Thursday, 12 July 2012

Starting Something New

For the last few months I have been working solidly on my edit of Tattooing Angels. It is nearly complete, nearly ready to go off, but not quite and the editing process is one which I know a lot of writers find really difficult. One of the reasons for this is that a lot of the creativity we enjoy so much has already been done and the craft side is a lot more monotonous in a way.

I find that when I'm editing I need to have something to write as well. It doesn't have to be something that will go somewhere, and the first one I write tends to be something that ends up on the top of my wardrobe.

I recently had an idea for a new novel but wasn't sure what angle to use, how to write it. It was hard because I knew what I wanted to accomplish but not how. I started writing in first person to try to find my new character and I got a long way in before I realised I wasn't happy with it and the narrative wasn't working. I started again using two points of view - the same thing happened I wasn't happy.

The other day I realised that it wasn't just the narrative I didn't like - I hadn't found my actual story. I had the bare bones of it but not the actually movement of it. If you think of it like a series of points that you move around I had about five of the ten points I needed.

I have just started again, from scratch, new narrative and finding my movement and I am happy with what I have done so far. Of course it needs a lot of the dreaded editing and I will probably rewrite and revise it numerous times but right now I think I've finally found my new voice !

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Hardest Road to Travel

Editing is such a difficult process. Everyone does it differently - I know some writers who literally get a chapter down on paper and then polish it straight away. I find that my brain likes to splurge out the whole manuscript - a very rough draft which needs numerous layers of polish before it starts to shine. I like having that full manuscript to work on so I can weave new plot lines in, so I can make my characters flow right through until the very end.

Tattooing Angels is on (what I hope will be) its final line edit before it goes out in the world. Any more edits and I might lose some of the magic and just ruin what might have worked better before I decided to improve it.

Does anyone know when to stop? It becomes an obsession almost! A friend of mine who has recently secured a publishing deal has said that whenever she reads her manuscript over again she finds things she wants to change - even though its about to go to print she knows that there are things she won't like when she reads it back.  Is it possible to distance ourselves enough to really look at it again and finally think it ready?

Friday, 24 February 2012

I'm Back

Okay so I've been absent for quiet some time. The reason behind this is twofold. Firstly I had submitted my novel Tattooing Angels to an Agent and was waiting for feedback which makes me impatient, lazy and seriously silent. Secondly, I had my novel back but with suggested rewrites and so I've been changing my entire story around because Agents tend to know what they're talking about and you have to be able to take criticism in the writing game.

Rewrites are hard mainly because in the first instant you resist all criticism no matter how helpful. She scream and tant and tell yourself they are completely wrong and you don't know how they could be so blind. Then you read their comments again, you think you can never possibly deliver what they want because it wasn't your vision and now you're flummoxed (I love that word). Finally you accept that you can do the rewrites but you're going to need to basically start from scratch.

Tattooing Angels started off as an idea, it grew into something but it wasn't quite sure what. I debated where the massive hole was in it, this thing that was missing but that I couldn't quite put my finger on. Finally I realised that the missing thing was the real point to my whole novel. The story wasn't there and I needed to find it. I HAVE FOUND IT but then the ending went missing.

The ending had to be dramatic. It had to be climatic and capable of reducing my intended reader to tears. At first it kind of fell flat so I rewrote it. Then it fell flat again so I deleted it and sobbed. Then it sucked a bit. Now it's kind of, almost, not completely but someday there.

SO if I go quiet again its because I'm working out the various cracks and flaws in the novel that I love. Writing has to be about love doesn't it. If you don't love your book then why should anyone-else.

Monday, 9 January 2012


2012 has started with an unwelcome and quite remarkable patch of writer's block. Whenever I watch television and characters go into slow motion we always shout "oh no, bad time to get stuck in a patch of slow mo". Well I'm stuck in a patch of writer's block.

I downed tools just before Christmas to take a break. I've come to the point where I know there is something missing from my writing but I can't quite put my finger on it and until I can I need to step away from the netbook and do some soul searching. So then for Christmas I got a Kindle. I thought that was perfect, I'd do more reading and see if I might find the missing magic in someone-else's writing. Surely the puzzle piece that I can't find might have been used somewhere else. I just have to find it. That doesn't seem to be working either.

