Updates and Edits


I thought I’d give you guys an update on how things stand with me at the moment and also, perhaps, ask for some advice while I’m at it.

I’ve just completed the 2nd round of edits on my collection and have now commenced Round 3. There are some stories that might need to go through the mill for a fourth time but generally I’m quite happy with most of them.

However I’ve been slightly perplexed of late, with regards to my next course of action. Initially my plan was to get my work professionally edited before shipping it off to various publishers. I was having an argument recently with someone (who I might add, is not a writer or works in publishing) about professional editing services. They insisted that if I self-edit my work, a professional was not needed. Now I know that this is not entirely incorrect. I’ve seen many books on the Net on how to self-edit your manuscript, so it is possible to do so successfully, without making a complete fool of yourself.

Over the past year however, I’ve become so accustomed to my stories, having worked on them so intimately I honestly feel that, even after 10 edits, I might have missed something whether small or significant. I would therefore like a fresh set of eyes to have a look at my work before it is subjected to the mercy of the scary publishers.  But what do you guys think? Have any of you employed the services of a professional editor? And how did you know which person to choose? Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

And before I sign off, I have the pleasure of informing you that I have started work on my novel. YAY! It really does feel good to be plotting/drafting again. After all these months of editing (bleeurgh!!), I’m in my happy place once more 🙂

NM 🙂

The Lucky 7 Challenge


“I think it’s important to note our own situation at the time. You see, I was having a bit of trouble selling my goods. Apparently foreign merchants heard of the curse that inflicted our Island and had ceased their trading with us. Hence I did not have many customers as my shells were of no use to the locals.
Mother and I were surviving on very little at that point and it was obvious that while contemplating our situation in her “moment of idleness,” she entertained the thought of leaving.
We went to bed very late that night. We sat up discussing what to do but it almost seemed like our minds were made up.
It made me nervous to think that our future lay in the next few days of our planning.”

Okay that was embarrassing.

Lovely Louise over at My Other Book Is a Tolstoy was kind enough to tag me in the Lucky 7 Challenge:

The idea is to go to page 7 or 77 of your current work in progress, go down to the 7th line, then copy and paste approximately 7 lines in raw, unedited form. Tag some friends to join in the challenge!

Because my WIP is a collection of shorts and I am currently editing it, one story at a time, I decided to choose an extract from the very next story on my list that hasn’t gone through a serious modification process as yet.
That story is the Beast of Kipwe Island and guess what number it is on my little chart? Yep, you guessed it, its number 7!!! How’s that for freaky coincidence???
So the extract above is from page 7, lines 7 -14, in the raw and in the nude so to speak. I didn’t touch it even though I was tempted to… 🙂

I know I tagged a whole lot of you guys for 11 Questions last time so I won’t tag anyone today but if you want to have a go at this challenge and post an unedited extract of your WIP on your blog, you can use my name and do so! It would be fun to see what you guys are working on.

Once again thank you to Louise for thinking of me, and until next time, happy writing!

NM 🙂

Staring at the finish line…from behind a mountain of manuscripts.


Usually I like to give bad news first and then the good news, because it softens the blow, so to speak. In this case it won’t make any sense, so here goes:

GOOD NEWS: I’ve finally finished my collection of short stories! Huzzah! Bring out the champagne!
The BAD NEWS? The official editing process begins! *Groans* Bring out some more champagne, a few bottles of red wine and some painkillers won’t you? It’s going to be a long ride…

Yes I’m not really a fan of editing even though it’s an inevitable part of the writing process. Even the most exciting jobs have their downsides, I suppose.

I tried to fathom out why I hate it so much. I do remember commenting on someone’s blog about this not too long ago. I recall saying that with editing, I don’t experience that same buzz like the feeling when an idea pops into my head and I feel the need to write it down quick and thereafter develop a story to work that idea in. That initial act of putting pen to paper is akin to being on a high. Once that first draft is completed,you feel mighty proud of it.

And then another reason struck me as to why I dread editing. After that initial buzz, returning to that first draft is like a cold, hard reality-slap in the face. Mistakes are EVERYWHERE: in the grammar, in the spelling, holes in the plot and in some instances, a certain passage will make no sense whatsoever and you waste half-an-hour trying to figure out why you wrote it in the first place.(And don’t even talk about when that one particular scene just won’t be good enough and you end up in this vicious, twisted cycle of editing and re-editing and then adding some more changes with no end in sight. This will happen at some point, I can guarantee it.)

