RG Worsey

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So, I have noticed that almost all bookshops display fiction in alphabetical order, according to the surname of the writer. As my surname begins with a W, this means that I am likely to be on the bottom shelf, should I get published and stocked in high st bookshops.

Retail Science says that people make impulse purchases at eye level, so being way down there could be an issue.

Is there any advantage to taking on a mid alphabet nom de plume? An L, N, M or O surname, perhaps? I considered SW Mersey instead (Worsey rhymes with Mersey), though it has limited Google Power compared to my real surname.

Is this an issue, or is it all in my head? Your thoughts??!
 
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RG Worsey

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it's an interesting question and I can see why you're considering it.

My 50p's worth is I think SM Worsey is a name that "sounds like somebody" if you know what I mean?

It straddles gender and genre and would look good in print on a book jacket.

It might be an SM Wosey Crime or Noir. Maybe a Suspense Thriller or a Historical Fiction title. All work with it as a name.

It has gravitas and clout and gives you a lot of options.
That's why I've used it, up to now. I had doubts, though, in Waterstones, when I looked at the crime shelf and all the surnames from U to Z were way down at sausage dog level.
 
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Jonny

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Hmm, I know what you mean although I think the combination of those initials and your surname work well together.

It has that certain je ne sais quoi.
 
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Barbara

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It may not matter as much as you think with so many people shopping online.

Like Jonny says, SM Worsey is a strong name. You could even use Sam Worsey and still have the gender-neutral feel.

Although, thinking about Steve's curry comment, combining Rogan with the surname 'Madras' might send out a subliminal message, and you'll end up with tons of sales on a Friday night. :D ;)
 
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Hannah F

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it's an interesting question and I can see why you're considering it.

My 50p's worth is I think SM Worsey is a name that "sounds like somebody" if you know what I mean?

It straddles gender and genre and would look good in print on a book jacket.

It might be an SM Wosey Crime or Noir. Maybe a Suspense Thriller or a Historical Fiction title. All work with it as a name.

It has gravitas and clout and gives you a lot of options.
I agree
 
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OK
Cover design, ISBNs, print run. Even if just going digital (not possible with the graphic novel that I self published on 1st Aug), there's costs. Every hour spent on social media is an hour of my life that I can't spend earning money or doing things I enjoy, so that is a cost to factor in, too. Hence me being OK with doing it if I had a publishing deal, but not if self publishing. I charge myself £9 per hour for time spent on Facebook. It's the only way to look at it, that makes sense.
OK, fair enough at 9 pounds an hour. Unfortunately I can't afford to pay myself what I'm worth. :) Other items are minimal cost, except print run. Point well made about graphic novels. Sorry about thread drift. It started with a name (there's song there somewhere)!
 
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Barbara

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spending hundreds of pounds of my own money on self-publishing, and then trying to build an online media presence from scratch
I suspect you'll still have some sort of expense even if you publish traditionally.

Ask any businesses owner and they will tell you will need some sort of budget to start up. They'll also tell you that you will work lengthy hours up front for diddly squat. It's investment. I started my own business 25 years ago. It wasn't cheap. It cost money and time (I spent hours wandering the streets distributing leaflets, doing talks etc) to build a client base. But I took the long view, and it was worth it. Pay now get money back later. Do it wisely and get sensible money later. Same goes for writing. You are a business. And that applies if you traditionally publish too. Building a career will cost and will continue to cost in form of expenses. But look at it this way: you're spending it on your future.

If they're paying me, I'll do it,
I don't know how the publishing houses work (@AgentPete will know), but methinks they don't hand you checks for each hour you spend on marketing your work whether that be on social media or wherever. How can they even know you did it. I'm guessing they simply give you marketing materials, and it's up to you what you do with it. It's in you interest to do it.

Personally, I'm planning on traditional publishing, but I'll be making darn sure I'll be doing as much marketing as if I were self-publishing, inc socila media which I too detest, because

A) I have control over it and know it's being done (I currently work self employed for a big beast who should be doing marketing but isn't, and I'm going to have to take charge of it) and
B) I want to engage with my readers direct on the basis an engaged reader is a regular reader and
C) maximise sales as much as I can.

I know what you mean though. It's a long and laborious task to build a presence etc, but it's a necessary evil whichever road you take. It would be nice if we could simply sit in our head and deliver the words, but...
 
