About laughhg

Published author, trainer, presenter and currently conducting writing courses in libraries. Chart topping songwriter, producer.

WRITING IS RISK TAKING

Writing for Pleasure Blog

 

WRITING IS RISK TAKING

It has been a long time since I wrote anything on my blog. I write more often on facebook and get an interesting diversity of responses… From being ignored, thumbs up, the occasional heart to show they loved it, indignant responses or even some nasty contents. All comes with the territory.

Writing anything has its risks. Starting with self-doubts, ‘Is my writing any good?’ ‘What am I saying?’ ‘How will people respond?’ ‘Who is my market?’ ‘Am I kidding myself?’ ‘Has my writing been edited enough or too much.’ and ‘Who would want to read this?’

Yet, the compulsion to write continues. Everyone has a story. Everyday is an adventure, from the moment you open your eyes, let them rest on something, start thinking and hoisting your body out of bed (well! I do that).

The day’s activities, people in our lives and those we meet at random, events, challenges, our environment, world events, and anything else that we can possibly focus on, gives us the fodder to put words to paper or computer, whether it’s to initiate a story that suddenly popped into your head or telling your own story.

What really matters is; HOW you write, how well you can construct all the elements that make your writing skills shine, be interesting for the reader, and leave you and others with a sense of satisfaction.

The risk of course, is when you decide to go out in the public arenas to share or sell your story. I’m rather suspicious of my friends to give them my latest piece of creative output, specially when they say, “It’s great, you write so well Helene.” Are they saying this because it is so, or because they are my friend and anything I write is great to them, or the opposite side of the spectrum when someone thinks they are the world’s best book critic, tells you what you wrote isn’t good enough. Funny thing is though, when you are being honest, it doesn’t work either. A friend of mine recently self-published her novel, and she asked me what I thought of it. I had reservations but wanted to be positive so honestly told her, ‘It’s a terrific story.” More questions from her, and further responses from me of, ‘Well done for achieving this, great cover.” Then came the one that really threw my honesty, ‘What do you think of it?’ Oh dear, I couldn’t tell her that it was full of clichés and one- dimensional characters. So, I talked about the story. I could tell she was defensive, ‘I’ve had some very good responses, people love it.’ My reply was, ‘That’s fabulous, you must enjoy it and feel that all your hard work was worthwhile.’

You see, risk taking also applies to friendships in our writings. Fortunatly, I belong to a marvelous writing group where we go over a chapter a month of each other’s manuscript. We work with positive co-operation and help each other tremendously in improving our work. I have learnt an infinite amount from these wonderful writers.

Make no mistake, writing is risk taking. Every sentence brings out elements of you, the style, the genre, the quality of your writing, and the insecurities. Checking with others I find it common. The most important part I believe, is to set aside the ego, that’s where it clashes with the risk. If a person is so entrenched with the idea that what they have written is perfect, there is a problem. Editors would be out of work, and lyrical pieces could go on an on unchecked, leaving them flowing out of a readers interest.

Having said all this, forget the risk, start writing, putting ideas down, exploring new characters, inventing scenarios, creating situations and challenges. After that; start the slog of editing, cutting, fixing, changing, forking out money for an editor if you want to publish.

An update on my own writing: My memoir, ‘Sometimes the Music’ is at the stage of last edits-proof-read with a good editor, and hopefully, I will be publishing it this year.

Another book I am involved with is a co-operation one with my Randwick Writing Group. We have been fortunate to have a publisher and are looking forward to the release and book launch of “Sharing Writing Skills.”

I will keep you posted about another of my writing projects, “Beachside Stories” undertaken as part of my Randwick Library course, “Writing for Pleasure” with short stories from the many students who have attended.

Without risk, nothing happens. These days breathing is a risk. So, take a deep breath, engage your imagination and get writing.

Happy Writings

Helene

MAKING WRITING YOUR PLEASURE

People who write are part of a creative community. There is no doubt, if we didn’t enjoy what we do, why would we be spending hours in front of our computers or bent over a notepad to pull a flow of words from seemingly nowhere? Not only that, turn those words into stories to make them into fiction or non-fiction. We nurture those sentences into shapes and colours of life. We inject ourselves or other people in there, and place them into events, situations, conflict, resolves, romance, murder, journeys, and memories.

After that, begins the real suffering, or as I call it the pain and pleasure, of editing. Going over and over and over, again and again and again, over what started as a gorgeous love affair between you and your words into a marriage full of conflict, passion, wayward feelings, taking you through sentences, words, commas, full stops, and other bits of shapes jumping uneasily inside paragraphs. You suffer, you bleed, you’ve had enough, a light shines brightly on a beautiful line that you fall in love with, and then continue into the dark world of doubt.

