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Get To Know Me #WritersTag

Fellow author and low-key my inspiration, J.M Williams nominated me to participate in the Writers Tag, started by Lorraine Ambers  and Ari Meghlen (who have a knack for these things I won’t lie). Click on the names to visit their blogs and let’s work to continue both growing the writing community and expanding our circle of writers.

The Writer Tag has the following prerequisites so other bloggers can link back to each other and we can all see how other authors answer the questions. So here we go:

  • Post the Tag and Image on your blog (see above)
  • Thank whoever nominated you and give a link back to their blog.
  • Mention the creators of the award and link back to their blogs.
  • Nominate 6+ deserving bloggers and notify your nominees by commenting on their blog.

I have been trying to keep my personal life out of my “author” life as these feel like two separate entities encompassed in one body – and yet the same person. Not even close to the Trinity but the analogy works haha. Right, so let’s get into it.


Name one novel that inspired you to write.

It was not a book that inspired me to write, but an old writing program called Storybook Weaver by MECC. I was in Grade 2 or 3 when we were taken to the computer lab to “learn” and I was using it craft my own stories. It was also here that I fell in love with computers and decided to study Information Technology (I.T).

As for books, perhaps R.L Stine’s Goosebumps and K.A Applegate’s Animorphs? It could also be a Stephen King novel (Cujo? Carrie? Firestarter?) or Clive Barker’s “Books of Blood” or James Herbert’s “Once” as I progressed to harder horror at the tender age of twelve? It’s very hard to pin down but Storybook Weaver still stays with me always.

What’s your favourite genre to write and read?

Of course it’s horror. Everyone knows this. Although, over time, I have grown to love writing and reading Fantasy and Sci-Fi.

Do you prefer to write stand-alone or series?

I have no real preference. The story dictates where it will all lead and whether there should be a follow up, or leave it as it is. Initially I was a stand-alone writer, then I discovered I could also write short stories and novellas which could be put together into a series. Interestingly enough, I haven’t published a stand-alone novel yet, though I have tons in my drafts haha.

Use 3 words to describe yourself.

Fluctuating. Creative. Fickle.

Reveal your WIP aesthetics or an image that represents your MC or setting.

GIF of Netflix TV series, Scream.

How long did your first MS take to draft?

Wow. No idea. I don’t think I’ve ever completed a MS… oh wait, in 2015 I actually won NaNoWriMo with my African-based fantasy novel Ngwana Wa Lesedi – The Child of Light. I also managed to knocked out the first draft of my upcoming novella Beneath the Wax in about a month.

Who is your author idol?

Have you read my blog? I should rename it to Stephen King Fan Account.wordpress. Haha, although I have idolized Clive Barker, H.G Wells, Frank Herbert, H.P. Lovecraft and a host of other authors.

Share a writing memory that made you determined to carry on.

This is one of my most vivid memories growing up. I was in Grade 9 and instead of using my Biology notebook for, you know, Biology, I used it to write. I remember once in class I was sitting half-way near the back, scribbling furiously away at one of my (sadly now lost) stories and a classmate walked past my desk, saw what I was doing and said,

“You sure love writing huh?”

And just that little acknowledgement pushed me to carry on writing.

It was also the growth of this blog once I started posting my short stories and people actually enjoyed them. That was how I got featured in my first Internationally published anthology Dark Tales, and told me perhaps I’m not such a terrible writer after all.

Tell us something surprising or unique about yourself.

While I was learning the craft of writing, I immensely enjoyed singing and music. I found an old diary from back in the 90’s when I was a tyke, where I re-wrote the classic song La Bamba by Ritchie Valens to be about me. *Cringes with joy

Share the hardest part about being a writer and how you overcame it.

I don’t think I have overcome it, and there are days (sometimes weeks) where it fully and wholly encompasses me. Just the idea of opening my word processor is enough to deter me from writing. And of course it’s the fear and irrational anxiety that I’ve wasted my time as a writer because I am not good enough that is the hardest part of writing for me.

This blog, my friends both locally in South Africa and Internationally, as well as some of my own stories (surprisingly) have been imperative in pulling me out of that funk and getting me to get on with it. I doubt it will ever go away, but I hope it gets better.

What’s your favorite social media and why? Share your link.

I used to be very active on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. They aren’t my favourite but they are useful. I even tried to start a Bookstagram and linked all my blog posts to Tumblr. I just found that at the end of the day it was about statistics rather than about people enjoying my content – which you now know doesn’t help with the question above.

A “Like” doesn’t mean they read what I posted, or any proof that they actually did like it. On occasion, I know I do the same, and I know many who do too. Now I will take the time to go through the content and if something resonates, I will take the time to comment.

Share some uplifting wisdom in six words or less.

Find Yourself. Be Yourself. Live Freely.


Right, now to tag some of my faves.

  1. Carin Marais – Hersenskim
  2. Michael Baker – Thousandscars
  3. AllThingsUncanny
  4. Justin J – JustinJTheWriter
  5. Kelly Griffiths
  6. Adam – Writet
  7. Lionel Ray Green

Looking forward to reading all of your responses, and thank you for taking the time to have visited my blog (as many others have too).

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Community Writing: Critique Thy Neighbour

writing-group

I’m part of a writer’s group. Several in fact,  although I’m far more active in the more social group than the others and that’s just because it’s more convenient for me. The great thing about writing groups is being able to share writing and let others give insight as to what you wrote. A lot of times we talk through ideas, explain what an official sending address looks like, what sites are perfect for getting people’s names, and occasional debates about Twilight, Fifty Shades, and other heated topics. *I may have played the devil’s advocate on a number of occasions.

