clhollandwriter: (Default)
2017-06-22 08:09 pm
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The Paying Market Hippogriff

I've seen, two or three times this month, writers saying that non-paying markets are the norm. There seems to be this myth that paying markets are few and far between, and that's really not the case. I suspect this is a form of The Tiffany Problem: people "know" that markets don't pay because that's what common knowledge says. But the reality is that there are plenty of paying markets out there if you know where to look.

This varies across genres, and non- paying markets seem to be far more prevalent in literary and poetry circles than speculative fiction. Here's the thing: a number of literary and poetry journals don't pay because they're a labour of love. For example journals run by universities, staffed by students, without the budget to pay writers. Some of these are more prestigious than others, and sometimes it's worth not getting paid for appearing in a highly regarded journal or magazine. However sometimes these markets are simply a guy with a blog, posting stories for fun.

There are several ways to look for paying markets. Many writing magazines (certainly here in the UK) include a section of listings. The drawback to this is that you have to wade through all of them, whether or not they're relevant. This is also the case with books like The Writers' and Artists' Yearbook and Poet's Market, with the addition that these quickly go out of date.

Fortunately there are a number of ways to search online:

General market databases
Duotrope - Duotrope contains a searchable database that lets you look for markets by genre and pay rate, among other variables. It leans more towards poetry and literary markets, and has a subscription fee of $5 a month.
The Submissions Grinder - Although technically still in beta, this is a a perfectly functional site with another searchable database. It tends to skew more towards speculative fiction since that's where it originated and where most of the user base lies, but has recently started populating poetry markets and does have a fairly big catalogue of non-genre markets. It's also free.

Both sites also allow for tracking of submissions.

Paying Publications allows for very basic search filtering, and allows for searching of paying poetry markets based on whether a poem is new/already published, already under submission somewhere else, and whether or not the poet is established.
Poets and Writers has a basic searchable database - which doesn't allow for searching by pay rate (see above regarding literary markets!)

Blogs and list sites:
There are also a number of blogs and listing sites that are a useful resource even if not searchable. These are often genre specific.
Dark Markets is for horror markets and offers a very basic filter by publication type (anthology, podcast, etc).
My Little Corner is a blog by author Sandra Seamans that focuses on crime and mystery markets.
Womagwriter is aimed at women's magazine fiction.
Ralan is for speculative fiction markets.

Poet Alison runs the Creative Writing Opportunities List, although please note you need to be logged in to Yahoo to access this.

Facebook groups
There are also several groups you can join on Facebook where opportunities are posted, both paying and non-paying.
Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Pulp Markets.
Horror.
Crime, Thriller, Mystery Markets.
Poetry, Fiction, Art.

And this one specifically for paying markets.

So, there are plenty of opportunities out there!

If you want to submit to a non-paying market, that's up to you. Sometimes the prestige or opportunity to support a charity is worth the loss of payment. You might not be interested in publishing for money. But please, whatever you do, don't give your work away for free because you don't think anyone will pay, because that's simply not true.

With thanks to Helena Bell and Dan Stout for additional links. Further suggestions welcome in the comments.

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2017-06-08 01:29 pm
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May Update

Even less done in May than April, it feels. I did work on the novella until mid month, but stalled when I hit the contest deadline and there wasn't a sense of urgency any more. I've worked on a couple of poems since, but not much else. I've worked on a couple of beading projects and read some books, but no writing. Work is busy and eating a lot of my bandwidth at the moment. Not much of an update, but that's it.
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2017-05-01 12:09 pm
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April Update

I don't feel like I've done much over April. My novella is nowhere near as far along as it should be and I may be too far behind to catch up ( it needs to be finished in two weeks). But when I looked at my calendar I realised I'd written 50% of the days last month so I'm counting it as a win.

