I’m Dawn, and I’m losing the plot

Hello,

Welcome to the first of my posts about life as a writer who is chasing a plot that eludes her.

In this blog I will be talking about many writing-related issues, frustrations, jubilation and of course, procrastination. This will be an inclusive space in which I hope people can join in, vent their own frustrations and find the process a bit less lonely!

I will post an introductory post on me and where I am in the stages of novel-writing shortly, but I wanted to set my intentions here and clear and welcome anyone who stumbles across this now or in the future.

If you are reading this because you got an email from wordpress, hello! This is the blog formally known as ‘dawnvincentisawriter.wordpress.com’. Thank you for subscribing to my words in the past, I hope you will choose to stick with me as I focus on writing but I of course understand if this won’t be your bag or the ship has sailed. Just click unfollow/unsubscribe.

 

For those of you who have followed my blogs before, a select few of them that are relevant-ish to this one still reside here, just labelled as ‘archive’. I’m sorry if I deleted anything that you wanted to read again; I doubt it though, having just spent a coupleof hours mining those posts for gems I’m pleased to have deleted many of them. That blog was very much my way of growing up on the internet but I’m hoping that I helped some other people out by asking questions no one else did.

 

ANYWAY. Welcome. Let’s go boldly into the world of fiction and the complicated procedure that is trying to make words behave themselves.

 

Have a great day.

 

Dawn x

 

 

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Archive: Mindfizz is live!

Hello lovely people – I seem to have forgotten to blog this but my new project (with the lovely Claire Ellis) is live and kicking and full of great content (including a Christmas series of blogs and poems!) And being updated every few days at http://www.mindfizz.org!

 

Please go visit us – follow us on social media: @Mindfizzhq on FB, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Be great to see you there.

 

We are also inviting submissions so if you would like to see your work reach a new audience look at our contact pages!

 

 

Merry Christmas to you all-hope to blog with more good news soon!

 

Dawny xxx

 

 

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Archive: We are a quarter of the way through 2017 already. Where did that go?

..And where did all that positivity go?

I hope you are all well. I hope you are still carrying some new year hope with you, or at least looking forward to some easter eggs. I know that the optimism I started with has been depleted, but it’s still there in parts. It has so far been a year of family losses, car woes, gentle rejection letters and general sadness for me.

IT HAS ALSO so far been a year of positive success with some of last year’s projects coming to fruition and more on the cards soon. I am trying hard to see both in balance. Times that hurt test you and show you what you can do to feel better; I have learnt a lot and fast over the last 12 weeks!

I have had a few rejections from agents now, all kind and considered, and while of course that may lower the mood a little bit, the point is to remember that they have taken time to consider me and that for me is an achievement and I am grateful my words get to places that 10 years ago I would never have been bold enough to send them to.

I am awfully sorry that I don’t update this enough; speaking with a friend I could blame lack of time but I think I just used up all my ranting years every Friday for a while. I will carry on when I can – I’d like to check in and try to post something positive (although we all know it will likely be a world-weary attack on the orange twitgibbon currently in office. Might have a go at Trump, too at some point)

And here is what I totally forgot to post about:

MOSAIC POETRY GROUP LAUNCH THEIR EKPHRASIS ANTHOLOGY

At the Minories Gallery for a week in March, my poetry was up in an exhibition with Ruth Philo’s oil canvases.

There were 19 partnerships all in all, all of them amazing. This is how it worked:

A poet gives an artist a poem. The artist responds with a piece of art. An artist gives a poet a piece of art. The poet responds to this. Somewhere in there, you understand each other’s world a little more, or your own.

Don’t take ‘response’ to mean ‘ illustrate’. It’s more than that. It’s more…a feeling. For example, Ruth’s piece ‘Last of countless thoughts’ is a block of seemingly not much colour and yet, a lot of colour. My poetic response was to how it made me feel; like I was seeing the thousands of colours in the pigments of my partner’s skin on a summery, still light evening, when you have promised yourselves an early night but actually, you end up wondering how the individual cells in skin work. You know. Standard. This project was such a joy to be a part of and Ruth is an amazing artist and a wonderful person to get to know.

