Monday, 23 June 2014

Writerly Questions

A friend and fellow writer tagged me in a blog hop so that I can answer the following questions:

  1. What is one thing you've learned about writing that you wish you knew when you started?
  2. If you could go back in time to witness one particular historical event (knowing that your presence wouldn't alter the timeline), what would you choose?
  3. If you could delete 3 words from the English language, what would they be?
  4. What is one piece of writing advice that you think is really overrated? Why?
1. I really wish I'd known the value of talking with other writers when I first started. They've encouraged me, taught me so many things, and kept me going when I wanted to give up. I'd have joined a writer's group much earlier.

2. Some of the things I'd like to see if I was companion on the TARDIS: taking a voyage with Capt Janeway, visiting the Burrows, watching the Doctor defeat the Silence... wait, you meant non-fiction historical events? I'd rather travel in fictional lands but if it has to be non-fiction, then biblical events would definitely be top of my list, or maybe First Contact, whenever that is.

3. I wouldn't get rid of any words. I may not like their meanings but we still need the words themselves to describe the ideas. I'd rather get rid of the NEED for misogynistic, racist or otherwise insulting words.

4. The most overrated writing advice: "write what you know." If everyone wrote only what they knew, we would never learn anything. That being said, I can certainly write with greater authority when I know my subject very well.

Thanks for tagging me, Christina!

Saturday, 14 June 2014


The past couple of years, I've been making a big effort to be professional about my writing. Dreaming is lovely but persistence is far more effective. I've been writing for a very long time but if I hadn't started sending stuff out in 2011, I wouldn't have had my few pieces published--a  big thrill whether they are considered professional sales or not. I'm piling up the rejection letters but it's the acceptance letters I reread when I need a lift. (Actually, I reread the personal rejections too, I've gotten awesome feedback from some very generous people!)

Being professional doesn't just mean increasing the hours I spend writing. It means meeting people. I went to my first writers' convention this year (yay Ad Astra!) but mostly its been online. Twitter and Facebook are part of the digital playground where writers, editors, agents, and publishers interact. And I've been reading dozens of articles on how to edit, submit, write a query letter or a synopsis or a grant application. I sometimes feel like Alice falling through the rabbit-hole, there is so MUCH to learn.

The first thing I learned, the thing that amazes me over and over again, is how friendly, open and helpful everyone is! Whenever I have a question, someone is more than willing to share their industry knowledge with a middle-aged newbie. I've seen total strangers cheer each other on, give e-hugs of commiseration, applaud others' successes. There's an occasional sour spot--the battles for equality and diversity are still raging, I've put my two cents in a couple of times but the overwhelming sense I have is that the literary community is inclusive and welcoming. That's a relief, because I plan to spend a lot of time here.

Sometimes I wish I started earlier, like in my 30s or even 40s. I heard about a man, Harry Bernstein, whose book "The Invisible Wall" was written at age 93 and published at age 98. He said, "My 90s were the most productive years of my life."

I've still got a few years left ahead of me.