Monday, January 1, 2018

My two "F" words for 2018 - FOCUS and FINISH!

2018 begins! 
2017 was a year of distractions for me as a writer. I should have finished and published the first SARAH ANN ELLIOTT book. Well and truly. However, I got distracted. The first distraction was getting two producers on board for my TV series, MRS P. I have to admit to getting excited about that. Acknowledgement and praise are heady things for any writer. Great things were discussed and promised, but as yet nothing has come of it. I should know by now. This is how things work when you have to rely on someone else to get your project off the ground. 
In the film and television industry, many people are required to get a screenplay from the page to the screen, and every one of them has their own ideas about what works and what doesn't, what is good and what isn't, what is financially viable and what isn't. One person's enthusiasm is another person's boredom. Which is why I adore being an Independent Author. It's up to me and me alone to write, complete, launch and sell a book. And it has been working for me for the past decade.
But I took my eye off the ball. The novel ball, that is. I turned my attention to my screenwriting. I set about polishing up MRS P which I enjoyed, as I love the characters, setting and stories in the series. There was to-ing and fro-ing with the producers, changes asked for and made, and one particular opportunity seemed full of promise. But that opportunity was blown, and not by me, and won't come again, so that was a disappointment to be dealt with. I dealt with it quickly and moved on. 
During the latter half of the year, a young family member who is an actress asked me to write an audition piece for her. I did so happily, she liked it and it was suggested that it could be tweaked a little to make a short film to be entered into an interstate short film competition. I tweaked, my talented relative produced and starred in it and it has indeed been entered into that competition. It will be another week before we know if it made it through to the final cut, but regardless of that, it was a wonderful experience to FINALLY see something I wrote on film!
While all that was going on, I was asked to take part in a screenwriting program that runs over several months and finished up in December. I so enjoyed working with other writers, being in a "writers' room", tossing around ideas, listening to other creative spirits. It was a real buzz! Out of that, I developed a new TV series to the stage of completing a Show Bible and a Pilot Episode. And while I did well with anything that required writing, when it came to a verbal pitch, I discovered I was lousy at that. I wasn't surprised. I used to act on stage in the 80's until I developed stage nerves and gave it up. Racing heart, sweating, shaking, blank mind - I FROZE! Now there's an "F" word I want to forget! So the lesson learned from that program was that I should read from a prepared script when pitching to anyone. Easy peasy!
And did I do much work on SARAH ANN ELLIOTT? Nope. An occasional burst, but I found I had stopped lying in bed, writing the next chapter in my head which is what happens to most writers when they are mid-writing. SARAH ANN  had been given the boot by various screenwriting projects. Without those midnight lying-in-bed-staring-at-the-ceiling-writing-tomorrow's-chapter sessions, I found myself empty when I did sit down to work on the book. I was mentally and creatively scattered and I actually could feel it weakening me as a writer. Strange feeling. Like losing hold of all the necessary threads that go into making a strong cord. I was diffuse instead of focussed. And I didn't like it one bit.
So 2018 will be a time to pull myself together, FOCUS on SARAH ANN ELLIOTT (I am soooo close to The End), get it to a professional editor, sort out the cover, prepare the marketing and promotion and FINISH the damn thing!!!! And this is only Book 1!
Fortunately, I love writing and I actually feel comforted by the knowledge that I will be spending a lot of time alone in my little study with my characters and plot lines and story world. Bring it on!
So cheers to all those writers out there who are feeling diffuse, dispersed, scattered. May 2018 bring you FOCUS and may you FINISH at least one book. A book a year would be such an achievement and not hard if life didn't keep getting in the way. And for those of you who are not writers, may you enjoy reading our finished books.
Wishing you all health, happiness and prosperity. In the immortal words of Bill and Ted: "Be excellent to each other - and party on, Dudes!!!"

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