Murphy’s Law has struck again for this writer! No news (publication or otherwise) for a while and then lots all at the same time!
I talked about lessons from school, learning to drive etc., last week. This week I’m going to look at what I have learned from writing and how that has developed life skills too.
Lessons are a big part of life. Some we love, others we loathe. In this two-part series, I thought I’d take a look at how lessons are an ongoing thing. We’re just not always conscious of it. I’ve learned so much from writing which has helped directly not only with that but with life skills too.
So let’s start with the obvious then.
Local YA author, Richard Hardie, is delighted to announce that his novel, Leap of Faith, the first in his Temporal Detective Series, is now being advertised on the online edition of Doctor Who magazine.
Well done, Richard! Both the print and online versions of the magazine have a big “reach” so being able to get the word out to readers about a time travelling detective agency to fans of the most famous time travelling show is a very good move!
I know, I know! With a title like that, this could be a very short post indeed!
It has been an odd year, has it not? Even the weather has reflected it. I noticed my first ripe blackberries out at the end of July, a good month early. And I’m seeing the leaves on the trees changing colour and some shedding of leaves occurring now, in August, significantly earlier than normal, and almost certainly due to the lack of rainfall over the last few weeks.
The defining thought for my recent CFT posts has been how writers can pick up on the zeitgeist, long before we know there is one to tap into!
This summer the topic has been about changing direction. Some writers do this a lot, others only every now and again. Some make the change a permanent one, others see the variation as a detour from what they usually write though they will resume that in due course. My recent interviews with Scottish crime writers, Val Penny and Wendy H Jones, are good examples of this.
Another author changing direction is Jennifer C Wilson who has gone from writing ghost stories crossed with history in her Kindred Spirits series to romance with The Raided Heart and is now writing non-fiction with her recently released A Novel Approach.
Sometimes writers can feel as if they’ve “caught something” in the air and definitely not Covid-19! We refer to the zeitgeist where we subconsciously pick up on a bubbling mood which then does come to the surface and grabs public attention.
For me, and for many writers recently, that bubbling mood has been about changing direction with our writing. This has manifested itself in two distinct ways. Firstly, this has been in taking on new roles which are likely to be permanent (editing for me). Secondly, the other change has been in writing something different from what we are usually known for (as I’ve recently discussed with Val Penny and will be again soon with Jennifer C Wilson).
This week, I invite Scottish crime writer, Wendy H Jones, back to Chandler’s Ford Today as her new venture is something very special indeed. Wendy is the only UK writer in the The Power of Why (see Amazon link). There are 23 stories in this collection of women from around the globe who have taken steps to change their lives by starting their own businesses.
Writing is the fulfilment of many people’s dreams (and being published even more so) but, as with any other area of life, there are those prepared to make money out of your dreams and rip you off doing so. When you start out, it is knowing what to look out for that can be tricky. Also, where do you go for advice? (Answer: The Society of Authors, The Alliance of Independent Authors, and talk to other writers. Word does get out about scams and the like).
Welcome to Part 2 of my new series. You can find the link to Part 1 here. Writing colleagues and I share tips we hope will be useful ranging from contracts to marketing to even handling professional jealousy. There is much to learn from here!
Any industry attracts charlatans. Writing isn’t exempt. From copyright infringements to piracy, it pays to be aware of what can happen and where to go for advice. It is also useful to know what to avoid.
So much has changed in the industry since I started writing seriously. I’ve gone from using manual typewriters to laptops. I’ve gone from sending submissions in by snail mail to sending almost everything in by email. (There is still the occasional competition which prefers post but these are as common as the Dodo).
In the joy of creativity, and unless you have decided to write solely for your own pleasure, which is fine, it is easy to forget writing is a business. As with any industry, there are charlatans out there.
It is only when you’ve been writing for a while, when you’ve had setbacks, you realise how much you don’t know. There are things I wish I’d been aware of when I started writing.
For this three part series, I share tips and contributions from writing colleagues. A big thank you to them for taking part in this series. We all hope you find it useful. There will be a brief bio for my colleagues plus links to their Amazon Author Central page and the like. Between us, we represent a very wide range of genres and experience in the industry.
