ON WRITING

“It’s very easy to quit during the first ten years of writing. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.” Andre Dubus

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

A New Novel Hits the Shelves!

Very hot newsflash this morning when a colleague, Anna Campbell, announced her new book is out -
My Reckless Surrender, from Avon. In Anna's words, it is 'A passionate tale brimming with lust, tenderness and betrayal.'

Here is the blurb:

Diana Carrick has very good reasons to seduce Tarquin Vale, Earl of Ashcroft. None of which she intends to share with the notorious rake. But instead of the selfish, jaded debaucher she expects, Diana discovers a man unlike any other, and even the dangerous secret she must protect cannot shield her from his dark allure.

You can read an excerpt from MY RECKLESS SURRENDER on Anna's website.

Already great reviews are coming in. Romantic Times Book Reviews chose MY RECKLESS SURRENDER as a Top Pick and said, “The enthralling story is complex and passionate and readers will experience a delightful sense of satisfaction from watching Campbell's characters grow in stature and emotional understanding. Quite a book!"

Anna is a good follow up to my latest blog: 'You are a writer if you are writing.' Anna had been writing away for 20 or so years before she clinched (pardon the pun) this great book deal with Avon. So at some mysterious point she became an author. And is really churning out the novels. This is her fourth in quite a short time, I believe! Her advice is to enter competitions. If you get a place in a prestigious competition, it augers well at book fairs. This is what worked for her.

Even if you'd rather poke your eye out with a fiery stick than read a hot romance like Anna's, it is wonderful to see people you know, admire and respect achieve long-held dreams.

Good advice. Meanwhile, back to my novel...

Sunday, 23 May 2010

You are a writer if you are writing

Sounds simple, doesn't it? But that's the simple truth. I've seen debates online where writers wonder if they should call themselves a writer if they haven't been published, or if all they've got to show for years of their lives is a pile of rejection emails/letters and files of stories/novels that no one seems to value. And they begin to feel that both they and their work are valueless! Being reminded of how many times JK Rowling had her first Harry Potter manuscript rejected just doesn't do it for them any more.

'I'm not a writer! I've just been kidding myself!' they cry.

Well, I'm hearing you! Been there, done that, but there is a great Australian drinking song (we have plenty of these!), which goes 'I get knocked down, but I get up again, you're never gonna keep me down...' ad infinitum or ad nauseum (depending on your taste in music!). Love those fighting words. Words to live by if you're a writer. What brought this on? No, I haven't been drinking, I've been thinking! It's not midday yet!

I love Susan Breen's 'The Fiction Class', based on her work as a creative writing teacher in Manhattan. I was checking out her blog this morning and came across a wonderful interview with a fellow teacher/author Sonya Chung, who spurred me on to write my blog today. She says students always ask “When did you know you were a writer?” One of the best answers was: “You are a writer when you are writing.” No kidding. THAT is “how it feels” to be a writer.

I'll let Susan Breen be my inspiration today. She published her first novel after 25 years of marriage, 4 children and hundreds of rejections! I've got heaps of rejections to go yet!

Go writers!


Friday, 21 May 2010

Atlas and the Axis - Oh what a feeling!

Do you feel the world is spinning a little bit faster these days? Do you feel like you're running on a treadmill? Ha, and I don't mean the type they have at the dreaded gym. I mean the feeling where you are living in such a hyper state that you feel like you'll never get things done - what to prioritise? What to leave off the list?

A cursory read of the many blogs I follow bears this out - we're all feeling the pressure, whether it's the demands of family, the demands of work (outside of writing, which depending on your definition may or may not be work), the demands of your editor (lucky you!), or even the demands of reading blogfest entries. Demands, demands, demands. Women have always been regarded as the 'carers,' like it or not, and many demands on our time are from those needing our nurturing. Finding the time to do anything well is the trick. I'm sure you feel like me at times - with all those demands do we really do anything as well as we should?

This feeling sometimes makes me nostalgic for the past. Was this really a simpler time? Did our mothers and grandmothers have it easier than we do? In some ways yes, but in others, no. Depending on your mother's age, maybe she would not have had all the mod-cons we enjoy. Yet even with automatic washers and dryers and other fabulous gadgets, we seem to have less time in our day to just relax and have 'me' time.

Sure, neither my mother nor my grandmother was trying to write novels or short stories, but they had way more children than I do, they worked harder physically, but somehow they had time to sit down and listen to radio serials, read books and do the knitting/crocheting, home baking. How delightful and alien at the same time. How did things change so quicky?

Maybe Atlas is having a joke with us and is spinning the Earth faster and faster. It certainly seems that way. Do you ever feel like screaming: 'Stop the world, I wanna get off!'

Then, where would we be? Huh?


Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Let's Talk Blogfest Dialogue

Today, with much fear and trembling, I'm taking part in Fiction Groupie's Let's Talk Blogfest. The rule for today is that we have to post a short passage of dialogue from one of our WIP and others who have signed up will drop by and (hopefully) comment. If you drop by and are not signed up, please feel free to drop a comment. We all aim for sparkly dialogue but practise makes perfect...or does it?

