Rejections are Inevitable

There’s the story about JK Rowling having had ‘loads‘ of rejections before she published the Harry Potter books. I have had none. That’s not me being smug, because the reality is that I have not sent out either of my novels to agents and publishers. 

I have entered a couple of first chapter competitions, but I haven’t had that letter (it’s more likely to be the email these days). The badge of honour among authors. 

Through a number of reasons, some mainly to do with procrastination and some the fear of rejection. This is something that I have neglected to do.  I need to change my strategy if only so I know where my novels can be pitched when it comes to market. Even if I don’t get published in the traditional sense, I may get feedback that will help me shape my writing going forward If I choose to self-publish my work in the future.  

So, the plan in the coming weeks is to open the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and circle a number of the names that I would like to send my book out to. In the hope of getting closer to my novels being published. Here’s looking forward to the rejections flooding in…along with that one acceptance.  

Lockdown Two

Given how busy work has got recently the writing has well and truly been parked up for another year. I’m still doing the 200 words for BXP, there was a tentative notion of doing NaNoWriMo but that is certainly on hold for another year. 

The editing has stalled and the idea of writing the third novel will have to wait for now. I have simply taken on too much work and that is beginning to kick in now roll on the new year. The lockdown starts again tomorrow. That seems to be removing the fun but keeping the fact that I have to physically have to go to work.  

The Last Quarter

The Pennan Inn,
The Pennan Inn, where they filmed Local Hero. A summer holiday destination.

What a year it’s been, there are four months to go. No one would have guessed the way the last twelve months have gone – that’s both on a personal level and with everything that’s happened with the Coronavirus.  

I’m just getting myself back into the swing of things creatively after a week away in Scotland. I’m not haste to get back to any form of work just yet – both writing and teaching. I have some down time before I get back to the day job and I have to tie up the novel that I was editing. The last chapter needs to be edited. Then I will sit down and read through the novel as a reader, and not the writer. 

It’s certainly been quite a productive summer, I have been busy with work and other things, but I have managed to achieve a few of things that I set out to do. The lack of commute and working from home has given me more time, I’m certainly not in the mood for getting back into the old commuting routine just yet and I’m hopefully that I can put off doing that for another few months. 

Finishing What You Start

Difficult First Album Word Doc

It’s July and we’re past the halfway mark of the year. It has been a difficult one given the pandemic and lockdown. Thankfully I have been okay and my family too. Although a few of my neighbours have been affected. They are thankfully on the mend.

At the start of the year, I set out a few of my writing ambitions for the year. Having been something of a sporadic writer, I decided to be more productive and committed this year. I signed up for the BXP Challenge to write at least 200 words a day. I’m pleased to say that I have not missed a day doing this and I’ve written 48,458 words for the year. This has been helped by writing whenever I could. That would have been on trains in the morning, instead of doom scrolling on social media.   A few notes on my phone or a laptop in coffee shops has enabled me to build up a head of steam. Not having to commute since March has helped, especially in my most busy periods May and July when I was busy marking. I still managed to get something written.  

One good thing about being this productive is that it enabled me to finish a few things that I had been planning to do. My first novel, Difficult First Album, was waiting for one final edit before I could send it out to publishers. That’ll be done. My second novel is close to being redrafted. 

Yesterday I finished my submission for the 33 1/3 series for a book on the band Tears for Fears. This is an idea I have had for a while and I have had a few notes hanging around that needed finishing. They have call-outs every year for submission ideas, I have missed the boat for many reasons. Thankfully this time I have managed to get something finished.

It may be an obvious thing to say, but the whole idea of showing up and getting things done has worked for me. I will carry on in the same manner for the remainder of the year.

All the Time in the World

BXP Challenge
The BXP Challenge

At the start of the lockdown, there were several articles published about having all the time to finish that novel. That is something I had been trying to do since the start of the year, so I was ahead of that curve. 

So, while, everyone else went off at a rate of knots doing the Joe Wicks workout, baking banana bread or painting the house, I was editing, using the extra time that I was saving on the commute. 

Weirdly with more time, comes more distractions to occupy the creative time. First was the latest series of Curb Your Enthusiasm to get through and there was the Tiger King. There’s the Star Wars Skywalker Saga boxset that’s been released on DVD. Then there’s the work which has luckily for me has not disappeared because of lockdown. Instead, I have had to adapt to teaching online using Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Thankfully that has gone smoothly without any hitches. There’s no commute which is a blessed relief, not having to battle with the daily clown show that is Northern Rail. 

