Mind the Gap, NLP and Me

Guest blogger Andrea Myers is a certified master practitioner of NLP and her blog  focuses on mind maps and filters.  Before you dismiss this as “pseudo science with quack factor stats” remember this, we learn, read and write in different ways. If we can increase our readership, or inject credible characterisation from looking at how others think, it has been worth the journey.

‘He searched her eyes with deep emotion – it was the mention of his childhood that brought the flood of memories and finally moved him to act…’

George sighed, “I just do not get this author. I am not on the same wavelength at all I feel I have just wasted my time trying to read this, and what a waste of money!” and with that, he slammed the book shut and tossed it into the bin.

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Oh dear, not the reaction we authors want at all! So what went wrong? George and the author were indeed “not on the same wavelength” and the reason is this: Our author used the word “childhood” as a huge emotional turning point to his story – but “childhood” means something different to every one of us. Some of us had an idyllic youth, others a busy hectic time as part of large bustling family, others were very alone, perhaps an only child. So we need to be aware as authors that our language and our use of it is totally coloured by our own, individual map of the world. A world made up of our own very unique experiences and emotions. And when we use key words we need to ensure our readers get onto our wavelength. Try using the phrase “How specifically?” to ask yourself what you mean and ensure your reader has understood. Had our author said “tortured childhood” or “soporific” perhaps our reader would have stayed with him.

NLP or Neurolinguistic Programme is the study of the effect of language (linguistic) on our brain (neuro) patterns, created by Richard Bandler and John Grinder in the 1970s.They studied how the pathways or filters into our neuro system worked and how the language we use mirrors our own personal world. They created a set of models that can be used to achieve excellence in everyday life: business, education, health, sport as well as psychology.
If you look up “NLP and writing”, you will see that there are dozens and dozens of courses being offered to writers and journalists, using NLP as a foundation. Many scriptwriters use NLP in their work – in particular in TV series and films. This year over 1,200 teachers were trained in NLP and it is also used in education, medicine and in many different aspects of therapy.

At our last Writer’s Workshop I spoke about the two basic tenets of NLP – Our Map of the World and the filters we use to take in information. The example given above with George explains Our Map of the World. Let’s look now at filters.

Bandler and Grinder found that we take in information through 5 basic filters Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, the primary filters, and Gustatory, and Olfactory the secondary filters. What filters we use as our primary ones are very individual. But if you try to communicate with someone without using their primary filter – you may again find “we are not on the same wavelength”.

You have only to ask a group of people who have just come out of a film what they liked about the film – and some will say the photography was fabulous (Visual) some will have noticed the musical score (Auditory) and some will have said the film made them feel great (Kinesthetic) And we cannot help using the words that actually give away what filters most influence us. For example, at a meeting, if something is decided, and the individuals are asked for their understanding, some will say, “I hear what you say” others will say, “I see what you mean” and others, “feels good to me”.

Returning to our reader, George, he gave us a clue as to his primary filter with his words “I feel I have wasted my time” He may well be a kinesthetic. If a writer totally ignores his kinesthetic readers, this could well be the outcome. If you try to sell a car to a kinesthetic and you focus on the visual qualities – you might not get a sale! Mention the comfort of the seats, the smooth ride, the heated seats and fabulous climate control and the sale could be yours.
I found another very interesting aspect to the VAK filters – I am a Visual, and I found to my surprise that my writing was lacking the visual aspect – too much dialogue and not enough scene setting. The reason must be that as a visual I just assumed everyone would be able to create the scene in their minds and didn’t need me to describe things. Not so! When I reversed things, and “told less and showed more” I got a far better response.

How can we use this information for us as writers? My suggestions are:
When you are doing your first edit of your writing identify the key words or turning points in your writing – and ask yourself, “What specifically do I mean by this word or phrase?” Remind yourself that your map of the world is unique to you and that to engage your reader you need to expand or illustrate your meaning.

Again, at your first edit stage ask yourself what is your writing style? – Have you engaged the Visual Auditory or Kinesthetic filters in your overall approach? Is there a balance?

