Pink Heart Society regular, Kate Walker is talking about planning for the new season...
There’s something about a date that signals the change of name of the month that gives it much more impact and makes me start thinking and planning for the time that’s ahead of me.
The feeling is more so when it comes, as the move into September does. This time of year has a special feeling with it – it’s the end of summer, the beginning of autumn – or fall. Whichever word you use it still means that the lazy, hazy days of summer (if we had any!) are behind you and the days are growing cooler, the nights are drawing in. (OK so it’s different if you’re in the other hemisphere but you know what I mean!)
But whatever the sort of season and temperature you have, September marks the start of the ‘New Term’ or ‘New Academic Year’ right now. Everywhere I go there are shops announcing Back To School or College Planners or – well, or just offering the temptation of brand new stationery with wonderful note books to write notes in and fabulous pens to write those notes with.
(I know so may of us use computers and keyboards - but show me a writer who claims she isn’t really a stationery addict and I won’t believe her!)
Along with these new term adverts comes a sort of ‘new beginnings’ type of feeling. This is a legacy from all those years starting a new term in school, a new class, a new academic year at university. I haven’t been at school – or even university – for eons but the feeling still lingers. And with it comes a sense of new starts and so I tend to make my ‘September resolutions’ rather more than I ever do actual new year ones in January.
This year I’m doing just that. And I find that I’m reading about the sort of resolutions I’m thinking of in many places on the internet in the Romance Writers Report (the magazine of the Romance Writers of America) and in conversations with my writer friends.
People are feeling pressured, unsure, worried about the way that romance and all types of publishing is going. Ebooks, self-publishing, books shops closing down, Amazon seeming to monopolise the markets...
I’m also seeing writers struggling to keep up their output or feeling so pressured by deadlines (there’s a reason why I call them dreadlines) that the joy has gone out of writing at all. I’ve heard phrases like ‘a hamster on a wheel’ or read articles about how an author can keep the quality of her work while meeting the commitments they’ve made to editors.
Just recently I’ve had emails from readers wondering why I’ve slowed down my writing – when is the next book coming out. It’s lovely to feel that they’re missing my novels – and so good to know they’re looking eagerly for the next – but at the same time it makes me wonder how much readers understand of what goes into writing a novel.
The need to come up with a new idea – more importantly one that actually justifies being made into a full novel – and that will last for the necessary length, with a beginning middle and end to make a whole book – the time to write it, review it, revise it - and that’s before submitting it to an editor who more often than not will have ideas for revisions too. And that’s without any of the nasties like the Crows of Doubt or the dreaded Writers' Block - or even just the things that Life can throw at you.
It’s important to pause, draw breath, assess the situation – and decide if you really can commit to all those books – all those words - all those (shudder) dreadlines. Because if the pressure gets too much then the dreaded burnout is always lurking on the horizon like a big dark cloud.
In the past couple of years I’ll admit that I came close to feeling burned out. I had things that demanded attention that were nothing to do with the writing life but they sure messed it about. In the past I’ve been adept at juggling but sometimes Fate can throw one ball too many into the mix and everything can come tumbling to the ground.
My ‘New Season Resolutions’ are made with that in mind. I’ve been thinking of then for while and now I feel like these are the ones that will make this new season brighter and better even as the days grow colder and darker.
So what are they?
Well basically there’s really just one, where Kate Walker, author, is concerned and that is :
To rebuild and strengthen the joy of writing
Remembering why I started writing in the first place – that was to tell the stories that were buzzing in my head, not to think of buzz words or tropes that sell or the next ‘big thing’.
To pace my writing so that I can complete the novels, meet my dreadlines, but not kill myself in the process. A fast and frequent output is great - but not at the expense of the author’s health or sanity!
To remember that refilling the well is as vital – if not more so - to a writer – as emptying it on to the page for the reader to enjoy. Reading stories is how you learn how other people tell stories. And you don’t just have to read romance for this to work for you as a romance writer – in fact, the wider you spread your story reading, the better.
And finally – to enjoy the company of not yet published authors who come on my courses – I do this already, but the other point is to let their enthusiasm lift me and inspire me for my own writing. I might be the teacher but I get so much from my classes/retreats - as much as I hope the students gain, if not more.
What about you? Does this time of year inspire you to new starts, new plans, new resolutions? Or is it just a good time to indulge in your stationery addiction (which is not a bad thing!)?
My latest romance is Olivero's Outrageous Proposal published in April in Harlequin Presents and Mills and Boon OliverModern Romance . Coming next is Destined For The Desert King which is published in December this year.
Then there's the 12 Point Guide to Writing Romance, the newest edition of which is available on Kindle or a revised and updated paperback edition now available on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
However, if you're in Australia things are a little different - Destined for The Desert King is still out in December but Olivero's Outrageous Proposal is now scheduled for January 2016. But there's the complete Alcolar Family Trilogy published in September with the title The Notorious Alcolars.