When you sat down in the first place, you were full of expectations, desire, hope, an idea scratched inside of you that you had to give birth to. The first words were the new baby, a life, just starting. You looked at it with love-filled eyes, fed it the best morsels of your creativity, wiped its doodoos with your endless edits and when it wasn’t even old enough, you started to consider how you would introduce this new child into a harsh world.

Here we are, all of us, playing with words, escaping into ideas, and willing others to love our love-child. No matter what, we have to go on. The compulsion to keep writing might have holidays but, sooner or later, it reclaims us, and we chase those words into a new horizon of story.

FINISHED WRITING THAT BOOK?

Just when you think you have finished, you have written everything you wanted to write, created the story, the journey, the experiences, who is in your book and who isn’t. Just when you are so pleased that you’ve done ‘it’. You have put down around 90,000 words, more or less. Three hundred pages, more or less. You’ve edited like crazy or as they say, till your eyes bleed from looking at the material over and over, adding, cutting, changing. One day you love your writing. Another day you wonder what the hell was I thinking, writing this drivel? Friends are fairly redundant, because they usually say, you are so good or gently remind you that there are many people writing and that you are a drop in the ocean of books.

Okay, so you’ve gone beyond that. You feel that its time for a professional editor to go at it and see what you don’t, fix what you can’t, advise what you should. Finding the right editor is as complex as writing the book in the first place. Search, check out their qualifications, ask for recommendations, and of course, sift through the agonies of costs, anything from you can afford it to what are you? A millionaire! So you FINALLY find an editor you are happy about, but there is still work. You have to do all the fixing up, either from Tracking (which I don’t particularly like, my computer/s refuse to make the comment box big enough for me to read whats in it, and I sit there with a magnifying glass glued to my computer screen). Highlights help, and typed up pages of suggestions do too, but it means going over the whole thing again. This time your eyes are not bleeding anymore, they feel like sandpaper has attached itself to your eyeballs. Still, you go ahead.

What about your book cover? Ah, you have an idea that what you want is so fabulous that anyone who sees it will pick up your book immediately, read the brilliant blurb you have written on the back, and rush to buy your book. Ha ha ha. First you have to find the cover designer, and there is a forest of options. There is Fivrr, and templates that you can fiddle with to get something vaguely resembling what was in your head in the first place, or, you find a package that will provide someone to ‘design’ your cover. Still, a part of the cost factor. You provide them with your idea, tell them they are the creative person so you leave the magic up to them…. And you wait impatiently for their first submission to you, oh dear, that’s not what you really had in mind, never mind, they will fix it, but its a template, so it will take I don’t know what, because its not my field, but they are sweeties and come back with some ‘fixed-up’ covers, eventually you settle for what is close enough to your vision.

After that, unless you know how to format and upload your book, you leave it to the expert that you have hired to do the rest.

Did I say the rest? Foolish one, the rest is the promotion … Do you have the savvy, the money, the contacts, the chutzpah (cheek) to chase every cat and its buddies to promote your much cherished creative outpourings? Some do? Most don’t. Can you possibly pester everyone you know, half know, don’t know, meet in cafes, your social media buddies and people who don’t even speak English to buy and read your book. Actually, buying it takes precedence over reading it.

Please don’t let me put you off, there are rewards to writing a book, don’t expect it to buy you a flash car or dream home, unless of course, you have the marketing skills of that wretched piece of number shades of grey, person. The big deal is, you’ve done it, you have crossed from the dream through to the creative process, into the whole journey of getting your book out there, and finally, there it is, on the public arena, WOW, that’s huge, and you can hold your novel to your chest with the pure joy of having ‘achieved it’.

Oh, I didn’t tell you, my autobiography, “Sometimes the Music”  is currently in ‘the process’ so I’m writing from the vagaries of my own experience.

Helene Grover – The Pleasure of Writing

 

 

WHAT TO WRITE

I often hear “I don’t know where to start” or “I’ve got writers block” or some such thing. In reality, there is always something to write about, something to focus on that only you, from your personal perspective can find the words to express, that come from your creative self.

