Slight Progress.

Well I didn’t think I’d be ringing in the New Year with yet another post, but here we are! As I said in my previous tangent, I wanted to blog a little bit more and by-heck I’m doing just that.

I’ve decided that this edit that I’ve been planning out today will be my final revision. After this, I’ll read through and only change typos. If I want to make any major changes, I’ll have to convince myself not to.

At twenty-seven, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll procrastinate the hell out of this manuscript and find any minute details to change to prolong getting out of my comfort zone. Enough is enough.

A tweet from my favourite author, B.A Paris, gave me a boost I needed. It read:-

For all writers sitting on a manuscript – 5 years ago today, at the start of a new year, I took courage in my hands and sent the ms of Behind Closed Doors to the top five literary agencies. And it’s been an unbelievable, amazing journey ever since. So get yours out there!

Paris writes such incredible thrillers, all three of hers have been such wonderful reads; she’s made me want to take a peek over the fence into writing suspense. But come on, Pheasey – let’s finish this one first, hey?!

Even though I’ve always written romance, that little tweet gave me a little glimmer of hope on the horizon that the work I’m doing may not, hopefully, be all for nothing one day. I’ve just purchased the Writers’ & Artists Handbook 2019 edition, which I cannot wait to flick through.

With re-reading some beta reader feedback and writing down some key points I’d like to cover myself, I’d say the progress I’ve made with planning today hasn’t been too bad. Obviously, it would help if I pulled myself away from the socials far more, yet that’s a telling-off for another post.

Even with that being said, I’m glad to feel that buzz for my novel back again; that thrill of weaving another thread into the story in hope to enrich the reader’s experience, is one I do thoroughly enjoy. Knowing that I had another edit in front of me had filled me with fear and reluctance, yet it’s something I’ve managed to embrace over the past few days.

I know that, once again, it’s not going to be a quick process, especially with the additions I’m making. I’m sure most writers do, yet I wish I could read my novel through another’s eyes as if I hadn’t written it myself. To not be able to anticipate what was ahead within those future pages would be a thrill.

As usual, I’ve been very lucky to have been able to lean on my friends again. Thank you to Bec, Camilla, Daryl and Gabriella for letting me ramble about all things writing, my indecisiveness and my characters for the past couple of days. You’ve kept me level-headed! And, um, sorry for the long texts.

Have a great weekend, everyone.

 

2019 – Let’s ‘av ya.

                Hello again, you lovely lot. I hope you’ve all had a wonderful festive period! It’s the second day into January 2019 and I’ve got a cold; I’ve managed to dodge it like a scene from The Matrix thus far, but it has arrived. Yet this post isn’t just about the sniffles, it’s another one about my writing process.

                As we’re kicking off the New Year and everyone has their 2019 goals at the forefront of their minds, I’m certainly adding to the majority. I’ve decided, mood permitting, that I’m going to dedicate a few more posts to writing about writing, specifically the journey I’m taking myself on this year all in the hope of starting the publishing process.

                I’m aware of just how out of my depth I truly am; I’ve just started reading a ‘Teach Yourself’ book, A Guide To Getting Yourself Published. Hopefully, it’ll work.

                As stated in another post from a few months ago, I know it’s by no means going to be plain sailing, I simply hope I can keep my chin up and push through whatever stands in my way – which will mostly be my own negative thoughts.

                I’ve just finished another draft, my third one to be precise, and I’m thinking of yet another thing to add and certain words to revise. I already know I’ve overused the words ‘was, feelings and thoughts’, so a cull on those would be a good start.

                The question I googled this morning was ‘how do I know when to stop editing my novel?’. Yes, I googled it. It’s got the answer for everything else on there, so I thought I’d give it a shot. The answered were varied; a common theme I’d found was like a line from a Rom-Com:-

                “When you know, you know.”

