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Thursday 23rd July 2020

Good evening to you all! I hope you’ve had a great week.

So, I would like to start off by saying that I was unsuccessful with the mentorship programme. They had over 1,500 applicants and only six spaces to hand out. I’m not upset; I was half expecting that result when they postponed the announcement date. It made me realise that I need to finish my first draft and give it a full revision so I can start querying.

The good news is that my partner and I have booked our wedding. We fell in love with the venue and are planning on paying it off by the end of next year to give us a chance to sort the extras out. We are super excited to have it booked after being engaged for a year already. The wedding won’t be until 2023 which gives us plenty of time to get things paid!

Work has finished now. I won’t be back in until September when the new academic year starts. It will be interesting to see how everything works with our new guidelines dependent on what’s happening with COVID-19 at that point. On the whole, I’m looking forward to a change; to be working with a new class teacher and to be with a new year group.

Some more good news – I finally finished the first draft of my novel! After two years of writing, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. My job over the summer holidays is to self-edit like crazy and send the first chunk of my story to a developmental editor as I can’t afford the cost of sending the full manuscript over. I have decided to send a small chunk to get as much of the beginning scrutinised as possible and apply the feedback to the rest of my novel. I’m hoping that this will put me in a better position for querying. I really want to start sending my novel off to agents before the end of the year so that I can make a start on my next novel.

Thank you for reading, it means a lot! Have a lovely weekend and I will be back next week.

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Thursday 16th July 2020

Firstly, I would like to apologise for not writing a blog post last week. The reason why I didn’t write is because I was baking and icing cupcakes, boxing them and labelling them. On Friday morning, I gave one to my daughter. The sticker on the box read: Will you be my bridesmaid? She said YES! Later on that evening, I handed a cake to both my sisters and to two of my closest friends who all agreed. My partner and I are going to view the venue we would like over the weekend to put a deposit down. It’s starting to feel real now that we are making arrangements.

Next, I’ve hardly done any reading over the last two weeks so that I can focus any spare time on my novel. I now have one chapter to tweak and one chapter to finish writing until my first draft is complete. It’s all coming together. I plan on printing it out next week to do a full revision before sending it out to my feedback group to get their opinions on the story as a whole, including the plot twist.

From Tuesday, I will have the summer holidays off work to dive into my reading and writing. I’m still undecided about an editor. Again, it comes down to money – and my lack of it! Tomorrow is the announcement date for the mentorship programme. Due to the number of applicants, I doubt I will get a place, but I’m holding out hope for some good news in the middle of this rubbish experience we are all part of.

I hope you’ve had a good couple of weeks and have a fabulous weekend. Thank you for your continued support. Speak 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.