I seem to have the Post NaNo Greens. It’s as if my Go Valve is jammed open, I can’t stop looking for ways to keep the feeling of creative bounty alive. I haven’t had quite this level of enthusiasm for the everything of writing since achieving my M.Litt. I loved it all then, right down to sharpening my pencils, and never wanted to stop. When my dissertation supervisor said he’d be surprised if I didn’t have a book out within ten years I was delighted, I would work and work and work to get that book written. I would not disappoint him.

 Then life happened. The marriage I’d been frantically trying to hold together imploded. I had to take as much work as I could get, and ended up tutoring several university courses, and running creative writing workshops for the Council in two separate towns. Writing gave way to surviving. But now everything has changed: I have a new, infinitely supportive husband, I don’t have a job, and I’ve got my mojo back. I feel I ought to capitalise on all this, it would be nuts to lose my gains, again. So I’m working on a plan to:

•Edit and redraft the novel to make it publishable.

•Keep writing so that I don’t let slip again the skill of sitting down every day and honing my craft (is that a skill or merely a habit?).

•Search out suitable publishing opportunities, and share those opportunities with other writers – I’ve always found hoarding rather vulgar, and pointless. 

•I’d also like to get some grant funding so I can do the research my novel needs, which will involve some travel. 

•And, I do want to create an income so my poor new husband doesn’t have to keep paying for my biscuit habit, and so I don’t have to spend hours staring at funding application forms. 

Cafe Paris, 1959: Saul Leiter.

The ink cartridges for my printer finally arrived. I now just need to coax the printer into printing the whole draft – it gave up after 80 pages saying the paper wasn’t suitable for the job – so the editing process is about to begin. 

To keep writing during this time I thought I’d do the short story a week challenge. Just by myself, but I’ll follow Ray Bradbury’s format:

Monday: decide on an idea/premise for the story; outline it, sketch out the characters etc, and identify the key points/main conflict. I reckon I’ll do this by writing a log line (or several until I get it right).

Tuesday: draft the opening scene: establish the key characters and setting, and define the conflict and motives.

Wednesday: draft the main body of the story: build the tension, ensure the conflict is three dimensional. Get to the climax.

Thursday: draft the resolution: pull all the elements together – consequences. Conclude.  

Friday: Revise.

Saturday: Revise.

Sunday: Revise and submit.

An important part of this practise is submitting the story. I assume that’s to ensure you don’t just dash off any old crap, and feel you’re done. That won’t get your craft honed. I know I won’t have the time or energy to submit to magazines, so I’ll just publish them here on Monday mornings. Don’t worry, I won’t expect you to say anything about them. 

 In order not to get myself in a pickle with my fiction I’ll write these stories about the characters in the novel. I reckon this will not only keep me focussed on the book, rather than distract me from it, it will also help me get to know the secondary characters better and, therefore, make them three dimensional.  

As for looking out for opportunities, and trying to get some funding, I guess that will involve a lot of googling. I’ll let you know how that goes… 

Meanwhile, to pay for the biscuits and other sundries, I’ve decided to run a few workshops again. There was a time when I was running so many I lost sight of my own writing, so I stopped to get my breath, and never resumed. It’s time to resume now, not least because they were great fun to do, and teaching is a good way to learn because it involves examining all the elements of your subject in order to be able to explain it clearly. It can be exhausting, yes, but it’s a real joy to see students make work they’re proud of. I’ll start with a short course, I’m thinking six weeks, and see how it goes. I’ll let you know how I get on with designing the course as I work it out. I suspect my first step will be to venture into the loft where all my archives are. Luckily I don’t have a problem with spiders

It feels like I’ve reached a new chapter in the story of my life, I want to populate it with happy, positive people, which, in the current political climate may be a big ask, but not an impossible one. 

P.S. sorry about the intrusive pop up that will have burst onto your screen when you came here, it shouldn’t happen again. I’m in the process of following one of those ‘How to Make it as a Writer’ things that proliferate on the internet. Just to see how it works. That’s another thing I’ll share here. So far, so odd! 

Published by Eryl Gasper Dick

I am an artist and writer living in southwest Scotland. I freelance as a Literature Ambassador (for Wigtown Festival Co. who run the Scottish Book Town); as a creative writing teacher; and a content provider, populating people's websites and marketing materials with perfectly honed, clear sentences. When I'm not gadding about supporting writers, lit events, businesses, and students I write fiction, non-fiction, and the odd poem. I avidly believe that creativity is the answer to the problem.

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13 Comments

  1. That all sounds very positive and exciting. Onwards and upwards! I hope you can track down the funding you need to do the research (and help out your poor new husband).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Nick, I am very excited at the moment. Just wrote the bulk of my first weekly short story, tomorrow I’ll conclude it, and then I’ll have the rest of the week to polish it up. It will be nice if every week starts so well.

      Now to google funding!

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  2. Best wishes with the book and the workshops. I’ve just finished a 4-week course funded through the local library called, “Writing Freely”. It was so refreshing to be with others interested in books and to have a go at different aspects of writing.

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    1. Thank you, I’m enjoying the process immensely. Doing research for the workshops has seen me browsing Pinterest for hours looking for writing prompts, which feels like legitimate procrastination, if such a thing exists! Your four week course sounds great, it really is refreshing to be with others interested in books.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. As long as you keep writing and don’t get way laid. I’m content after 10 years or so to be doing a final edit and having it read and appreciated at the same time. Having suffered the ups and downs of the publishers and agents route I value the freedom to do it my way at the latter part of my life. Best of luck Eryl, I’m sure you will do well.

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    1. Thank you, Pat. I’m glad you found a way that suits you, I must make some time, now that you’ve got to the final edit, to come a read your story again. I was so empowered by it the first time I read it, and enchanted. Perhaps once it’s ready you can publish it as an ebook?

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  4. That was a nice, proper catch-up post. Not to heap more chores on your but don’t forget to carve out some time to read as well. I’ve heard it over and over again from published authors; if you don’t read, you won’t write. It’s like a muscle.

    In the New Year I’ve resolved to open an Instagram page. I like my photos and feel the world would be a better place with my pics in it. Ha. Just kidding. Sort of. Hope I actually follow-through.

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    1. You should totally open an Instagram page, I’m surprised you haven’t already. When I first opened mine I found it utterly addictive, but like everything that wore off somewhat, and now my phone is so old it hangs up and switches itself off at random I post only rarely. But you, you are in the middle of NYC all day, and have a lovely new phone, you’ll be an Instagram star in no time!

      I tend to think of reading as I do breathing, I do it almost without thinking. Currently reading Madame Bovary during the day, and Primo Levi’s The Periodic Table at bed time. Both are extraordinarily brilliant! Once I’ve got all my projects in place I hope to return to my weekend readathons too.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m currently readingsg ‘A Christmas Carol,’ as I do every year. This on Scrooge:

        Even the blindmen’s dogs appeared to know him; and when they saw him, would tug their owners into doorways and up corts; and then would wag their tails as though to say, “no eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”

        That’s very badass to me.

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