Time for Reflection (1) – What I’ve learned over the last three years

by Mikaheyla Kopievsky

Inshallah, I’ll be uploading my debut novel Divided Elements (Book 1) – Resistance to the cyber marketplace for pre-orders in the next couple of weeks. It’s a surreal feeling to even contemplate releasing the beast I have managed to tame over many late nights and sleepless hours. Sitting here, after a day spent fine-tuning my marketing plan, I realise just how far I have come since that first day, when a seed of an idea germinated in this chaotic brain of mine.

For some of you – you have seen my musings, trials and errors from the very first post. For others – you stumbled across my words a little later and joined the rest of us for the ride. I realise, however, that I’ve never shared with any of you the ‘real’ process behind this mammoth task of writing a book. Yes, I’ve shared bits and pieces (mainly the good bits), but never have I dished the dirt on the process. 

So, now, for those of you who are interested, I’m having a kind of pre-pre-launch party – a riding on the coattails of the ghost of Christmas past – and opening up the crazy history of a little book that changed my life.

So here is part one – I hope you enjoy it!

When it started…and why.

I had dabbled for years in writing novels. Actually, I was more interested in writing screenplays – I found them easier: the short, choppy exposition; the flurry of dialogue. (Interestingly, I still write in present tense as a throw-back to that habit, but struggled for a long time to find my voice in writing good dialogue). Anyway, back to the point at hand – I was one of those who started a lot of stories but never finished them.

I was a pantser (although, at the time, I had no idea what a pantser (or plotter) was) and a premise writer – what a terrible combination. Basically, I would come up with cool ideas for the premise of a story (e.g. a zombie gang member goes rogue and patches over to the vampires) and the just start writing the story – with no idea about where the story was going or whether it would even work as a story. So, yeah – those years were not my most productive.

And then I got so tired of reading bad novels. I love my literary fiction (most of my favourite novels are contemporary or classic literature), but I also like my brain candy reads. The literary fiction never disappointed, but my late-night chocolate snack of a book invariably would. After one too many bad brain-snack books, I caved in and decided I would figure out how to write a book and actually complete one.

In the beginning, without an idea or a premise, I still knew my writing goal – I wanted to write a book the equivalent of a good gastro-pub meal. Not the ultra-refined, sous vide ocean trout with pickled samphire and sauce vierge literary novel. Not the ‘I’m so very hungover and am dying for a greasy cheeseburger’ fast-food full-of-regrets meal. But the truffled mac n cheese with gruyere and jamon bliss-food that isn’t entirely nutritious or refined, but that feels good and looks good and tastes good, and that is the type of meal that turns a small, non-descript bistrot into your favourite weekend-special hangout.

My first lesson – golden drops of wisdom or a dead-end path?

I still remember that moment – that decision to actually write a real novel. A real novel – one people would read. And I still remember the first thing I chanced upon when researching my next move.

I love research – I am a HUGE research nerd. I love learning, what can I say? So, obviously, the first thing I do after deciding to write (and complete) a novel is consult my bestie, Dr Google, and ask “What do I need to do to write a novel?”

Interestingly, the answer I found (or gravitated towards) was this:

SET UP YOUR AUTHOR PLATFORM

I had no idea what an author platform was. (Remember, I had no idea what pantsing or plotting was). But, being the research nerd I am, I went about figuring that out. And that is what led me to starting this blog.

In hindsight, it was excellent advice. Setting up a blog was one of the best things I could have done as a newbie author – it instilled a much-needed ethic to write regularly, it gave me a place to reflect and report on the lessons I was learning as a new author, and it gave me exposure to you – my potential readers – and introduced you to my narrative voice. Win-win.

So, to all the new newbie writers out there – my first piece of advice to you is this:

Start a blog! Grab your free WordPress template. Introduce the world to what makes you tick creatively and tell it in a way that only your unique voice can 🙂

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And that was Part One. I hope you join me for the next installment…

 

Image courtesy of Aaron Davis via Flickr Creative Commons
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Time for Reflection (1) – What I’ve learned over the last three years

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