Monday, December 31, 2007

On Reflection

Hmmm; time to reflect, eh? I’m starting 2008 at the beginning of the same story that I was starting at the beginning of 2007. I could be unkind to myself and say it feels a bit like Groundhog Day or I could acknowledge that my achievements are subtle, but accomplishments nonetheless.

This time last year I was skulking around Kate H’s blog, harbouring a desire to write. I’d nursed this want for years, having started and aborted several secret manuscripts. At the inception of the Novel Racers, I still lurked, until one day in a small voice, I emailed Kate and asked her if I could join in.

Blogging with the Novel Racers (and other writers who’ve blogged alongside) has been a wonderful experience on so many levels. You’ve plugged a hole I had in writing friends. You’ve supported me through my many wobbles. You’ve given me friendship, advice, encouragement, made me laugh and cry, and shared your achievements and disappointments.

I’ve seen a determination in myself to do this that I don’t think I’ve had for other things. Despite not getting it right over this last year I am not giving up. I have had moments where I’ve thought I may, but eventually emerging from those wobbles has been a determination to keep trying. That must mean something.

Somewhere in my brain has always been a firm belief that I am not creative; that I have no imagination. It’s true I was brought up to believe I was the academic one, and my sister was the creative one, but since doing my fine art degree I know that that’s not the truth. A combination of growing confidence with writing articles and the fine art degree experience have made me realise that it’s simply a question of overwriting those messages. I understand how to make decisions about a piece of art; I don’t yet know how to do that with fiction but I do believe that the more I do it the more likely it is I will get there. I have faith that practice, practice, desire and more practice, I will begin to understand how to do this. My experience with creative writing is totally in its infancy.

I’ve always said I was only racing with myself and I still believe that. I’m also firmer than ever that my goal right now is not publishing (I know some people will doubt that) but having recognised how heinously difficult the whole process of writing a book is, I just want to be able write a novel of which I am proud. IF I ever manage that, I am sure that I will want to think about an agent, publishing blah blah blah, but that’s way off still and definitely not my primary goal.

2007 Achievements:

I’ve learned to say out loud ‘I want to write’
I posted my first ever short story into the public domain.
I showed people some of my writing.
I showed JULIA BELL my first crappy attempt at fiction. I survived the feedback.
I’ve started, stalled; started again and stalled again, and I’m still going to try again.
I’ve developed faith in the process of practise.

My 2008 writing goals are to:

Keep practising.
Do my morning pages while the children are getting ready for school.
Restart WIP in 3rd person.
Learn to make decisions about WIP plot and characters.
Be brave and send Julia my first re-written chapter one.
Aim to do a dedicated writing course in the summer 2008.


SpiralSkies said...

I love how your determination shines out of you. You're one of the most creative people I've ever met and you're going to do brilliantly.

Hope you're on the mend and having a funky New Year X

Pacha said...

This is a very balanced and positive reflection JJ. I'm glad to hear that you have realised that you ARE creative. And I am willing to bet you will finish it early 2008!

So, all the best in 2008! To a happy, healthy, productive year!

Thanks so much for sharing all this!


Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Those 2007 achievements definitely ARE achievements. I certainly found that part of the process, for me, involved acknowledging how 'heinously difficult' (love that phrase!) it is to write a novel. I think you're so right to focus on the writing, at this stage, rather than the publication. And if you want a UK-based week-long writing course with professional teachers who are also professional writers themselves, I recommend the Arvon Foundation; I've been on a couple of their courses, and they're excellent. (And don't aim too low - for example, I think you would find 'Starting To Write A Novel' too elementary now. You're re-starting, not starting, and it is a very different place to be.)

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Oops forgot to say 'happy New Year' which is what I came over to say in the process - thanks for the reminder, Pacha!

Leigh said...

Thank you for writing this post, JJ. You have provided me with huge inspiration.

God, what a journey this writing-thing involves. When I started I had no idea how small the steps were, and how hard each one would be to take. You have reminded me here that every step is an achievement and a bloody good one too. Even one that seems to be going in the wrong direction is merely a chance to backtrack and take a better route.

Oooh. All excited about getting going again, now. Thanks, JJ. You're a Star Blogger.


KeVin K. said...

JJ, you are a writer.
Just thought you should know.

Angie said...

Those are fantastic achievements, JJ. Writing a novel is bloody difficult, but it takes a lot of courage to try. It was great to 'meet you' in cyberspace - I also had a hole in the writing friends arena, and I've been thankful to fill it.
Happy New Year!
Ang xx

JJ said...

Jen, thanks. Funny isn't it, how determined I am: i must want it a lot.

Had a quiet, sober, early night for new year - still feeling rather fragile!

Pacha, thank you. I think I will need to offload some of my other commitments but it would be great to get a first draft done ...

Zinnia, thank you. It is difficult - that's come as quite a shock to me, but I want to write something I'm proud of, not just something. I am thinking about Arvon too - I've just asked for their new programme.

Leigh, thank you; I'm glad to have inspired you. It's really, really hard. As long as I've learned something I don't think starting back at the beginning is such a bad thing.

Kevin, thank you: that's a lovely thing to say.

Angie, thanks honey. I am aware it's not just Novel Racers that have supported me ... thanks for everything.

A very good new year to everyone.


Carol and Chris said...

Happy New Year honey. Sorry to hear that you were feeling better now?

This is a great post - very positive. We all know you can do it!!

C x

HelenMH said...

Just found this via Leigh's blog. It sounds like you're making amazing progress on your journey - sometimes it's good to have a reason to stop and look back at what you've done before you move forwards. Leigh is right - this is great inspiration!

B.E. Sanderson said...

Awesome achievements, JJ. Keep at it, and you'll achieve even more in 2008. I know you've got it in you. We all do if we work at it.

I just stopped by to say Happy New Year, and to say what a pleasure it's been racing with you this year. Onward to the next race. =oD

Lane said...

You're an inspiration jj. Happy new Year to you. You can do it!