It's tough to get back in the habit of writing regularly, especially when working hours aren't regular. It's impossible to set up a routine if I can't guarantee I'll have writing time before work, after work, or at lunch time, or if I'll have to cook  and/or do housework in the evenings. Since my hours vary week to week, I'm just starting to get into a routine when it all changes. Younger me didn't mind so much; today me is fed up with one more thing to keep track of. I feel like I'm wasting mental energy having to remember what time I need to leave the house this week, if I need to take breakfast, do I need to put laundry on before I leave or will there be time to do it when I get home, will I have time to cook and if not do we have soup in, what time should I get to bed.

I'm honestly thinking of writing timings down in my Bullet Journal to save me the bother of remembering. It certainly works for to do lists.

Since it's a bank holiday I'm using today to catch up on writing and blogging, and trying out an experiment in making writing at home like writing at a coffee shop. Although it will be a cat cafe, obviously. More on that later.
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2017-04-11 07:25 pm
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Welcome to my Dreamwidth

So this is my first post on my new Dreamwidth journal, and I don't have a lot to post about. I'm plodding my way through a novella, so behind my intended wordcount that I'm not even going to post a status update. I could probably be doing more in the evenings, but it's hard to get up the motivation after a day at work.

For those who aren't aware, there's a mass exodus from LiveJournal due to their new terms of service. More info here, and here. LJ had been getting quieter anyway as people drifted, but this has prompted a lot of the last holdouts to leave. I do miss the days of community and chatter, so I'm hoping things will perk up over here. I just have to find everyone...

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2017-04-03 09:34 am

March Update

My February #12for12 piece "Essence" was published over at Riddled with Arrows. It's a market that specialises in meta-fiction - writing about writing - so the story is little more than an extended literary joke, but I like it. Not least because I was experimenting with different formats earlier in the year, something flash makes easy to play with, so it's told through the medium of an internet chat log.

Very little writing done in March, other than getting the other oubliette piece out, as mentioned before. Towards the end of the month I wrote a poem, then finished it off and submitted it over the weekend so it counts for April's #12for12. I'm supposed to be spending the next six weeks writing a novella at the rate of 400 words a day, but I had an otherwise rough weekend so I'm already two days behind. It doesn't help that I don't have a name for my main character yet (or even an idea why they're the main character, I'm not sure they are), or an opening scene. I've a good idea where I'm going, just not where to start.

At this point it's still possible to catch up, but I'd better get started soon.
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2017-03-12 03:49 pm
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Random Update-Shaped Thing

I've decided to mix things up with my writing magazine subscriptions. I did subscribe to Writing Magazine and Mslexia, but I've got to the point where I no longer look forward to the new issue of Writing Magazine. In fact, when the current issue arrived I thought "oh god, another one" since I still had the previous two on the go. The content has become decreasingly useful - it seems like it's all article writing, and apparenty no venues for short fiction exist except competitions. The only reason I was still getting it was for the market info in the back, but that's become less and less useful since usually I know about a deadline two months before it actually appears in the magazine.

So I've cancelled my subscription. I'm keeping Mslexia, since I do still look forward to that. And since I want to read things that will help with writing short fiction, I paid for a year's subscription to F&SF and ordered the bumper-pack of 8 back issues of Asimov's/Analog. At the very least I'll get something worth reading out of it.

I've also managed to edit and submit the other oubliette piece for #12for12. I really need to start writing some non-flash this year now.
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2017-03-05 02:45 pm
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February Update

One of the stories that was supposed to be going in the oubliette ended up being my February #12For12, and should be published online later this month. Which was a good start to February, but unfortunately I got very little else done. My day job goes in peaks and troughs in terms of how busy we are, and unfortunately my department is staffed with the bare minimum of people at the moment. As a result we're all run off our feet because we're currently in a peak. It should tell you all you need to know that our productivity is expected to run consistently at around 114%, since the software that works all this out apparently hasn't figured out that we're people and not robots.

Cue coming home exhausted and collapsing on the sofa most evenings.

So I haven't written anything else since the end of January, and since I plan to take March off just to read I might not write anything this month either. Although I might be writing a novella in April, so I'll try not to be too hard on myself.
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2017-02-05 05:09 pm

Bullet Journal - One Month Update

It's been a month since I started using a bullet journal, so I thought it was time for an update.

