Friday, January 1, 2010

Wring out the old

Sorry this is a long one, I usually like to keep things snappy! Note the vicar - he was on the news recently. Google St Matthew's in the City! - Andrea at Rainbow notebook, I'll try and get a front shot in another time!

2009 was a whirlwind of a year for me, both personally, privately and for my writing. You could say I've been through the wringer! Done a brief inventory and discovered something pretty unbelievable - I wrote (this does not mean they are "finished") fifty poems in 2009, thirty poems in the month of December alone! Would love to post them up here but I'm going to overcome my submission fear and send them out to some ezines and journals etc when they are right.

As well as the poetry there was the flash and short fiction (and some of my flash merges with my poetry but I keep it separate): I wrote fifty stories and gathered together what I hope can become my first collection - no news is good news, right? Plus, I sent a couple of things to competitions. I even managed to make myself cry with a couple of stories!

I also wrote a novel. Back in May/June I wrote a novel set in my old home town - to exorcise it I suppose and allow me to move on. It's a good story and an easy read with a linear narrative and a lyrical style and a funny protagonist. It's also an allegory. It took me four weeks to write 80,000 words (and no, it isn't a load of hits) and almost killed me! The bones of the story had been with me for some time and allowed me to do a chapter by chapter breakdown of the plot and, essentially, write a chapter per night. At weekends I would work on it for twelve hours per day and it was both the easiest and hardest thing I have accomplished. It served it's purpose. I no longer have any urge to revisit any aspect or elements of my home town in a novel! I am cleansed! What it also "taught" me, however, was that I want to write more complex novels. My first novel was/is quite complex and I think my lack of success with that had put me off a little, made me think I should go more mainstream, but you know what, I am who I am and I write what I write and so I'm back to writing just for me: and it feels good. It feels very good.

As soon as I decided that a stack of books lifted off my shoulders and left me with a spanky new dust jacket.

I'm going to take my time with my latest WIP - not because I think I've earned it (incidentally, I do think I should have some sort of holiday - offers on a postcard!) - but because I want to savour it. I want the words I commit to it to be the very best I can for the words' sake as well as the narrative's. It's proving to be a challenge, in every sense, to me. I am struggling with a lot of numbers on a weekly basis and I, as I've blogged before, am not bedfellows with numbers. And that brings me to another point...

...For the past year I have been writing on my bed! Since my son became active I haven't been able to leave my writing laying about all over the place and have had to decamp to my bedroom (oh, to have a bigger house - come on agents, make those publishers buy my books!). It's not ideal: it's not even comfortable (really, you should try it: the sheer perversity of being on your bed and not sleeping....), and my back aches and my bottom gets nins and peedles far too frequently.

I wanted to go into 2010 with a more balanced approach to writing, less like a learner driver - gas/breaks/gas/breaks ... - I may not be able to change my personality but I have got more defined and realistic goals, ones which don't put so much pressure on me to be a writing machine, don't need so much grease or un-clogging, and allow the words to sparkle.

Part of me will always talk to that kid who was kicked, spat on, followed home and pushed in the gutter and had her clothes drawn on, and part of me will listen to her telling them, the kids that did that to her "thanks - you made me", but there's another part developing, one who doesn't need the mother of the past. In 2009 I cut the umbilicus.

I started blogging in May to present myself to the world as a writer. I felt like a bit of a fraud, after all I had nothing published. Looking back at how much I have written, however, I think I can call myself a writer now.

Nothing is as it was at the beginning of 2009 but for one thing; last year my resolution was to find an agent and get published. This year it's the same. You still up for a ride?

PS I can't swim and I failed my driving test six times! I can also hum the theme to Black Beauty whilst tongue galloping! - Bet you thought I'd forgotten - or maybe you had?
PPS - why did no one tell me I had missed the "a" out of beauty? Some critics you lot are! Ha! Changed it now. Must remember to spell check more!


Andrea said...

Your dress looks lovely! You know that I'm one for clothes :)

It sounds like you've had an amazing writing year! 50 poems! 50 stories! A novel! You can definitely call yourself a real writer and writing for yourself is always the way to go - that's the way I see it, anyway.

You make me want to resolve to write heaps in 2010, though I'm also in the process of doing music stuff so it's hard to decide which should take precedence. At the same time I'm also in a non-creative full time job - what you've written about how you've managed to work writing into your life has been inspiring, though.

Giving it all time and care and going slowly is pretty good advice, I think.

