Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Gone through the eye of the needle.

Anthony Horowitz always says, "Believe!" when asked what kept him going through the years before he was noticed. In the last three years I have been writing and publishing short fiction for children, such as Peppermint Ward, a story of children with cancer.

You can read more about my short fiction on my website, as well as my other publications, such as my first novel 'Secret Territory'.

But I have been working for over two years on a cycle of three novels for teenagers set on beautiful Hayling Island, opposite the Isle of Wight. The first novel has been under submission for over a year and it has been a roller coaster of a ride. I had an agent, who dropped out on me and then I had to search for another agent and survive several rejections. Then I had to survive all the ups and downs of editors wanting/not wanting/ not sure/ sure/ saying no/ in all the many forms such things take. To me the whole process felt like going through the eye of a needle and all the time the blue water and sky of Hayling beckoned me forward.

This week I have secured a three book offer for my novels with the wonderful Meadowside Books and the rollercoaster ride has all been worth it. I have gone through the eye of the needle. My books will be read.

If this is really what you want, then it is worth all the work, the writing, the re-writing, the doubts and the fears. if you 'Believe' in your work and you are prepared to settle in for the long haul, then you will go through the eye of the needle and your work will be read.

My critic is a Tiger.

We are all plagued by our Inner Critic, sitting on our shoulders, telling us we're writing rubbish. But in a workshop with River Wolton a few years ago, I learned some useful tips on challenging my Inner Critic.

River encouraged us to visualise our critic and mine is a Tiger.

I wrote a piece imagining my tiger prowling the edge of my garden, while I sit in my study trying to write. It is dark and there is only the pool of light from my table lamp. Outside I can see the tiger padding up and down, jaws drooling,until suddenly he is in the room and my pen is frozen on my pad.

But is the Inner Critic only there stop us from writing with freedom and the wind in our hair? Or does my tiger have a useful role to play?
The answer is, Yes of course. I can dismiss my tiger when he is blocking my way forward. But I can also invite him in when I need his sensible thoughts on my work.
The important thing is to keep control. The tiger remains outside my garden fence until I decide to let him in, until I am ready. And not before.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

What is your landscape?

Most of my writing for children and teens has been set by the sea and the area which features in my new cycle of teen novels, is Hayling Island. My family lived on the Island for 20 years. You can find out more on my website.

In my second novel, ILLEGAL, Lindy and Karl need to get away from the adults for a while.It is evening and they go to the Kench, a beautiful, very quiet spot on the south-east end of the Island. Karl breaks into a houseboat.

Then they go for a swim in the sea and Lindy feels as though she is washing herself clean from all the troubles of her day. Karl swims out much further, rising and falling like a dolphin in the bay.

Choose your landscape carefully for you novel, so that it becomes fully embedded in the story and the characters. Your landscape, imaginery or real, should be a place that takes on a life of its own, fully three dimensional, without dominating your text. HAPPY WRITING.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Write a question, kickstart your writing

Sometimes when I sit down to write it feels like an impossible mountain to climb. I have a problem, I can't find my way through, I start to go down the distraction route, make coffee, fill the washing machine. Anything to run away from the mountain. But I know that the problem won't go away. I have to resolve it to restart the flow of writing. What can I do?

If you find yourself avoiding getting down to it because you are stuck, ask yourself a question and write the question down. Then answer the question. For example :
What do I want to write about? Why doesn't L. get out of bed? What is the problem here?
Then ask another and another and each time answer the question. Invariably I start with writing language which has nothing to do with the text and find within minutes that I am back in character and whizzing forward. My character solves the problem and its all systems go.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Write a journal to keep up the writing habit.

I have written journals all my life. Writing a journal can be part of the daily practice of keeping ourselves limbered up as writers. The journal is the place where we can explore our innermost thoughts and so it can be our most private of places. But I also find that my journal is a safe and comfortable place to write a stream of consciousness about a character or a problem in my story. Allowing my pen to stream words across the page can help to get my writing back on track.
I always keep a daily journal when I travel. This often leads to a poem or piece of prose.
These photos and a journal extract are from a holiday on the Orkneys.

"A morning on Hoy - the wind has dropped and the sky is clear and blue. On the boat on the way out a biker joked, 'Could be the Caribbean, the sea so blue...' Old Norse prevails here, Olaf, Glumshom, Birsay, Kalfey. The sea is smooth as glass and the sun is large and bright in the sky, blazing in a cloudless blue. Up here you experience weather in all its glory...."

Back home I wrote this poem.

Arctic north

Orkney water changes by the hour

rough swell to glassy green,

beyond Noup Head

where two oceans meet,

Rossi dolphins rise and fall

like markers in the sea.

I could live here put down roots

rest my back on Brodgar’s Ring,

watch the red throat diver chicks

bobbing on the loch,

as the midday cargo boat leaves Hoy

and spring struggles out of winter.

I want to read by the midnight sun

bend my head to the Orkney wind.

But my skin dark in this Viking lair

lays down a different marker

my story strange

my home so far away.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Write a sentence, but write everyday.

Write everyday to keep yourself limbered up and in practice as a writer. The more you write the easier it will become. Even if you only write one sentence.What about your shopping list?Choose half a dozen items and turn them into poetry.
Tesco Blues
Wholemeal bread, deodorant
mouthwash out those crumpets
hygiene gel,
salmon fillets
drown the lot in pasta sauce,
2.5 potatoes, another bag of spuds
tuna chunks
facial wipes
Man, I've got the bluegel blues
Write every day, even if it is just a few words, play about with ordinary everyday words in your life, shopping lists, notes to the teacher, reminders on the fridge. We are surrounded by words. They are the very stuff of life. HAPPY WRITING

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

How to write every day even when you don't feel like it.

This is a whole new beginning. I am starting my first proper blog and I am very excited because this will be a whole new area of writing for me. I have added to other people's blogs but now its time for me to start my own new thread weaving its way across the Internet.
MIRIAM'S WRITING TIP : Decide to write for half an hour. Sit down at your writing space, write for 30 minutes exactly. Put your pen down and walk away. You will feel happy for the rest of the day because you will have done your writing.