Wednesday 31 October 2007

to bloggers who've asked -
Cut Short will be available in the USA and Canada

Before I launch on today's topic, I'd like to thank all bloggers who contributed to the discussion arising from my last post.

This week's post is about my experience as a new writer.

My book is going to be published - how can I be reluctant for it to be seen? Until yesterday, the only two people who had read my work were my publisher and editor, apart from my accounts of dead bodies which I read to a retired doctor to check that my flights of fancy were plausible. Yesterday I went to a seminar offering tips to authors on how to give a reading, where we were invited to read a short extract of our work aloud. My reading is fluent and I have faith in my writing. Why did I feel so nervous in front of an audience whom I knew, rationally, to be sympathetic?

This led me to wonder: does everyone expect to be judged, or is it just me? Is it human nature, or do we live in a society that is becoming increasingly judgemental? Pupils at my school assume they're in trouble if a teacher wants to see them, staff summoned by the headmaster expect problems.

So my question is: have we developed a culture of complaint not appreciation? How often do we grumble when things fail to go our way? We resent having to queue, we grow impatient with slow service, we feel aggrieved when machines break down. We expect everything to work efficiently, and are angry when it doesn't. But are we happy when things work normally? Do we thank people when they do a satisfactory job? Or do we expect it? That's their job after all. I was once so happy with an IT technician for fixing some slight problem on my computer that I emailed him and and he told me that in twenty years of doing his job, I was the second person to thank him. That shocked me. I don't claim to be any better than other people - if I'm honest, I'm generally more impatient and curt than most. I just wonder whether, in a general way, the lack of support we show to strangers is changing our expectation of how they will treat us and we're spinning into a downward spiral of mutual distrust and social unease.

Or am I just feeling paranoid that no one will like my book?

Monday 29 October 2007

A few people have asked me why I started writing. This is a question I find difficult to answer but I think, ultimately, I'd have to say I began to write because I was bored. Let me explain, before you storm off, shocked by this apparent denigration of the art of writing. I reached a point in my life when, after years of hectic occupation, I had time on my hands. "Great," I remember thinking, "I can put my feet up." I did but after a couple of weeks, I grew bored and found myself wanting to fill my time. I began to scribble down a random idea that occurred to me in an idle moment. It was one of those "what if" trains of thought that is the starting point for all my writing. Once I put pen to paper, words just flowed onto the page and I haven't been able to stop writing since. I'm completely hooked. It's a gloriously compulsive, exhilerating addiction and I love it! I was fortunate to find a publisher straight away, but as anyone who writes knows, the real buzz is in the writing.
My question is this:
If I hadn't felt bored, I would probably never have discovered an outlet for a creative passion I never even knew I had. It answers some inner need I've lived with all my life and I've never felt more comfortable with myself. What sort of disservice are we doing to children today by offering them access to constant entertainment? If we don't allow children to be bored, how will they find time to explore their own resources and discover their own hidden talents?
To all the bloggers who've dropped by to have a look at the design of my cover : your comments have been really helpful. Thank you VERY much.

I'll try to start my Wednesday posts in earnest this week, about life, the universe and writing . Hopefully my experience will encourage other writers to try and find a publisher. You never know... the next submission could be the one that changes your life.

Friday 26 October 2007

Sublime to ridiculous in one "post"

This week I handed the typescript of my first book to my editor. It was a special moment for me. She pointed out that she's only the editor and I don't have to agree with her suggestions. As a newcomer to writing, I feel lucky to have an experienced editor who's worked with successful authors. So I'm not going to be 'precious' about my writing; I'm on a journey and learning all the time.

I wrote another few pages as soon as I got home. My editor asked me to send hard copy which I duly took to the post office. The woman there said my letter 'might' arrive by Monday (three working days from the date of posting) but there was no guarantee. (This was first class post.) My only alternative was to spend an additional £4 or so to send it 'special' delivery which required a signature at the other end. So if my recipient was out at point of delivery, the letter wouldn't arrive and I would have spent £4 for nothing! I decided to risk the normal postal service. Did this woman realise she was talking herself out of a job, I wonder?

Monday 22 October 2007

Cover design for Cut Short by Leigh Russell

I would appreciate your comments on the cover design of my book .

I tried to copy the design here but, as with most of my forays into IT, I failed miserably. I can only invite you to visit my publisher's website, where you will find details of my book, Cut Short. Alternatively, a search for Cut Short Leigh Russell takes you there.

Sunday 21 October 2007

I included this comment on my first post; it should have been a separate post, but I didn't know how to do that until today! I intend to write a new post each Wednesday, a weekly comment on my experiences in becoming a published author.

At the beginning of the year I started scribbling. It sounds trite to say my first book wrote itself, but a story unfolded as I wrote. Stephen King said writing a book is like conducting an archaeological dig. He chips away to discover a story. That's how it was. One episode led to another. I'll give you an example. I had to write an incident where a man is beaten up by two young lads who nick his brief case, just for a laugh. That led me to wonder: what was in the brief case? The question led to a whole new plot line which involved - well, I won't give too much away, but several people met untimely ends because of that question!! I became addicted, writing about 2,000 words every day, although at this point, I had no expectations of becoming a published author.... I was just having fun! I couldn't stop writing! Have you ever been so absorbed in a book, you can't put it down? It's like that.
OK. Now I get it. I create a post under the tab marked 'posting'. No wonder it took me so long to work out how to do it.... I think I'd better get back to my creative writing - as I spoke to my EDITOR today for the first time and am feeling hectically inspired! I have an editor!! More on Wednesday's post (if I can remember how create a new post by then!)