Friday, 11 September 2009

Coffee Morning: Are you a Lurker?

Hello again. Thank you for all your fantastic comments last week. I am now back from my holiday (and depressingly back at work) so the extravagant selection of goodies on offer is much reduced this week to budget teabags/instant coffee and a digestive or three in the office kitchen at the Council. Please help yourselves and keep the noise down or I might get into trouble for entertaining variously eccentric writerly types while I'm supposed to be working!

I was going to talk about characters this week, but I changed my mind and decided to write something about the Novel Racers.

I lurked in the shadows of the Novel Racers blog for many months in 2007/08, looking forward reading the posts and devouring the valuable grass-roots writing advice and information they contained. I was much in awe of the Racers, but could identify so much with all the comments. I wanted to join, but daren't ask. I didn't feel worthy or good enough. I thought I would make a fool of myself if I did. I mistakenly thought I couldn't leave a comment if I wasn't a member, until the Captain put me right on that score.

I used to be a secret writer and had been for many years. In the pre-internet days of the 80s and early 90s I craved for the friendship of other people like me. I always felt a bit of an oddity because writing was my hobby and something I loved. I was too self-conscious to join any writing groups or come out of the closet in any way.

The Novel Racers seems to be going through a kind of metamorphosis at the moment, but I was thrilled to see a comment on my last week's coffee morning post from Angel Bluestocking (thanks Debbie!) and it got me thinking. How many aspiring or accomplished writers hover around the edges of the Novel Racers blog?

We are all at various stages in our writing and that is fantastic. We can cheer each other on; we can feel each other's joy at each little success on our road to publication, but above all we can feel we belong somewhere.

So I'd like to put out a bit of a request. All you 'lurkers' out there, please join us this week for a virtual coffee and a biscuit. Let us know who you are and what you are working on at the moment. Unfortunately, I can't personally introduce my fellow Novel Racers to you - I'll leave them to tell you a bit about themselves in the comments. I can assure you they are all really nice people and won't chop you up in little pieces leaving bits scattered by the virtual wayside!


Leatherdykeuk said...

How interesting! I don't think I'd be writing at all if I had no network to gain feedback. I had a fun one yesterday: DK (who's away in Spain) sent me a text: A friend of ours has a friend on facebook that doesn't know any of us, and this person just posted as their status "Wants an imp called Devious". How fabulous is that! (For those that haven't read 'An Ungodly Child', Devious is the helpful imp in that).

Flowerpot said...

I always comment on a weekly basis - it's really good to know other writers are out there. However I've been left off the side bar list!!! Tried to contact Capt Blake but it wouldnt let me. So just to let you know, Flowerpot is editing and about 75% there!

JJ Beattie said...

What a great idea for a coffee. I wouldn't still be writing if it hadn't been for the novel racers: I've started and stopped so many times over the years. I hardly dared email Kate (Harrison) because I thought she'd tell me I wasn't worthy! I know just how it feels to hover, full of doubt about my writing. I couldn't even say outloud that I wanted to write. It sounds so ridiculous but that was the way it was.

I attended a writing class on Monday, most people there had a lot less experience than me. It was a useful exercise in acknowledging how far I've come in the novel racers.

I very much hope we hear from lurkers to our coffees.

Cathy said...

I was originally a lurker. When the 'race' started on Kate Harrison's blog I just couldn't bring myself to join, as knowing how slowly I write I thought it would just put pressure on me! But I watched the group evolve and learned a lot, so I plucked up the courage to ask to be included when this blog was set up. I've never regretted it.

So I hope some lurkers do de-lurk to say hello today, they may be the Novel Racers of the future.

Debs said...

I nervously set up a blog in Oct 07and couldn't imagine anyone ever commenting on it, so was thrilled when Lane and Fia did so. It was through them that I found the Novel Racers, and eventually had the confidence to join.

So, thank you ladies, and everyone here who are always so supportive and knowledgeable. The Novel Racers have helped me so much with my writing.

Graeme K Talboys said...

Any network of like-minded folk (whether you actually talk about writing or not) is essential. And for the most part I have found writers to be affable types. I have had help in the past and I'm a firm believer of passing it forward. And if you get enough people together who have a common interest, someone there is bound to have a useful suggestion to resolve any dilemma you may have.

Rowan Coleman said...

