Monday, 20 September 2010

Whazzup?

It’s time for another progress report to tell you whazzup with my writing journey!

As you know from my last report back on my writing progress in November 2009, I had three projects on the boil:

Project A: This project revolves around the novel I wrote as part of my Master’s degree in English. The long arduous process continues. I’m busy completing the revisions based on the editorial letter I received from literary agent Weronika Janczuk of D4EO Agency.

I’m so pleased with the way the novel is taking shape. I never guessed how much it could improve structurally. Although it’s hard work, I’m enjoying the process. I get a real thrill when I find just this word or change that comma, and it lights up the sentence, page and story in a new and vibrant way. I’m starting to feel like a professional writer for the first time. My confidence in my work is blossoming and all the anxieties generated by the countless rejection letters that this poor ms has received are slowly dissipating!

When I’ve finished the revisions (target date: mid-October) I’ve decided to put the ms aside for a month or two before doing one final check and then deciding what the next step is.

Project B: This was the story I started with the sole purpose of entering into the Harlequin Mills and Boon Modern/Presents 2009 competition. My entry didn’t make it. First and second prize went to romance authors who, although not yet published by Mills and Boon, are multi-pubbed by other houses. I wish the two authors the best of luck with their winning entries. The competition whetted my appetite for romance writing again. I duly submitted a romance to e-publishers Wild Rose Press.

I must compliment WRP on their professionalism, their efficiency, their interest in helping an author and their incredibly quick turn-around times. What a pleasure to deal with a romance publisher who understands, and is considerate, of the author’s needs! The editor I worked with loved the manuscript but, when I received an editorial letter asking for a third round of revisions, saying the novel was very close to publishable standards and a possible contract offer, it was decision time: did I want to write romances or did I want to concentrate on my other writing? Romance, or any type of genre, writing requires a very special set of skills including the ability to multi-task, to write prolifically and to concentrate on good story-telling.

Sadly, I concluded that I am not endowed with those specific skills. Unlike when I blog, when I write I like to work slowly, to concentrate on characterisation over plot and to do detailed research. I can spend two days on re-writing a single sentence until I feel it’s perfect. This is what gives me pleasure - the manipulation and careful layering of words and their symbolic meanings. And so I regretfully declined to complete the third set of revisions.

It’s a strange feeling having made such a final decision. In one way, it’s as if I’ve wasted the last ten years of my life, when I was so determined to be a romance author. To get so close (again–this is the third romance ms that has come so close to being published) and to consciously chose not to continue…ouch! I had to ask myself if I was more afraid of success than I am of failure. Was I self-sabotaging myself because of this fear of success?  After much soul-searching I could say: NO!

In the past decade, I’ve evolved as a person and as a writer. I’ve moved beyond romances in both my reading tastes and in my writing dreams. Of course, my goals must alter too, but I was too stubborn, er, too tenacious, to admit years ago that I needed to re-assess my writing goals taking into account the obvious fact that I’m not cut out to be a Romance Author.

I have a huge respect for those authors who do choose to forge a career as a romance or chick-lit author—they are like master puppeteers, their fingers working dozens of strings at once—but I’ve accepted that I am not cut from that particular writing cloth. My writing skills and unique writing voice lie elsewhere.


So, while there is sadness at leaving an old friend behind, I have a sense of freedom too; a sense of commitment to my writing I’ve never felt before. That tells me I’ve made the correct decision to focus on literary writing, rather than genre writing.

Project C: For a variety of reasons, this project has taken a back seat. My research questionnaire to ex-Border War soldiers didn’t generate much response. Our friend, Colonel Young, who was helping me with it died tragically in January 2010 (my husband is still upset; they were friends for nearly thirty-five years). My reading list has morphed into this mass of books, which has taken over my studio. And another story I was working on before this idea came to me, has starting sulking because I pushed it aside, so I’m thinking of heading back to finish it first (Project E). I’ll keep Project C ticking by compiling a reading list, sorting the reference books into some sort of useful order and starting the reading.