I have only skimmed the surface of NLP and its practices and philosophies – but I close with one of the ten basic tenets of NLP:

‘The meaning of your communication is the response that you get, which may be different to the one you intended. There is no such thing as a resistant person, only an inflexible communicator.”

Andrea Myers


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The Wonderful World of Foreign Rights

The guest blogger this week is Sam Curtis and her mission, which she chose to accept for thirteen years, was Foreign Rights.

Over to you Sam

Foreign Rights

WHAT IS IT?

Foreign rights is a specialised field of publishing, whereby the translation rights for a specific title or project are sold in another language.

I was lucky enough to work in the F.R side of the children’s industry for thirteen years; first for a small novelty book packager, then on to Bath where I headed up the department for a medium-sized mass-market publisher, another stint with a non-fiction publisher, and then finally I ran my own agency for a couple of years.

HOW DO YOU GET INTO IT?

The usual route is by starting out at junior level as an assistant, ideally with a second language.  I was extremely lucky.  After a degree in Modern Languages, I took a risk and applied for a job I wasn’t at all qualified for!  Nobody else from London was prepared to move from The City to The West Country… and the rest is History.  I started out at managerial level, looking after my own list of countries, whilst answering the phones and packing parcels for a company of 6.

HOW IS A FOREIGN RIGHTS SALE MADE?

The front (and backlist) are presented to customers at the three main book fairs; Frankfurt (largest fair in the world), Bologna (largest children’s fair in the world) and London.  A customer will request to be sent samples of the book(s) for further consideration, along with prices and schedules.  The sale can happen in one of two ways:

1)       Co-edition

2)      CD/royalty

Co-edition is the most usual route when selling board, novelty, pop up books etc.  In the ideal world, several F.R editions  will ‘piggyback’ onto the US/UK print run, keeping costs down and achieving one nice, uniform printing.  But nowadays, the likes of France, Germany and Poland are in a position to print alone, satisfying their own particular delivery requirements.

Once a contract has been signed, the customer (usually they are also the editor!) will be sent a disc.  This contains high resolution images for the cover and title page; so the font can be changed, their logo, barcode and imprint details added.  The inside files are in low resolution, so only the translated text of the customer can be input onto the disc.  The customer then sends their translated files back to the F.R team.  They are given a cursory glance by the production department, before winging their way to the printer in China.  Hopefully every country’s material has been sent in on time so the schedule will be adhered to…  The printer will produce ozalids (or blueprints as they are called nowadays).  A set goes to the customer, and a set to the F.R team.  There will almost always be corrections to be made!  Even with a one sentence per page board book.  Editors are notoriously overworked.  The process is repeated again until everybody is happy.  Then an advance copy will be sent.  Checks will be made and the OKTP (okay to print) will be given.  A pre-production sample will also be sent just prior to shipment.  This is the very last opportunity to check for mistakes!  The F.R team would also add their PPS to the ever-growing archive – something which should be kept religiously as a source of reference for future reprints.  Are the cover and binding the same?  Is the paper quality up to scratch?

Most customers will buy on a CIF (Carriage Insurance and Freight) basis, meaning the F.R department will arrange the shipping from Hong Kong to their port of entry for them.  This is fairly common for Europe.  Other customers, such as those in the Far East, will pay a slightly lower price and work on an FOB (Free On Board) basis.  This means they arrange their own shipping, to say Tokyo or Manila.

For a CD/royalty sale, a percentage per copy is paid 100% in advance (on the retail price of the initial print run).  The high resolution disc (containing four colour files for both covers AND insides) is sent to the customer.  In this situation they have a little more flexibility with regards to the format, meaning they can change it to better suit their market; they could also change the font and cover design to allow it to ‘travel’ in their particular country.  This kind of sale happens mostly in South Korea, China, Brazil and Eastern Europe with non-fiction, but also compilations of stories – a Bedtime Story Collection for example.  It was largely trust based.  A royalty statement should be sent once a year, and hopefully there is no piracy going on!