Why is that my word count for April was less than it was for the preceding three months? I’m still doing a minimum of 200 words. April was mainly reading and re-editing so the new words may have replaced those that were no longer needed. 

As we enter May and June, it’s marking season. That means my creative projects get put on hold. Here’s hoping that I can keep the writing streak going. 

Writing Momentum

Difficult First Album Word Doc Final Draft

I’m not one for doing New Year’s resolutions, but this year I did and I resolved to write more. Yep, that one again. Usually, by this time of the year, I would be still building up to this happening. With the usual excuses of writer’s block or that I didn’t have the time due to work. The work situation is still as busy as it has ever been, with the usual bundles of prep and marking to get through. 

As we enter weeks of lockdown, I have been taking stock of what I have written this last year. I have racked up 28,764 words so far. This is from various projects new or that needed editing. 

This has been done by signing up for the BXP Writing Challenge that sees writers producing 200 words per day. Before the lockdown, I did this by writing on the train and which was often delayed on the way to work – it made a frustrating regular occurrence all the more productive. 

Sometimes it was easier to write more, sometimes it was a struggle to get to 200 words, sometimes the words flowed freely, sometimes it was an effort to drag the words out. 

It was worth signing up to and I realise that I am not that focused unless I have some sort of goal. I would recommend it any writer out there. 

End of My Masters

There was me thinking that I would blog and tweet my way all the way through the final project of my MA. The best-laid plans and all that…Who knew that the whole business of writing a novel would get in the way. 

Well, it’s finished. There were times that it felt like I would never get to this point, but thanks to the support of friends and family I have managed to get over the novel completed and submitted. 

I’m happy with how the novel has turned out. It could possibly do with another read through, but time was against me to do that. I will edit it once more when I receive my feedback in the New Year. Then I will contemplate sending it to agents and publishers.  

So with the submission of my final project, I have come to the end of my MA (that’s presuming that my novel has not failed). Looking back, I have no regrets signing up for the MA, the three years have been eventful and have gone so quick. I have met some great people along the way. The tutors have all helped in getting me to this point in my writing career. A number of my fellow students have now become really good friends. 

There are plans for us all to work together and support each other when we get around to writing our next novels. That’s to come, but for now its nice not to worry about edits, deadlines and all that. Well the writing ones, there are plenty of deadlines with the day job.  

Split Second

Split Second

I was introduced to Thomas Llywarch, a filmmaker by my partner early in the year who was looking for a writer to help get involved with a project that he was trying to put together for the Tales We Tell Festival hosted by Glyndŵr University in February. 

I was given an outline of the story based on the Welsh folk tale of Gelert, but it was to be given a modern-day spin with a Great British Bake of Theme. 

There was a tight turn around from page to screen, I worked on an initial script and Thomas edited and extended it to fit in with the filming. I even managed to make a cameo as a paparazzi photographer. Somehow it all came together and the film can be seen below. 

 

Pulp Idol ‘Firsts’ Launch

Pulp Idol Book Launch 2014
Pulp Idol 2015 Book Launch

Tonight was the launch of PulpIdol Firsts 2015, which included my chapter ‘Difficult First Album’. It was organised by the excellent Writing on the Wall organisation and hosted by Siren. Liverpool. 

There was a similar format to the final in May, and included six of the people who took part that night. 

It was good to meet up with the other writers and see how they were progressing with their novels. It was also good to hear and read the other chapters on the night also.

The physical copies were available, I had already downloaded the Kindle version earlier on in the week, and I was given a couple of free copies. I also picked up a number of others that will make good Christmas presents for friends and family. 

It is great to see my creative work published for the first time, especially in printed form. As I’m in the process of editing the novel, things like this are inspiring in attempting to get my novel finished.

Copies can be found in all the usual places. A physical copy is available from News From Nowhere Bookstore, Liverpool. 

Liverpool Echo article
Liverpool Echo article

No NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Logo

November is a time when writers around the world around take part in the annual NaNoWriMo challenge. It is something that I have taken part in over the last few years and I was tentatively thinking of taking part again this year. Instead of writing another novel, the idea was to write a number of short stories instead. 

I have previously completed the NaNoWriMo challenge twice. My first successful attempt at writing a novel from 2012 is lying in a drawer waiting to be edited. My novel from 2013 is currently being edited and discussed during my MA workshops. The first two chapters written last year has been edited down to one and is my PulpIdol chapter.

Given how busy I am with work and my MA, I have decided to sit NaNoWriMo out this year, as much as I would love to get involved, I just don’t have the time. For those considering doing it, my advice is to do so.