Tuesday 25 November 2014

I want to write, and I want it right now!

One Day... There will be an actual book with my name on it as the author. Even if I have to make my own printer spit it out.

Seriously. If I could have little edible books made of all my translations, I'd have a nice silver platter with at least 65 different cupcakes on it. No kidding. And I'm incredibly proud of that achievement, too.

And yet, I want more. I've always wanted to write. Ever since I was a little kid, borrowing names from my parents' friends to write and draw a little story. I still want to write, and now that I've crowbarred that door open a bit more, the ideas are flooding in. I do write those down, but there just isn't enough time in the day to do more than that.

I know that most published authors, when asked for writing advice, say that there is no such thing as 'I have no time'. Then you make time, they'll say. It's true, to a large extent. But sometimes you really just don't have time. Where do you think the more than 65 translations come from? Add to that a small kid and a baby, and it's a miracle I manage to get the laundry done on time every week. No kidding.

That's probably my one thing for 2015. If I had to make New Year's Resolutions, it would be: to write. You see, publishers usually only accept entire manuscripts, or a large chunk of one. Which means, the book has to have been written by then. (That's ignoring the fact that your manuscript then ends up on a pile, collecting dust with many many others, hoping it might stand out and be noticed. Which is what they are all hoping for. One big pile of hopefulness.)

But there's a vicious circle lurking. I must find time or make time to write an entire book, which you could call an investment of time. Meaning: it's a great job but it doesn't pay a dime, unless you actually do get discovered amid the Pile of Hopefulness, and that can easily be months (or years) later. Add to that not really having any time to spare, for using what time I have to be with my children and to translate books (which does pay something, at least), and all your enthusiasm resembles that of a dog chasing his tail.

All that said and done, I will write something substantial again, soon. I will discover my Show, Don't Tell button somewhere and get into Tha Zone and have something worthy of consideration. There are plenty of ideas to elaborate on, after all. Now to find some time... at some point.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

More show, less tell, even less time

Not too long ago I decided to give writing - or submitting, to be more precise - another shot. I had a few snippets and fragments to revisit, a short story that could do with another edit and I saw this picture of an Asda cake that nearly hurt my teeth just looking at it, and I decided to write a short story to accompany it, all for a contest.

That contest is still open (you can still vote for both, but since they're Dutch I'm not sure if you can read either of them very well), and I did get one other story of mine published in an online literary magazine, so all in all it was already worth it.

But wouldn't you know, the one story out of all of these that I really had high hopes for is the one that came back from a publisher with some lovely feedback... but still a 'no'. I should show more and tell less. Ah, Nemesis, thou art back. I've put so much feeling into the story, made it work in a good progression from beginning to end, with a dash of pathos and a helping of humour, but it's too telly, and not showy enough. Well, I'll just have to get back to that whenever I can find some time.

Thing is, I really do appreciate the feedback. I can work with that. The rest of the e-mail was pretty positive, too. Just that the publisher wasn't really looking for chicklit (which that story happened to be), that sales figures were dropping in that genre and that they planned on publishing even fewer titles next year. Meaning, they can be even more selective about the few that make the cut.

But unlike So Many Other Writers I can't just erase my planning and dedicate what little free time I have to writing. Even when I do sit down and type for a bit, I never know when I'll be able to get back to that story. There's the kiddies, but mainly the deadlines for the translations I'm working on. That I love working on. They come first, however much I love to write and however much I'd love to write. There just isn't enough time in the day, week or even month to do *everything*.

Which simply means that I'm a mommy first and a translator second. That's what I do and what I love doing. It's my job, and I'm pretty good at it, too. Writing is a dream, an ambition, an aspiration. But it'll have to wait. And that's not a pathetic excuse to procrastinate, but a decision that you sometimes have to make.