Have some snaps of the exhibition:

 

Clockwise from top left:

The finished book, a close-up of my poem ‘Duskbreak’ below Ruth’s ‘The thoughts you once gave me”, a snap of the exhibition, mine and Ruth’s display, a picture of my stepdad and I being all colour-coordinated and cheesy-grinned, a close up of Ruth’s ‘Last of countless thoughts’ and my ‘Last of the countless thoughts’ and a zoomed out one. Just realised how egocentric my snaps are…

 

(Please add me on facebook. You are far likelier to get an update and fun plus: pictures of my little grey tailless cat. Ok, fine, I promise to update this!)

 

And, on 18TH March 2017, this was launched:

 

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Essex Belongs to Us is a collection from over a hundred contributors (poets, storytellers, essayists, you name it) all about our Essex, beyond stereotypes, and sometimes knee-deep in them. The book is available for loan at all Essex Libraries or for purchase at www.essexbelongstous.org. I have a poem in there called ‘Making Sense of Essex.’ It will appear in my next collection of poems, which I am hoping to put together in the not-too-distant future!

The launch was sold out, however my partner and I snuck in by…not moving from our chairs and enjoying the lack of ticket-checking on the day- we had stayed upstairs in Chelmsford library all day listening to keynote speeches armed with water and a pack of fig rolls for company…how that woman puts up with my weird ideas of fun I will never know…ANYWAY. We stayed at the launch and I was lucky enough to have some of my poem read out by the curators of the book, in good company with lots of poetry friends.

 

My current projects are:

Attempting to find an agent who loves my novel as much as I do

Draft the second novel

And one that’s a bit top-secret at the moment, but all will be revealed and launched for May hopefully! Keep an ear out but I am very excited to see what we come up with – it will be a cabaret of words and hope and if you want to be on the mailing list already, on Facebook, please say so and I will add you to the list of those to be tagged on there!

 

I won’t bore you with any more details….just know I am sorry for the neglect and will definitely post lots more soon (maybe….please…just follow me on Instagram…)

 

Loadsa love

Dawny xxx

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Archive: Falling In Love With Words Again

For those of you who don’t know, or haven’t read my stuff before, here’s a potted history of my writing life:

I loved writing as a kid and teen, never thought anything of it despite heavy poetry output that I used as catharsis in said teens (and subsequently polished and realised as a coming-of-age anthology in January this year, please do check it out, very proud of it!), went to university to do something obscure, but it made me miserable, accidentally started writing to feel better, left uni, spent six months sad and unfocused, then decided to try writing and so enrolled on distance courses and began putting fingers to keyboard.

I started writing two books; one, about a plane crash, I will continue one day. I have about a chapter and a half and loads of notes on it. They are the words that pulled me out of my uni-funk. One day I will write that book, but not now. The other book, which I got further into, I scrapped after a couple of months because I wrote myself into a corner and wasn’t skilled enough to work out what the hell I’d done wrong. I ran away from it screaming and left it to dwell in a folder. It’s called ‘Up In Smoke.’ Now, three years later, I have remoulded it and it’s the same story, but it’s less…awful. I’m taking it slowly. It’s a weird kind of book to write, but it’s honest, it’s raw, it’s great fun and I wish I could claw more time with it when I’m not busy. I’ve not planned it properly; I’m discovering as I go (which is what editing is for.)

After I shelved the Smoke, I began writing the book I’m now editing, provisionally called ‘A Compilation of Happy Accidents.’ It was born from a small assignment on a writing course, and grew from there, and was the first novel I completed, felt brave enough to beg people to read, and then embarrassed at how awful it was when I re-read it myself. Two years ago, I’d just finished writing it. Two years. Then I edited it. And then I left it and waited. You’re supposed to wait after you’ve finished, to gain distance from it.

So I did.

In the time I was letting it ‘sit’ I wrote my second novel, which is now in its own “waiting” stage. I’m not touching it until I can face that same trauma that editing the first novel gave me. It’s all very much having my fingers in a whole lot of pies and I’m effectively working on three novels at once!

It can be hard to do this and want to carry on. People think writing is easy-and on the good days, the best days, yes, it really is. It’s wonderful and beautiful and you feel like a literary maestro.

However, writers who feel that every day are either deluded or blessed. Like any job, it requires time, effort, dedication and tears before you turn a corner and find your stride. You’ll lose it again. You will spend most days hating your brain. Sometimes it can feel like a huge task and no real…reason to do it. Staying motivated to do a job when there’s no boss standing over you, or no kind of…guarantees of a future (everything is very much what you put in to it) is really, really hard.

Writing is fun.

Editing is less fun.

