The Writing Community

I’m pretty late to the party when it comes to social media. I joined Instagram last year, and only seriously considered Twitter the year before that. I have to say, I have been missing out! I absolutely love the writing community that I have connected with through both accounts, and I can’t wait to meet other like-minded people in 2019.

On Sunday, I finally submitted my entry to this year’s BBC Writers Room open script call. I have been working on the script as a side project for some time, having randomly come up with an idea for a TV drama. This was hugely out of my comfort zone. I usually write short stories, occasionally working on full-length manuscripts (often abandoning the project when the editing gets out of hand!), so a script was something I had never attempted before. I had been planning to work on finalising the formatting over Christmas. Then, disaster struck! The WiFi at my house went down on Christmas Eve, meaning there were no engineers available to fix it. In a way, it was a blessing in disguise. I vowed to totally relax in that week, and be ready to smash the final draft out of the park when the internet sprang to life the following week. I’d set aside Saturday and Sunday to work (planning on filling endless pots of tea to keep my bum firmly in my seat!). Only, the internet cut out again on Friday night. I pretty much lost my mind, I am ashamed to admit. Knowing that the deadline was Monday, and that my plans had gone out of the window, I gave the poor bloke on the phone at EE an extremely hard time. I apologised profusely afterwards, but I have never experienced ‘the red mist’ in that way before! Step between a writer and their deadline, and good luck to you, I guess! Long story short, the (very frightened-looking) engineer arrived first thing on Saturday morning, and by 10.30am I was sat with my pot of tea, scrutinising my formatting and feeling tentatively optimistic.

I guess it must have been the stress of the internet going down. Maybe it was just the fact that I am not used to submitting scripts. Or perhaps it was the terrifying prospect of sending my work to somewhere as iconic as the BBC. But, on Sunday, after I’d pressed ‘Submit’ and received my auto-receipt in my inbox, I had a complete writer’s meltdown. I specify it as being a writer’s meltdown, because they really are like no other, aren’t they?! I had an absolute crisis of confidence. A glass of wine helped. So did the second. But by the third glass I was still plagued with self-doubt and feeling utterly defeated.

So, I posted an update to the writing community on Instagram. Within the hour I had numerous messages from total strangers, congratulating me for submitting and wishing me luck. Because of their kind words and the sense of camaraderie it gave me, I began to feel better (a little bit drunk, I have to admit, but much, much better!). It truly is a community of writers, whether you’re on Twitter, Insta, or here on WordPress. I am so happy I have finally caught up, and experienced it first hand. You are all absolute superstars, and I am thrilled that we are in it together.

Recalling Magic

As a result of sitting down to make New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve been thinking about how magical it was to first publish a short story. It’s a feeling I have enjoyed reminiscing about, because it has dawned on me that somewhere along the way I may have lost it. And that is definitely something I need to work on in 2019!

I had submitted to The Stringybark Prize, an Australian History fiction competition, and had written a wacky little story about a plucky young girl hunting for a bunyip. For those of you who don’t know, a bunyip is a cryptozoological swamp monster (yes, I am a geek!). Being accepted into the anthology, Marngrook, was such a thrilling moment. I remember telephoning everyone in my family to tell them, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the contributor copies, and sharing them out with pride.

I am fortunate enough to have had some short stories published since, but it recently dawned on me that in my quest to achieve the larger goal of publishing a full-sized novel, I have been forgetting to see the magic in every little victory. I commented about this in a post I made on Instagram yesterday (please come and connect with me if you have an account – @mjmarsauthor) and a lovely member of the writing community replied to say that they were still waiting for that feeling, having not yet been published. This got me to thinking, have I been a bit of an arse for saying that the magic has dimmed somewhat? After all, I am always over the moon to have any small successes in the industry, and don’t mean to sound at all ungrateful. But then I realised I have to be honest. Writers as a breed are extremely hard on ourselves. We all have our goals and dreams and not reaching them can feel as though we’re failing, no matter what we achieve along the way.

So, this year I am determined to remember to feel the magic in every step, and to celebrate each ‘small’ victory. After all, they felt like huge victories a few years ago! There is no reason to believe that they are any less because I haven’t met my ‘dream’ goals. We are so tempted to put time limits and additional pressure on ourselves, or to belittle the steps we have taken toward our main objective, that we forget to appreciate exactly what we already have.

Regardless of where in the writing process we are, we can make magic happen every day. And we do.


Oddballs and writers

This year will be the year. I just know it. Never mind the fact that I’ve said this every year for as long as I can remember. This year, 2019, big things are going to happen. And, even if they don’t, it’s going to be fun sharing it all with you.

Writing can be an isolating occupation. We spend most of our time with our fictional characters, dreaming up worlds that don’t exist and having conversations with people we have imagined. We are odd. We have to be, let’s face it. So I’m reaching out to all the other oddball writers out there who also see big things happening this year. Let’s be odd together. I want to share every step of my progress this year with people who understand just how strange the writing life can be. Let’s motivate each other, commiserate when things don’t go to plan, and talk about what writing really means to us. It’s difficult to explain it to someone who doesn’t write. But I know you get it.

A little bit about me, just so you know who you’re reading! I live in Lancaster, UK, a small city that has a castle, a quayside, and a very bleak history that gives me endless sources of horror-related inspiration. I have always loved writing, ever since I was a toddler. I don’t remember ever wanting to do anything else. I have had a few short stories published, and last year one of my horror works featured in the compilation Secret Stairs, which was number one in the Amazon horror chart for six weeks. My dream goal is, of course, to publish a novel. At the moment, I have a very rough draft of a young adult fantasy WIP on the go, which I am hoping to polish up and edit to within an inch of its life over the coming weeks. I’ll let you know how it goes.

There are so many wonderful blogs out there, I am not expecting to compete. But please stop by and let me know how you’re getting on with your own goals for 2019. We can do this together. Hopefully we can motivate and inspire each other, and make each other feel a little less alone on those frustrating days when editing is going terribly or the rejection slips are coming in thick and fast.

2019 is ours, oddballs and writers. We’ve got this.