Sunday, January 06, 2008

Whinging, whining and Moaning

The article that I was working on that had me in such a flap before Christmas was rejected for ‘reading like a PR piece.’ I was instantly pissed off and upset, but being on my Skyros course I decided that I didn’t much care (I did) and my novel was more important, (it is, however…)

… I also care enormously about the articles I’m trying to write for the not for profits that have asked for my help. It’s all words, choosing them, making them work for you, shaping them, conveying something. I want to get it right.

Huh, but I’m some writer if I can’t get them published, eh?

Then I had all the stuff about the novel: wrong POV, started in the wrong place, etc. First reaction: a bit upset; second reaction: yup, I knew that bit, didn’t know that one, suspected that crit, etc, etc.

I get back from Skyros and think again about the article: Oh bollocks, yes, she’s right (the editor that rejected it) it does sound rather self congratulatory and I start to think about rewriting it with the further advice she’s sent. (I realise how lucky I am to get an editor to do this and say if it reads right they’ll still publish it.)

In the taxi coming back from the airport Daughter said, ‘You say you had a good time on Skyros? And yet, this writing teacher told you to start again? How can that be a result?’ (She said ‘this writing teacher’ in a rather disparaging manner for an 11 year old – I was a bit scared.)

It feels a bit like batter, batter, batter … it’s all wrong; I’m doing everything wrong. I so hate doing things wrong. I'm a giver upper of things because I don't like doing things wrong.

Because of these criticisms and my practise, practise, practice over the last year, my writing has improved a bit, I think. And I’m still determined, but doing it alone is so slow – I want to get there quicker.

I know that I could spend the years writing and slowly getting better, but I want it NOW. I really I think I need something else: more feedback. I’m not hinting here for anyone to volunteer, I guess I’m thinking of some kind of online course. God, I do hope Husband doesn’t read this: after Skyros, I think he’d go apoplectic (Husband, if you are reading this apoplectic means, calmly, generously and in your usual laid back style.)


Yvonne said...

Yuk, I know what you mean, I'm a perfectionist too and this writing lark is so hard because of that. It's like I've never taken up an instrument because I was never good at it at the beginning - ridiculous really as it is mostly practice that does it. Same with writing really, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to give up when everything's not amazing first time. I think you have talent though, keep it up! It will work out for you! (and apologies for the long comment!)

Cathy said...

Have you looked at more online writing communities...people seem very supportive on WriteWords though I must admit so far I have just lurked, but they do have feedback/crit groups for lots of genres. Or is there an English language writers group in Bangkok?

The OU writing courses are mainly online...don't know if they are prohibitively expensive for expats, but may be worth looking into? I'm sure there are other online courses you could do too. Get researching!


Helen said...

HI JJ. Sorry you are feeling like this. If the article you are referring to is the one I read for you, I thought it was very good. Obviously the editor has ideas though how she wants pieces to sound, she obviously believes you are a writer otherwise she wouldn't have said she'd accept it if you change the tone slightly. It's great that you are thinking about rewriting it with the advice she's sent (and after all that's what editors do).

Both you and I, JJ, started the novel racers about the same time and I think we've both achieved so much over 2007. For a start we're both still here aren't we, perservering with our ambitions? We've also learnt a lot about the world of writing. Things are moving for you, very slowly, but they are. You are doing really well. I don't think you are doing anything wrong, just experimenting and learning.

In terms of course I do recommend the London School of Journalism ones. You could do creative writing or feature writing (this is the one I'm doing, my physio is doing the creative writing one). They aren't very expensive and particularly for me I've got a lot from the feature writing one - even if I haven't progressed as fast as I would like to - things will change this year!

JJ said...

Yvonne, that's it entirely. Nothing has ever mattered enough to me to persevere but this does, I just want it to NOW. Don't apologise for the long comment. Thank you.

Cathy, no I haven't, but I will. I have thought about LSJ ones that Helen mentions below. I'll scoot around the www tonight, and see what else is out there.

Helen, it was that one, and I thought it read well too. I thought it was clear, full of information and well written, but on going back it did sound slightly pleased with itself! Please don't worry about that. She's the editor, and my contact tells me she's uhm, very particular, which is her right. She took the time to tell us how to rewrite differently which was generous of her.

I know the fact that I'm still here, and that I've to some extent silenced that bastard demon in my head from taunting me is a huge leap forward, but I've stalled twice in the same place, and still can't decide on what happens...

Helen, with LSJ ones do you go at your own pace? Will they go as fast as you dictate by completing you assignments etc?


Helen said...

