A Writer’s Life For Me

A Writer’s Life For Me

January blogs, as an unwritten rule, tend to be buoyant and optimistic, filled with encouragement and guidance for a bright, new year. But as I searched my mind for something meaningful to relay, I realized…

Yeah, I got nothing!

No words of inspiration, no pithy words of wisdom.

Perhaps you, like many at this time of year, wait impatiently for new episodes of your favourite TV series after the holiday hiatus.

And while you wait, maybe you watch a replay of the last episode just so you can remember the plot, the characters, the details. But mostly you fill time waiting for something new to appear in the channel guide.

This blog is like that.

It begins with a review of my last year and the link to my January 2023 post where I made a rare (for me) resolution—to read The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante, a tome of almost 700 words.

How did I do?

Well, I have NOT progressed very far at all—a mere 100 pages. Last year, I did suggest that perhaps it would be a 2‑year effort.

Whew! Let myself off the hook with that!

But why didn’t I make progress?

There are several reasons, actually. All of which, when added together, made me realize what a busy and fruitful year I had in 2023.

This will also give you a window into the life of a writer.

In January, my short story “Mercy, Mercy Me” was shortlisted in gritLIT’s non-fiction contest. In April, I attended the gritLIT festival in Hamilton, partaking in workshops, such as “Magic in the Everyday” hosted by Emily Urqhart which included a great Lynda Barry writing exercise. And also a workshop with Blair Hurley on the “Power of Revisions” about making edits with successive passes through the manuscript.

How many passes do you think an author does for each piece of work?

Answer: At least six!

In early May, my local writing group, the London Writers Society, hosted An Evening With Terry Fallis. It was our first such venture and I was an active member of the team that worked to make it the success it was. Later in the month, I attended the Creative Non-Fiction Collective’s Conference in Halifax. More workshops and, of course, some sightseeing.

Two—or was it three?—online workshops, including “How to Write Sex Scenes.”

Why? Well you never know when you might need to know that!

In 2023, I also released my mother’s book, Transformation: Autobiography of Beverly J. Vollmer. It was self published and involved editing, uploading files, interior design, cover design, marketing. And time. Lots of time.

In and around and after all the above activities, I sent queries to publishers for my own memoir, If I Could Remember, I Would: Teddy Bears & Brains & Caring For My Mother. A query involves writing a book proposal of about fifteen pages which must be tailored to the individual requirements of each publisher. I’ve received several rejections already, no acceptance letters. Yet.

Oh, I also wrote several authors requesting a blurb for the book. I’ve received two, with two more yet to come.

In 2023, I also did research for the historical fiction novel I am currently writing. Three months set aside for research only, no writing, became six months, with topics ranging from WWI, conscription, conscientious objectors, and various topics of the period—women’s rights, fashions, local London streets, businesses, by-laws, treatment of Spanish flu, homeopathy regulations, and so much more!

My historical research, in addition to online investigations, involved reading twelve books relating to the time period. When I decided to incorporate some family history, that of my grandparents, into the story, this segued into ancestry searches. Anyone who has ventured into their genealogy knows it is an endless, albeit fascinating, rabbit hole!

And, in September, the writing began!

It was exciting to finally dig into the story that had been percolating for months. Normally, I create a working title for a project, but this one I simply refer to as Book Three.

New to writing historical fiction, I enrolled in some workshops with The History Quill, a British company that specializes in the genre. “Get Started” and “Outline Your Novel” kept me busy from August to December.

We interrupt this program to bring you…

Just as I was digging into my writing, I had an opportunity to make a presentation at the Listowel Library on my mother’s book. I took the detour, reading From Page To Stage by Betsy Graziani Fasbinder with public speaking tips for writers. A 20-minute presentation took three weeks of preparation. But it was a success!

We return to the program currently in progress…

The final History Quill workshop, “Write Your First Chapter,” will be a form of edit and revise, as I’ve already written the first chapter. In fact, I’m now at Chapter 29, with nine more chapters to go, according to my outline. But outlines are sneaky and mine has a habit of expanding the further I get into the story.

Do you recall how many passes through each piece of writing?

That’s right—six!

So I’ve nine more chapters to write, plus six passes (at least) through the entire novel…lots to keep a writer busy in 2024!

Reviewing a year in the life of a writer has been a fulfilling exercise and I can perhaps offer some words of wisdom after all…

Look back at the year you’ve just completed, you marvelous, wonderful creature!

Look back on all you’ve coped with and survived through, you marvelous, strong creature!

And always, expect benevolence in the coming year.

Photo by Manasvita S on Unsplash

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