Self-Doubt, The Story Slayer…

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In a narrow corner of my mind she waits, cast aside in chains, her judgement neither sought nor welcomed.  I see her, oh how I see her: face gnarled, grotesque.

Her name? Self-doubt.

I defy any writer to deny the existence of their own dark angel, their own inner self who shouts loud and persistently that your work is crap, that you are a fool to even CONTEMPLATE publishing that tripe!  What if the reviews are bad? Heaven forbid a reader doesn’t ‘get you,’ doesn’t get the character, their journey, the entire premise of your tale.

Think babies.  Oh, how we proudly we show off our newborns.  Now imagine that someone says your child is ugly!  The anger and hurt that they can’t see the beauty that you see.  Well, our stories and our story people are our babies.  When we nurture them for months, investing our very souls, and finally give them a gentle nudge out into the world it’s with great trepidation, our minds littered with ‘what ifs.’  Rejection is a punch in the solar plexus after all, isn’t it?

Those fears stem from that evil little dark angel on your shoulder, or in that dusty corner of your subconscious.  The same little shit that tries to infiltrate your family and friends who mean well with their whispered scorn and sympathetic tutting and mumblings of, ‘why don’t you concentrate on your real job? At least you tried.’

The dark angel will chip away at you until you believe that you’re delusional to ever think that you could be a writer.

The more that you listen to the wizened beast, the greater the chance that its prophecy will come into being.  You see, your imagination will be cloaked in a fog of negativity until your words cannot see, cannot breathe, will never reach the page.  Self-doubt scratches out the art that you should be creating.  Self-doubt twists your words into a tight knot of over-worked, over-thought stilted paragraph after paragraph.

You can take control away from your self-doubt dark angel.  Lock that negative voice away in a box.  See the clouds part, the sun’s rays fall upon your face. Celebrate the fact that you have a gift to write.  You have a voice that no-one else on this planet possesses. Go you!

  • Don’t seek the opinion of people who you know to be negative.  Stay true to your dreams and remember, YOUR dreams are no-one else’s.  No other person is as vested in your story as you are.  Don’t ask for their opinion, instead talk to another writer or a friend who believes in you, who will motivate you.
  • Grow! There is a wealth of ‘how to’ books, writers’ groups and seminars.  Eat up all of that free information like a starving man at a free wedding banquet.  Plunder that buffet until your stomach groans.
  • Writer’s block is you letting that dark angel back into your story world.  Defeat it by skipping to another chapter, taking a walk, eating cake, parking your book for a day or two or putting an emotional piece of music on your iPod and letting it fan that fire back inside you.
  • Accept that you are not perfect.  There will be that one negative review that rocks your soul and reinforces your belief that you are the worst writer ever to have been spat onto this earth.  Immediately re-read the good reviews that your work has received.  Remind yourself that you can please some of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time.  Some people may be dealing with their own dark angel and your book might have been a trigger.  You will receive praise.  You will make an impact on someone’s day, life, future.  Those moments are to be celebrated.

I so hope that this has been useful.  What if it hasn’t?  What if you judge me by this post and–

Much love,

Janey x

 

 

It’s been a while…

I’m ashamed that I haven’t posted here for so long! Life, kids, writing, everything transpires to stop me blogging but here I am now 😉

I really hope you’ll come and see me, and all the other authors, in Chester in April. If nothing else, treat yourself to a spa night at the lovely Mollison Banastre Hotel & Spa, then rock up on Saturday 8th April for some free goodies!

Here’s the fabulous line up:

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Mwah!

Janey x

Story telling dilemma…

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You meet someone purely by chance at a dinner party; a lovely couple who seemingly live the perfect life: beautiful period cottage, longevity of marriage (30+ years), retirement mapped out.

Within a month a terrible tragedy occurs that destroys not only their ordered existence but life itself!  Like a house of cards, so their world tumbles.

As if that isn’t shocking enough, you then discover that their entire public persona was a lie.  All was not as it seemed from the outset but only half of the couple knew all along. That person’s life was then to be snuffed out.  Suddenly.  Violently.

This really happened to me.  I was at that dinner party.  I did meet that couple.  The dilemma is that it has presented such a wonderful story to tell.

The dilemma is, do I write their story or is it not my tale to tell?

Sensory writing…

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Here is an owl.  A barn owl.

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Unable to credit photographer as Anon.

What is a barn owl doing on your page, Janey?

Great question!

Yesterday I witnessed the joy and emotion on the face of a girl without sight when a barn owl flew onto her gloved hand.  A barn owl is an exquisite creature, particularly in flight as can be seen in the photo above.  Yet, the blind girl seemed to experience as much enjoyment from her experience as a sighted person.

We have five senses.  Use them all in your writing!

The point of sharing this with you is to remind us that all five of our senses are a gift.  If we lose one, our bodies compensate with the others.  Touch, taste, smell, sound and sight: all enrich our experience of life, none is dependent upon the other.  When writing, we can bring our stories to life for readers by utilising senses.  Crucially, with the introduction of audio books, it’s vital to also consider how these senses are invoked through the spoken word.

Using all five senses brings the story to life whereas using only sight, for example, renders it one-dimensional and isn’t true to life.  Even if we can’t see the ocean, we can taste the salt on our tongues, feel the sand – powdery or scrunching between our toes.  We can hear the squawk of a careening seagull…and so on.

What did the girl feel as the owl perched on her gloved hand?  

‘Magic,’ she said.

Write on!  🙂

Janey x

Why stories matter…

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Once upon a time, there was a small girl with yellow hair and blue eyes and an inquiring mind.  The girl––let’s call her Janey––lived in a house with her parents and a brother who poured milk over her head, and threw spiders at her.  Janey loved her family, even her brother, but the one she loved most of all was her friend who lived in a Marmite jar.  ‘Friend’ was a pebble.  The pebble and the yellow-haired girl flew on magic carpets to whimsical lands…

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Stories matter.

