Christmas Treats

This year I’ve done something I don’t normally do. I am very bad at treating and rewarding myself in general. I end up feeling guilty about spending money on myself and being indulgent. I decided to break the habit and indulge.

I bought a brand new laptop for Christmas and I’m not going to let anyone else have a go of it! It did cost a small fortune but my old laptop is more than five years old, which is the equivalent of about 100 in human years. My old laptop is quite bulky and it isn’t something you can whip out on a plane to get a bit of work done.

It was also made me the subject of ridicule at the writing club I go to. It managed to acquire the nickname “Big Bertha”. At first I wasn’t sure if they were talking about me or the machine. They assured me it was the machine but that didn’t stop me from making an increased effort to lose weight. Being teased for my outdated possession while everyone else has top-of-the-range, fancy-pansy writing machines when they come to meetings made me feel like I was back in school again. The reason I bought Bertha in the first place was to watch movies and so that I had a bigger screen to make editing my photos easier. Now I am firmly focused on writing and my needs for a laptop have changed.

I forgot how much of a pain it is to set up a new laptop from scratch. Although it is undoubtedly easier than it was 20 years ago, you still have to remember passwords, set up clouds and make sure all of your software is working. This is one of the reasons why I haven’t had a new phone in about 4 years but I will possibly need a new one soon and I am dreading when they day arrives.

I’m glad I decided that I deserved this treat. I am now more determined than ever that 2020 is going to be the year that I finally write a novel and I have the equipment to do it. That isn’t to say that simply having a new computer is the reason that I haven’t written a novel up until now but I have less excuses to use because my laptop is more portable.

So, here is to 2020, the year I will be starting and finishing my first novel.

WriteCon 2019

At the end of November I attended WriteCon in Zurich. It’s an informal conference that happens every year in Zurich which allows writers to connect and provides a number of workshops throughout the day. I’ve been meaning to attend for at least the last two years but something has always cropped up so I haven’t been able to go. I was determined to go this year.

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And go I did! The first workshop that I attended was led by Jason Donald, who has published two novels and is now working in screen writing. The aim of the workshop was how to edit your work and freshen up pieces in your second draft. The ticket price was worth it for this workshop alone. I learnt a lot of new things and interesting ways to look at things I have written in a new light. I wanted to rush straight home and look at what I had written the day before with a red pen in my hand to amend parts that I had been struggling with.

The advice was so practical and completely made sense to me. I also gained confidence from talking to Jason about the feeling that I have that my writing doesn’t ‘fit’ into a specific genre and about how I have started writing a book but have abandoned it to write a collection of short stories. He had exactly the same feelings and his first book started off as a collection of short stories which he eventually wrote together when he realised that there was an underlying theme to all of the stories. Perhaps I am on the right path after all…

After the lunch break I went to a workshop called “Pathways to Publishing”. I anticipated this would be a general discussion about how to decide between self-publishing and a traditional publishing route and what the pros and cons of both was. It turned out it was mainly a discussion about traditional publishing. As I am not yet in a position to look for an agent or approach a publishing house directly, it wasn’t very relevant to me. Even so it was interesting because I learnt how little an author earns per book that is sold and I also learnt that authors get paid every time a book of theirs is taken out of a library (which helped my guilty conscious when I borrow books rather than buying them).

I was surprised how many people had a negative impression of novels that are self-published. Many famous authors self-published their work, like Virginia Woolf, Mark Twain and Stephen King. So long as the book is well-written I don’t see the problem with it. I think self-published novels get a bad press when they haven’t been edited properly and people have self-published just to say that they have had a book published. I am still trying to decide what I think is best to do but I need to write the book first!

All in all, I’m glad I went. I met some more writers and learnt some things that I have already been able to use in my writing processes. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before I have finished my collection of short stories and I can get on the pathway to publishing them.

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