Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

I hope you enjoy reading my posts and will visit again soon.

Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Have you ever wondered?

Have you ever wondered what life as a critically acclaimed, best selling author would be like? In between writing your short stories, poems, articles and the tasks you have to perform as part of your real life, do you ever allow yourself to daydream about what you would be doing now if you were to attain that elusive book deal or actually sell a dozen or so of your short stories? I wonder how far near our fantasy the reality would be! Would be all book launch parties, book signings, lunch with your agent/publisher, swanning around meeting your adoring public  - or would it be something much more mundane and 'normal' than this?

We can't all be as successful (or rich) as JK Rowling (I'm not sure I'd want to be), for instance and it's sobering news that most writers barely scrape the £12,000 per year mark in earnings, with a fair proportion of those earning considerably less. Not everyone makes into print either which is also something writers should consider before trying to become published. There are also many unscrupulous companies out there using a writers' desperation to become published to their advantage, promising the writer the impossible whilst pocketing the poor writer's cash and leaving them with nothing or little to show for it.

So what to do? A writer could be typing away for years with their work never being snapped up and published yet they still continue to write and struggle on regardless hoping their next piece of work will be the one that lifts their career off the ground. This observation may be enough to put the less robust writer off but I'm sure those of you out there with a cast iron constitution have kept writing and seem the fruits of your labours blossom into a published book, an article or a poem. You knew the risks and you knew that people do make it through to publication and so you kept going. For whatever reasons, some writers don't. They either give in at the first hurdle (rejection) or keep going for a while only to stumble at the 100th rejection.

Does it matter how many rejections you get? Some writers seem obsessed with rejections and wear them like a badge of honour. You're only a real writer if you've had over a certain amount of rejections. Then there's the other infuriating beast: the writer who claims they won a prize or got their very first short story/poem/article/book published and it was the only thing they had ever wrote! Really? Mmmmm my cynical side wonders.

But the most frustrating are those who say things like they'd write a book if only they had the time. Or they could write something tons better than the leading best sellers out there. But have they tried? That's usually a big fat no!I wonder how many of this breed actually know how much work goes into writing. I must admit I'm one of the worst offenders when it comes to apologising to people my for being a writer or just keeping quiet about it. I also don't treat my writing with the respect it needs for me to become the writer I want to be! Oh it's just a little hobby - it's nothing really. That's totally the wrong attitude to take if you want to be taken seriously by publishers/agents/editors. You have to take yourself seriously first! But how?

Make a pact with yourself that you can and will write and discuss it with your family/friends so they know you mean business when you lock yourself in a cupboard with your laptop and are not to be disturbed.

Don't be afraid of your writing  -  wear your label with prize!

Do your research and write for the genre you 've researched - don't get side tracked or you end up writing nothing.

If you want to be a writer then be a writer  -  stop making excuses!

Learn how to become a writer: take a course or learn as you go along - anything as long as it improves your writing.

Make an agenda for your writing: note down at least three things you want to achieve with your writing each week. These don't have to be huge tasks but anything like:  1. Read a published short story for inspiration/style/layout. 2.Note down a couple of ideas you can work on at a later date. 3. Find out a magazine's/publisher's preferred method of submission. It all adds up to taking you closer to being a published writer.

Don't take too much on (a-hem! I know I'm guilty of this). If you try and tackle everything you want to write at once you will end up writing nothing (been there, got the T-Shirt, DVD being released soon.) So pace yourself and aim to finish something before you start something else. (I am so having to work on this one!)

Surround yourself with lovely, positive writing buddies who are actively writing and not just saying they are who will encourage and nurture you and who you can also support to ensure they and you are sending your work out regularly. You can support each other when the chips are down and celebrate when something is published. Give and take.

I've recently started a little sub-group to our main writing group where we plan to meet up one or two times a month in between the main meetings to keep our writing passions alive, share our work and give feedback on each other's work and basically nudge each other so we keep writing and submitting our stuff. There are five of us, which is big enough for a bit of variety but not so big to dilute us or make it impractical. We also intend to have on-line forums and interact this way too. We had our first meeting last week and it was great -  I'm looking forward to more. Will it help our quest to write and get published - absolutely!

I can't believe we are nearly halfway through the school holidays. Time has certainly flown. But I have managed to get a few short stories out and have plenty of ideas to be getting on with. So this week I will be concentrating on getting the couple of short stories I've been working on out there. Then for the second half of the holidays I can flip my attentions to my NaNo novel for its second edit. I have to stop making excuses for not having enough writing time and learn to create bridges over the obstacles in my way. There is always time to write if we look deep enough. And if you really believe you can't find the time then perhaps writing isn't for you? You have to have a certain level of commitment and perseverance to be published and it's up to us as writers to do the best job we can with the time we have  -  not easy with all all the other pressures on our time I know, but worth the effort.

Happy writing!

Julie xx


Martin H. said...

There's a key point in this post, Julie, and you make it well. If you're a writer, you're a writer, and you should have the courage to be known by that label. Forget trying to convince those around you. First, you must believe it yourself.