I'm still using and loving it. It's helped to keep me organised, and remember to do things that would otherwise slip off the radar. The only thing that's missing is submission deadlines, since they're in the diary I bought last year. As I suspected it's becoming a pain having two separate planners, so I'm going to start putting the deadlines into the bullet journal too. Maybe not all of them to start with, just the ones I've actually decided to write for, but that could change. We'll see how it goes.

I've started using the back as a scrapbook for ticket stubs and the like. There's only a ticket for Rogue One at the moment, but I'm sure it'll fill up over the year. Again, I don't want more than one notebook on the go.

I managed to write three pieces of flash in January but two of them are probably going straight in the oubliette. It's not a great start to #12for12, but I think the other's salvageable so there's that.
clhollandwriter: (Default)
2017-01-15 10:00 am
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#12For12

As part of my plan to get my writing more organised I've signed up for #12For12 - twelve stories in twelve months. The rules are flexible, so I'm choosing to interpret them as a finished story a month. Since I'm trying to build up an inventory of longer stories only three of them can be flash fiction. I'm currently trying to clear out my inventory of older unfinished stories, so I expect a few of those to creep in, but I also want to produce new work. (I've got something in the works at the moment, but don't expect that to be finished until February.)

I'm trying not to think too much about publication at this point. What's important is to get it written.
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2017-01-02 10:06 am

Bullet Journal

I haven't made new year's resolutions, as such - since we're a low fat, low alcohol household for reasons of health, giving up things seems both redundant and likely to be miserable. But I try to start the year by having a clear out, and making plans for the months ahead.

Last year I posted about my motivational stickers, which worked up to a point, but this year I need something else to help keep me organised. Since I tend to carry a notebook around anyway, I've decided to give bullet journal a try. It's a sort of combination of all-purpose notebook and diary, so will hopefully allow me to keep track of things.

I particularly like the idea of indexing, to keep track of several projects at once. I've written up the suggested format, including the diary logs, although I already have a diary so may use that instead rather than scheduling things into the journal. I bought Mslexia's writers' diary, and want to get the use out of it. Plus every week has a handy blank page, in which I write all the interesting submission deadlines for that week (whether or not I've decided to write for them). I think that might clog up a bullet journal, since so many of the deadlines whoosh by Douglas Adams style - even with the best of intentions I can't write for all of them!

So I'll probably keep the diary for deadlines and appointments, and use the journal to keep track of writing projects, noodling, and those things I plan to do but haven't scheduled yet. I'm halfway to using that format anyway.

Amanda Hackwith has this interesting blog post about how she customised the format to fit with her writing life. I'll probably do something similar, although the colour coding seems like a bit much effort. I can always put my stickers in, instead.
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2017-01-01 10:09 am

Build Your Own MA - Part 4 - Other Things

While I was writing the other posts, I had some ideas that didn't fit anywhere else so here they are in the final post in the series.

Talk to Other Students
On a taught MA there would be other students to talk to, and online courses often have associated forums. You could join a local writing group or, if looking for something more specific to your interests, there are plenty of free online writing groups and forums based round specific genres. There are also organisations you could join and use to meet and network with like-minded writers, such as SCWBI for children's writers, although many of these aren't free and some have requirements like qualifying sales.

Set Yourself Homework
Although you'll probably have a main project, you might decide to start it after some initial reading or want some shorter exercises for a change of pace. There are many books out there that offer creative writing exercises, without having to get bogged down. Some I've seen recommended are Steering the Craft by Ursula LeGuin, Now Write! edited by Sherry Ellis, and The Creative Writing Coursebook edited by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs (full disclosure - I haven't tried these, although I do own all three).

