I know it’s tough when the words don’t want to go play in the fields of your imagination.
Like a hunger pang which makes you question whether you’re capable of telling the story which lives inside you. You call yourself an ‘aspiring writer’ but you just want to get it down, with the themes and ideas which possessed you to pursue it in the first place.
But it doesn’t quite work, does it?
You see all the writing advice out there, mostly from theorists who’ve studied the game but haven’t set foot on the field.
It’s like trying to take a drink from a fire hydrant sometimes.
Well, what if there was someone who could cut through all that, help you find and illustrate what you saw in your story?
I’ve written and consulted on numerous projects. I’ve studied classical story structure and narrative, mythology and psychology as it relates to storytelling and archetypes.
I have also known the pain of an unborn story inside you.
So, why not get in touch and see what my insights and experience can do to take your work to a level where it is out there, and reflecting your passion and craft?
Here is someone who has benefited from my help:
“My main concern when starting this process for our client was whether or not an editor was going to “get it”, and by that I mean understand what the author, a military historian and academician was trying to accomplish with the update of his nearly two decade-old historical nonfiction manuscript. Essentially, your specific editorial task was to make the manuscript less academic while maintaining the author’s voice. Fortunately, you immediately understood what we were going for and did a thorough job of editing the book according to our specifications. It was very refreshing to read your yield. Thank you.” — Florita Bell Griffin, Ph.D., ARC Communications, LLC. Texas USA
If you’re interested, please get in touch with me: email@example.com and see what we can accomplish together.
M B Blissett
The above picture is the completed exploratory draft of Lawful Evil. I finished it on Saturday in a mammoth writing sprint. Whenever I finish a draft, it’s a bittersweet experience, a mix of relief and regret. A lot happened during the three months of writing it, and the work reflects that. It’s the first book where I worked from a story grid, so it has more of a structure from the first. Now, it goes away for a couple of months, I’ve set a reminder to dig it out then and start transcribing it from longhand to the computer. During that time, I am editing as I go, making sure that the themes and ideas ring true, fill in any gaps and generally polish it up until it shines. I will be looking for beta readers after that, and sending it to the agent for further notes and feedback.
She’s Here is going really well, in the editing stages where I am looking at things like sticky sentences and overused words rather than the story itself. It’s an education and I always feel like I develop my craft when looking at my own flaws and correcting them. You will, of course, make new mistakes but they’re only tragedies if you fail to learn from them.
After that, I will be starting something entirely new again. The projects will require a little bit of research, but that’s a pleasure in and of itself. I am always writing, or thinking about it, and there’s nothing that stops me. It’s a great relief that I have this purpose, it keeps me upright when the world wants to kick me in the stomach.
I finished a couple of books at the weekend. Robin Wasserman’s Girls On Fire which was stunning, reminded me a little of Megan Abbot’s writing, but had it’s own sense of urgency and passion. It does not spare you, in it’s telling and I was genuinely moved and invigorated by the books.
I also read Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh, which was a noir novel that reminded me of Patricia Highsmith. It had some compelling moments but the elements that have perhaps been its selling point ultimately became it’s downfall. It takes too long for the big reveal to occur and when it does, the ending afterwards becomes too abrupt. It is beautifully written, the narrator/protagonist has a strong and well realised set of flaws, and there is a willingness to acknowledge the flesh in the book.
I am now reading A Wake of Vultures by Lila Bowen, which is very enjoyable, essentially it’s Buffy In The Wild West but it works really well in terms of worldbuilding, letting the western elements breathe and it’s quite interesting how the two genres work together. I’ve got the sequel as well, so will be reading that.
Books and writing get me through. My passion and purpose remain unabated.
Thank you for reading.
Last night, I edited chapters 23 – 24 of Until She Sings, paring back some rough spots but mostly adding details and narrative colour to them. The story is solid, so it’s a matter of subtlety and adding swatches of background as per my agent’s notes.
This morning, I dropped the hammer on events in Lawful Evil. It was enjoyable to write, having seen those scenes in countless interpretations, it was a little bit daunting to try and add to the lexicon but still, it felt really good to have landed it and have tomorrow’s session to really start going deep into the story. Not that I haven’t been already, but now I get to play with different sorts of tension, obligatory scenes and continue to add power to the work I’ve already done.
I am in a good place right now, between the two projects, I have a constant distraction from whatever doubts and frustrations creep into play. If one stymies me, I move onto the other and then when that loses it’s flavour, I have the other work. That is in addition to the short fiction but I work on that when time allows. I have to prioritise whatever is going to advance my purpose the most and that boils down to:
What work is there that someone is waiting for?
My agent has sent me notes in order to ensure the best possible chance of it being published. There’s a lot of competition and I won’t be lazy about what could be my first book. If it isn’t, then I have learned things and developed so that when I work on subsequent projects, I will have a wider array of tools to work from.