I suggest that you don’t dismiss a moment, fleeting as it may be, to grab and hold, think about, and use as inspiration to move forward and write, something. That moment could be, what you see, perhaps someone bending down to tie their shoelace, licking an ice cream, an interaction with someone in a shop. For instance, I was in a furniture department store a few days ago, I was lucky to have an extremely helpful young man take the effort to help me look for pieces of furniture that I needed. I noticed that he had large tattoos at the lower end of his left arm, and while sitting, testing a lounge chair I ultimatly bought, I asked him “what are your tattoos about?” skull, sword, flower, rose in a vase, and he explained it in great detail, that the sword represented the pains in life, which led to the beauty of the rose.  He also told me that everyone in his family had a tattoo of some kind. There was also a snake in there, and when I asked what that represented, he told me that he had two pet snakes, one, often went went him in his pocket, and the other, larger one, was a rescue one and quite aggressive. All I could think of, was how I could transpose that into a story, and how much more there was to this polite, friendly young man.

Apart from talking with people, I look at objects as if they were new discoveries and think about how they could become a story, or how could a paragraph about something, fit into the novel that I am writing.

Somewhere, within every individual is a creative creature that may need the prompt of bringing it to the surface, to flex its muscles, to stretch and think, and feel, and find the story, to play with words, ideas, use them, delete them, alter them or start again. Writing is a delicious trip that is as satisfying as finding new places and countries.

Just do it.

 

Sharing Writing Needs

Many of us are deeply engaged in our writing projects, and as I mentioned in my recent post, it could be anything from a blog, short story or novel. When our creative endeavours are completed, we begin to wonder about ‘what next.’ “How do I connect with the next phase of my creativity? Editing, artwork, layout, and most important, “how do I get my new baby out there?”

If you have social media, go post it on facebook, on twitter, connect it with linkedin, and whatever else. Send an attachment of your sweated over writings, to your nearest, dearest and maybe interested prospects.

However, if you are looking to reach a bigger audience, and maybe raise some dollars for your endeavours, then we are heading towards a bigger pond, where the fish are bigger and juicier. Thats where the right tools and bait are necessary, and thats what requires focused research, connecting with people who can help you with all the whats and hows, and the all important streams of marketing.

I found that gathering a few people together with the right knowledge, and experience, we can swap skills that can be of benefit to all. A few of us found that one person knows how to put a blog together, another one, how to put together layout and upload, another, ideas for promotion. And all together, exchange and explore what we can achieve.

And we come away, inspired, informed, and excited to keep going. Me: my memoir, another: her children’s book, and another avid writer: a most interesting blog about supermarket shopping. And believe me, they are very good at what they do.

So, we’ve decided to put together a group to share what each knows best.

FOR THE SAKE OF WRITING

You don’t have to write a novel, a story, a memoir or anything else that is seen as a reason for writing.

You don’t have to produce ‘something’ that shows the world that you can put words together to form ideas that spring from the wells of your creativity.

All you have to do, is decide, take a leap into places where the combination of your words can take you – Where what you observe, feel, do, remember, can come to life on a page, whether its on paper or a computer.

What happens afterwards, is where you choose to play with your words.

Everyone Has a Story

Again, I am conducting the ‘Writing for Pleasure’ program at both libraries, Margaret Martin, Randwick, and Bowen in Maroubra. The new project is writing short pieces from interviews with people about their stories.

Every person has a story, who they are, where they come from, personal stories and histories, what highlights have occurred during their lives, and its up to us as writers to find the best of these stories and bring them to life.

I am excited that we now have not only some regulars, but also new people who are joining us for this latest adventure. My first idea was to call the book, Stories from the Street, but some people were daunted by the idea of confronting strangers about their lives. Its easy for me to talk to strangers, I have the dog who is the great catalyst for getting to know people, it usually starts with,”What a cute dog, what’s his name?” “Its Rambo, but its no use talking to him because he’s deaf, loves socializing though,” and then we are off on a conversation. Sometimes, a person just comes and sits next to me on the bench and starts talking about their life, it must be my face or maybe I have big ears.

“Everyone has a story” is a  more accessible idea, at least most of the time we are a little more familiar with the people next door, hairdresser, shop keeper or even someone you vaguely know.  Everyone in our two groups is excited about the project and I hope to have the book finished with all the stories by the end of the year, and printed by sometime early next year.  Its such a joy to see everyone excited that they are going to participate in a project of having something they have written in print and part of a book. Last year’s book, “A Patchwork of Stories” is now in the National Library and available for the general public to read.

In the meantime, I am still working laboriously on editing my own memoir, its feels like its been FOREVER.

Writing is one of the great pleasures of life, loosing yourself in the process of creativity, whether its formulating an imaginary story from the ethers or chasing your memories to share with the world at large, playing with it, polishing it and nursing it like a newborn child with the milk of your imagination.

Happy writings.

Helene