Be Flexible
Life happens. You might find yourself faced with illness or moving house, and that can throw the best made plans into chaos. The beauty of setting your own timescales is you can park the study if needs be - without losing thousands of pounds in tuition fees! There's nothing to stop you shifting the emphasis onto reading for a month, or making notes for your project, or extending your timeline by an extra six weeks. There's nothing to stop you deciding you've made a wrong turn, and you don't want to write a short story collection retelling Bible stories from the point of view of rabbits after all. The important thing is to keep moving forward with your goals, however you can.
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2016-12-31 05:16 pm

End of Year Stats

It's that time of year again, when everybody posts up what they've been up to for the last twelve months.

I haven't been keeping track of words, but here's the basics:
Submissions: 20 (4 still pending)
Sales: 1

So it's not been a great year, since last year I had 68 submissions and 7 sales. However, at least part of this is because of the way Real Life has shaken out. At the beginning of the year I was going through the final stages of training in my new job, so I took March off writing to just read. Then in April we decided to start looking for a house. The looking, and the buying, and the moving, pretty much swallowed the next four months. Then I moved internally at work (same job, different department), which meant a whole readjustment to being back on the phones and shifts. Things didn't really settle down again until September.

I don't really have an excuse for why I've been so rubbish from September onwards, other than that by this point I was just tired. I didn't even particularly enjoy Swanwick Writers' Summer School this time around, between the terrible food and lack of mental energy to deal two hundred other people. Not having much in the way of real holiday all year didn't help (most of it was spent packing, or moving house).

Things I have written this year:
Stories: 3.5 new (one needs typing up and the end finalising), 2 completely rewritten
Poems: 7 (5 new, 2 complete rewrites)
Miscellaneous: a few bits of random non-fiction (not all of it finished) and blog posts. I've also purged my files and deleted a lot of old work, or dragged it back into the light to be reworked.

It's better than nothing, and I wouldn't say the year's been a complete waste as I've made up for a lack of writing by doing a lot more reading and rediscovering video games - so far I've restarted Dungeon Keeper 2, Final Fantasy 7, and Dragon Age: Inquisition.

We're getting on for evening here. I probably won't get much more done in the way of writing this year, although there are a couple of submissions I'd like to get out the door. I'm making plans for next year's writing, including looking at ways of keeping better organised. Next year (tomorrow!) I have some writing samples to finish up, and I want to get that .5 of a story finished off. I'm also working my way through the rewrites mentioned above, and also thinking of giving either Reunion or Stigma a poke to see if there's anything salvageable. It's been a long time since I worked on either of those.

Onwards.
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2016-12-11 11:58 am

Build Your Own MA - Part 3 - Decide On Timescales

I was originally going to post about this first, but then it occurred to me that how long you need is likely to depend on what the subject matter is. Investigating all the myriad subgenres of speculative fiction is likely to take longer than if you're only interested in Steampunk.

There are three way you could go about picking a deadline.
1. Decide how long you want to spend on it, and pick your books and areas of study to fit the time available. It's all too easy to look at a genre from outside, or even one you're familiar with, and see so much to learn that it leads to being overwhelmed and choice paralysis. It's also easy to decide to do All The Things, make a reading list and to do pile that will take the rest of your life, and then make yourself miserable failing to do it. Setting yourself a deadline should help with this.
2. Decide on what you want to get done and set a timescale based on it. This is the NaNoWriMo approach - "I will write 50k in 30 days!" If you know you want to write a 70k novel and read X number of books, you can plan around how many words you can write and books you can read to figure out how long it should take.
3. Decide on what you want to do, but leave it open-ended. This is actually not an approach I'd recommend. Time is finite but procrastination is infinite. Picking an end date means that choices have to be made about where this thing is going, rather than just planning it forever and never actually starting. Or finishing.

The important thing is to work with the free time you have - a writer with a full time job and three kids is likely to have less free time than one with no kids and/or no full time job. Some days it's just not possible to write, because of work, family, or general life commitments. That's fine. Goals need to be realistic, and if it's not realistic for you to write every day, then don't. What's important is to make the space for writing every day, so if you can't write do something else - read, listen to a podcast, whatever. Just make it related to your goal.