                Parts of me do feel that I am finished with my manuscript; of course, I honestly think you’d struggle to find a writer, accomplished or budding, who is one hundred percent happy with every single word they’ve written. However, I can’t help but feel as though if I added the idea I’m toying with now, it would elevate the story that much more.

                I’m simply kicking myself yet again as I wish I’d thought of that whilst doing this latest edit, rather than finishing it and then having an epiphany of a better revision.

                When I’m honest with myself, I know I’m scared of the next part of the process. The thought of sending my manuscript off to a potential agent fills me with fear. It’s not necessarily the rejection that scares me, it’s the thought of the complete unknown – hence why I’m reading this book.

                My new ideas I’d like to incorporate are ones that I feel would add value to my novel, yet I can’t help but think that it may be another way to procrastinate a little more. If I’m working on it that means that I still have full control of it all. If it hasn’t left my sent folder or my palms, its contents aren’t up for discussion.

                Recently, a good pal, Daryl Baxter, invited me onto his latest Podcast, where we had a wonderful chat about games and the topic of writing came up. I honestly felt it did me the world of good in terms of talking about my novel and my thoughts on my process. Thanks for that, DB.

                I’ve always felt that writing has been extremely personal. With the want to become a full-time writer, I need to learn to be open and confident in talking about my work and not shy away from conversations of my characters and the tales I have managed to weave.

                So, I guess that’s a new part of what I want to do on here. Whether one person or one hundred read this post or not, I write these in hope that they will help another budding author who may be facing the same things as I am right now.

                Reflecting on last year ever so slightly, I have accomplished what I’d wanted to for many years and gotten the story written; now it’s about the real fine-tuning and hoping to pop into Asda and see my name and title smiling at me whilst doing a big-shop.

                It’s been wonderful to reach out to friends such as Daryl and Bec, whom I’ve been lucky to interact with and we’ve managed to share our thoughts of when things with a pen and paper are going great and no so great. You’ve both been ace, as per – thanks again.

                We’re only on page two of three-sixty-five; whatever you all may have planned for this year, I truly hope you accomplish whatever you set out to do. It’s early, we’ve got this!

                Anyway, I’m off to blow me nose.

                Ta-ra.

Daryl Baxter is a freelance writer, click the links below to check out his portfolio, listen to The Outpost Show or view his website for contact information and updates.

Podcast:- https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-outpost-show/id1133056888?mt=2

Site:- http://darylbaxter.com/

Found.

There were no words; my apartment was wrapped with silence. Nothing needed to be said. I stared at him as we lay covered only with sheets, taking in his exquisite features as candlelight bounced around us.

I ran my finger along his jawline, always surprised that I never drew blood with the sharpness that it exhibited. He caught my palm and kissed my finger tip, smiling at my repeated motion. I had a habit of doing that; I enjoyed his response. Especially as his tremendous eyes shimmered at me every single time I did it.

We were a couple of misfits. I guess we’d just got lucky in finding each other.

I worked at the city library; it was vast, both filled with truths and weaved with fictional tales. It was the only place I’d somewhat felt comfortable in, a place I could work and not feel so claustrophobic with bodies. The rare occasion that there were a few too many people, I could slip down aisle after aisle and when asked, I could easily lie and say that I was re-alphabetising.

There was an instance where I’d felt stifled and escaped, only to find him standing there, softly thumbing through a Tolstoy. I’d been far too taken aback to recall which of his works it was.

It felt instantaneous between us; I found him mesmerising to look at, I still had. We stood in silence, drinking one another in. He didn’t shift from my gaze, nor was he perturbed about my intrigue towards him.

The introductions took us a moment to get out. I felt uncomfortable in the simplest walks of life, let alone when I’d so openly studied a stranger for what felt as if hours had passed. Taking in his rich, sapphire eyes had dumbfounded me; I’d never seen such beauty in a man before.

He held out his hand once he’d introduced himself awkwardly, I felt a pull of reluctance, but grabbed it. An alien feat for myself as I rarely felt okay with being within two feet of someone, let alone even the gentlest of touches. That day, something was different.

