Insomnia for the naive

Insomnia for the naive

It rarely happens that I can’t sleep, but tonight is one of those nights. Sydney has been having really hot weather recently, and after a two day reprieve from the unrelenting heat, we are about to be slammed with 3+ days with above 45 degree heat. The fan is twirling away just at the foot of the bed, the window is cracked wide open and I can even hear the chirps of crickets outside. My feet are boiling and and the air the fan is blowing off me is already bouncing of with radiated heat. Sigh. Summer. I’ve have a love hate relationship with it. I love the long days, and the cool breezes we get some evenings, but that’s about it. 
Tonight it’s not even the heat that’s left me sleepless. It’s an uncomfortable feeling in my stomach. Perhaps a bit to do with late night dinner, but I think it may have something more to do with a anxiety and anticipation. I’ve been operating on all cylinders for the last month or more what with new job, new living space, new commute, while still trying to keep some of my old routine going so I feel some sort of a balance in life. 
I am becoming obsessed with what is going on around me right now. And it doesn’t help that I have the albeit self-imposed deadline to reach for my book, ‘Charming and Stewart’ releasing this Valentine’s Day. I worked on the book, combing through some of the last chapters for about 5hours after I came back from work. I now have heart burn from the stress of it (lol). I still have two chapters to run over once more before I lock it and start formatting prior to release. Yikes. I’m pushing it with only 5 days to go. Not to mention, there are minor alterations to be made on the cover page too. 

I’m not used to dealing with anxiety and insomnia like this. How do you deal with it, those that suffer insomnia? The weird ache in the chest isn’t going away. Perhaps I’ve actually bitten off more than I could chew, what with school work also looming over my head. It won’t do if I go into lessons without planning my material either. On top of it all, I feel guilty that I haven’t been working on new material. 

Here I go, well past midnight, wide awake and listening to the night. 

It’s time to talk about me.

It’s time to talk about me.

It’s time to talk about me.
I don’t normally talk about me, or write about my life. It’s time I started. Being a writer, or dreaming about being a writer is far from that childish dream of sitting in a corner penning marvelous stories, and more about self-promotion for the sake of the writing. It’s more about talking about the things that brought you to this phase in life and less about daydreaming of book signings. I’m pretty sure every ‘writer’ out there, whether you have been discovered, wether you are already famous (then chances are you are never going to come across this little blog), or whether you’re still in your closet and haven’t come out saying ‘I want to be a writer’. Whoever we are, lets face it, there is no room for coyness in today’s world. 
I’m a writer. There, I said it. I’m a writer. It’s another story altogether that I’m a small time writer who mostly just writes for a small audience, or writes for myself. I don’t mind it. Of course I’d be lying if I said I never dreamed of the book signings as embarrassing as that is to admit. 
I’m done writing short stories and poetry, mini-series and chapters and posting them in the hope that it will be read and enjoyed. I used to obsess over the ‘stats’ page initially, anticipating views, likes and comments alike as if they were little pockets of treasure. I used to write one post every week at least in the hopes of gaining followers and readers alike. 
What I do now is pretty much sporadic. I know you are out there, those who have enjoyed my scribblings, typo and all. I still see you liking a post here and there and you still give me great joy. I don’t want to ask much of you, nor should I. I just want to thank you, for being there and keeping company with me. 
More than a year ago I published my first novel on Kindle and announced it with giddiness in all my social media. I mentioned it’s release and kept reminding of the dates so often I guess it helped somewhat. I’m not that person anymore, the one that seeks approval and desperately waits for likes and comments to feel achievement of sorts. I don’t know honestly if that is a good thing or bad. I guess bad in my case. 
Today, I just felt I needed to talk about me and what I’m doing. To bring some humanness to this page/blog of mine. It’s not just a place for stories of fantasy and imagination, it’s also my platform, my awkward stage, my way of reaching out there and conversing with the world. You don’t have to converse back, but knowing you are there is something in itself. 
So here I am, shamelessly ready to talk about my second novel ‘Charming Mr Stewart’. I plan on releasing it on Valentine’s Day. If you’d be interested, keep an eye out for more announcements. I’m working as best I can to meet this deadline. It’s been too long since I’ve wanted this, the nerves are setting in. I don’t know what else to say. 
Keep safe and write on.

