Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How Will I Know?

I've been writing again. Re-writing, actually. But this isn't just a skim and edit, I'm completely rewriting the entire story, paragraph by paragraph, sentence by sentence, and trying to be ruthless with it. In fact I spent about three hours today completely restructuring a 350 word opening.

I hope it's improved.

This is a story I love, and it received great personal rejections from three pro-level markets. So there's hope for the story, and I'm hoping the changes I'm making at the moment give it the push it needs. I'm using those comments, as well as a solid critique from another writer, as my guide. These people know what they're doing, so I'd be a fool not to pay attention. The question is can I get it right.

But wait, as they say in the infomercials, there's more.

A couple of years ago a well-known and admired writer very kindly sent me three pages of notes and advice on things she'd learned along the way. At the time I read these notes, tried to apply them and thought I'd done a decent job. This week, as I prepared to delve back into this story, I re-read the notes. And that little light metaphorical bulb in my brain went on. Now I'm approaching the story with so much more rigour and determination than I've ever applied before.

Sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees, and I just now as I re-read what I'd written, I had doubts as to whether it was better or not. And that's why distance and time, and a decent beta-reader, makes all the difference. So I'll get this piece done, have another set of eyes go over it, then send it out into the wild world.

Who knows? This time it might even survive.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Don't Bring Me Down.

Some people really can't help themselves. They simply cannot allow another person to be pleased or happy.

Four times in the past two days I've seen Facebook friends be brought down by naysayers. Something that's occurred, a great social commentary, encouragement meant for another - all considered to be great news by the poster. And then you read the comments.

Recently, on my last day of employment at my old school, a friend and I left together. As we were walking out for the very last time someone asked what we were going to do next. My friend announced she was thrilled she'd already found employment - and then came the comments. Why would you want to work there? I've heard it's awful. I wouldn't go there in a pink fit. And so on.

Really? Is that all you can offer? Remember, this isn't someone asking your advice prior to making a decision. This is someone who has already achieved their goal of new employment.

Even if you think those things, or have some inside knowledge, why can't you just congratulate someone on their achievement? You really have to bring them down?

For the record, my friend is happy with her new role, and none of the warnings of dread turned out to be remotely true.

But it's happened to me. Decisions I've made in many areas of my life - personal, career and hobby - and there often seems to be someone prepared to bring me down. Am I an eternal optimist? No. I am, in fact, quite the realist. But when I share some good news or an achievement, be respectful. How about a simple 'congratulations,' or 'well done?'

Build people up, don't bring them down.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Diving Back In.

I subbed a story to a pro-market this week. It's been a long time since I've subbed anything anywhere, and I must say it felt great.

Partly because of the move and trying to settle in at a new job while focusing on a new curriculum, but also for a number of other reasons, it's been while since I've written very much at all. I haven't written any new words yet, but I've done a major rewrite on one story, started rewriting another, and read through a few more that need work. Time and space between writing and self-critiquing is a wonderful thing. Fresh eyes pick up flaws.

I've also finished and submitted the edits on my Sherlock Holmes story. Even at this late(ish) stage I found a typo, clarified a few sentences, and cringed at the repeated use of the same word in a couple of sentences. But the proofs look fantastic, and I love the illustration for my story. Thanks to Christopher Sequeira and the publishing/editing team for their work. This is an anthology I'm really looking forward to. Very proud to be a part of it.

In the meantime I have continued making notes in my writer notebooks, the ones I carry almost everywhere I go. I never let up on those so there is a collection of ideas, thoughts, sketches and thumbnails waiting to be harvested.

For the first time in ages I actually feel optimistic about my writing again. It's a great feeling.

Look for more words from me soon.