For months I’ve been trying to apply the changes I planned to this final draft. Months. But I’ve put it off, managing one or two chapters a month where I’ve found the motivation.

Maybe I don’t think it’s worth it. Maybe it’s depression. Maybe it’s a lot of things, but the goal I have in mind to get it out into the world is coming quick and it won’t happen on its own.

I heard a quote the other day:

“A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” The origin of the quote is shady- from Google’s point of view, it’s a mix of lots of versions of the same idea. I don’t know. Does it matter? It’s the truth. I sat and thought this week about what kind of time-scale I will be able to achieve finishing this book within. I decided to give myself another week to finish this first third, then a month each for the other two. Achievable, sure. And as soon as I set that goal, I started to croak into action. I started editing. My focus came back as I saw that it wouldn’t take forever, that I could compact a big job into pieces and go from there.

It’s going ok.

And today, a breakthrough: I looked at my work, even with the flaws in it, and I DIDN’T HATE IT. Not that I always hate it, but I didn’t hate the act of having to edit it, didn’t want to gouge my eyes out as I corrected the silly mistakes and bad grammar. THIS IS A GOOD THING. I enjoyed editing for the first time…ever, and I plan to continue if I can. It’s these little moments, flashes of lights when the brain feels dark, inspiration when the box set you’re into licks its lips at you.

So that’s the blog today…if you feel overwhelmed,

Break it down.

You might find it unlocks the fear.

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Archive: poem for Abby.

My cat got hit by a car this week. She ran away, we found her alive the next day, no broken bones just dislocated. She is on the road to recovery. Hopefully there aren’t too many forks in that road.

Meanwhile, to try to get through the worry, I wrote this for her and am posting as a kind of replacement blog service.

xxx

For Abby

I don’t suppose I’ll forget these hours

Looking for you and wondering,

Sleepless,

If you would die alone.

Maybe a goodbye would be easier

But who for?

I  promised I wouldn’t keep you alive

To please myself

That our lives were separate

I understand for real now

That love hurts.

In those moments,

Love separated us-

No, our heartbeats did.

You can count distance in heartbeats- six to you, four to me.

I was always sure that ours beat the same, no matter what they said.

Yours too fast

Mine too slow

Maybe our biggest error was trying to match.

My worst nightmare unfolds and replays

I fold in and spread out

And hope

And pray

And lose hope

And stop praying.

But you surpass us and you never stopped running for me

This love is dangerous and you’ll never forget it

Am I worthy of that kind of love that you spread to me

Without even thinking to look before you run?

You breathe to mask the pain

Or to bear it

Who knows?

And i guess in my way

That’s what I’m doing too

Until I forget to breathe

And the hurt catches up

And it takes all i have to reclaim air

For myself again

And get dressed

And persuade myself into the next thing

While I look at your soreness with my questions and fears and inadequacies

Where the answer is:

Anything

I will do anything for you.

For love.

For us.

Even if it means letting go

But not until you’re ready

You weren’t

When I thought I was.

How could I think that was fair?

And you fought when I couldn’t be strong.

I’m the fool asking how I can get through this

When you grit your teeth and scream and there, you bloom and stretch

And I watch and eat my skin, a nervous wreck-

Maybe both of us will survive after all.

The_Understanding_by_yourladyofsorrowcirca 2006

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Archive : The Other Side Of Fear: a transcript

 

I may stop talking about Toastmasters but it’s really unlikely. I’m enjoying it. You would too. COME.

Every meeting I try something new (most often through gentle nudging and persuasion by Georgina, one of the action team at the pre-charter Witham group.) and this week it was to give an ‘Icebreaker’ speech to the audience. An Icebreaker is a 4-6 minute speech about you. An introduction, a way to get to know a newbie a bit better. It was terrifying to stand up and do it but I DID IT! I’m so proud I did, and the length of time in which I cringe afterwards is getting shorter.

I am never gonna be Luther King, never aim for Emma Watson’s prowess, but each step takes me closer to being a successful Dawn. Hopefully.

Here’s the transcript of my speech for those who weren’t there (most of you) and those who WERE there but due to my MEGA SUPER SPEED (I managed to knock 30 seconds off my practice time by gabbling it out like a cat throwing up) missed or didn’t digest it all and maybe wanted to, or just plain like to read this blog that is this week, full of my speech. Either way. It’s here:

“WORDS ARE MY LIFE. If I feel sad or stressed, I open a book and don’t come out until I’m better. If I want to laugh, I watch stand-up comedians play with language. If I’m happy, I write about it. But words haven’t always been my life.