Julie P said...

Absolutely, Martin, and it's something myself and a lot of other writers struggle with. Admitting that we are writers shouldn't be embarrassing or met with uneasy silence! People don't seem to know what to say when you tell them you write. I'm sure some folk think we're mad, strange, odd or conceited snobs - I don't know!But it's a profession just like nursing, teaching, police, firefighters, laywers, and any other job title you care to mention. So why do we find it so difficult to declare?!

Personally I think if we paid less attention to what others think about us being writers we'd get a lot more writing done!

Julie xx

klahanie said...

Hi Julie,
As you are aware, I come from a completely different outlook on my writing. It is nothing more than a bit of therapy. Which, of course, is fine.
'Martin H.' makes a key point about your posting. You are a writer, Julie, and I know you should be very proud of what you have achieved. Your resilience and determination gives you that ongoing positive focus.
Then again, you might try the Katie Price method of promotion, which I blogged about recently. Then again, nah :-)
Happy writing, Julie.
With respect, Gary x

Martin H. said...

I used to struggle with that one, Julie. These days, I have no problem with calling myself a writer. Although, strangely, probably because I'm a complete novice at poetry, I'm not sure that I'm yet confident enough to call myself a poet.

Frankly, though, we shouldn't feel responsible for what others think. What I have found, is that most fellow writers and bloggers are encouraging and supportive, and that is very much appreciated.

Julie P said...

That's another thing that is annoying, Gary - so called 'celebrity' writers who have someone else write their book but have it in the 'star's' name. Grrrr! And then they go straight to the top of the book charts! Don't think I'll be doing a Katie Price anytime soon, though!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

I like poetry too, Martin, but I have to admit that I haven't read any or written any for months. I joined a local poetry society last year but when it came to renewing my subscription this year I didn't because I hadn't written anything for them and didn't have the time or the inclination to read their pamplets!

I think because writing is so subjective and can mean such a range of things to different people it can be quite difficult for people to pinpoint what exactly t=it is we write and why. Sometimes I find it hard to pinpoint it myself sometimes! And if we aren't published some people can be quite dismissive. But those of us who are also writers understand each other and what it is to be a writer trying to get published so the support, as you say, is wonderful.

Keep going is the key!

Julie xx

HelenMHunt said...

I think you've hit on some good points there. Particularly about writing rather than making excuses, and rather than just talking about it - which is an easy trap to fall into as well.

Carole Anne Carr said...

You'll get there with your determination! Hugs xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Helen!

Yes, I'm as guilty as the rest of us for talking about writing whan what I should be doing is actually sitting down and doing it! But I'm working on that. I am sending short stories out there again which is a step in the right direction and I'm making a big effort to see where I can fit writing time into my life - instead of sitting there moaning I haven't got enough writing time or procrastinating I'm writing. I hope my new found dedication pays off!

Julie xx

Julie P said...

Hi, Carole

Now here's a lady who knows much more about determination than I ever will. You put me to shame, Carole, with your hard work and tenacity. You have to keep trying don't you.

Julie xx

Anonymous said...

Oh no, I think I'm one of those infuriating beasts you mentioned,lol, the one who sells the first short story they wrote and sent to a magazine (but that depends if you count two High School assignments where we had to write short stories - the only things I ever wrote previously). I've gone on to sell over 100 more to mags.
It really can happen Julie, and believe me, no-one is more shocked than the person it happens to. Excuse me while I go check in the mirror for unwanted hair growth!

Julie P said...

Tee hee Anon! So tis true! It does happen - I was very sceptical but I have been proved wrong. People do sell their 1st short stories.

I'm on the short story writing trail again now and I am sending them out there which is the only way to go I think. I keep reading those stories that get published and try to improve mine to better fit the bill. But it's such hard work isn't it!I look forward to the day when I can say I've sold over 100 too - It's not an easy task.

I hope you don't find any unwanted hairs! Would you like some new tweasers?! Why oh why do some hairs grow in such wretched places? the older you get the worse it is!

Julie xx

Anonymous said...

Good luck with your stories Julie. I'm sure one day you'll reach that 100 mark. Writing some stories can be hard work, but others can flow easily too. Studying pubbed stories is a good idea, but going on instinct can work as well - letting go of the thinker and going with the flow. Only let the thinker back for editing. It's finding whichever way works best for each writer really.
Lol, this 'beast' didn't need to shave just yet - just a bit of grooming needed.

Julie P said...

Hi, Anon

What I like about it all is you never know which story is going to sell. You might send one off that you have you doubts about and it gets published or another one you thought was a sure fire winner is rejected! It's a disappointment when you eagerly check your inbox for an e-mail from an editor and there's either nothing for months or a polite 'no. But it's so great when you get a 'yes' - more than makes up for all the rejections and is proof that you can do it and if you keep trying you will do it again.

I find reading other people's published stories fascinating and it gives me hope!

I had my chin length hair chopped off last week so it's really short now. I wish I'd done it years ago - feels so much better. So I'm a lot less 'hairier'!

Julie xx