The holidays are over and I spent most of it preparing my head for 2018. I think I’m doing okay. I have nine pieces of work out at various markets and contests and am putting them completely out of my head as I’m not likely to hear anything about any of them until end of February at the earliest and late May at the latest.
This means it’s time to get some new stuff down.
MsLexia is looking for themed work on ‘Weather’ by the beginning of March and I’m penning what’s turned into an historical piece for that. I haven’t had much luck with MsLexia in the past but I do think they’re not my ideal market. I don’t think my work fits the tone. Why write a piece specifically for their prompt? Because it gives me a deadline and some inspiration. If it doesn’t get anywhere with MsLexia there are plenty of other places to try later and at least it’s another finished piece to add to my files.
I also have an idea for a Sci-Fi short. Well. I have a character. I just need a story to go with her.
I have a third, more contemporary, idea, this time with character, plot and setting but I need to give it more thought before I wade in. It’s set in a culture I’m unfamiliar with so I need to world build and research more before I take off with it.
Holly Lisle has a freebie course on flash fiction which I’ve just started working through. So far there are three promising ideas coming out of that. Holly says minimum five but the other ideas I came up with didn’t really grab me so I will have to see how the course pans out. I do love her no-nonsense way of teaching and there’s always a lot of encouragement so she comes highly recommended by me.
Sadly, the Novel in Progress is still on the back burner.
Are you a one at a time WIP type or do you prefer to jump around multiple projects? Let me know in the comments 🙂
I have a big aim for 2018. I need to revamp my whole writing experience. I need to recreate my own idea of who I am as a writer, what I am writing for, regain my love of why I write and start putting writing first.
I have a few ideas about how to do this but for my own future reference – and maybe it’ll help you too – here are some of the online presences that are helping me get my shit together.
Holly Lisle I discovered Holly years ago through her fantastic free articles. She has since revamped her website which you can track down and sign up to via the link above. She is incredibly generous with her knowledge and experience.
Chris Fielden I stumbled on Chris Fielden’s website when I was looking for writing contests. He has lists of them and some great advice on how to create winning short stories.
These guys offer an incredible amount of help. I’m on a budget at the moment so am making the most of their free articles and offers although I have purchased one of Chris’ books recently that is very helpful. Hopefully, when I have more money, I can repay what I owe by purchasing and supporting them more. Check out their pages and see if they’re for you.
It feels like the year has gone really quickly. I started well and entered a couple of contests. One of my short stories got longlisted for the Exeter Writer’s Competition which meant it made the top 40 but didn’t make the shortlist. I was ecstatic about that and felt I’d got noticed.
My year then got taken over by practical realities and it wasn’t until around November time that I kicked my backside into gear and entered some more competitions and submitted some poetry. So far no takers but I’m still feeling pretty good about my writing.
I currently have five responses I’m waiting on – although one is a simultaneous submission so actually four pieces out there. I have a fair amount to write and update about and am thinking that in January I’ll do a regular weekly post as a goal to keep this blog at least ticking over.
My real concern is the lack of new writing I’m creating. I have a novel to finish rough drafting, a short story ending to rewrite as it keeps coming back as having an unsatisfactory conclusion, new short stories to start on – some as submissions, some as contests.
I’m currently reading some novel writing advice and have decided to take some advice to hold off writing for a few days before replanning the novels. It’s Christmas, I have a lot of non-writing life planning to do for big changes that are coming up next year and I’ve been feeling terribly blocked so I am taking the advice. More on that in another post.
I’m still resisting giving Twitter my phone number.
I’m still trying to figure out how to make this Blog look good.
In more writerly related news last night I googled whether writing competition wins are taxable. I know this is jumping the gun. If I was superstitious maybe I’d be jinxing my entries. I do feel a strange bashfulness about admitting seeking such info but I’m telling myself it’s good to be prepared and practical. And it’s all having the strange, knock on effect of taking my writing more seriously.
My search ended up at this website which I’m sharing because it is a fantastic writers resource and the author incredibly generous with his knowledge:
Christopher has pages of info about writing competitions for all genres and styles that he appears to regularly update including some that are free to enter. He also has lots of other articles that I’m working my way through and enjoying.