My entry is a passage from the beginning of a Rom/Com short story in progress. A coffee shop scene with dialogue between two besties, one the cafe owner and the other her celeb-type best friend:

 ***

 
Angie’s favourite café looked different. Hands on hips, she stood at the door, puzzled. She was a girl who liked everything under control, everything just so. But today something was strangely out of place.

Aha! That’s it! she thought. Her beautiful little table at the window had some random guy...What the..?


Angie stepped inside. She wasn’t going to solve her problem standing on the doorstep. Putting some extra pep in her step, she relished the sound of her high-heels clanging and clunking on Sylvie’s shiny wooden floorboards.


She raised a perfectly-waxed eyebrow at Sylvie, her good friend and owner of Chez Sylvie (or part-owner as Sylvie liked to say—which part was never clear to Angie.) But Sylvie was avoiding eye contact, looking very busy hunched over the hissing coffee machine.


‘The usual thank you Sylvie darling,’ Angie purred, popping her strawberry-blond locks with thirty shades of highlights behind the steamy espresso machine.

‘Uh, hello Ange. Won’t be a tick. Just have a latté to go.’

Angie tapped her French-manicured nails on the zinc counter.

‘It wouldn’t be for that guy at my table, would it?’ she hissed.

‘Ah, actually, well, yes it would be, Pumpkin. He’s got good taste, hey? Headed straight for your table. Dumped the Reserved sign. No stopping him.’

‘But, Sylvie, you know it means…’

‘Sorry Pumpkin. I’ve got to take his coffee over.’

‘Allow me!’ Angie snatched the cup, grabbed the tiny tongs and dropped a mini shortbread onto the saucer.

‘Now Angie..!’

‘Don’t mention it Sil. T’rah!’ A swish of frilly red sundress, a toss of luscious long locks, and Angie was gone.

‘Careful!’ Sylvie called, wincing as the coffee jangled in its saucer.

Angie clumped to a halt at the table. The stranger acted surprised, although she’d been watching him watching her ever since she’d arrived.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Jessica is back, safe and well after living the dream.

Great excitement in Sydney on Saturday morning as intrepid young sailor, Jessica Watson crossed the line in her yacht, Ella's Pink Lady, after her round the world trip of 210 days. Apparently she started planning it when she was 14 years old after being inspired by Jessie Martin's sail when he was 16 years old. What euphoria as she sailed into glorious Sydney Harbour, accompanied by a flotilla of boats, who wanted to be in on the action at the end. Thousands lined the shores, right up to the Opera House, where a pink carpet was laid in her honour.

Jessica sailed off amongst much controversy. Many (me included) thought she should not take the risk. But she has lived her dream and inspired countless others. She always says the same thing in interviews: anyone can live their dream. It takes hard work, but there is nothing you cannot do if you believe in yourself. To quote Walter Bagehot:

The greatest pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.”

All of our dreams cannot possibly come true if we have too many, but some of them certainly can. Living the dream. Nothing like it.



As Sylvia Plath used to say:

"The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."


Thursday, 6 May 2010

ANZAC DAY

Clomp! Clomp! Thump! Thump! Tarah! Tarah! What's this?

Australia celebrates ANZAC day every year on April 25th. This is to commemorate the Gallipoli dawn landing where Australian and New Zealand soldiers arrived on the beach at Gallipoli, Turkey in 1915. Those who survived being shot at from the cliffs by the Turks dug in for over 8 months of daily skirmishes.

Australia must be one of the least warlike nations on earth (despite our previous PM's love fest with George Bush), yet this day is celebrated because it is written in our history as the time Australia became a nation in her own right. From our British Empire convict beginnings, then forming the Federation of States in 1901, it was through this shedding of blood of young men, the stories from the battlefields, that it is felt Australia came of age. No longer a baby sucking the British bottle, she had grown into an ungainly child. Sadly in such a young nation, over 8,000 young men died, some as yound as 14, who had foolishly signed up 'to see the world.'

It was on the battlefields of WW1 that so many aspects of the Australian Identity were formed - larrakins, practical jokers, bronzed Aussies, courageous, irreligious...and many more blokey descriptions. A very blokey country. I'm just a sheila! Ha! Ha! We're still in the adolescent phase.


But the point of my history lesson is that I was on the streets in Brisbane on Anzac Day. I saw the modern diggers marching, the display of army vehicles, the proud regimental displays, and it gets me every time - in such a peaceful nation it looks an anacronyism to see this display on our fun-filled streets. I could see the surprise on the tourists' faces, wondering what was going on, whether they were in the right country. It got me thinking about the fear in people's hearts when they see a foreign power driving its tanks through their streets.

I've recently re-read 'Pied Piper' by Nevil Shute. A great classic which was released during WW2. Shows the war from the elderly and child perspective. Written in such spare prose as the proper English gentleman led a bunch of children across recently-invaded France. Loved it all over again.

So many great books...