Thursday, 8 March 2012

Dorset Writers Network and Bath Literary Festival

Jennifer Oliver and I gave a talk about Online Publishing for the Dorset Writer’s Network over the weekend, which seemed to go down well. There was a literary agent there – it was good to have the agent process demystified. What I think is most exciting about the roles of agents is the working relationship, the fact that the agent wants to bring the best out of the writer and offer a platform of support. I could really use that.

Steve Elsworth gave a talk on digital publishing. He thinks that within 10-20 years printed books will be obsolete/ have the same status as LP records have currently. I really hope that this won’t be so, books have a very long history and I hope that they are as ingrained in our society as other ancient media. Maybe it will be more like painting – a medium that many thought would be replaced by photography.

Some of us Storyslingers (my writing group) went to Bath on Tuesday for a Speculative Fiction workshop lead by Bath Spa University students. It was a really enjoyable evening, especially as I want to study on the MA programme at Bath Spa, so their insight was very helpful. One issue cropped up, and that’s that I’m the sort of writer who loves the first draft stage but struggles to edit – resulting in having about six novels at first draft stage but nothing fully completed or ready to send anywhere.

Many of the Bath Spa students have the opposite problem – they prefer to edit as they go, which means that they don’t get to write THE END for a long time, and when they get there it’s at the same stage as I would be after a few edits and re-writes.

A key piece of advice I was given was to finish up one novel in its entirety, to a level that’s ready to send out, and don’t start anything new until it’s done.

I’ve been struggling with editing my Arthurian novel over the past few days. My main problem is lack of confidence. I’m not the same person I was when I first wrote this story and I feel I could do a better job, or at least I want to be capable of doing a better job. I’m not quite convinced that I’m a good enough writer yet. This makes editing a pretty depressing task.

I wonder if anyone else has this problem?  From what the Bath Spa students said; it’s fairly common and normal to feel like your work isn’t matching up to your expectations. Writers are naturally self-deprecating.

I have one question to any writers out there: Do you listen to music while you write and/ or edit? Does it help? I find that listening to music helps calm me down, gets me past my self-deprecation so I can actually write or edit. But a level of focus is then lost. My writing seems better when I’m editing to music than when I’m editing it in silence – so I cut less out when listening to music. I’m not sure if it’s better to listen to music or face up to my words in all their silent force. Any thoughts? 

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