives are as familiar to me as those of my friends, so I guess I owe it to them to try to get it right. What I have found though is just how isolating this role is at the moment – it’s not a complaint, by the way. I always thought teaching was isolating, it’s quite personal when someone comes in to observe a lesson. In the wrong hands, a poorly worded report or badly constructed feedback session can have a hugely negative impact on a teacher’s confidence. Everyone thinks they would do it differently, but differently doesn’t always mean ‘better’ and that’s important. But this writing lark is a different kind of isolation. Unlike in my previous job, I don’t have trusted friends to bounce my ideas and frustrations off. There’s no one immediately to hand to check with when you’re unsure of something, or you need a second opinion. I miss that…. a lot. I also miss unexpected tea breaks and now I have to make my own most of the time! Hey-ho…..
So what I’ve had to do is find a way of connecting with others in the same position as me and you know what, just scratch the surface and there’s a whole community out there of like-minded people. I once (in my previous life) went to a conference on using information technology in education and some guy (clearly younger and more hip than the rest of us) said ‘ignore social media at your peril, people’. What he meant was that our classes were full of digital natives, using social media all the time, in many ways. The message was that we dinosaurs had to catch up with them …..and fast! I’ve long been a fan of certain social media platforms and I use them in different ways for different reasons. Facebook was a way of connecting and reconnecting with people in my life (family, friends, ex-students, colleagues etc), Twitter is a great way of satisfying my inborn desire to be a nosy old bag! I watch what goes on in the world, I connect with people and organisations that interest me and I share things in my own quirky way. When I knew I wanted to write, I started a separate Twitter account in my writing name and it’s mainly used to connect with people who have an interest in my bonkers journey…. some are friends, some are fellow writers and others are important in their own field within the industry (agents, editors, publishers etc..). One thing I have found is just how lovely everyone is (well, most people!)… There is a mutual respect for the desire to read, write and be creative – with limited regard to levels of success. I see bloggers shouting as loud about a new writers first ‘book cover reveal’ as they do about an established writers 15th ‘publication day’. I have been able to message some great writers, asking what I thought were dumb questions, such is my desire to find out as much as I can and they have responded… THEY HAVE RESPONDED!!! Acclaimed Canadian crime writer Linwood Barclay answered my question on how long it took him to write 120,000 words (answer: 10 weeks). I’ve discussed wardrobe issues with TV’s Jackie Kabler, I’ve exchanged writing styles with a variety of new writers and fellow bloggers. Liz Fenwick, famed for her stories set in Cornwall has given me no end of snippets of advice and today the amazing Val McDermid, she of Scottish Crime fiction, answered a direct question about book titles….. slowly, oh so slowly my network is expanding and I am loving it! Thank you Twitter!
It was the subject of book titles that this post was originally going to be about… I had planned that this week, I would release my first title, such is my enjoyment of the writing process. But as days wore on, my confidence has dwindled and I guess approval of the title is the first indicator that people may (or in reality may not) like what I am doing. So I cast a question out to bookish contacts asking them a couple of things: when do they decide on their title and when do they share it. The responses were mixed… some have a title in mind which drives the story line, while others write the story and then find a title that suits the plot. Some have a working title, which may or may not change as they reach the more formal stages towards publication. As for releasing the title, the overwhelming comments were to hold on to the title until much closer to announcing the book release (so in my case, this may be never..!) – in part to build tension, partly to keep plans and ideas close to your chest and also, as a new writer, it seems less pretentious. It struck me that the more established writers are happy to release their titles ahead of time, whereas newer writers are more reluctant to do so. Therefore, folks, you’re going to have to wait a little while longer! For me the title is there, it’s always been there and drives the underlying theme of the story – but it can wait… for now!
And so I must draw these ramblings to an end. I have yet to start the last lap of the first draft and I really need to get a wriggle on…… but I’m still blown away by the fact that I had a response to a tweet from Val McDermid! I still await the golden tweet from Mr Gary Barlow however, but that will come…. either that or he’ll take out a court order to keep me from contacting him! Twitter… really, it’s just one step away from stalking!
Bye for now.