Sarah Potter Writes

Pursued by the Muses of prose and poetry

Archive for the tag “National Novel Writing Month”

#NaNoWriMo 2017 & the Advent of Two Different Author Names!

To put the title of my post into context, I want to share with you the testimonial I’ve sent to the organisers of National Novel Writing Month…

I would like to thank the NaNoWriMo Team for providing the platform for a complete turnabout in my writing and for saving me from quitting altogether.

During the first half of 2017, with five novels under my belt, I had finally accepted that for an author to cross multiple genres was tantamount to committing marketing suicide. Enough traditional publishers and literary agents had rejected my work for this reason, while at the same time complimenting me on my prose, but of course I had to learn the hard way by self-publishing a couple of the novels. The experiment wasn’t a total failure, as a small handful of people risked buying the first book and then bought the second book, too. According to their reviews, they loved my quirkiness and particular brand of British humour.

By the time I reached October of the year, I was suffering the worst case of writer’s block and disillusionment ever. Thus, when I signed up for NaNoWriMo it felt like the craziest act of faith in the world. I had never written as much as 50,000 words in a month and didn’t think I had the hours to do so; plus, I was going to attempt to write a straight science fiction novel, rather than a mishmash of about six genres rolled into one. However, twenty pages into the story I realised it wasn’t science fiction, and that it probably wasn’t in me to write anything suited to diehard fans of the genre. This amounted to a moment of profound enlightenment. What were my strengths? Answer: Quirkiness and British humour. What exactly was I writing if it wasn’t science fiction? Answer: mainstream satire that happened to be set in the not-too-distant future.

Thus with great optimism and to maintain my focus, I have signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo and set my next goal, which is to finish writing the first draft of the novel by 2nd February, after which I will don my editor’s hat and set a revision target.

Now for the bit about author names. I don’t want to dump my old novels altogether, as they have been my close companions on a long writing journey and I’m really quite fond of them. Being an eccentric means that I will always write quirky stuff, and here’s a virtual hug for my highly valued supporters who don’t care a toss about my blatant mishmashing of genres.

Thus, what I propose — unless my literary Muse dictates otherwise — is to self-publish my hard-to-categorise novels under the name of Sarah Potter, but for novels that do fit a category and might prove of interest to literary agents and traditional publishers, I will use the author name Sarah C Potter.

Meanwhile, from now until the end of January, I have on special offer my two crossover self-published novels, but more about that in the next post when I will share with you my reasons for staging a rebellion against particular price tags.

#NaNoWriMo 2017: Two Winners In One Household!

Yay! We did it. My son Joshua and I managed to write the opening 50,000 words of our novels between November 1-30 during National Novel Writing Month 2017. This was the first time either of us had participated in NaNoWriMo, but we both felt the urge to do something that stretched us to the limit.

At one stage I was about a week behind with my word count and thought I wouldn’t make it, so had to do some mad 3,000 plus sprints per day to catch up.

Joshua managed to be more consistent in his progress but was a bit erratic in updating his word count on the NaNoWriMo website, so his final stats and graph looked a bit strange, which is why he wanted me to post mine and not his. In case you are wondering who Wolery Wol is, that is one of my online author usernames/pen-names.

My novel, which will probably end up at about 75,000 words in length, was inspired by a short story I wrote way back, titled The Parable Teller, so this is what I chose as my working title during NaNoWriMo but ir won’t end up as my final title as it is no longer suitable. This, my sixth novel, was intended as an exercise in shutting off that pedantic inner editor and recapturing that creative energy and dynamism that went with writing my first novel years ago. It worked, but doesn’t mean that I will skimp on the editing during revision 1, 2, 3, 4, or however many it takes.

When I started the novel I thought it was science fiction, but after writing the first three chapters, it dawned on me that it wasn’t science fiction but mainstream satire, which happens to be set at an unspecified time in the future (think Ben Elton meets Jonas Jonasson). In fact, it is possible that I have never written true science fiction, or true fantasy for that matter.

