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Thursday 25th June 2020

Gosh, it’s been hot this week. I am peeling my limbs from each other as I write through this sweltering heat. I’m writing at a later time today because I had to stay late at work to host a Zoom call with the class teacher and our year five children. It was lovely to see so many of their faces again. Unfortunately, we won’t get the opportunity to finish this academic year properly due to COVID-19. School staff are trying to picture how everything will be in September, how the classrooms will be, how break times will be, and how the children will be as well each other.

Whilst on Twitter early this evening, I saw a tweet from the agency that I sent my application to. Due to a much higher volume than anticipated, the announcement date for the mentorship programme had been postponed until 17th July. On one hand I’m happy that they are taking the time to read through everyone’s applications thoroughly. On the other hand, it’s not helped my anxiety as I wonder if that many more applicants dilutes my chances of getting a place. The frustrating part of this is not knowing the strength of the ‘competition’.

Over the last week, I have asked myself what my next steps will be if I don’t get a place on the mentorship programme. My first step is to finish my book. I’m also debating hiring an editor to get a structural edit to see if I’m headed in the right direction. I would love a professional pair of eyes to read through my story and tell me what’s working and what’s not. My friends have given positive feedback saying that they feel as though they are reading a book that’s already been published, which is fantastic, but I’d like to get a professional opinion. I have now written the first twelve chapters, and I’m waiting for my friends and family to email back their responses to some questions I asked. I did this to obtain specific feedback.

I’ve not completed any writing this week. I’m not happy about this, so I need to play catch up over the weekend to make myself feel less guilty.

I hope you’ve all had a fabulous week and have an amazing weekend. Thank you for taking the time to read, it means a lot. Speak next week!

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Thursday 18th June 2020

This is my third week back in work and I’m now creating props and costumes for the Year 6 play – Peter Pan. Because there are only two thirds of the year group back, which have been divided into two pods, and the necessity for social distancing, we are recording each section of the play and piecing it all back together to run from start to finish. One pod will be responsible for the start, and the other one will be responsible for the end. It will be interesting to see the outcome.

I haven’t done much reading this week due to constant tiredness. However, I have managed to accomplish a lot more writing than usual. I’m gradually receiving some feedback on chapters 7-9, I’ve written chapters 11-12, and next I will be writing chapter 10. The reason I haven’t written the chapters in a chronological order is because I have multiple POV’s. I find it easier to concentrate on the protagonist before going back and filling in the other POV’s.

The Writing Community on Twitter has been fabulous. Everyone is supportive and encouraging. I’m slowly getting the hang of it and finding it easier to use than Facebook. This is only my opinion, and everyone will have their own, but I feel there is a more positive atmosphere on Twitter.

Because of being at work, I haven’t used my watercolours for a little while. I have decided that my writing is more important at the moment. It’s just under two weeks until I hear back from the mentorship programme. If I’m unsuccessful, I want to be as ready as possible to start sending my query letter off to agents/agencies. I still have moments of intense anxiety over the mentorship. It would be nice to have an idea of what other applicants have sent in, but I know that’s not going to happen. I just need to remain as positive as I can until 1st July.

Hope you have all enjoyed your week, and have a wonderful weekend. I will catch up with you next week.

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Thursday 11th June

Over the weekend, I decided that I need to finish rewriting my story. Firstly, it will make it easier if I’m lucky enough to get a place on the mentorship programme. If I’ve already finished writing it, then it will be easier to tweak. Lastly, if I’m unsuccessful, it means that I can start my submissions straight away.

I must admit, I’ve been stressing over the mentorship programme. Every time I think about it, I can feel the nerves scurrying through my body. Waiting makes me worry. I don’t suffer with anxiety, but my levels have been up and down like a pogo stick. Does it have a similar effect on you? Just under three weeks until I find out if I’ve got a place – 1st July needs to hurry itself up!

Having been back at work for the last two weeks, it has helped to keep my mind occupied. When there is little to do, I read my book. I’m still working my way through the Sookie Stackhouse series at the moment and am reading Dead and Gone (Book 9). I love a good vampire story. Vampire box sets are a good option too.

I’ve had no time to paint this week, but I have been on Twitter a lot. The writing community on there is so supportive, lots of friendly comments, lots of retweets and likes, lots of writer lifts – what’s not to love? It’s been great to connect with other people in a similar situation to me and see how they have progressed.

Anyway, I digress, I have rewritten three more chapters this week, read them back to myself out loud and ran them through ProWritingAid (mainly to check for passive sentences, adverbs and grammar). Anyone else do this? What do you check for? My updated chapters have been sent to my feedback group, so I’m just waiting for their replies to see if they’re as good as the other chapters.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read my latest post. Speak again next week.

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4th June 2020

It has now been nine days since I sent in my first 15,000 – 20,000 words to a literary agency to apply for a mentorship programme. The wait is on!

