Once again, I have just spent another whole day doing some publisher's work - which I am more than happy to do, because I do want to turn Arcane Publishing into a proper, fully-fledged independent publishing company... I really do hope I will never have to go back to an in-house, full-time office job in London, because then it would jeopardise absolutely everything I've been doing over the past nine months or so...
A few exciting things to announce soon... even though it means having to get over my absolute loathing of having my picture taken...
Writing time has shrunk dramatically because of this!
I am still absolutely determined to finish the first draft of The Book of Thoth by the end of August, but before I carry on, I have to resolve a bit of a plot problem I have and as long as I haven't found the solution, I cannot move forward...
Come oooon, inspiration! Show yourself!
I have gone a bit I Am a Muse-mad over the past few days...
Because I haven't got anything to lose, really, I have been sending emails and press releases - and Advance Information Sheets, didn't know about those ones until two days ago! - to various independent bookshops in Essex, London and Cornwall. I have even submitted the book for consideration at Foyles - in my dreams!
This has been a full-time job for the past week or so, preparing promo material, sending books and doing research - I am so lucky I have a long lull in my freelance work! And it is not over yet, because it really has just started...
Yesterday, I went back to The Book of Thoth which has been neglected for weeks on end...
Today, I am going to the printer to deliver the files for the bookmarks and then I'll be writing. I am starting on a new schedule: morning, I Am a Muse promo, afternoon The Book of Thoth writing. This pesky first draft just has to be completed by early July!
Yesterday, I found myself afflicted by a serious bout of writer's block whilst working on The Book of Thoth.
So I ended up doing a bit of research on Alchemy, which, I hoped, would get me started again, as I am in the middle of a scene in which two of the main characters discover the alchemist's secret lab.
The writer's block didn't leave me, but I did find quite an amazing website containing everything you've ever wanted to know about Alchemy.
I can't say I understand everything, but it's actually quite fascinating...
So maybe today, as I open my Word document again, I will find inspiration...
I will have the Alchemy Lab website at the ready!
Isn't it marvellous? I am one of those sad, sad people who spot typos/spelling and grammar mistakes everywhere: in shops, in newspaper articles, job adverts, even in the novels I read... (my pet hates: its/it's - whose/who's - there/their - you're/your, plurals with apostrophes... argh!)
And yet, when it comes to my own books and after seven (yes, SEVEN) read through, I have still managed to leave a few stupid things lying about in the I Am a Muse manuscript. This is entirely my own fault, of course, not getting anyone else read the book before sending it to typesetting. Call it arrogance, impatience, whatever!
The truth is, very few people have got the time - and the will - to carefully read through a 300 pages manuscript unless they are paid to do so.
So thank you to Matt ArtPix, who will be giving some of his infinitely precious time over the next few days to read through the book for one last time.
But I have learned my lesson here, and will actually plan properly in advance for The Book of Thoth, which might go to two different people as the manuscript will be so much longer and the plot so much more complicated! Now to find that one extra person (Matt ArtPix will probably have the dubious honour to be the first to read through the book!).
I am planning on finishing the first draft of The Book of Thoth over the summer, with an intense revision and re-writing period between the summer and the beginning of the following year. I am aiming for a Summer 2014 publication for that one.
This is just so true. For me, the writing has to be done at the desk, surrounded by books, pictures, pens and paper, and most of all SILENCE.
But the ideas come to me suddenly, usually when I am outside the flat, staying somewhere else, or at the theatre, an exhibition, walking in the countryside, reading an article or a book. I think stability and familiarity are good for the actual writing process, but change, unusual environments and exploration do stimulate the production of ideas.
I call these "brainwaves" because they do come in waves, and I usually get ideas for several books at the same time.
During my recent stay in North Devon, I woke up at 6.30am and thought about the various ways I could sell/promote my books, then several plot lines for The Book of Thoth materialised in front of my eyes, and then some background biography details for some of the characters in The Right Place appeared out of nowhere.
I have two days of writing in front of me this week. Better make the most of it!
This morning, I woke up with a massive brainwave taking over my thoughts... All of a sudden, I had all those ideas for my third book, The Right Place. So I had to get up and scribble like mad until I had put everything on paper.
I have defined some of my characters a little better and added some details about the background story. More of this, please!
Holidays are definitively good for brain activity.
I have blogged about it on this blog (HERE) before, but Metal have just posted some more pictures and (gulp) videos on their website.