Xoxo

Mourning lost work!

So writers, artists, actors, musicians, whoever you are, if you have ever created something then you will know and understand what I’m writing in this post. I am standing in front of chasm staring down at oblivion and wondering ‘Where the hell are you?!’ In a really panicked shouty voice.

I have kept this close to myself in the last few months. But I’ve lost something very important to me. It’s a $2 notebook, but is truly priceless, and I have lost it. Gone. Don’t know where. Don’t know how. I have searched everywhere I can think of having gone. And yet, it remains a mystery. And to this day, 5 months from when I had lost it, I am still hopeful it will turn up one day, safe and sound. I’ll find it in some silly place and tsk tsk myself for having been so blind. Here is hoping anyway. 
Why is this notebook worth restless thoughts? Because, it has precious chapters I was working of for my third novel. Now that I have lost it, I have lost 5 chapters of beautiful story line, dialogue that I cannot dream of repeating in the exact flourish again. And it’s bugging the hell out of me! I want it back. Bring me the missing piece that I’m hoping I’ll find again. I could rewrite those chapter again, sure. But will they be the same? Not a chance. And that is a devastating thought. I hadn’t had a chance to type them up yet! 
Argh. Just want to run around screaming at the wind right now! How do you deal with a loss of your material? This is a first for me and I’m obsessively thinking about it. Did I leave it at my sister’s? Did I leave it in the flight? Did I accidentally dropped it somewhere? So many questions all met with silence and a maddening need to find out, to have some clue of what happened. What do I do?

How long do you brew?

Seriously, I’m interested in seeing the differences out there. How long do writers brew, or rather stew on an idea before they begin writing it down? How long do you normally take? A couple of days, a few weeks, months maybe, or even years? 
I normally take weeks if they are novels, and a day or less if they are short stories, poems etc. I take a couple of days for short scripts and a couple of months for features. The longest I’ve sat on a story before starting to write it is a few months. 
In those months, what do you do? Do you plot the whole affair from beginning to end, or just major story arcs? Do you figure out your characters? 
I find that I usually focus on story arcs and character profiles, but in saying that I don’t set these as immovable before I write them down. Even as I start writing, I know I have to get from A to D to J and eventually Z, but the whole planning (and I use this word loosely) can go out the window as I write without restraints. 

Well, my dilemma here is that I have an idea, a very brief overall arc of the story and the two protagonists I’ll be writing about, but I am so tied up with other projects that I feel this will have to take a backseat for God knows how long. Is it wise to lay aside a story? What has been some of your experience? I’m kind of nervous that if I don’t at least brew on it for a little while, I’ll lose the story, the spark that inspired it. 
All I know is that I have the title for the story already and the characters: Ebony & Frank.

The theme: recognizing one’s true self through the eyes of others.  

 

The ‘Dream’ we dream (When not to approach agents and publishers): notes from an amateur writer.

The ‘Dream’ we dream (When not to approach agents and publishers): notes from an amateur writer.

If you’ve found yourself clicking on this post, then I’m safe to assume that you are either someone starting out in writing and dream of being published, or, you are an experienced writer/producer wanting to see how much of a fool I’m making myself in this post and what other silly things I might write beside the title that obviously got you to click.

Well, here’s the thing. I am amongst those who dream of being a writer whose work gets picked up by a publisher/agent. An action that will mean ‘Yes, we made it!’ We have achieved the dream we set out to make reality. Despite self-publishing my debut novel and despite entertaining the notion of self-publishing my second novel, I am still in fact hoping, praying and dreaming that one day I get to sign on the dotted line. As a writer, regardless what stage of that dream you are in, I guarantee that you have dreamed of being ‘picked up’ as it were. I know I have. 
There are certain things you should definitely heed if you are wanting to go down that path, and other things you should definitely consider before you make your decision.

1) Get unbiased opinion on your work:-
this doesn’t mean you give it to a family member of friends, or family members of your friends and asks them to be ‘objective’. I mean, get a genuine stranger to read your work and give you an honest feedback as to the overall story, the strengths and weaknesses, characters, what works, what doesn’t etc. You can find these people in writing groups, or hire a professional.

You need this to truly gauge how strong your work is, or not. All this before you embarrass yourself by sending subpar material to agents and publishers. Don’t even take that chance. 