For the next few weeks he came in every day as I worked, willingly helping me carry heavy encyclopaedias and towers of books, all to simply go back to their rightful homes. We talked about our favourite books and meandered through the aisles with comfortable silences.

A lot of ground was still to cover, yet I looked at him knowing that I could tell him my truths, my hang ups and anxieties.

We’d plucked up the courage to exchange numbers; I guess we’d grown tired of idly conversing over hardbacks. The same evening, my cell rang.

‘Uh hi,’ he paused. ‘It’s me.’ I knew from caller ID, but I would have known that deceptively deep voice from that sweet face, anywhere.

‘Hi,’ I smiled, waiting for more to follow.

‘I know it’s late, but do you want to grab a coffee or something?’

                I knew it had taken him a lot to ask me that. Of course, I said yes; even past one in the morning. I remembered being up thinking about him anyway.

We slovenly walked around my neighbourhood, Styrofoam cups in hand, thumping at one another’s walls with lump hammers, hearing the bricks and mortar crumble with each step and utterance made. We kissed that same night, not regretting a typically ‘stupid’ decision thereafter as we fumbled to my apartment.

I smiled back in the present, revisiting those still-fresh memories whilst looking at the main content, a work of art. He captivated me.

‘What?’ He smiled, his voice breaking through an intended whisper.

‘Nothing.’

He combatted my loneliness, my sadness and my vulnerability. Of course, I wasn’t fixed, yet he’d corked the things that affected me the most. The solitude most welcomed, I loathed. The buzz of silence was deafening to me, the thrum of a brain with constant whirrs of negativity now evaporated as I looked at him.

We were misfits to society. We were the people that made others feel uncomfortable for not slotting into their idea of acceptable.

We fit, however. We’d found the pieces that fit.

 

#ThursdayThoughts

I’m currently sat in the ‘beta reader’ phase of the editing process. I’m sat, admittedly, impatiently waiting for a few lovely people to hand me back a hefty questionnaire regarding said novel. I must say a massive thank you to those who have already read this next project and the ones who are in the process, I couldn’t fully put into words how grateful I am to you for trusting me with your precious time.

As the years have ticked by, I can honestly say that I have been able to handle criticism, albeit constructively, far better than in the past. I put that down to ‘City Streets’ being my first literary babies that I didn’t want to grow up, I wanted my litter to remain held only by my hands and unscathed as a Mother would want.

Maturing, I have released the parental grip and I’m letting my third flourish in with the other ‘children’, I’m throwing it out there, letting it get a little rough around the edges and waiting for the letter to come back and tell me that with a bit of polishing, my now toddler could be a fine figure of a novel as it continues to grow.

The one thing that hasn’t changed is how self-critical I can be at times; and yes, I know this happens in all walks of life and not just with writers. This evening, I have scolded myself through poor formatting more than anything else. However, that is through the delights of skim reading and kicking one’s self at the realisation that your beta readers have noticed this and been nice enough to simply focus on the content rather than silly placement errors.

Before I let myself get ravaged by my own telling’s-off, I allowed myself to bathe in celebration alone for a little while. I let a stupid, wide smile wash across my tired face in the elation that the work I’d been battling with for eleven years was finally completed, back in June.

I knew in that moment that it wasn’t perfect; it’s not at this moment and time, nor will it ever be, nothing ever is. But I let myself have that. I sat and realised that I’d managed to create another body of work that I couldn’t believe had surfaced from the depths of my mind. I smiled again as I truly felt proud of what I’d managed to accomplish, knowing I’d fought with myself a lot over the past year or so.

I honestly believe that it is more than acceptable for you to give yourself a congratulatory moment. To some, it may appear conceited, yet to anyone who has held a goal for years, I do think you should allow yourself a little time to revel in what you have created or achieved. If you can’t, my question to you is ‘why are you doing it in the first place?’.