You can go and watch (in my case very, very short, I was ultra nervous!) interviews with the participants and everyone's readings...
Thank you again to Christopher Fowler, Julie Myerson and Cathi Unsworth for talking to us, it was such a privilege to have you there! And thank you to everyone at Metal.
I am looking forward to meeting with my fellow participants in the Spring to prepare for next year's Shorelines: Literature Festival of the Sea. I am thrilled to have been given the opportunity to participate in the second edition of this thrilling event, which will take place in the autumn of 2013.
CULTURE LAB PHOTOS AND VIDEOS
Scroll down to ARCHIVE.
A quick update on what is happening with the books.
I am listening to PJ Harvey's Stories from the city, stories from the sea, which matches the work I am doing at the moment: updating the various pages of this very website, thinking about my forthcoming books - which all contain stories from the city and stories from the sea...
Today, I am reading through I Am a Muse to make sure it is ready for publication. Everything is now ready to be uploaded on Lulu, which I will be trying out on Sunday. I am so worried, I have butterflies in my stomach. This weekend was my deadline for uploading as I still would like to hit my November publishing date.
If everything goes well and all the files upload properly, I should be able to order a proof copy of my book immediately. So Lulu will need to send the copy to me, then I will need to read through it and check that the printing has gone well.
This should take another two weeks, if I am not interrupted by some freelance work - yes, it's money, but...
Or it could all go wrong on Sunday and I will be in a spot of bother.
*UPDATE 28/10/2012: I began reading through I Am a Muse on Friday. I couldn't help changing words, tweaking things... So this has now turned into a last minute revision of the manuscript, which is not cool as it will delay the publication further. I hope this will not take too long and I will be able to try out Lulu in the forthcoming days...
In other news, I have now purchased two domain names for my websites so the addresses look more professional. So you will find me at www.missgish.com - well, here - and also at www.arcanepublishing.net.
Business cards should get done in the forthcoming weeks.
I have been updating details about my next books as I have been to a lot of inspiring places and events and my brain has been overheating this week (see previous blogs!).
I have added the first writing piece for The Right Place HERE as well as some of the pictures taken during my holidays in Dorset earlier this month. I have used them as inspiration for that very piece.
I have added some details on the Anti page. Walking around London has given me quite a few more ideas for my Urban Noir tale...
I hope I will be able to go back to The Book of Thoth next week, but it looks like work is coming my way in the next few weeks. I will try and apply the "write everyday" rule nevertheless, let's see if I can do it. Usually, if I am working, my brain refuses to switch to "writing mode" and I can only write if I have a whole free day.
So there. I have done it! I have survived my first creative writing course. And to be perfectly honest, it will probably be the last. No course could be better than this one. This was pretty special.
Last week, I had to get into the habit of going off to work somewhere outside of my flat again – something that hasn't been happening for the past three years exactly – I left my last full-time position on 23rd October 2009! I also had to get used to being around a group of people day in and day out again. I have grown incredibly fond of my hermit life, alone in front of my laptop…
I am a loner by nature, and being around people – especially people I don’t know well – emotionally exhausts me… Interacting with other people makes me be on my guard all the time. The reasons for this are numerous and would take too long to explain. Let’s just say I am extremely weary of people in general. Going to exhibitions, the theatre and gigs doesn't really count, I guess, as one can still remain in one’s own little bubble, even though it gets reduced a great deal.
There was also the fact that I have never shown my work to anyone else. My work in music journalism was of an entirely different nature, and a lot of people read my articles and reviews, but that didn't bother me. I knew I was good at it and I was talking about other artists’ work, not mine. Fiction writing is completely different: you disclose your inner world to others, whatever comes out of your imagination is part of you and it can feel intimidating.
Metal’s Lab: On writing fiction wasn't full of pedantic self-aggrandising wannabe authors who, having paid good money to get a place on a course, feel entitled to behave like the customer they are; after all, “the customer is King”. They expect to be told how to become a famous author in 10 steps, just because they’re worth it – or at least they are worth something because they have paid.
All the people on last week’s course had been invited to attend after a rigorous selection process, and all 9 of us felt very thankful and privileged to have been picked.
One thing was immediately obvious: there was passion in there. We all had very different personalities, backgrounds and life experiences. But we also all had a passion for books, for the written word, for our writing. Chalkwell Hall was filled with energy the whole week; you could feel the subtle power of creative brains at work.
