Tuesday, June 23, 2009

I'm published!

Those who follow this blog might remember my excitement and disappointment a couple of months ago when a short story I entered in a contest (run by local Essentials magazine and Mills & Boon) first made the Top 20, but then didn't win.

So I was very surprised today to get a message via Facebook from someone who'd read my story in the latest edition of Essentials!

It is so amazing to see my writing in print (though there was one misprint) and I'm hoping this is the start of great things to come ...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Winter Solstice

Tonight is the longest night of the winter and from tomorrow we start heading back towards summer. Just as well, as my skin has already had enough of this cold, dry highveld air.

It was also Fathers' Day today so we went out for lunch and enjoyed the lovely winter sunshine sipping Pimms fruit cocktails while the girls ran wild in the playground. A pleasant solstice weekend, yet I'm feeling such guilt in anticipation of going back to the day job tomorrow. Because I did absolutely no writing at all the whole weekend - not even the many crits I've got saved and ready on my computer.

I'm a working mom so guilt is an everyday feature in my life. I can handle this. I've just got to get the guilt working for me! Roll on the new week, and roll on the summer.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Quick update

We had a public holiday in South Africa today and I spent it as I wish I could spend every day. In the morning I met with my local writing group for breakfast and a writing session, I spent the afternoon with my daughters and the evening after the girls fell asleep editing an earlier chapter.

Unfortunately it was just one day. Tomorrow it's back to the grind stone and the day job is becoming a little more demanding of my time as I have a shoot at the end of next week. At least this one is local.

The progress has been slow but I'm finally within sight of the end. Chapters Eleven and Thirteen still need tweaking and in the meantime I'm sending the completed chapters out to my online crit group. That RNA deadline is looming and I plan to beat it.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Blinding Insight

You know how, in that magical moment of time just before you fall asleep, you suddenly think of the most incredible plot developments and dialogue? Or you get a sudden insight into something and with your half-asleep brain wonder if you'll remember it in the morning?
I had an incredible lightbulb moment at 1am this morning.

My brother and I are very different people. With an age gap of 5 years, living half a world apart, him being male and me female, and him having a Doctorate in Quantum Physics and me being a university drop-out, on the surface we have very little in common. But there are odd moments when you can tell we were raised by the same parents.

My brother is President of Software Freedom International, a non-profit organisation that promotes free software for all. I'm virtually computer illiterate so you might be wondering how this shows how alike we are ... I'm getting there. I will make the point eventually ...

I am a great believer in giving people access to information, and nurturing and developing people. This is one of the reasons why I love eHarlequin and the romance writing community in general. There are so many great writers who give back to their community. However, I live in a country where writing is a very solitary occupation. There are no organisations to join, no conferences to attend, and very little in the way of support or encouragement. To the best of my knowledge, there is one company that provides writing workshops - but they do it solely as a business and their fees are steep.

So if my brother can make the effort to bring free software to developing nations, I think I can make the effort to make information and support available to all romance writers in this developing nation.

Do you belong to any form of writing association? What benefits do you make most use of and what features would you most want from a writing organisation?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Nervous Insecurity

On the radio recently I heard a piece about the composer Sergei Rachmaninov. Apparently, just before he composed his Symphony No. 2 in C Minor (one of my favourite pieces of classical music) he suffered from something known as “Nervous Insecurity” which prevented him from composing. He dedicated this symphony to the hypno-therapist who helped him get over it.

In writing terms we call it “Writer’s Block”. I think I prefer the musical term because let’s face it, that is exactly what happens when we get writer’s block. Our insecurity keeps us from writing.

I find a lot of hope in this story. After overcoming his block Rachmaninov went on to write perhaps the greatest piece of music of his career. May we all have such luck when we overcome our insecurities.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Lesson Learned

Until now, whenever I've hit a blank in my novel, I've jumped ahead to another scene and written that instead. That's how I keep myself interested in what I'm writing.

I've now discovered a flaw in this.

For the last week, I've had only about 4,000 words to go on my wip. I've been writing about 1,500 per day all week, and I still have 4,000 words to go. Why?

Because as I write, subtle elements change and suddenly whole scenes I'd written previously just don't work anymore. I've deleted just as much this past week as I've actually written. The story feels stronger, but I'd have saved a great deal of effort if I'd written this in a linear fashion.

From now on I'm taking Jackie Ashenden's advice. If I get stuck or bored with a story, I'm going to 'jump' to a completely different manuscript instead of jumping around inside the same one.

It's just been a demoralising way to learn the lesson.