Discovering My Suomi Roots

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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

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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.

My Thoughts On Scrivener IOS

 

I use Scrivener on my MacBook Pro for my writing projects and have done for almost 12 months now. I probably don’t use it to it’s full capacity but I use the bits I need to help me organise my writing.

When I heard that Scrivener IOS was finally coming out I got really excited. At last I would have a copy of my favourite writing application running on my iPad. But how would it run? Would it be anywhere near as functional as the Mac version? What about the screen size?

I suppose the main reason for wanting a version of Scrivener on my iPad was for when I was away from home on holiday. I always leave my laptop behind and travel with my lighter iPad. At last I would have a seamless process to continue or start a writing project without having to manually swap files to Scrivener on my laptop whenever I came back home.

As it happens the IOS version was released just before I embarked on my Austrian summer holiday. So just in time to test out and as it happens I have started another writing project. I’ve brought my 9.7 inch iPad Pro with me together with an Apple Magic Keyboard that I use with my Mini Mac at home. It’s a nice keyboard and a much cheaper option than buying the proprietary keyboard that goes with the Pro.

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All set up and ready to go!

I’d just thought I’d give you a few impressions of the new IOS version. This is by no means a review as there are plenty good, detailed reviews out there – just a few thoughts.

  • Syncing through Dropbox I have found to be straightforward. Before I went on holiday I set up the structure of the project file on my laptop, added research files, etc and saved to Dropbox. With the app on my iPad I was able to pick up the file and sync everything perfectly to my iPad. I tested this a few times with different variations and found my laptop and iPad syncing without any issues. So for me, a trouble free easy process.
  • Screen size is not an issue at all. The screen certainly doesn’t look cluttered and I have found it a pleasant experience. In two weeks I am 10k+ words through my project which is on target with the word count I set. I think that alone is testament to the practicability of the set up I am using and the ease of use of the IOS release.
  • I like the fact that you can have your notes easily accessible on the left hand side of the screen without having to switch to another screen and therefore interrupting your creative flow.
  • Referring to recently accessed documents/chapters/research/etc is easily undertaken with the relevant menu button at the top of the screen. You can then use the same button to flick back to the document you’re working on.
  • Session word count against your target is available just like the laptop versions. The total word count of your particular writing project is also displayed.
  • Cork board is very user friendly and easy to use. I have found no issues with that.

I have explored all the various functions but, as with the laptop versions, you can customise the display screens, fonts, etc.

In summary I am enjoying using the iPad version. It really has been a godsend and I am sure I will use it even when I get back home. The price may be off-putting for some put I consider it to be well worth the money.

The developers have done a first class job with the level of functionality of this application. So don’t delay if you want the flexibility of writing on the move!

Discovering My Suomi Roots

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I’m presently on holiday in Austria and staying in St Johann in Tirol. The apartment we’re staying at, we’ve stayed at a couple of times before and the view from the balcony is just perfect. Apart, from enjoying a quiet meal and a glass of wine on an evening, it is an ideal location to make a start on the first draft of my next memoir.

My laptop is not to hand (left at home) but an iPad and keyboard are more than up to the task. It also gives me the chance to try out the new Scrivener IOS writing software. This is the same application that I use on my laptop for writing projects. As the laptop and iPad application sync through Dropbox, it means I pick up either device to continue a particular writing project at any time.

After a slow start I made some good progress today. Hopefully I’ll make progress in the early mornings or evenings in the days ahead. The days will be kept free for sight-seeing and walking.

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All set up and ready to go!