You then come to the realization that you are not the perfect, super-awesome writer you thought you were, with that special, God-came-down-and-blessed-you-with-his-right-hand-saying-you-are-going-to-be-great sort of talent. You’re a normal human being just like everybody else who has some serious work to do.

Each of these folders contains at least two manuscripts. Who wants to help me edit? Nobody? Yeah, I thought so...

Yeah, reality certainly can bite.

But no pain, no gain right?
So off I go, to experience the joys of hell editing.
The Good news is I’ve already edited two stories. The bad news? I’ve got 12 more to go. *groan*

I’ve given myself one whole month to complete this task. Wish me luck.

NM 🙂

Writers’ block on the Writers Bloq


There is a reason why this blog is called NM’s Writers Bloq (yes, that’s a q at the end, not a g!).

The dreaded disease had spread its big, black bat-like wings around me once again.

I have 3 stories patiently waiting to be completed. I usually like to work on more than one story at a time because if I hit a slump with one, then I can just switch to another without wasting any time. This being my supposed cure for writers’ block.  Sadly I recently hit a slump with all three at the same time. Talk about hard luck!

I’m very proud of my reaction to this however, as usually I get very depressed and start questioning myself and doubting my abilities (okay, this did happen too, but it only lasted like, a day!).

This time, instead of putting the focus on myself, I focused on the stories themselves. I decided to write, in journal-form, my thoughts and feelings about each story.  
I tapped into my subconscious and wrote, without any reservations, what I hated and what I liked about each story. And I got some surprising results.

For one story I realized that it was my attitude that was holding me back. I was so worried about what others might think that it prevented me from progressing with this story.
The second one was proving a chore and only after writing my feelings down, did I realize that it was only because I hadn’t done the necessary research I was suppose to initially, that I was lacking confidence with certain themes in the tale. I’m such a big fan of research. I’m always harping on about its importance yet for this story I seemed to put very little effort into it due to my laziness.
My third story was actually a result of a nightmare I had. The dream gave me the idea for the story but because the dream made no sense realistically, I wondered whether my reader would feel the same way about what I was writing. I also wondered whether my writing would do justice to what I thought was very, very scary.  Would the reader also find it scary or would they think it’s just stupid?

Who would have thought that writing down my thoughts and feelings would reveal so much? And without thinking too hard it also provided me with the answers as well. It was like Tom Riddle’s diary-Harry Potter writes a question on the page and an answer appears to him on the very same page. Except in my case the answers were benevolent, positive and very helpful. It helped me provide the solution to the unique problems I was having.

For the first story, I thought of famous authors who had written about the same themes or issues in their novels. I realized that they didn’t seem too bothered about what others might think, so why should I?  I’m happy to say that I’m almost finished with this story. 🙂
For the second tale, of course, it was obvious. Research, research, research. The more knowledge you have at your disposable, the more effortless and enjoyable your writing will be. Simple.
In number 3, I convinced myself, that if I found this story scary, then others might too. Hell, the fact that I refuse to work on this piece at night, has got to mean something!

All this took less than half an hour to do, yet it proved most invaluable. Self-help books always advocate writing down your general thoughts and feelings in a stream of consciousness. This form of stream of consciousness-writing works for any problem, trust me. My humble advice is: do this for your stories, your novel or any WIP that is lying stagnant.  You will be surprised at what is revealed to you.

As writers you would think that the most obvious thing to do if you have a problem is to write it down. Sometimes the most obvious things are the most elusive.

NM 🙂

Art imitating art – I didn’t know, I swear!


The strangest thing happened to me the other day.

I am currently reading The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis and I came across a narrative within the book that gave me the chills. It freaked me out a little not only because it was a bit scary but because it bore a striking resemblance to one of my own stories.
I state for the record that I have never read the Monk before nor did I know what the story was about beforehand. All I knew was that it was written during the 18th century and was set in a monastery. I was completely ignorant of any subplots. The narrative I speak of belongs to one of these subplots. As I continued to read this part I kept thinking: God, this sounds just like Crossroad Inn!

