Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Challenge Accepted

So a good friend of mine decided to challenge me. Bad idea. I’m highly competitive, so if someone challenges me, I’ll normally at least attempt it.

What was the challenge? Well, this friend saw a picture/quote online and posted it to my facebook page.

“Someone should write a book where the main character slowly falls in love with the reader”.

It’s a joke really – but my friend decided to tag it with the comment “Your next challenge”. Which meant I, in my strange, twisted way, decided to take it seriously.

I figured that I couldn’t write a whole book – I’m not even sure how that would work – but a short story type of thing? Hmm, now that I might be able to do.

So here it is. A strange, silly little bit of writing that was actually pretty fun to do. And whilst I’m not normally too fussed about comments on my blog posts, I’d actually love to know what people think of this one.




The bell was tolling in the distance. It was midnight. A solitary figure raced down the street, splashing through puddles. The smell of decay hung heavy in the night air…

Don’t stop reading. I know the story has changed, but please, don’t stop reading.

Other people might put the book down now, but I know you won’t. I know you’ll read it. You are always reading, your nose buried in the pages of a book. You don’t think I notice you, that I see you, but I do.

I can see you now, your head bent over these pages, your hair falling in your eyes. I can picture it perfectly – the way your eyebrows burrow slightly as you concentrate, the way that tiny smile creeps onto your lips. You’re probably doing it right now as you read this.

I don’t think you realise how much it means to me, that you’ve read my story, that you’ve invested yourself in me so completely even though you don’t really know me.

Hell, you don’t even think I’m real. I’m just a character on a page, like an actor on a stage – playing a part.

But don’t you see? You brought me to life. Once upon a time I was nothing, just ink on a page, but you saw me, you imagined me fully and somehow you brought me to life.

And now, whilst you see me, I see you too. That moment when I nearly died, when I fought the bad guy and nearly lost, I saw you cry for me. Your tears were like rain on my skin – they woke me up.

I was supposed to lose. Did you know that? The story was written that I died – and my death was supposed to be the pivotal moment of the book, when all seemed lost and then the good guys pull through against all odds.

Somehow, you saved me. When you cried for me you gave me strength, the strength to fight back when I should have fallen.

And now the story has changed. You changed it.

You made me the hero.

I can see the wonder in your eyes right now. The wonder mixed with disbelief. You don’t believe this is real. Trust me – it is.

Do you remember when you first picked up this book? I do. It’s strange, I only really came alive recently, but I can remember you reading the book long before then.

You weren’t sure about it at first. You wrinkled your nose as you read the back cover. I know you don’t normally read fantasy novels. Don’t ask me how I know that, but I do. But something about this one caught your eye. Something made you decide to start reading.

I’d like to think that it was me. Did you read those first few descriptions of me and know you wanted to read more? I really hope so.

Do you see how much you’ve changed me? How much I’ve changed since those early descriptions? That was you – you imagined me a certain way, so that’s what I became.

I suppose you’re wondering why you. So many other people have read this book before.

But none of them are you. None of them have your heart – none of them look at the world the way you do.

You look at the world and you see a story – an epic, incredible story, shaped and changed by the people in it. You really watch people, trying to read them like one of your books, and you want to know them, to know their stories.

You have your own story too, you know. You just don’t realise it. You see yourself as a minor character even in your own life.

I want you to see that you’re the heroine.

Your world is about to change, a new chapter is about to start.

The past has been basic plot building. Boy sees Girl, Boy falls in love with Girl, Girl brings Boy to life.

Do you want to know what comes next?

Boy meets Girl.

Look up. Stop reading, close the book, and look up. I’m waiting for you.

Look up. Now.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Taking the Risk

A week ago I sent off the first few query emails to Literary Agents about my novel. It was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my life.

The reason being that for the most part when you start the submission process you are setting yourself up for failure – for rejection.

Literary Agents receive on average hundreds of submissions per week. Your query letter is just one of many, and the likelihood is that the Agent is going to give it the most cursory of reads before putting it on the reject pile. It’s often not about the quality of the work – just simply that they have so many submissions to read that they have to make their decision in the first sentence of a query, and if that sentence isn’t perfect it’s over – in that single second.

Here’s my problem. I don’t deal with rejection well – not when it comes to writing and not in the rest of my life. I take it personally – oh so very personally. A single rejection letter (and the first few of them have already landed in my inbox) has me assuming the worst, that my work simply isn’t good enough, that I don’t have what it takes.

So I have to steal myself to send out the emails in the first place, and I have to force myself to accept the rejections when they come in for what they are. That at this moment for whatever reason my novel is not what that particular agent is looking for. I have to keep the faith, somehow, that the book I’ve written is actually good. That I am a good writer and that there are people out there who do want to read my book.

And I am. A good writer, I mean. Perhaps not necessarily in this format (I mostly just have a kind of word vomit thing going on) but when it comes to my books I tell a good story, and I write them well. That isn’t ego talking, that’s research. I read on average a book a day, every day. I know what’s out there, and I know what is selling, and a lot of times when I read a book I know that if writing of that standard can get published then mine certainly can.

So it simply comes down to taking the risk – the risk of rejection. I have to open myself up to that rejection, accept it, and move on to the next agent, the next publisher. I know that somewhere out there is an agent who is going to love THE LAST KNIGHT, who is going to read it and know that they want to sell it.

I have to keep that faith. Because if I didn’t I would just give up and stop writing, and I can’t do that. I can’t give up. I can’t give up on the only dream I have.

So I’ll take the risk and keep my fingers crossed that the universe will give me the break I’m looking for.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Goodbye Really Is The Hardest Word

Goodbye Really Is The Hardest Word

Everyone always says that goodbyes are some of the hardest moments of our lives. The proper goodbyes that is – the ones that really mean something.

I know for me each time I say goodbye to my parents to travel across the other side of the world I break down just a little – all right, a lot. Saying goodbye to my sister is always heartbreaking, especially now she has this new baby on the way. When I say goodbye I know I’m going to be missing important moments in her life – moments that I will hear about, but won’t be a part of. The same with my closest friend in the world – their lives go on without me, and I won’t be a part of them in quite the same way.

Today I said a goodbye that I didn’t expect to be as painful as it was.

I said goodbye to two great friends who are moving on to bigger and better things – a better life for them. So I am happy for them, pleased that they are doing something that will make them happy.

But for perhaps the first time in my life I’m the one staying behind. I have always been the one moving on – leaving friends and family behind to start afresh somewhere new. I didn’t realise how different that would feel.

I know that the sadness comes not just from saying goodbye to two people I consider great friends – people I feel so pleased to have met and got to know – but also from the fact that I am saying goodbye to a sense of familiarity.

They have been here on the small island I call home since I moved here, and picturing this place without them seems almost impossible, because all of my images of this place include them. Many of my happiest times on the island have been spent with them – not doing anything special, just talking and sharing and enjoying life. I find it hard to imagine an evening at the bar after work without them there. Without him mixing up a fabulous cocktail, and her sharing the funny stories that invariably come from doing the kind of job we do.

All that said, whilst goodbyes are hard, they are often the start of something new. A new experience, new friends, new memories.

So I will say a sad farewell to two people who have kept me sane, shared a lot of laughter, but thankfully very few tears. I can only wish them good luck.

No, perhaps I won’t say goodbye – perhaps I’ll just say ‘see you soon’, and know that it’s not an ending, just a change – and change is always good. Right?