Sunday, September 2, 2012

Guest Blog by Sophie Duncan: Mad With It

Please welcome Guest Blogger Sophie Duncan!  This is the final stop on her Literary Plus Blog Tour.

Thanks to Allisyn today for hosting me and thanks to Literary+ for making this tour possible.

Mad With It - The Highs and Lows of A Writing Imperative
I've covered a diverse collections of subjects this week on my blog tour, but today I wanted to focus on the reason I even have a blog tour, the reason I put pen to paper and finger to keyboard, that nagging need in the back of my head to write. Shen, our illustrious leader in Literary+, asked yesterday if we could describe our muses. Some folks had a personification of their muse, others had a more abstract concept of them, but some of us couldn't even be that definite. For me, it's the niggly idea at the back of my mind that won't go away, the reason I can walk down the street having a conversation with myself and it can be as ephemeral as a few notes of music. Call it what you will, my muse, my inspiration, my compulsion, all I know is that I would hate to live in a world where I couldn't write.
I have ideas wandering around in my head all the time, they keep me company, they allow me to entertain myself whenever I like and, although it isn't easy getting them out of my head and onto the page, I love that process. Some ideas are like old friends, they grow and evolve over time. Death In The Family is one of those. It's been swimming around in my head since I was 15 and has been put onto paper in several guises, each time slightly different, and, I hope, each time better. When I wrote the first scene the first time, I had no idea about tropes and bad ways to start a novel, I just wrote Tom waking up from a nightmare. Apparently, that's far too cliched to be a good way to start a novel. I did change it, but not because of that, but because I found there was a lot of initial information I wanted to get to the reader and a conversational scene was a better way to deliver that without just information dumping on my reader.

I Love Cliche
I don't tend to obey writerly rules when I put ideas on paper (for paper also read computer file), I write what I want to and however it comes out is fine by me. I'm not talking grammar, I mean things that are looked down upon by the establishment - I've never met a cliche I didn't like (and sometimes, I didn't even know it was a cliche, hey I can't know everything) :). That doesn't mean I don't tweak. I want to tell a good story and I'll fiddle, rearrange, strip out and otherwise alter to make my writing the best it can be. I have several editors who are good for content checking and who will tell me if I'm not quite hitting the mark. For example, I added two complete characters into the Death In The Family story because one of my editors said he wanted more lead up to the involvement of a certain group of people in the story, i.e. their appearance came as a shock to him and he wanted more strands of plot, not to give away the involvement, but to make the reader go 'oh yeah, of course'. I also changed the climax scene because there 'wasn't enough action' according to the same editor (he was right and I also found myself inspired to add in a dynamic between Sean and Tom that I had been underplaying).
Angry Face
Taking my editor's advice isn't always easy though. I trust them, that's important, because it means we can be frank with each other. I have sat and ground my teeth at some suggestions, they're interfering with my darling, my lovely text, the bastards! However, I always give every suggestion a day or so to sink in, I mull it over, I work it into the story in my head, I think about it. I don't take every piece of editorial advice, but most of it sinks in and I have to admit, yeah, they're right. Accepting editing is surely the toughest part of the writing process, at least for the ego.
Writers Block
Something else that is part of the writing process and is the absolute worst thing for me that can happen is writer's block. If the little people in my head aren't talking to me, I am bereft, lonely and depressed. It is a truly horrible feeling when my mind goes blank. I am so used to my imagination taking me to wonderful places, scary places, anywhere I fancy, that when it doesn't, it's like being stuck in a mental quagmire all alone and it can be very worrying like the first time you're trying to think of a word and it won't form.
Well, that's the lowest a writer can be, but the highest, that's when inspiration hits like a freight train. It's not always convenient (hands up who has found themselves scribbling in the middle of the night - I have a laptop by the bed for just those moments), but it is always thrilling. I get a lot of inspiration in the car, which is why I bought myself a voice recorder that is voice activated, so I can start talking to myself while driving. Since I was made redundant, I'm not driving so much, but then I get to write all day, so my muse and my discipline are much better. Yes, I said discipline. Writing when not wanting to is another lesson that I've had to learn if I want to meet deadlines. The Wittegen Press Giveaway Games were a fantastic way for me to practice said discipline, because I had to produce, get edited and publish a short story once every two days for the whole of July. I discovered I can write 10K words in a day. Okay, so, on reread, the edits aren't perfect for these giveaway stories, but the Wittegen Press team is working on the shorts before they are assembled into anthologies for sale.

Happy Writer
So, sometimes this writing bug is easy and fun, other times it's impossible, but mostly it's somewhere in between the two extremes. It takes imagination, dedication, love and sometimes hatred too. I've been writing (not publishing) since I was a child and I would never not want to write, it is part of me. I want to make a living with my words and I'm just starting out on that road, it's my dream job. To anyone else out there who has the woodpecker in their head that keeps hammering out its words, I say, congratulations, you're a creator, go for it.

Well, that's it, my last post of this blog tour. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank all those who have hosted me over the last seven days, Brooke Johnson, A. K. Flynn, JD Savage, Tressa Green, Paul Carroll, Leonard Suskin and Allisyn Bridges. And thanks to the folks at Literary+ for helping make this possible. I've had fun writing these blog posts, I hope you have enjoyed my little ramblings too.

Sophie Duncan
Sophie was born with the writing bug in her blood, boring her primary school teachers with pages of creative writing and killing her first typewriter from over use when she was thirteen. She began publishing her work on line while at university where she discovered the internet and fanfiction. It took another decade for Sophie to realise her long-time dream of releasing her own original fiction as an author through Wittegen Press.

Death In The Family (Heritage is Deadly #1)
Leaving a good London school with solid prospects, Tom Franklin has the world at his feet. Yet one thing has always haunted his perfect life: his dreams. When Tom discovers that the nightmarish images of dark places and even darker instincts are in fact repressed memories from his early childhood, he must face the heritage from his birth-father, a savage vampire known only as Raxos.
Realising his memories are his only hope of controlling his awakening instincts, Tom returns to, Coombedown, the sleepy, Cornish village in which he was born, unknowing that the night-breed in his veins will lead him into danger.
Death In The Family is a young adult, paranormal novel.
Death In The Family Literary+ Blog Tour Schedule:
Literary+ is a mar­ket­ing ini­tia­tive which was founded and led by Shen Hart. This is a time of evo­lu­tion and progress, the mar­ket is being opened up to e-books and self-publication. As a fel­low writer, Shen under­stands that self-publication is a hard and often lonely road. She started Lit­er­ary+ to bring together authors and related cre­ative spe­cial­ities with the goal of help­ing each other. With a tight knit, friendly and wel­com­ing com­mu­nity at its core, Lit­er­ary+ holds a strong focus on mar­ket­ing. As Lit­er­ary+ con­tin­ues to grow and evolve it will use inno­vat­ing, orig­i­nal and exper­i­men­tal mar­ket­ing meth­ods and schemes to get its member’s books into their reader’s hands.

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