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The Value of Keeping Everything You Write

March 12th, 2012

All tutors tell their students to put work away for a while, in order to read it again with fresh eyes before submitting or, if necessary, rewriting. Usually the advice is to leave the writing for a couple of weeks – and very good advice it is too! However, I bet I hold the record for putting work to one side before making a submission.

Way back in 2002 I was also a Writers Bureau student. Assignment 13/F5 meant I had to come up with an idea for a novel. At that time in my writing career I had no more intention of writing a book than I had of flying to the moon. However, I was nothing if not diligent and, purely because the assignment demanded it, duly set about writing a synopsis for a book that I would like to read. Note the difference – a book I’d like to read, not one I ever intended to write.

And there the story would have ended, but a future assignment asked for a chapter by chapter development. I forced myself to sit down and flesh out the synopsis, following the advice given in the course material, and a strange thing happened – planning the chapters got me interested in the storyline to such an extent I decided to write the book.

BadMoonRising_KINDLEMy enthusiasm lasted for three chapters! Short stories, articles and non-fiction books were easier to write and were bringing me success, so Bad Moon Rising languished on my computer for the next four years. But in 2006 an online peer review site opened and I thought I’d put those opening chapters up on YouWriteOn.com to see if they were worth dragging out into the light once more. Taking the feedback of other writers into account, I rewrote the first three chapters several times and they eventually made the Best Sellers chart – but I still only had three chapters of the novel. Daunted by the prospect of finishing it, I put the idea on hold once again.

In 2007 I entered the same chapters into the Yeovil Prize and they were given a Commended award. You’d think by now I’d have realised the book was worth finishing – but no, back into obscurity the chapters went.

Just over year ago the novel finally demanded that I finish it, so I set myself the task of writing a thousand words a day. I thought if I broke it down into manageable chunks it would seem less daunting. And so it proved. Ten years after dreaming up the idea for a Writers Bureau assignment the novel was finally written.

I then followed the advice I give to my own students and put it away for a few weeks – only this time I knew I’d be going back to it. After many more rewrites than I care to remember, I felt Bad Moon Rising was good enough to submit to a publisher – it was accepted and will be launched on Friday 9 March under my pen name of Frances di Plino.

The moral of this blog post? It’s two-fold:

• Never delete any of your work, even if you believe it’s something you’ll never want to work on again.

• Always complete every question of every assignment – it could be the part you don’t want to do that later brings you your greatest success.

Lorraine Mace is humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a deputy editor of Words with JAM. She writes fiction for the women’s magazine market, features and photo-features for monthly glossy magazines and is a writing competition judge for Writers’ Forum.

She is a fiction and non-fiction tutor for the Writers Bureau, and is the author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book. She is also co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s ABC Checklist (Accent Press).

Writing as Frances di Plino gives her the opportunity to allow the dark side of her personality to surface and take control.

Bad Moon Rising is published by Crooked {Cat} Publishing.

Reviews: Jo Reed: http://joreed.co.uk/blog/?p=60) and Judging Covers Book Reviews: http://judgingcovers.co.uk/reviews/bad-moon-rising



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