BOOK FAIRS/SALES TRIPS

A Foreign Rights Manager (in the heyday) could expect to be on a plane every 6 weeks, either to a book fair or for a sales trip.  In addition to the 3 big fairs, there is a lesser book fair somewhere in the world, each and every week; Moscow, Warsaw, Prague, Tokyo, Taipei and Guadalajara to name but a few.  In days gone by, attendance at the fairs with the company stand would be critical to sell.  In the age of the internet and aftermath of the global recession however, it’s becoming much more common for buyers to spend less time out of the office – some even shunning both Bologna and Frankfurt, making all of their acquisitions for their children and adult lists in London in one fell swoop.

 

ILLUSTRATION STYLES

The hardest thing of all is finding one common style that suits all pre-school, mass-market novelty books!  Germany is one of the trickiest markets, with an extremely refined style that is very difficult to emulate.  We found that our backlist was extremely popular in Eastern Europe (and some Southern European countries).  But if you wanted to sell into Scandinavia, sophistication was critical.

PHENOMENONS

Every now and again, a ground-breaking idea would come along that EVERYONE wished they had thought of first.  More often than not, it would see itself reincarnated in the guise of various rip-offs by other companies (no names mentioned).  As the years went on, and the competition and cost prices increased, coming up with a novel novelty grew harder and harder.

PROUD MOMENTS

–          Selling our carnation of photographic First Word Books into 24 languages (including Icelandic!)

–          Making the first ever sale (so I was told) of Papiamento language text books into the schools of Aruba.  Prior to that, all books were in Dutch.

–          My record-breaking, eye-brow raising 25,000 copy ‘New Suit for Santa’ deal with a Finnish book club.

–          My Arabic edition Farm Pop Up made it onto the official top 10 list in Israel… for several weeks in a row.

Okay, I’ll stop blowing my trumpet now.

BIGGEST COCK-UPS

I once approved a shipment of well-overdue Argentinian/Venezuelan edition books to Hamburg instead of Buenos Aires!

I’ve committed the ultimate faux-pas by foolishly going against the advice I gave to my employees:  Never, ever berate a customer in an internal email.  You never know when you’re going to send it to the customer instead by mistake…  The Swedish client, who I fortunately never did meet, took it extremely well under the circumstances.  But I do believe it was THE ONLY set of non-text board books he bought from us.  We never did get to the bottom of why he wanted to purchase blank books…

A certain set of company directors decided to go against the advice of myself and my former boss.  Instead they thought it would be wise to put all eggs in one basket, selling everything to one giant client in Belgium, working with them on a Bill of Exchange basis, too, and authorising them to collect their goods from Antwerp before they’d even sent shipping documents that we could have used as ransom!  The client eventually went bust for the third or fourth time in a row, owing our company just shy of a million Euros.  Ouch.

I could go on.

WHAT IS THE FUTURE OF FOREIGN RIGHTS?

The era of the ‘good old days’ is sadly long gone.  No longer can a prepared contract be taken to a book fair meeting ready for the client to sign on the dotted line!  And in the words of my former F.R director:  ‘It is now 10 times harder to get a sale.  You even have to beg and plead sometimes.’  Chinese print prices rose sharply for the novelty book market, and along with the global recession, this resorted in many of the big companies sadly swallowing up the little independent fish.  I don’t think anybody would venture into F.R for the jet-set lifestyle anymore, either.  The travel budgets must be a shell of their former selves.

But I do believe the demand for F.R for older children’s books (as well as the adult market) will continue after this blip.  The world has an insatiable hunger for books, in whichever medium we are choosing to read them.

The Ebook and self-publishing have also created their own tides of change.  I don’t think there will ever be an on-screen substitute for a good, old, interactive novelty book… there just might be a lot less of them!
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‘Silence’ – Stream of Consciousness

An example of the literary technique ‘stream of consciousness’ by SW member Emma Wilson that illustrates the benefit of free-flow writing. Getting down what comes into your mind without interruption can be a powerful stimulus that can help to kick-start the creative process and help you get inside the mind of a character.

Silence

I dream of silence.

Tap Tap, Scratch Scratch, Tick Tock, Cough.

That’s the sound of my life.

No wait, that’s just the dark hours. The evenings. The darkness.

