Sweet Georgia Sunlight

by Neeks

I get asked these questions often: When are you going to write a book? You should write a book. Why not write a book? … You know, I would if I could!

There are several things holding me back. One, I just don’t feel a whole story rolling around in there and two, I know nothing about plot, can’t diagram a sentence and occasionally miss typo’s. Oh yea, and three, just because a person can write a book doesn’t mean they should.

Oh sure, I could make a compilation of the short stories I’ve done, put a title on it and go for something leafy and green on the cover – but I never even get started. This is serious business to me, as I’m sure your darlings are for you, and it has to be as perfect as I can make it – which just brings me back to my own perceived limitations. No need to respond to this with a bunch of “Oh you can do it‘s” or “but your work is fine.” Sometimes I think we are so eager to support our fellow artists that we fail them by not being completely honest.   This is not a fishing expedition, far from it. I know where my strengths lie, as well as my weaknesses. As with most of us, there are areas I need to improve upon, and I will, given time.

Dwelling on my weaknesses can get me down, so I try not to do that. Instead I look for opportunities to strengthen my knowledge base. A tutorial on this, a good article on paragraph placement, a blog post about that. Bit by bit I gain information and the more I gather the closer I am to that ultimate prize: The Book. I will get there, so will you. It will happen.  So what’s with the title of this post?

Right now it’s what the title of my future book.  🙂

What do you use when you want to increase your knowledge base – and what will the title of your book be?

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27 Comments to “Sweet Georgia Sunlight”

  1. I always get asked this too Neeks, but the problem is I’m too flighty, I have too many stories going on in my head I can’t just pin one down. I’ve written lots of short stories that could be developed and the closest I’ve come is Nano, but I never went back and edited it. I can’t do one thing for too long, I am way too easily distracted. This is also why no one should buy me anything too expensive, because I will get bored easily!

    Oh not sure about a title because I write in so many genres, but I like the sound of yours. Makes me feel warm 🙂 x

    • Beth I am EXACTLY the same as you. It’s time we stopped berating ourselves for lack of focus. We DO have focus (Limebirddennis needs to do an article on short story compilations, they’ve made for some rather famous books).

  2. To increase my knowledge base I mostly look online. There seems to be so much advice and information out there that it’s quite easy to filter out the good from the bad and get a feel for what might work for me and what doesn’t. I’ve also been known to actually buy books on the subject and also lash out for a writing course or two. There was a time I’d enter competitions, talk to the judge(es) afterwards for feedback and when the opportunity was available, pay for an assessment of the submission. More often than not there are overlaps of information that simply serve to affirm what I may have already learned previously.
    I often feel that I spend valuable writing time reading about writing! 🙂

    • Richard you are so right, I’ve even found a few universities that offer free online courses. There are some free writing seminars too, in addition to all of the information found already at our google-ing fingertips. 🙂

  3. What a great post – it’s honest and postively charming – I think this voice would be a wonderful main character for future reference. As for broadening my knowledge base – I embrace what I’m researching because I have to keep myself entertained. So for my Victorian, psychic detective I do all the usual stuff like reading and watching about the period but then I also go out and do things like visit Victorian prisons that are haunted, ride in a pony and trap in Victorian clothes and just do anything like that which will get me in the right writing atmosphere. I would say good luck with your future book but I don’t think you need it as “you have your head screwed on properly”, as my mother says when she’s referring to someone who is capable of something.

  4. I think there’s a perception that you’re not a real writer if you haven’t written a book, but there are plenty of successful professional writers who have never written a book. I’m currently working on a non-fiction book, and I’ve just signed up to NaNoWriMo for this November, for my first attempt at a novel, don’t know if I can do it, but I’m going to give it a go! A bit like you, I’m never sure if I have enough of a story to make a whole book from, and a bit like Beth, I also have a short attention span, so writing a book feels like an endurance test! I’m excited about NaNo though, just as an experiment to see if I can do it. Don’t know what the title of the book will be yet.

    Good luck for if and when you write Sweet Georgia Sunlight, it sounds lovely!

    • You’re right Vanessa, when one says, “I’m an actor” the first thing we say is “what have I seen you in?” When we say we’re a writer, the first thing people say is “what did you write?” In other words, “what have I read you in?” We as authors do so much more than books.

