These topics pose a dilemma for me, as they both fight for my attention. Each day I am in a quandary – do I write or do I read? Until 2012, this choice never even existed. I’d loved reading since my early years and hadn’t contemplated writing myself. I had always thought that maybe I would like to write a book, but we all do that, don’t we? Everyone supposedly ‘has a book in them’, ‘a story to tell’. But just because we can, doesn’t always mean that we should.
When I saw the NaNoWriMo challenge back in November 2012, I thought maybe this was the push I needed. Would I be able to write 50,000 words in 30 days? Would it be pure drivel or could I actually create something that others might want to read? I entered the challenge with only a few days to spare before it commenced. leaving me very little time to plan or research anything. I pondered what I should write about and kept seeing the comment, ‘write about what you know’. But, what did I know? Was there something lurking in the depths of my mind that might make an interesting tale? I decided at that point that I would write something that, as a reader, I might choose to read. And so, my mystery/ fantasy novel was hatched. Set in Spain (of course!), my main character is caught up in a tale of revenge after tracing her family tree. She uncovers some unpleasant secrets about her grandfather that take her on a quest to solve an ancient robbery and to clear his name. In doing so, she encounters a special ring that magically allows her to connect with her ancestors and discover a new branch to her family. Her own life is also beset with trouble too, an act of fraud forces her to exact her own form of vengeance on the culprits, with the help of the ring. All of a sudden, I was taking actual events and turning them into a piece of fiction. I amazed myself at how easily the words came, the plot took on a life of its own and somehow I managed to hit the target and complete the challenge. It was a real eye-opener to me and the possibility that I could actually write a book became more of a reality than I had ever expected. Eighteen months, the story has doubled in size; the plot has taken yet more turns and it is now at the editing stage, with publishing due to happen later this year. Feedback, from those who have read parts of it, has been encouraging and positive, spurring me on to get it finished – at long last. Since then, I have participated in further NaNo challenges and have four other stories under development.
Now, you’ll recall that before 2012 reading was more my thing than writing. I soon learned that the two go together, hand in hand. To be a successful writer, you have to read – a lot. But, these days, I read with a different attitude. I am not just reading for escapism, now I read to learn how to be a better storyteller. I am more critical of the books I read, I demand more from them and my high expectations frequently leave me disappointed. I joined NetGalley last year and now receive advance copies of books, prior to publication. Sometimes, publishers will invite me to read a book, following my review of one of their authors. I have been able to build up a rapport with other writers and publishers as a result. Currently I have six books on the go, all of which I will review once completed. And herein lies my problem, which has been particularly exaggerated this month. Not only am I fortunate to have an abundance of reading material, it is also Camp NaNo time (for which I am penning another tale of retribution of approx 25,000 words). Already, the aforementioned predicament looms large over my head. However, as if this were not enough, I am also battling with the A to Z challenge of blogging daily throughout April. So far, I’m juggling everything fairly well; nothing has yet fallen to the wayside and, if I’m honest, I’m enjoying every minute of it. I’m lucky that I have such a problem, it could be so much worse and, for that, I am thankful.
Life is pretty good and with the added bonus of the sunshine, I can read outside and get a tan too!