Since I had a little time on my hands I thought that I would revamp my website and bring things a little more up to date. Anyone who knows me knows that I do not like to be idle. I much prefer to busy myself with a task, even if it is a relatively basic "housekeeping" job.
However, what began as an opportunity to retouch some of the writing soon evolved. Before I knew it I was not only rewriting the text but going further. Moving pages around, combining sections, removing old samples, adding newer reviews, paring things down to make the site simpler, without losing any of the essential information. I even chose a new theme and a new colour scheme.
When I had finished I asked Jodie to take a look. She approved of the new look and commented that the combination of white and purple is very fashionable at the moment. Particularly amongst couples planning their weddings. So, I feel it only polite to apologise to anyone confused by the new colours. I am still very much a freelance writer and not trying my hand at wedding planning. Although... no, definitely sticking with the writing.
All this to say, the website has a new look.
So it's been quite a while - again - since my last blog post, but that is a mark of just how busy I have been over the last few months. I've been overseas for a couple of months and only returned to the UK a few weeks ago.
What am I working on now?
Well the novel has taken a back seat for the last year as I try to find ways to improve it and add new elements. The ongoing controversy over the underfunded NHS presents another dimension to my main character's work as a GP. Also the wave of natinalism that continues in the wake of Brexit - and even before Brexit - also presents an opportunity to write about my own experiences of racism, something I never thought I'd write about in a work of fiction.
On the freelance writing side of things I'm working with a young singer-songwriter to promote her new single and album. She is very talented but hails from Eastern Europe, so she doesn't have a lot of press or information out about her in Western, English speaking countries. Of course, she is particularly interested in making a mark in the States.
For another client I'm writing blog posts charting developments in the I.T. industry - specifically open-source technology.
I know, these two clients sound worlds apart, but I like the diversity involved and needing to adopt very different approaches to achieve teh same end goal: attention. We have so very little of it to give to others and yet our attention has never been so much in demand.
Speaking of attention, hopefully I'll get around to continuing work on my novel by the end of the year or early 2018.
I've been working on the marketing materials for this novella myself in the evening while busying myself with actual writing during the day. As ever I remain busy during the day working on all sorts of writing projects for paying clients.
The last few months I've been working with a client with a website that specialises in telling the very personal stories of those who have been through difficult experiences. It has often been very emotional and to talk to people who, for example, are survivors of serious child abuse. It has also been fascinating talking to people whose lives are radically different to my own. interviewing a trucker who drives all over U.S.A. with his wife and live out of their truck revealed a way of life that I hadn't ever encountered.
This is one of the great things about working with other companies and websites on writing and marketing projects. I get to learn abotu different industries and I get to learn about fascinating topics and subjects that I havne't come across.
Can't wait to see what the next major project I work on will reveal to me. I think that is the mark of a writer, amongst other things: curiosity about people, the way they live their lives and the world around us.
There is something innately exciting, if also daunting, about handing over my work to be read by eyes other than mine. Somebody other than myself reading it means, in some weird way, that it actually exists. These collections of words that make up sentences and paragraphs and chapters actually mean something that makes sense to someone other than me. Up until that point that my girlfriend began reading it I could have burnt the whole thing and nobody else would have known it had ever existed.
It’s a strange thought that something I have lived with day in, day out for so long could cease to exist without anyone having known about it. For that reason, amongst others, it is exciting to present my work for someone else to read. It will finally get to exist in a world other than that which goes on in my head!
Of course I am also excited to hear Jodie’s comments and suggestions and therein lies the more daunting aspect of it. Will my little baby be understood? Will Jodie get it or will she think it’s an odd story from her increasingly odd boyfriend?
It was a difficult thing to hand this novel over to Jodie. Due to the sensitive topics in it I have been continually thinking of ways to make it more readable. Also due to the way it is structured I have had to keep myself open to ways to allow the plot to flow more and make it seem more effortless. (Takes a lot of effort, that!)
Every time I came up with a new idea to attain those goals I would have to go back to the beginning to rejig everything. In this case rejigging the structure has meant having to shift entire sections of narrative around. A massive headache, when you think you finally have the sections flowing nicely, to move everything around again but if a job’s worth doing… All this has meant that each time I thought I would be in a position to hand Jodie the novel for reading I would have to spend another month or so implementing the new idea or approach.
Now I have finally handed her the latest draft, which will be the first draft for her (must be draft five for me), I just need to wait for her comments!
Thankfully, early indications seem to be that she is impressed. When Jodie first began reading my work I thought she was being polite but over the years I have learnt that she will always give me her genuine feelings about my writing. (She told me a few days ago she wanted to hit me for letting one of the nicer characters get hurt.) It’s one of the things I love about her and why I can think of no one better to have as a first pair of fresh eyes on new material.
Of course it depends what kind of writing we are talking about. Are we talking about our favourite novelists? Or are we talking about an insightful article that caught your attention and made salient points? Perhaps you saw an ad that impressed you with some clever marketing. Different writers know their niches and write to their strengths with a clear understanding of their target market.
We could say that the greatest writers are those who turn their hand to different genres regardless of their own strengths or weaknesses. How we marvel at those who dash from one type of novel to another, always renewing, continually absorbing and using conventions for a new genre. They seem to have a lust for literary knowledge. They want to understand the mechanics of writing and challenge themselves. We admire them for the adventurous spirit and cheer their fearlessness.
On the other hand you might say that the authors most deserving of our praise are those who work at their chosen genre year after year but continually find ways of surprising their readers. He or she knows their genre inside out and has worked their entire career to polish their delivery and work at those conventions and writing tricks that will bring their readers the greatest satisfaction. Perhaps to some the most important thing is that a writer delivers what they are expecting, a familiar and comfortable fit?
We could be talking about writers in other fields. We could be talking about those who write articles, blogs, sales copy, web content. What do writers of material such as this have in common with authors? They understand what is required of them.
A good writer will communicate their message in a way that engages the reader and satisfies the conventions of the genre or medium. More confident artists of all disciplines will break the conventions of a genre before putting them back together in a way we had not anticipated. However freelancers hired to carry out a specific task to certain criteria will do their best work by knowing what is required of them and listening to input and feedback.
As a freelancer writer hired for different assignments for different mediums and I know I need to listen to and understand my clients in order to deliver what they actually need and want. In that way I need to be versatile and be able to write in many different voices, tones and for different channels. As a writer of fiction I like to hop from one genre to another (sometimes within the same novel).
As for what makes a good writer… Perhaps you prefer writers who enjoy their niche and stick to what they know best. Alternatively you may enjoy writers who continue to evolve and challenge themselves as well as their readers. No matter your preference what is common to both is attention to detail.
I think it takes a writer with greater attention to detail and unwavering focus to navigate the myriad writing options available to satisfy audiences and clients alike.
Confidence in his or her own abilities will show a strong grasp of the nuts and bolts of the genre or medium.
Desire to learn is essential for a writer. If it is a freelancer you are looking to hire to write for a niche with which they are not familiar you need to make sure he or she has the desire for understanding.
Learning about a topic, the mechanics of a genre or the hallmarks of a medium is necessary for any writer. If it is an unfamiliar topic the writer will need to do a little research and learn about the topic before they can write about it convincingly.
If you’re looking for a new freelancer for a long and productive working relationship, don’t be too hasty. You want value but you also want quality and someone who will write convincingly for you.
What do you think? Do you agree or is there anything you want to add? Leave me a comment.