My name is Jo and I’m a writer.
Just writing that sentence is giving me the shivers.
I’ve always, always been reluctant to talk about my writing. This isn’t because I don’t think it’s any good, I mean, it has it’s moments. But there’s just something about saying the words “I’m a writer” which makes me uncomfortable.
Maybe it’s because I’m British and self-deprecating and I don’t class myself as a writer because I haven’t got a book on the shelf. Or maybe it’s because the usual response to “I’m a writer” is “Oh, what do you write?” and then that’s where I blankly stare at you… which I’ve heard is pretty disconcerting.
So yes, I don’t have a reason for you but I can probably count on one hand the people who know how serious I am about this writing malarkey.
I’ve always thought my writing as mine. I’m very picky about who I share my writing with because it’s personal. I’ve never written a diary so I wouldn’t know how it feels to have any read it but that’s what I imagine it to feel like. When it’s written it’s fine, I’m happy for people to read it because it’s out there and I can’t change it. But while I’m cutting things down and changing scenes, I like to keep it secretsecret. Also, it makes me blush and stutter something rotten.
I just want to take this opportunity to get you all up to speed with my writing and give you a bit of a reason why I’m not joining you all in NaNoWriMo this year.
Currently, I have two things I am working on at the moment. The first is a contemporary YA story called Patter, and it was written last year during NaNoWriMo. Since then I have been redrafting and jiggering with it.
My third draft, completed in January this year, weighed in at a ridiculous 90k words. This is when I was still thought that the longer a young adult book was, the better it would be. It had a brief snippet of interest from an agent that ended up in complete and infuriating disappointment. But that’s another story and you live and you learn.
After I finished feeling sorry for myself, I redrafted it and was extremely happy. So I sent it off to three agents.
I got two ‘nos’ and one nothing.
And that’s when I started to feel like I needed to do something because obviously something wasn’t working, but I had no idea what. A while ago, Kirsty Eagar recommended that I use Cornerstones, a literary agency, because she had used it while she was living in London and it proved to be invaluable to her. I was sceptical because I wasn’t sure whether I needed it. I mean, I knew what I was doing, didn’t I?
So I got in touch with them and decided that if I was really serious about my writing, I needed to invest in it. I won’t lie, it is a bit pricey but the service is absolutely amazing and, to me anyway, 100% worth it. The full report was so in-depth, constructive and, at time, brutally honest (there’s nothing quite like seeing every single one of your swear words you’ve used listed in a Word document to make you realise you swear like a sailor…with a swearing problem).
I blinked at it for an entire day. There were big changes I had to do, changes that were going to… well, change pretty much my whole book. And it was going to be a lot of work.
And then I pulled myself together and decided to grow up and opened my Word doc and looked at it with fresh eyes.
That was just over three weeks ago and so far I have hacked off 20k words, killed off two characters (well, not literally), changed the twists and turns completely and transformed the book.
Whether it’s better or not, I’m not sure. We’ll see. I have the changes planned out but I have yet to start re-writing. I just know that I’m not going to rush it and I’m not going to be all “OMGAGENTS!” until I know for sure that I’m happy with it and it’s the story I want to tell.
I’m only 23. I’ll get there.
The second story I’m working on at the moment is another contemporary young adult book and it’s based on a story and characters that have been rattling around my head for a very long time. In between my drafts for Patter, I started to plot, scribbling in notebooks, made notes on my iPhone and there are post-its scattered around my room. In the last few weeks, I’ve actually put font to Word Document and made some progress on it. It feels weird because it’s extremely different to the first book but I think that’s what I need.
I don’t want to witter on about it because I’m very conscious of how annoying I’m sounding but I started a tumblr a while ago (it’s been linked over there >> on the sidebar for a few weeks, I’ve been hoping no one noticed it). There, I am posting snippets, pictures, lyrics, songs and all my inspiration for it so if you do want to know more about it that’s where you should go.
So that’s where I am with my writing.
You may wonder why I’m telling you all this but, don’t worry, I have a reason. I’m starting a new feature on Wear the Old Coat that is all about writing YA fiction. I know a lot of readers of this genre want to become YA writers themselves and I’d like to get a bit of a discussion going.
So every two weeks (or so…*cough*), I’m going to publish a post about writing YA books. These will all be different, ranging from discussion posts with my favourite aspiring authors, interviews with bloggers and, and this is something I’m incredibly excited about, interviews with some of my favourite authors about their own journey with writing. I’ve wanted to do this for a while now: instead of asking authors questions about their books as a reader, but as a writer.
I can’t wait to hear what they have to say and the advice that they’ll give because, and I don’t know about you, but I am looking for all the advice I can get.
So, what do you think? Are you a writer? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? What would you like to see in this feature? I’m still trying to work out if I can pull this off, so I’m very flexible and I’d love your suggestions!