Project D: I submitted a short story to The Literary Lab’s ‘Notes from Underground’ competition, and was chosen to participate in this exciting and experimental writing project. All proceeds are to go to charity. I must write 10 pages of any type of writing and submit it to the editors before December 15, 2010. The bliss of being able to write anything at all, with no restrictions except length, is exhilarating. I’ve decided to send in a mixture of prose, poetry and discourse.

Project E: I outlined this novel in March 2009 while Husband and I were in Bern, Switzerland. I put it aside when the Border War story started taking hold, but now that Project A is so close to completion, I’m drawn more and more to this story. It’ll be set in the same fictional land as Project A, so won’t need the research of Project C. I’m starting to hear their voices, but I’ll have to ignore them until January when Projects A and D are complete.

Blogging: I still have the final post on my series on punctuation to do; also, the final post for the South African Romance Writer’s website due in October (I’ll be focusing on overwriting). I have a few interesting writing topics lined up for my own blog; I’m hoping to do one a month over the next few months. I’ll continue with my book reviews of the novels I’m ploughing through from my ‘to-be-read’ pile. With all the non-fiction reading waiting for me for Project C, I hope I get to read some more of the tempting pile of novels that have been waiting and waiting. Oh, and I’m maintaining Husband’s blog, although that doesn’t take much time.

Writing Courses: I have two  writing courses coming up.

In November 2010, I’ll be attending a 3 day “Basic copy editing and proofreading course” presented by John Linnegar, a well respected local editor and chairman of Professional Editors' Group.

In January 2011, I start a ten week Creative Writing Course run by All About Writing, and presented jointly by published author Jo-Anne Richards and scriptwriter Richard Beynon.

And that’s whazzup in my writing life. I may just have to stop sleeping to meet all these goals, as well as those Life’s Obligations that keep me busy, but I’m excited and energized at the upcoming challenges of the next few months! What are you busy with in your writing journey?

16 comments:

Romy said...

The world would be a dull place if none of us change and grow. Your ten years spent writing romance are certainly not wasted because I am sure you learned a great deal both about the craft and yourself. Letting that go in order to take the next step is a brave move, but I'm sure it'll be worthwhile. I predict great things to come ...

Damaria Senne said...

God, you have so many projects on the go! And you think you don't multitask very well?

As to the romance novel, did you ever consider finding a co-author and getting him/her to finish the process you started? Obviously the novel would n longer just be your baby, but the other would walk it through the last stages for the shared credit, for both your benefit. Because even if you don't want to establish a career in that genre, you'd still have the credit that you managed to get a large book project published. What'd ya think?
And, good luck with the rest of your projects. I'm looking forward to hearing more about them.

Judy Croome said...

ROMY: You're so right! I *have* learnt so much about the craft of writing (and myself) in my years of romance writing. I've also learnt to respect what being a romance author involves! I look forward to following your writing career onwards and upwards...! :)

DAMARIA: LOL! I think efficient multi-tasking requires projects to be completed!! (well, I'm getting there I suppose - I just take long, becaase I keep on getting sidetracked!) And I've never thought of collaboration. Something to brood on...

Bish Denham said...

Wow, lots of stuff you've got going there. Although I have many ideas and many things started and books that need revising etc. I can only work on one thing at time. My brain doesn't shift/move fast enough between projects to have more than one going at a time. I bet those classes you take will be fun!

Helen Ginger said...

Good gracious, you have a lot of projects on the burners. I think my problem is setting priorities and sticking to them. I have so many things I need to be doing that I end up working on the easiest one or the one most in the forefront. And the others get neglected.

Helen

Cold As Heaven said...

Looks like your damn busy, Judy. Make sure you get some time to enjoy the spring in SA >:)

Do you have to write a novel to get a MSc in English? Looks cool. Maybe I should have done that too ... except I'm not gonna take another exam in my lifetime.

Cold As Heaven

Nancy J. Parra said...