      I get stumped with the thought of doing “The Novel,” because in a short story you don’t have to worry about what your character did or said 15 chapters ago. You don’t have to keep track of a bunch of other characters and their lives and actions; and you don’t have the loose ends to tie in at the end of it like you do in a novel. Oh sure there are a few but it’s all within a few pages and that makes it easy to monitor. I don’t have to create a whole world, just one or two scenes.

      Best of luck with nano this year, we’ll all be cheering you on!

  5. I totally get where you’re coming from with this post. You’re right. At some point, our encouragement can turn into bashing over the head. No one wants that. We do what’s right for us, and in the right time for us.
    I like blogs for info. I love getting info, tips, advice, etc. from REAL people who are talking about their own experience. I like being able to ask questions and get answers in the comments. I also really like twitter chats which are great for connecting with new people and getting multiple points of view. The title of my future book? Hmmm… I’m not too sure yet.

    • Thank you for commenting lovely, kind words are always welcome! What I’ve noticed over a year of blogging is that people tend to say nice little things on other people’s blogs, so that they’ll visit ours and say nice things (I’m guilty of this a few times too).
      I finally just stopped altogether a few months ago. I had hoped that blogging would help me learn more about writing, about the basics, about what.good.work.is. What I ended up doing was looking for the good points in a blog post and commenting on that, and not mentioning the things that I thought were wrong, the poems that didn’t work, the misspelled words and incorrect metaphors, etc. Sometimes if the writing was really bad I just clicked away without commenting. I didn’t want to hurt someones feelings, squash any dreams, or create any trolls. That said, there is a LOT of really good writing out there. A lot.

      Positive comments are necessary, we have no idea if we’re reaching our target audience or not, if they like what they see or not, etc., without them. I’ll be honest, the ego boost is always welcome and I’ve made a few good friends while blogging.

      So I’m concentrating now on learning, on story development, I’m gathering tools and rejection slips 🙂 I’ll be back to blogging and writing soon, it’s too much fun to stay away for very long!

  6. I write poetry and life writing and I don’t believe I have a book in me. My husband thinks I’m a great writer and should write a book. To stop his nagging, which has gone on for years, I have decided to sign up to NaNoWriMo this year. That will settle the argument one way or the other, and I’ll be pleased with either outcome.

    Now, if I could just stop waking up in the night in a cold sweat…

    • Tilly the idea of nano makes me shiver too. Bravo ten times over to those who did it, whether they won or not – I can’t even bring myself to sign up. Good luck with your writing!

      • Tilly and Neeks, a few of us Limebirds took part and honestly I was petrified, thinking that I didn’t have it in me. However, the flow of Nano and writing without editing is surprisingly liberating! Please feel free to add me – LimebirdBeth 🙂 Good luck!

  7. Love this, Neeks. And I agree, just because we can doesn’t mean we should. In fact, I can think of a few authors who might have done well to follow your example. 😉

    That being said, it is no secret that you have an obvious gift for storytelling. You’re engaging, witty, lighthearted, and creative on the silly side (which makes your writing even more u-neek, lol 🙂 ).

    Personally, I see a book in your future, but of course, it has to be because you want it–not just because you’re good at it. Even if you didn’t ever write a book, you could certainly continue with your blogging and your 3-word short stories and bless us with your writing from that angle.

    I love the title of your future book.

    Mine is ‘Spark of Madness.’

    • Thank you 4am for the encouragement. Love the title of your future book too, it brings to mind a lot of ideas! Cute play on words, my name is Monique and I thought I had heard them all through the years. That was actually a new one so, cool!… u-neek. 🙂 🙂

  8. Having written a novel length story, I can safely say that I can’t write a short story! My sister argues that if you can write a short story you can write a novel, everything you need for a book is in a short story it’s just condensed. But I can’t write a short story! A lot of my uni assignments were short stories and I always found them very difficult to write, even when I was being told what to write about!

    I find it incredible that people have so much control that they can invent characters and places and events and write about them in a succinct enough way that everything they need to get across is done so in so few words. I just want to play with mine! Personally I think that short stories take much more skill than a novel. You can write a bad paragraph in a novel and most people won’t notice, you could write a couple. You write a bad paragraph in a short story and it stands out!

