After all this time, I should know that when I give advice to a client (or anyone) it’s likely to come back and bite me in my own life. The advice that’s been haunting me? “Don’t have a blog on your website unless you know you can keep it up.” Sigh. (I even put the date in the header of that last post. Deeper sigh.) So, why the break? There are reasons. There are always reasons we don’t write.
We’re three days into the new year and it’s official: 2016 is officially the year I’m sick of it — sick of doing things the same way; sick of not doing the work I want to be doing; sick of moving so slowly on creative projects; sick of the amount of stuff and paper and wearable, readable, wrappable and boxable past that is clogging the flow of my life and work. So, 2016 is the year of change. I’m cutting and culling and reforming and, I dearly hope, releasing something new and different in the process.
I’m going to start by throwing out my teeth.
We often hear that writers need to have a thick skin to survive the writing business and its attendant rejections, emendations, and critiques (not to mention the pain of comparison with your artistic vision or the success of other writers). But what does this actually mean? Do we know the truth of a thick skin?
I’m sitting here fist-pumping and whooping my joy (quietly - I’m the only one of the household awake). Why the joy? A brilliant creative writing project is getting the praise it’s due. The Coop Times is not mine. So, why do I care? Read on. If you’ve ever known the pain of a deadline – you will care too.
The trouble with editors is that we tend to go on holiday just when writers need us — the same time you’re on holiday from your day job and want to really get stuck in to the editing! In my absence, here’s a video to help you kick-start your revisions process.
A few months ago I closed the reading room space to have a short sabbatical from my editing business. It was one of the scarier things I’ve done in my life, coming in just short of the things that have involved actual threat of injury or death. And it has been a real gift. It allowed me the space and time to go back to my roots, and also to ask important questions of the business and myself. For example: Why am I doing this?
Writer’s block is as common as odd socks. It happens; you have to live with it and find a way to work with it. One of the best things I’ve found, for myself and clients, is to tackle it head on: get to know it by getting it down on paper, and then get away from it. (And, yes: there is such a thing as ‘editor’s block’ too.)
Compared to waiting for the next bombing raid, or walking two hundred kilometres to the next village hoping to god they have food for your children, writing a book or starting a blog doesn’t seem like a particularly terrifying way to spend your time – #firstworldproblem right? But many people are terrified – of starting, of failing, even of succeeding, at their writing. But what if the source of the fear is the source of the cure?
The University of Wollongong’s Tide anthology, the tenth edition, was launched last night to rapturous applause, and with a particular memorable speech from the subject’s founder, Dr Shady Cosgrove, in which she attributed the success of previous students of the Tide classes over the last ten years to their having been part of the wonderful trial-cum-triumph experience this subject is known to be. (This was for comic value; although she taught the subject herself for its first seven years, Cosgrove is not mad yet.)
I am asked this question often. The short answer is: there’s no short answer. Part of me wants to say: ‘Please see “How long is a piece of string?” and similar unanswerable questions.’ But I don’t, because I understand: the publishing process is new to most people, and ebook and other digital publishing formats are changing so often that it may as well be new to many in the book trade.