Hi Judy, *waves*

Wow- so glad I'm not the only writer with multiple projects on the burners-lol. You did learn a lot- and none of it was wasted. Remember this is your journey- you live it your way-(yes, I'm stubborn, too, which gets me in so much trouble. Yes, I've wondered if I'm self sabotaging- like you I've decided no, I'm not. I'm living the life I was meant to live and writing the things I was meant to write.) Hugs to you!! N

paulgreci said...

Wow, Judy. I feel like I've gotten to know you a lot better by reading this post. Having a new sense of committment to your writing sounds very inspiring. Good luck with the new focus on your journey!!

Judy Croome said...

BISH: I tend to act like a grasshopper. I *know* I’m more effective when I focus on one thing only but, somehow, everything else always seems just as urgent and just as interesting! I’m really looking forward to those classes!

HELEN: That’s a problem with me too, although I take the project that most interests me rather than the most important!

COLD: Keeps me out of mischief, Cold!! :) Wits and UCT both have Masters in Creative Writing degrees, but my university (University of South Africa) didn’t have an actual creative writing degree. The dean of the faculty kindly allowed me to do a Masters of Arts (English Studies) with my “dissertation” the first draft of the novel I’m currently revising. It wasn’t entirely a success (I never got my cum laude, which was an admitted blow to my ego!) but it was a fantastic learning experience. But now I feel much like you…I will never take another exam in this lifetime, and hopefully, never in any future lifetimes either!!

NANCY: Hugs back at ya! And, yes, I don’t really think all those years were wasted – I learned an incredible amount about the publishing industry and the craft and about myself!

PAUL: Thanks Paul! I felt bad rabbitting on with all that “I-me-myself” writing stuff, but if it helped you know me better, I’m glad!! :)

Lauri said...

Well Judy you are indeed one busy lady!
I write genre both romance and detective thrillers and I have to admit I've found it difficult as of late to switch back and forth between those projects and more literary type short stories, so you may have a point.
I respect you for leaving a project. Like you I keep thinking of time spent, I don't want to waste it but sometimes you must just say-"that is done" and move on.

arlee bird said...

Thatsa lotta whazzup. But I guess when I look at what I got on the stove I've got a lot cooking with a few pots boiling over. There's always something.

Lee
Tossing It Out

Marilyn Brant said...

Judy, I'm so impressed with the thoughtfulness and insight you've brought to this process of writing. I think we're always in a state of evolving and, just because one path is right for us now, it doesn't mean it always will be. Your choice to embrace one writing direction over another is a strength, and no one says that what you choose now you have to hold to forever either. Wishing you all the best as you work on the projects closest to your heart! xo

Judy Croome said...

LAURI: If I could switch back and forth easily between genres, I would have gone for the revisions. But I just found that, in trying to straddle two shores, I was in danger of slipping into the dark cold depths between. Better for me to focus on one only, and I chose the one I’m currently enjoying most now. That’s not to say I’ll never go back to romance writing one day…

ARLEE: Welcome to the blog and thanks for following! Hope to see you visit often! :)

MARILYN: Too true! And I think it’s the writing itself that pushes us to evolve. No wonder writing is such an addictive process, despite the struggle to get published. Because it’s not really about being published or not, is it? (even though publication is, of course, this writer’s ultimate dream)

Robyn Campbell said...

Judy, lotsa stuff going on, my friend. YIKES. I thought I had a lot of things in my writing life going on at once. I'm relieved. :)

The classes sound really interesting. I know you will enjoy them and get a lot out of them.

This was a well thought out and excellent post. I love to hear that your confidence is budding. Mine too. And you're right about a word here or a comma there. I need to go back and read all of the punctuation posts. Hugs to my most lovely friend. I love you.:) Christopher mentions that I'd better tell you he loves you too. :)

Claire Robyns said...

I have a TBR list, you have a TBW, lol.
Great to see the exciting projects you have lined up, and also to *hear* the enthusiasm again and passion for writing.
Enjoy the classes and I hope you'll give us some feedback as to whether they help at all

septembermom said...

Judy, I so admire your heart and dedication to your craft. I know that you'll grow and blossom in any genre. Your writing sounds like it's going very well. Continued success my friend. Enjoy the classes too. I look forward to hearing about them as well :)