The fabulous Kate Walker is here giving all you Pink Heart Society-ers brilliant advice about resolutions and writing...
A book is for life, not for New Year.
Writing a book, that is. It’s a huge commitment and really quite a scary enterprise. I should know – I’ve been through it 63 times. Well, that’s 63 if you count the actual published books I’ve written. There are one or two other manuscripts of books that I started – some I even finished - but that never truly came to life and had to be consigned to the filing cabinet in my garage where books that ‘died’ are buried.
I have lots of ideas that have gone nowhere on my computer too. Ones that have shrivelled into nothing before they really got going and then . . .just . . .faded . . . out.
It’s New Year - 2105 - you can’t have missed it. All those bells and fireworks and parties – and resolutions. Oh yes, resolutions. All those promises you make to yourself –
- I will lose half my bodyweight
- I will be teetotal for January – February – the rest of the year
- I will . . .
No - not me. I don't do resolutions. I gave all that up long ago.
Personally I could never quite see the point in believing that some arbitrary change of date meant that my life would change too. That’s just me. I ‘m always fascinated reading other people’s resolutions – the ones on here this week, for example – but I don’t make any.
Oh – correction - I did write one this year. That was when my friend Anne McAllister had a post on resolutions to write and she asked me about mine. It turned out that both she and I had really just one writing resolution – and it seemed that hers and mine were really almost the same –
I am resolved to preserve the joy of writing for myself by writing the stories I want to read and not to focus on 'trends/ what's selling' or 'what editors are looking for.' After 30 years in this business it's become even more obvious that if you can see the bandwagon then it's already going past you. And writing to demand is a sure way to stagnation - if not burn out. Each one of us has a unique writing talent and writing career path - comparing and contrasting with anyone else is death to your authentic voice.
And Anne’s version of this was:
So, my New Year's resolution is to keep right on doing just exactly what I've been doing -- trusting my characters to tell me their stories, being true to them, letting them be whoever they turn out to be (it's a lot like raising kids, to be honest), and write about that. It's what has kept me writing -- and kept me interested -- for the past thirty plus years. It's what makes me want to turn up every day at the computer -- to see what they're up to now.
These thoughts are in my mind as I plan the courses I’m going to be running this year (details will soon be up on the Events page of my web site) and I think about the students I’m going to meet – especially the ones who’ve made the resolution to ‘write that novel’ this year.
I hope they’ll enjoy starting out on that path. That they’ll have the strength and endurance to continue with the journey when the going gets tough. That they’ll realise that writing a publishable book is not sitting about waiting for the fairy dust of inspiration to land on the page/keyboard. The trouble with all the finished, edited, proof-corrected, printed, bound books on the shelves in the shops/on Amazon is that none of them show the blood sweat and tears that went into them.
On these courses I can give advice. I can tell students how I work, what I think is important, (characters, anyone?). I can give examples of ways of approaching topics – the sort of thing that’s in the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance. But I can’t give any student the determination and strength to carry on when the road gets bumpy or the book goes wrong.
I have students who’ve come to courses for several years, who’ve been on the point of giving up – but didn’t - and now they’re published authors. Rachael Thomas is a case in point – one of my extra special Christmas gifts was her second novel, Claimed by The Sheikh – dedicated to me and to Sharon Kendrick whose courses she also attended.
I’m delighted to think that my courses helped her – but what got Rachael from that point as student to where she is now with her second book coming out and more in the pipeline is her sheer determination – putting one foot in front of another (or rather as a writer, one word after the other.)
Isn’t there a saying that success is getting up one more time than you’ve fallen down? Success doesn’t often come quickly – it does for some, for others it’s a longer journey.
All I know is that it doesn’t change – the more books you write, the longer you’re in this business, it doesn’t get any easier. And as I set out into my 31st year as a published author, I just wish it did!
So if you look at my ‘resolution’ and Anne’s – the best resolution is to be resolute. To keep on keeping on. To write a book that’s authentic to you and not to compare and contrast your writing or your progress with anyone else. Someone once asked me when they should learn to give up on the dream they had to be a writer. My answer? When you can – if the voices in your head, the characters who come to talk to you, the stories that just have to be told go away and leave you in peace. If they don’t you have to keep on.
So I suppose that’s my resolution – to keep on keeping on.
But this Friday post is also supposed to be Friday Fun isn’t it – no I hadn’t forgotten. Because as one of the best pieces of editorial advice I was ever given at the beginning of my career said - don’t ever give up your other hobbies, interests, activities – because it’s your life that gives you your voice and feeds your imagination.
So remember to be resolute and keep on putting one foot (word) in front of another - but at the same time, have fun and enjoy the journey.
My latest releases are two reissues - first there's Kept For Her Baby which is out in the 3 in 1 By Request called Secret Love -Child.
And coming up next, there's the reissue of The Konstantos Marriage Demand again in a 3 in 1 collection - His Revenge Seduction.
And the 12 Point Guide To Writing Romance is now available on Kindle