Subliminal Messages In The Bedroom

When I confess to being a writer, people often ask, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’

They always look disappointed when I say: ‘Err.. I dunno!?’

So where did I get those ideas and decide how the storyline would go or where it would be based?

Eek! Can you tell I’m useless at talking about my novel because my mind goes into a blind panic when I get asked questions along those lines. It’s a bit like trying to unweave a tapestry of synapse connections that occurred without me noticing, but as I created them I really should be able to talk about them. Instead my tongue goes a bit mushy, sensible words coming out sounding like ‘Falafel’ on repeat. And that’s just talking to my friends. You should see me trying to chat to editors and agents. In fact, I may get one of the other Romaniacs to record an attempt. That way, if I never end up with a book contract it’s OK because I’ll be an overnight You Tube sensation.

As we are having a WIP spotlight week and I don’t have to talk out loud (falafel, falafel, falafel) I should take the opportunity to tell you about mine without a falafel in sight:

Originally this WIP was called The Shortlist. It was going to be about two friends who were working their way through a list of activities in order to find the perfect man. When I started this novel, I had no idea about plotting so I merrily plucked one item from my list – travelling – and started writing that section of the book, but then when I was several thousand words in it was no longer the dip in, dip out section it should have been and had taken on its own life.

Instead it’s become Miles Between Us. It’s part based in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park outside of Sydney, Australia and part based in Southampton, UK.

In a nutshell (I’ve never managed a nutshell in my life – look at me gabbing in between brackets to prove the point):

When there are more than miles keeping Grace and Adam apart, will they ever go the distance?

Ah – there we go – writing it down is so much easier and less cringe-worthy.

Anyway, you may be wondering about the title of this post? Well part way through writing this I realised I had for months/years had a cartoon postcard above my bed of the hostel where the story is based. When I spotted it I wondered whether subconsciously the place had crept into my mind and it was inevitably where the story would end up. Anyhoo, whether it did or not, I figure it’s a much better answer. Where do you get your ideas? From subliminal messages in my bedroom!

What about you? Do you get tongue-twisted when talking about your work? Please say it’s not just me.

Catherine x

20 thoughts on “Subliminal Messages In The Bedroom

  1. I am EXACTLY the same. I really can’t talk about my novel very well, even to friends. Friends that have read it through for me, I’m not so bad with. I think my brain just works faster than my tongue… Or is it the other way around?

    Ha! I love the name Adam. He’s my hero in The Wedding Favour. Sound a great story.

    • Phew! Not just me then. I think I’m getting better. I have a habit of going off on tangents rather than sticking to the point. The Wedding Favour sounds great and Adam is a perfect hero name 😉

      Catherine x

  2. Promise you it’s not just you, Catherine. I went to the London Book Fair last year for the very first time and got asked what Gunshot Glitter was about many times. And I couldn’t believe how inarticulate I felt when trying to convey it. I had to take myself way and boil it down and then boil it down further and then boil it down EVEN further! Until it was one sentence and I settled on this. ‘ It’s the story of an incinerated boy who doesn’t quite go away.’

    What you could do if you are really struggling is ask someone who has read it to tell you what they think the novel is about. They’ll have a bit more distance from it than you. I’m asking my best friend to work on the jacket spiel with me as I found that so tough going! I honestly didn’t know where to start and everything I wrote felt so clunky.

  3. I find remembering what to say difficult. Maybe I should print it up as a cue card. I find I want to say everything that has happened, but I’ve realised that isn’t how it works. I haven’t sorted my blurb out yet as the story has changed a lot, but always get feedback so I don’t end up looking too silly. (And I am good at looking silly!)

    Good luck with your WIP and thanks for stopping by, Catherine x

  4. I’ve got an elevator pitch which I go over in front of the mirror before I meet agents etc at parties and conferences. You’ve got to be quick as they glaze over in about five seconds flat. I even had one do ‘talk to the hand’ to me at an RNA party – nice !! Good thing I’m thick skinned rather than just thick. If I’ve got a longer time, say a one to one, I do jot a few bullet points down on an index card. But I do cringe when talking about my WIP or I go on at length. Not easy – but a skill worth practising. Blurbs I can do, no bother – but synopses . . . well that’s a whole different ball game.