There are several well-known events in the writing calendar that can fit in with your timeline. The obvious one is NaNoWriMo in November, but there's also Camp NaNoWriMo, a "virtual writer's retreat" that runs in April and July. Also running in April and November is the Poem a Day Challenge where a poetry prompt is posted every day for a month. There's also Story a Day in May, which does the same thing with short story prompts (although to be honest some of them seem more like exercises).

I've been posting these every two weeks, but it's actually Christmas Day two weeks today so I'm going to leave it three weeks until the next one of these.
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2016-11-27 12:43 pm

Build Your Own MA - Part 2 - Decide On Content

Once you've chosen your subject matter, it's time to decide on some course content. On a taught MA this would involve a lot of reading, but there are other resources too.

Reading
This will broadly fall into three categories - books about writing what you want to write, books about the subject you want to write, and books of the type you want to write.

When picking the former it's important to choose books by authors with a track record of publication in that genre, in the same way you'd look for this in an MA tutor. Respected editors in the field can also be a good source of advice. This is also true of books in connected subjects, for example books about police procedure written by former policemen.

For the latter, I'd suggest choosing a mix of authors whose work you like, and those whose work if popular but you just can't work out why. For the former, read with an eye to why it works for you; for the latter, with an eye to why it doesn't work for you, but why it might for everyone else.

Do Some Outside Study
There are several websites offering free university-taught courses on creative writing. I particularly like Coursera, although it's difficult not to fall down the rabbit hole as there's a huge variety of courses. Some of the writing courses are more general (plot, character), and some are subject-specific (Writing for Young Readers). All are free if you select the option to audit (so you don't get marked or a certificate of completion). Another good site is FutureLearn, which is also a good source of courses on peripheral subjects (they ran a few on forensics last year).

Most of these courses take several weeks and run at set times, although some can be done at your own pace if you sign up before enrollment closes. There are a few that are self-guided so you can do them when you like.

Invite Guest Speakers
An MA course would likely have guest lecturers and there's no reason this can't be replicated at home. There's a wealth of writing-related podcasts about writing, that can fit in around pretty much anything. For example, commuting to work and doing chores are both activities where it's not possible to read or write (unless you like to dictate). There are also YouTube videos and TED talks that can fit into short lengths of time. There are also audiobooks, if you want to get some of your reading done this way (just be aware that some books are abridged).

Next time, deciding when to do it all.
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2016-11-13 10:20 am

Build Your Own MA - Part 1 - Choose Your Syllabus

Just as you'd do preparation and research for a real MA, some preparation is needed to build your own. Otherwise you'll just end up with a mess of books and good intentions, with no real idea of what to do with them (yes, I am speaking from experience here).

So, thinking out loud again, here's how I'd start planning my course.

Decide on the Subject
The first step is to decide what to study - creative writing is a big field, after all. You might want to write children's novels, crime thrillers, or how-to books, or get started in poetry or article writing. Picking a subject at this point will help you to keep focussed on what it is you want to achieve.

Let's say you want to write crime fiction - do you want to write cosy mysteries or Tartan Noir? Are you interested in the history of the genre, or historical crime fiction? Picking out areas of interest will help later when it comes to choosing specific texts to study. Write a list, do a mind map, or whatever helps you get the ideas down.

Choose Modules
Taught courses tend to be divided into modules, which is a good way of breaking it down into manageable chunks. Sticking with crime fiction for a moment, if you've read it but never written it, you might decide to spend some time reading books about how to write crime and thrillers. You could include a module on the type of crime fiction you've decided to write, and other writers in that area. For example, if sticking to the grittier end of things, you could include some Tartan Noir, Scandinavian crime novels, or dark crime fiction written by women. If writing for children, you could look at books for that age group, and the particular genre you want to write in.

You can also include modules that fit around the subject - for example for crime fiction there's forensics, psychology, weapons. There are plenty of books out there of the "guns for writers" variety, which could be a useful resource. It depends on where you want to build up your knowledge.