One of the discoveries during lockdown for me has been the Zoom app. I know of people able to get to writing events via Zoom who would not have been able to attend that same event if held “physically” due to the distance involved for them.
I would also like to see “standard” events perhaps end up having Zoom sessions as a side line to what they normally do as a way of engaging those who, for whatever reason, would find getting to the main event difficult. So Zoom has been a good thing then.
Missing seeing friends and family has been the worst element over the last few months (though that is easing of course now). Zoom has helped compensate a bit here though it cannot be the same as getting together with your loved ones.
I’m sure many of you will remember the late Barbara Woodhouse, the famous dog trainer whose catchphrase “walkies” has lived on.
Is there a dog owner who doesn’t use that phrase, I wonder?! Certainly all three of my dogs (the bearded collie cross, Gracie; the border collie, Mabel; and now Lady who is a border collie/flat coated retriever/chihuahua mix) all knew the meaning of the word and were/are keen fans of it!
I’ve mentioned before that I love word games and these can take all manner of forms from Scrabble and Boggle to The Times’ cryptic crossword. (I pass on the latter. If I go for crosswords, it is always the quick kind!).
I will often unwind after an evening’s writing by playing Scrabble on my phone.
The advantage of using technology to play a board game is it does mean I never have to worry about losing a tile again. It does also mean I can’t lose the Q or the X no matter how much I want to at times. There is always a downside to technology!
Oh and before you ask, I have been known to get miffed when the computer, which effectively is what the smart phone is in many ways, beats me at Scrabble yet again. I am improving though.
Now that doesn’t mean Val is leaving her (writing) life of crime (!), but she has turned to non-fiction with the recent release of her Let’s Get Published.
The Waterloo Arts Festival is an annual celebration across several art disciplines all based on a theme. This year’s one was Transforming Communities. Previous topics have been Transforming Being and To Be…To Become.
For the last three years, there has been a writing competition as part of the Festival and Bridge House Publishing have been the sponsors behind this. I’ve been privileged to have had winning stories in all three ebooks produced. Each ebook is a compilation of the fifteen winning entries in each year.
Genre fiction can be described as anything that is not literary fiction. Yes, I know – very helpful, not!
I have nothing against literary fiction though I suspect the only book I have in that category is the magnificent Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. I was in a dilemma with her follow up Bring Up The Bodies. I know how the story of Anne Boleyn ends!
When you know there is nothing positive well… having said that, I may well try it at some point. (Mind you, I was like this with the film Titanic. I knew about the iceberg! Didn’t see anything in the film for me!). Okay, call me a philistine then…
One of the things I love most about writing is it keeps you on your toes. There is always something to learn. For my flash fiction, I am always inventing new characters to write about. So the chances of (a) being bored or (b) running out of things to write about are zilch. I like that!
And for non-fiction work, such as my posts here, there are always topics of interest to look into, research, and write about. It is also a joy to share local author news (and a nice bonus when I can include myself!).
Being stretched mentally, whether you’re writing or what have you, is good for you. It makes you think. You develop much more as a person and I am sure that is one of the unspoken roles of any of the creative arts.
Taking part in any of the creative arts will make you assess where you are, where you might like to head with your chosen form, and so on.
Books have been on the radio for a long time. Often they are read through with music played to indicate scene breaks. My favourite novel, The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, was broadcast like this. (It is repeated every so often on Radio 4 Extra so so listen out for it. It’s a cracking story and the music is wonderful).
And of course books make for good adaptations – the right sound effects and music and no expensive sets or location costs! Radio has many advantages over TV here.
Authors of course welcome the chance to discuss their books. The problem though is it is the big name authors who get on to Radio 4 etc so other writers need to focus on alternatives. With the ready availability of podcasting as well now, there’s another avenue for writers to explore whether they set up their own or are guests on them. Oh and don’t underestimate the hard work that goes into running a podcast or preparing well to be a guest on one!
I must admit the one thing the lockdown has done which I hadn’t expected has been to reduce my reading! You would expect the opposite, would you not?
I’ve found writing to be no problem at all but it is as if my subconscious is saying “you can do one creative activity, Madam, but you’re not doing two”.