Discovering My Suomi Roots

RootsCover

My new memoir is now available in eBook and printed formats from Amazon. The UK and US direct links have been added to the side bar of this blog.

Discovering My Suomi Roots

 

Booklaunch-Logo-300x89

ME : THE QUESTION

I remember staring at the screen and reading the question one more time. It was short and sweet. Easy for me to answer, but my mind stalled for what seemed like an eternity stubbornly refusing to process the implications.

I was like some dyslexic schoolchild. My thought-processing faculties struggled to get going and it was as if time, itself, had come to a complete standstill. I was completely flummoxed. This was unexpected. It was like when you have a conversation with someone and suddenly they switch to a completely unrelated subject without warning. No continuity, equals confusion often for me. Maybe I’m just not as sharp as I used to be? Or can I blame advancing years and loss of brain cells as the perfect excuse?

Confusion lifted as my brain, without warning, clicked into gear. What threw me initially was how I had overlooked it? I looked at the date again. The message had dropped into my inbox over four months ago! I was truly mystified. I was meticulous when it came to computer housekeeping. Always reviewing my email inbox, as well as old files and folders, on my computer. I had been the same when I was working. I endeavoured to be organised, clearing the clutter. It was key to working in a hectic environment. There was so much work to do and too few hours to do it in.

It was the simplest of questions. But who was asking the question and why? The name was not familiar to me. But maybe it should be? More to the point how did they know me? I was confused. So many years had passed.

Susan was sat with her feet up on the settee reading a book on her kindle. Probably another Tom Clancy thriller. Although, these days, she was trying out different authors from the seemingly unlimited supply of free ebooks offered by the growing number of self-published authors. She must of looked up and seen the puzzled expression on my face.

“What are you looking at?” she asked, tilting her head to one side, as she lay her kindle down.

“Come over here and I’ll show you,” I remember saying.

Curiosity got the better of her, as she quickly rose from the comfort of the settee without any further comment, and sat alongside me on the seat I was perched on. She looked at the screen. She was deep in thought and I knew she was going through the same stilted-thought process I had just a few moments earlier.

“Who’s it from?” she asked finally.

“No idea,” I responded. “I was just looking through my messages and noticed this one was marked as unread. The funny thing is I received this over four months ago and never noticed. I can’t understand how I missed it.”

“So are you going to reply to it?” she asked looking at me.

“I don’t know … I really don’t know,” I said staring at the screen.

All I could think about over the next couple of hours was the message despite my best efforts to find another distraction. Picking up a book, or channel-hopping with the television remote, did not retain my attention span for long. I kept wondering who had sent the message and why? I knew I would have to respond to it. I needed to find out more. My curiosity was well and truly piqued. I imagined the sender had probably given up all hope of a reply, by now, given the weeks which had elapsed.

I opened the lid on my laptop rousing it from it’s sleep mode. I had left the browser open on the window displaying the message. Slowly and deliberately, I typed out my response. I hesitated momentarily, before pressing ENTER. There, it was done. Little did I know then, that action would change the whole course of my life and take me on a journey of self-discovery. I would ask countless questions over the weeks ahead. Everything which had gone before, I would challenge and come to view differently.

Before I continue, I need to take you on a journey with me starting from my childhood. This will help you understand my roots and the reasons for my hesitant response to the question I had just answered. Some of the events I can remember quite clearly, others are more faded with the passage of time.

Discovering My Suomi Roots

RootsCoverFinal

It’s been a little while since my last post all those weeks ago. Christmas has come and gone and we are now into a brand new year. I’ve been kept busy with some family time, writing and walking the excesses off from the festive period!

So what about the writing? I finished my first revision process and now have “Discovering My Suomi Roots” on my kindle for final editing. I find this process helps me get a feel for how the book might look and read in eBook format.

Usually I correct any grammatical and punctuation issues at this stage. I also tweak any awkwardly structured sentences or paragraphs as I read through. There are a couple of the later chapters which I am not fully comfortable with. I’ll take the opportunity to review these and rewrite as necessary, but nothing major.

It’s another short memoir, but over twice the length “Timmy” turned out to be. After final editing I have a couple of readers lined up to help with any last minute tweaks but otherwise it should be just about there.

So what exactly is this memoir about? I’m not sure I’ve gone into any detail explaining this apart from some small references to the content here and there, either in the “Timmy” memoir or my blogs.

I don’t want to say too much or I’ll spoil one or two twists and surprises I have in the book. Briefly it’s about discovering my Finnish roots later in life in a very unexpected way. I take a look back on my childhood years, touching upon my relationship with my family, and the story follows the roots thread throughout my life up to the present day. Hopefully you will have got a flavour for what’s in store.

I set myself the deadline of the first quarter of this year and fully expect to be on schedule to have released it or certainly have it available for preorder by the end of March. It will be available through Amazon in both eBook and printed format. I have in mind also to bundle it up with “Living With Timmy” and release that version at the same time.

That’s it for now!

First Revision Completed … Almost!

All set up and ready to go!

I am nearing the end of the first revision of Discovering My Suomi Roots. It has taken almost six weeks with some distractions along the way. I have found this process satisfying as I have something to work with, unlike the first draft stage, where all you have is a blank sheet of paper or computer screen!