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Hannah F

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I don't know how the publishing houses work (@AgentPete will know), but methinks they don't hand you checks for each hour you spend on marketing your work whether that be on social media or wherever. How can they even know you did it. I'm guessing they simply give you marketing materials, and it's up to you what you do with it. It's in you interest to do it.

Personally, I'm planning on traditional publishing, but I'll be making darn sure I'll be doing as much marketing as if I were self-publishing, inc socila media which I too detest, because

A) I have control over it and know it's being done (I currently work self employed for a big beast who should be doing marketing but isn't, and I'm going to have to take charge of it) and
B) I want to engage with my readers direct on the basis an engaged reader is a regular reader and
C) maximise sales as much as I can.

I know what you mean though. It's a long and laborious task to build a presence etc, but it's a necessary evil whichever road you take. It would be nice if we could simply sit in our head and deliver the words, but...
I'm the same. Some trad. publishers pay through shared royalties. I'm hoping for one that pays an advance, and I intend to use a chunk of that advance to cover personal marketing costs.

Even if your in one of the big 5 (or is it 4 now?) publishing companies, though they have a marketing budget, they expect you to do a lot of social media stuff. I know because one of my friends is published by HarperCollins. Also, when considering taking you on (a new author is, after all, a gamble), they look to see what your social media presence is like already. Each of us is competing against thousands of others for that one book deal. Lack of media presence is like running a race with weights tied around your ankles.
 
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AgentPete

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I don't know how the publishing houses work (@AgentPete will know), but methinks they don't hand you checks for each hour you spend on marketing your work whether that be on social media or wherever. How can they even know you did it. I'm guessing they simply give you marketing materials, and it's up to you what you do with it. It's in you interest to do it.
Publishers won’t pay you to do your own marketing, sadly.

However, one of the things I try to do is to get a commitment from them to retain an external specialist to do pretty much the same stuff.

This is fairly common for books that have “lead title” status.

Just on social media... I’m a little bit jaundiced / realistic(?) about this. Having flirted with things such as viral videos (some of them getting really big view numbers) I think there is often a disconnect between social media success and book sales. Publishers love it when an author has a fabulous social media profile, and I guess any Instagram star with 5m followers ought to be able to sell a book to… well, 0.1% of them? (which is a so-so 5000 copies). But simply having 10k Twitter followers doesn’t mean you’ll automatically sell a ton of books to them.

I see authors scrabbling around on social media, often for very little obvious return, and I do wonder whether there’s much crossover between the demographics of “people who Instagram” and “people who read books”. Yes, there can be – but it’s more complicated than perhaps many would like it to be.

I worry that all this emphasis / social pressure on authors to become social media tarts is actually taking the focus away from what we should be doing… writing damn fine words! To some extent, books have always sold themselves, or to be more precise, readers have sold books to other like-minded readers. It’s organic.

Write a massively compelling book, and they will indeed come.
 
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Barbara

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I do wonder whether there’s much crossover between the demographics of “people who Instagram” and “people who read books”.
This is really interesting. The 'Instagramming' culture seems to attract the fast, disposable, move on type, while 'reading' pulls an involved, 'stays with you', 'keep it on your shelf' type of person. I wonder where film consumers are in this?

Is it just me, or has social media become about outputting, not about receiving/sharing/discussing content? I get the impression people simply want to shout about THEIR stuff, and not necessarily see other's. And is it even seen? Everything scrolls off so fast.

I've been thinking a lot recently about marketing my book for when it's ready. And most of the ideas I've been getting are away from social media for that very reason. It feels no one actually listening on there.
 
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AgentPete

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I feel that’s more and more the case, yes.

There is a lethal short-termism built into many internet businesses. In the old days, when I ran an ad agency, we would often see people confusing sales promotion with long-term marketing. Sales promotion is by definition very short term. It just doesn’t work over the medium or long term (a) consumers by bored with it and (b) the cost of it isn’t supportable long-term.

It feels kinda the same way, that so many internet operations have a natural lifespan measured in months, not decades. I’d say Facebook is fighting this very thing – it’s demographic is pretty damn old now (anyone under 20 using Fb?). They’re fighting this by acquisition (they have a war-chest) but even so, I suspect it won’t be nearly so dominant in five years or so.

