Wednesday, October 01, 2008

“Statement of the bleedin’ obvious”

I am feeling all relaxed and light of problems. This is my last day on Koh Chang and the rainy season has gone away for the day … but still I’m at my laptop. (I ♥ my laptop.)

Calistro left a comment yesterday that made me laugh; she said: ‘…that’s utterly astonishing… Have I missed something? How did you go from writing 100 words a day on Helen’s blog to well over a 1000? I want some of that fairy dust please!’ and then after chuckling again at her tone of total incredulity, it made me think. These are my tips:

  1. Sign up for a mentoring scheme in which you will submit 10,000 words for critiquing when in reality you have only 4,000 words of your ‘masterpiece’ written.
  2. Have a lovely Husband, who despite writing course being cancelled, lets you ago anyway to gorgeous jungley island all on your lonesome while he holds the fort at home.
  3. Have people on your sidelines, shouting for you: encouraging, having faith and then shouting some more. (I know it’s not the most exciting blogging; me telling you how many words I wrote today, and what DVD I’m watching… so thank you for still appearing here!)

In truth, it’s not just those points, and it’s funny that it was Calistro that made me think about it, because it sort of started with her.

It’s hard work, this writing lark. I know that – if you came here telling me it was just sitting on my lardy arse and typing, well, I’d say ‘it’s not, it’s hard work.’ I knew that. I’d read it in multiple ‘how to’ books, I’d heard it from writers, I’d read it on the internet. I knew.

It started a few weeks ago when Calistro got her agent. I was so pleased for her – she really has worked hard for it … and she works full time. I felt utter delight; I knew I wasn’t near that situation so my reaction didn’t involve an iota of envy. I was 4,000 words in and I could see that I had a long way to go before justifiably feeling ‘why not me?’

It spurred me on. It made me think ‘I want that to be me…’ So I began to think about it: about how to do it, about how to get to that situation so that even if there are no guarantees, at least to get to a place where your manuscript goes out.

My TLC writing holiday got cancelled and I felt sad but I recognised my need for feedback. I’d got no real idea if what I was doing was right. So fast forward to the idea of mentoring with TLC: my excerpt came back with some good things on it. It was better than I hoped for and it had suggested to my reader that, albeit assessed only from one chapter, I might possibly be in possession of the skills required to do this.

‘I did that chapter,’ I thought. ‘It was hard but I shaped it and put the things into that she thought demonstrated that potentially I might possess the ability to do this. So right … (can you hear those cogs turning?) if I can do it with one chapter, I can do it with the next.’

Slowly – because clearly I’m not very bright – it began to dawn on me. The writing is really tough. It’s HARD. Am I the only one who hadn’t comprehended this? Am I the only total twit who hadn’t grasped the fact that, not only is it not easy, it’s actually, really bloody difficult?

So, if you’ve read this far, you’re going to say ‘Yes? And your point, JJ, is what?’

And, well, I suppose my point is – I suppose I have a couple of points: that ability or talent is irrelevant if you don’t do the hard graft … there really isn’t any ‘fairy dust’? And while I knew all along that it was tough, I guess I didn’t really quite believe it; until now.


Debs said...

It certainly is hard work, but I think how rewarding it is, when on the odd occasion I read back something I've written and find I actually like it. The word count increasing is certainly a spurr to keep me going too.

You've done so well with your word count:)

Angie said...

I think it's a lesson I constantly relearn.
I'm glad to hear this trip has relaxed you and invigorated your writing.
Keep it up!

Helen said...

Bloody hell JJ! Wow! How much have you written in a week?! That is amazing. Well done.

Yes it is hard work. I thought it would be easy to do whilst pregnant, after all it is just sitting on my bum all day, but it really tires me out!

Caroline said...

I had a comment on my blog a couple of weeks ago and now it's stuck to my wall.

"Believe and they will come."


You will do this, I know that you will x

(ps - in answer to your comment over at mine, pacha deleted her blog)

Yvonne said...

Great post! I find it really hard work too, but like Debs says it is rewarding. I've also found that it gets easier the more I write and the further I get into the ms - the words tend to come easier and I know what things to avoid through trial and error.

But I've found the hardest thing to overcome is the nagging feeling that I can't do this and that I'm not good enough. There have been many days that I've procrastinated rather than writing. I'm glad to say that, like Debs says, the more the word count increases the less this happens.

Carol and Chris said...

Bloody hell woman...your doing brilliantly (Just like we all knew you would!!) - your word count is positively rocketing!!

C x

Anonymous said...

Gosh I was only gone for a week and you've done so much! Congratulations, I hope it continues going well for you :)

KAREN said...

What a great, inspiring post! You're so right that it's all irrelevant without the hard graft, but I certainly didn't believe that when I started this writing lark five years ago. I do now though. Oh yes :o) You're doing really well.

Pat Posner said...

Brilliant post. It was such a good idea for you to go to your jungley island. Just look at the word count!!
And well done, your lovely husband, too.

Calistro said...

Great post JJ and really timely. Since the agent news I've hardly written a word. Okay so I've edited some old words but I haven't written anything new for quite a while now (and have been feeling horribly guilty). Anyway, I just want to say that this post has inspired me. It's reminded me that, when I wrote novel #1 in just under 4 months last year, it wasn't down to fairy dust it was because I got my arse down on a chair and wrote..and wrote..and wrote. It IS down to hard work and how much you want your dream to come true. And I wanted to write (and finish) the first draft of a novel as quickly as I could.

Now if I could just solidify the new idea for novel #2 in my brain I COULD start writing! Maybe I'll write a short story instead. Either way, you've kicked me up the arse to start writing. So thank you.

L-Plate Author said...

It might be hard work honey, but you can do it. You've always been able to do it. It's just sitting down and getting going that is the hardest and you've done that...and overtaken me.

Well done x

Leigh said...

Huh, bit like child-birth really.
But what rewards, eh?
Keep at it, my lovely.
I'm dying to read the rest.

wordtryst said...

I think you're doing really well. Once the first 10 thou are under your belt you can see the next on the horizon, then the next...

Um, re the lovely husband: where do you find those?

Pacha deleted her blog? I'm really sorry about that. I didn't visit very often but always enjoyed her posts when I did. :(