So how has this stage in the process gone? Not bad at all. Briefly :

  • Some of the initial drafting was good and detailed – I kept much of the content,  adding bits here and there. Some content I deleted entirely. Other areas of the drafting were “bare bones”and I spent most of my time here redrafting.
  • The structure of this particular memoir is starting to come together. Whilst there is some necessary plotting deviation, hopefully it is all held together by a common thread.  At least I hope that is what the reader will find!
  • The number of chapters have increased as I have remodelled the structure of the draft so that each chapter flows logically into the next.
  • I had chapter headings in the initial draft more as a point of reference for me. I have revised and renamed most of these to fit in with the finalised chapter content.
  • I have done a small amount of obvious punctuation and grammar fault-finding although most of this I will pick up in the final revision stages.

Finally, I need to complete this process over the next couple of weeks and then leave it until the New Year to pick it up again for a third revision. This allows me to take a fresh look at the writing and hopefully assists before loading onto a kindle for a final polish of the work from me.

Afterwards I have some readers lined up to give me their thoughts and honest opinions before preparation for release which I hope will be in the first quarter of 2017 … a little later than anticipated but hopefully better for it.

First Draft Complete – Now The Real Work Begins!

Finally I finished the first draft of Discovering My Suomi Roots on time (by a couple of days!). Now the real work begins!

The first draft I always find hard work. I’m more of a plotter than a pantser that’s for sure. But, despite all the  planning at the outset, I still find it hard working my way through to completion. Somehow I manage to plod along convincing myself it will all be worth it in the end.

My planned structure and content for a writing project always has to be flexible. As I am writing I find other detail I have overlooked for inclusion. Or ideas on how I might tell the story differently suddenly strike me. So there has to be some flex in your plan.

It is very tempting to look back and start rewriting parts of your writing that you know will have to be rewritten. Avoid this! Your focus needs to be aimed at completing the initial draft. Revision comes later!

Once completed, for me, the enjoyable part comes next. I find the revision process much easier. You have something tangible to work with even if you are working with a very rough first draft. My words and thoughts flow easier. I am much more relaxed as the story starts to come to life and take shape.

But without that first draft there can be no revision process!

 

 

 

Writing That First Draft

This is a major learning year for me. Up to the end of last year I had written a few short stories and non-fiction articles. Most of those being assignments for a creative writing course I was studying.

In 2016 I was determined to turn my hand to some larger writing projects and learn a little more about the craft of self-publishing. To date I have released a couple of short works – a personal memoir and a non-fiction title, both about 15000 words each. Not long writing projects by any means, but a big step for me.

Over the last couple of weeks I have begun my next writing project in earnest and I am 13000+ words into it – less than half way. When I started writing I read an awful lot of blogs and articles on the subject. I have tried to pick out advice and tips that work for me to help me along the way.

Here’s what I’ve learned to date about writing the first draft :

The Right Environment

Firstly you need to find the right personal environment to write. No matter what you are writing you need somewhere that suits you. I have learned that everybody is different and has different preferences. Personally, I like to take myself off into a quiet study room, when I am writing at home. No music, just peace and quiet. This helps me gather my thoughts. Either early morning or early evening is when I tend to do my writing, setting an hour or two aside to focus on it.

Planning

I’m a planner. I like to be organised and have structure. Even with a structure I can still be flexible with my writing but at least it gives me the comfort of a framework to work within.

I use Scrivener for my writing but you can use any writing software that you are familiar and comfortable with. I plan out the chapter structure using the cork board option within the program. Once I have completed that process I then plan out the content for individual chapters making notes on the subject matter I want to include. These are easily accessible and to hand within the Project file as is any research I have done.

You should have a basic idea on how long the writing project is likely to be in terms of word count. This is something you don’t necessarily have to stick to unless of course you are writing an article or story to specific word count guidelines. It will however give you an approximate guide of what you should be aiming for. If you have set yourself a timescale for completing your first draft you can then quite easily work out a daily word count target.

Set yourself a daily word count and stick to it. Any deviations should be exceptional. This certainly helps keep me on track to progress and finish the project once I have started.

With everything set up I am then ready to write.

Writing

Write until you finish the first draft. Do not look back on your work with the intent of revising any of it until you have finished. Doing so is fatal, as I have found. It just gives you an excuse to slowdown or stop the whole process of finishing your work.

Your ideas on individual chapter content might alter as you progress your writing. Rather than make any drastic amendments immediately I always wait until I finish the first draft. If need be I make any necessary notes to myself in the manuscript itself. I can always cut and paste chunks of text later into other chapters as part of the revision process.

Usually if I look back on what I have written I see a lot of obvious amendments I need to make. These may be areas where I could have used more or better dialogue, use of cliches, too much useage of particular words or phrases, etc. I leave any amendments until the second revision.

After The First Draft

Once I have finished the first draft that’s when the real work begins for me. Shaping and finalising the writing into a completed work. How many revisions does it need? I need to be happy that it’s as good as I can make it so I don’t set myself a revision maximum. However there has to be a limitation to the number of revisions you undertake to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

I have found writing to be a continual learning experience.