The outcome of my search about taxing wins was ambiguous. Some say HMRC has a right to their cut others debate that wins should be viewed differently than a general income from writing. Christopher has gone a step further and contacted HMRC and the response from them, which is from 2017 so very current, is on his website. I think though given the intricacies of the tax system – and the varying answers to the question – it may well be worth contacting them yourself if you make money from comp entries, especially if you’re a published writer and/or if you already pay tax on a regular non writing job.
Off to continue playing with WordPress.
All the cool articles tell you success depends on promoting yourself. Unless you end up with a big budget publishing house who are willing to dig deep to sell you – and indeed this seems to be a rare happenstance for some but not many – the success of your works rely on self promotion.
Blogging, websites, Twitter, Facebook. Anywhere online that you can get your world changing words noticed is to be shamelessly utilised. I’m private. Not shy but I like to measure and give thought to what I give away about myself. Sticking myself out there and saying ‘Hey, look at meeee!’ to a potentially world wide audience is scary stuff. Still, I’m giving it a go with this blog. I am toying with the idea of a Facebook page. A website is just too much effort at the moment but something that might be more appealing if I get any success with my writing this year. Twitter? I’m not a fan. Tried it before and didn’t enjoy it.
Last night I swallowed my 20th Century tendencies and my dislike of fast moving word tech and signed up a new account on Twitter. I spent a few minutes browsing, set up a profile and decide on an avatar pic. And then Twitter locked me out.
Five minutes in and I’d apparently broken some unforgivable cyber space rule.
I had not given them my phone number.
Like I said maybe I’m still stuck in the last century, when having a mobile phone permanently welded to my hand was something from a Sci-Fi tale. I dunno. Having to give out my phone number doesn’t sit right with me – cold calls always increase anytime I’ve been forced by some online form to give it out and privacy laws in the current political climate make me leery – and so this morning I don’t have a usable Twitter account. There are ways around this but they involve some internet jiggery pokery that I can’t be arsed to do right at this moment. I shall have to think on it some more.
So no Twitter. But on a positive note the sky hasn’t fallen in and the Earth is still revolving in it’s normal configuration.
I’m feeling nervous, excited and maybe a little resigned. Over the past couple of days I’ve sent four poems and two short stories off to various writing competitions. It’s cost me £35 in entry fees so my remaining polished poems and stories will probably get submitted generally rather than to fee charging comps. I have two stories and six poems left that I’m reasonably happy with so time to do some research for (hopefully) paying homes for them.
Saying that I do have my eye on a comp closing end of April for up to 3000 words of dystopian/ utopian story and as I dabbled in that genre recently I may be able to adapt something. The fee is an eye watering £12 though so will see how I get on.
I’m worried I’ve aimed too high with the comps and am a tad resigned to losing my money but…at least I’m a step ahead of previous years. The last time I submitted anything was three poems to a Mslexia competition back in 2014 and I got nowhere and lost my courage. Now I want to get all my polished works out there, forget about them (is that even possible?) and start working on some new stuff.
Anyone out there have any success with competition entries?
So. I’m attempting to start a Blog.
Not just any old blog, a Writing Blog.
After many years thinking about it. After several months of starting the process by half setting up and then abandoning various platforms. After agonising over pen names, bio’s and lay outs – here I am. I stopped over thinking and signed up to Word Press using a pseudonym I have just submitted some work in.
I’m not sure how well I’ll do being a born procrastinator. Liking my privacy doesn’t help. I have days where I don’t want to engage, where my duvet is more enticing than the real world, when my thoughts don’t want to leave my own head. When the words don’t flow and my voice is a weak echo buried under the hustle of everyone else’s needs.
I’m also uncertain that I can emulate the self deprecating humour or the breathy honesty of the blogs I love to read most. I’m setting out on a journey of discovery with no idea if I will fly solo or find companions along the way.
I guess the only thing left to do is let out the breath that’s burning my lungs and wish myself bon voyage.