Pick a Final Project
Most MAs have a final project as the end goal, for example a novel or a poetry collection. What do you want to have achieved at the end?

Next time, we'll fill those modules with content.
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2016-10-30 09:12 am

Building Your Own MA

During a Facebook conversation in one of my writing groups. A friend asked "Should I do an MA to get anywhere in this business?" The response was a far from enthusuastic "maybe".

The problem with doing an MA is, of course, that it's time-consuming and expensive - and you may not end up getting what you want. The field is still overwhelmingly aimed at the literary, although this is changing. Some universities, such as Edinburgh Napier University offer courses with modules in genre writing, children's writing, etc, although a single module may not be enough if a particular genre is your passion. It's also worth noting that when several of them mention genre what they mean is poetry versus prose versus non-fiction, so if you do go down this route it's worth clarifying exactly what they mean. (I think of these as forms, with genre being used to refer to the subject matter, eg fantasy, science fiction, crime fiction, and this is what I mean when I refer to genre.)

A common complaint I've heard from friends with MAs is that they didn't focus enough (if at all) on the business side of writing. Mostly this is something that's picked up later, by doing. This may not matter to writers with a grounding in the industry, but for others they could pay a whole lot of money for how to write and end up with no idea of what to do with it after.

In the end, the advice given to my friend was "it depends what you want to get out of it". If committing time and money to something, the first step is to research exactly what you're getting. There are enough resources out there for a writer to put together their own "MA" programme, tailored to individual interests, which could be done for free or nearly free. There's no qualification at the end, but the qualification isn't guaranteed to get you anywhere in this industry. So you don't get a shiny certificate to hang on your wall, but you do get the benefit of the study.

Since this is already getting a bit long, I'm going to follow up with other posts - my thoughts on how to build your own course of MA study. At this point I'm mostly thinking out loud, so I'll include links to other entries as I post them.
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2016-10-16 08:37 pm

Furthermore

In the end I decided on a name for my main character, and mostly cranked out my story in the evenings while listening to the same two Muse tracks on repeat. The story did end up being corny as hell, which I expected, but I had fun writing it. Mostly I was testing out some ideas to see if they had potential for longer works, and I'm getting some positive feedback that suggest yes.

Writing in the evenings seems to be the best time for me, so now I need to decide what to do in the weeks when I don't have evenings. Submissions in the morning is fine, as long as I already have an idea where the stories are going (otherwise it's time to go to work by the time I've decided). I'll probably try to write at lunch and read in the evenings those weeks.

That's pretty much it for the moment. At some point I need to sit down and work out a plan - what do I want to achieve and what do I need to do to get there? - but that requires a bit more time and brain space than I have. Work is busy, and we seem to be battling with failing system after failing system at the moment, which is making everybody very stressed.

One thing I have worked out is I need more play - more time spent doing things for fun, just because. To that end I've finally got around to hooking up the PS2 to the TV for some retro gaming. All my Final Fantasy games run on that console, and I never did finish FF12. You'd think it would be bad for writing, but I worked out recently I actually wrote more back when I spent more time on video games and less on Netflix. I blogged a lot more too. I suspect it's because watching TV shows and movies is a passive activity, whereas reading and playing games require a lot more interaction which keeps the brain active. Anyway, I figure it's worth a try.
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2016-10-02 08:33 pm
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Updating All the Things

I seem to have forgotten to mention that the Flash Fiction Online Anthology 2015 came out in January, and contains my story "Your Past Life Interferes with My Very Important Studies". This story is one of my favourites, and came from the combination of random prompts at Codex Writers' Group - the title "Your Past Life Interferes with My Very Important Hobbies", having to use one of Shakespeare's characters or plots as inspiration - and the first line "Your past life drank all the milk again" landing in my head. At first I tried to resist writing the story. I thought it would be too silly, which just goes to show you should write the story that wants to be written instead of what you think you should be writing.