I was clever at school but never really applied myself. It took me to get to rock bottom to learn that I needed other people’s words in order to survive. Tonight, I’d like to share with you some quotes that changed my life.

It was Borges who, in his poem Instants, said:

‘If I could live again my life,

in the next -I’ll try,

to make more mistakes,’

When I read this poem for the first time, I remember it struck me deeply. If you’ve never had the pleasure of reading it, the poem mentions the things he wishes he’d done in life, how the tiny things add up to a life. Moments make a life. At the time I was someone who had made a huge mistake and I was stuck inside of it. I was at university and I hated it. I was in an alien place with no real friends, a different county to my girlfriend-and I was a very little fish in a very big pond. It had been overwhelming, and it trod me into someone even shyer than I was before. I wasn’t prepared for depression-who is? It took me out from the knees and never fought fair. I took self-defence classes to try to fight back-but it was my head that needed those, not my fists.

It didn’t understand that until I read that poem.

I was suicidal. I didn’t recognise myself in a mirror, was on autopilot. I honestly believe I was getting ready to die until one day, some celebrity mentioned this poem in an interview and I looked it up. I found these words of a man who wanted to make these mistakes, treasured them, decided they made a life. I got to the end, and it turns out he can’t do any of these things: Borges is dying and he knows it. This dying man inspired me to jump into the unknown. I feared death, yes, but I also feared dying with regret as much as I feared dying young. I was more afraid of that than I was of the reaction of my friends, family, and of the world for becoming a university dropout with no better plan.

I quit uni, fought the sadness, and won, and maybe I wouldn’t have if I didn’t have those words.

A few months after this, I was at home in my mum’s house, trying and failing to find a job, and toying with the idea of writing for a living. I was convincing myself it was a terrible idea, that I wasn’t good enough, then I found this quote:

‘Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you want to become. Everything else is secondary.’

Steve Jobs said this. I saw it and it made me think I wasn’t crazy, that I should give writing a go, even if I wasn’t good. Even if it turned out to be just for me. So I did. And I loved it. I think it saved me, too. It was these words that inspired me to write and carry on and this is what I’ve done with it:

thanks to this quote, I have continued to pursue writing, which has given me confidence and focus and improved my work ethic. I’ve got three manuscripts in progress and I compiled my own poetry anthology.  I’d recommend these quotes. They’re very motivating.

Thirdly, recently I’ve been feeling a bit low, stuck in a job that isn’t doing much for me and finding it hard to get something new.

‘Everything we want is on the other side of fear’ said George Addair.

When I found the flyer for this club, I debated whether or not to come along and see. I thought it might be good for the future to improve my public speaking voice, in case writing leads to being asked to speak- well, we can hope. The thing that held me back was fear. Total, blinding fear of the unknown and of public speaking.

Then I realised that I’d been through this before: my happiness was on the other side of fear as I sat in my depression at uni.

Writing was on the other side of fear as I searched for what to do with my life after that. I realised that facing my fears has often lead to rewards and things I wouldn’t have done if I’d gone along with what I was told or what felt safe. So I came to toastmasters.

I decided I had nothing to lose and that I’d peep over the fence of my fear, and to my surprise, I’m still here. I’m not good at this, but I’m starting to think one day I could be. I’m still afraid, but I’m here. The fear just stops you trying, but it never really leaves. Not listening to it has left me happier. In standing here and letting life take the reins, I’m on the other side of fear.

And I like it.

So here we are. The words of others revived me and inspired me. These people will never know they changed my life and possibly saved it.

Already in these past weeks I’ve found myself inspired and in awe of what others have achieved with Toastmasters. What can our words do for each other? And what might you find on the other side of YOUR fear? I’ll leave you with these questions.

Thank you, Toastmaster.”

There we are. A speech in which I came out about both depression and sexuality. Ta-dah. As first speeches go, I think it was fairly revealing!

Doctor I resembled most this week:

fri feb 27 dr who

I call this one ‘seeing the monster before it sees you and realising what you’ve gotten yourself into’ or ‘speech face’

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Archive: What’s going on this week? Oh, NOTHING….JUST THE PUBLICATION OF MY FIRST ANTHOLOGY!

Hey! I’ve had a really busy week preparing for this blog, making sure everything is ready…

It’s not a false start as it was in November (or around then.) No. This is months of work and mistakes and planning and unplanning and angry little hissy fits come to fruition. Here bears the fruit of my fingers and the sweat of many days of work.

