I Think This is My Most Ambitious Challenge Yet

Before I tell you all about it, I just want to let you know that I’m visiting Crystal today. If you can spot the lie over there, you stand a chance to win a copy of The Vanished Knight. 

So. I might have mentioned this before, but I’m a firm believer in challenging myself in order to become a better writer.

That’s why I set such a huge amount of writing goals, and why such a huge goal is at to top of the blog.

Today… I felt inspired to take on a whole bevy of challenges by deciding to take on a book I’ve been toying with since last year.

I put it off because:

1) It’s not a genre I usually write. This one’s a mystery.
2) It probably won’t sell anywhere but in my native country, in my native language (Afrikaans).
3) #2 means that my scope of royalty making would be pretty small, right? Right.

But. Today, my Afrikaans writer gran mentioned that she’s thinking about entering this writing competition. The winners stand a chance to win anything from $4000 to $20,000 AND a contract with the biggest publishing company in South Africa. AND! The books have to be Afrikaans.

That equals some serious brownie points in any industry.

Needless to say, I’m going for it. This isn’t about the money, but hey, it does make up for any lack of royalties I might get. And the book stands a chance of getting published.

See, even if I don’t win, the publishing house takes first option on all entrants. In my mind, that equates to a full manuscript submission (right off the bat) to the Afrikaans equivalent of a Big 6 publisher.

I can’t miss it. Just can’t.

The hitch?

Oh there are multiple ones:

1) It’s in a genre I haven’t ever tried to write.
2) It’s set in a time that, if I get anything wrong, it’ll piss a lot of people off.
3) I have a bit more than seven months to research, write and edit the whole thing.
4) Which means that if I’m to stand a chance, I need to significantly deviate from my usual method. I.E. One draft. No hand writing. Editing without CPs (except my gran, who’s awesome (seriously, I have no idea where to find other Afrikaans speaking CPs)). Planning said rough draft. *shudders*
5) I’m also preparing two other books for submission, while editing a third for publication.
6) And. The guest house refurbishment needs to continue.

Still, I’m going for it.

Because I’m brave.

Because I’m unhinged (or will be by September).

Because if I don’t take this chance, I’ll never be able to take myself seriously as a professional writer.

Watch this space.


Getting out of my comfort zone

You know, nothing has taught me so much about me as a writer as signing that publishing contract.

I know, weird, eh?

I mean, I’m a writer pure and simple, so publishing shouldn’t really have an influence on me being one. Yet it does, I think in a good way.

See, when I signed the contract, I created an obligation towards my publishing house, which means that the book I promised  them has to be a priority for me in ways none of my other books are.

Which means that if they need that book to be revised during NaNo, that book has to be revised. No buts, ifs, or whys. And that’s where I’m learning now.

Before, I could say that I couldn’t combine drafting with editing, because it takes time for my mind to switch gears. True as it is, I couldn’t just say that in November. I had to get some drafting done because I’m trying to create a “production line” of sorts, and I don’t think I’ll get another chance to draft before February/March next year. December’s for editing Birds vs. Bastards. 

So that made complete sense until my editor let me know that I needed to get my book in by end November. With saying no and not drafting both not being options, I said yes and found a way to make it work.

Turns out that once you’re writing fit (as I am nowadays), switching gears really isn’t that hard. So I did those revisions in about two weeks and got right back to drafting, and I even won NaNo.

If I hadn’t had the book under contract, I would never even have tried to work like that. To me, thou shalt not edit and draft at the same time was one big rule to my writing method. Being under contract pushed me beyond my self-imposed comfort zone, into a place where I can be even more efficient as a writer.

Which is great really, since it makes my five year goal that much more achievable.

So today I  want to say: Don’t get stuck in a comfort zone. Find ways to push yourself gently, but firmly into places where you can grow as a writer. Even if it means writing something you’d never thought you’d write. Or changing up when or how you write. Sometimes those changes might be exactly what you need to get to the next level.

Have you pushed yourself as a writer lately? What did you do and how did it turn out?