Tales & images from life as me…

The write time – Jan ’12

In this category of my blog I am going to write regular (like bi-monthly, not too regular!) updates on my writing ‘career’ (inverted commas still required for now as it is all very new!). Many of you have been incredibly supportive of my move into writing full-time so I’d like to share the triumphs and tribulations along the way.

It’s been a mad few months since I started this enormous learning curve and I know there is still so much to do and discover. I’ll admit now that I had visions of wafting about in floaty skirts just ‘being a writer’ and getting my creative juices flowing, but it really isn’t like that and is genuinely hard work, or should be if you’re doing it right – I definitely plan to start dong it right from now on.

So far I’ve had good days and bad, not to mention every brilliant excuse under the sun not to write. I broke my foot (in five places in a nasty altercation with some stairs in the dark), took a long family holiday over Christmas and now I’m busy showing my brother around Tanzania. I’ve also put on a craft fair, been on the Mwanza Grand Charity Ball committee and been rehearsing and singing with a band – where’s the time to write? Well, I’ve learned that I have to make the time. In fact, I plan to treat it more as an office job from here on, and use my hours more effectively.

It’s amazing how much there is to do: I currently write for three monthly magazines in Tanzania regularly, plus I’m excited to have new commissions from Destination magazine in Kenya (I’m really keen to impress as it’s a great magazine) and a brand new magazine for Mwanza, so we’ll see how they go; i’m working on two novels (more on those in a later installment); I have four short stories and two poems in circulation with various competitions and a few more that need writing; plus there’s all this ‘platform’ stuff I’ve been trying to learn about (hence this blog and the Facebook page. I’m avoiding Twitter and all the others just now as they all seem far too complicated!); oh and then there’s research, networking with other writers, query letters and of course the completely daunting agent approaches (which I’m yet to attempt). This new job requires serious organization and time management!

I’m also discovering the issues of self-doubt; the excruciating critical eye and that awful negative inner voice that drives you to metaphorically tear up your work (not quite so effective in the modern age – just hitting delete isn’t nearly as dramatic!). It drives us (get a load of me putting myself in with other writers – us!) to need readers and comments and encouragement and then usually to regret showing work too early – awful. I am in a constant oscillation between absolute conviction that the latest idea is brilliant and will be the next big thing and then total disgust at my naivety and lack of skill! It’s exhausting, though -thanks to the writing community and my research – I understand this is pretty common.

Anyway, the good news is I’ve had a few bits of positive professional feedback recently. First, I am currently shortlisted in the Bats Blood poetry competition (which would mean my poem is printed on the front of all their wine bottles if I was selected as the winner – so please click the link above and ‘like’ it to help my entry get noticed!). And second, I received feedback from an editor who was judging a competition I had entered. I didn’t win but he rated my short story at 41 out of 45 and said he would like to see more of my work, so I’m pretty happy with that.

To complete my update on my writer’s life so far, I’d like to thank my brilliant readers – that’s you guys reading this, and also the girls checking chapters of In Lucy’s Case and the various ex-students and friends looking at the first section of The Survival Scriptures. Your feedback is invaluable and helps to keep me going, please keep commenting.

So, now it’s time to really polish the pieces for the new magazines, perfect the short stories I have and work on some more, continue with the novels and get onto this week’s installment of the TIA Tales. Hmm, it’s Damien’s birthday next week and I have a party to plan… Oh no, the distractions are everywhere!

Thanks for all the support so far. Please keep reading. Mel x


2 responses

  1. Nina Hjortlund

    You go, Mel!
    Like anything else you only get better the more you do it, and it his the same with writing. I think you are doing right in treating – and respecting – your writing ambition as a job.
    Well done 🙂

    January 19, 2012 at 12:17 pm

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