Start as we mean to go on!

The WriteMindWritePlace bloggers wish you a very happy and successful 2014!

We thought we’d start our first blog of 2014 by answering a few questions about the way we work, how we coped with writing throughout the festivities and also our plans for the year ahead. This is a longer post than usual but then we are all busy writers!

What would your answers be?

1. How did you fit your writing work around the season’s festivities?

Elaine E. We had a very quiet Christmas although we did go out to celebrate my birthday on Christmas Eve. As it was a ‘special’ birthday we thought we ought to make the effort! Apart from Christmas Day I managed to add a few words to my novel everyday dipping into chocolate and sipping a glass or two of wine as I did so. A last minute request from a magazine editor also had me researching and writing up an article before the end of the year.

Elaine R. Working flat out leading up to Christmas, doing what I hoped would be a final edit on my novel, before sending it off to Conville and Walsh Literary Agency. The first two weeks in December saw me catching up with Christmas, frantically searching the internet for Christmas presents and running around food shopping. Then I breathed a sigh of relief as Christmas fell into place. I bit the bullet and entered the first 10,500 words of my novel into a competition, together with a biography, which I have never written before, and a synopsis. I have also looked at my short stories and discovered I have four that are not completed, so that will be my task for January 2014. I did have a writing plan but getting the flu put paid to following too strictly.

Francecsca. I was away for the holidays with my family, their partners, grandchildren and step grandchildren plus in-laws. There were thirteen of us at one point. As you can imagine, to actually sit and write was impossible. And we all need a break from our work, whatever it is, to recharge the batteries. However, I always find endless inspiration on these occasions. Walking on the beach at Dawlish, people watching, gave me ideas as did taking the dogs for a walk on the downs in near darkness because we hadn’t realised how late it was. The location of my daughter’s house has given me a future setting. My family, especially my children, all have a weird sense of humour and are well known for deep and crazy discussions. They inspire me all the time. I make sure I always have a notebook handy to jot ideas down.

Natalie. I made a plan before the holidays began and, for the most part, managed to keep to it. I set myself realistic targets rather than suffer the ignomony of failing, which is not to say I didn’t give myself plenty to do!  I think most things would have gone ‘out the window’ without the discipline of a list to work to.

Vivien. Having left my job on Christmas Eve after 11 years, I felt I needed a proper rest and to allow time to re-adjust, so I have put all writing aside and just let myself feel like I am on holiday for a while! I need to clear my head of the old job before being able to fully dedicate myself to the new.

2. Do you have any little brags/successes you’d like to mention from December?

Elaine E. My novel, Gracie’s War had a very successful blog tour which took Gracie to readers in many countries. It was interesting to see what the bloggers and their followers thought of my book. Some reviewed it (very favourably) some ask me questions and other promoted the book and me! Tweeting, posting on Facebook and answering questions took up a big chunk of my writing day. Apart from that I sold a Christmas story to Thats Life Australia which made me realise I hadn’t written as much short fiction in 2013 that I should have done. I had the usual flurry of articles in magazines but I’d be slapping myself on the wrist if I hadn’t!

Elaine R. I am pleased that I met my own self-inflicted deadline for my novel and managed to e-mail it across and I didn’t allow my own demon of self-doubt to stop me from sending it off or entering the competition. I was suitably embarrassed and absolutely thrilled to receive an award from The Write Place as the Student Most Likely To Succeed in 2014, it’s lovely to know that other people have faith in my ability.

Francesca. Nothing writing related, I’m afraid!

Natalie. I was delighted to receive a Student of the Year certificate from The Write Place at our last December meeting, having received the same award at the end of 2012. I must be doing something right!

Vivien. As a totally non-profit making writing exercise, and just because I love doing it, I wrote and directed my final annual pantomime at work, with all childcare staff dressed up and over-acting like mad in front of a small audience of young children and their families in my own version of Aladdin. I also managed to recruit 6 little toddlers to play mice, and 5 of them actually managed to go on stage in costume and do it (one just cried and refused to co-operate!). I was also thrilled to have a double page feature about me and my love of crosswords in the Peoples Friend double issue to tie in with the 100th anniversary of the first ever crossword. Amazon sales of my cryptic crossword book certainly seemed to go up as a result of the publicity.

3. As it’s the beginning of a new year what are your writing resolutions for the 2014?

Elaine E. I need to up my output of articles and features in 2014 as find new markets. I had hoped to focus more on novels but with redundancy looming for my husband later in the year I had to refocus on my plans. I’d like to have more classes and workshops for The Write Place as working with other writers boosts my own creativity and that can only be a good thing. On the novel front I aim to have at least two more books published during the year as well as work on a crime novel idea that has been bubbling away for far too long.

Elaine R. I would like to complete my third novel to a reputable standard; my first is still sitting on the computer awaiting major rewrites! It would be lovely to be in a situation to send it out to agents/publishers by the end of the year. My short stories have been somewhat ignored since the autumn so I am going to try and write a minimum of one short story a month, if I’m honest I don’t know if that’s possible, but it’s my target.

Francesca. To finish the novel I’m working on by February and start the editing. My short story submissions have taken a tumble recently due to the novel, so I’d like to get them back up to a reasonable figure. I’ve had sixty out at one time in the past so it would be nice to achieve that again. And of course, I’d like to get a publisher for Ten Years Later! (I think that’s also a goal and a dream!)

Natalie. While continuing with my new novel, 18,000 words to date, I also want to concentrate a little more on short stories as these have lapsed in the closing months of 2013. I expect to be spending no little time on edits for my novel, Voyage of Desire, due to be published sometime in 2014.

Vivien. I must get down to some serious novel writing in 2014, with the aim of finishing a manuscript the agents will be fighting over. Well, one I can actually feel proud of and get commercially published anyway.

4. What are your writing goals for January?

Elaine E. Complete and send off Dancing in the Dark. Pitch article ideas like mad and also write two more short stories.

Elaine R. I have written 25,000 words of my third novel but I have broken my own rule of not following my chapter breakdown so I definitely need to read the novel and my chapter breakdown and try to bring them both into line. I also want to submit at least one short story to woman’s magazine. As part of my writing education I’m trying to read a style of book that wouldn’t normally interest me in the hope that I can pick up some ideas on how to improve my own writing so I’m hoping to complete that book by the end of January.

Francesca. To crack on with my current novel in progress. At the same time, I’m going to be sending out Ten Years Later, already edited several times over, to publishers and agents. There are a few comps coming up, novel and otherwise, that I’d like to enter. In between, I’d like to write a few new short stories. I find they can be a good break from the novel.

Natalie. I am hoping to receive my manuscript back from Safkhet soon so I can begin editing in earnest. While waiting I will be ploughing on with the new novel, Honey Bun. With short stories and two books on the agenda I’ve also decided to take up juggling – in my head at least!

Vivien. I have a few important personal things to get out of the way first, but even with only a couple of weeks in which to work, I would expect to get a good 10,000 words down, and to form a much clearer idea of what is going to happen to all my characters. At the moment, some of them have uncertain fates in store. I really need to be sure of where they are going so I can work harder to get them there.

We will be back at the end of the month to report on how our writing month progressed.

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