JJ, the LSJ ones do go as fast (or slow like me) as you want. As soon as you have sent off your assignment you can download the next one. I have to say I can't praise my tutor enough. It is just me who hasn't concentrated on it. I have done 4 assignments in a year. I think there are 10 in the feature writing course in total.


Flowerpot said...

I know exactly what you mean. Mind you, I saw an interview with Dustin Hoffman recently and he said he had spent his whole career failing well..... I'm also doing the feature writing coruse at the LSJ and I'm loving it - it's alreadyp aid for itself! Have a look at their website.

Flowerpot said...

I know exactly what you mean. Mind you, I saw an interview with Dustin Hoffman recently and he said he had spent his whole career failing well..... I'm also doing the feature writing coruse at the LSJ and I'm loving it - it's alreadyp aid for itself! Have a look at their website.

Pacha said...

But...'they' (the critiquers) might not be wholly right too. I think re-doing everything is possibly looking like an impossible hurdle to overcome (and depressing too). And if that is holding you up maybe you don't agree with some of the critiques deep deep down (or not completely convinced?). Do you really have start over and change POV and in another place? Are you sure? Shouldn't you get another opinion first? (Because that is a drastic move). Julia Bell is Julia Bell. Of course. But she is not law (unless you second her thoughts because you really feel she is right)...

Maybe more feedback is in order. Different thoughts and opinions.

I did the online Lancaster Creative Writing MA course. It was part-time so it takes 2 years to complete - they accept every 2 years 16 students - (I was working full time and expecting Dyango and then he was born and I had to cater to him, I also travelled to Argentina for 3 months when Dyango was 5 months the middle of the Masters...and I wasn't too stressed (for me). So time wise I found it easy to handle. It does FORCE you to write and submit to deadlines and then there are the online conferences which last 2 weeks and you come online to do your bit in submitting and discussing in your own time!

But but is expensive. But soooooo worth it. I had some fantastic tutors and felt I learnt so much about writing.

That it is has been downhill the past year (since I finished) is another matter and entirely my own fault because I am NOT disciplined. And because I have too many small children and and and...

Oh! I so understand the wanting 'RIGHT NOW' thing too. Not being of a patient nature AT ALL!

It's so difficult but the important thing is that you aren't even contemplating giving up...because that isn't even an option really, is it?

Pacha said...

sorry about the loooooong comment!

Lane said...

I can only echo the fab previous comments.

First of all and most importantly of all, you CAN write. You've proved that not only in your fabulous posts time and time again but in the feedback you've had from Julia. So not writing is just not an option.

I've been tempted with courses but for me, finances and time won't permit. What's important is just to keep writing and then keep submitting. There's so much to be learnt from that. I don't think you can be 'doing it wrong'. In the case of Skros they were suggestions which you can chose to take on board or not. Only you know. With your articles, it sounds like they only need tweaking for the editor to adjust the tone. This is positive jj. Really it is. If you want anything read, I'm only too happy, though my experience is horribly limited.

I know only too well the 'want it now' feeling. I can't tell you the number of things I've never finished through fear of failure or just boredom. Boredom as never been an issue with writing though and it IS a slog and there are no guarantees. We just have to keep on. Sorry to ramble on and I hope you can find your answers. I truly believe that where there's talent, there will be success (if you keep plugging away) ...eventually. x

Debs said...

Your post struck such a chord with me. It is horribly difficult to write something you think is pretty good and then be told all the things that are wrong with it. Very easy to get down-hearted too but I think that the only option is to keep on writing. I feel that I'm working through an apprenticeship and learning all the time. Whether I can apply all that I'm learning is another matter.

Jon M said...

Sadly, time is the important thing here! Feedback is important too but you have to put it all (MS and feedback) away to 'bake' for a good while and then set to on revising the work...Never managed it meself! Always start messing it about straight away. In fact one course I went on, after a rather painful crit session, I rewrote the synopsis completely, turned one character into a flower and another into a mystical land (Long story) all within about 15 minutes.
All the waiting is painful!
phew! You struck a chord there!

Carol and Chris said...

Your being very hard on yourself honey. The tone of your article perhaps wasn't quite what she was looking for but that's just her opinion - someone else might have jumped at it and thought it perfect as it was!!. The amazing thing here is that she took the time to tell you what you could do to turn the article into what she is looking for. (So it must have been pretty darn good in the first place!!)

You've been through a bit of an emotional roller-coaster recently with your writing and I can completely understand if your feeling a bit blue (Determined to keep going but a bit blue). I don't know - I'm no writer but I love reading and, for what it's worth, I know that you can write!!

Keep going - I bet that you'll be writing a post in no time telling us all about the article that's about to be published and how well the novel is going!!

C x