[Thank you, Bob Shaw for your book How to Write Science Fiction, which has been lurking on my bookshelf since 1993, and became my only reading material throughout November. It would have saved me from a lot of marketing problems, if I had read your book properly in the first place. Next on the list is Writing Fantasy Fiction by Sarah LeFanu, on my shelf since 1996].

My enlightenment has proved a liberation, as I am now free to embrace my quirkiness without the strictures of rigid genre.

My son’s novel is his first, although he has written plenty of short stories (you can read one of them here), plus he has a BA in History, English and Creative Writing. He likes to write fantasy: real fantasy, unlike his mother! His novel, which also has a working title that he intends to change, will end up much longer than mine and sounds potentially epic.

Lastly, I want to award my husband a medal for his patience and encouragement throughout November. It must be hard enough for anyone living with one NaNoWriMo maniac for a month, but to live with two, you have to be some kind of saint.

Reversing lights on: backing out of the NaNoWriMo space

The last three days have taught me ten things:

  1. I am not superhuman.
  2. I do not have the stamina of twenty years ago.
  3. My family needs me.
  4. Writing haiku calms me; writing novels under pressure is too stressful.
  5. The shortest time I’ve managed so far for writing a novel is three months, meaning anything I turned out in one month would be substandard, which would bother me as I’m a perfectionist.
  6. Writing under stress gives me indigestion and insomnia.
  7. I am not Hermione Granger, so cannot cast a spell for being in two places at once (i.e. cooking the evening meal while trying to reach my daily word-count on the computer).
  8. I love writing fantasy novels and am not committed to the idea of changing direction.
  9. I’ve already written four perfectly reasonable novels, but am being a coward about sending them off and risking rejection.
  10. I am not too proud to admit defeat.

So, thank you, all my dear blogging friends who’ve wished me all the best, and, hopefully, you’re not too disappointed in my decision. The plus side of this is that, today, adollyciousirony will have a haiku contribution from me for this week  

And to close, would anyone be interested in joining me on a gentler novel-writing quest at the beginning of 2013, which could be called  Novel Writing Winter (NWW)? This would involve penning the first draft of a novel between January 1st and March 20th, giving everyone plenty of time to plan and research in advance.  I’ll post something about this again after Christmas.

NaNoWriMo #1

Oh dear, what have I just done? Yes, I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month, albeit a day late. I did start writing the novel yesterday, but was too much of a coward to officially commit myself to a self-imposed boot camp for 30 days, without writing a chapter first.

My procrastination knew no bounds throughout October, as I fiddled about with my children’s fantasy novel–pick, pick, pick, edit, edit, edit. I am now two-thirds of the way through preparing three sample chapters to send to a publisher in the US, and will continue getting together my submission package alongside working on the new novel.

In October, also. I toyed with the idea of publishing my Sword and Sorcery Fantasy novel on Kindle, but, having set up a blog and a Twitter account under a pen name and done some of the necessary converting of the novel to a suitable format, I changed my mind–mostly because of the shameless self-promotion practised by Kindle authors on Twitter. To me, it is a form of harassment for authors to bombard you daily with directives to go to Amazon and buy their ebooks, which they inform you are “fantastic”, “brilliant”, and “unputtable-down”. This is not for me, as I’d rather someone else said that about my work, rather than I had to brag. Also, I’m an author first and a salesperson second, which means I would happily involve myself in publicity suggested by an agent or publisher, but never so much that it stopped me having time to write.

I’m really quite excited about participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time, as it is a major opportunity for me to let the stops out and try writing in a completely different genre from usual. There was a bit of a toss-up between two novels–one being literary slipstream and the other a mix of satire, dark humour, and parody. In the end, I chose the latter, as November is usually a month when I seldom laugh and the other novel would have been too intense and serious for this time of year.

If I’m a little preoccupied this month, my dear blogging friends, please bear with me. I will try to keep posting, as well as dipping in and out of your blogs on days when I’ve managed to achieve a respectable word count towards my 50,000 goal.

Wish me luck.

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