Random thoughts after a writing break.

Yesterday I picked up my WIP for the first time in four months.

There is a certain irony I’ve discovered about myself which I’m not really sure happens often to other writers. During my busiest moments when it was essential for me to focus my energy on my priorities, I found myself thinking about my novel or my short stories and feeling the need to have a look at them or write something down at least (this is not a good thing to happen the day before an exam, I assure you).

Yet when I think of all the times I was free and had nothing to do but procrastinated my time away I want to kick myself. Stupid irony.
Now that examinations are over however, I can now continue working on my MS without getting any weird writing itches.

Just for the record, I can now understand the advice some of you guys gave me last year about waiting awhile before editing. Looking at my current WIP after so long was a strange feeling. It was like reading somebody else’s story and I was experiencing a weird detachment to what I had written. As a result, mistakes and holes were glaring but I also found myself being pretty pleased about the particular parts that I enjoyed. Distancing yourself from your MS for a short while can be beneficial so I fully endorse it. 😀

NM :)

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 🙂

Deadline Schmedline – Me vs.The Editing Witch

If you read my post Staring At the Finish Line… over a month ago and if you have a good memory you will remember that I gave myself a deadline.
Well, a month has passed and I haven’t finished yet (you don’t look surprised). Yes February was a slow month but I shouldn’t be making excuses considering I was even given an extra day by the Gregorian Calendar.

The good news though, is that all of my stories except one have gone through the second draft phase. But of course we all know that it doesn’t end with the second draft now, does it? I seem to have forgotten this fact a month ago. So God knows when I will actually be finished. I’m not giving myself another deadline this time but I will keep you posted on my progress.

My Status Chart. I can be organised if I want to.

I know I complain a lot about editing (and I’m not changing my stance, it’s still a schlep) but I recently came across a writer named Beth Hill who has this truly awesome blog for writers and editors.
She dispenses great advice without overwhelming you. I strongly recommend her site. My favourite post is Creative Genius vs. Editing Witch. I found it very relevant and apt. Go check it out!

Happy Writing(/Editing)!

NM 🙂

A character by any other name….

The naming of your characters is an inevitable part of the writing process. But does it bear the same amount of significance as say, naming your child or pet?

For many, choosing names can be quite a fun project. In the beginning it was one of my favourite writing-related tasks. I even had a separate notebook for just people and place names. As a writer of short-stories however I find myself using this book less and less and my concern for the ‘right’ name dwindling. You would think that the opposite would apply. Writing so many different stories would require more names and a book to keep track of them all would be useful. Clearly this is not the case with me now.

It’s not that I don’t care what I call my characters. In fact I think the right type of name can sometimes add depth to a character. But because of the need to generate more (and different) ideas for each story, I now seem to spend less time and energy looking for names than I use to (sometimes I even leave a blank space where a character’s name should appear if I can’t think of what to call them immediately). If I get an idea or am on a roll, I really don’t want to lose my mojo by stopping to deliberate about names.

So what’s in a name? Would a rose by any other still smell as sweet? Will the name you choose impact on the way readers will perceive that character? Or is a name just that, a name?

Personally I do think a name can influence a reader’s perception. It does not fail to do so in real life.
Picture yourself at a party. You get introduced to a guy named Adolf. What is your immediate reaction/feeling?
I think even the most open-minded of us would experience that split second of negativity towards the dude in question. Although knowing me, my initial reaction would be to laugh in poor Adolf’s face with tactless and shameful impersonations of the Führer (don’t give me that look, you would probably be thinking it too!).

Taken from cardboiled.com

Thinking about the name game in my writing, I realized that I don’t actually have a particular method I use. Before I use to make use of baby-name books and websites, jotting down my favourites in my notebook, but nowadays, due to the time and energy factors mentioned above, I just take a few minutes to think about the character (read: daydream!) and then contemplate what sort of name this person looks like. E.g. he looks like a Tristan or she looks like an Amy. I know this sounds vague but I can’t describe my method any better (sorry! LOL).

When it comes to ethnical names I tend to fall into the trap of choosing a name whose meaning describes the character’s main attributes, sincerely hoping that nobody knowledgeable in that particular language would notice.
For example, I set one of my stories on an imaginary island of the East coast of Africa in the 16th century. It would only make sense that the characters should all have Swahili/Arabic names. Because I’m not familiar with the Swahili language, I had tons of fun researching names of Swahili origin. It was all new to me; I never came across any of these names before so I spent a considerable time searching. The villages on the Island are all governed by a Chief, whom I named ‘Akida’, which means leader (go figure!) and the village whore I christened ‘Bahati,’ which means beautiful (I couldn’t find a name that means ‘she who enjoys illicit, amorous relations with men’!).

Do you think this is a bit contrived?

What is your method for choosing names? And how much time do you spend researching them? And more importantly, if you’re a short story writer, do you find that the task of choosing names becomes more and more tedious over time? Or am I just being lazy?

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 🙂