My latest writing endeavours

My regular readers would be aware that over the last few years I have been very busy working on my Master of Arts Creative writing degree. I finished the requirements for this last December and submitted my thesis paper for marking. I am still waiting for the results from the examiners.

Over Christmas and New Year I took a few weeks’ break from the intensive writing I did in the latter half of 2010. It certainly drained me emotionally and physically. Now I am steadily getting on with other writing projects. Most writers I know or have read recommend that once you have finished a major writing project, have a short break then get on with the next project. This is especially true if you have submitted a book manuscript to a publisher.

I haven’t yet submitted my thesis paper (a children’s novel) to a publisher, but submitting it to the examiners is similar, I guess. I could spend every day sitting by the phone waiting for a call from my supervising lecturer telling me of the result. That wouldn’t achieve anything, nor will it hasten the process. I will hear in due course, probably in the next 3 or 4 weeks. In the meantime, I’m getting on with other projects.

Some writers make the mistake of sitting by the letter box, or checking it every few hours, waiting for a letter from their potential publisher. That will not make an acceptance (or rejection) letter come any faster. Get on with the next project while you are waiting.

So – how am I using my time?

  1. Birding: I’ve been doing a little birding which is my favourite hobby. You can read about it on my blog called Trevor’s Birding. This site shows hundreds of photos of our beautiful Australian birds.
  2. Photography: I’ve just treated myself to a new camera and I’m having fun playing with it. Over coming months you’ll see the results here and on my other two sites.
  3. Reading: I’m aware of the ever increasing heights of the piles of unread books and magazines in my office and bedside table, and I’ve been steadily working my way through them. My reading during my studies was very focussed on what I had to read, not what I wanted to read. That will change.
  4. Swimming: Now that the weather has improved here in South Australia I’ve been making good use of our swimming pool. Having a solar blanket heats the water to very acceptable temperatures, even first thing in the morning.
  5. Writing: My writing has not been totally neglected, and after the Christmas break I’m steadily getting back into it. At the moment I am concentrating on writing articles for my web sites. I’ve written many of them for my birding site mentioned above, as well as for another site called Trevor’s Travels. This one is about my travels here in Australia and overseas. Then I am planning a series of articles for this site about writing, so stay tuned.

Sounds like my holiday is over and I’m back to writing again.

Good writing.

It is never too late to be a writer

Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens, South Australlia

“It’s never too late to be what you could have been.” George Eliot

Do you want to be a writer?

I have – ever since I was eight years old. I dabbled in writing stories and poems in high school but then became sidetracked in teaching for 35 years. Teaching was always my second choice. All through my teaching career – a reasonably successful one I might add – I continued to consider myself a writer but could only devote serious time to it during holiday periods.

My writing received quite a boost when I bought my first computer in the late 1980s. All through the 1990s I built up a considerable body of writing and had limited publishing successes. I always considered that I would begin to write full time and very seriously when I retired. In part, I have succeeded in that goal. For the last six years I’ve written thousands of articles on my three blog sites. I’ve also written many short stories, poems and a novel for children.

The point of all this?

I agree with the Eliot quote above. Last month I celebrated my 63rd birthday. I’ve just completed the requirements for my Master of Arts Creative Writing degree. The novel I’ve just written will be submitted to publishers in the new year. My best writing years are still ahead of me. It is never too late.

Five years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of having a university degree. It is never too late.

Five years ago I wouldn’t have dreamed of writing so much, but now I’ve written nearly two and a half million words. It is never too late.

Five years ago I could only dream of making money from my writing, but now have a steady income from my writing, especially  blogging. It is never too late.

Five years ago I had very few readers but now hundred of people around the globe read my words every day. It is never too late.

Good writing: it is never too late to become a writer.

A good writing day

I’m having a good writing day.

1500 words so far – and the day is only half over!

The last few days (and weeks) have been frustrating. Health issues, appointments, responsibilities outside of my writing life and life in general have all conspired to limit the amount of progress I’ve made recently, especially with my work in progress, a novel for children.

Today I’ve managed to get a few things taken off my list. I’ve done some essential reading, replied to some urgent emails, responded to comments here and on my other blogs and written¬† long entry in my journal. All good progress.

The writing life is like that. Some days it feels like you can write forever, all the words flow easily and you feel on top of the world – well, your little bit of the world anyway. Then there are those awful days when the wings fall off, you come crashing down to another reality and it’s so hard to take off again. Sigh. Bit like life in general, actually.

I must get back to my novel now.

Good writing.

Submitting to publishers

I subscribe to a number of newsletters about writing via email. I don’t always get to read every one of them, but I try to at least glance through most of them. Some are better than others, of course.

I’ve just read one that comes from a writer who lives here in South Australia. His newsletters are always worth reading – every word. In this week’s newsletter he mentions that he checked his submissions spreadsheet only to realise that he was well behind in his goal of 100 rejections. He chastised himself publicly, adding that if his writing was not out there doing the rounds of the publishers, how could he expect to get published. Good point, one I need to take serious note of as it’s been a while since I last submitted anything.

What he meant by his requisite 100 rejections he didn’t explain. Did he mean total rejections, rejections this year or what? It doesn’t really matter. The thrust of many of his newsletters is to encourage his readers to write, write, write and then submit, submit, submit. His theory – and it’s a good one – is that the more you write the better you get at this game. I agree.

The second part of his writing theory is that the more you write, the more material you have to submit to publishers. And the more you submit, the better your chances of being published become. The flip side is: if you submit nothing, that’s exactly how much you’ll get published.

Good writing – and don’t forget to submit something this week!

Confessions of a sick writer

I wrote a few days ago that I was near the final editing stages of my novel for children.

Now I have another hurdle has come my way: illness. Sure, it’s only a head cold with lots of sneezing, a dry throat and the beginnings of a nose like a tap that cannot be turned off. It is the season for colds and flu here in Australia, and we’ve had some bitterly cold weather of late but that doesn’t bring much comfort in the midst of the discomfort.

I am trying to edit my novel for children, now in its 7th draft. Concentrating on the editing process is challenging enough; having a head that feels like it’s stuffed full of wool doesn’t help the process. I guess I should sit back, relax and get better as quickly as I can. Then I’ll be able to fully concentrate on the task in hand.

Can’t help wishing for someone to take over for a few days so I can relax and recover. In another life – when I was a classroom teacher – I wouldn’t hesitate to get a relief teacher in to take my place, knowing that would not only hasten my recovery but also be fairer to the children in my class. They deserved to have a teacher who was least willing to be there, be reasonably competent and certainly not sneezing all over them. Where are the relief writers? Never mind.

One thing about blogging is that you can write posts ahead of time, scheduling them to appear over a period of days or even weeks. I often write blogs in blocks of time, writing 5 – 10 in one day and scheduling them to appear at set intervals. During that time I can then go on with other writing tasks. This time however, I don’t have any scheduled to appear here. Sigh. (I do have some on my other blogs – see sidebar for links to them.)

I’d better get back to that editing.

Good writing – and good health.