    • Hi Lizzie! Practicing is a good idea. I may just pre-record myself and play it back when the question comes up. Well, if the pop stars can get away with lip-syncing, we might as well join in 😉

      Agreed on synopses, hate the things. I’m hoping another brave Romaniac will cover that topic.

      Catherine x

  5. Can I join the falafel falafel falafel club? I am useless at talking about my wip – unless to other writers. Put a publisher or agent in front of me and I can’t even remember what it’s about, let alone co-ordinate brain and tongue. I need serious networking lessons as, at parties, conferences, whatever, I tend to run away from agents in case they ask me a simple question, like ‘what’s your name?’ I did get bitten rather badly by one a few years ago, perhaps the wound hasn’t healed to this day.

    • Of course you can join the falafel falafel falafel club. We’ll be like wall flowers at the parties 😉 It is quite scary esp if you’ve had a bad experience. I go in with a slightly cavalier attitude. I figure if I end up making a fool of myself, if nothing else I hope it was memorable!

      Catherine x

  6. I should be an honorary member of falafel club 😉 Catherine.

    I remember reading somewhere that writers should imagine being stuck in a lift with an agent, with only the minutes and a few succinct words available to pitch their novel. I’ll be honest, that still frightens the life out of me! So no, my friend, you’re not the only one 😉 Being a brave (and somewhat foolish) soul, my philosophies are; better to try and fail than always wonder… and also what’s the worst that can happen 😉 xx

    • I think that’s my problem. I’m also brave and foolish so go ahead with my falafel tales.

      Catherine x

  7. I went to the conference at York the year before last and ending up skulking – there’s no other word for it – when everyone else seemed to be madly networking! And just because of the falafel syndrome. Think getting someone else to write your pitch is a great idea – we’ll just all swap!

    Lots love

    Celia xxx

    • That’s a good idea, Celia. I once had a work colleague perform my pitch through dance. It’s another trend that’s never taken off.

      Catherine x

  8. Think I’ll have to join. I have a wealth of words in my head, but speaking them aloud turns them into gibberish. I’m useless at explaining, at pitching, at summarising. I think it stems from a fear that I’ll be intruding on someone’s time, and/or that I’ll bore them. I’m not even great at self-promotion on Twitter and FB.

    • Thanks for joining us! I think they’ll be quite a few us hiding in the corners.

      Catherine x

  9. Can we get a ‘falafel club’ badge done in time for the Summer Party? Then if a member sees another before a VIP of the publishing world gasping like a fish out of water and word bound, we can leap in and help 🙂

    • Lol! Another great idea. I’d like one that flashes when we’ve got to the point of falafel syndrome. Then the falafel squad can swoop in and save a fellow sufferer. 😉

      Catherine x

  10. I’ll defo be in the queue for a badge, ladies. It’s so frustrating as when it comes to chatting about anyone else’s novel I could probably pitch for England, but MINE?? Well, let’s just say I’d be ‘falafelling’ like the proverbial good’un 😉 x x

    • I do wonder how a badge with a falafel on will turn out. Glad you’ll be falafelling with me x

      Catherine x

  11. OK, so perhaps I should panic. I haven’t tried to tell anyone about my book. I haven’t really told many people that I write. I sometimes intend to, but then I feel shifty. I probably couldn’t even manage to falafel. Do you think I should see what I can do through expressive dance? 😉

    Love the sound of your story – you lovely Romaniacs are going to be lighting up my bookshelves soon xx

    • When I was trying to do mine last year and a work colleague voluntarily did an expressive dance. It was so hysterical I couldn’t say the whole sentence.

      I can’t wait to see the first Romaniac in print! We’ll be very excitable when that happens.

      Catherine x

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