Project October 2017: Week Four

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Four: Roadblock
I’ve started discussing the idea of my book on motherhood with the people whose stories I want to include. The three sisters I’ve written about previously are all eager to participate and so are many other relatives, friends and friends of friends. My own mother is hesitant though. She’s a very private woman and judges herself and some of the motherhood choices she made harshly – I think she fears others doing the same. Continue reading

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Project October 2017: Week Three

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Three: Continuing

Week Three and I still haven’t written a single word. I can’t stop thinking about my sister and how much I want her to be able to tell her story. It probably wouldn’t support an entire book on its own but it would certainly be a powerful chapter in a book of motherhood stories from multiple women. And I know a lot of women with diverse and important experiences of motherhood. Continue reading

Project October 2017: Week Two

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week Two: Beginning
It’s amazing how something small and seemingly unrelated can destroy all of a writer’s good intentions. It’s Week 2 of Project October and I should have written between 3,500 and 4,000 words in the past week, a very attainable writing goal. Instead I’ve haven’t written a single word. And the reason is a phone call with my sister. Continue reading

Project October 2017: Week One

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Yes, it’s that time of year again when I go on a partial hiatus to do a really intensive month of writing. Normal posts will resume in November but, in the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy an insight into this year’s Project October.

Week One: Preparation
Before I even start, I know this Project October won’t be like any other Project October I’ve done. Normally, Project October is about writing as many words as possible. Normally, I aim for 1,000 words a day, which equates to 31,000 words over the course of the month. But this isn’t normal. Because the book I’ve chosen to work on is Trine and I’ve already written 85,000 words. It doesn’t need another 31,000 words. According to my calculations, I only need to write another 7 chapters, another 16,000 words and I’ll be finished. Continue reading

The Choice Not to Publish

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You came up with a great idea, you worked hard to punch our chapter after chapter, you agonised over the ending, you reworked and rewrote and edited it, you paid for a manuscript assessment, you reworked and rewrote and edited it again, you asked your family and friends for feedback, then reworked and rewrote and edited it a few more times. The final step is to publish… so why might you choose not to go ahead and do it?

These days anyone can publish – self-publishing has seen to that. A monkey might not yet be able to write the complete works of Shakespeare but self-publishing is so easy I’m convinced the monkey would be able to self-publish them. So it’s not a matter of not being able to. It’s a matter of whether you should. It’s a hard decision because it requires as much objectivity as you can muster and absolute honesty. And that’s because the simple fact that something creative exists is not a good enough reason for it be released to the general public. Continue reading

Developing a Genuinely Tense and Scary Scene

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A few weeks ago, I woke up from a dream – more like a nightmare – frozen in place, unable to move from the fear it had evoked. And in true writer form, the first thing I thought was, “I must remember this feeling so I can put in it into a novel.”

As with all my dreams, it was fairly nonsensical. I arrived at my grandparents’ place and noticed a man standing in the street with a gun in his mouth. I went inside where my grandparents, one of my cousins and one of his daughters were unaware of what was going on outside. As I explained to my cousin what I’d seen, he went to look out the window and suddenly the man in the street noticed he had a house full of people at his mercy. He took the gun from his mouth and pointed it at the house.

We all rabbited to a bedroom at the back of the house but the hallway that runs the length of the weatherboard provided a clear view out into the street. Inexplicably, the man was suddenly on the roof of the house across the road and the gun that had been small enough to fit inside his mouth was now a bazooka that had to be carried on his shoulder. Then he was running down the driveway and had found our hiding place. There was nowhere left to run…

Thankfully, that’s when I woke up. But it had all the elements of a genuinely tense and scary scene. To frighten the pants off your readers, here are the individual components. Continue reading

How to Know If You’re a Bad Writer

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Earlier this year, I posted a discussion on what to do when you’re a bad writer with a good story. PopCultureGrinch read the piece and asked a follow up: how do you know when you’re a bad writer?

I responded wittily, “There’s a reasonably famous quote that says there’s no such thing as a bad writer, only bad writing but maybe that’s just to make us all feel better about ourselves.” It’s a little ironic because in that moment, I was a bad writer. There is no such quote, at least not a famous one. I guess it’s my quote now. The quote I was actually referring to is by Oscar Wilde, who said, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all.”

Which just goes to show that being a bad writer isn’t a static state. Someone who has previously been a bad writer can become a good writer. And someone who has previously been a good writer can lapse into moments (hopefully not too many) of being a bad writer. (I hope that it’s not something I suffer from all the time and is more closely related to my laziness in confirming that the quote existed anywhere outside of my mind rather than my general ability to write.) Continue reading