Welcome to the emotional rollercoaster that is the world of writing!
Over the last two weeks, I have swung from euphoric excitement to absolute disheartenment, beating myself up that I’m just not good enough. And yet, in spite of the low periods, I have still managed to send off two MS proposals and received encouraging feedback on the submitted partial I mentioned in my previous post.
I have also realised that it’s so common to be an arse to yourself as a writer that I’m far from alone and it has really helped just knowing that. I have also kept myself busy (distracted!!) by focusing on the end goal and in so doing achieved quite a bit, definitely ending the week on a high.
So back to those things I mentioned I’d achieved…
I’ve sent off two MS submissions (one partial, one full) to the publisher I have already signed with — nail biting aplenty now as I wait on their feedback.
And having received a swift response on the previously submitted partial, I have been busy acting upon it. The feedback was encouraging. The high point being told I write sex “really well” — whoop whoop! My heroine just needed a “personality transplant” in order to nail the right tone (all entirely fixable!). And how they signed off — looking forward to seeing my revisions. Well, I was looking forward to getting them done and got straight on it. After many hours, I can finally say I hit send on the revised version yesterday — cue more nail biting while I wait to hear back from them too!
So having worked flat-out, I finally have time to write this little post to keep you all abreast of where I’m at. It also feels like a nice opportunity to tell you about the first writing craft book I ever bought, it’s umpteen years old but I love it all the same. It was in the list of recommended reads I gave in my previous post…
To Writers with Love by Mary Wibberley
This book is so delightful to read, I feel like Mary’s in the room talking to me when I read it. She has such a lovely way with words (which she should do since she was a best-selling romance novelist!) and her use of examples through-out really help you to understand the point she is making and learn from them.
She covers various aspects of writing. Some of which, to be honest, aren’t relevant in the present day (my edition is from 1987) but those sections relate more to the practical side of publishing (mailing of submissions, monetary aspects etc.). In terms of the actual writing craft itself, it is still plenty relevant.
The book opens with her own journey to getting published. If you’re like me, this will interest you no end. It really motivates you to get past rejections and keep on at your goal. She also goes through the many excuses writers make for not writing and addresses each one, ultimately telling you to get your arse in gear and write.
She talks about the negative attitudes towards romance (which are sadly still very much in play today) and how as a romance author you will have to come up against such negativity. But she ends this stating the fact that romance books are successful and read in their millions, giving pleasure to millions…
“Is there anything wrong with that? The answer is no.”
Point well made, Mary!
She discusses the importance of first impressions, how to create people that leave a lasting impact, not just your main characters but supporting characters too. She goes through the potential character types you could use and how to flesh them out to work for your book. She also stresses the importance of getting their names right and how, if you don’t, it can really stilt your writing.
She goes through location setting and how important it is that you set the right backdrop for your book. And once you have that backdrop, how you then submerge your reader into it.
She covers advice on how to construct your plot upfront if that’s what you desire, or how to go down the “pantser” route; how to make sure you grab your reader on the first page and make sure you don’t forget that the right ending is just as important as the beginning; and her tips on dialogue are fantastic. She even breaks down the first few pages of a novel to show how the author is using dialogue combined with expression and character movement to build tension.
There is a great little Q & A section — “All you wanted to know about writing but were afraid to ask”. Here she covers a variety of things, from writing problems like creating credible plots, how to describe characters better, to dealing with practical troubles like mental blocks, where to get help etc.
Towards the end, there is also a chapter where she interviews other writers on how they manage their workload and stay productive — this is interesting more than anything else. I love reading about other authors and what they do.
It really is a lovely book if you can get your hands on it. Sadly, I discovered in producing this little review that Mary passed away in 2013, aged 79, but her words will certainly live on and her advice will stay with me for the rest of my days. So, for that Mary, I thank you!
PS Mary was a best-selling author writing 48 books for Mills & Boon in her career, if that’s not a good reason to go out and get hold of her book, I don’t know what is…here are just a few of her covers for inspiration…how gorgeous are these? ❤