Wednesday, 29 December 2010

What on earth am I doing with a second blog...or is it really the third?

Well, that *is* the question. And I have answers for it, even if they are only just now settling in with me. I can see the point of it, having spent the last few months getting serious about writing 'for myself' (as opposed to writing commercially for clients or employers) and beginning the educational process about just how it is that writers, these days, go about promoting their work and themselves on the way to that lofty goal: achievement of publication of a work of fiction.

Why I couldn't be content with simply supporting myself as a "technical marketing author" is something I've put to bed. I did it, I did it well, I enjoyed it. I won't turn down work. But it was never where my heart wanted to go and decades of thrashing about it, in therapy and out, have finally binned the notion that it would be Enough. I want to write and publish a novel, whether self-published or a global bestseller. End of story.

Or a new beginning. So here goes.

I owe a lot to NaNoWriMo. Not only did it actually motivate and guide me through to the end of the 'first draft' stage, but it put me in touch with lots of people who are doing what I am doing--some with far more success, lots who are about equal, and some who are even newer to the craft than I am.

So, why another blog? First, I need to write about my writing. But it keeps getting mixed up with my travel blog, which is really a vehicle to share my travel experiences and to attempt to showcase my renewed interest in photography. I've been blogging a bit about my recent experiences in Malaysia with the resurrected "Road Noise" concept I originally began back in the late 90s when I sold my house in Boise, bought a motorhome and travelled about the US as a freelance writer, seeing the sights and occasionally stopping back in Boise or Spokane to do "real work" for a while and then hitting the road again.

I should congratulate myself. I was ahead of my time! Using simple email and with the main purpose of keeping family and friends abreast with whatever I was up to, I grew my mailing list to perhaps 50 people who cared about what I was doing, or were amused by what I wrote or perhaps wanted to sell me something. It didn't go "viral" as there was no such thing in 1996. But it got forwarded and people I didn't know asked to be added to the distribution list which, at the time, was an aol account.

It was fun (I loved it!) and there were almost no photos and certainly no graphics involved with it. After all, this was a time when I was lucky to get a 360 baud transmission line via my first AT&T mobile phone in the first place from the middle pf nowhere. And, often, for a week or more on the road, there was no way to connect.  I couldn't even send files back to my agency but, instead, would find the nearest Fed-X office or drop site, even if in the smallest town in Montana, and send an overnight letter packet. The agency would send the edits or corrections, generally a printed piece, back to me at the 'next town along the way' or wherever I thought I'd be on a given date. We'd synch via phone in the meantime.

During that period, I began 'Road Noise' and it was about motorhoming around the Western United States in a 28 ft Class C motorhome seeing the mountains, rivers and trees. And, sometimes, counting mosquitoes whilst marvelling at the amusing nature of my fellow travellers and myself.

When I moved to the UK, in 1999, I continued 'Road Noise' in order to keep in touch with the folks at home in the US. It evolved into silly things like "Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road Noise" and gave me an outlet for sharing stories about my various perceived inabilities to fit into English society, to understand the native cultural anomolies where I'd landed and to share the differences and wondrous or more often simply confounding things I'd discovered.

I look back at the various Road Noise iterations over perhaps seven or eight years and I am proud of them, even at the same time I feel sad that I lost the impetus of writing about change and newness (indeed, looking back now, seems that was exactly what drove me to write) as I settled further and further into a 'normal life' with new husband, dogs, step-children, grandchildren afar--and gave up my nomadic ways.

A few months ago everything changed again. No, not another change in relationship for once. Indeed, my past writing has always been driven by a break-up and the resultant pain, anxiety or depression--but, instead, a new opportunity for my husband to move and work in Malaysia for a year or perhaps more.

Suddenly, after eight or so years of relative quiet on the written front, other than my commercial writing as a contractor, employer or freelancer over the years in the UK, along came Change, once again, to prompt me to move my long-term goals forward.

The decision was made. I had ended my most recent marketing contract and didn't look for a new one. Scary stuff. We began the process of selling the house, putting things in storage and finding out how to ship two large woolly beasts to Southeast Asia--and how to deal with them and the climate once there. Derek started spending time in Kuala Lumpur in July, working with the team he was going to manage there. We put a plan together and it was approved. We will be living there, longish-term, from March 1, 2011.

I went along on the second trip to check it out and househunt while Derek worked and, as the fates arranged it, shortly before finalising our travel plans, along came this thing called NaNoWriMo. Left with no excuse to not do it, and all the opportunity in the world to do it, I took the challenge and signed up, along with over 200,000 other people worldwide. No one was more astonished than I when, come November 27th, I was able to upload and validate a 50,000+ word draft. I ordered the t-shirt. I downloaded the winner's logo. What elation!

Along the way, I began a blog about my experiences there, built on an abandoned wordpress blog I began when a friend and I did a Danube River cruise a few years back. It's here for the intrepid amongst you. But it felt like people who were interested in reading about my travels (and some said they were) weren't interested in all the minutae of what I fancied 'the writing life'. It took over everything.

I had rented a special zoom-telephoto Nikon lens for the trip to try it out with my D40X. It was definitely a cut above anything else I'd had--and I took some of the best photos I ever have. Excited, I began a new and glitzier Zenfolio gallery to showcase the Malaysia and other photos for family and friends. At the end of November, I returned to the UK and signed up for a day-long Nikonians seminar on digital photography and put everything I wanted on my Amazon Wish List for Christmas--including that zoom telephoto lens.

I've been back from Malaysia for a month now and leave again in two weeks for another trip there. I haven't accomplished as much on the novel draft as I envisaged. It has been a busy time and, of course, I can claim that the holidays interfered. They did. But at the same time, while I was not working on it, I was doing research for it, edited some of a fellow author's new work-in-progress, learned about self-publication, caught up with what authors are doing and how they're getting published, got more serious about social media...and so on.

And all of that action which seemingly accomplished little toward my goal of "revised draft" led me to this place, right here, right now when colleagues on a Facebook page of fellow unpublished authors, hosted by Diane Lebow, suggested that when one finds the writing progress stalled, the best thing is to do other things and just write.

And I did. Yesterday I added an unwritten blog post to the Malaysia blog. (If you want to know about dining from banana leaves instead of plates, that's the place to be right now.) Today, I woke up and decided to start a blog where most of my blogging author friends hang out and blog:

And guess what? This is it. I hope you enjoyed reading it because writing it has, indeed, rekindled the fire to get back to the main projects I intend to finish and publish.

So thank you, Diane, Rebecca, Brooke, Shannon, Nancy, Julie, Allison and all the others at Thursday's Novelists. It worked.


  1. Dear Cynthia- I stumbled across your blog via the Facebook Group and enjoyed post #1. I, too, owe a lot to good 'ol NaNoWriMo, as it proved to be the vehicle to get my first manuscript done a few years ago. Now I'm in rewrite mode (insert painful sigh here) and struggle with what to cut/add, etc., but hopefully it will work out.

    Sounds like you have a lot on your plate. Good luck to you. Enjoyed reading your post.


  2. You've got your work cut out for you with two blogs and I'm looking forward to keeping up with them.

  3. Cynthia, welcome to Malaysia. Hope you will get to like it there and that the politics there wouldn't affect you.