Hello all

Sorry I've been away for a couple of weeks 'maternity leave'. Me and baby doing very well, thank you! Lurking....the internet wasn;t properly invented!) it was around but it was dial up and it was an invent to have your own computer, never mind a swanky latop. So when I started out there wasn't the same availability of online forums as there are today. I think I've been a racer for a couple of years thanks to Calistro and I have loved it. I love gleaning information and ideas and different views from my fellow racers and the sense of support from a virtual community really is very strong. So if there are secret lurkers out there do comment and make yourself known, we'd love to hear from you!

Gemma said...

Hello, I'm Gemma, and I am a long-time lurker.

I've been following the Novel Racers since the very beginning, when Kate Harrison started the novel race on her blog. I have always been too shy to ask to join up myself, though - probably because I also go through fits and starts on my writing project.

One of the best things the Novel Racers blog has done for me is introduce me to Cornerstones, and Helen Corner. Someone once posted about a Cornerstones course that had free spaces - and I ended up going on the course, which was an invaluable experience.

About my own writing, I've just started working on something new, in an attempt to invigorate myself after grinding to a halt on my previous novel. My life suddently seemed to take off, and in a year I've moved across the country, changed jobs, got married, and bought a house - and so writing seems to have taken a back seat, and I'm bad at making time for it when the 'urge' hits.

So there you are! One lurker unmasked!

Anonymous said...

First things first: Happy Birthday L-Plate!

I hope the KBC coffee is better than the stuff we got at Caerleon, otherwise I'll have to provide my own. I wouldn't mind a Digestive though.

I guess I'm going to be a bit more of a lurker, now that I don't write any more. Having said that, I'll still come and join these coffee breaks, if that's okay. To any other lurkers out there reading this, I encourage you to join in too. We don't bite :o)

Captain's New Role #1

I've taken it upon myself to be "blog techie" for the NR. I hope nobody minds this. Please have a look at two new side-bar gadgets I'm developing. One is a new "who we are" list which is categorised and in alphabetical order. It also offers a space-saving mode. The other gadget, still a bit rough around the edges, is a "race 2009" chart, showing how far the racers are progressing with their works. Please let me have any feedback, good or bad. (Flowerpot, the data are just rough examples for now. I can add your entry if you let me know the title and word count/maximum expected.)

If anyone is changing their NR category, for example: from "current" to "sabbatical" or "alumni", then please let me know and I will update the side-bar information.

Captain's New Role #2

I may have stopped writing but I still love reading. I'm going to read lots of your published books when (yes, when) they come out. I'll also happily ready any drafts or snippets you might want to send me.

That's all for now. Remember what Hesitant said: Writers, write!

JJ Beattie said...

Welcome to Gemma for being brave and unmasking herself.

Awww Capt Black what nice things you said there... I certainly don't mind you being Techie man for the NR site. My wip is 'Polite Lies' at the moment but is strictly a working title only. I don't mind if it goes up there or not.

Can all Novel Racers check out the private space too over the next couple of days as we've had three or four recent posts that reflect membership.

Fia said...

Lovely idea Annie.

I joined the Novel Racers just as Kate Harrison was handing over the baton. I still don't really know who's our leader(?)

I started writing short stories at school but after being put in my place by various teachers, I gave up and it wasn't until 2006 that I tried again.

I'm writing my second novel now, the first lines the hamster (Rocky) cage. I think this second one will too but I have to finish it because I'm struggling to understand structure and pace.

Flowerpot said...

Captn Black - that link on the blog page doesnt work so here are my details: Flowerpot: The Current Beneath. Umpteenth edit. 75% there.
Four Left Feet: Second draft finished.

Thanks to all you NRs - a really great bunch! have a good weekend.

L-Plate Author said...

Hi everyone

First of all thanks Capt Black (and for all the comments on facebook too). Despite this pesky illness of mine, I've managed to have a great day.

Secondly, Annie, you have biscuits at work???? Please tell me you buy them yourself or I will have to transfer councils!

Well, what a load of lurkers we are! I lurked for I think it was 18 months before starting to blog, first on Kate's and then on NRs. Then as I was starting a book in the new year I managed to get a place with NR in Jan 2008 and I won that race. And we did race. me and Calistro really raced, to the point that it was down to decimals (42.8%, gawd she's done 42.9%, have to beat that tomorrow) and it was really entertaining. Paige followed close behind and I really enjoyed it.