2) Take the sound suggestions made by the said ‘unbiased’ reader (or readers):
– You don’t need to and should never take every single advice from your readers. If there is a pattern, and obviousness that occurs through the feedbacks, then I suggest you take them on. If however, a suggestion doesn’t settle well with you, then remember that the story at the end of the day is your. Only make the changes that you feel surely add to the overall strength and unity. Otherwise, make wise decisions on which suggestions work for you.

3) Don’t be afraid to re-write:-
Though re-writing is the bane of our existence, unfortunately, you must do it. Don’t rush it, don’t hate the process, just get on with your ego to the side and do what’s best for the story. It’s all about that story. You have to make it be what it could be. Sometime you will find that you only have to rewrite very little, a paragraph here, maybe a chapter there, but other times, you will have to completely re-write a section or the whole story. Don’t be depressed by this. All of us go through it. Just do your job, which is ultimately the coherence and cohesion of your story. 

4) Don’t send it in till you are absolutely proud of it:
– Until you reach such a moment, always know that every work can be continuously improved as time goes. But you must be sure there isn’t much more you can add to the work without the guidance and keen eye of a producing house. Until such moment, keep at it till you can make it as good as you can make it. Then, you are good to go. Send it out and see what comes back. Sometimes it will be nothing, just silence, but you learn. Maybe another time, you might just be in luck.

5) If you go down self-publishing path, don’t rush your trimmings:
– If your story is your main course then think of your cover as your enticing appetizer and your blurb as the entree. The dessert is the pay off of having found out what the book is about. Please pay great attention to both of these sidekicks: cover and blurb. Most often I have seen pretty bad covers on what are great stories, and chances are I wouldn’t have read them if I didn’t know the person. Our readership are pretty much the same and we all inherently judge value based on appearance. There are some cover designers out there who work with indie authors for a small fee. See if you can find them.

6) Don’t let silence take your joy away:-
if you haven’t heard back from publishers or get rejected more times than you can throw a pen at, don’t let it pull you down. Maybe you work isn’t ready, or maybe it’s not a fit with the house you approached. Keep trying and while you do that, keep yourself distracted. How do you do that? Just write that other story you have been meaning to write. Focus on that. It won’t promise that you current one will get picked up but at least you are preoccupied and doing something you enjoy, and at the end of it all, you may even have two stories to pitch rather than the one. 

Well, I’m sure there are more things I could rattle on about, and I’m sure there is a whole array of things you and I have yet to learn. These are just the few things I’ve gone through myself and thought I’d share, in case there is just one of you who can benefit from these. 
Keep writing those stories chapter at a time and enjoy.
Goodnight.

Writing style: Long-handed writing

How prevalent are computers and tablets, and little ‘Note’ apps on phones? Pretty much everywhere. You’d think they’d put notebook makers and other paper product out of business, but, luckily, we can still enjoy a well bound and finished notebook in our hands. 

I tell people I write and they immediately assume I write straight onto the digital page. When I say ‘No, I actually psychically write my books on paper’, the mouths fly open. It’s something people can’t fathom a writer doing in the modern digital age, but I’m not the only one. There are lots of writers out there that like writing with a pen in hand. I LOVE it. The only time I’ll use a computer is to type up the story I’ve written longhand.
It sounds crazy but it’s true. The reason I do it is several, but here are just a few you might like to hear:

1) I write faster than I type,

2) I can actually focus on the story and not the screen. Writing by hand is obviously more natural than staring at the distracting screen, 

3) It feels more free, and comfortable,

4) I can take it anywhere, no chargers needed and is often lighter than the laptop,

5) It’s how writing has been done through the ages and I like being part of that club,

6) I’m not tempted to edit what I just wrote, therefore keeps me focused on getting more writing done than fussing over mistakes I can mend later, hence, helps me keep pace,

7) Is a lot calming; studies have proven that people using their computers and phones before bed struggle to fall asleep, and I tend to do most of my writing before bed.

