Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Archive for the ‘About writing’ Category

Slow progress – #amwriting

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Any writing progress is satisfying at the moment as work chops and changes and makes planning difficult. Writing on two fronts, as the mood takes me, I am focussing on the short stories I am writing to the prompts of a friend’s pictures and my has-been-going-on-forever novel.

The short story I wrote during a train journey in March, about a dancer turned boxer, has finally been re-read and lots of holes found. There is a story, but I have yet to work out how much background needs to be included and how much can be left to the reader’s imagination. There is a lot more work to be done, but the story has been looked at again so it is fresh and hopefully the hole-filling will be completed soon.

Chapters 1-3 of the novel have been re-read, scribbled over, the changes typed in, and the chapters read once again, slowly and aloud. I know I’ve said this before, but I think they are ready to go. Moving Chapter 4 to the position of Chapter 3 has made the start of the story less repetitive, given voice to a new character, and maybe even introduced a small hook. On my list of jobs to do, I have to compile a writing CV for one agent – it will be short – and then, after another read through, I think chapters 1-3 will be ready to send into the world again. So that’s next week’s job, assuming the work that currently pays my wages doesn’t want me to provide cover on the days I plan to write.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: write a writing CV; submit novel to agents; continue reading novel from chapter 4 to make sure changes follow through and there are no typos!

Ongoing projects successfully met: chapters 1-3 of novel had been read, edited, and are ready to go; a short story has been edited and work to be done identified. (I need to count the small things!)

Ongoing projects partially met: I am crocheting a scarf and have completed five repetitions of an 8-row pattern – only 32-repetitions to go before the thing is finished.

Fails: I have done no Italian or piano practise.

Written by Sarah Ann

June 14, 2017 at 1:45 pm

Oh those poor agents – #amwriting, #amediting

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I am not sure what I was on in March when I thought that my has-been-going-on-forever book was publishable as it was. Perhaps I made too much use of my friend’s Nespresso machine and excess caffeine caused delusions. On the advice of my new writing friend Lou, who said the book was almost there but not quite, I have been re-reading and re-editing. Chapters 1-3 haven’t been covered in so much scribble since a major re-write two years ago. And when I found a typo in Chapter 2, I wanted to jump up and down and pull my hair out. A train pulls away, not ‘as the trained pulled away.’ How did I miss it? As I paced my friend’s kitchen, coffee in hand reading aloud, how did I not stumble over this mistake? I don’t know, but I did, and it makes me unhappy to know I sent out a manuscript that wasn’t just not perfect but also contained errors.

I have worked on Chapter 3 today, which was previously chapter 4, and found yet another mistake – a we instead of a with, as in ‘take a walk we me.’ Again, how is it only now I am seeing it? I want to boil my head for my stupidity/ poor eyesight. Instead I will plod on. It has taken me three weeks to get this far (p. 21), slotting in reading and editing between appointments, typing in changes while hubby watches TV. I just hope I can keep the same mood and frame of mind until I reach the end of p. 212, as the changes need to be uniform and the feel of the book consistent.

As for the eight agents I submitted to in April, one replied the book was a near miss for her, three others said, no thanks in the current market, and after the passage of time, I imagine I will not be hearing from the remaining four. I will be working on my re-submission next week.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

June 7, 2017 at 1:30 pm

OMG I almost won something – #amwriting

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I emailed some writer friends recently to ask:

why is it the things you spend months nurturing and send into the world with hope come back rejected, whereas the things you knock up quickly and send out just because you’ve finished make it? Serendipity? Sod’s law? They couldn’t answer.

I ask because a deadline I met in March just to prove I could has proved fruitful. A panel of judges read my story and placed me as runner-up in a short story competition, and you can read it here.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 31, 2017 at 11:08 am

Learning Keeps You Young, or Busy – #amwriting

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I have realised this week that I am better at practical learning than book learning.

Readers of my Friday Fictioneer posts might know I recently started tap dancing. I didn’t dance as a child – I was too fat and my parents didn’t have the money to pay for lessons however much I pleaded to go to ballet classes with my best friend. Eighteen months ago I started Bollywood dancing and learnt that for year. It was lovely to move elegantly and learn more about Asian film music, but the classes ended.

I have always hankered to learn to tap, probably because of the noise and my imagining that it was easy to stamp around. It isn’t, and I am having to practise between lessons to keep up. I am a complete beginner compared to the others who are re-learning or have at least a term behind them. I am improving, but don’t imagine I will ever be fast enough. I have also taught myself basic crochet stitches and am about to attempt my first piece of clothing, albeit a relatively simple scarf.