Having rewritten the first part of my novel, I sent it out to those people I received constructive feedback from previously and was welcomed with positive comments. My characters were solid. I had started my story with a better POV. My descriptions were on point. There were only a few minor typos to edit. This filled me with so much confidence that I felt ready to apply. My fingers are now firmly crossed and waiting for the announcement on 1st July to see if I’m lucky enough to get a space on the mentorship programme.

This is why I must apologise for being absent on here over the past few weeks. I have been writing, rewriting, reading, responding to feedback, and homeschooling my daughter whilst working from home during the lockdown. It has been tough, but lockdown gave me the time to throw myself into research and rewrite most of my story. I also followed some tutorials on YouTube to learn how to use watercolours. Let’s Make Art is amazing and the instructions are super easy to follow. I have produced a couple of failed attempts as well as some surprisingly beautiful pieces, which are now in frames.

I initially said that I would write here on a weekly basis, however, this is something I haven’t stuck to. I am now setting a reminder on my phone to ensure that I update you each week on my progress. So far, it has been difficult and testing, but I’m determined to progress and succeed.

Thank you so much for reading,

Michelle.

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Monday 6th April 2020

About Me

Not only am I a mother, I have a fiance that doesn’t currently reside with me (something we are working on) and I have a job at my daughters school as a Higher Level Teaching Assistant in Key Stage Two. I have two dogs – Rolo and Kinder – named after chocolate because, well, I love chocolate!

I’d be lying if I said my life was easy, but that’s the same for everyone, right? All these facets of my life have led me down a path that has sparked a desire to obtain a career in fiction writing, but it has often been a struggle with juggling all of the above. The path has been littered with obstacles. I have taken a few detours along the way. My journey is not over, in some ways it has just begun.

The outbreak of Covid-19 has given me time to focus on my writing and I would like to offer you an opportunity to join me through this hardship as I update the pros and cons of writing a novel in these difficult times.

Beginning

Thinking I was clever, I started to write a novel without making a plan. How wrong I was! This was about eighteen months ago now and I’m on my third rewrite of the first draft. I wouldn’t recommend being in this frustrating situation. I almost want to quit, but I’m determined to continue and achieve my goal – to publish a novel.

My message is to plan, plan, plan!

Having read countless books in all types of genres, I figured I knew how to structure a novel. But I didn’t. I’d like to take some time to go over my ill processes of writing my first novel. Some of you can probably relate to my problems.

What did I do wrong?

Where do I begin? Firstly, I didn’t plan my characters properly. This prevented me from creating an internal conflict for my main protagonist. I had my external conflict in my head, but it was of no use if I couldn’t convey my characters needs and desires. The internal conflict is the story itself!

Secondly, I didn’t research how to outline a novel and just started writing, labeling chapters whenever I couldn’t think of anything else to add. Wrong! If I had outlined my novel properly prior to writing, I would have been able to set up my chapters with a clear guidance of my characters’ thoughts, emotions and reactions. This would have allowed me to match it with the main plot (external conflict).

Next, I didn’t research any writing software assuming I could do everything in Microsoft Word. I probably could have completed everything in Microsoft Word, but I would have had to start at the beginning of my story and work through it chronologically. I have recently discovered Scrivener and it has helped me in more ways than I could have imagined. It allows you to see your chapters, track your progress, separate and merge chapters, make notes, research etc. It is an incredible writing tool that has helped me see everything from an omniscient perspective which has high-lighted my errors allowing me to structure my story in the best possible way.

Now

So, over the last few weeks I have downloaded several novel outlining books, been on YouTube to get advice on how to structure my scenes, read several writing blogs, joined Facebook writing groups, taken part in Zoom events with authors and literary agents, and am now rewriting my book for the third time.

My planning was easy enough because I had most of my story written down, however, I had written it in the wrong way. Outlining has assisted me with telling my story the correct way. My goal is to have a published novel in my hands, which means I need to follow a structure that allows readers to root for my characters and want to turn the page to discover how they face their fears and/or misconceptions of the world.

I have set up Scrivener with my acts, my chapters, my chapter plans, my notes, points of view and have colour coded everything. I have my notepad to hand with all my character notes and important events in my story in case I need a prompt or to to brainstorm further concepts.

If you are starting out as a writer yourself, I strongly urge you to read as many books as you can, research how to structure your story and get as much feedback as possible.

Please join me as I update you on the progress, hiccoughs and achievements, throughout my writing journey. One day soon, I hope you are holding my debut novel in your hands. You will understand the resilience and perseverance I have endured to make that happen. If not, then I have tried my best and will be proud to have written a novel, which is better than not attempting it at all.

Thank you for taking the time to read my first blog. I aim to write entries every Monday. Speak soon.