Search me on Amazon. Go on. I’m there. “Soft As Sin: An Anthology” on Kindle (and only Kindle, I gave up on every single e-book provider as it just didn’t seem worth it and Kindle has been so much easier than the others I tried). I’m on bloody Amazon!!!

If you don’t use a Kindle, don’t worry-you can simply download the Amazon Kindle app to your smartphone for free in your app store/play store & bombs away.

Or. And here’s the big ‘OR’. The big ‘or’ that’s been sat in my bag for over a week, taken everywhere I go so I can stroke its spine and think to myself ‘look at this’ when I need reminding that I have done something I’m proud of, or just when I feel like it. It’s my newborn baby: a long time coming and the labour was a pain in the arse, but look at it, look at it, look at it. It’s been a very hard secret to keep, but now I can tell you about it in a blog it all makes sense!

20150129_155055LOOK AT IT!

Here is me looking surprised at myself with the paperback edition (it’s SO TINY AND CUTE) of Soft As Sin: An Anthology! It IS A TANGIBLE THING NOW THAT IS PUBLICATION-READY. A REAL REAL THING. The only seeming ‘errors’ in there now are supposed to be there. HOW COOL IS THAT?

Especially after the nightmare that was My First Attempt but that’s all part of the learning process, I suppose. Better knowledge, better company. Done, done, done.

Here’s the book close-up.

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With some of the extras you get if you order a deluxe copy from me.*

So. It’s here, but why poetry, you might ask?

WHY NOT POETRY?

You might be looking at me blankly-I know poems aren’t considered rock ‘n roll. Not like…novels. Or encyclopedias…never mind. Poems, poems, poems. There’s so many kinds and I love a lot of them. You have your Carol-Ann Duffy and your Simon Armitage and your Larkin from A-Level. You have Emily Dickinson. You have Yeats and Keating and Burns and Borges and I urge you to try all of them out and read their words and absorb them and then you can either swallow them and learn or you can show off the fact you read poetry, ner nicky ner ner.

Or you could buy my book and read that. It’s even got pictures in it.

Poems are really tiny novels, a potential book that works better in a small format, a whole story in a treat-size bag that you can just keep coming back to. They are letters to people, one-sided arguments, grieving goodbyes and so much more. They are relatable, releasing and oh-so-quotable. (Knowing some might win you some money on a quiz. Do it for that trip to Australia. G’wan.)

And this book has some confessions, some heartbreaks, hopefully some relatable stuff, and it’s all by me. (And pictures by Helen Miller).

ANTHOLOGY 010

You can buy the book as an e-book for £3.60 on Amazon Kindle, or free if you’re on Kindle Unlimited.

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Soft-Sin-Anthology-Dawn-Vincent-ebook/dp/B00RN3624A/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1420624403&sr=8-1&keywords=soft+as+sin

To purchase a paperback from Epubli for £7.50 plus postage, go to http://www.epubli.co.uk/shop/buch/SOFT-AS-SIN-Dawn-Vincent-Helen-Miller-9783737526081/43155

OR! I have a bulk of copies coming in the post. You can buy a copy from me for £6 as I can purchase them at cost. If you buy directly from me you will receive your copy signed and receive a few little home-made extras for free. It’s a no-brainer!

If you would like to order one from me, do so quickly! 30 out of the 50 I have on order have already been reserved.

(If you reserved a paperback copy, I will be in touch with you very soon! You have already secured a copy, don’t panic!)

I can post, but it will cost-but it will still probably be cheaper than Epubli. Local deliveries free!

Payment can be made in cash, or via invoice on Paypal (no registration required. All I need is your e-mail address. No product without payment! Postage added separately.)

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A note on pricing:

I realise that it sounds a lot, and I thank you so much for your support, interest and custom. Print-On-Demand is a lot cheaper than other forms of self-publishing, but it still won’t match an average retail price of say, a volume of Sylvia Plath from Waterstones or Amazon. This is because I don’t have my own press factory: if I did, my costs and prices would go way, way down. So. Here’s your chance to own a bit of history in the making (maybe) for less than the price of a cinema ticket! And the cinema lasts an hour and a half, this book could last you forever!

It has, after all, provided me with hours of selfie fun already. (I was trying to take a nice one for the paper, if they’ll let me in it!)

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