Well, phew, elder son has now finished his AS levels. I'll draw a veil over the process, but my grey hair count is definitely up. I just have to see my students through their A levels, then there's the Winchester Writers' Conference, then my summer school at Oxford University's Department of Continuing Education, then ... HOLIDAY!
I'm sending Get Well wishes to Sally Zigmond, whose blog 'The Elephant in the Writing Room' is listed on my blog roll to the right. She's had a fall and broken her leg and has just come home from hospital. Her article on how to accept and act on criticism as a writer has just appeared in this month's 'Writing Magazine' - in it she quotes the lovely Jo Derrick, who edits the Yellow Room Magazine, and my good self (although the editor has spelt my name wrong. Sigh. It's a double 's', you know). Thanks for the mention, Sally, and all the best for your recovery.
Also on my blog roll is the wonderful Tess Gerritsen, who is currently debating the usefulness of online promotion for writers. Her feeling is that traditional methods have worked for her, but then she is an already-established writer (and she is astute enough to be using online methods as well.) The problem is that it is very hard to gauge exactly how much effect on sales there is. She does feel, and I agree, that online presence is a wonderful thing for the new or 'mid-list' author, as you can make contact with so many people at such little expense.
Here is a quote from her post of 27th May: 'But the most important thing you can do as a writer is to write. Write the next book. And the next ... If you write two books a year, that's twice a year readers and booksellers will encounter your name. But these books must be good books. That's the given in all this promotional talk. The books must make a reader want to pick up your next book.'
'Two books a year!' I hear you squeak. Bloody hell!
And they've got to be 'good books' too? Have mercy!
I've talked about this conundrum before - to be a success, you need to be churning out the words at a stunning rate. You need to be full of mental energy, commitment and industry, you need to be your own publicist and marketeer - and to top it all, you need to be hitting your literary peak at all times. Yet, when you read articles, how-to books and interviews, you come across the view that a good work of fiction needs time to brew, time to mature, time for plot-lines to develop, characters to grow, themes and notions to coalesce: writing a novel is not like Jack chucking the magic beans out of the window and next morning finding a fully-grown beanstalk leading up to the clouds, the castle, the riches. Your book needs time - but the industry dictates that you work to a timetable. How to resolve this?
While you ponder these deep and worrying issues, perhaps you'd like a little light relief: but I warn you, this is yet another cunning scheme Karen of 'Get On With It' and Lane of 'Lane's Write' have come up with in their plan to stop all the rest of us ever getting on with our work - leaving the field clear for them. Yes, ladies, I'm onto you! If you are not inclined to heed my warnings, head over to their blogs, also on the blogroll and enjoy some movie magic.