Sunday, 28 July 2013

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I’m not an advocate of concentrating on the bad stuff. I believe you get more of whatever it is you are focusing on in life, but every now and then I have a wobble. My insecurities bubble up from the depths of my unconscious mind and swamp me in negativity. I am scared of the blank page, scared of the filled page, scared of my plot, my characters, my ideas, my ability, my future… and so the list goes on.

And then yesterday, in the midst of a thunderstorm, I decided to write down all of those things and turn them into a blog post. I started with a list, and the longer the list grew, the more depressed I felt. My creative urges dried up and I was left in the dark, watching the lightning flash, feeling like it was the end of the world.

This morning, I got up, determined to make something of that list and turn it into a long overdue blog post about writer insecurity. And you know what? The minute I looked at it I felt heavy of heart. What was I thinking? You get more of whatever it is you are focusing on in life…

So here’s my new list, the good one; the reasons why being a writer is the best job in the world...
  • I get to make up stories!
  • Working out new plot lines is fun
  • Weaving them together is even more fun
  • Getting to know your characters is a challenge
  • Every now and again you get a flash of creative inspiration where something just falls into place and it’s as if it was meant to be
  • Eavesdropping and people-watching has a purpose
  • Everything you hear in real life has the potential to be used in a story
  • Researching stuff is cool
  • Extending my knowledge and understanding of a subject is a joy
  • I go to work in my pyjamas and eat cereal at my desk
  • I choose my hours
  • My books are published
  • People like my books and I’ve had some great (unsolicited) reviews
  • People pay money to read my stories
  • I have the BEST writing buddies in the world
  • I’ve made all this happen
  • And I’m going to go on making this happen more, and having fun…
Writer insecurity? Pah, who cares.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

The Benefits of Time, by Lorrie Porter (Guest Post)

Lorrie Porter
I had a phone call from my agent today. I confess when I saw her name on the phone screen I had a sharp intake of breath. Would she like my novel manuscript? It’s been a long wait since I sent it. Five weeks with no word. I held my breath as I slid the little green phone icon across the screen and listened for her voice.

Cradlesnatch has been a long time in the making. It’s been nearly four years since I sat in Starbucks an hour before work and watched the first sentence appear magically on the screen of my little net book. But the past five weeks felt longer than all 48 months put together.

Writing is a strange profession. It requires a huge amount of self confidence. After I sent the manuscript off I did what all the advice says you should. I started the next book. It would be fine. My agent would love Cradlesnatch. I’d get a publishing deal and everything would be hunky-dory. But as the days turned to weeks I found myself suffering from writer’s block. Not an affliction I have often suffered from. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if she hated Cradlesnatch? The money I’d received from my first publishing contract was running out. What if I had to give up writing and go back to working in an office?

I started to focus on the wrong things. I worried about not putting enough ‘product’ out there. If I wanted to be a writer, I needed an income. I submitted a sample to Working Partners. I tried writing short stories. I even started writing a 10,000 word series starter for 8+ thinking it wouldn’t be such a huge investment of my time if I failed. I began to feel that everything I wrote didn’t meet the exacting standards of publishers. And through all of this, I completely stopped working on my next book.

Fear of failure can cripple our creative journey. Thankfully, last week, I gave myself a stern talking to, and this morning I opened my net book and picked up my new novel where I’d left off a month before.

I managed to write nearly a 1,000 words before my agent phoned.

She loves Cradlesnatch. She’s going to submit to publishers tomorrow.

I’m grateful to her for the time she took to get back to me. Without it I may never have got my head sorted and realised that it doesn’t matter whether Cradlesnatch was ready or if it needed more edits. What matters is that I have the confidence to write what is in me, and that is my next novel. Everything else is a distraction.

About the Author

In a fit of youthful enthusiasm Lorrie Porter graduated from University College London with a degree in Ancient World Studies then went on to qualify as a teacher in Classics. She loitered for many years in a solicitor’s office where she spent a lot of time staring out of the window. However, her fascination for dead languages and civilizations continues to thrive. She has recently graduated from Manchester Metropolitan University with an MA in Creative Writing.

Lorrie lives on a narrow boat with her talented husband and impervious cat.

Visit her website at or check out her blog: This Craft Called Writing for useful tips and techniques on how to write fiction.