Sorry about the long comment! I'm in babbling blogging mood! Here's to a good 2010!

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey - don't apologise to me!

I'm hoping to pace myself a little this year - I'm all or nothing - but at least when I do something I give it all of me!

Here's to your writing, Andrea - thanks for reading!

catdownunder said...

Purr! 80,000 words!!!!!!!!!! You are amazing!

Rachel Fenton said...

Determined more like, Cat, besides, it's quality that counts and I have a lot of revising to do - getting the magnifying glass out to those sentences - before I can be proud of those words.

I firmly believe that if you want something badly enough you can make it happen. I certainly don't give myself any time off! Thanks though!

Mike McLaren said...

Fraud!? I'd say not. 50-50-80,000, and now you're submitting! Sounds like you've been a writer longer than you think. (So many poems I've written over the past nine years, and in all that time I've submitted only three, and only recently have I begun posting them on a blog.) Congratulations! 2009 was good for you. May 2010 be equal or better.

Oh... by the way... beds are for sleeping. ; )

Anonymous said...

Good heavens, girl, I think you have more than earned the right to call yourself a writer!

ps - I am totally up for the ride.

Rachel Fenton said...

It runs like this, MA:

"What do you do?"
"Um, I'm, um, a writer"
"Really, wow, what have you published?"

Maybe this year I'll get to have a different conversation!

I'd be interested to hear some of your songs, as well as reading your poetry.

Thanks for the tip, btw!

Here's to increased submission then (it sounds odd - doesn't fit with being a Leo somehow)! Thank you.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hey, Donna, cool!

Dominic Rivron said...

Good old Glynn Cardy.

You seemed to have written as much this year as I would be happy to have written in a decade!

Rachel Fenton said...

Just think, Dominic, how early I'll be able to retire then!

I'm scared that if I stop I'll miss my place in the sceme of things - where ever that may be...I'm a bit bonkers like that!

Glynn's a real card! You should see the photo I have of him on Christmas eve!

steven said...

i love that leo comment - submission? leo! ha!!! i recall the days when i was writing curriculum documents and discovered that my chldren had become more mobile and curious than i had expected. i too worked off a bed and top side of a couch!! have a lovely day of writing. steven

Golden West said...

That's a stunning photograph, Rachel - such light! How long ago was it taken?

Kass said...

You can actually write with the constant distraction of a child?!! There are some pretty famous people who have written solely from their beds. Truman Capote, for one. Now I'm going to have to go google this to be sure. I love your style of writing. Keep it up.

Rachel Fenton said...

Steven - Thanks. Glad I'm not the only one who's worked like this!

Are you a Leo?

("sceme" should read scheme...agh, will I n'er learn to type accurately!?)

GW - it was taken Jan '09. Thank you. A friend of ours took it - I think his camera cost more than our car!

Kass - There are obviously times when I cannot write a thing but the ideas keep coming and the phrases, so that when I do snatch a moment, I scribble away like one possessed! I'm really pleased you like my writing - thanks, that means a lot.

Tom Bailey said...

The following quote from what you shared just comes across to me like the seeds of a great writer. I think sharing like this is amazing and powerful for people. Being able to share in authentic way is rare but powerful.

"Part of me will always talk to that kid who was kicked, spat on, followed home and pushed in the gutter and had her clothes drawn on, and part of me will listen to her telling them, the kids that did that to her "thanks - you made me", but there's another part developing, one who doesn't need the mother of the past. In 2009 I cut the umbilicus."

Rachel Fenton said...

Tom - Thank you.

TOM VOWLER said...

That's a terrific output for last year, Rachel. Good luck with all things literary in 2010.

Rachel Fox said...

Have a good year with words, Rachel.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thanks, Tom - I'm a bit green with the whole submitting/agents/publishing world side of things but I'm working on it! Ditto with the luck!

Rachel, I will if you
have a good word with yours (years)! Thanks.

Thomas Taylor said...

Here's your third Tom in a row to congratulate you on such a productive year. Writing a novel in four weeks, even a first draft, is a extraordinary thing to have done. I wonder what you think of all that nanowrimo larking about now.

I have the same conversation you have, more or less:

'You're writing a novel?'
'Wow, who's it for?'
'Erm, I don't know yet.'

I'm looking forward to following you through 2010, Rachel.

Rachel Fenton said...

Back at you, Tom!! Anyway, what's all this third Tom in a row!!? You make me sound like a feline of iniqitous repute! ;)Thank you!

