Wandering back

It’s been almost two years since I wrote on this site. Where have I been? Generally making a mess of things over on the website I use for my pen name K K Ness. I’ve published three books under wee Nessie, and I’m excited about the ones that are coming.

So why am I back here?

I think one of the downsides of having a blog under a pen name is that I struggle to be authentic and show the floundering, disasterous, ‘I’ll never get this book done’ side of me. And I miss being honest about my writing journey.

So here I am. And I brought baggage.

I’ll start with what many folk shared at the start of the year – my goal for 2019. It’s a biggie, and it kinda makes my belly go to liquid…

I will write 1 million words in 2019.

In truth, I kinda decided on this goal only yesterday, so that’s when my countdown started. It means I need to write 2900 words a day. Every day. Which is achieveable for anyone…if you’re not drowning in self doubt (most days, I’m soooooo drowning). But I figure if I continually strive for my 1 million words target, no matter what, I’ll have gotten some BIG things done in 2019.

Oh, and to be clear, that’s 1 million words of fiction. Blogging, plotting and journalling don’t count. But redrafting does, because I have a habit of basically throwing out the first draft and starting over. It might be why I hate first drafts, because I bleed all over the page and then toss it in the bin. An 80K book actually takes me 160K words to write. It’s my process, I suppose.

Anyway, I’ll give regular updates on how the goal is progressing, along with what’s going on in my writerly life. It’ll be messy because, even though I’ve published a few books, I still don’t know what I’m doing.

Kel

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Trolls in the dungeon

Well, I promised to share all the bumps and lumps of this writing journey, and here’s one that makes me squirm. I recently went on an author community forum and asked how a bookseller can sell a ‘used’ paperback version of my book when I hadn’t sold any at the time. I thought I’d done my research, but simply didn’t know that ‘used’ in the publishing world doesn’t mean ‘used’ like in the real world.

The reply I got on the forum was not what I expected.

I was railed at for not researching, for not wanting my book to be sold by a bookseller, and for demanding ‘permission’ for others to sell my book. And I was told not to hold my breath because the paperback wouldn’t sell anyway.

I’m not writing this to garner sympathy. The post upset me and the level of bile spewed across the screen seemed unwarranted, but my experience is also something that new authors may go through when they dip their toes in the forum world.

My advice is to stay strong, keep asking questions and keep learning.

And when you eventually reach the lofty heights of authorly knowledge and experience, be better than the trolls who told you that you’d never make it.

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Hello Stranger

I haven’t here for a lifetime, but it hasn’t been because of a lack of activity.  Last month, I published my first book under a pen name. To say it’s been a rollercoaster of terror and awesomeness is a wee bit of an understatement. I’ve learnt a lot (but not nearly enough) and can already see some of the mistakes I’ve made as a newbie indie author.

My aim now is to share with everyone the mistakes and missteps I’ve made, and (hopefully) the knowledge I’ve gained as I fumble my way towards long term indie author success.

Bear with me. It’s gonna be bumpy.

Inspiring Quotes from Women Writers

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I met a rather lovely guy in a sociology class today, who asked me what I did when I wasn’t studying. When I told him I was a novel writer, he said, ‘Romance?’ When I politely told him I wrote fantasy, he replied, ‘Oh, magical romance.’

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is nothing harmful about a woman writing romance. Some of my favourite books are firmly seated in that genre, written by women whose ability to create story and structure leaves me in awe.  What I resent is the assumption that being a woman and a writer automatically means I write romance to the exclusion or subversion of any other genre.

Feeling a bit glum at having to discuss women’s ability to write damn good fiction no matter the genre, I used a study break to look up inspiring quotes by female writers. Naturally, there’s a lot, so I’ll be posting a few every week. This is to remind myself and others that female authors are important and valuable contributors in the writing industry, and do not deserve to be pigeonholed because of gender. Enjoy.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Jane Goodall

“Tell almost the whole story.” Anne Sexton

“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.” Rainbow Rowell

“If you want to cry, you’re not going to like my books.” Janet Evanovich

“I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.” Jane Austen

“Write what should not be forgotten.” Isabel Allende

Female Stereotypes

I don’t know if I’ve made some poor choices lately or if it’s a reflection of ongoing gender stereotyping, but the female characters in the fantasy books I’ve been reading have played into some pretty shitty tropes: the meek and caring girl, the hapless love-driven schemer, the whore with a heart of gold, and the woman requiring rape in order to ‘grow’.

Where is the strong, independent female character whose self-worth and growth is not predicated on a dominant, masculine force?

I’m not saying that a female character can’t look for love or enjoy sexual freedom (hell, yes!), but why does it have to be her most defining contribution to the story? And let’s not even go there on the whole rape trope.

Seriously. What the hell, people.

And, sorry, making a female character a mercenary, sword fighter or ship’s captain doesn’t automatically make them ‘strong’ women. Strong characters aren’t defined by their physicality. It’s the inherent core of their being—their personality, flaws, foibles and decisions—that defines the character.

By plonking women into traditionally male positions which require physical strength, the writer can skip over any real sort of character development and still wave their hands around, saying, ‘See? Strong woman character over here!’ But what the writer is really saying is that these female characters are ‘strong’ despite their gender. They act like men. They fight like men. They’re essentially men with shapely breasts.

This type of writing is lazy, divisive and patronising. And I’m done reading it.

Come on, writers, we can do better than this.

Rant over.