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Indie Motivation

img_0958-1Or why I do what I do when, in truth life would be a whole lot easier if I gave up this writing lark – I’d certainly get a whole lot more sleep for one!
“Life is hard” or that’s what we tell the kids when they don’t win that race, or when they think someone’s been unkind to them. Life’s hard and it doesn’t get any easier as you get older, we just reinforce that armour plating a bit and learn to ‘man up.’ So why put yourself in the position of perennial stress by trying to achieve something from nothing, for isn’t that what writers are doing? All we have to go on is a blank page and a head full of ideas. We have no other tools to help us or indeed colleagues to share the load. We work alone in isolation with only our thoughts and fears for company.

Traditional published authors of course have it easier when it comes to motivation. They have that pay cheque in the post, a known quantity and not the ad hoc sales page from Amazon that fluctuates more than the price of fuel as the local pumps. They have deadlines set by editors and publishing houses for all sorts of things from first drafts to revisions. They have set publishing dates to aim for and the need to keep their readers on board with the next book. All in all while they may too be sitting in that office tapping away on the keyboard they have people in the wings driving their fingers forward.

For an Indie it’s very different.

  1. Success: No one knows what the future holds but a debut indie is all the more brave because of it. So they have a manuscript that they’ve invested a huge amount of time on, in my case years with no guarantees that it will be read. It’s a bit like training for the Olympics but with no idea which sport to focus our indeed whether you are good at any sport in the first place. Are we mad or what! And when the success hits… Ideal Girl made it to number 7 in its genre, beating some very well known trad published authors and lingers in the top 100 most of the time – all on an advertising budget of zilch – yes, you heard right. I’m trying to succeed the hard way!
  2. Control: Indies do have full control, something I like – the downside being there’s only yourself to blame if you don’t get any sales. I choose my titles and take great pleasure in the process. I design all my own covers and have final say on plot issues. I haven’t quite worked out who to invite on to my board of directors but I’m working on it.
  3. Pride: One of the seven deadly sins but I can’t see anything inherently wrong in taking pride in a job well done, for writing is a job. To have people come up to you and tell you how much they’ve enjoyed your book is an amazing feeling. To have the power to make people both laugh and cry (without telling jokes or indeed having to resort to inflicting physical pain that is) is an honour and gives the kind of buzz felt when you’ve come first in that race. On days like these the words flow off my pen in a tangle of thoughts as there’s nothing like appreciation for stimulating the writer’s brain.
  4. The Unknown. When a writer tells me they’ve written a book for themselves and aren’t bothered who sees it one word comes to mind, and as this is a clean blog I’m not going to publish it! Yes it’s unlikely I’ll be the next household name, but would I want to be. Can Stephen King or JK Rowland walk down the street without being accosted by all and sundry would be my answer to that argument. But I do think it’s possible to carve a niche for myself and at the moment that’s my main driver. I have a book to finish and lots of distractions along the way to scupper that process not least a rubbish day at work and home commitments to fill the largest diary imaginable. But if I can sort of manage to jot down a few random thoughts each day I’ll soon reach capacity. The main thing is to write a good book and not to beat yourself up along the way if life intervenes at every corner. The book will get finished, maybe not when expected but at least I’m the one cracking the whip….

Happy reading

Jenny

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Why I write: What I write


I’ve been thinking a lot over the last couple of weeks about how I dropped into this lark of writing. I never set out to write more than a shopping list and, if I’m truthful I don’t even write those. Like a lot of people out there I thought I had a book inside me. As a ferocious reader of everything and anything I really admired how writers could translate thought into the written word – Written words that others got pleasure from reading.

