Writing – the (not so) lovely endeavour

by Anna Jones Buttimore

The lot of a writer is one of long hours hunched over a keyboard in a dimly lit room with nothing but a cat for company. Shut away from the real world we pull faces and make hand gestures as our characters do, mutter dialogue to ourselves, and live in a strange environment peopled entirely by creatures of our own imagination. Alone we face the frustrations of edit after edit, and the crushing disappointment of rejection after rejection of our precious offspring. It’s little wonder that many of us seem to be a little eccentric, if not downright mad.

As least, that’s how it used to be. These days writing is no longer the lonely and solitary profession.

  • Today Hellen is coming to my house to work on her novel. She’s coming partly because I have a spare desk and she won’t be tempted to do housework in my house (although I’ve told her she’d be welcome to), but also for the company. And once in a while she can ask me, “What’s that word that means..?” or “How would you describe the smell of..?” Hellen and I have written a book together, and writing in the company of others is a lot of fun.
  • Years ago when my first novel was printed my editor put me in touch with a fellow author I admired, Kerry Blair, and she in turn “virtually” introduced me to several other authors, most of whom I have now met in person. For many years we emailed each other frequently with messages of support and encouragement. We congratulated each other on books accepted and published and commiserated on rejections. We cooed over baby photos and offered support in times of illness and despair. Most of all, though, we shared the experience of writing, its rewards and its difficulties, and we were there for each other. We email less frequently than we once did, but we do now share a blog.
  • Hardly a day goes by without me receiving an invitation via Facebook to a book launch party; probably because around half my Facebook friends are writers. I also belong to many writers groups on Facebook where I find discussions on editing, naming characters and every and any aspect of this strange craft of ours.
  • I belong to two writers’ groups (Writebulb and Rayleigh WINOS) and thus two Saturdays a month are spent writing flash fiction, undertaking challenges and setting goals with other writers. It’s a really wonderful opportunity. One Writebulb member pointed out “We learn far more in two hours than we could at any creative writing class”.
  • Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month – November) sees groups of writers meeting together in libraries for “sprints” on their laptops, badges popping up all over Facebook, and a real sense of solidarity as thousands of writers struggle to write 50,000 words in just one month. I’ve only done it once, and I failed due to poor planning (got 20,000 words in and realised I had no idea where the book was going and needed to do some major research) but I’m going to try again in this year.

Writing may once have meant working in glorious solitude, but it doesn’t have to any more. We authors can support and encourage one another, get together and share our experiences and goals, either online or in person. Even if, at the end of the day, we like to retreat to our dimly-lit attic room with our laptops to immerse ourselves once more in the worlds we create.

 

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About the author

by James Batchelor

While taking a brief and mildly egotistical browse through Amazon, I noticed that my name under the listing for my writing group’s anthology linked to some other James Batchelor that writes books.

Now obviously my name’s not unique enough for me to expect to be the only James Batchelor with published fiction – particularly not in a world where absolutely anyone can release an e-book. But I’ll be damned if I’m letting this other Batchelor take credit for my work (to be fair, he may not want a children’s anthology associated with his adult historical fiction series).

So, I’ve just set up my own Amazon author page. All you have to do is go to AuthorCentral.amazon.co.uk and follow the various steps, including associating any books you’ve already published with your account. If you already have an Amazon account for shopping (and nowadays who doesn’t?), you can sign up with that, meaning you don’t have to worry about remembering yet another username and password.

It’s dead easy – suspiciously easy, in fact. I couldn’t help but wonder if I could just take credit for anyone’s books just by claiming I have the same name (why, yes, I’m almost Tom Clancy. How did you know, Amazon?). I’ve now correctly attributed the anthology to me, added a brief biography and a photo, and now I have a place to showcase all my published fiction to my adoring fans. Whenever I acquire them, of course.

It may seem a trivial, almost presumptuous step to do, but if I’m going to get books published, I should ensure there’s no one waiting in the wings to take credit. At the very least, there will be two more Writebulb anthologies on my page by this time next year and, who knows, maybe an e-book of my own.

Obviously, I’ll need to come up with a better headshot, write a more professional biography and, y’know, publish some work, but it’s hopefully laying a foundation.

It’s also a source of motivation. As with writing, if you’ve got a blank page, it’s impossible to resist filling it.