Sunday, 7 June 2009

Beanstalks and Movie Magic

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.

8 comments:

Lane said...

Two books a year??! One would be good:-)

As for our cunning plan? It was the little people wot made me do it guv. Honest. They're very persausive:-)

Your son (and you) must be relieved his ASs are over. My daughter has a couple tacked on at the end of the month. Talk about prolonging the agony.

Off to check out your blogroll...

Denise said...

Glad you're out the other side now!

Two books a year... I'm also going pale at the thought. I'm trying to get one finished in 6 months (a mad once only experience I think!) and it's taken over my life. How could anyone write 2 a year and do any living as well?

I quite agree that Lane and Karen are completely to blame. Why else would I have snuck over to that movie site and made one this morning...

Jean said...

Ah yes, time. It takes ages to write a book, ages to get an agent, ages to get a publisher and ages to get published. And now you, too, (albeit with cunning subtlety) are encouraging us to spend precious time on these movies. I just know that, sooner or later, I'll be tempted to have a go myself, even though I have not got the time. For this, I blame first Lane, and then Karen, but you Ms Fergusson with the extra snakey 'S', must take some of the blame with your sneaky reminder. Shame on you!

Karen said...

Nice that the AS levels are over - rather glad I don't have to go through that any more :o)

Yes I'd be happy writing one book a year, I don't think it would be possible to do two unless you drafted in someone else to do it!

I'm not sure how effective online promotion is for writers, but I have bought books after reading about them on other people's blogs, if that counts.

You'll be ready for your holiday when it comes round, by the sound of things :o)

Lorna F said...

Lane - good luck to your daughter with her final AS exams. And don't you listen to those little people no more, ya hear?

Denise - oh no, they got you too? Noooo! Good luck with the writing - remember, I'll probably run into you at Winchester ....

Jean - just because I've resisted going over to that movie site ...

Lorna F said...

Karen - yes, I'm definitely aware of books through blogs and websites that I wouldn't have otherwise known about. Needing a holiday, oh, you bet!

Susie Vereker said...

I found your comment on MOB's blog about the Doric and Aberdeen, and thought I'd tell you about Sophia's Secret by Susanna Kearsley - a historical novel set north of Aberdeen. One character speaks mostly in the Doric. Don't be put off by the girly cover. It's a good read - see my blog for a quickie review.
As for a book a year, though I've now had four novels published, my writing rate fluctuates wildly. It takes me at least a year to write one. Then I sometimes take a break which is not what you're meant to do.

Lorna F said...

Hi Susie, thanks for your comment. I took a look at 'Sophia's Secret' on Amazon and I agree with you that the cover looks all wrong - and the title, if you ask me. I note that it was previously called 'The Winter Sea' - now, if I were browsing in a bookshop, that's a title far more likely to lure me into picking up the book. I see that she is compared with Barbara Erskine and Mary Stewart. I adored Mary Stewart when I was growing up and loved Barbara Erskine's 'Lady of Hay' - read agent Carole Blake's saga of the long road towards publication for that novel in 'From Pitch to Publication'. I'll certainly take a look at 'Sophia's Secret' myself.
By the way, the flower photos on your blog are absolutely gorgeous!