I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t submerged deep inside my own mind in a world of fantasy – where the impossible was achievable and where my made-up friends were never perfect but always fun.  Don’t get me wrong, I had lots of ‘real’ friends and we often made up other worlds together but there was something special about ‘Pebble’ and the possibilities that my imagination afforded me.  Us.

When I became a mum, I delighted in making up worlds for my children, places that together we would go to at bedtime or in the car.  The story of Bobelie the fairy became so real to my daughter that she would search for her in the spring flowers in our garden.  I would always begin a new story, my daughter would then pick up the thread and let her imagination facilitate the story’s direction and the fairy’s journey.

Why do stories matter?

Stories matter because life is a tough ride.  Who doesn’t daydream in the middle of a challenging day at work?  Our minds want to lead us to a place that is calmer, or where we can be all of the things that once we had dreamed that we would be.  Or to take us to places that perhaps seem unreachable in our everyday lives.  Without stories, life is flat – one dimensional.  Stories can unravel in our minds or can be absorbed through the written word, on TV, at the theatre.  We are sponges from birth with an enormous capacity to soak up all the possibilities that we learn about and to project ourselves into scenarios and worlds at our own behest.

Stories matter.

(I no longer have Pebble).

Write on!  🙂

Janey x

Writing is not just a hobby…

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Copyright Anon.

Announcement: Writing is not my hobby like needlecraft or stamp-collecting or walking the cat.  Writing is more than this.  It’s what I need to do, or the story people inside my head would multiply and multiply until they literally CRAWL OUT OF MY EARS! And that would be weird…it is not a hobby.

If I am writing, do not discuss politics (yes my hubby, I’m looking at you!) Also, when I am in my story world I am not aware that the children have stuffed small items up their noses or that my daughter has transformed her little brother into a red-lipped porn star.  I need that half an hour.  Again, I refer you to the paragraph above – writing is not my hobby.

So, writers, protect your time!  You deserve it and you need it. 

Write on! 😉

Writers Digest Conference, New York…

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Well, what a conference it was again – The Writers’ Digest Conference, 2016, in New York City.  I have flown home from my third conference with so much new knowledge and motivation!

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Kwame Alexander, Keynote Speaker

Where to start?  There is only one place, and that’s with my personal favourite hour with the keynote speaker, Kwame Alexander.

I won’t list Kwame’s extensive writing career on this post but you can find his Wiki entry here.

Kwame is a world-renowned writer of poetry and children’s fiction and the winner of the Newbery Medal in recognition of his outstanding contribution to American children’s literature.  So, he was more than qualified to do the keynote!  It really was an honour that he shared his time with us writers.

He was hilarious!  Funny and inspirational.  The thing is, Kwame knew the pain of rejection in the literary world.  Even his father, a publisher, said no to his first book!  So many would give up in the face of rejection, yet Kwame developed his own ethos which was to say YES! to everything and anything.  Honestly!  Every opportunity was met head-on with a ‘can do’ attitude.

The lesson I learned from Kwame was this:  We should open our minds on our writing journey.  New paths will open up ahead and, if we take them, even though we have no idea of our destination––will we fail? If we fail, how the hell will we pick ourselves up?––we should say YES!  If we don’t, then we will always be limited by our own fear and lack of confidence.  This was my interpretation of his talk, others might have taken away a different message and that’s okay.  We each take from experience and from life, that which we personally need at this stage of our lives, and that’s the beauty of really listening and learning from others.

There were many other incredible speakers, too many to list here.  Yes, some seminars gave conflicting information to other seminars (e.g. to outline or not to outline) but, again, it goes back to taking from something like this what you want.  What sits well with you is what is important.

Aside from the speakers, I had the privilege of meeting other writers and what a fabulous group they were!  Again, too many to mention but a wave across the pond to Ron, Kent, Erin and so many others.

One special lady I met who deserves the biggest hurrah! is the Statue of Liberty.  I’d wanted to see her for so long and finally did so!

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Finally, I’ll spend some time now collating all the information I brought home with me.  I think I’ll go again next year although I hope it’s back at the Roosevelt.  🙂

Book trailers…

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Do you have an amazing book trailer that you’d like to showcase here?

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In the process of having one created, I’ve been watching quite a few over the past few days and have been staggered at how creative and fab many are!

Mini movies about books.  Thirty seconds or a minute is a small window to encompass the entire premise of a story, it does offer a tempting teaser though.

Has your book trailer boosted sales?  Has it generated a book-buzz?  I’d love to hear from you so please do comment.

Janey x

Parental controls and social media or, Old people know nothing!

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Do you stalk your teenage child’s social media accounts?

I’m the only one?

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It’s not that we don’t trust our kids, it’s that we are old enough and wise enough as parents to know that there are creeps out there lurking and preying on vulnerable minors.

I raise this issue because I sent a private message this morning to my teenage daughter’s social media account.  I’d noticed that her privacy settings were non-existent and that, already, she had a lurker in her follower list.

I like meet you. You send message, we meet.

I calmly asked my dear daughter to amend her settings, that I would show her how to do this and what I thought was acceptable personal information and what was not.

Her reply was this:

Oh gosh, this is hilarious.  I’m posting this on Instagram!  This (her mother sending her a private message and looking at her account) is creepier than the creepy guy!

What my daughter forgets is that her father sat for six hours at Magcon at O2 on Saturday, resulting in permanent hearing loss through fifteen thousand girls screaming at boys who are multi-millionair social media starlets.  No, we are just creepy old people who’s mission in life is to ruin theirs. 😉

What are your views on parental controls with social media?  I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Janey x

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