    And that question doesn’t go away if you write a book, it just changes to When is you’re book going to get published!

    • Good point on the question, when will it be published. There’s lots of variation on the theme isn’t there? As for a short story being a mini book, I might be doing it wrong. I just start with an idea and expand on it for a while. Try to bring it to a logical end. There is no plan in mind, no moral to the story, unless there’s a turn of phrase I want for the ending.

      A short story can just be a few pages on a day in the life, it can be about one encounter, one event, it can be about my feelings about a topic. The characters don’t even have to be fleshed out very much. I can tell you what I look like without ever describing myself at all, right? John F. Kennedy was in office when she was born, an army brat far from the US in a hospital in France. She graduated high school in the early 80’s with dreams of being the next great American author and now, 35 years later has finally picked up her pen and begun to put words to paper while she sits in a chair that is too small for her bulk and watches her husband walk out the door. Okay so that’s not me but you get what I mean. My writing on that can be no more than how she writes that first story. How she feels when she completes it, how she looks forward to a brave new world.

      I guess I just mean that shorts don’t have to be hard, they don’t have to impart great wisdom, though it’s nice when that occurs and I’ll letcha know if it ever happens with mine… hehe.

  9. for the longest time I wrote fragments of books. Then, I did Nano – and I wrote and entire book – I was amazed! I thought is was awful and I was afraid to even look at it to begin the editing process, so I hid it. Months and months later and friend came along and we started a critique group. She insisted I dig out the manuscript. There were a lot of awful spots and things that I had to fix and rewrite, but a lot of it wasn’t so bad. I think sometimes we think we need to be perfect before we try – but it’s the trying that gets us around to perfection. And, we need to remember that we will never write the perfect book, that’s what lots of editing is for. 🙂 I’ve written 2 books now and I’m editing a third. None are published, maybe they never will be – but I love writing and I never thought I could actually write a book until I finally just did it and now I can’t stop.

    Someday, if you want it, you’ll be ready to write that book and I bet it will be better than you think (to others – we are usually very hard on ourselves, but you might even surprise yourself). I love that you keep learning -that’s what got me to the point I felt ready. I joined some free online courses, critique groups and more recently attended some writing conferences to expand my knowledge base. And Read a number of books on writing too. I think the best thing I can do to expand my knowledge though is to keep writing – it’s like practicing a musical instrument 🙂

    • Goofy you of course, right. While I may not feel a novel in there rattling around in my considerable attic space, that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t continue to look for one to write. I forgot to mention books on writing, a valuable resource!

      Congratulations on your novels, I’m envious!

  10. Online, writers’ magazines, How-To books, fellow bloggers,… I try to find knowledge where I can. Hopefully it’s translating into better writing, and Death Out of Time will find an agent and publisher. But I’m open to the indie route, too.

    When you’re ready, you’ll start—if that’s what you want to do. Nothing says you have to write a book if you don’t think it’s in you to do as well as you’d like. Go with your instincts and what you want to create.

  11. We all know ourselves best. Twin(n)ed…

    I’m on my seventh hard edit of the novel now. I’ve looked at a lot of resources, read lots on effective writing, and when faced with a thorny grammatical issue, will seek out the topic.There’s a rich knowledge base on the ‘net if one hunts.

    We also all work in different ways. I write free form, with the genesis of idea *after* the first sentence lays down. It’s like the Big Bang, a whole universe explodes open in front of me, but I set direction and explore it paragraph by paragraph, often not knowing what follows, especially in early stages. By mid-story, after loops back for a bit of editing, consistency, and familiarisation, I have a sense of the characters and what they might encounter ahead. Then comes the super hard work… editing, something I do for at least 60 hours a week, and probably more.

    • Unbelievable, I know how hard you work at your craft Nelle. I just can’t commit that kind of time and at this point in my life I don’t have the desire to. I’m glad you do though, your work is always interesting.

      As with your description, the story unfolds in front of me as I go, and I have to hurry typing to catch up most of the time! After the rewrites and editing I seldom change where the story is headed, but have done so on occasion. My stories are so short that if it is going to head off on a tangent I can see that quickly and make adjustments. Right you are too, the editing is the hard part!

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