Darkness means silence right? Nope.

Tap Tap, Scratch Scratch, Tick Tock, Cough

My days are not like this.

Oh no, they are much worse.

I DREAM of silence.

I rise from my bed to the ear piercing scream…

“muuuuuummmmmy!”

I lift my body unwillingly and lurch toward the high pitched screech,

Inevitably followed by the clatter of cereal bowls and cups in the kitchen.

Here we go again.

Oh god I dream dream dream of silence.

Mummmmmmy!

Tap Tap Bang Bang “I want juice!!”

I glance longingly back at the bedroom door and my inner clock starts the countdown.

How many hours until we are re-united once again in silence.

Tap Tap Bang Bang Hiss Bang Screech

Oh God I dream of silence.

“Darling, where are my car keys?” It starts again.

Oh Lord just give me five….

“Mummy I want my…. Honey I cant find them – Jesus is that the time?”

 The day drags on, the air filled with noises. Screams and cries, giggles and groans.

The darkness of the coffee pulls me in… darkness, stillness, black and thick. Oh god im dreaming of silence.

As their heads hit the pillows and their eyes slowly close, little breaths and whispers escape their dreams.

Tick tock tick tock – counting down. Nearly time for sleep.

We meet again my dear old friend, a million noises have kept us apart.

Tick tock, click click and suddenly its dark.

His tinnitus takes over and tap tap here come the noises.

“Today in the news” – Lord above here we go again.

 Tap tap scratch scratch Cough tap tap.

Finally he slips into sleep and the radio clicks one last time, finally the start of silence…

But then it starts…

I fear the silence.

“Is the oven off, is that bill paid. Did she clean her teeth – what was that noise, is that her out of bed?”

Holy hell I just want to sleep.

I dread the silence, because that’s when it starts – that’s when my day begins.

All the worries, all the questions, in the silence my fears sing.

I fear the silence.

But then the birds begin to sing.

Tap tap bang bang “mummy I’m thirsty”

I sigh, and rise and look to the bed – breath in and out and take a beat.

I dream of silence once more… that is until it starts again.

Blogged by Emma Wilson

…And look at why she did it…

Hi [Jo and Tracy]. I dont generally do this, but i blame both of you. It seems since joining the group my brain simply wont stop. The dam i put up around my creative brain has been ripped down and i cant stop the flow. I woke up last week (at around 3am) and my brain just would not stop. So for the first time in a long time i wrote it all down and didnt think about it again.

Last night i took a look at what was written. To be honest i don’t even REMEMBER writing the words – reading it over last night it made me giggle.

It is completely stream of consciousness but really does sum up the life of a mother of two in my eyes.. i thought it might interest you to see it. Normally i would simply leave these musings in my notebook never to be seen again – but after meeting a fellow “compulsive writer” in Lindsey last week i think it might interest people to see they are not alone when they write nonsense words on scraps of paper in the wee morning hours.

Hope you like it

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Revelations of a Notebook

The following guest blog was posted by the elusive Lindsey who not only loves to write, but needs to write. She was unable to make the inaugural meeting of the club and this is now in the guest slot in the hope that she contacts us. Mystery Blogger, Come in from the Cold…we can help you.

‘I wanted to share this that I found this evening. http://www.jackiemorris.co.uk/blog/writers-notebooks/ – I hope this might work as a link and save a few Ctrl C, Ctrl Vs. Either way, as a writer, you should look at that page.

It has inspired me to comment on your website. And accept that my modus operandi (or is it: operandum?) of writing is not so different to other writers, but how would I have known before? Only my children really know the extent of the chaos which surrounds my need to help the words escape and I know little of other writers’ methods. I had never really considered the subject until tonight.

How do you write? Longhand, computer, haphazardly, super-organised, on parchment and with a quill, perhaps? Could we all share our notebooks or glimpses thereof? I feel I need to know, now, how others write. Not the words nor the discipline, but the method, the hardware….. the biros you use.

