Friday, 2 January 2009

Coffee Break. A Fresh Page.

Welcome to the New Year everyone. How about a nice green tea to counteract all the over- indulgence? Or maybe just a good strong cuppa or a coffee? I'd offer you a Quality Street but as you can see, only the nasty blue ones are left.

I hope you all enjoyed the festivities and are recharged and raring to go. I have a stack of new notebooks and a pile of new pens just waiting to be used. Just like the first page of a new journal, these fill me with enthusiasm and hope. This year my goals are slightly different. Last year my sole aim was to finish the book, but for various reasons, that didn't happen. This year, I aim to step it up a notch. Apart from our Novel Race, I'm determined to submit small pieces to e-zines, magazines and competitions, as last year I was undisciplined, convincing myself I was concentrating on 'the book' but actually writing other bits and pieces and yet doing nothing with them. In a year in which it's going to be even harder for many of us to earn our daily bread as well as write, this is probably going to be tough but it can be done. Can't it?

So my question is this. Apart from your Novel Race w-i-p, what else do you write? Do you write short stories, flashes, poetry? If you do, do you write them for yourself or do you submit them? I know some of you have journalism commitments and others are doing courses. Do you find that taking time out to write something completely different helps you to stay on track with your novel, or does it detract, leaving you even less time? Or are you one of those writers who, when writing a book, does just that – writes the book and nothing else.

Whatever you do, I hope this year is an extremely good one for all of us. Good luck Racers.


K.Imaginelli said...

Happy New Year!

This is a great question, Lane. To keep my day job (as a prof) I have to write academic articles and I'm revising my thesis for publication, so the novel is the only creative project I have going.

I get so immersed in the world of the novel that I don't think I could work on small fiction pieces simultaneously. I do get flashes of scenes and details for future novels (I jot those down so I can come back to them later).

I wonder if it would be useful to record these new ideas you have and maybe draft parts of them whenever you're tired of working on the novel. Once you're at the point where you can send your novel to agents/publishers, it'd probably be nice to have those shorter pieces to clean up and submit while you wait to hear back about the novel.

Here's to all our writing dreams coming true in 2009!

Calistro said...

Happy New Year Lane!

Are the blue sweets in Quality Street the ones with the horrible hard crackling stuff inside? If so I completely understand why they're the ones left. Personally I'm not a fan of the strawberry ones either. I'd rather throw them away than eat them and I'm a hardened (or rather flabbified) chocololic!

What else do I write apart from novels? Not as much as I used to. I used to write a mixture of flashes, literary and women's magazine stories. The literary stories went to the competitions and a few paper mags and the flashes to online zines and a few comps.

I decided at the start of last year that I was spreading myself too thin so stopped writing literary short stories (I left the online forum where they were critiqued) and flashes (apart from when Your Messages was started up again in November) and decided to concentrate soley on the novel and short stories for women's magazines. My aim is to write one a fortnight but my success rate at hitting that target is a bit shoddy!

liz fenwick said...

I need strong coffee so I can tackle the mess in the kitchen!

Writing other things- my blog but that's it aside from the wip. I find I don't have enought time or more probably don't use my time wisely enough!

Wishing everyone all the best for the New Year!

Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Happy New Year to all racers! I write my blog, of course, and funeral scripts. Otherwise it was just the novel until that hit the mire last year. To fill the gap, I started working on short stories for women's mags, and on travel pieces, and had some success with both. I want to continue with those, and with the travel book I've started. The problem I have now is working out how to fit the novel back into my writing life! I think this year will be about working out how to juggle different writing projects. Maybe they'll have to take turns in blocks of time; maybe I'll be able to work on one thing one day and something else the next; who knows? Not me, that's for sure - but I intend to find out.

Debs said...

Happy New Year to all the Novel Racers. Loved your picture, it made me laugh. I threw out the blue sweets from our tin yesterday, as they were never going to be eaten.

Apart from the wip, I'm working through a writing course (nearly half way), which although it takes me away from the wip, it also makes me focus on writing articles, which is something I hadn't tried before.

