Where are you at on your #NanoWrimo #writing?

nanowrimo recordMy last post was an announcement of my Nanowrimo endeavour.

I’m sorry I’ve rather disappeared from the blogiverse in the past 15 days, but a few things keep pulling me in all sorts of directions.

I had a great first week, lost a little steam in the second, but have broken 31k today. The story is humming along, even though I had to do a bit of restructuring two days ago.

Virtual hugs to everyone on this Nano journey with me–please drop word counts in the comments if you like. I need the inspiration!

How about you? How’s your Nanowrimo, in case you’re taking part? If you’re not, what have you been up to? What advice do you have for a writer hung over with her story? More than sharing my rather unremarkable journey, I’m keen to know about yours!

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Where are you with your #NanoWriMo Prep? #Writing

Tomorrow, Nanowrimo begins.

Nanowrimo logoI try not to write too much about my writing process (it is about as pretty and appetizing as sausage-making, or stuffing a turkey.) I can only hope what I put on the table at the end of it doesn’t turn your stomach.

But this November, I’m making an exception (you can read why, and what’s Nanowrimo, here). On each Monday of this coming month, I’m determined to check in, and make public the humiliating spectacle that can be (my) writing life during NanoWriMo.

I’m often asked what I do with my time, and I reply: reading, writing, eating, sleeping. I don’t mention the proportions of each, and what else is involved. I want to make that public for two reasons:

  1. The threat of the public disgrace might spur on the word count.
  2. To discourage the rampant glamorization of the fiction writing business.

Each year, come Nano time, I used to sniff privately and mutter, well, anyone can write a pile of crap in a month. I write every day, all year. I submit to tons of places, get rejected. I wrote a novel over the last few years, and so on, and you know, so forth. Who are these Nanowrimo hobbyists writing for that One month?

But that was not a sentiment I was/am proud of. Each writer’s journey is different. Everyone has a unique purpose, commitment, expectations. People come to writing for all kinds of reasons; they deserve respect for their individual motivations.

Nanowrimo outlineSo, this year, I’m going to join in this Nanowrimo mega-endeavour.

I’ve done some research–I continue to do it–and I have–gasp–an outline!

Having never outlined anything before writing a first draft (I do my outlines before my second drafts, if at all), ever before (and at last count I have about 800,000 written words– 60,000 published stories and about 20,000 published non-fiction– under my belt) it feels like a unprecedented professional milestone. Not sure if I should laugh or cry at that thought. A bit of both, perhaps. I’m more of a free-fall kind of a writer, but this year, I’ve decided to work on a bare guideline, at the very least. I have permission to veer off track whenever I want, so I don’t chafe at the bit too hard and quit.

If you read this blog, I need your support. Throw at me coffee, chocolate, tea, virtual hugs, curses, wine; ask me how it is going on twitter: in short anything you think likely to help me reach that 50k line.

If you’re a fellow Nano-er, buddy me on BiswasD. And maybe join the Nanowrimo Social media Bloghop here, so we can follow each other.

Are you joining the Nanowrimo? What have you been up to lately? Any tips on piling up the word count?

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Want to work with a literary consultancy? #writetip

Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series,  we recently heard from one of my favorite authors, Tania Hershman. Writing novels can be a difficult task, and today it is my pleasure to welcome Aki Schilz from The Literary Consultancy, London, who gives an insight into how they can help aspiring authors.

1.    You help run The Literary Consultancy. Could you tell us more about it?



The Literary Consultancy was the first professional editing service for writers in the UK. It was set up in 1996 by TLC Director Rebecca Swift and her colleague Hannah Griffiths (latterly publisher for fiction and paperbacks at Faber and Faber). The idea was to set up a fee-paying editorial service that allowed any writer writing in English at any level and in any genre to get honest, straightforward feedback on their work from a professional reader with a good sense of the market. Some of the original TLC readers included editing luminaries like Julia Bell (now head of the Creative Writing MA at Birkbeck), Richard Skinner (now head of Faber Academy), Jane Harris (prize-winning novelist), and Sara Maitland (acclaimed non-fiction writer). TLC still provides its core manuscript assessment service through a team of 90 editors. It now also runs a mentoring scheme for writers (Chapter and Verse), as well a series of events from its base at the Free Word Centre in London. TLC is partly funded through Arts Council England, which puts us in the unique position among consultancies to be able to offer bursaries to support writers from low-income and marginalised backgrounds through our nation-wide Free Reads scheme.

2.    At what stage should an author approach The Literary Consultancy for help with their writing?

Our manuscript assessment service is open to all – we believe that any writer willing to invest money in feedback for their work deserves serious consideration by a professional reader, and our reports aim to help the writer better understand what is working, and what isn’t, and where they might fit into the plethora of markets available to the modern writer.

We’re lucky enough to be both well-connected and well-regarded, and can also refer writers onwards to various trusted services for things like copy-editing, proofreading, and publishing services. Where we see manuscripts of a particularly high quality, we are often able to help writers onwards towards publication, usually via agents. We would never recommend that a writer engage with any service promising to do this, as there simply isn’t any guarantee of success.

3.    What are you reading right now? Which books from 2015 would you recommend?

I’m just coming to the end of Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff which is gorgeously written, tongue-in-cheek, and quietly devastating all at once. I also loved the exuberant perspective on ageing disgracefully of Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun by Sarah Ladipo Manyika (Cassava Republic Press) and the lush yet muscular, uncategorisable Dodge and Burn by Seraphina Madsen (Dodo Ink). I’m a big fan of the short story form, especially when experimental in style (Lydia Davis, Angela Readman, and Kelly Link are all heroes, and indirectly Maxine Chernoff, for her prose poetry). Having heard her read and fallen totally in love with her strange and brilliant writing, I’m really looking forward to Attrib and other stories by Eley Williams, which is out next year with Influx Press.