I've just started another story and I'm having the same problem. At this early stage I'm not sure the whole idea isn't going to come across terribly corny and contrived. Unfortunately, being a discovery writer, I won't find out until I write it. Another problem was I couldn't start until I had the main character's name. Placeholder names don't work for me, I can't change the name later as the character grows into it. One day it might be fun to start with a silly character name and see where it takes me. For now I've got this story to keep me going.

I'm trying to decide about doing NaNoWriMo this year. I'd like to, in that it's done wonders for my productivity in the past, although I'm not sure I have the mental energy to sustain it this year. Probably it's the idea of doing it I'm finding attractive, since I remember how much I enjoyed previous years. Perhaps I'll sign up to a shorter project instead, a half NaNo or a story a week. I certainly need to get some momentum back up again.
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2016-09-18 07:51 pm

Musing on momentum

I was chatting with some writer buddies the other day, and realised that I'm really bad at motivating myself to write longer works. I can manage flash (although even that's touch and go these days) but anything longer and I really struggle.

A large part of this is that I write best if I can get my first draft down in one or two sittings, while the idea is fresh in my mind. However writing around work often means dragging things out for days, even weeks for longer stories, snatching ten minutes on the bus or an hour at lunch. I can't sustain that for anything longer than a few thousand words before I lose momentum.

The longer projects I have managed - "The Reflection of Memory", and two completed runs at NaNoWriMo - were written under very different circumstances to normal. "The Reflection of Memory" was written in an online writing group, where some friends and I got together with the goal of submitting to that quarter of Writers of the Future. There were deadlines and a supportive atmosphere. My first run at NaNoWriMo was completed on excitement and pure adrenaline, and continued with a similar online group which formed to finish novels. Unfortunately the group breaking up, and the realisation I had no idea what was behind my plot, stalled that project. My second run at NaNoWriMo ended on 30th November and 53,000 words. That one was also run on adrenaline, and also silliness as I'd promised myself a terrible fantasy trope every 1000 words.

Unfortunately the dedication required for NaNoWriMo (1667 words a day, or some seriously long weekends) just isn't sustainable in the long term, at least for me.

My work schedule gives me some long mornings, and some long afternoons (with the other end of the day being correspondingly short). I might try spending my long afternoons writing, so I can give it a couple of hours, and then use the long mornings for revising or sending submissions out. I need to try something to fit with the work hours.

I'm considering doing research in October, and then NaNoWriMo in November, although I suspect that way madness lies.
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2016-09-04 09:14 pm

Musing on contests and fees

Nothing on the new project this week, but I have written a couple of other short pieces, drafted a new poem, and got my submissions up to date. Short things, flash and poetry, seem to be all I can manage at the moment. Anything longer requires a sustained level of brain power I just can't manage after a day at work, certainly on the days I finish late. Being on a rota sucks.

The competition special issue of Writing Magazine is out this week, so I updated my deadline calendar for the rest of the year. As always there seems to be an increase in competitions for very specialised age groups - women over 40 or 60, or under 25, for example. It's a bit of a wasteland if you're anywhere in between. I wonder why organisers don't seem to consider that the rest of us might need support or encouragement. Maybe they think we're all too busy off having babies or something.

There's an increase in contests requiring ridiculous levels of fees, too - upwards of £12 in some cases. While I understand the need for contests to charge a fee so they can pay the judges and the winners, some of them seem to be plainly taking advantage. I'm a firm believer in Yog's Law - money flows towards the writer - and if it's flowing in the other direction there had better be a good reason. That's why I won't submit to regular markets with submission or reading fees, and if I'm entering a contest I set the fee I'm willing to pay at 2% of the prize unless winning is particularly prestigious in itself.

My writing books have all turned up now.



Although, to be fair, The Observation Deck was ordered before Swanwick and turned up without the deck (which is presumably why it was so cheap, although it wasn't mentioned in the product description). I'm working my way through them, and it's nice to have a collection to dip in and out of when I want to get my head into writing. It's also nice to know I can buy them without worrying about having to move house with them - and that any I decide not to keep will easily find a new home at Swanwick next year.