I'm working on my short stories at the moment too, though they're not nearly as good as I'd like them to be and need far more work.

I do think I'm probably focusing on too many things, and ultimately give the most time to the wip, probably because that's what I enjoy working on most.

Flowerpot said...

Happy new year to everyone and may 2009 be happy, healthy and successful for us all!

I write journalism, and I'm also writing a non-fiction book based on some of my journalism as well as my blog. I do find that the journalism provides a good balance - though of course it takes up a lot of time. But you write journalism with the conscious side of the brain, whereas fiction is from the subconscious side, so it sort of balances things out. Well sort of! doestn always work of course but I enjoy both. The journalism also gets me out and about which is better than being stuck behind an isolated computer!

Lucy Diamond said...

Happy New Year all Racers!
As some of you know, I write children's books as well as women's fiction so I am constantly juggling the two genres, depending on a) deadlines and b) mood. I'm going to be juggling more frantically than ever this month though, as my husband has got jury service and I will have no childcare until that finishes.... arrrgghh... weekend and evening work, here I come.

I don't write anything else - I'd love to dabble in other areas, especially magazine features but time is always very tight for me, so I limit myself to the books.
I have just started a new anonymous blog though and am quite enjoying that so far!

B said...

Morning all. I don't eat dairy products so can't eat QS or else I would've eaten those blue chocs - ah well, it wouldn't have done my waistline any good.... It's the toffees that don't get eaten at ours; I take them into work and they get eaten slowly there by people less scared of loosing fillings than my husband! Anyway I'll just have a cup of tea for now - going to Starbucks later so will have a soy latte then :)

Anyway, point! I tell myself that what I'm doing is 'the Course' (A363 Advanced Creative Writing for anyone who doesn't know), the novel, and short stories, but in reality I've barely written anything in months :( I tried to do NaNoWriMo but that fell prey to the dreadfully busy and generally horrible November I had. So the last thing I really wrote was that or my assignment for A363 that was due in on Halloween. That's quite a while not to do anything for.

But things have been coming back together recently - I've got other areas of my life back under control and I can feel the writing urge coming back. I even did a bastardised version of Morning Pages this morning which felt good good good. When I first started coming over here I was evangelical about it, but then I just... stopped. I miss it though so I'm glad to be getting back.

I don't really do resolutions as such, but the last week or so of 2008 really pulled itself together for me, and I hope to keep this up.

To actually answer the question, I'd also like to say that I can switch focus fairly easily between novel and course and short stories. Of course I'm not published yet so maybe this doesn't work for me as well as I think :)

I'm really happy to finally be an official part of this group and look forward to making the effort to get to know the ones of you I don't know yet. Good luck everyone! :)

Leatherdykeuk said...

I'll have a tea, please :)

I generally aim for two novels a year (only managed one and a half last year) plus an edit of one. I write poetry every day (I start the day with a cinquain, haiku and tanka on my livejournal blog) and flash several times a week on different forums (Grail, Write Idea, Musemuggers) and try to send at least one piece off every week, either to a competition or call for submissions.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Not sure if last year was typical (are any of them?), but I thought I'd just worked on Charlie. But on looking back I find I managed 60 thousand words on blogging, drafted a couple of short stories, edited two books for other people and did some detailed reports on book proposals for one of my publishers (and they paid me!), and edited four magazines. As I've just started on another short story and have a magazine to do, I guess this year will be much the same as last. At least I hope so. My plans for the next novel consist of a blank piece of paper with the title at the top.

ChrisH said...

Happy New Year Novel Racers, all and welcome, B. Cally, can I have your strawberry ones if you don't eat them??
Assuming nothing too bogey happens to my arm in hospital next week I am going to be Mrs Elastic in 2009 and stretch myself as far as possible. I want to write a new novel and send more work out - which means trying more short stories and poetry comps. A217 has been brilliant for forcing me out of my comfort zone so I feel less hesitant about tackling new areas.

Well, that's the plan... now hope that nothing horrible gets in the way.

Talking of which - hope your knee is feeling better, Lane.