However, my online Italian course, which I started last June, is languishing uncompleted. And I have pulled out of the writing MOOC I signed up to complete over the next 6-weeks because I don’t have the time to do it justice. The University of Iowa have run a number of writing MOOCs and I participated in How Writers Write Fiction 2014 and 2015, as well as How Writers Write Poetry 2014. They are professional and stretching courses, but post new classes on a Thursday and I am unable to keep up now work has become busier.

At tap, I have peers in front of whom I don’t wish to fail. With crochet I have physical evidence of my progress. However, with Italian there’s no one to practise with, and I’ve enough of my own writing to get on with without committing to more. So whether I’m better at the practical, or the things I enjoy most, is open to question.

How do people learn without peers, teachers, or projects to keep them on track?

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 28, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Slotting it in – #amwriting

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With clients moving on I thought I’d fill my time with writing. However, new clients have arrived and time home alone to write has reduced. My one free day a week is now Thursday, during which the morning is taken up with work-related report writing.

In order to make sure I do write, I am carrying around hard copies of short stories in progress. On Monday, in the 10-minutes I had between clients, I edited 600-words of a still very rough, but complete, short story. I was able to do the same at lunchtime today. And this morning, I started this blog post before work, planning to get down the bare bones before posting this evening. Squeezing it in, using tiny snippets of time to write, is working… so far.

Last week, on my day at home, I read through chapters 1-3 of my out-with-agents novel and decided Chapter 1 needs re-ordering. There is too much introspection and not enough grab. I think I might also swap Chapters 3 and 4. I like Chapter 4. It introduces a new and loveable character that agents might prefer to the one who arrives in Chapter 3. Because the chapters follow a detailed timeline, I have yet to work out how much work re-ordering might take, and that’s tomorrow’s job, when I have the afternoon free to play.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: re-order/ tighten first chapters of novel; re-edit short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: chapters 1-3 of novel were read and found wanting.

Ongoing projects partially met: two short stories have been edited; my online Italian course has been accessed once more, even if not much learning has occurred; crochet progresses, I’m looking for new stitches to try.

Ongoing project fails: the piano gathers dust.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 17, 2017 at 10:47 pm

#amwriting – honest, I am

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It’s difficult to blog about writing when one isn’t doing much. I have (mostly) written a weekly flash and am tweeting haiku most weekdays. I’ve also been doing a bit of reading about writing, but still have a big pile to work through, and there hasn’t been much progress on short stories or other move substantive works.

On the advice of a new, and proving to be dear, writer friend, I am heading back to my currently-with-agents novel to look again at chapters 1 to 3. These are the ones that need to hook and grab and sink in claws that cannot be removed until the remainder of the manuscript has been read. I have never been happy with the opening lines of my book – they stink. So with Lou kicking my backside, I will be tightening, shaping, and giving these opening 7000-words a perfection makeover.

As clients fall but the wayside I have lost 11-hours a week of paid work and will have more time to write. I have divided this week in to days on which to complete different tasks, and subdivided in to mornings/ afternoons/ hour-long windows. For example, today (Tuesday) I wrote up my work reports in the morning and scheduled writing this blog post for the afternoon, as well as catching up on emails hanging over from the weekend. Wednesday morning I will re-read chapters 1-3 of the aforementioned novel before getting out my red pen. At some point during Thursday or Friday I will revisit the short stories I plan to have finished by the end of July. However, I feel that with the lack of progress made during the past month, that deadline might slip by. I have even timetabled an hour of Italian practice for later in the week. I need to master, or at least revisit Italian personal pronouns if I am ever to move on.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: read and sharpen chapters 1-3 of novel; edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted; I’ve crocheted some flowers.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and blog reading are both too sporadic.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian and piano practise have been non-existent.

Written by Sarah Ann

May 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

#amwriting – Agents, here I come.

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My novel to pitch is now with eight agents. While I hoped this would take a day, it took two, as submissions were adjusted to meet agency specific requirements. Some require a query letter instead of a cover letter and synopsis. Most want the first three chapters as attachments, although one preferred the first chapter pasted into the body of an email. And there are agents who want submissions via hardcopy only, which I will approach once I have a new toner cartridge for my printer.

I realise submitting to agents should be an ongoing process until I find representation. However, it has been an energy-sapping couple of days and I am looking forward to writing again without strictures.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: novel has been submitted; Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted regularly; piano practice has taken place; crochet projects have been completed.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and progress have been sporadic; blog reading is improving.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian has taken a back seat.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

April 22, 2017 at 11:35 am

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