As reward, I gave myself a couple of months off, using a holiday to edit my first draft. In those eight weeks prior, I left my characters engraved in those pages and weaved with errors. I didn’t want to even think about anything to do with it for a while. I wanted to come back to that draft with fresh eyes and a sharp mind of what to correct and change.

I wish I could view it from a reader’s perspective, however. I wish I could open that manuscript and not have a clue about what lay inside, I wish I didn’t know my characters inside out and tell myself ‘No, Samantha would never do that.’

It’s a physical impossibility. I just hope that someone someday gets the same joy as I do from reading a really good novel, as they read mine. I hope a reader gasps in shock as they read a twist, I hope they smile as they believe their predictions are about to come true, only to turn the page with a frown as their assumptions were wrong.

In order to do that, I need to follow the next steps.  Another edit and a print out – unconventional for most writers, but I find I connect more to the work if it’s physically on paper in front of me. That’s the main reason as to why I scrawl every word down first and type it all out when I’m done. A pain-staking process, but my process all the same.

After I’ve done that again, I really feel clueless as to where to go from here. I would like to go for a professional edit, which would be the next logical step. But there’s the small voice in my mind that tells me that every single letter will be wrong and it will read like a shaken dictionary once it reaches their palms.

Then after that – another edit? Send it straight out to anyone in the industry with a pulse? I have no idea. I have tonnes of books on this kind of thing, yet even opening the page to find out the answer genuinely terrifies me, and that is the honest truth.

This is the part when I start to feel overwhelmed and try to sieve the bad ideas through my brain, all in hope that a good one will remain so I can build on it and weave a new tale. All in the while of me shaking it violently until all the grains are dropping through, I know in my marrow that this current story is one I would love to see smiling at back at me as I walk into a bookshop, and also one I know I should see through until the bitter end.

Surprisingly enough, I don’t think this novel is utter shit; however I do go through the motions with this, call it another ‘process’ of mine. I hold ‘City Streets’ close to my heart, yet I know I still have one more novel to finish for that trilogy to be completed. Thank you to everyone who has read that little labour of love, I really appreciate your support and kind comments.

For the time being, I need to eat, sleep and breathe this latest work. It’s usually a topic that crosses my mind for the majority of every day, yet sitting down and being alone with it can cause vulnerability, especially when it is complete.

I couldn’t honestly tell you what the purpose of this post was; I think I wanted to write something, pulled out my folder containing the latest edit, made some notes and was filled with some of the strains I’ve written about above.

A week off alone with this book would do me a lot of favours, somewhere quiet and away from distractions – yet I’m rather a good procrastinator, I know I’d find a way.

I stare at the folder with a mixture of emotions.

I stare at it knowing it’s the one thing I want most in the world and the one thing I’m the most terrified of; and again, that’s the honest truth.

 

 

APART.

I stared at our crumpled sheets.

One hand was wound around my waist whilst the other gripped the pendant he had bought me for our second wedding anniversary, pulling it from side to side, hearing the metal buzz as it moved.

It was the first time I’d mustered the strength to get out of bed in what felt like years. My hair was dirty, but I didn’t care. All I’d done for weeks was cry into my pillows and ignore the world around me.

All I wanted was him. The horrific reality was that he would never walk back through our front door.

I felt the lump in my throat rise and I stripped the pillows, folding them neatly, collecting them in a tidy pile.

I stood at the end of the bed once again, replaying memories. The late night movies we’d watch in bed, talking until the wee hours of the morning about our future and completely off-topic points that came into our heads. The nights we’d sensually indulged in each other’s bodies, deep sleep enveloping us in post-coital bliss.

My vision blurred as the tears came, taking away what I’d seen; bring me back to the present without my husband in it.