The best for me was the meet in Manchester. I made lots of new friends there. Caroline Smailes as most of you know lives only an hour away and I get to eat cake and drink coffee with her about three times a year, and I love the suppport that she gives me. I have several others that I email and keep in touch with on facebook too.

I've been lax with blogging lately and coffee mornings because...well I'm not sure really. I have been lurking though, still reading comments. Maybe it's because I'm having a break from writing as I managed to draft book two and also do a second draft by July. I'm ready to start on book three soon.

A message for the lurkers - keep on keeping on. Dreams come true with hard work, even when you think they are impossible.

And yes Capt, in the words of 'Our Lisa' (which I love is on the top of the blog) writers, write.

HelenMHunt said...

I lurked for a ridiculously long time before finally plucking up the courage to ask to be put on the wait list!

I feel I've got to know lots of you really well through your own blogs during this time and have really benefited from reading all about your writing journeys.

Lorna F said...

I've came to the Novel Racers a while back via Karen's blog and I've commented a couple of times. When I started writing I had no real support system - apart from my lovely boyfriend, now husband, who always believed in me. When around a decade ago I started subscribing to Writers' News I did so because I wanted to feel in touch with a writing community, and when I first attended the Writers' Conference at Winchester it was a total delight to find there were other people out there with the same aims, same dreams, same concerns, same dilatoriness, same questions about how to cross the magic threshold into the world of the published. Then the internet sprang into life and it has made such a colossal difference to us. We are all part of the community of writers and we support each other in the way we wish publishers would support us (but so rarely do). Good luck all you Novel Racers - cross that finishing line!

KeVin K. said...

I don't so much lurk as glance in windows while jogging by.
If I've got a few free minutes I might hit three or four Novel Racers' or Novel Spacers' (that's another group, really) or Romancing the Bloggers' blogs and see what they're saying, but I almost never comment.
Because once I start a conversation, I have to check back on the quarter hour to see if anyone has responded and there goes the afternoon.

(BTW: If you're considering dropping by my Livejournal, it's pretty quiet. I am struggling, struggling I tell you, not to rant about politics here in the USofA, [deleted a snide remark right here, as a matter of fact] so except for a couple of pictures and a few links, I've been mostly keeping my mouth -- keyboard? -- shut. I'm sure I'll get something writerly up sometime soon.)

Lane said...

Sorry I'm late. Are the Custard Creams stale now?

It's a great group. There's something quite comforting (not to mention informative and supportive) about having like minded people, at all different stages of the game, together online. Thanks to Fia for directing me over here back in ... 07?

Happy belated birthday to L-plate. Hope you had a lovely day with plenty of cake

And hi to Gemma. Bravo for commenting. (And Lorna too of course:-)

Btw, Captain, the sidebar is looking very snazzy. Thanks for all your hard work.,

Liane Spicer said...

Hi Gemma and Lorna F! Great to see you de-lurk!

I was a secret writer for years as well, but the cat's out now. I still prefer not to talk about it (except online to other writerly types, of course). I too am often guilty of lurking for awhile before I can summon the courage to comment on new blogs; it can feel like crashing a private party. Although a member invited me to apply to the NR for membership it took many months of lurking before I took the plunge. Am so glad I did. The very best thing about the Internet, for me, is the ability to connect with the writing community 'out there'.

Captain, thank you for all the blog tech work you do on behalf of NR and elsewhere. ;) Here's my race info: Give Me the Night, 90,000 words, rewrite/edit completed in April, I think. You can put April 30.

KeVin, I love your rants! :( Rants by right-thinking people (no, not that right) like the one on Dayton's blog recently help to reassure me that at least some of your countrymen are not raving lunatics, which one might not guess from the headlines and comments on the news.

Annieye said...

Leatherdykeuk - LOL - what on earth would we do without FB and mobile phones. Love it!

Flowerpot - well done. Editing is the hardest part, I think. I just let rip when I'm writing, thinking that I can fix everything later.

JJBeattie - I regret my lost years as a secret writer. I know I'm a much better writer now, than I was in my 20s and 30s, but I just wish I'd had the confidence to go out and find myself some writing buddies. My family thought I was odd so I took up knitting and sewing to placate them!

Cathy - I'm glad I wasn't the only lurker. It was our very own Captain who persuaded me to de-lurk (see below)

Debs - We all help each other: that's what it's all about. We are all persistent and serious about our writing and that's at least half way to getting published.