These photos of notebooks led me to a moment of introspection. After all, it is the Equinox and a time of change, seasonally if not spiritually. And I’ve just arrived here so I feel new, naive, nervous. And I am homesick, but not for home, nor friends, nor family, although I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss them. (And they might read this)…….No, I miss, painfully, a vast wodge of paper I left behind. Said a forever goodbye to.

On finally moving out of my house last year – which I rented out on Facebook after meeting up with a long-lost old friend and imbibing a bottle of wine whilst looking at her most recent paintings – I had to say “adios” to over 10 years of scribblings. Reams and reams and reams of notes, ideas, moments of genius. (Or so I suspect and can hope, against hope but don’t know, not for sure and never will). Pages of captured meetings, memories, dark moments of self-doubt, and worse – half-written, unfinished, interrupted outpourings – what would those have led to? I can only wonder.. Where was that sentence going? Oh, the anguish at a lost thought.

Literally scores of black bin liners full of A4, envelopes, hurriedly ripped shreds of tree bark used to jot down my thoughts. All etched in multi-coloured biro, pencil and…. was that blood?

I went to a friend’s farm in Lancashire and there, with the help of Grandad, the firestarter and Boss, Mum and assorted grandchildren – pyromaniacs, all – we burnt every sheet, almost religiously ardent in our task, in a rusty, well-used and capacious iron firepit at the edge of the field, yet still in the garden to help the roses. And next to grandma’s grave because she loved fires too.

Now, I miss not only my writing and recalling how it changed with time, mood, even the colour of the biro, but also I miss my writings. What, oh what, have I lost through consignment to the flames? Yet, I had no choice. It all had to go. I could not move on with it, we were downsizing and lightening up. It was also downsized, reduced in bulk and weight, and then became embers, turning to grey, light, floating, flaking ash, thrown onto the roses and carried by the wind, drifting across the farmland to nurture future growth.

And in amongst that loss of mine and gain for the countryside I love, lies the inspiration for many more hours of an unstoppable, unexplainable force that is …how I write and the words which quite simply have to escape. I might stick to ink and pass on the blood from now on though.’

Lindsey
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Guest Post: Confessions of an Editor

Guest PostSpeaking to a senior player in trade publishing in London yesterday, I was struck again by how some fundamental attitudes have changed in recent years. It used to be around the bars of Frankfurt during the annual Book Fair that publishers would bare their souls and fess up sheepishly to the ones that got away. Which books that went on to be runaway bestsellers did they pass on, didn’t like or more importantly didn’t think the general public in any number would like. We all make mistakes, even the most successful amongst us, was the general consensus. But our experience and instinct will make sure we don’t blot our copybook again.

Times have changed. The precarious nature of the economy in the UK, with amongst other things, just one privately backed, stock holding high street book selling chain of any size, undergoing almost constant restructuring, is just one reason editors will be expected by their bosses to be more risk averse. When an editor takes to Twitter to confess she passed on JK Rowling’s recent crime novel written and submitted under a pseudonym, no one slaps their forehead and says “fire her”. Of course she passed on it. As I’m sure many others did too. It was yet another good if not utterly outstanding, well-crafted genre crime novel. Which, if you are writing such books that would have more been more likely to find a publisher and a decent five figure advance ten years ago, must sound depressing.

But self-publishing has also changed the game. Led inevitably by the US market, acquiring editors no longer feel that literary agents represent the only source of potentially publishable content. Part of the editor’s job now is to make sure they spot books which might be starting to create a buzz and take off within niches and communities online before they have found an agent or a publisher. CEOs and Financial Directors will forgive gambling less and missing the odd bestseller. Missing the next 50 Shades of Grey bubble however probably would be a sackable offence.

John Bond

Co-founder whitefox

whitefox is the UK’s largest curated publishing services network –

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Point of View

Point of View

So what are we talking about here?

Sol Stein’s definition is a good one,

p. 109, ‘The character whose eyes are observing what happens, the perspective from which a scene or story is written.’

Much has been written about ‘Point of View’, so much so that some people begin to get confused about the do’s and don’ts. Others don’t really care; they just want to write.
Sometimes we want to include so much information, all the research we did; what different characters are thinking and saying in response to any given event.