This got me thinking about the concept of ideas and the collective human conscience. Now we all know that there’s no such thing as an original idea. But there is something disconcerting about the thought of coming up with an idea only to find that someone had already beaten you to it centuries before. Disappointing if you’re an inventor but disconcerting if you’re a writer. I’m not going to provide you with an essay on plagiarism but I will say that I take comfort in the axiom that there’s no such thing as an original idea. It is the employment of that idea that matters and what will be analyzed if you ever are slapped with a lawsuit.

But is it possible for two people to come up with the exact same idea and treat this idea in a very similar manner without either of them being aware of it? We have heard of thoughts being transferred through telepathy, prayers and spells but what about thoughts in the form of ideas? Off course I’m not saying that Lewis sent me this idea from beyond the grave (because as honoured as I would feel, it would seem impudent of him to have chosen me as his recipient), but can concrete ideas travel through the collective human conscience and attach itself to more than one living being, without this attachment being influenced by a prior incident or factor? If so then I find this quite scary.
Before you consider me a drama queen, I have entertained some rational explanations for my poor Crossroad Inn. I might have read something that was influenced by the Monk and somehow the idea came full circle. The truth is I forgot how I came up with the idea for the story in the first place so the reason might actually be more mundane than metaphysical. Still, it doesn’t take away the surreal-like feeling of this situation.

Has this ever happened to you? Have you ever written a story, novel, song or poem and then read something much later on that bore a resemblance so uncanny to your work, it defied natural coincidence?

And just for you, I’ve pasted an extract from The Crossroad Inn for you to read, and no, it was not inspired by Matthew Lewis’ The Monk! 😉
Click on the My Stories page above.

Reflections on the 30-day Book Challenge


After embarking on any sort of endeavour, no matter how great or small, it’s good to reflect on what we have learnt afterwards. If we learnt anything at all.

So what did I learn from the 30-day Book challenge?
That I have a sucky memory when put on the spot (God forbid I ever end up in an interrogation room), that I seriously need to read more books and that it really is a schlep to blog every day. I also learnt that I’m not too skilled when it comes to book reviews. I never know how much to reveal lest someone wants to read the book. This issue was a constant thorn in my side during the entire Book Challenge.

On the positive side of things, I did manage to finish the challenge. I skipped a total of 6 days which is not bad given my lack of discipline. I found writing about some of the topics quite enjoyable- it’s good to reminisce although I did tend to repeat myself a lot.

Given my love for short stories, I did wish there was more emphasis on them (some of my favourite books happen to be short story collections). But the whole Book Challenge was good fun nevertheless and it did drive away idle moments and save me the trouble of looking for something to write about.

For the past two months I put many of my own personal ideas for blog posts on hold as well as the Versatile Blogger Award I received last month. Can’t believe it’s been two months! Where did the time go?

There is indeed life after any challenge, so let’s get cracking!
Wait, let me enjoy my weekend first, see you next week!

NM 🙂

DAY 29 – Book you are currently reading


The two books I’m currently reading are Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford and O. Henry’s 100 Selected Stories.

I have to confess that I haven’t done much reading in the past couple of weeks, so even though Cranford is a tiny book, I’m taking longer than is necessary to finish it.

This should not be a reflection on the book however. It’s a delightful little novel and surprisingly modern for a book written in 1851. Well it’s not exactly a typical novel. Instead of a linear storyline centered on one main plot, the book is actually a collection of anecdotes about the English town of Cranford and its inhabitants.
I love Gaskell’s quirky sense of humour and her subtle dig at the attitudes and snobbery of the Cranford elite. I’m also very fascinated by the narrator-who remains unnamed, and who provides an objective and refreshing viewpoint on the events that take place in Cranford. Her viewpoints would not seem out of place in the 21st century. Given the nature of how this book is written, I’m interested to see how it ends and if there is actually a hidden storyline waiting to unfold.

There is no doubt that O. Henry (real name William Sydney Porter) is a very gifted short story writer. The stories in this collection are set in the United States with particular focus on the American family and its domicile. O. Henry lived during the turn of the 20th century so his stories are reflective of that period.

I must admit that I find it strange to read this book. I’m so used to reading M.R James, Saki, Edgar Allan Poe and Guy de Maupassant that to read a collection of tales that contains absolutely NO supernatural elements is unfamiliar territory to me.
I am enjoying it however and it’s giving me plenty of food for thought. I feel tempted now to write a non-horror short story just for the sake of it. I don’t hold much hope for it though, only because I don’t trust myself. I might just sneak a succubus into the story when no-one’s looking!