I stifled my sobs, clutching the pillow cases to silence my howls. I tried to take in the remainder of their scent that were filled with his, yet I felt that had been all I’d been doing. I’d been lying on his side of the bed for weeks, the only place I felt any kind of comfort at all because I could smell his aftershave.

Now that it had faded, I knew I had to change the sheets; Not only for cleanliness, but for my sanity.

Every minor everyday task now felt like a mountain I had to climb. Changing sheets was by no means a hard jaunt, yet I couldn’t help but feel as though washing them was a kind of closure. It felt as though I was washing away his being.

I didn’t want to accept it.

I wanted to feel as if he’d had to go away with work and I should leave everything just so.  I hadn’t moved anything on his bedside table; his watch stayed off kilter, his half-drunk bottle of water was about three inches away from the coaster I’d always reminded him about using, even though I knew he wouldn’t listen to me, it was still there. The tiniest rise of a smile appeared, as I was reminded of his daily minor rebellion.

My acceptance would make me feel as though I was now okay with all of this. I knew that my thinking was extremely backwards, but I’d never dealt with closure well; if at all.

We were a team. Partners in crime, never one without the other.

Truth be told, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I almost felt like I’d hear him tell me, but I knew I’d be waiting for a voice that would never appear.

I stroked my wedded hand over the cotton pillowcases.

Sleep tight, I thought, knowing that I never would again.

#TuesdayTales – We blossomed in spring

Seeing the bubble-gum pink petals circle around my ankles in the light breeze reminded me of Japan – and you.

I’d felt lost, I turned to a place I’d dreamed of going for as long as I could remember. My mundane nine to five had been testing me and truly pushing me to my limits. So I quit. The repercussions could wait.

Day four of my trip; we took the same garden tour in Kyoto. I noticed you wielding a pencil and an artist’s pad, sketching with a sense of pride at the beauty that stood before you.

I couldn’t help but stare, drinking you in just as much as the scenery. In an area of vibrant pinks and burnt oranges, you were the brightest feature.

On the journey to the next stop in the tour, we talked, soon realising that we had a lot in common and were both here soul searching, trying to find another purpose rather than just crunching numbers or sending mind-numbing e-mails.

The rest of the tour sped past us as we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company over the day; dragging it out to dinner, then drinks, finally indulging in one another back at the minute apartment he was renting for his stay. Out of character for us both apparently, I believed him.

I smiled, recalling waking up next to him, wishing I would get the chance to see his wide smile and hazel eyes, to run a hand over his caramel skin; even to kiss his lips just once more.

We’d agreed – two weeks. The token holiday, or how he’d put it, ‘vacation’ romance; I couldn’t agree on not thinking about him, not that that request had escaped his lips.

The fallen blossom at my feet back here at home, reminded me of what I wanted and what I was grateful for – escapism. I felt grateful that every year without fail, my memories would also bloom in the reminiscence of you.

 

(Image by yours truly. The blossom at the bottom of my garden inspired today’s tale.)

#TuesdayTales – ‘No bad Whiskey’

We sipped on whiskey and reminisced about the old days. We laughed about how drunk his grandmother got one Christmas and on our tree, breaking it in half as she hit the ground with a thud.

My eyes were fixed on his, smiling as I saw him do the same, talking about our history. He managed to summarise memories from the past nine years, somehow without leaving a stone unturned.

I missed him.

I missed this.

This had been the second time in seven months we’d met since we had called ‘time’ on our relationship. I felt as if our time apart had done us a lot of favours.

We’d managed to hash out a lot of past issues; since we’d had space, my thoughts of him had been more on what I’d missed, rather than what had irritated me previously.

I loved hearing him laugh, watching his stunning emerald eyes glint as we struggled for breath from laughing so much.

Tonight was set in stone at just how much I’d truly missed him and having him around. I felt that we’d gotten complacent with one another before, we’d taken each other for granted.

I simply hoped that in his recalled memories with that beautiful smile I loved so much, that he thought the same.

 

(Image via Google.)