Life Cycle of a Writer – There’s no such word as ‘Can’t.’

It’s taken four long and tumultuous years and four re-writes but I’ve done it! Yesterday I printed and packaged up my first novel and sent it off to the Romantic Novelist Association New Writer’s Scheme. COMPLETE. A whole 86200 words! And I can’t tell you how good I feel today.

IMG_1014It’s been a tough slog. Along the four years my Nan, who brought me up, passed away, I’ve had major surgery, my husband of twenty-three years left my sons and I. Then there was the subsequent divorce, house move and upheaval, yet more surgery and treatments while at the same time having builders in for months to renovate our new home throughout.

Looking back I can see how my writing slipped well down the list of priorities. There were times when I despaired at my lack of inspiration and motivation to progress my WIP, ‘Living in the Past,’ or ‘Mothers Love’ as it started out when I came second in the Festival of Romantic Fiction’s new Talent Award in 2011. My head was too full of everything. I’d lost my mojo and all confidence. I couldn’t do it. Who would want to read my books? The number of times I’d mutter to myself, ‘Stop kidding yourself! It’s just a dream.’

But a dream is just a wish without a plan isn’t it? Somehow I mustered some inner strength and with the cajoling of my closest friends, I was persuaded not to give in. Knowing I had to do something or I’d forever kick myself for failing, I booked to go on an Arvon Course with Kate Long and Simon Thirsk. There for a week, I motored on with the WIP and when I read out one of the chapters to the group my writing was described as, ‘Catherine Cookson meets Stan Barstow.’ It was a huge turning point. That course made me believe.

However once I returned home from course, inspired as I was, domestic chaos kicked in again. I drifted for another year or so. I say drifted. What I actually mean is I spent about nine months of it stepping over bags of concrete, RSJ’s, lengths of wood, stacked in piles and tins of this and that, listening to builders and their incessant banter, drilling, hammering, sawing, being without electricity or water for days on end. It was hardly conducive to quiet writing time!

I wrote when I could (which wasn’t very often) and sent in a partial of the novel last year to the NWS. It was a very favourable report which once again, restored my belief. Realising if I kept on as I was doing, I’d keep on getting the same results, I went on Tamsyn Murray’s, ‘Live, Breathe, LOVE WRITING!’ earlier this year. I talked about it in my last Life Cycle post. It gave me that final push and with the help of two of the other delegates, Helen Walters and Bernadette O’Dwyer, we challenged ourselves to finish.

It was a first to actually be able to type the words, ‘THE END’ at the end of July. Then final edits and one last read-through with the help of a good friend and it was done.

I don’t mind admitting there were several dark occasions when domestic chaos, my health and the demands of life overwhelmed me and I almost bailed from writing and the RNA altogether and gave up forever my dream to be published. Had it not been for my Romaniac girls and the wonderful supportive RNA, writer friends and closest friends who kept my spirits up and kept me believing I may not be able to say, ‘I DID IT!’

I DID IT. Now the hard work begins to find an agent or publisher who is interested but for now, I’ll settle for having finished it. My Nan’s words ring in my head, ‘You see; didn’t I always tell you, there’s no such word as ,’CAN’T.’

Until another day,

Debbie xx

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Life Cycle of A Writer: Progress

Some of you will know writing doesn’t come easy to me. Or it hasn’t with the health issues and domestic chaos I’ve encountered these last three or four years. But as I mentioned in my last Life Cycle post, “If I keep doing the same thing, I’m going to keep getting the same results.” So, what have I done about it? Well, you will be pleased and maybe a little surprised to hear; quite a bit actually…

When I’m in the writing doldrums I find a night or two with the Romaniac girls or our RNA friends can provide a much needed tonic and inspiration and so, when I spotted Tamsyn Murray was running a, ‘Live, Breathe, LOVE Writing,’ workshop in Cheshunt with Julie Cohen and Miranda Dickinson as guest speakers, and it coincided with a weekend my youngest was with his dad, I decided to go for it.

It was a lovely surprise to find Helen Walters and Bernadette O’Dwyer at the workshop. I’ve been cyber acquainted with both for several years but never met in person and it was refreshing to meet a whole new bunch of creative writers whom I didn’t know previously. It didn’t take long for our wonderful tutors, Tamsyn, Julie and Miranda to uncover that several of us were in the same situation. 10320306_571743486279813_2446689767311534703_nI’m not the only one who procrastinates and doubts myself!

Re-reading the notes I made on the day, here are the points I took away to put into action:-

– Create a discipline. Write every day or designate slots for writing time. Take your writing seriously and you can call yourself a writer.

– Finish it! Keep writing until you type, ‘THE END.’

– Leave the fannying, tweaking and twiddling to the edits!

– Stop being frightened. Stop making excuses. Don’t give the crows time to start pecking. Keep going. Once it’s finished it will give you such a boost, they’ll soon fly off!

– Set an achievable goal and STICK WITH IT! Helen and I took up Bernadette’s challenge for us all to finish our WIP’s by the end of June.

– Buddy up. Use social media to best effect and keep each other going. Bernadette, Helen and I message each other regularly for progress updates and to spur each other on.

There’s nothing remarkable there I hear you say? No, there isn’t. It isn’t rocket science. Writer’s write. And if you want it enough and you can find your inner strength to stick to these points, you WILL succeed.

img_1560How do I know? Because, for once, I’ve stuck with it and it’s working. As many days as I can, I sit down to write by 10am and write until the muse leaves. Sometimes it can be half an hour. Sometimes several hours. This is huge progress. I’m up to 91,250 words, Chapter 25. Progress. I think of myself as a writer. Progress. I can see the end in sight. Progress. I WILL achieve our self-imposed deadline of the end of June to complete the WIP’s. I WILL do it. And I’ve written it here to prove it so you can all nag and chivvy me along too. Crikey, that is progress.

Until next time, wish me luck and Happy Writing!

Debbie x