There was also a lot of talent. I was absolutely amazed at the quality of the work produced by the other participants and their knowledge of literature – and of a lot of other subjects too!
Nobody was dabbling; we were into serious writers’ territory, there.
It was a humbling, inspiring, energising experience.
The staff at Metal were absolutely wonderful: friendly and genuinely interested, they listened and observed without dictating.
A special thank has to go to Syd Moore, our “tutor” and “team leader” for the week, for her guidance, expertise and encouragement.
I love listening to other people and absorb information like a sponge, and therefore that’s what I have mainly done: I listened, and I learned a lot.
On Monday and Tuesday, we had special guest speakers, all seasoned authors in their own right.
I was particularly thrilled to be able to listen to Christopher Fowler, whose books I have been reading on and off since 1998, and whose fab blog I have been following for the past three years. He was absolutely fascinating, as was the mesmerising Cathi Unsworth – what a charismatic personality!
Julie Myerson was the most famous speaker of the three – her and her husband form one of London’s cultural power couples. I was very impressed by her self-confidence and her strong opinions on writing, even though as a person and a writer, I feel closer to Christopher Fowler’s and Cathi Unsworth’s world(s).
I actually spent one day and a half working on the top floor of Chalkwell Hall on my own work – what will become my third novel, The Right Place. When I started off, I vaguely knew in which direction I was going: my third novel would be set in Dorset, would be inspired by the landscape, the history and the very special, quasi surpernatural atmosphere of the county; I also wanted to use PJ Harvey’s song “The Wind” as inspiration, and I kept the printed lyrics in front of me while I viewed my holiday pictures of St Catherine’s chapel and Chesil Beach, two of the most important locations in my novel. And suddenly, it all started to pour out, all those ideas… A few hours after having set up on the table, my notebook was covered in Post-its and scribbles.
By the end of the day, I had written half a tempestuous scene which I then finished off the following morning. I genuinely surprised myself! I had so little when I had first arrived! It usually takes me a good six months to plan a novel, and I had done the equivalent of a month work in a day!
I am quite happy with that scene and will post it in The Right Place section of this website when I have done the small amendments that need doing.
On the Friday, when I finally stood up in front of the small, intimate audience to read an extract of the piece I had produced earlier in the week, I thought I was going to faint; I was so very nervous! I could swear small silvery stars momentarily danced in front of my eyes – for a whole second, and I forgot to breathe. It was a very different feeling to the one you have when standing in front of a class of 30 attention deficit disorder-riddled teenagers - I am an ex-teacher.
This was just so much bigger.
But I did it, and I think this first time was very very important. I believe I was the only participant who had never read to an audience before…
So now it’s a year to Metal’s Shorelines Festival – the literature festival of the sea – and we have all been invited to participate… I already have an idea about what I would like to do, but it is a whole year away and therefore I will not dwell on it…
I have gained a lot from this intense week, and I know that from now on, I will be approaching my writing in a slightly different manner. The instinct needs to be supported by more craft, and this is the recipe I will be using.
I have been thinking about revising my (hopefully) about to be self-published novel I Am a Muse before publication, but I am now running out of time.
I will be doing a quick read through this week but will leave it as it is: rather raw and incredibly imperfect, a naïve and probably not fully formed first novel.
I am absolutely thrilled to have been selected as one of the participants to Metal Culture's LAB: On Writing Fiction.
If I am being honest, I am still pinching myself and will be for quite a while.
One of the guest speakers is one of my favourite writers, Christopher Fowler. Also invited to speak will be the awesome Cathi Unsworth, whose new novel, Weirdo, I am currently reading - it's fabulous and some of the themes feel so very familiar.
I have long resisted creative writing courses, but I think this one will be different. It is a professional, intensive course.
As someone who enjoys nothing more than working in my little corner on my own, this will be a challenge - and I haven't spoken in public since I gave up teaching yeeeears ago!
This is perfect timing as I am leaving for Dorset tomorrow. During the week-long course, I will be working on what I hope will be my third book, The Right Place, inspired by St Catherine's chapel in Abbotsbury and PJ Harvey's song The Wind. I will be doing some research and I will be taking yet more pictures that I will bring with me to the course for inspiration.
My intention is to keep a diary of the course here on my blog, with thoughts and comments.
I am very very excited.
I think therefore I write.
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