4.    What do you look for in manuscripts when you take on an author for mentorship ?

Generally speaking, the Chapter and Verse mentoring programme works best for writers who have made a start on a project (be that a novel, a memoir, or a collection of stories or poetry ) and need help getting that project to completion. We encourage writers to have made at least a solid headstart before signing up, to avoid being led too much in the early stages of the writing process by their mentor; it’s not necessary for writers to have a clear idea of where the book’s going – the mentor can help with this – but it is essential that the ideas are there, and that they are the writer’s own. Chapter and Verse can be used for completed manuscripts, but only in cases where the writer is happy to re-configure it over the course of the six feedback sessions and final assessment.
5.    Can you tell us about a few author success stories that have come up from The Literary Consultancy ?

Certainly! Some of our big early successes helped really cement TLC’s reputation as discerners of talent, with clients like Jenny Downham (Before I Die, David Fickling Books, now a major motion picture), Prue Leith and Terry Darlington (Narrow Dog to Carcassone, which sold 30,000 in hardback). We work internationally, and helped Neamat Imam get published by Penguin India with his debut The Black Coat, which was recently published in the UK by Periscope. More recently, we’ve been delighted to share publication news about former clients including Perdita and Honor Cargill (Waiting for Callback, Simon & Schuster) whom we introduced to their agent Hannah Sheppard, and 2014 TLC Pen Factor Writing Competition winner Guinevere Glasfurd (The Words in My Hand). Here are some of our  success stories  and client feedback. One of our clients, Tina Seskis, had a fascinating journey to publication initially via the self-pub route and was eventually published traditionally in a much-publicised series of deals brokered by her agent Jon Elek.


6.     The Literary Consultancy runs writers’ retreats. What can a writer signing up for a retreat expect?



We run a yearly Literary Adventure writing retreat, currently at the beautiful Casa Ana in Spain. Actually, I’m just back from our 2016 retreat, with a really inspiring group of writers. There are daily writing workshops led by experienced tutors (this year novelist and Peepal Tree Press Associate Editor Jacob Ross) as well as a publishing session. (More, here.) The week is designed to help serious writers focus on a book project, either in fiction or memoir, though you don’t need to be published or ‘advanced’ to attend. We also run a series of events at our London base for writers, and both our Director Rebecca Swift and I regularly attend events and conferences, so you might well see us around. We hope to see you at a TLC event soon if you’re in London, or talk to you online if you feel we might be able to help with assessment or mentoring. In any case, wishing all of you the best of luck with your writing!

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Writing novelsAki Schilz is a writer and editor based in London. She is co-founder of the #LossLit Twitter writing project alongside Kit Caless, and co-editor of LossLit Magazine. Her poetry, flash fiction, short stories and creative non-fiction have been published online (inc. And Other Poems, Mnemoscape, tNY.Press, The Bohemyth, CHEAP POP) and in print (inc. An Unreliable Guide to London, Popshot Magazine, Birdbook: Saltwater and Shore, Best Small Fictions 2015), and she is the winner of the inaugural Visual Verse Prize (2013) and the Bare Fiction Prize for Flash Fiction (2014). Aki works at The Literary Consultancy, where she is the Editorial Services Manager. She tweets at @AkiSchilz.

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Who Else is Joining the #NanoWriMo? #writing

Ok, people. I’m doing the NanoWrimo this year.

I’ve heard about it for more than a decade, but never been tempted to join the madness.

Nanowrimo openBut this year, three things changed mmind about NanoWriMo:

  1. I need to get a second novel going. I have a premise in my head, have begun to do research, even written in a few character voices to get to know them better. If I do a little more of research and planning, I might just get something going. Then, I can use December to hack out the rest of the draft, and at least by January, I’d have something to work with.
  2. I’ve written 45k words in 20 days this year, and then again, about 20k in 15 days. Granted, both were rewrites, but, I know I can put in some serious word count.
  3. I took way too long to write my first novel-– and the lessons I learned told me I need to be fully immersed in the world for the spell of time I’m writing. Everything falls into place when I do that–so Nanowrimo–1667 words for 30 days– seems like just what the doctor ordered.
  4. NanoWriMo has a good community feel to it. At the very least I’d feel less alone when I’m drafting. A few of my writing friends have thrown their hat into the ring.

Want Tips from Short Story Author, Tania Hershman? #writetip #IWSG

Short Story writerHere on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series,  today it is my absolute pleasure to welcome a short story writer I adore, Tania Hershman. If you’ve read her, you know why I’m so excited, and if you haven’t, I urge you to make up for this lacuna in your reading life pronto!

(This interview is also for Insecure Writers Support Group. Go to this site to meet the other participants: each insecure writer, trying to feel secure, from across the blogiverse. This month’s co-hosts are: Beverly Stowe McClure, Megan Morgan, Viola Fury, Madeline Mora-Summonte, Angela Wooldridge, and Susan Gourley.)

——————–

1. At what age did you start writing fiction? What prompted you?

I started writing stories when I was a child. I loved reading from when I was tiny, I read everything and spent a lot of time in my own imaginary worlds (as I still do). Writing came naturally from the reading. I then got “side-tracked” by a science degree into a career as a science journalist, and slowly found my way back to fiction writing, my first love, around the age of 28.

2. Do you have an ideal reader in mind as you write?

Me. It’s always me. I write to entertain myself, to make myself laugh and cry, to surprise myself first and foremost.

3. For someone new to your work, which of your books should they read first? Could you link us to some of your favorite work online?