Posts Tagged ‘writing group’

Well I had a fairly productive day – not in terms of my word count, which remained slightly shy of 55k – but in terms of progress in other areas. I went and spoke to my local Waterstones and the manageress has very kindly agreed to let me start a writing group there. So that will be an hour and a half once a month where we get to do flash fiction and read our work out to be critiqued by each other.

My first writing group begins next wednesday and i don’t have the dates yet for the next one.

The reason I think its important to get involved in writing groups is because as a writer its easy to get stuck in a bubble – where you think either your work is really terrible when in fact you just need fresh eyes on it = or – god forbid – your writing is terrible and someone needs to help you get a better rhythm. Its nothing to be ashamed of – we all right duff stuff once in a while. Looking back on things i wrote years ago I cringe, i really do. Writing is about constantly learning, from others as well as yourself. When i start writing a story invariably by the time I have gotten a few thousand words into it it starts writing itself because i have hit my stride, sometimes its hard to find the stride in your story on your own.

In terms of my novel – I have come to a point where i kind of need to stop and start a whole new thread – which is very exciting – because i will discover new things about my characters that will also add to the plot. I will discover new characters that i havent even met yet. I think this thread – the police one should give me at least 15k at this point – because i will make sure i use 3k per chapter, and I definitely have at least 5 chapters to write – that takes me to 70k – and then I have about 15k to sew it all up – then comes the REALLY fun part – the rewrite. I will do a whole blog post on rewriting when I get to it.

Until next time

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OK Im going to lay it all out there. I dont know an awful lot about publishing. But tonight i went to an interesting meeting at Waterstones in Thanet talking about getting published. it was interesting to see the different ways some people had gone about getting published. Although none had been published through agencies – both of the men I spoke to there had been self published, but both had very different experiences. One had laid out huge personal financial outlay in order to see his book in print, including some misadventures with expensive editors who didn’t do the job properly. The other man ordered each book that was ordered from him one by one, so there was no initial outlay at all.

It got me to thinking though – about publishing – first of all I only say these things as they relate to me, these are not judgements on other people or how they have chosen to do things – everyone’s different eh?

I was very reluctant to go the self publishing route without at least putting up a fight and trying to secure a deal with an actual publisher, through an agent. One of the questions that was thrown up in the meeting tonight was how do you measure success? Well for me, yeah seeing my book in print would be great, but not if I am the one who has paid to do it – because books are all about the audience at the end of the day, if you just write a book for yourself then why bother getting published at all, even self published, just keep it to yourself.

For me (on this book at least) I measure my success on someone who knows the industry telling me that its a marketable object –  that its something that people will want to read. I knew that if i couldn’t find an agent i would most likely self publish, but I knew for me that might not be the best thing to do. For starters im absolutely crap at marketing myself. I’m basically a recluse who spends my days in my basement staring at a wall without a window. I need an Agent to market me, I cant sell myself as a product and not because I don’t believe in myself, but because – well for a start I don’t have the connections an agent does. I’m just not a seller. I lack the confidence to promote myself. Its not even about money (but lets not be rash, I like money) its about being a legitimate writer. Are you a writer if the only person who believes in your shit is you? well i don’t know, i don’t make the rules.

Getting an Agent turn around and say to me, your stuff is great was a massive confidence boost and totally made me feel like a legitimate writer, i didn’t realise i didn’t feel like a proper writer until I started feeling like one – even though i have been writing for years. getting an agent was a game changer for me. (However if you are self published – great reviews and book sales would provide the same feeling of validation I imagine)

Is it arrogance or insecurity that makes someone self publish? for me it would be insecurity. I would be so scared of putting myself out there to be rejected by agents that I would just do it myself and be happy to sell it to a handful of people who want it every now and then.

Is it a control thing? Is it just not being able to stand someone else having control of your baby, telling you that you need to change the name, have this cover, change this chapter, do this differently etc etc – well yeah I get that. Although when I wrote the book i have just written i was trying to appeal to a commercial audience – ONE because i love crime thrillers and TWO because i wanted to get an Agent to do all the hard work for me. i had resigned myself to make any changes that an agent considered necessary – you see – this is what i want to do for the rest of my life – and so – I wanted to do it “the right way” – it may not be the most financially lucrative way – it may even be considered selling out.

Like I said before though i realise there are a great number of people who are hugely successful and self published and they are probably much more market savvy people than me, I really am rubbish at promoting myself and putting myself forward Its something i have been trying to work on lately – hence the blog and my lame attempts at twitter.

The publishing industry seems to be fast evolving and who knows what’s going to happen. All i know is that the measure of success for me would be to find a dog eared well read copy of my book in a charity shop – screwed up I know!

Well i finally did it, I shall be heading up a writing group come next month. The venue is close to my house and the landlady was lovely – She has a private room upstairs in her pub which we can use the first Wednesday of every month.

I almost started a writing group for aspiring screenwriters a few years ago but then i got too busy to continue with it, this time I am going to make time to do it.

2 years ago, a friend of mine who knows I like to write asked me to go along to a women’s writers group. We turned up to an already established writers group and there were several female members there. First of all let me say I’m not very good at reading stuff out loud, I am very self conscious and so joining the group where I had to read out things that I had written really made a massive difference to my confidence when writing. I realised that things I thought were too extreme to put on paper were actually not that extreme at all.

A few weeks later the lady who owned the venue asked us to take part in a competition to write a novella of 30,000 words. My friend and i took part in the challenge – i found a newspaper article and developed it from that (because there is nothing more interesting than the weird crap people do in real life) Lucky for me we moved house and were without internet for a month which gave me the time to write without being hugely distracted. So I started writing the story, which I really got into. The competition ended up not really happening in the end for one reason or another.

Then the Ramsgate’s got writing talent competition came up – a few months after – at this point I had taken my original 30k words a little further and in a new direction. I hadn’t entered the year before but the year before that I came second, so i entered it again this time (in 2013) and WON! the job was to write a captivating first paragraph – which I apparently managed to do. My prize was to have my work seen by an agent as well as some feedback as I wrote (assuming i could complete a novel) – So that was my path – I had to finish it, I finished the first (50th) draft a year later.

Without the help or encouragement of the ladies in the writing group then I would never have been able to finish my novel, it was great to not feel foolish in pursuing a career in writing. These poor women didn’t really have the same taste as me and i did subject them to some rather horrific stuff ha ha – but they were invaluable in terms of helping me to have the confidence to put myself forward. the group has disbanded now and so I feel I would like to help someone else realise their novel writing dream.

Until next time