Monthly Archives: May 2011

Thoughts from an expectant father

Tomorrow, Winter’s Shadow will be available in bookstores. After months of drafts, late nights, a staggering amount of caffeine, and more than one or two moments of self doubt, the finishing line is in sight. Or is it the starting line? Releasing a book isn’t like opening a movie. The commercial success of the property won’t be evaluated on the opening weekend’s sales. This is a marathon not a sprint. Or so I keep telling myself, while entertaining fantasies of selling out my entire print run in the first week.

Death, is number two…

Jerry Seinfeld does this great bit about public speaking. It begins with him listing statistics gathered from a cross section of people on what scares them. Public speaking, it turns out, is number one, death is number two. Death is number two! He finishes the bit by concluding that this means most people at a funeral would prefer to be in the coffin than giving the eulogy.

Getting an agent – Part 2

For those of you who haven’t twigged that this is the second part of a two part blog (the headline’s a pretty big giveaway), please click here to read the first instalment. Or you can just read the below paragraph, which summarises it nicely.

Three quarters of the way through writing Winter’s Shadow I decided to contact some literary agents to see if there was any interest in my book. Two reacted positively, asking me to send the first fifty pages for review. I happily did this, figuring I wouldn’t hear back from the agents for at least a couple of months. This would give me ample time to finish the book and polish it into shape.

I was wrong.

Getting an agent – Part 1

Okay, Welcome Reader, lets get down to business. I know you’ve only been indulging me these past months, dutifully clicking on my posts, while all the time thinking in the back of your mind – when is he going to write something useful? Like how to get an agent. This is, after all, a major concern of the aspiring writer – maybe even THE major concern once the first draft is completed.

Getting an agent – Part 1

Okay, Welcome Reader, lets get down to business. I know you’ve only been indulging me these past months, dutifully clicking on my posts, while all the time thinking in the back of your mind – when is he going to write something useful? Like how to get an agent. This is, after all, a major concern of the aspiring writer – maybe even THE major concern once the first draft is completed.

Stage fright

Hi all,

Just a quick post to announce I will be speaking on a panel, with Anita Heiss and Valerie Khoo, tomorrow night (Tues 24th of May) on the topic of  ‘Does everyone have a book in them? And how can they get it out?’ It should be fun…well, fun for the audience – terrifying for me. Hosted at The Ivy on George St, the discussion should kick off around 6:30. If you’re in the area and interested in hearing me speak, all you need to do is RSVP your name to xchange@merivale.com before 3pm on Tuesday.

More details can be found here:

Thanks to the lovely Emma Gardiner-Deans for the opportunity.

M. J.

The tyranny of exposition

Right, I know in the previous blog I promised I’d be discussing my path to publication in more detail. Consider, this a minor digression; a fun little pit stop along the way to our eventual destination. On Friday (or Monday depending on my work load) I’ll be posting about snagging a literary agent (all the aspiring writer’s ears just pricked up) but for now I’d like to discuss exposition.

Meeting my book for the first time

My book arrived on Friday.

That sentence seems almost too small to convey the momentousness of such an occasion, hence I’ve left it up there on a line all by itself. Looks pretty, doesn’t it? I could stare at it all day. Not because I’m egotistical (though I am) but because I need to remind myself that this is really happening. Is there really a box sitting at home with twelve advance copies of my novel buried beneath a few inches of foam packaging chips? I had my girlfriend take a picture just in case I was hallucinating.

The price of good writing is eternal vigilance

I don’t feel very confident discussing the actual mechanics of writing. Partly because I don’t think I have enough experience to do so, and partly because the process is largely instinctual. Writing is something like a magic trick and I’m afraid if I start pulling my work apart like that greedy king who cut open the golden-egg laying goose, I might end up with blood on my hands and little else. This is a silly, somewhat superstitious fear but when your job is make-believe it’s hard not be a little silly and superstitious.

The importance of routine

Today, I want to discuss the importance of routine in your writing schedule. When I was writing Winter’s Shadow I was lucky enough to be (voluntarily) unemployed. Without knowing it I had formed a routine: every morning I would wake up, walk my girlfriend to work, come home, make breakfast, watch The Simpsons, have a shower, make some coffee and then and only then sit down at my desk to start writing. If I tried to vary this routine or skip a step I found it that much harder to get into the groove. Weekends especially were tough as my carefully ordered existence was thrown right out the window (I blame my girlfriend and her crazy urge to actually leave the house and you know? Do things). Even if I had free time on my hands it was incredibly hard to work because I couldn’t indulge all my peculiar little rituals beforehand. They had become intrinsic to my writing. It’s almost as though there were a series of mental barriers erected around the creative part of my brain and these rituals were my method of getting past the barriers.