Writing, Writing Group and My Name in Print

Obviously we’ll start with the most exciting – my name in print. Now, when I say my name in print, I mean it literally: ‘Helen Jackson’ not something I’ve written. Which would be awesome, but not yet (like how I say yet!? That’s optimism for you!).

A few months ago I got offered the opportunity to read a draft of a soon to be published novel. The author wanted comments on it. Of course I jumped at the chance because I’d loved her first novel and had a feeling I was going to love everything else written by her.

I was shockingly honest. Telling her what I did like and what I didn’t like. I’ve never done anything like that and the idea of doing it scared me immensely. How could I, a writer, and reader, but with no other credentials than that, give advice to A PUBLISHED AUTHOR? Well, somehow I did (thank god I liked it eh!) and she was very grateful.

How grateful? Well… if you turn to the acknowledgements page of Keris Stainton’s new novel ‘Jessie ♥ NYC’ at the 3rd paragraph down you’ll read ‘… Helen Jackson… for reading an early draft and giving fabulous feedback’ WOOP! How exciting is that. A properly published book, carrying MY NAME! That is the most exciting thing that’s happened to me this week… maybe this month (year?)! WOOP!

As I’m mentioning it, I really should recommend the book (and not just cause it’s got MY NAME in it). It’s a brilliant novel, I fell in love with Jessie and Finn is great, and the story is wicked, and you know, it’s set in my favourite city in the world! I’m now having an internal argument with myself about reading it. One half of me thinks I should stop reading what I’m on now to read this (the finished version) the other half is saying I can wait a couple of days. I don’t know which will win.

Moving on.

This morning, I saved all the parts of ‘Holiday’ I have to a memory stick to take to work. I was planning on going to my writing group tonight, but hadn’t decided what to read yet (I knew it had to be from Holiday) so thought I’d decide after work, before I left for the group (there’s not time to go home first). When I got to work, I realised I had left the memory stick at home. I know, I hear that – doh!

Luckily when I was having a writing spurt last year (or the year before? I can’t remember) I used to email bits and pieces to myself. So I found some. And among that ‘some’ was the perfect part for tonight.

The people at the group enjoyed my piece. I think they’re interested in the story, and seem quite excited about it. I really should go more often, as it makes me want to write more and more. I guess positive feedback does that to you doesn’t it. The negative feedback is great too (too much repetition here etc).

I’m starting to feel more… settled in the group now. After I went last time I wrote a huge long blog about what it was I didn’t like about it vs the little I did like (unfortunately it got ‘lost’ when I tried posting it, so it never saw the light of day) – the negatives totally outweighed the positives. BUT I liked the boost I got from people saying they liked my work, so wanted to go back.

I’m glad I did. I think my main issues with the group have been resolved. Or in part anyway:

I have been a little wary of commenting on other people’s work. I’ve not done this before (ok, so I’ve said in this post I’ve done it before – by via email is so different to face to face). Before now, I’ve not really been sure of what to say, or indeed, how to say it. Practice. I think that’s the only way I’m going to get better at this. Today I was less worried about it than last time. I expect next time I’ll be more confident. I’m getting there.

The genres other people’s writing are totally different to anything I read. This has kind of put me off, I feel like maybe I should belong to a group who have more chick lit/romance writers (any other than me would be a start). But, this could open my horizons to other genres. Already today I found myself really interested in a story that previously I’ve been a little bored by. This could be a positive thing.

The genres other people’s writing are totally different to anything I write. This worried me a lot. Surely I’d want romance writers to comment on my writing? Right? Well, no, not necessarily. I want help with the nuts and bolts of the writing, the grammar etc just as much as the content, so in that respect it doesn’t matter what other people write. Plus, I’m discovering there’s something really satisfying in hearing men who don’t read chick lit laughing at, and being interested in my words!

I know there’s other things that were putting me off the group before. But you know what? I think I’m starting to enjoy it. Enjoying it, and getting something from it – that has to be good!

Very quickly now, cause I’m really tired (which is what happens when your other half decides he can’t sleep at 5am and starts getting up and coming in and out the bedroom! Shouldn’t complain – he brought me breakfast when it was time for me to get up! Result!)

Today, I’ve done some EDITING! Not any old editing. Editing of Holiday. That’s a 1st. I realised earlier I needed to at least tidy up what I was going to read at the group, then when I got into it, I edited the hell out of that passage. Well, maybe not the hell out of it, but made significant changes/adjustments. You know what? I didn’t hate it! Maybe one day I’ll start enjoying editing. We can but hope!

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3 thoughts on “Writing, Writing Group and My Name in Print

  1. It must be an amazing feeling to be in someone’s acknowledgements! They are always the first thing I read when I get a new book! I will definately check this one out.

    I think you are so brave going to a writing group. I am terffied about going to a book club and discussing something I haven’t even written so you must feel very exposed sharing your writing. Glad you are getting a bit more from the group and hope you are having a productive week!

  2. Your name in the acknowledgement of a book is SO cool.!!! I’m impressed that you were able to be so honest. Honest feedback on our work is the only way we can improve it…

    • I too was very impressed that I was so honest. I think this new writing group helped, because people are so honest with me and I know how much it helps, it’s easier to be honest with other people, knowing it will (hopefully) help them too!

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