However, most importantly, we encourage each other to write. This include adding short excerpts and asking for feedback, because as a writer, feedback is important. Rachel Poli wrote a blog post some time ago about exchanging stories with her sister Kris, and how they critique each others work. It’s a great idea… unless you’re facing the Critique Monster.

fail-english-simpsons-gif

The Writer who Reads

If you read a lot of books, and you’re a writer, there are a number of things that you pick up immediately when reading someone else’s work. Here are a few:

  • Style: This is the way the person writes. Their word choice. The structure of their sentences. Whether they are descriptive or informative, narrative or argumentative.
    • If I were to read someone else’s horror story, my mind automatically starts comparing it to other horror writers I’ve read or even worse, myself.
  • Tone: The attitude or perspective of the writing. Whether it’s informal, humourous, melancholic, cheerful and so on. It is linked to style, through the choice of words the author uses.
    • Young Adult fantasy novels tend to be more informal and almost light in tone, while adult fantasy novels are mostly dark and morose. Telling the same story with a different tone can change the experience dramatically.
  • Voice: This is how the author tells the story. It includes perspective (1st person etc) and carries a particular point of view by either the charactes or the narrator.
    • The story told from a child’s point of view will be different to a teenager or adult. When reading about a twelve year old yet they sound forty, that’s voice gone wrong.

Critiqued: It’s not your story

grammar

I recently read a friends story. I struggled to read through it the first time. As I was reading I kept thinking, “This isn’t how I would have written it.” and when I was about to give feedback I remembered a very important fact; this wasn’t my story. These were not my character, my world, my voice or tone or style. This was somebody else’s work and I should therefore treat it as such. I read it again and read it for what it was. Then I read it again to pick up any inconsistencies.

This is one of the mistakes of critiquing. We want to conform the story to what we want it to be instead of appreciating it for what it is. Writing book reviews has made me aware of these idiosyncrasies to reading other writer’s, and if the story doesn’t suit my particular writing expectations, I lose perspective and judge it unfairly. It has made me wonder how many others have done the same to me, read my writing and thinking the same things, missing the point of the story to focus on the faults.

It is a difficult process and thankfully Rachel (you’re a star!) wrote great articles for Critiquing a Novel. You should check them out. As for me, it’s a working progress but you gotta love writing communities and I would implore you to join one, even if it’s online. It’s worth it.


Are you part of a writing group?

Friends of the Trade

5-things

If there is one thing I have found and now appreciate about writing, it is my fellow writers. I am part of multiple writing groups that inspire and encourage me to continue this arduous exciting adventure that is writing. Without them I would not be at the same level I am now, perhaps would have taken longer to get here without them.

Opportunity

“It’s not what you know but who you know.” How often does this quote come up in the world?

“I had no idea what a literary agent was. I had no intention of working in publishing and I had never set eyes on a royalty report ever… After a couple months, Jabberwocky was expanding and our boss asked Brady if he knew anyone who could come in and temp… Before you know it, I was in the office, learning the ropes and the agency kept growing.” Sam Morgan, literary agent at the Jabberwocky Literary Agency. Reddit Q&A

Those were just some parts of a really long answer, but what it came down to was knowing someone in the industry and taking the opportunity when it was presented. I think of my current job as a Junior Technical Writer and the doubts I had that I would get it; I had enough doubts to drown an old testament prophet. Then someone on one of the writing groups I was part of sent out a message that her boss was allowing her to employ a junior and she was asking the writing group first. Opportunity. I figured there were others in the group far more qualified than me for the job, but I sent in my CV/Resume anyway and now here I am. Nthato Morakabi – Junior Technical Writer. If I wasn’t part of this group I wouldn’t have even known about this opportunity.

Books

As much as I am an avid reader, non-fiction books were never on my TBR (To Be Read) list. I found them tedious. And then On Writing Well by William Zinnser was recommended to me by a fellow writer (and boss). From the first chapter right up to completing the book I saw my writing improve. Obvious mistakes I was not aware I was making were now clearly outlined. Had I not been part of a writing group, I would not have the job I do now and I would not have found out about this and many other great books.

Motivation / Encouragement

Every writing group I have been part of has been exceedingly encouraging. I think we all understand the amount of work and effort it takes to put words down and turn it into feasible writing. We understand the fear that it’s not good enough. We understand the courage it takes to show your work to someone else to critique. We understand it’s a grim, dark world out there, filled with rejections and endless submissions.

“I would rather be attacked than unnoticed. For the worst thing you can do to an author is to be silent as to his works.” Samuel Johnson

I have a steampunk horror novel (yet to be named) that I eventually submitted to a writing group and wow the encouragement I got along with good useful critique on my story, I am actually very confident about my story now and can’t wait to finish it.

Community

It is far more difficult to be a writer on your own. It’s not impossible but there are definitely perks to being within a writing community that writing alone won’t offer. The points above are just a few of these perks.

Collaborative workshops and writers’ peer groups hadn’t been invented when I was young. They’re a wonderful invention. They put the writer into a community of people all working at the same art, the kind of group musicians and painters and dancers have always had.”
― Ursula K. Le Guin


Are you part of a writing community? How has it helped you in your writing?

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