I am finishing the last few chapters of my first novella, which is both exciting and scary at the same time as I will like to work out how to get it published.
This time next week my husband and I will land in Italy. We will be staying near Florence in Tuscany for a week, in a farmhouse apartment in olive groves. Hurray! I am planning to fit some work on my novella in our holiday plans of sightseeing, wine, food tasting and cycling.
I wonder how it would be to write when I am not tired from work? Would I have better ideas on how to finish my story? Will I get inspiration for my next book?
I can’t wait to be there! I plan to share how I am getting on with my writing in my blog. I may also attach some photos.
“I do not over-intellectualise the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.” — Tom Clancy
In recent months I had been more focused on writing of my first novella than ever before and thankfully the focus remains. I was trying to work out what had helped me so I could share some tips with you.
Here they are:
Have a friendly audience
I started to email my revised chapters to my friends to hear their views on them. Their positive praise, concerns about the characters and impatient requests for next chapters really helps me to stay focused and work on delivering the chapters as soon as possible.
Let the characters loose
I gave my characters the freedom to develop in their own ways. To my surprise my initially supporting character actually became the heroine. When I stopped pushing the characters in my pre-defined boxes, they became more rounded and writing became more fun for me.
Talk about it
I started to share that I am writing a book with others. I told my boss, my colleagues at work and I am telling you through this blog. This drives my writing as I will eventually need to show the goods!
First, find out what your hero wants, then just follow him! – Ray Bradbury
After completing a course in writing fiction in spring 2014, I was excited to start writing my first book. I had the book in my mind for some time, so it was easy to start putting it in on ‘paper’. I knew exactly what it was going to be about.
In short, it is a story of present day girl living in London, whose life takes an unforeseen turn when her teenage love from Rome reappears in her life and at the same time her boyfriend gives her an ancient pendant which shows her a glimpse into her past life in ancient Roman times.
I wrote my first chapters and then I did my first mistake:
I started to doubt myself
During my online research I found guidance saying ‘write what you know’, which made me doubt myself. “What do I know about ancient Romans? Do I have the time for proper research?” Of course I didn’t, I was working full-time…
Then my second mistake came:
I compared myself to other writers
I knew that my book wouldn’t be anywhere near Jane Austen’s… “So, is it worth the effort?” I asked myself. I checked the less acclaimed authors, which wasn’t helpful either. I wasn’t measuring up to any of them and my style was completely different…
My third mistake followed:
I self-criticised my work
Instead of continuing to draft my book, I started to criticise it. The more I dwelled on it, the less I wrote and I reached the point where I told myself that there was no point in continuing and I stopped writing altogether.
In autumn 2015, I couldn’t resist any longer and I unleashed my creativity in full, everything at the same time. I bought a canvas and some acrylic paint and I painted my first painting. It felt very liberating and I was energised for weeks afterwards. At the same time I dusted off my laptop and feeling an unstoppable urge, I continued to write my book. After several months I realised that I had to choose whether I wanted to write or paint. My limited spare time didn’t allow for both. I decided to take various courses and acrylic painting and learn techniques which would help me to express what I wanted to on the canvas. The writing had to wait.
In winter 2016 I found new determination and energy to see if I could find a way to do what I feel passionate about full-time. I started to edit my book again and at the same time manage my time so I could also paint. Months later, this is still working out and I would like to share how my book is shaping and how my painting is going.
“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” – Pablo Picasso
NOW, in my mid-thirties, I know what I am passionate about and I am happy. It was a painful journey to get here, but exactly because of this I do appreciate everything that much more. I am grateful that my life had not been an easy sailing which I wanted it to be. I am glad that my initial plan for my happiness didn’t work out. My life took me onto a much better path of living in foreign countries, traveling, meeting the love of my life and having my dream home in a beautiful Austrian countryside. If any of my stories were different, I wouldn’t be sitting in my sunlit Garden Room right now watching black birds playfully fighting on the green grass glittering from the morning dew… and feeling completely happy.