Nanomibobbing is right for who it's right for - I definitely got over needing to test how productive I can be though!

It was self discipline to an extreme, I can tell you that (reminding myself of Long John Silver when I typed that! - "and you may lay to that!)

I hope I can give you all something worth following in 2010!

Thanks for ambling along thus far everybody!

Dave King said...

Not a fraud, not too long, not too anything. Refreshing. Something different.

Anonymous said...

Rachel I am amazed and humbled by your dedication to your craft. If I'm going to have any New Year Resolution it going to be to quit faffing about and be more like you. I'm sure this will be your year Penny x

Rachel Fenton said...

Dave, you're very kind, thank you.

Penny, I hope it pays off too! I have to say I have churned out a lot of tosh though, which will need some investment to bring up to scratch, and I've had four rejections in as many days of this new year! I hope that's not part of starting as I mean to go on!

Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and generosity of support.

Anonymous said...

Good luck with locating the agent and getting into print, Rachel. My main aspiration too, although my output is a fraction of yours - I'll be lucky to get 10 first drafts completed in a year.

Rachel Fenton said...

That's still almost one per month, Dick, pretty good by my standards! And it's quality not quantity that counts, as I think I've already said! Which you have in spade loads! Good luck with it for you, then, and to many more drafts!

Rachel Fenton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Vanessa Gebbie said...

Hi Rachel what a stunning and lovely photo! And I am blown sideways by your output. My goodness! All strength to you in 2010 and on into the future - and thank you for all your lovely comments everywhere, on blogs and so forth. It is a pleasure to know you, writer-person. (and dont let anyone tell you you aren't.)

Rachel Fenton said...

Vanessa - you're making me blush!
Thank you.

(Have to say, it's amazing what a good camera and a bit of lighting can do! I generally look like a big toothy moose! Good job it's only my back in the shot - I've ruined many a lovely photo!) I think the church took centre stage in this shot - good thing too!

My output will be substantially reduced this year with the novel needing feedin and looking after! But I'm glad I have a collection of material to tinker with in the dry hours!

Just had a poem and accompanying art work accepted by Writer's Eye! Hurrah!

Vanessa Gebbie said...


Tania Hershman said...

Rachel, that sounds like one hell of a year writing-wise, may it continue to be a decade of great creativity, there is no doubt that publication will come - if you send, send, send it out! Congrats on the poem publication - and what a gorgeous photo! Thanks for all your wonderful comments on my blog, and for your excellent guest blog post. It's been lovely to "meet" you.

Rachel Fenton said...

Hehe - and...we're off....!!!

Thanks Vanessa!

Rachel Fenton said...

I hope publication follows - that or exhaustion for sure, Tania!

Five rejections and one acceptance already this year! Must keep going!

You know it was you asking me to do the guest post I think (And Nuala with the book tours) which gave me the required rocket boost - I thought what if all these people go looking for stuff I've written and there's nothing out there, it's all here in my pc/scraps of paper/notebooks! How embarrassing!

So big thanks! I hope I do something to make you all proud to have made my acquaintance!

Thanks again, Tania x

Anonymous said...

Hello Rachel - very belated happy New Year to you and yours from Nice. Thank you for visiting my blog, & for your kind comment.
I'm stunned by your diligence & industry, & congratulate you. I fear 5 rejections is nothing; but I have a feeling you'll succeed - so just keep at it! A writer writes regardless of anything and everything, as a top former literary agent I used to know once said to me.
Never visited NZ, although have rellies there (one became prof of EngLit @ Christchurch) from Rotorua. But one of the most wonderful friends I was fortunate to know was from Auckland, so always bless it & its people! Now you're on the list.
Bon courage, Rachel - Minnie.

Rachel Fenton said...

Thank you , Minnie, and happy new year to you, too.

I don't think I can stop writing - though perhaps some aspects of life would be easier if I could.

I feel very honoured to be on your list though I must tell you I am a wandering Brit! Hope that doesn't knock me off the new year's honours list!?

Rest assured I'll keep on keeping on, Minnie, and I'll be over to your blog again soon!

What a lovely commenter you are!

Rachael King said...

Happy New Year Rachel! I'm sure that all your hard work will pay off - every word you write brings you closer to your goals. Best of luck for 2010.

Rachel Fenton said...

Ha - here you are, no wonder I couldn't find your comment on my most recent post! Doh! Thanks!