Friday, 31 January 2014

End of January Wordcount...

110, 202. 

Prologue, sixteen chapters and a quarter. 
Six + months since starting. 

January has been another busy month for me. I only finished my extra work in the library in the last week, so time still hasn't been on my side writing wise. I also had my five year anniversary with my other half to celebrate which, of course, kept my away from my laptop (but, for a pretty nice reason, so I can forgive him).

I have, however, reached a very big milestone this month: 100k words! Really pleased to have made it to such a big milestone in my writing. It's also been a full half a year since I began The Book, which feels at once like a long time and not enough at all. The Book has become a huge part of my life and, to be totally honest, almost my entire vision for the future. I find it hard to believe that this time last year I hadn't even had the first idea for the story.

Now I'm so far into writing I'm starting to think seriously about What Comes Next. That has scared me a little and I think my pace has slowed recently because of that. Nevertheless, I'm almost finished plot wise. I figure I have three major events left before the climax, which really isn't much at all. Another 20,000 words, perhaps?

Next month I hope I can get a really good focus and start heading for the finish line in earnest....

Monday, 27 January 2014

Review: Writing Magazine (February 2014)

In an attempt to bulk up the Part Time Novelist blog, I'm going to start adding reviews of my recent reads and other bits and pieces I've found useful/interesting/helpful/or otherwise.

Today, I want to talk about Writing Magazine. According to its website, Writing Magazine is:
For every writer, from beginner to advanced, whether you write for pleasure or publication, and whatever your writing preferences, Writing Magazine – the UK's biggest and bestselling magazine for writers – has something to help you.
(Quote from Writing Magazine)

This is the first monthly writing magazine I've purchased. There were a few other publications on offer, but I chose Writing Magazine for its attractive cover, good quality printing and because it seemed the most easily approachable it terms of content. As it says on its website, the magazine is aimed at writers of different levels and experience and was a less daunting prospect for a first-time reader like myself. 

(Image from Writers Magazine)

I certainly found it an interesting mixture of levels, from how to start writing your first novel right through to improving your revenue and how to respond to interviews about your work. Some articles weren't of much interest to me, either being too far beyond where I am right now or a little bit behind. There were however, plenty of articles that I found interesting. 

Lucie Whitehouse's article on suspense came from Whitehouse's position as a psychological suspense writer. Although the article was focused on thriller writing in particular, it was by no means restrictive and Whitehouse applied her advice to all aspects of fiction writing, emphasising the use of a Three Act Structure and the importance of planning to improve the introduction of plot twists.

Tracy Fells piece on planning aimed to link the processes used in fiction writing with non-fiction articles. While the non-fiction element doesn't apply to me personally, the writing is fairly broad, focusing on the elements of planning first, which is always a useful pointer for beginners. Again, we can see links to Three Act plot writing as well a few important writing rules which I may have been forgetting about before now

There were a few different 'editing' sections, including a kind of brain-teaser style section in which three different lines are presented to 'test' the reader on their editing skills. The Under the Microscope section takes a 300-word snippet from applicants (in this case, James McCreet) to be picked apart by magazine staff, with little red additions and vicious cuts. These pieces give insight into not only what to edit, but why to edit, with useful editor notes that explain the thinking process behind each amendment. 

As I mentioned in my last post, entering competitions is a good way to bulk up Writing CVs. Writing Magazine offers various competitions based on short-stories and poetry, as well as giving information about larger external competitions. They publish wining entries in the magazine (and on their website) and offer cash prizes of varying sizes to winners. Hopefully, I'll be entering this one in the next month or so. 

The Market section also had some very helpful signposts to independent publishers, competitions and other industry links that will be useful in the future.

I'd definitely recommend Writing Magazine to new writers, especially for those just finding their feet, even if that means you haven't written anything yet! If anything, I wish I'd started reading when I first started The Book, as there was a lot of advice and some beginners rules that would have helped me get some things right first time around. The only point I would stress is: be prepared to be a little frightened! The magazine and the people it features certainly did nothing to ease my worries about my own lack of preparation. I'll be looking for it again next month as well as trying out some of the other publications to see how they compare. 

Overall I'd give Writing Magazine 8/10, given how well it applies to my current needs.
(And also because I have nothing else to gauge it on...)

Writing Magazine is available in store and online, priced at £3.75. It is also available on subscription from its website.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

I. Am. Terrified.

Having hit a lot of big sign posts recently, finishing the manuscript for The Book is actually within sight. If I can keep up my pace I estimate that I could actually reach the end in about two months, rather than four.

Which leaves me to face something I've been ignoring for months: I am absolutely terrified. 

