Monday, October 02, 2006

Write good stuff

Thank you gentle readers for all your lovely comments, emails, phone calls, pints and so on. I am bowled over and kicking my legs with happiness. Although I am still a bit scared. Why? Because I am doing New Things, and Change is Scary.

What I would like is to accumulate information and advice, hints and tips, sagacity and wisdom. I have bought a tome full of useful stuff, the Writers and Artists Yearbook, but I would like to hear more. So, it is over to you. Anyone who can share their thoughts, advice, etc, will earn my undying gratitude and a link to your blog in tribute. You don't have to be a full-time writer to give me advice on being a full-time writer, any advice from anyone is most welcome. I believe in the wisdom of crowds. And the wisdom of individuals, obviously.

Whilst we are on the subject of good writing, here is Tim Worstall's Britblog Round ups, for this week, last week, and the week before that.

And a big hello to the lady at the bus stop yesterday who asked if I was Rachel and said she liked my blog. That made me very happy. Thank you!

As promised - thanks to Mel Starrs, Leon, Helibags, Jarndyce, Marina, Philip, Wild Iris, Clare from NZ, Gill Hicks, Maria in Oregon, Shadowfox, IainC, Deborah, Glamourpuss , Cobwebby, Woffle, Linda, Ellee, City Slicker, Leighton Cooke, Clairwils, The Injured Cyclist, Postman, Ania, Mongchacha, Cat from the bus stop, Holly Finch, Suzy, Graham Smith, Davide at the Nether World, Sabele, Justin, liadnan, Graham O' Mara, NotSaussure, Beth Smith, No.78, Steve, Clare
L'Ecossaise, Roger Whittaker, Cheryl, Geoff, Ally, Rachel-Catherine, Nicky, Gortie, Turbulent Cleric, Karol Cross, Kris, Richard Wilson, Claire H, Jennifer, Michelle Rosado, Laura in NY, Hugh G, Katherine & Linda, Corrie at Grazia, Helen at New Woman, David, Rob, and all my friends and ex-colleagues who have left messages, bought drinks and been full of wise advice and encouragement. Thank you all very, very much.


Anonymous mel starrs said...

I'm a big fan of percolating. Letting my writing stew over a number of days. It means I have time to gather my thoughts, check my facts and ensure I'm not going to have one of those moments when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking 'OMG, I didn't mean to write that! Another obvious tip which I have always loved is that in order to be a writer, you have to write. Again, obvious, but sometimes hard to remember with a blank screen in front of you. Best of luck.

October 02, 2006 3:28 pm  
Blogger leon said...

Advice? It depends on what kind of writing you want to do? I assume if it’s a free lance journo type thing you’ve probably got all the contacts you’d need to get published. It’d be a question of picking a good topic and researching it well.

If it’s other types of writing I’d suggest mingling in the writer’s milieu; get yourself to readings etc and network, talk with other writers about their experiences of agents and publishers etc. With your profile I reckon you’d have no problem meeting the right people.

Have you thought about writing a book about your experiences of July 7 (I know you’ve been interviewed a million times and might not want to re-visit it again at that length)? There was an excellent anti war book that came out a few years back with a load of different contributors. Perhaps an edited by you edition of people’s stories of that day, Britain reaction afterward and the Governments response (and new laws etc) to it might be a story a publisher would pick up? Proceeds could go toward charity or a campaign for a full and independent inquiry etc…

Heh look at me in consultant mode!

October 02, 2006 3:36 pm  
Blogger Helibags said...

Congratulations Rachel, keep up the exellent work. BTW, I love the new picture - you are very beautiful.
Good luck for the future - I look forward to reading all about it.
Kind regards

October 02, 2006 3:50 pm  
Anonymous Gill Hicks said...

Well, I am a publisher by trade - of all things architecture and design ( and culture ) - So it was very strange when I was approached to write a book re my memoirs of 7/7 - learning to walk - and beyond - It has been a very interesting journey indeed - its out next April - its called 'One Unknown' which is what I was labelled in hospital. Joe on the other hand is an academic and writer of all things historic - so between us there may be something remotely useful?
You already have a great following - so I guess the best advice ( for what its worth ) is to continue writing on the topics that you are recognised for and are passionate about.
love, Joe and Gill x

October 02, 2006 5:32 pm  
Blogger Jarndyce said...

The most important piece of advice for any freelancer: Never watch Neighbours. Ever. Not even for a wedding episode.

October 02, 2006 5:36 pm  
Blogger Don't Call Me Ishmael said...

Hi Rachel,

I've just read this last post and I am so happy & excited for you! I call myself a writer...I am a writer... (I think?) though am not yet published so your current situation reflects my own. Also, I am in the midst of preparing to quit my full-time office job to in order to disappear to for 6 weeks in the amazing island of Madagascar with my best friends, after which I am going to come home and (try) to write a novel. It's all very scary and weird and wonderful, I have a feeling you know exactly what I mean.