Back to seminar prep :)
 
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RG Worsey

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I think some of you have got the wrong end of the stick. I didn't mean that I would be paid to do marketing! I meant, be paid to write. At the moment, I am living off savings, as I quit full time work to write. So, I am effectively investing £1,300 a month in my current book, as that was my wage.

I was happy to spend £500 print bill, a month of time and £160 for a block of 10 ISBNs to self publish my graphic novel. I was grudgingly OK about doing the online marketing for it, too, although I hate it. If I could have afforded to pay someone else to do this, I would.

The point I was trying to make, is that a publisher picked up Dogs of London, I would do online promotional stuff willingly, because it would feel like mopping a filthy floor at the end of a fun catering shift. Rather than a tedious and time consuming, necessity, it would just feel like part of the job.
 
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Hannah F

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I think some of you have got the wrong end of the stick. I didn't mean that I would be paid to do marketing! I meant, be paid to write. At the moment, I am living off savings, as I quit full time work to write. So, I am effectively investing £1,300 a month in my current book, as that was my wage.

I was happy to spend £500 print bill, a month of time and £160 for a block of 10 ISBNs to self publish my graphic novel. I was grudgingly OK about doing the online marketing for it, too, although I hate it. If I could have afforded to pay someone else to do this, I would.

The point I was trying to make, is that a publisher picked up Dogs of London, I would do online promotional stuff willingly, because it would feel like mopping a filthy floor at the end of a fun catering shift. Rather than a tedious and time consuming, necessity, it would just feel like part of the job.
Still, it's started up a good conversation. :)
 
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Jonny

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For what it's worth. Here's my own first-hand experience.

I have been traditionally published and I got a pretty decent advance. I was promised by my editor, at one of the country's leading publishers (if not the biggest) that the marketing dept. was right behind it and would leave no stone unturned in its efforts to promote the book.

In the event I did absolutely every bit of marketing myself, with the exception of a YouTube video on the company's channel.

it was time-heavy work and I did it quite willingly. However it was not quite in line with the promise I had been given. Nevertheless I felt it was worth the (very considerable) effort.

I believe that is still the way of things these days, only even more so, not unless you're a big name or your book starts to get serious traction in the public arena for whatever reason..
 
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RG Worsey

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I am still feeling conflicted about the name thing. I agree that SM Worsey has a solid feel, though there are only about 20 Worseys in Britain, so I am extremely easy to Google. Having a pen name appeals for that reason, too. Especially if I end up having to have a social media presence.
 
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Hannah F

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I am still feeling conflicted about the name thing. I agree that SM Worsey has a solid feel, though there are only about 20 Worseys in Britain, so I am extremely easy to Google. Having a pen name appeals for that reason, too. Especially if I end up having to have a social media presence.
Being easy to google sounds like a good thing.
 
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RG Worsey

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Being easy to google sounds like a good thing.
When I worked in mental health, I did have a few service users Google me and make comments on what they had read, to see whether they could make me feel unsettled. I was never bothered by it, and no harm came of it. One guy was obsessed with a female radio DJ, though, and used to turn up at hotels and events where he knew she would be. The BBC got a restraining order, though it didn't work (it was other men trying to stop him being with his future wife). Does make me wonder about separating personal and professional life. Being easy to Google is a bonus, as long as nobody disturbed does it. At least I am unlikely to attract obsessive, lonely men.

Thanks for all your comments, anyway. Will stick with SM Worsey for now, though keep Rogan Birch as a pen name in reserve and if I do get published, I can ask the publisher's opinion, perhaps.
 
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RG Worsey

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I feel that’s more and more the case, yes.

There is a lethal short-termism built into many internet businesses. In the old days, when I ran an ad agency, we would often see people confusing sales promotion with long-term marketing. Sales promotion is by definition very short term. It just doesn’t work over the medium or long term (a) consumers by bored with it and (b) the cost of it isn’t supportable long-term.

It feels kinda the same way, that so many internet operations have a natural lifespan measured in months, not decades. I’d say Facebook is fighting this very thing – it’s demographic is pretty damn old now (anyone under 20 using Fb?). They’re fighting this by acquisition (they have a war-chest) but even so, I suspect it won’t be nearly so dominant in five years or so.

Back to seminar prep :)
This makes me want to do a happy dance. