Writing books won’t make you rich….Read More
Every writer faces barriers along their way: not having enough time: not having the right space for writing: not receiving support from those around you. However, for many, internal barriers are the biggest blocker. It’s our internal dialogue that often holds us back. Spaghetti Head is all about internal dialogue and how to try to turn it into a positive influence in your life.
Helen Cross, tutor for a Getting Started workshop I'm co-hosting in September, is also very aware of the internal battle that many writers face, and she gives this advice: ‘Personal confidence is a big barrier for many writers: why on earth would anyone be interested in your thoughts or opinions even if you did manage to craft them into a work of fiction? Why would anyone care about someone you have made up, within a sequence of events you have invented, when there is so much real drama in the world? There are no easy answers to this and the solution comes with writing, writing, writing. As you fall under the spell of your own fictional world and become deeply intrigued by your characters and their problems, your book becomes a story that just has to be told and you begin to enjoy writing it. As your ideas are tested on the page, as you wrestle with the truth and pin it down, you grow in confidence about your place in the world. You start to wonder if someone else might also enjoy reading your writing. Then you realise not everyone has to like it, just some people.’
Helen has written four novels, many short stories, radio dramas and screenplays, so her advice to just write, write and then write some more definitely works. Write your way through the fear is the message that I am taking from her words above. She has more wise words on her website also: https://www.helencross.net
Personally, it took years before I shared Spaghetti Head’s manuscript with anyone – and when I did finally hand it over I felt sick with nerves. Why? I was afraid of being told that it was grammatically awful and the story was rubbish – in short, that I was no good. But as I waited for my reader’s feedback I started to change my thinking to ‘hang on a minute – I’ve just handed out the second draft of my novel – which I wrote, all by myself. So stuff what they think – I’m flipping brilliant for having got that far!
When the feedback arrived, it was very constructive and motivated me to continue re-writing. I had broken through that initial fear barrier. Three years later and I’ve just self-published.
How do I feel now with all my friends and family being able to access it? I feel proud that I have achieved something that so many people would love to do. How many times have you heard people say they’d love to write a book? Well I wrote one! And that’s what over-rides my fear button. As Dr Susan Jeffers says, ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway.’
The first writing workshop that I'm co-hosting in September, is focussing on how to Get Started on that book you’ve always wanted to write. I started mine so long ago that I’ve almost forgotten how I did it!
Thankfully we have Helen Cross leading us: who has been through the ‘starting’ process on many occasions. And although I’m sure that everyone’s experience will be different, a common thread running through is the need to be armed with some basics to make that first step seem less daunting, and to help keep us focussed. Helen will be giving us techniques and exercises to achieve exactly that. We recently asked Helen what advice and tips she would give to people who are looking to start writing a book:
‘Start by putting your thoughts, memories, ideas, anecdotes into words. Writing prose fiction is different to writing a diary or a letter, you are creating an imaginative landscape, internally and externally, and you should let your writing style rise to the challenge. Read your paragraphs aloud and consider what sounds best. As you get into a habit of doing this regularly, you will begin to identify your own writer's voice, a style of expression that is uniquely, and engagingly, you.
Then begin paying attention to characters - noticing and noting details about any forming in your mind. Try to write with concrete nouns rather than abstract nouns – place an emphasis on things rather than feelings. Tell me what a character wears and says but also how they smell and sound. A great help to you will be learning to eavesdrop, noting down snippets of revealing, funny or astonishing conversations. Travelling on public transport is good for this. When you have characters who interest you, begin to build their world: think what is happening within them as well as without. What is their problem and what could happen in a story as they start to solve that problem?'
Helen’s top-tip is to carry a notebook so that you can write things whenever they spring into mind – often those initial raw thoughts are the purest.
In my experience, I have found there are times when I am unable to jot ideas down, so instead I use my voice recording facility on my iphone, because, did you know – our short-term memory only retains information for three minutes. Three minutes! That's nearly as bad as the memory of a gold-fish - no wonder I’ve forgotten so many excellent one-liners!
Two months ago I could sit infront of my laptop in the evening, browsing properties in SW France and Somerset: dreaming. Now, however, my evenings are a whirl of tweeting, scheduling posts on Hootsuite, trying to understand how to use LinkedIn, noting down my passwords for gmail, mailchimp, website, godaddy, createspace, wordpress, onedrive and so on. I'm finding everything that needs reading, researching, joining or liking overwhelming. The crazy-looking Emu in the photo looks how I feel. But I mustn't complain, because apparently, such is the life of a writer.
Tonight, however, I'm taking the time to only write this blog and then celebrate. Why? Well, Spaghetti Head has been available as a kindle eBook for the last 6 weeks. Today it became available as a PAPERBACK!! It feels like a massively monumental moment: a story that I have held very close to my heart has jumped through it's final hoop.
Tomorrow evening I'll be back on my lap-top trying to figure out how to let people know that it's out there, waiting to be discovered.
Until then, cheers!
“Nobody has ever refused the Award, and given the importance
of the task ahead as a race, you need to know we may have to
review your status if you are not pregnant by your thirty-seventh
birthday in eighteen months’ time.”
Journalist Nell Greene is intelligent, beautiful and quirky – but a failure at relationships, thanks to her untrusting and disruptive inner voice. She has received The Award, and refusing to help repopulate the earth can seriously complicate your life: it is time for Nell to change.
In a world where greed, war, and an environmental disaster have massively reduced the population, survivors have introduced a new system of governance - led by women but delivered by robots, and designed to promote peace and remove opportunities for abuse of power. Or at least that was the intention…
Will Nell overcome the challenges of life in a post-apocalyptic world to find happiness, or will the System win?
Spaghetti Head is Sarah Tyley's debut novel that addresses issues of modern womanhood, environmental devastation and the impact of technological advances on our freedom, relationships and mental health.
Spaghetti Head will be available as an ebook on Amazon from 20 March 2018; and as a paperback via Amazon and www.sarahtyley.co.uk from June 2018.
-- ends --
About Sarah Tyley
Sarah Tyley grew up on a dairy farm in Somerset, England, where she developed an unwavering love for cows. After various adventures around the world as a young adult, she went on to study sustainable agriculture and worked for nine years in overseas agricultural economics. These days she cares for gardens and plays tennis in South West France.
Spaghetti Head is her first novel – inspired in part by the female peanut farmers in Mali whom she worked with for three years, and who encouraged her to believe that maybe, one day, women will govern the planet.
For more information and review copies:
Please contact Becky Slack at Slack Communications on firstname.lastname@example.org or on +44 (0)7854221568
I looked out of so many bus, train and car windows during my travelling years, getting all my inspiration for poetry and stories. There were sights, colours, smells and feelings that I'd never experienced before. Many of my poems will appear in blogs on here. They all told a story about where I was and what I was seeing - words flowed effortlessly out of me onto the page.
But after I'd hung up my skin-coloured money belt and settled a while, life started to become very 'normal', and poetry became harder to write.
Oh poetry, poetry, where have you gone?
You've abandoned me, deserted, moved on.
Two lines and it's finished,
my inspiration diminished,
words once flowing, have now flowed on along.
I’m disciplined, so forming a writing routine was easy. I’m also self-employed, so I can keep at least one day a week free to write. I write either in my office, surrounded by photos, pendulums, pictures and post-its, or in my caravan out in the garden – depending on the weather! My cat is never far from me, and neither is a cup of coffee.
I sit down to start writing at around 10am, trying not to get side-tracked by social media. I’ll write solidly until lunch, and then do another hour before going out for a walk. It does me good to clear my head – and I’m never more inspired than when I’m sweating out in the fresh air!
Once I have an idea, I just need to get it out, so I could probably write 3,000 to 5,000 words in a day. Once I have the initial idea onto screen, I then start the process of editing. In a previous life as an overseas development worker, I wrote many many reports, and so developed a logical approach to managing a lot of words. When I received feedback on Spaghetti Head, from my first wave of readers, I felt overwhelmed by having to figure out how to make changes to 85,000 words without losing track. I sat down in front of the manuscript and stared at it, and stared at it, until I figured out the most logical approach.
I never write at weekends.
I find writing therapeutic – so I’m never happier than when I’m tapping away on my laptop.
How did I know I was a writer?
That’s an interesting question, and one I thought I would never be answering on a blog.
I have never (until recently) thought of myself as a writer, even though I have written for most of my life. I have kept a diary every year since I was eleven, and written poetry since I was seventeen. None of which I shared, none of which I put forward for publishing - so I didn't think I was a writer. But then, a few years ago, I was asking myself what I really love doing, and the one thing I kept coming back to was 'writing'. As I said: I have always written. So, that must make me a writer, yes?
In 2006, I wrote 90,000 words in 30 days as part of Nanowrimo, and there I had my first draft of Spaghetti Head. It was at that moment I realised there was a huge leap I needed to take - from writer to author. I can be a writer and nobody will ever read it. If I'm an author, the whole point is for someone else to read it. To me, that was a very scary prospect. But the story needed to be written.
Am I a good writer, or a bad writer? I'm just a writer - it's what I love to do. Good or bad. Being an author is a totally different thing - that takes hour and hours, years even, of re-writing, editing, formatting, perfecting the same piece of writing.
I do not judge myself as a writer, as I do as an author. I am a writer when I am scribbling how I feel about something in my diary. I am a writer when something inspires me to make up a poem. Freeing my emotions through my pen is always what has kept me sane, so I will always be a writer.
Bumble - my mini, Tracey and I, set off on our big french adventure, with a tape player/radio on the dashboard: a tent, which, we discovered at 11pm one evening in the middle of nowhere, had no pegs: a bottle of cider, and not a lot else. We sang Lilac Wine by Elkie Brooks into the antenna of the radio, and braved narrow mountain passes that terrified both of us.
We were nineteen, it was our first adventure together, and it was when my mind started to really thrive on the inflow of sights, sounds and smells. Somehow I needed to capture all of it - and so my usual diary-writing routine moved up a gear, and I added poetry into the mix. We started our trip grape-picking in the Loire, and this is a poem I wrote whilst there:
Little green ones,
little red ones.
Big green ones,
big red ones.
Mouldy green ones,
mouldy red ones,
all for me to pick
and cut my bloody finger
and get bloody back ache
and bloody dirty hands.
But, oh, how I love you, Grapes.