Writing the threads of my reality

I Dreamed a Dream

I read a very interesting blog post today over on www.nielsenhayden.com. You should go read it.

It's ok, I'll wait.

... ... ...

Read it? Good. Here's the part that really struck me:

It’s a central narrative of Britain’s Got Talent: the shy, podgy little contestant comes out on stage and says they want to sing professionally; that they believe it’s what they were made to do. The audience titters cynically: Yeah, right. The judges don’t quite roll their eyes. “Go on, then,” they say. “Let’s hear it.” The contestant takes a deep breath and —

ZOMG, it’s Paul Potts singing “Nessun Dorma”. It’s thirteen-year-old Andrew Johnston singing “Pie Jesu”. Most recently, it’s Susan Boyle, singing “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. When they open their mouths, what comes out is the real thing: rich, powerful, self-assured music.

Teresa says, rightly enough, that an editor or agent has to wade through hours and hours of utter crap to get to that ZOMG moment. But I can just hear the writers reading that post and almost jumping up and down saying, "ME! Please let it be me!"

It takes real courage to stand before someone so... disdainful, and still want to show them that you've got what it takes. They expect you to be forgettable, to be a non-entity. They expect less than nothing of your talent. But we still want to be there, no matter how much it might damage us; we want to be the one talent that shines in the darkness and sets their world on fire. That feeling, when you stand there and watch the skepticism and disbelief fade away to joy and you know that you made it happen - that feeling is golden.

I'll bet good money that Susan Boyle will never forget that first moment on the stage, when the music started and her voice soared over the audience who never believed she could do it.

What does boredom feel like?

I know full well why I'm not cranking out the Novel as fast as I'd like. I should have the damn thing done by now. November marks a year since I started it, and I'm only on the second draft. It needs at least another two drafts before I'll try to pitch it.

I'm hoping that I can get through them faster than it's taken me to actually write the blasted thing.

I can take solace in the fact that I am a better writer now than I was a year ago. I'm a far, far better writer than I was thirteen years ago, when I began this madness, and I know it shows. I should have it done by now, and if I wasn't so easily distracted, it would be!

I don't know what it is to be bored, when I write. I've had writers' block, where I'm not sure what happens next, but it generally only lasts while I make myself a cup of tea or go sit in the bathroom, musing. But I have so many ideas! Stories and threads flow into my head, and trying to stick to one, just one, is so damn hard. I jump from one to the next to the next, and end up with a tangled ball of incoherency instead of a properly woven plot!

So NaNoWriMo is on the way, and it's a good thing too. It's a deadline, a focus, an irresistible force that pulls my imagination together and unleashes it at the story that needs to be written RIGHT NOW. I love it so much.

One of my best story ideas came from a deadline of less than 24 hours. I was simply told, "We need this. By tomorrow. Can you do it?" And I could - the shape of it just exploded in my head and I wrote it all down in half an hour. It needed more work to clean it up, of course, but right then and there I had character, plot and world, and they all fell into place as if I had been working on them a month or more.

It feels great to be my own Muse, but I need direction. I need restrictions to channel my ideas and forge them into something worth selling. I need practice to take the result and really make it shine - I've had thirteen years of it so far, and I'm just coming to the stage where I feel I'm good enough. It seems that a lot of writers miss this - your idea, your inspiration, is the start of the journey. What comes afterwards is the hard, desperate, lonely work that turns you into a published author.

I really must get over being distracted too.

When you're awake at 2am

Damn insomnia.

Well, it happens sometimes. Can't be helped, really. I just can't sleep, and it usually takes an hour or two of blog-reading to get me down for the night. It always happens when I have work in the morning, which is all kinds of annoying.

At least I'm spending the time productively tonight! My touch typing is getting better. It seems to be that I can really only do it properly when I don't think about it, like many things in life. And I've been browsing through some more literary blogs - most notably Janet Reid's blog.

For the uninformed or just plain lazy - Ms. Reid is a literary agent, one of those fine individuals whose job it is to take a manuscript from an author, perform some arcane and highly secretive rituals (involving an octopus in some way, it's not entirely clear) and deliver unto them a publishing contract in return. I've been directed to several other informative blogs through hers, which is delightful.

She stands out, though. Possibly it's because she really communicates with writers - what agent would risk their sanity by trying to answer EVERY query they get? And she gets hundreds every day, many of which are so far off the mark they might as well be on another planet! But she's committed to it, even so far as to have a second blog, QueryShark, where she takes query letters and posts them along with critiques. Amazing.

I've read page after page of her blog, learning as much as I can. The one lesson I keep taking away from it is: I have to keep working. I'm looking at the Novel, and I know I can make it better, but by all the gods I will make it shine like a second sun before I even think of querying an agent as awesome as Janet Reid. And I will have a marketing plan, goddamnit.

I mean, she's flat out telling us how to be better writers and how to get her attention with our manuscripts. How rude would it be to ignore all that?

Something for all those who want to be published

I think I've found the greatest blog in the world.

I usually find great blogs by stumbling from one website to the next in a haphazard way. This one, however, I found after trying once more to find information on submitting to agents and publishers. It's the blog of Lynn Price, the editorial director of Behler Publications, and I must say I learned more in the last two days of reading that I did in the last two months of searching.

It is wonderful - absolutely wonderful - to finally gain insight into the process and business of publishing. Lynn has a great perspective because she is a writer as well, and she understands the (frequently neurotic) creative process.

What really made me jump for joy was the posts where she talks about characters, plots, etc - the nuts and bolts of good writing, and what she, as an editor, looks for in a submission. Behler wouldn't be interested in the Novel - they don't publish that type of work - but good writing doesn't change from one genre to the next, and I trust that what she says is good, solid advice. And I was overjoyed when I examined my own writing, based on that advice, and found that I'm doing it well.

I know I have the skill to be published. Not at the moment, of course - I wouldn't show a second draft of anything to my own mother, let alone an agent - but I'm confident that with a lot of hard work, I can get the Novel into shape and find it a publishing house. And even though it's not possible, I wish it could be Behler.


I've updated my photo stream. I was at a beautiful place over the weekend, and I couldn't help taking pictures of anything and everything. It's a place in Tipperary called Kilshane House, and they have a conservatory from the 1830's that is the epitome of elegance and serenity.

No people, though. I can't take good pictures of people. They simply won't stay still long enough.

Here are two of my favourites.

This one is called Leafy Sunlight.

This one is called Ferns.

I don't have much imagination when it comes to titles. I save all my muse power for stories.