Friday, 19 December 2014

Good Times

We're going to be travelling and catching up with family so I will take this opportunity to thank you for reading Home Thoughts Weekly.  Like any other year, 2014 has brought its share of ups and downs but I'm going into the New Year thinking of all the happy times.  

All best wishes to you and yours for Christmas and the New Year.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Author Specification

Got a book inside you? Thinking of making 2015 the year you let it out? Here’s your author specification so you can hit the ground running.

Essential Information
Before you begin, ask yourself whether or not you’re completely and utterly in love with what you’re writing. If you don’t care about your work, why should the reader? Besides, it’s a long old slog writing 90,000 words. If you want to make a career out of this you’ve got to find the stamina to complete this journey not just once, but over and over again.

None. Anyone can do it, can’t they?
Please note; excuses about not having enough time are not acceptable. Everyone is busy.

Experience and Knowledge
Proven evidence of writing skills is desirable though not, unfortunately, essential. However, useful examples include writing for publication in magazines and newspapers and competition wins. Have you stamped all over the internet? Left your digital footprints on the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Spotify… what do you mean, you’re supposed to be writing?  Do you want to find your audience or not? Who else is going to do this stuff for you?

Attributes and Abilities
Insane optimism. The ability to believe that the good times, the film deal, the sweet spot when your novel hits the zeitgeist are just round the corner.

Know when to listen. If a professional is good enough to give you their opinion, please act upon it. Please don’t think that she/he is wrong and that you, your partner, your best friend and your dog know better!

Know when to shut up. One star reviews can make you feel sick, weep or fill you with rage. Alas, telling the reviewer to take a full refund and jog off is not an option. What’s the point? Many of them have downloaded it for free or paid 99p for the results of your year of hard slog anyway. The thwarted writers, the misery-makers, the readers who just HATE your book will just keep coming and you have to learn to suck it up. This can be particularly tough.

Be a content machine. The more work you put out there, the more people will discover you. Well, that’s the theory. It also means you’ll end up doing a lot of unpaid work for the ‘exposure’. This is peculiar to the creative industry. Good luck finding a restaurant providing free meals for ‘exposure’.

Working Hours and Pay
You’ll never have a day off. In every waking moment, and some sleeping ones, your work in progress is there in the background of your mind demanding attention.

Be a Breatharian. You’d better hope that the satisfaction of having written is enough to sustain you because you’re going to have to learn to live on thin air. For every dazzlingly successful novelist there are thousands who don’t even come close to earning a living.

Be content. People who love your work will give you the energy to keep going – isn’t this why you began writing? To reach out to others and to strike a common chord? It’s immensely uplifting when readers are kind enough to tell they’ve enjoyed your novels. Take pleasure in looking at the various editions of your books on your shelf or the thumbnails of your ebooks online. You’re doing what you love – one day you might even make some money at it.

Monday, 8 December 2014

Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made On.

The dream...
These are the shoes I bought for my dream life, the one where I’m far more glamorous, far more successful … and don’t actually have to fret about walking further than from car to bar. I haven’t worn them – unless you count trotting round the house a few times for the sheer joy of wearing such pretty and impractical footwear. However much I might secretly dream of topping the Sunday Times best seller list, I’m fully aware that every time I step in the shower and wash in water that’s cleaner and more abundant than many people’s drinking water, I’m already living someone else’s dream.

I’ve been knocked out by the worst cold I’ve had in ages and it’s forced me to sit passively watching the world go by. Christmas always worries me anyway; too many memories of trying to make it special on a very limited budget when my daughters were growing up, but more than ever it seems that so many seasonal messages are all about buying that festive feeling. All that debt for the fragrance, the clothes, the car, the food, the little bits of coloured plastic that promise to change your family’s life only for the magic and sparkle to disappear with the discarded wrapping. I’m not suggesting we wear hair shirts on Christmas Day - I enjoy a treat as much as the next person - but I do think this is the time of year when the pressure to make dreams come true makes it easy to lose sight of reality and of what’s really important.

Another fantasy that’s dismayed me this week (don’t worry, my cold seems to be going so expect normal service to be resumed) is the hype around the Victoria’s Secret fashion show. The cover photo of a young woman weighed down by outsized gold wings, her bottom barely covered, might have cheered up some readers of this week’s Telegraph magazine, but it makes me want to weep. When far too many women are shackled by their own societies, how is trussing up a model and sending her down a catwalk buckling under the weight of a 40lb frame a good thing? Really, is this what women’s liberation amounted to?

And I suppose you could say, that as a novelist I’m guilty of peddling dreams too, because, yes, I do have to promote my books from time to time. However, I’m not promising to make my readers lives better, but only to tell them a story with a happy ending about female protagonists who discover that joy comes from within and that self-belief takes you higher than an 8 ft pair of gold wings.

... and the reality.