Sunday, March 27, 2011

Picking up the Pen

In November 2007 some 'things' happened in my life that reminded me

1.  Life is short
2.  Life is what you make it

With this in mind, I picked up a pen.

I'd always wanted to write - and never had. Why? Because I thought authors were pretty amazing people who oozed creativity and were somehow born with a quill in their hand. I had an inferiority complex (which occasionally still knocks the feet out from under my confidence) and never gave it a try.

It took a brief moment in time, when my life was suspended due to illness, and I thought "what the hell, there's only one way to find out if I can write". As the God Nike said - Just Do It.

The way you pick up the pen is your own business. I personally surfed the Internet and found Romance Writers of New Zealand. A number of competitions were advertised on their website - the Clendon Award aka Finish the Damn Book (deadline for entry February) and the Chapters Bookshop Short Story Competition (deadline for entry March).

Motivation found, I sat down and wrote my first 55,000 word manuscript. A Mills and Boon 'Sweet' set in New Zealand. I wrote it in one month  - I guess you could say 'I was on a mission'.

At this stage I hadn't had the confidence to venture along to a local area meeting of RWNZ so I sent the manuscript into the Clendon Awards with the best edit I could - namely a spell check :). Thank you to Barbara Clendon for the wonderful critique (I can't believe she persevered through the entire, overly descriptive text - a great story/very slow pace).

I then went to the February meeting of RWNZ, Waikato/BOP group, and found out what a real edit was (lol - too late to get my manuscript back). I talked with my new found, like minded, friends about my intention to enter the Chapters Short Story and received amazing support for the idea, including offers of critiques. With the knowledge that I was no longer going it alone I wrote my short story. Tui Feathers. I got it critiqued and found out about the words WAS and HAD and all the 'ing' mistakes that make great ideas weak on paper. Annoyingly these lovely ladies didn't re-write the story for me. They only told me the 'rules' that I naively broke. It improved my writing immeasurably within the first six months. The critiqued short story Tui Feathers won the Chapters Bookshop Short Story Comp and published in the Womans Day Magazine in 2008. Success.

I'm not a particularly amazing person and I don't think I absolutely ooze creativity.

I CAN write - because I picked up the pen.

I CAN be a successful author - because I keep picking up the pen.

My intention is to never put it down.