KeVin K. said...

In 2008 lack of focus and discipline kept me from writing much of anything. When I am writing productively -- and in December I resumed writing productively -- I write for game companies.

Current projects include a reference book for a military SF role playing game (it's written "in universe," which is to say as though by characters in the world of the game) for Catalyst Game Labs and content for a humorous "in universe" website tied to a new game by Smith and Tinker. (I'm particularly pleased with the Smith and Tinker job. I've done content before, but usually as part of larger projects. This is only the second site that will be completely mine.)

In addition to my goal for Novel Racers (ground-up redraft of the previously written portions of "Coastal, Carolina" then go on to finish the thing) I intend to submit six to ten short stories to media tie-in markets for which I've written before. I will also continue to pitch to Black Library (I have been through two-and-a-half years and two editors with them trying to break into first Warhammer and then -- at editorial direction -- Warhammer 40,000. Two and a half years of "great stuff, love how your mind works, but this piece is not quite right for us now." Or as one editor put it: "You're too damn cheerful." I think I'm wearing them down.) I had also intended to pitch again to my first love -- mainly because Pocket Books was the first house to buy my work -- Star Trek. However their novel catalog is solidly contracted through mid-2011 and no new anthologies are planned for 2009. Of course I'll be pitching Big Finish -- one Doctor Who is not enough. There's a flip side to that 6-10 media tie-in stories I mentioned a moment ago. I also intend to send out two to six original short stories.
In other words, I'm shooting for twelve short stories over the next twelve months, a blend of media tie-in and original.

Fortunately, I have a day job to pay the bills while I'm doing all of this.

Kate.Kingsley said...


Ill eat the blue ones Right now I'll eat practically anything, anytime. Hurrah for pregnancy!

For a long time last year I worked solely on the WIP. However over the last few months I've gone back to doing more short stories and flashes, and in what can only be hormone-induced bravery I've been submitting at least 3 things per month. I'm also doig A363, so that takes up a fair bit of my writing time. So sadly the WIP has taken a bit of a backseat of late (although I have this foolish idea that I'll get a first draft finished before the baby arrives in may ~ ha ha ha ha ha !!)

Happy New Year, Racers! :-)

Un Peu Loufoque said...

Goodness its years since I had a quality street, do they still do the golf flat ones? Last year I overloaded doign 3 differnt blogs as well as a novel and a chidlrens story plus of course my ceramic work which keeps the bills or at least some of them paid! This year I am trying to be more disciplined and less verbose and will have to cut back on blogging if I am to keep up, which is frustrating as I enjoy it.

Cathy said...

My plans for the first half of the year are simple...I have to complete the OU course A363 and will continue to work on the novel alongside it. I have an idea I am hoping to develop for the end of course assessment, which could also possibly form the basis of a future novel two.

Later in the year I would like to start writing more stories again but the novel will be my priority.

Fiona said...

I would love to eat the blue ones Lane. It's only a fear of losing my fillings that's stopping me.

Knowing that you have to complete rewrite, or start again, is a bit of a downer. Writing short stories gives you completion if not publication, so I'm determined to write a story a week - or a month:)

Helen said...

Well, as most of you know, I write for Trashionista which is two posts a day 5 days a week. Two posts a week are a book review so I have to read at least two books a week, plus extra if I do features such as Helen's Heroines. What takes up a lot of time is research though. Finding things to write about can be extremely time consuming and I can spend hours just searching for one story. So yes, it cuts into my fiction writing time immensely...due to these reasons, like a baby amongst others I may cut down my commitments on this site so I can concentrate on my fiction - which is after all, what I want to be successful at in the long run.

How I'm going to do it I don't know. Probably grabbing minutes when the baby is asleep and evenings like Lucy. It is going to be interesting!

Maddy said...

Quality Street! Now I feel homesick.
Best wishes

Captain Black said...

Happy New Year everyone. I'll have a standard cup of tea, as I don't like the green variety.

I write anything from flash all the way up to having several novels on the go. Mixed genres but with a heavy leaning towards SF, crime and thrillers. Hardly ever dabble in poetry, but it has been known. I respond quite well to prompt-driven stories.

