Jay Stritch is a student of English Literature at Cambridge University and a lover of all modes of storytelling. She has recently published ‘Seven Minutes’ told in the format of memory collections which trace the interweaving, highly eventful lives of a very interesting family. In her free time she enjoys skiing and adrenaline based sports.
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Guest Post by Jay Stritch:
Starting out as a writer 3 things you should know:
No one is going to read your book
Bare with me, I’m not trying to be cynical or mean I promise. I just want to save you from my initial blunders when publishing. It is so easy to believe that as soon as you publish people will find, and read your book as if by magic. This is not how it works I’m afraid, there is a lot of hard work surrounding the marketing of a book and this should start before you press publish and sit there with your fingers crossed puzzling over why the sales bar hasn’t risen over the week you’ve been sitting there.
Don’t let harsh critics get to you
Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is entitled to an opinion. And almost everyone believes that their opinion is right. Inevitably this means that some people won’t like your writing and may be very vocal on this point. Don’t crumple to the ground, assume the foetal position and start rocking. Take a breath, read it again and try to see what they’re saying, see if there is anything useful you can take from their negatives. And then wait until you get another positive review and ying and yang (as well as your sanity) has been restored.
Enjoy the writing process
It really is the best bit and so it’s important not to lose sight of the reason you’re doing this. It’s easy to get caught up in worries about sales and figures but remember to strip it all back to your love of storytelling. Believe you have something important to share with the rest of us and allow your characters to breathe, make the most of the time when it’s purely imaginative and you’re in that slightly removed place reserved for those who don’t live in the ‘real world’ 24/7. Allow yourself to be an author without worrying about book sales for a while!
5 things you didn’t know about Seven Minutes
-It is based on the lives of real people.
-There is research to suggest that the books concept is real (the brain staying active for seven minutes after a person dies)
-It was originally entitled ‘The Collector’
-It tracks the entire lives of six characters over three generations and spans three different countries somehow managing to tie all of these stories together.
-It is very hard to place in a genre which sucks for marketing but keeps an air of mystery around it.
The best environment for Writing:
Someone asked me this the other day assuming that peace and quiet were the key factors to a productive days writing. The truth is once I was alone away from home for a week, no yelling, arguing, cooking or cats sitting on my keyboard-it was wonderful and I got hardly anything done.
The thing is that in order to write about life, life has to be going on around you. Your mind should be racing, people should be interacting and evoking feeling within you because it is a living problem. I’m not saying that I don’t tear my hair out when someone can’t fix the T.V in the next room and is yelling my name for an impressively long time before I answer because I’m trying to write. But the strange thing is that all this fills you up, and in order to write well it’s no good shutting out your life because that closes off your senses and reactions. In order to imbue your characters with life you must surround yourself with life.
...Having said all this if someone offered me a complimentary writer’s retreat I probably wouldn’t say no!