I would like to give you some advice, but I think it will rather be me looking to you for literary wisdom in the near future, as it will be you who will likely reach our shared goal first, and deservedly so. But one book I would highly recommend, if you haven't read it already, is Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott. It's full of great advice & inspiration for writers of any genre. I don't know what exactly you are planning to write, but whether you write about 7/7 or something else, the mixture of fresh description and poignant meaning that permeates your writing will surely take you far in creating something you will be very proud of.

The one genre that I have not seen you try, but would encourage you to attempt is fiction. I think that the underlying quality of your writing lies in your skill in constructing linear prose rich with imagery and symbolism, which are integral to both short stories and novels. You are also part of the Information Generation, ie., writing in html, linking your written words with sounds and images via the internet. Jonathan Safran Foer has used the same style, most notably in writing a story through the eyes of a young boy whose father is killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11, in his novel Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. I would highly recommend this book to you too, especially if you are interested in writing fiction as it seems very relevant to your style and recent experiences.

Whatever and wherever you decide to take your writing, I will definitely be reading it all.

with my very warmest wishes,

PS...And if you ever are bored with nothing to do (ha! doubtful, I know) here is a humble little short story of my own that i would be most honored to have you peruse.

October 02, 2006 8:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you get overwhelmed from all the advice and information of what you think you could or should do, trust your way of dropping coins into the well to find your answers and direction. You will know the best ways to go. I'm so happy for you.
Claire from NZ.

October 02, 2006 9:13 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you get overwhelmed from all the advice and information of what you think you could or should do, trust your way of dropping coins into the well to find your answers and direction. You will know the best ways to go. I'm so happy for you.
Claire from NZ.

October 02, 2006 9:14 pm  
Blogger Philip said...

From what I've seen, you need nobody's advice about writing. As to publishing, apparently specialise in bringing weblogs into the paper world, and have recently brought out the splendidly titled Blood, Sweat and Tea.

October 02, 2006 9:21 pm  
Blogger wildiris said...

Rachel, I've read you blog from the start and I'm very happy for you. No wise words. I love your writing and am sure you will do well. I would love to hold in my hands a book written by you

October 02, 2006 10:22 pm  
Anonymous the Laughorist said...

I am honored you stopped at my blog (well, commented on my comment at glamourpuss's place, or palace). I feel privileged. good for you. I don't write the right stuff for work; this has been a good outlet. i've been submitting stories to glimmer Train. Jump in. Be my competitor. Blessings,

October 03, 2006 12:23 am  
Anonymous Maria said...

I don't think you need advice, my dear! Go to the "well inside." Re-read your own beautiful descriptions, look out over your raggedy garden. These are the things that bring your writing to life, stir a mental picture and emotional response in the reader. Good luck from Maria in Oregon (orginally from Bristol, UK).

October 03, 2006 1:08 am  
Anonymous Shadowfox said...

keep a notebook with you always as ideas come up in the oddest places at the most unexpected of times

October 03, 2006 9:36 am  
Anonymous IainC said...

'If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things' by Jon McGregor.

I read this during the hottest days of the summer. In spite of, no because of, not a single quotation mark and precious few commas, it gets inside its characters' heads like no other piece of prose I have read. It caused me little frissons, intakes of breath, that aspects of my own very personal experience could be evoked so beautifully by someone else.

Why mention this ? Because the depiction of place and time through reported experience is exactly what drew me to your blog in the first place. Reading the novel recalled the huge emotional wallop of your prose in the days following 7/7, and sometimes later. I believe it's that rather than (just) the political stuff which created the initial reaction, and which keeps us with you, more than a year on.

No, I don't think you write as well as Jon McGregor. Nor do I, could I. But you come close. I'd like to see the intimate, domestic pieces (such as your declaration of love for your partner, the horror of the rape, the continuing adventures of Miff The Cat) interspersed with the political, in an edited collection of your and others' 7/7 and post-7/7 pieces. Maybe with a foreword by Fergal Keane.

And then your own book of shared internalised experience through mere words: confessions of a pole-dancer, a novel even. And the pole-emics, of course.

You can do it, but please don't underestimate just how hard, and ironically how isolating, it will be. We'll be with you.


October 03, 2006 12:41 pm  
Anonymous Deborah said...

Congratulations Rachel - this is very exciting news. I'm really pleased for you.

October 03, 2006 1:03 pm  
Blogger Glamourpuss said...

I just reviewed this book for a magazine I write for. It is magnificent. Practical, no-nonsense, human. If scary change is on the cards, I'd recommend it wholeheartedly.

Good luck - you never learn to fly unless you jump off the cliff. I jumped a year ago and haven't looked back.