All of that is possible, but remember to keep the reader on board.

When we are listening to friends in a bar or coffee shop there is no confusion about who is saying what; they are present in the room and we are looking at them,  listening to them and sharing their stories.

We can achieve the same when we are writing. Apart from writing an autobiography we write with a mouth-piece, one of the characters, real or made up, usually the most important one for the telling of our tale; THE MAIN CHARACTER.

Having decided who fits this role we then decide on that person’s delivery. The two most popular these days are first person and third person subjective.

FIRST PERSON

It was dark and I kept looking over my shoulder every time the wind blew.

We are in the mind of the character with great immediacy, using  “me, myself, I.”

THIRD PERSON SUBJECTIVE

‘I’m up,’ He shouted, turning over in bed and resting his head on the pillow. For extra measure he banged a shoe up and down on the floor so his mum would think he was walking around. She would set off for work soon and he would be alone. He had no intention of going to school today.

We are in the mind of the character, but once removed, using “he/she, his/her.”

If we want to get into different characters’ minds we can do so in the same way, but need to flag up the change to the reader.

Those that know suggest you keep the characters separated into their own chapters, or if that is not what you are looking for, leave a blank line or two in your document so the savvy reader understands.

First Person POV is alluring but dealing with the first person POV’s ego is harder. As Sol Stein says, p.111 ‘If he sees himself as weak, the reader won’t have much interest in him as a protagonist. If he sees himself as strong, the reader will think him a braggart. Therefore, in the first-person POV the author relies on action and the speech of other characters to reveal things – particularly good things – about the “I” character. An unreliable or villainous first-person narrator can lend credibility…

If the character takes the reader into his confidence, the character can’t “forget” to provide the reader with an essential secret or other important piece of information. When the reader learns that was withheld, he will feel cheated. The most dramatic way of handling information that the character is reluctant to convey is for another character to strip the secret from him in heated conversation.’

What do you think?

Tracy
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Grab Their Interest.

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Our writing club opens its doors the last week of September and until then I have another opportunity to blog… Sol Stein is a terrific writer to go to for tips on techniques. Born 1926, he edited and published books for 36 years from some of the most successful writers of the twentieth century, including James Baldwin, Dylan Thomas, Elia Kazan, W.H. Auden, and Jacques Barzun. If you want a better look, check out Stein on Writing, St Martin’s Press (1995)  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Stein-Writing-Successful-Techniques-Strategies/dp/0312254210

So, what did he have to say?

Lots. Nearly all of it valuable.

He begins by quoting E. L. Doctorow, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader, not the fact that it’s raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.” p.4

Yeah, we get it, -Show not Tell-. Good advice.

Stein studied buying behaviour in a Manhattan bookstore during lunch hour. They mostly read the front flap of the book’s jacket and then went to page one. No-one went beyond page three before either taking the book to the cashier or putting the book down and picking up another. p.9

So, no point encouraging someone to read on because your novel picks up a bit after the first few pages. Start writing where it picks up, as near to the climax of that particular episode as possible and hook the reader. No matter how beautiful your writing is, we’re in  a hurry and as a reader need to:

  • know why we’re reading,
  • enjoy where it’s taking us
  • seek the answers to the questions that got us hooked.

Stein advises we should grab the reader’s curiosity, PREFERABLY ABOUT A CHARACTER OR A RELATIONSHIP and create a setting to lend resonance to the story.

Characters Build Strong Interest.

Think of even the most meaningless soap opera. You may not admit to your friends that you even watch it, but when it’s on it’ll pull you in. There’s possibly no point talking about the plot, it may be banal, but for some reason, you care about how that particular character will react, how he or she will deal with whatever the script writer has concocted.

What Excites our Interest?

  • the unusual
  • action
  • conflict
  • knowledge that something is not right, that fate is being tempted
  • when characters find themselves in a situation  you identify with…

It’s not an exhaustive list. Think about it, what works for you? Perhaps a character wants something important, wants it badly and wants it now. Or maybe a character that you are rooting for finds herself in danger and you must find out what happens next.

Write responsibly.