I have however read Reckless by Cornelia Funke. A magnificent novel that really pulled me deep into it and kept me there until the end. Suffering with an extremely short attention span has long been a curse when it comes to reading so to actually keep me hooked so completely is no mean task. If I could write a book like Reckless I'd be happy, but alas it's a different genre and style to my writing so the puzzle piece was not to be found there.

Now I'm reading The Hobbit which is a book I read when I was younger and remember enjoying. I am enjoying it even more this time around. I started it this morning and was about a fifth of the way through by the time I made it to work!

Unfortunately the writer's block is still there and nothing seems to be able to budge it.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Here's to the End of 2011

I've been thinking that before the end of this year I need to have a proper sort out of all my writing things. In my room there is this stack of notebooks, folders and loose pieces of paper which all seem to have amassed and landed into this limbo land which I need to somehow organise.

My Nana always used to say that you should start a New Year as you mean to go on. If you have an untidy house on the 1st of January then it will be untidy for the rest of the year. This has always been true - but I think that's because in essence we are relatively untidy people so it was never miraculously going to transform itself into a tidy house just because one day of the year we blitzed the whole thing.

However, I am willing to adopt this theory when it comes to my writing. I'm going to organise my bits of paper; I'm going to sort out my notebooks and I'm going to properly file my computer documents so that I know where to find them. By the 31st of this December I'm going to have the neatest writing nest that the world has ever seen. I'm going to be so impressively organised that people are literally going to faint with shock when they see my writing space! Alright, well maybe they'll faint with shock for a few days and then no doubt it will return to normal.

See I like chaos. Chaos helps me write. I like chaotic characters and complete and utter madness. I need a huge plethora of ideas that swirl around and around until somehow - magically - a story starts to form in the middle of them and then a miracle happens and an actual plot appears. That's how I write - the age old blain splurge phenomena.

Don't get me wrong! I have a lot of respect for organised writers who plot plan, polish every word until it shines like a little gem. I wish, in some ways, that I could be precise and like the Mary Poppins of writers, but I'm not, I'm more like the Indiana Jones of writers who flies by the seat of their pants and rescues a story from the jaws of madness.

But one thing is definitely for certain - whatever kind of writer you are - adopted from my beloved Strictly Come Dancing - KEEP WRITING!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


It's been a strange few weeks. Winter is the time of year when there are a lot of opportunities for happiness: Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas and the New Year but also the darkness can take its toll on people who suffer from SAD, like my sister. It's hard watching someone try desperately to be happy but then still be suffering. I find the main way to help is to just plan exciting things, keep them busy and make them realise that there is happiness out there just waiting to be discovered.

I took part in Nanowrimo this year. It's my second year and I finished my novel in just over 15 days. Quite an accomplishment, although I'm confident in saying that probably the majority of my just over 50000 words are absolute drivel. I do what I call 'mental splurging' which is when I just let my ideas erupt into my netbook and then I sort them out when I rewrite the whole thing actually knowing the plot. My new novel currently has two titles: Damaged Smile or One Of Those Ghosts - I'm not sure what to go with. It's a novel about mental illness and coping with someone who has a mental illness. It's such a hard topic but because I've been through it personally I hope I can do it justice.

With 2011 drawing to a close I'm looking back and thinking that although it's been a pretty dramatic year it's also probably been one of my best. After nine years of feeling like every day was getting more and more difficult my new beginnings have started in 2011 and I'm feeling positive. Some of my friends have got publishing deals, signed with agents, I've written a manuscript I'm proud of and so roll on 2012 and a publishing deal of my own (fingers crossed)!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Learning the Hard Way

As a writer there are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned even from rejections and failures. Recently I pinned all my hopes on a writing competition that I had entered, one that in the past had resulted in large publishing deals and even awards. I even planned in my head what I might wear should I make it to the launch. Dreams are really important and as a friend pointed out to be this week self belief is one of the most important things to keep.

In a desperate attempt to keep my spirits high and my writing going I've been working on a new website, furiously working out how to write a good synopsis and editing my novel with blue sticky notes and a lot of biro.

Not every great writer gets published. That's just a fact. Sometimes they languish at the bottom of slushpiles and yet the enjoyment they get from writing can be enough. Yes I'd love to be published, of course I would, but for now I'm happy trying!