Herewith commences my retirement project to make my writing a focus to fill the work void. Perhaps not the most accurate of word choices as it suggests I am seeking to fill an empty space – writing ‘tip of the day’ kicks in to remind me that I don’t need the word ‘empty’ as ‘space’ implies it – but I digress. I do that a lot when I am writing.
In my work life, I am focussed, organised and efficient which enables me to be effective. How often have I read authors complaining of procrastination? Those days when cleaning the loo is perversely preferable to starting to actually write. In my case, I have been complicit in allowing work to get in the way. Probably, I guess as a defence against fear of failure. I don’t fear remaining unpublished but I do fear being considered unworthy of publication.
I have kept a diary every day for the last 55 years – a mixture of the mundane, occasionally profound and on re-reading surprising and forgotten elements of my life so far (see link)
I guess this, my first blog, answers my question – do people who write diaries really want them to be kept secret? During my more colourful teenage years I had my diary firmly under lock and key.
In similar vein, I have often maintained that I didn’t write my first book because I wanted to be published but rather because I wanted to see if I could sustain a longer piece. I had already written loads of stories of varying lengths. Some are best forgotten; some I am happy to share online.
My first creative writing class in Portsmouth was many years ago when my children were small. It was led by the wonderful Betty Burton, author of thirteen best- selling novels including ‘Women are bloody marvellous’; and ‘Jude’. Betty encouraged me and became my inspiration. Betty Burton books, Author Betty Burton – books on Lovereading.co.uk
Over the years, I have attended several creative writing classes, writing groups, conferences and latterly, in more affluent years, for a whole delightful week on an Arvon course in Devon. Occasionally, I have entered short story competitions and in all these situations I have received valuable and largely positive feedback.
When I began my book ‘Walk This Way’ I loved the ‘craft’ (hate that word!) of novel writing. I loved the chronology, the back stories and the struggle with viewpoint. (see link to webpage …) All of it suited my paperwork nerd trait. I downloaded blank calendars for the 1970s from outlook; started a card index file for my characters and researched articles on addiction and living rough. All this proved highly satisfying.
After many years, I finally finished it – well finished the first draft anyway. I suppose it’s a confidence thing because while I am happy to share my short stories, no one has read the book in its entirety. I have yet to allow family or writing friends to read it at all. I have, however, submitted a synopsis and first chapter to a couple of agents at the Winchester Writers Conference. Both expressed interest if I followed through on their editing suggestions and re-submitted. This was positive indeed, as previously one agent told me it was ‘too gritty for the current market’ and another that I had a problem with punctuation. This was news to me but she was clearly correct and I have attempted to improve.
I didn’t take up the offers to re-submit. They came at a time when I had just received a major knock to my confidence when my marriage of 34 years suddenly and unexpectedly collapsed. I believe I am quite good at looking after my emotional health and realised that I didn’t need any more rejection in my life, thank you very much. So, once again, ‘Walk This Way’ got shelved.
Then, along came my beloved Ipad and with it the idea of self-publishing. I started to research the possibilities. Clearly, things have moved on considerably from the old concept of ‘vanity publishing’ which I had always considered a rather pointless, costly and self-indulgent activity. At the same time, it seemed cowardly to just consign my book, in which I have invested so much time and effort, to a desk drawer or to lurk in some dropbox file.
No sooner had I decided that having my own website and blog was the way to go, when along came the wonderful Elizabeth Graney and her course on an introduction to the wordpress platform for creating websites and blogs. It was both timely and inspirational https://eagtraining.co.uk – a big thank you to the excellent ‘Gosport Discovery Centre’ – my local library for putting on the course.
And here I am – getting to grips with wordpress.com and writing my first blog.
I hope you will enjoy my struggles and will be interested enough to read more.