As a member of that exclusive species, The Human Race, I’ve always been of the opinion that the only true way of getting inside another person’s head is through reading their words. Yes, I know broadly what my nearest and dearest are thinking a fraction of the time (food, electronics, have you ironed my favourite shirt!) but as to the rest… So it’s a treat to see how someone else’s mind works for that moment in time they spent plotting and scribbling their ideas on to a blank page. Most books have an autobiographical touch to them, even those with werewolves and vampires – for me it’s like being a diarist without the diary. So when I wrote about Liddy in Ideal Girl and her knitting, I too found I’d left my ball of wool six floors up and had to rewind the b……thing much to the chortles of my fellow mates on their way to their coffee break – the tripping up that followed in the book – pure imagination.

The first book I wrote, perhaps more than the others contained this element being as its about bullying. I never set out to write about bullying, but it’s always a topic that lurks ever since I was a child and subject to this unsavoury pastime. So, about seven years ago I came across a name that would be ideal for a boy that was being bullied – Dai Monday. It just popped out of nowhere and lingered for a year doing nothing. Yes, I wanted to write a book. Yes, it would be about bullying and finally because I’d chosen a Welsh first name (Dai, pronounced Die) I’d have to set it in Wales – luckily somewhere I used to live.

In that year I did nothing. I had the name, that was all. Then, January 2010 I jumped off that proverbial cliff, having been pushed by my mother. She phoned to say she was writing a book too, so if she could do it Mary Wesley style, so could I. I’d never attended a writing class but I had a loose storyline nagging at me so I bought a notebook and pen and dashed out Boy Brainy in six weeks – it wasn’t good, but at least I had words down on paper that, sort of amounted to a story. I wrote anywhere and everywhere, the notebook being my best friend. For me no laptop because simple put, I didn’t have time to write. Boy Brainy was written in my 15 minute coffee break at work: On the side of the football/rugby field: In the car waiting for the kids to come out of school. I typed up late into the night and then spent years rewriting and editing while I tried the hopeless task of submitting for publication. I also found, funnily enough I enjoyed this new hobby. It wasn’t costing me anything. I didn’t need anything other than ‘cheap as chips’ paper and pen and, most importantly I could do it anywhere, except in the bathroom! As a parent of tweens I spend a lot of time in the car and writing is the ideal occupation for car sitting – As a dedicated introvert writing is the ideal occupation!

And then the rejection letters came flooding in, but I wasn’t really bothered. The writing bug had bitten and i was already nearly finished Ideal Girl, which has had more rewrites and name/plot changes than an episode of Eastenders. I’m now 2/3 through book four. I’ve still never taken that writers class and probably never will. I still don’t have time to write and find it difficult to squeeze in even a sentence most days but the bug, like a nasty dose of the flu is still as strong as ever and, there’s always time to think up new plots – even if it is only in the bath!

Happy reading

Jen

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Sadness

March is always a difficult time – No: The most difficult time. Very much in the vein of Four Weddings and a Funeral it manages to encapsulate both birthdays and bereavements for our family.

Are blog posts always meant to be happy? Are they meant to leave one with a sense of fulfilment and achievement, or is there room for a sprinkling of sadness – A sadness that seeps in unexpectedly to dim the light for a few moments?

Life isn’t happy. Yes – there is lots of opportunity for happiness in both the small things and the big. The first cup of tea of a morning, the unexpected hug from a child, the rare example of courteous driving. All of these small happenings can leave an inner glow more satisfying in a way than the Big Bang days like weddings and birthdays. But there is lots to make us unhappy. The monotony of the school run and household chores, the little annoyances like running out of cornflakes or standing on that piece of missing Lego – and then there are the big sadnesses.

For me the biggest has to be the loss of some thing irreplaceable and as ‘things’ aren’t irreplaceable I mean specifically the loss of people and animals. One minute they’re there and the next they’re not. That’s it. They’re like footprints in the sand after the tide has wreaked it’s havoc – only alive and kept living in our memories. 

Of course time is a great healer, in the sense that with passing hours our memory is dimmed. It comes to the point that we have difficulty in visualising, even in our minds eye, what once was so important to us.

I don’t want to forget. The pain may be raw, but better the sadness from happy memories. Life does indeed move on, but there should always be time to pause awhile and remember.