I've always known that breaking into the writing sphere was going to be hard. It seems like the entire literary world (and the rest of the world for that matter) does nothing but tell me: its rough out here, kid. I think that given the constant stream of warnings and crushing personal accounts of failure, ambition can be quelled before the first words are even on the page. Certainly, it was a concern for me when I first started writing. But it was more important to me when I started that I try and do it at all. I know there are plenty of people out there who had the same thought. After all, if no one ever took the chance, there would be no new writers! So we set off on our endeavours with hope and crossed fingers and the promise that, 'it's OK just to finish at all'.

In the knowledge that I will soon need to start thinking about The Next Stage, I've started casually browsing through publishing guides: flicking through publishing books when I'm stacking shelves in the library, pausing in the self-help section in Waterstone's, even buying a writing magazine (which I will be reviewing hopefully in my next post).

What I've found from this is that, of course, publishing a book really is as scary as people make out.

Setting aside the difficulty of finding an agent willing to promote you and getting your book read by a publisher, there seems to be a hell of a lot more to getting your book out into the world than just writing it. It seems like every perspective writer has to have completed at least a dozen writing courses, if not a Masters Degree in Creative Writing; have a portfolio of published short stories, poetry and articles; and have a list of competition winnings to tote in their writer's CV. Me, I have none. Zero. Nothing. I've never had so much as a problem printed in Teen Miss, never mind won a national writing competition. I feel like I'm going in blind. Right now it seems entirely possible that if I do send my poor little Book out into the big wide world that the best I could hope for is that the bigger kids don't just laugh and sent it home crying.

How can I hope to compete with all these people who've put years and years into their writing? Even if I do have a good idea, even if my book is somewhat original and a little bit interesting, even if its actually kind of good, how can I ever hope to get someone to look beyond my pathetic begging letter to see it? When there are writers who can fill a whole page just with their accomplishments, how can just another 'girl who always dreamed of writing' get herself noticed?

I'm still hopeful though. Even though I'm scared, I'm ever the optimist. Hopefully, I am as prepared as I claim to face years of hard work and rejection in order to see ambitions reached. In the meantime, I'll start trying to get a better picture of the world I'm about to face. More books, more research, more more more...

Oh gods, they're going to eat me alive...

Friday, 10 January 2014

Hitting the Big Hundred...

So, I got a little carried away (and a little terrible at adding up) and whooshed right past the 100k mark today while writing. Which means my word count as of January 10th is: 

102, 673 !!!

It's a crazy amount to finally be hitting. I can't quite believe I did it all myself. Perhaps the elves came at night to add to my wordcount? That being said, it's been a long haul to make it this far. A massive number of hours (I can't even imagine how many) have gone into The Book (which may have a name now, but I want to keep trying it out in my head before I start using it out loud) and I've put a lot of myself into it. 

It's not just the time, but the amount of emotional effort and sacrifices that go into a project of this size. There's little things, like not playing on the Wii or reading as much or watching as much TV because they're all big time eaters, but there's also the bigger things. I know I've given a lot of the time I would have been spending with my boyfriend away to the book, which I feel very guilty about. He's incredibly supportive though and he knows that this is a hugely important thing for me to do, but we struggle to get time together as it is (his work is a fair commute and we very rarely have days off together, especially with me working two jobs just now) and though I always want to be with him I have to keep up with writing. Even when I do have time away from The Book, it's constantly on my mind and I've become a lot more introverted I think. I certainly feel like I spend a lot of time "in my head" so to speak. I'm a prolific daydreamer as it is but having a story constantly being tweaked in my head makes even someone as scatter-brained as me seem more preoccupied than normal. Which I think makes me a bit of a pain to be around right now, so I hope my friends and family will forgive me.

The other thing that's really taken a back seat to my writing is my real-world job hunt. I knew this was going to be the case and prepared myself to not be progressing career-wise for a while. But it's a bit of a tricky thing to explain to people who ask why you're still in That Shop Job and not looking for something more. But I'm still not comfortable telling people about my ambition (though a few more friends know now) so I've taken to casually changing the topic when it comes up. It will still be a long while yet before I'll know if I'll be able to make anything career-wise from The Book so I'll have to try and hold on on the job front for a while yet. 

Until the end of January I'll be continuing working two jobs, so the word count might not be as healthy as I'd like by the end of the month, but I'll try to keep plodding along and hopefully I can keep adding bits here and there. 

But, Holy Poop: look how far I've come! The finish line is in sight! We're going for gold! And other sports metaphors!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

My New Years Resolution is...

... to Finish The Book! 

I'm hoping to finish the first draft of the book by my birthday, which is the end of April. After that come the scary part: finding out if its any good. 

Although officially my aim is just to finish writing,I really hope that by the end of 2014 I can at least find an agent who's willing to represent me and maybe even have a shot at looking at publishers. 

All of which is huge and scary and really terrifying but I'm so excited to try. 

2014 could be huge!