Saturday, 14 March 2009

Catching Up

I seem to have got behind with everything, including my blog, but in a recent spurt of busyness I'm almost back on track.

On the writing front, not much has been happening, at least not with the stories I intended to write and the novel I intended to get back to working on. I've written an article for the 'Healthcare Counselling and Psychotherapy Journal' which is being 'considered'. I've now got to get on with the 'monthly' newsletter I write for the charity where I work, which didn't appear in February and it looks like the March issue is going to be a March/April one.

On the reading front, (erm, does reading other people's lovely blogs count? Yes, why not?). I've followed with interest the discussion about criticism from Sally Zigmond and Jo Derrick. Yes, criticism may not always be quite what we're wanting to hear about our darling babies, but I agree that we can learn such a lot from honest and constructive criticism. It can be confusing though, with one person seeing things one way and another seeing it quite the opposite. I suppose what we've got to do is try hard to stand back and decide if a particular piece of criticism makes us feel we should do some re-writing taking it into account.

Still on the subject of criticism, I once got an appraisal from a (well-known and highly respected) literary consultancy which did absolutely nothing but praise my writing! I was mad as hell. Why? Because I was not naive enough to think that my 100 pages of writing was so good that there was nothing wrong with it, and I had paid for the critique so that I could work on improving it. I complained to the consultancy and they said in all their years of business they'd had lots of complaints from people who weren't happy about the person doing the critique not seeing the writing as being as good as the writer felt it was. But never before, not once, had anyone ever complained about too much praise for their writing. (Yes, but...). I have since mellowed towards the person who did the critique as it later seemed to prove very helpful in getting me a foot in the door with publishers and persuading them to at least ask for the full manuscript. But I still feel sure that another person would have given me a much more critical critique that could have helped me focus on the (many) areas where there was a lot of room for improvement.

On the public speaking front, I'm still 'getting there'. I was invited to give a talk to The Mind Matters Society, which has been set up at Uni to raise mental health awareness. We went first to see the play 'The Hounding of David Oluwale', the true story about a Nigerian immigrant who spent time in the sixties in High Royds mental institution, where apparently he was treated horrendously. Eventually, as a homeless person, he was hounded to death by two local police officers. After the play we went to a room that Dom, the president of the Society, had hired, and I was Guest Speaker. Who, me? It was probably thanks to my gut-churning, teeth-pulling practising at the speakers club that this went really well. Afterwards we had interesting discussion. At the end of the evening Dom presented me with a big bouquet on behalf of the group. Oooh, wasn't that lovely of them?

On the publishing front, things are moving now. The advance review copies are in the process of being printed. I've been contacting editors of mental health magazines, and a few others, to see who might do a review of my book or give comments that can be used for quotes. I'm putting together a list of those who request a copy, which I'll give to my publisher for them to add to their list and send out. This seems to be going well so far.

As you might have guessed, some of this blog posting is rather self-indulgent as maybe what I'm trying to do is convince myself that I haven't been as lazy of late as what I think (know) I have been. And now I've written a long one to make up for missing postings, so I'll give myself another pat on the back. Time now to get out of my dressing gown and put some clothes on before the rest of the (ahem) afternoon disappears.

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