Thursday, September 24, 2009

Busy, Busy, Busy

I feel so bad that I haven't blogged in ages - not really like me, but it has been for very good reasons. Since I last appeared I have been to Dubai and back, attended two publishing/writing related events, written about 4k on PENDEROWN, and managed to catch up briefly with DH!

First, as you know I was worrying about DD going away to school...well, she loves it - which is a huge relief. It doesn't mean that we aren't both at times falling all over ourselves in misery missing each other but she is happy!

Now the How to Get Published conference at Kingston Uni was great. Unfortunately I have left my notes back in Dubai so you will have to wait for the details but it was soooo worth changing my flights to attend.

The past few days I have been tucked away in ancient manor in Oxfordshire (somes like one of my books!) on Cornerstone's Workshop on Women' s Fiction. Magic. You know when you have reached something of an impasse and you can't see the forrest for the trees, well I was there.

Since 2004 I have learnt so much. I have moved from being able to write a complete book to being able to write a pretty good book. I have been told I am so close - but just couldn't see how the hell to take my writing to the next level. I am one of those people who has to 'see' how - if that make sense. Maybe it's my dyslexia but I need concrete examples of where I have missed the mark. Once I can actually 'see' the error then I can learn to fix it and find the rest them in the script or at least that is what I have been able to do in the past.

I had hoped that this workshop might help me on my way. In fact i had high hopes because the person teaching this workshop was Julie Cohen. I know Julie from the RNA, love her books and have been lucky enough to have attended one of her workshops on Pacing at a conference. So I knew that at the start the teacher could write (that is an understatement) and possibly more important that she was a gifted teacher - these things do not always go hand in hand.

So let's just say I wasn't disappointed. I knew before I began where I perseceived my weeknesses and I wasn't wrong, but I didn't quite have it all and I certainly was stumped how to fix it...During the workshop I was put through exercises on my own work and others on the course which helped me to 'see'. I learnt different ways of approaching my totally organic process of plotting and conflict which should improved it, tighten it, or even sometimes find it!

In the past Julie has gifted me with many lightbulb moments and I wasn't disappointed in anyway. It was a wonder I wasn't blinded by the flashes. Now I need to cement these tools into my brain, if possible, so that they become more a part of my natural writing process, which I know will take time...

The other part of the workshop was a chance to learn more about the 'business' end. Helen Corner provided this side. She armed us with the tools to help break through. The pratical nuts and bolts of submission prep and approaching agents. There also a chance to question her indivually about specific concerns - worth it's weight in gold.

On the second evening the wonderful agent, Broo Doherty joined us for dinner and q & a. Opportunites to pick an agent's mind don't come much better than this. She was funny, honest, realistic (her agency of 2 agents receives 5000 submissions a year!), and generous with her answers.

The other bonus of the workshop was the other attendees. Being with other writers is brilliant. This talented group contained women in different parts of the writer's journey were tremendously supportive and helpful. They were inspiring and fun. It was great to spend the time with them. I have gained so much from them that they will never know. I hope they came out of the workshop ready to tackle their own persona challenges.

So I am pumped. The end of PENDEROWN is insight. PILGRIMAGE is bubbly in my head and after my one-on-one with Julie (not sure I like you any more!!!) I have decisions to make (May talk about this more later when i have had time to chew things through).

Between the two writing events though I have come away with three key things that I will share as they are not specific to me or either event:

1. Know your reader
2. Be professional in every way
3. Don't rush and ruin the chance your have by submitting to soon

Finally Anita Burgh has a wonderful post on GUILT on her blog and from that blog I am not called myself a YUP!


JJ Beattie said...

Ooh Liz, what a full post. That makes up for any absence. You've made me look forward to my industry day with TLC...

Good luck with the decision making.

ChrisH said...

Hi Liz, what a busy time you've had. I'm rather envious of the conference as it sounds excellent - boy, if anyone deserves to suceed you do.

Susie Vereker said...

Good to hear from you again. Sounds like you've been doing some serious workshopping. Amazed that Broo receives 5,000 submissions a year.
So glad DD likes her school.

Debs said...

So relieved to hear that DD is settled and having such a good time at school.

Your conference/workshop sounds wonderful. Glad you had such great time there.

HelenMHunt said...

That does sound like a great experience. And your final three key points are so useful.

Jan Jones said...

Hi Liz! Wondered where you were.

All sounds very good stuff indeed - but do remember to keep enjoying your writing, won't you?

Michelle Styles said...

Liz --

Have you read Bickham's 38 common fiction writing mistakes?

You might find it helpful. One suggestion is about finding a good teacher and really listening. With Julie, I am certain you have.

Best of luck.

Bluestocking Mum said...

Sounds like a great conference and that you've found someone like Julie. Keep going!
And your three points are very true.

warm wishes

Flowerpot said...

sounds fab Liz - very envious too! Well done you and hope to catch up soon!

Anonymous said...

CarolC said...

Hi Liz,

Having been lucky enough to be on the course with you I am completely in agreement about how fabulous it was. Ditto on the group of inspiring women, including you of course!

You're looking great and looking forward to catching up again at the RNA winter party.

x Carol

Anonymous said...

p.s. Now I have to go off and bookmark the great list of blogs you suggested.


Kate Hardy said...

Glad you're doing OK - and sounds as if you've been really busy. Good news that DD likes her school :)

An definitely keep on with the writing! You've come a long way in 5 years. And, as Jan says, enjoy the writing - it'll show in your writing and give it that extra sparkle.

sheepish said...

So pleased for you that DD is happy and glad you seemed to get a lot of help from the courses you did. Good luck with whatever decisions you make.

Phillipa said...

Liz - have been awaiting your return to blogland with anticipation and so glad you are back with us. You've been so busy! Hugs on the dd going to school but I am happy she is happy. We've just seen our dd off to uni - and what a sorting that took, when she was landed with Dickensian accommodation! Hope to see you very soon, p xxx

cs harris said...

So glad to hear your DD is happy; what a relief!

And it's hard to beat that "Now I know what I was doing wrong!" rush of writing adrenalin. I know, because I just had one of those moments pondering my WIP while driving up to the lake last week!

liz fenwick said...

JJ - I bet your industry day will be fabulous. When is it?

Chrish - thanks for the vote of confidence :-) You've been working as hard too!

Susie, DD really does but we did have a wobble yesterday after her return following a glorious weekend. Only to be expected but still hard...

Debs - the workshop was actactly what I needed at this point. It is magic when you get exactly what you need :-)

Helen, those points were stated so many times by alsmost every professional I heard. When back in Dubai i will stick them to wall in front of my desk.

liz fenwick said...

Now back to replying that i started in the morning and what ???it's now 6!

Jan - it has been great stuff and thankfully i still love writing :-)

Michelle - i havne't read Bickham so i will look out for that one!

Bluestocking Mum - thanks for visiting and will great out your blog soon :-)

FP - thought i would be in Cornwall long enough to see you but plans have yet again changed on me!

Carol - it was great to see you - keep writing.

Hi Kate - I'm good just not quite sure where i am geographically at the mo but all is well. thx

Sheepish - DD is brilliant and it's still tough on both us to be separated but on Friday she talked non-stop for 3 hours telling all about school when I saw her!

Phillipa- it's never easy when they go is it?

CS -Driving has given me some of my best insights too. off to see if you have blogged about your 'moment'.