Fact about my previous books: 
1) In Strange Company took me 5 years on and off to write and a few more on and off to edit. It also took about 700 sheets of A4 lined paper.
2) Rule of Thirds took me a year to write, and 7x250page notebooks. ( Releasing later in August)
3) A Million Smiles for June, I started writing this late last year and am still going, on and off between my studies and film attempts. So far, I’m on chapter 13, notebook #2, and I already have about 6-7 notebooks ‘handy’ should I need them.
What I want to own one day?: A classic typewriter.
(Something about sitting at a typewriter and punching out a book has such an attractive appeal to it.) 
How do you write? And most importantly, what do you use to write?

The challenges of becoming a ‘Writer’

I read the ‘Writer’s Manifesto’ on my Facebook feed today and had to share it with you. It has everything to do with what I’m talking about today, if not more.

 
The challenges of becoming a ‘Writer’
It’s an elusive club filled with so many members we aspire to be like. But how do we get in, and what’s playing the big bad guy in our lives that keeps making us push against the door when it says pull? 
The answer to that question? I have no freaking idea. I’m one of those staring into the club through the glass door wondering how to get in. But, I have a theory. A string of thoughts rather that may have been thought by you already, about why it is that becoming a writer is harder than thinking about become a surgeon? (Which I have thought about once very briefly.) Not hard in the sense that we have to study such a complex and thorough subject for years but because at least in deciding you want to be a surgeon, or an engineer, or teacher etc (many more profession), the plan is laid out. You go through the set plan, through a University, you graduate, and you are ready for the workplace. Soon you get hired as a junior staff and then you’re in the club of your choice.
Writing. There is simply no clear plan for us to follow. Yeah, sure, we can go to university and get a degree in creative writing, but then we have to show them our work before we even get a chance to grovel for work experience. 
But that’s a problem for later on. The initial problem we face is ourselves. Are we doing all we can to get qualified for this club? Are we going about it the right way? After all submitting our works we think are grand is still not going to get it picked up by a publishing house. 
Firstly, we gotta write! We have to write, and not things that have already been written. Yes, pretty much every story has already been told but we have to find a way to make it new, spruce it up etc. The indicator of this is that when we are excited by the story itself, not about writing it because their must be someone out there who would want to read it. Are we EXCITED? If yes, we must go ahead and write that darn thing. If we are not, the. We must stop! Immediately. Take time, walk away and find another story that inspires us regardless of how long you already spent on one story. 
Secondly, write it with dedication. We must make a promise to ourselves and give ourselves a deadline. Finish that thing first and worry about the mistakes later. If we are not good at editing (I certainly am not) that’s what other professional editors are for. Just get the story on the page, make it pulse, and then read it front to back. Yes, we must read our own work! 

 

If we survive this process, better yet if the Story survives this, then send it to be proofread. 
Sometimes, we are our own obstacles. We harbor doubts and fears that hold us back. Such was my case. I held onto a finished book for years because I feared people’s reaction to it. What if they thought it was a stupid story? What if they think I write like a child? What if? What if? So many of them. Eventually I started doubting whether I truly wanted to be an author? Was I ready to be studied and questioned by people? 
The answer was not in these questions. The answer was in whether this was something I really wanted. And yes, it was. Is it for you?
Nowadays, I battle other things, like study, filmmaking, freelance work, job hunt amongst preparing the next book for release as well as writing various scripts and working on the third novel etc, all vying for my time. It’s no wonder writing is a struggle, unless you could do it full time (and what a blessing that would be). But that’s a long way away yet. Long way indeed.
The other massive challenge, one I struggle to comprehend and execute well enough is marketing. It’s a beast that’s completely frightening and fluid. My next challenge is to understand this beast in amongst all this chaos and questioning. 
My target, as an author is to release my next book by late August, all done up and ready, trailing on the footsteps of any marketing strategies I might tackle. Just very nervous and wondering a whole lot of what if questions once again. 
If you are trying to be a writer or are already one, you will understand this struggle. One piece of advise I can give if I may is to keep trying. Keep trying because regretting giving up ones dream later on will be a torture in itself and not worth it. 
You work, then keep working but don’t let that take your writing from you. I had reached a point in life where I had made peace with the fact that my writing may only be just for me, but it still gave me joy. So I carried on. I’m still carrying on, hoping one day others will call me a writer/author and not just myself. 
I think I may print out a large sheet of the manifesto and hang it on the wall my bed faces. Just something to set the mind on track every morning. So here is to stop making excuses, to stop feeding fear, but to strive for it and hope for the best… As scary and exciting as it is.