Today, I am sorting our my study and preparing to get started on Book 3, The Right Place. I will probably start on research and planning around mid-June, after I've finished sorting out a few admin issues... I am still thinking about the ways I could fund this release... I cannot wait to get started as it is set in one of my favourite places, Dorset... An excuse to spend more time in that wonderful county!
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get permission to print the lyrics of PJ Harvey's The Wind in the book (nobody answers... probably not interested in a small imprint!) *sigh*.
Typesetting work on The Book of Thoth should start in June too...
I know, I know...
I am still working on the editing of Book number two, I have written only one chapter of Book number three and I haven't really done any work at all on Book number four...
And then up pops the idea for Book number five!
After an animated conversation in the car with Matt ArtPix - those pesky creative couples, always bouncing ideas off each other all the time! - whilst on our way back from Devon, here's what I have come up with: a Hound of The Baskervilles-inspired vintage mystery set on moody Exmoor, with a rural detective named Barton Stacey - it is the name of a parish in Hampshire. When my partner saw it on the map, he decided here and there that it was the perfect name for a detective! I have no idea whatsoever whether I can pull it off or not. I want it to be a bit outrageous, a bit humorous (can I do humour?) and we'll have a cover inspired by vintage classic detective novels...
I have my work schedule sorted for the next ten years, I think!
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.
Part 2 of the "Book of Thoth" is under way, it is going slowly but nicely. I have almost the whole structure of the part sorted, with precise scenes I'd like to include...
Today and tomorrow, I will be writing a weird dream sequence. Yay!
Last week, I wrote a scene set on board a Tube train and tried to make it feel mysterious, but I am not sure it worked... After all, what's less sexy and mysterious than a crowded, stinking Tube carriage? I think this bit will need serious re-working at second draft stage...
I am enjoying writing the Book of Thoth enormously. Whereas "I Am a Muse" is set in today's world, the Book of Thoth is another proposition alltogether. Not to say that I didn't enjoy writing I Am a Muse, on the contrary. It is a story I had in me for a while and it felt good to put it to paper.
I will try and write a first synopsis type thing for this website.
The deadline for the Book of Thoth is December 2011. It will probably take three drafts just as I Am a Muse did.
I am still thinking about adding some illustrations to the book, I would love to collaborate with Sabine T Art (http://www.wix.com/sabine_t/art-and-illustration) once again after our 2010 exhibition together.
I am hoping to use one of her artwork for the cover of I Am a Muse, which I will be posting here soon.
I am also still thinking about self-publishing my poetry book "Dysfunctions", with a cover designed by Matt ArtPix (http://www.wix.com/mattartpix/vintage) and the rest of the pages set in simple, minimalist black and white.
I think therefore I write.
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