Graeme - My friend, Heather, who came to Caerleon with Debs and myself, is a keen amateur photographer and she gets so much from being part of the on-line fraternity. She does 'dabble' in the written word too, but wouldn't admit to it!

Rowan - congratulations on your new arrival. I'd love a little cuddle (I adore tiny babies - especially their little toes!). My grandaughter is six months now and growing fast. You're right, it's about soaking up all those little snippets of advice and information. I know I've learned loads from the Novel Racers blog in the last two years.

Gemma - Hey! That's fantastic. Please do pop by again. I know just what you mean about life getting in the way of writing. It's not like you can just knock up a novel in a couple of nights, like you would a sewing project.

Captain - (whispers - if you are blogging you ARE writing, you know). I don't know what we'd do without your techie know-how. I'll e-mail you with my updated info. The sidebars are brilliant.

Fia - Hi! You're a dark horse, you know! Quietly and firmly successful - one book under your belt, winning competitions, getting commended - and your writing is brilliant.

L-Plate - the biscuits are leftovers from Council meetings and Mayoral events. They come in little packets. I'd bet my last tenner your committee staff do the same! I really want to try and make the next meet-up, and yes, we shouldn't forget Lisa and her wise words.

Helen - I spend too much time lurking and usually meander on a blog that has nothing to do with writing, but that fascinates me for some reason.

Lorna - Thank you for popping by. All our writing journeys seem much the same, don't they. The internet has made such a big difference.

Kevin - I know what you mean. I have to really make an effort sometimes to keep off the blog sites and FB, otherwise I find a couple of hours has gone by.

Lane - the custard creams don't make it into the Democratic Services kitchen - just boring digestives and occasionally some fruit shortbread.

Liane - There are some people I don't like talking to about writing, too. You get that funny look, don't you. The one that seems to question your sanity! I still feel self-conscious about writing creatively, even though I spend my working hours writing minutes, reports and letters, etc.

All Novel Racers - if you feel like joining in an on-line chat on Sunday mornings between 10.30 and about 11.30 go to and register. There are a few of us, but we could do with more.

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Amanda said...

Hi All

Okay, I confess, I've been a lurker since April 2008 when I ventured into blogland as Annie Bright. At that time I was a little nervous about putting my 'real name' out there, but, despite this, I quickly asked Fia and Liz if I could join the novel racers waiting list.

Fot the past six months I'v blogged in my 'real' name, Amanda, and I'm chuffed to be next in line to join the Novel Racers - YAY!

I am presently editing my first novel - and hope to submit the first three chapters before the end of 2009! x

Karen said...

I used to be a lurker and think I left a comment once back in the day, then ran away!

I used to read it every week (I came across it on Kate Harrison's blog too) because the topics and comments were so helpful - and still are of course :o)

Lily Sheehan said...

I was a lurker after reading about NR on Paige and Calistro's blog. I leave comments wherever I can and always find it helpful reading the posts and other comments. Best thing I did was asked to be put on the list because I've never written so much in such a small amount of time since becoming an official NR.

Kate Lord Brown said...

Sorry I'm late - see the coffee has gone cold! I've 'lurked' since starting my blog Spring 08, and finally got up the nerve to ask to go on the wait list this year. NR has been something of a revelation for someone who is at home with small kids and many muddy miles from the nearest writers' group - great fun and a great support.

Bluestocking Mum said...

I'm late too Kate Lord Brown

Hello all and thanks for the post (and mention) Annieye.
I'm not stalking you honest, but I admit to being a lurker to the Novel Racers.
Exactly like KLB, I've been hanging around for well over a year, gleaning snippets and tips, listening to your stories and successes. I haven't been brave enough to ask to join or go on waiting list.

I've written my 1st novel but following Marina Oliver course at Caerleon, have just made monumental decision to re-write it for the 2nd time!
I'm 45,000 words into 2nd novel and have outlines of novels 3 and 4. I've also recently started writing short stories; entered my
1st story in competitions and got runner up and highly commended but then got overconfident and sent it to magazine! The rejection sent me scurrying under the table...where I've been ever since.

Until now.

I'm just starting to raise my head above parapet again.

btw -I think this is really useful and encouraging site. Thanks for helping to keep me going.

warm wishes to all