Now that I had discovered my passion for writing fiction and painting, my journey continues. I am slowly finishing my first book which I would love to see published. I would also like to start selling my paintings. My dream is to be a full-time author and artist. It will be an electrifying journey and an interesting one as I still need to work full-time at the same time. I will be sharing how this is going under Becoming Author & Artist section.
I am looking forward to sharing my future stories with you of following my passions and fulfilling my bold and colourful dreams.
“Follow your heart and your dreams will come true.” ― Anonymous
DURING a conference where I was sent to from work, 34 years old and restless, I chose two workshops which changed my life. At the time I felt devastated, I was not getting pregnant and I was also losing a lot of energy in a job where I was successful, however, one which I didn’t enjoy.
At this one workshop we were “forced” to meditate in a group for 20 minutes. I couldn’t believe how amazing it felt and how calming the experience was. I was hungry for more and I made a conscious decision to turn my logical brain off. I tried different types of meditations since then and I found the ones which are working for me. During my meditations I calm down, I get centred and my mind is sharp. I get brilliant ideas and inspirations for my creative projects.
The second workshop introduced me to the power of our thoughts and our energies. It sprang me into researching the topics further when I got home. I appreciate now that I need to master my own mind and thoughts to look after my own energy levels. Self-love is an important ingredient, as it creates a mind-set which is caring and positive. Practising mindfulness is also priceless in the mix, as I now take care of my thoughts, I am not dwelling on the past and I am not worrying about the future.
As a result of working on myself for some time now, I slowed down, I created time for ME and I started to appreciate living in the present. I feel happy and I appreciate the smallest things. After all these years, I discovered my passions! They were dormant up until now due to my busyness. I will talk about them in my story ten.
I am thankful now for all the circumstances, even though they were extremely difficult for me at the time. They really pushed me and in return I received the greatest gift. The gift which helped me to pause, to start loving myself, to appreciate living in the now and to do what I feel passionate about, in short, it helped me towards my happiness lights.
FAST forward nine years and I was 34 years old, having my life nicely on my happiness track. Or did I? I was annoyed with myself that I still didn’t feel happy all the time. ‘Maybe I am one of those people that can’t be happy?’ I wondered. I have tried to be content and happy for so long! James and I were stronger than ever, we had a cosy fairytale wedding and we bought our dream house in the countryside. OK, I didn’t really like my job, but then who does? (…hmm, actually quite a lot of people!) It pays the mortgage on our lovely house and for our active holidays to Italy. ‘Besides I don’t have skills to do anything else.’ I kept telling myself. Did I feel restless because I was still not pregnant after two years of trying? Of course I did.
I was stressed from work, lying down on the sofa and browsing the Internet at 3 o’clock in the morning again. Then I saw something wonderful! A course on writing fiction. I didn’t remember the last time I was so excited and I signed myself up for it. ‘This is it! Why didn’t I think of it earlier?’ I was wondering. I always wanted to write and my head is constantly spinning with stories. It is just that my life got in the way. ‘I can do this!’ I was sure. I have the imagination (sometimes too much of it…) and I used to tell and write stories as a child. ‘How could I have blocked this out?’ I was amazed. During the course I could feel a long lost energy rushing back through my body and I felt so happy to be creating stories and characters again. After the course, full of drive, I started to work on my first book. I knew exactly what it was going to be about. After a while I realised that I was losing too much energy at work and I just didn’t have enough left to do what I felt so passionate about. I needed the weekend to recover from the work week and I slowly ceased writing, my life was getting in the way again.
I was then sent kicking and screaming to this huge conference from work. I didn’t know at the time that this would change my life and finally shake me awake. At the conference I learned about our energies and about meditation. Story nine Help Towards Happiness Lights will talk about it more. What my nagging inner voice tried to tell me all along was to watch my own energy levels, to find my inner peace and to do what I love doing. I had reached the point in my life where I was ready to start listening.