Regarding the Quality Street, I have just one question: who ate all the purple ones?

JJ said...

Sorry I'm a bit late: end of holiday flump... Husband's family don't like any toffees so I knew I'd fit right in there. I come in at the end of the holiday and hoover up all the left over caramels and toffees. Yum yum.

And a big strong tea please.

Right. I'm 28,000 words into the first draft of my novel. This is the furthest I've ever got and I'm going to finish it this year. It's going to be finished and polished up and I will start sending it out when it's ready. Really.

I had a monthly commitment to write an article which last year I dropped, requesting that I do them on an ad hoc basis. They have agreed to this.

I didn't know what my problem was... but Flowerpot's comment that you write an article with a different side of your head made me think. Plus Elizabeth George's Write Away also highlighted it for me ... I think I need to concentrate on creative and imaginative writing this year and not the analysis and logical thought side. So I might, quietly, have a ago with some 'other' creative writing.

Whatever we all decide, all the best for 2009.

L-Plate Author said...

Hi Everyone! Happy New Year! Boy, am I glad to be rid of the end of 2008. As those of you who visit my blog know, I've been ill, still am but getting better daily - I think!

On that note being ill for the past few months has not allowed me time for writing as I haven't felt any where near up to it. I've not written anything for the past two months yet I think it has done me good to have a break. I only write novels but I do get obsessive if I set myself a goal. I write in any spare moment that I have, sometimes not so spare!, and I'd love to do other things such as short stories but until I feel I have something concrete with any of my novels, I feel that I need to dedicate my free time to those.

Thanks for all your good wishes by the way, really cheered me up. A prisoner in your own home for so long isn't a good recipe to be happy so your comments really meant the world to me! x

Good luck with the race!

PS. Sorry but I have to have Cadbury's Roses. Actually as I write this, I have an unopened tin by my side that my mum brought us for Christmas. The secret to devouring the lot is never to open them! I swear I've never done it before. I think my appetite is still on go slow! Everyone's welcome to choose their favourite though!

KAREN said...

Please! No more Quality Street...until at least next week.

I've finally trained myself to combine writing a magazine-style short story every week with writing my novel, where before I'd concentrate on one or t'other and still get distracted with both. I think selling a couple of stories helped focus my attention, but I still get phases of thinking, 'I'll just do short stories from now on,' before a sense of panic takes over and I pull up the novel again. Sigh. I also do book reviews for my local paper, but have scaled these down from weekly to monthly recently, as I couldn't squeeze in reading a book a week any more!

For me it's important to give each project my full attention and sometimes I can't! I keep muddling through though :o)

Barrie said...

I am only concentrating on the novel. And blogging. And the various speaking engagements. Already that's more than I can handle.

wordtryst said...

Sorry I'm late... lost track of the days there.

I've completed the rewrite of novel #2 and would like to focus on completing at least one of my major unfinished projects (one novel, one memoir). I also plan to polish and submit a bunch of shorts that have been loafing around my CPU for ages. I've had a few book reviews published and would like to do more of these this year.

Happy New Year, Racers!

Lane said...

Thanks for your comments everyone. We're all so different and it's fascinating to read how everyone organises and prioritises their writing projects.

Annieye said...

I'm a 'concentratingonthenovel' type of girl. I do get distracted quite easily though and have to be disciplined with myself because my day-job gets in the way somewhat. It's very hard to switch from writing boring non-fiction all day to writing fiction, and I often need to get the juices flowing by just allowing my fingers to drift over the keyboard and write little bitty things and (very) bad poetry.

I find blogging is a big distraction though, and facebook too. But I do enjoy it and it does give me a little bit of a transition from sleeping to writing in the mornings, and then working to writing in the evenings - if I'm not too knackered that is!

claire p said...


I've been reading so much about the novel racers from Fiona, Debs and others and was wondering how I go about joining? I have one novel finished and under consideration by an agent and another about half way through it's first draft. I look forward to finding out more.
All best, Claire.