Lawful Evil is part of ensuring that if I am asked about anything new, then I can talk about it. Keeping working is important, it feels strange if I don’t write every day, so I maintain that practice but not at the expense of my obligations and responsibilities. I still have She’s Here and Nothing Keeps Me Anywhere but they’ve had solid edits and will just need a voluntary edit on my part to see where the sticking points are and then apply the experiences that have been part of my writing life since then.
It’s not enough to show up, you have to show up with the things that you have done. It builds courage and determination, which you will need. It’s important to see the frustrations, the time it takes as good problems to have. I know that I am heading in the right direction and that it’s lack of velocity is not down to any flaw on my part. I want my books to entertain and generate emotion, I want to tell the best possible story because that work is going out with my name on it. If someone wants to spend money on my work, then I owe it to them to offer up the best possible book. Perfect is the enemy of the good, but as a professional, I aim for it regardless.
Thank you for reading. Please leave comments, questions etc below.
The pages this morning flowed really well. That, was in part, due to a concerted and exhausting session of editing. Editing is where you are confronted with your flaws and habits, your sticky sentences and the words that you overuse. I focused on cutting the love scenes back to be more emotive and less physical/erotic, which was a learning curve as I used to derive a lot of confidence from my ability in that area. However, as I have learned and developed, those scenes are too loud for the rest of the book so I have been reshaping them with some editorial insight and notes from my agent.
It’s important to know when your resistance to a suggestion is sourced in ego or instinct. I seldom know where my flaws are until they are pointed out to me. I do the work, and within that, lies the pain of growth technically and artistically. It invites more challenges and rejections, but I still do the work that is necessary. I am not in competition with anyone else but myself. My ambition is for Until She Sings to be my first professionally published work and the more focus that goes into it now, the easier a sale it will be when it reaches a publisher.
I am not precious about it. I understand that, in sales, if you make the product an easy sell with minimal work required to make it suitable for the marketplace, a publisher is probably more inclined to buy the work. There are less resources available for a traditional mentorship/patronage these days unless you are willing to pay for it so it’s a good practice for me to work on my flaws and iron them out before submission. The short stories demand a similar amount of focus and each piece is given a thorough work through before I even think about submission.
Don’t be blithe about your work. Make sure, that whilst it’s just you, that you are testing and revising the work to eliminate reasons to say thanks but no thanks, other than simple matters of incompatibility. Do your research on who you are submitting to and what they like in a story or a book. It denotes respect, both for yourself and others. I try to act as professional as possible. If a piece gets rejected, cool, then I look at what might have happened. If it’s as simple as it not fitting, then you move on. Do that, after you’ve looked at it and see where you went wrong.
Sometimes, you can look at what gets published and wonder why your piece did not. Account for the other possibilities that get people in the door – previous relationships, the mood of the submissions editor, even the theme of the piece resonating. If it’s beyond your control as a writer then shrug and move on. Stephen King talks about the hundreds of rejection letters he got, and that was long before the low corse cost of email and social media came into play.
We live in a time when more people are writing than other. When rejection is a thick fog that coats your creative lungs with every breath. Internalise this truth:
NO ONE WANTS TO READ YOUR WORK
Make them. Make them, by writing the best possible work that represents you. No shortcuts, no plagiarism, write then edit then write again. Listen to the notes that you get, work through them then keep looking. If it’s in your control, then you can ease your concerns by knowing that you did all that you could. It is tiring, it sucks the fun out of it sometimes but this is what being a professional is all about. The work. Sweep the floor, chop the wood and get the fucking thing done.
Thank you for reading.
I’ve moved the story back into the main story again. I reserve the right to emote on the page and the ending, well I’m not sure I landed it. I will go back to it in the next draft and find another way to tell it, if it needs it. Happiness is sometimes more difficult to write about than anguish, which is why it’s sometimes so fleeting.
A good ending is not always a happy one, so long as it is true to the story.
I did another batch of editing on Until She Sings yesterday and will do some more today. I am waiting for notes from the agent, but am having another look through regardless. I look to make it smooth, the story works but there’s always room for improvement with the writing. A different way to phrase a sentiment. It’s a lot of practice but it shows up in the finished work. I don’t want to look stupid with something that has my name on it. We risk embarrassment when we write but should not invite it unduly.
I have another short story developing. As I develop craft, I find myself going over it more. Some time away gives it perspective and armed with that, you can spot the flaws and excise them.
Mostly though, it’s Lawful Evil.
It’s important that I spend a lot of time reading I am reading Different Class by Joanne Harris at the moment and it is great. Observed, chilling and emotionally engaging, it really is a pleasure. There’s a lot you can learn from understanding how a writer does something. You go with ideas not ideology and remain open to what you are feeling.
I have books that I will revisit. Marcus Aurelius’ book of letters and also I want to finish The Tao of Pooh because that is delightful. I enjoy studying those books for practices and a way to think through my issues and ideas. Before the new season of Game of Thrones, I usually reread A Song of Ice and Fire, but it’s probably unnecessary as the show has gone on past the published books.
Please leave comments and questions below. Thank you for reading.