Friday, February 27, 2009

A Community of Writers

No matter how much support you get from friends and family when you set out on your journey to become a writer, it is still a lonely experience. The best-intentioned of relatives is simply not going to understand when you want to discuss issues like how to fill in back story, or how to increase the levels of conflict between your hero and heroine.

This is why it is vitally important that writers find (or build) themselves a community. Whether it is a formal organisation, an online crit group, a few writing friends who meet regularly, or joining a web-based discussion forum, I highly recommend getting yourself a support system of other writers.

For me, my writing friends have become so much more than crit partners. They are my soul sisters, my own personal cheerleading squad and my hardest taskmasters. Without them, I would probably not have finished an entire novel. They set an example of what could be done (Liesl, you know what a star you are!) and pushed me to keep going.

Thanks to all my wonderful crit partners, past, present and future ...

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

New Format Oscars

The absolutely best thing about the New Look Oscar ceremony has to be Hugh Jackman. A whole evening spent with a gorgeous man in a tuxedo is hard to beat.

My feelings on the new design are somewhat indifferent, but three things did stand out for me:
  • In recent years it seemed as though the show had become nothing more than a parade of celebrities, so dropping the number of presenters has, in my opinion, made the show much easier to follow and put the emphasis back where it belongs: on the award nominees.
  • The 'In Memoriam' section was unwatchable. With the camera constantly moving, and many of the names illegible, it seemed almost disrespectful to those being honoured. (I was saddened to hear that Roy Scheider had died during the last year. I'd somehow missed that news.)
  • The final montage for each of the films nominated for Best Picture was certainly creative, with related clips from other movies mixed in with footage from the nominated film, but I hope this was a once-off because I believe the emphasis should be on this year's nominees, not every movie that has ever gone before.
My heartfelt congratulations to all those who worked on "Slumdog Millionaire". I love it when movies made outside the Hollywood juggernaut get the recognition they deserve.

So what did you all think about the Oscars' new look?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Oscar Night

In the early hours of this morning (SA time) the Oscar awards were held.
I have a ritual on Oscar day: I avoid all news broadcasts and cover my ears if anyone dares discuss the winners around me. Tonight I'll cuddle up in bed, hopefully with some chocolate and red wine, and watch the entire ceremony. I'll laugh, I'll cry (the In Memoriam bit always gets to me) and I'll finally go to sleep feeling inspired once more.

I have to admit that my passion for all things movies has waned over the years as my interests and my priorities have changed. But as a shy teenager, with dreams of being on stage, I composed the acceptance speech I would one day make on the stage at the Academy Awards. There's not much chance I'll ever get to make that speech (and I'm perfectly happy with that, as my dreams have changed a great deal since then) but now that I have my own little platform on this blog, I've decided to share this bit of genius with the world anyway.

"As a child I used to watch this award ceremony on TV and dream I'd one day be standing here. I'm here tonight to tell every young person watching out there that you can do it! Follow your dreams. Don't let anyone tell you it's too difficult. Don't give up. You're the only one who can make your dreams come true and you start by believing in yourself."
Then I'd go on to thank my parents for believing in me and encouraging me before making a gracious exit. No long rambling speech and definitely no tears.

Whew! Now I'm feeling inspired. I'd better take advantage and get working on Chapter Ten.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A new beginning

I'm new to the wonderful world of blogging, so I'll start with a bit about me.

I am married, and have two inspiring young daughters. I live in Johannesburg, South Africa, where I work as a film production manager for a company that makes television commercials. And that is not as glamorous as it sounds.

All my life I have been a writer. I still have schoolbooks from my earliest school years in which I wrote down my dreams and stories. My first class teacher told me I'd amount to nothing, because I spent all my time day dreaming. Well, I still day dream and I'm happy to say I'm pretty pleased with how my life has turned out. (So there!)

It was my husband who made me sit down and write. At the time I was working for a very small film company and we were experiencing a quiet patch, so I spent a lot of time in the office researching Arthurian history and legends (still a passion of mine). Exasperated with my obsession and how much of my time it monopolised, my husband asked why I didn't try to make some money out of it.

Five years and one baby later and I still had barely a third of my great Arthurian novel written. So I went on a novel writing course that changed my life. I learned so much, met a wonderful group of friends, and began a new 'practice' novel. That first completed novel taught me so much. Mostly that it was completely unpublishable, but also that I could actually finish something I'd started (a bit of a first for me).

Thanks to that novel and that wonderful group of new writing friends, I discovered a passion for writing romance and I haven't looked back. I submitted my second novel to Harlequin Romance. By the time I received my first rejection letter I had again learned so much that I knew exactly why they rejected it.

I'm now busy with my third full length novel. It's a struggle, as anyone who has ever tried to write a novel can attest to, but it's a sweet struggle. Every novel I write teaches me so much more. It strengthens my writing, grows my confidence - and it's just plain fun!

So this blog is my way of sharing what I learn with the world. As I struggle to write (and hopefully get published) along with an entire community of wonderful women writers, I will share the joys and hardships, and the lessons I've learned, with all of you.