Saturday, 28 January 2012

What a dilemma!

I have spent most of the day clearing out my rat infested summer house. It was one of the most unpleasant things I have done for ages. It stunk, they had built a huge soil nest in the corner and everything was covered in rat poo!

However, as I started to clear things into piles for burning or the council tip I found some old books. One of the first I picked out was 'Lair' by James Herbert, very apt given the environment. We must have seen four of the horrid little things scurrying away as we cleared the place and disturbed their nest.

I was left with a dilemma though. I couldn't bear to burn the books as I did not feel right about destroying other people's work. I felt I couldn't take them to a council tip either, that would be an insult to the writer too. I couldn't take them to a charity shop as they are covered in rat poo and I couldn't bring them into my own house as they really do stink.

After pondering for hours I finally decided that I shall bury them in a sort of time capsule. I thought if I wrapped them up in completely sealed package, one day, they may be found, when books like this no longer exist. I hope that people may talk about how writers once put pen to paper (or computer) to produce a book and realise how special that is.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

For once I am feeling SMART

I attended a wonderful workshop yesterday run by Simon Whaley. . Simon was launching his tenth book - The Positively Productive Writer and so the work shop was based around being positive in your writing goals.

The 'S.M.A.R.T' tool he was using on the flip chart is one I am very familiar with as I have to use this every day with my work but it was so refreshing to apply it to my writing goals.

Simon mentioned that we should see our goals as a journey with several stops on the way. This means it never seems so daunting when we set a goal for the future as by taking little steps it makes it a more comfortable and achievable ride.

I have mentioned in previous posts that I have set myself a few goals this year, mainly of trying to publish two of my books onto kindle. When I first said that I would do this I was a little scared but by applying the SMART technique to both of my goals below, I feel a lot more confident in starting off and working towards them.

S. Are my goals specific? Yes - I want to publish two books on kindle.

M. Are they measurable? Yes, I use my year planner and check list to see where I am.

A. Are they achievable? Yes, if I focus on these two things and research what I need to do.

The only stumbling block is that I have to try and illustrate the non-fiction book myself. This feels a bit daunting but I want to give it a go.

R. Are they realistic? Yes, It is possible to publish a book onto kindle fairly easily. I have left enough time in between each project so feel it is possible.

T. Are they timely? Yes, I need to get one out before the summer Olympics and the novel out by mid autumn. The books have strict time bound subjects, especially the non-fiction book.

So there you have it, for once I do feel smart. I will give both of these goals a go. I do not expect them to be a massive success but I will feel that I have been positive for aiming for them in the first place.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Inspiration right under my nose

I spent a beautiful morning visiting all the villages and churches within the parish where I live and took so much inspiration for my writing from the most simple things.

The snowdrops above were taken at Clee St. Margaret Churchyard. They made me think that whatever happens during the year, they still come back even stronger. They face all kinds of conditions, as we do in our writing but every year they still come back.

The second place I visited was Stoke St. Milborough where the Holy Well flows to this day. I saw this as having faith. If we don't believe in what we are writing about or have faith in anything we are doing, it will not happen because we will give up after the first hurdle we come to.

The third is a picture of the bell at Middleton church. It may seem like any other bell tower but here a bird had made a nest. Birds seem to see opportunities everywhere and by doing so they succeed. That is so important with writing. It's about seeing every possible place to get your work out there. Some times it may be in the most unlikely places that you may succeed.

The final picture is of a stained glass window in the beautiful Caynham Church. This made me think to look closer at everything. The mare and foal was a tiny detail in a huge scene but I focused on it because I love horses. Details like this could lead to all sorts of ideas for writing - it's just taking time to seek them out.

All these small things in a quiet rural parish have given me so much thought to how I feel about my own writing:-

1) Coming back time and time again after long spells of hard work and rejection.

2) Having faith in what I am writing about and what I want to achieve.

3) Looking for opportunities everywhere, even if they seem unlikely.

4) Focus on detail and look in every place possible, zoom in on detail and it may bring amazing results.

Monday, 9 January 2012

New found confidence

For the first time this week I started to believe that I can do things that I thought I would never do. This week I knocked on the door of a total stranger and did an interview for a future article. Of course I had emailed the lady to arrange the meeting, so it was not unplanned but for me it was still a big thing. I have never been confident in pushing myself forward for situations such as this but after completing my journalism course, I do feel that I have found my confidence and want to make myself do things to progress in the future. I really believe that doing my distance learning course helped me to achieve this.

It was so wonderful to talk about a subject that I knew nothing about and then get home to write about it. I will not be paid for the article as it is for my local parish magazine but I still went about the whole thing in the same manner as I would for any other market. I made sure I still tackled the subject with the same professional attitude, though we did laugh when I showed her my pass pictured above. I just didn't want her to think I was some odd person turning up at her house and that I was genuine in my reasons for being there.

It was a great experience to go into a situation and learn something new. I have mentioned in the past that I have played safe and only written about my favourite and almost obsessive subject of chickens! This inspired me so much and in just over an hour taught me not to be afraid of new subjects, talking to new people and most of all having confidence in what I can do.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Kindle all the way

I have decided to take the plunge this year and work towards getting two of my books published on Kindle.

I made the decision with my novel 'Red Kite' a few months ago after my writers retreat and hope to launch it this autumn but before that I'm going to experiment with my non fiction book about Dinosaurs. I have tried since early 2011 to get it published in a traditional manner but ran out of time. Many of the publishers liked the idea but said they already had their quota of Dinosaur related material. I decided that I couldn't just shelve it and give up after months of research and writing, so started thinking about it over Christmas.

I want to launch it in time for this years Olympic games so have a lot of work to do. The text is ready but I am going to attempt to illustrate it myself. I am no artist, I did manage to pass an O-level in art and I worked for a while as an assistant to a graphic designer but that's it. This is a massive challenge for me but feel that I have to give it a go and see if I can produce some simple line drawings to accompany the words.

On researching children's books on the Kindle shelf I found that not all of them had illustrations anyway but I would like to try and get a few done as I hope the humour will come through stronger with some pictures.

It may be crazy but it's something I have to try and the way I see it I have nothing to lose - except a little pride if it flops!