October 03, 2006 4:16 pm  
Blogger Cobwebby said...

Hi Rachel.

Hmmm, I am going to go off subject a little and look at this from an Astrological point of view if thats ok..

Do you really wish to write, if so on what basis.

Because Aqrarians tend to work better as part of a team usually toward a common "Humanitarian" goal, they tend feel somewhat lost on their own.

It looks as though the two major events in your life were possibly triggered by a Pluto-Mars opposition
one leading in the other leading out, a mirror image if you like.

Also Neptune entered your sign in 1988 and leaves in 2012.

Neptune rules: Dreams, idealism, martyrdom and the feeling of being all at sea ;) He will feel better in his own house (Pisces) in 20012-13.

Thing is, even though Aqrarians appear to cope admirably on the out-side, inside they are often falling apart (or is that just me).

You are a writer! and a good one too, but I am not sure that you really believe you are, or even believe that you deserve good things in your life at-times.

But you DO...

Another parallel:
Natascha Kampusch Is Aquarius too.



ps cats are cool.

October 03, 2006 9:11 pm  
Blogger Woffle said...

Maria is right, don't think you need much advice. Other than to keep doing what you're doing.

You can obviously write, and that's important, but being successful at writing is about so much more - grit, determination, drive to succeed, and willingness to make/exploit contacts you have.

Think you will do well on all of the above. Good luck!

October 04, 2006 8:41 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Once again, thank you all. I'm very honoured by all your kind messages of support. You are all ace.

I will post in a minute, as I have something to show you - the first chapter of the book in a sneak preview. I am putting a synposis together and taking it to my agent. I hope to get him the proposal by the end of the week. This afternoon I am going round to Jane's house to print it out and put it together. I'll keep you updated...

October 04, 2006 10:48 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

Some brilliant advice, that i am following up already.

More on that later too.

October 04, 2006 10:48 am  
Blogger Rachel said...

And thank you Cobwebby for the astrological thoughts,I'd like ot get in touch with you about that...

October 04, 2006 10:50 am  
Anonymous Linda said...

Also, never ever get hooked on Jeremy Kyle.:)

October 04, 2006 11:11 am  
Anonymous Ellee said...

Rachel, just carry on being true to yourself and writing in your own style, don't try and copy anyone else, even if it is someone you admire. You have to believe in yourself and be passionate about it, don't do anything half-heartedly. I think you know all these things, but good luck.

October 04, 2006 12:29 pm  
Blogger City Slicker said...

Excellent blog

Congratulations on all teh press and exposure

Keep it up

Great new photo too

October 04, 2006 5:38 pm  
Blogger Leighton Cooke said...

My advice is to carry on as you are at the moment. You have a simple direct style that comes across as being very genuine as well as being very easy to read. Background research counts of course. And stamina.

October 04, 2006 7:45 pm  
Blogger Clairwil said...

The family section in the Saturday Guardian offer cash for stories of reader personal responses, memories related to food, music etc. Also the magazine takes readers articles about unusual, traumatic, interesting experiences of which you've had more than your fair share. I recently did a six week evening class about freelance writing. It gave me loads of ideas and highlighted a few publications that I would never have thought of submitting material to. Try looking for similar in your area.

October 04, 2006 9:36 pm  
Blogger beethoven writes said...

re. last para: you were "blogspotted"! Iain Dale's official term for someone who is recognised through their blog.

I blogspotted Iain last week!

October 04, 2006 9:50 pm  
Blogger Shutter said...

Best wishes...1,000 werds a day. The only tricks are
1. Straws in the Wind ...never stop sniffing the news he says mixing his m's.

2. Joining the Dots, seeing the map, viewing the big ger picture.

...and never fucking compromise.

October 04, 2006 10:35 pm  
Blogger Ania said...

Hi. I don't know you at all...but I can tall you thay if you feel that you should write you should do it. everybody told me that I should be a lawyer, but I fell that I love photography. So I strated fight for my my dreams...and soon I have my first, own exhibition :)
good luck

October 04, 2006 10:45 pm  
Blogger mongchacha said...

You write good, potential demands out, to be used, glad you are listening to your deeper self, your inner needs. The world needs more people like you.

October 05, 2006 4:32 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hurrah - glad I made you happy at the bus stop! Hadn't read your most recent posts about taking up writing full time at that point, and just felt like a bit of a numpty, so glad it was the right thing to do....

Keep writing,


October 05, 2006 9:06 am  
Blogger LG Test Blog said...

Hi Rachel, thank you for the link, it seems a big slip up on my part but I accidently logged in and posted with my old blog (dead now since it only covered the General Election 2005!). Any possibility to have the link direct to

Apols for the inconvienance in advance.

October 05, 2006 12:39 pm  

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