We need to write for ourselves AND the reader. Imagine you are at a party and someone ‘corners’ you and insists on a boorish recital of a tale that you must listen to, politely, until an escape route opens up to you.

Do not be that boor.

How better to be captivated by something that entertains and raises questions that catch your interest long after the story ends.

Be that captivator.

Years ago I heard two girls chatting to each other at the bus stop. My bus came and I seriously considered missing it, just so I could hear more…

The hook?

‘So, was he circumcised?’

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Welcome to Sotogrande Writers

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Welcome

This is where writers, in any genre or medium, can share their work and get inspired. Hopefully we will encourage and learn from each other with the end goal of growing together and becoming the best that we can at our craft. We are egalitarian; some of us at different stages of development to others, but we were all beginners at one time.

The Art of Writing

For some of us writing is a passion, for others, it can be a chore. However, just because we love to write it doesn’t mean we are necessarily good at it. Writing anything if your heart isn’t in it is not a pleasurable experience, so if you enjoy the process of writing that in itself is a great starting point.

The good news is that writing is a craft that can be honed to perfection. This doesn’t mean that we will all find publishers for our work, but if we want to then it will make our chances of doing so that much better.

“We do not write as we want, but as we can.” – W. Somerset Maugham

It may sound simple but there are three crucial steps that should be a part of any writer’s routine:

  • READING – reading books by established authors will help you to absorb the process of writing successfully
  • LEARNING  – this is where we hope that Sotogrande Writers can assist
  • WRITING  – this may sound obvious, but you must write often and consistently

“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.

Those who do not do this remain amateurs.” – Gerald Brenan

 If you have never shared your writing with others, now is the time. Becoming part of a writer’s group is a good way to fire up your motivation.

Sotogrande Writers – a creative environment and support system for current and aspiring writers.

Looking forward to meeting you!

Jo
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Becoming a Writer

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“My name’s Tracy Thomson and as co-founder of the Sotogrande Writer’s club, (www.sotograndewriters.com),  I am delighted, and sufficiently audacious, to have welcomed myself on board!

I’ve just finished my first novel, Kiss the Candle Goodnight – an eco-political thriller set in the Sumatran Rain forest. It took me two years and is now being submitted to agents.

But enough of me, during my apprenticeship to novel writing, for that is what happens,  I became an avid reader of nothing but advice and below are excerpts from the earliest book I came across, by DOROTHEA BRANDE, ‘Becoming a Writer.‘ She penned this in 1934 and I read the reprint that came out Jan 1981. (First Published by Harcourt, Brace, New York.)

The famous creative writing teacher and writer, JOHN GARDNER wrote a fantastic foreword to this which I also recommend reading. The link to Amazon lets you look inside.
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Becoming-Writer-Dorothea-Brande/dp/0874771641/

I shall start where Dorothea Brande ends,

‘When you sit down to write do not sit idle. Avoid the habits that we employ to induce procrastination.’

Brande’s common-sense approach is packed with wisdom. She talks about the need to see as if through the eyes of a captivated child. It reminds me of a Michael Parkinson interview, with Dennis Potter shortly before the author died. He was in great pain, but in getting ready to leave this world his eyes saw only wonder and splendour. He showed us life’s delicate beauty in the commonplace where once I had forgotten to look.  A remarkable man. This freshness of response is what Brande knew was ‘vital to the author’s talent.’

Here is more of her splendid advice.

Page 48,

‘The unconscious is shy, elusive and unwieldy, but it is possible to learn to tap it at will, and even to direct it. The conscious mind is meddlesome, opinionated, and arrogant, but it can be made subservient to the inborn talent through training.’

Page 53,

‘If you leave it to the more sensitive side of your nature to set the conditions of work and living for you, you may find yourself at the end of your days with very little to show for the gifts you were born with.’

Page 153,

She talks about an ‘artistic coma’ that afflicts us so thoroughly that we feel defeated, but we need not worry,

Something is at work, but so deeply and wordlessly that it hardly gives a sign of its activity till it is ready to externalize its vision.’

We all know what she’s talking about, let us end on that word, INSPIRATION.”
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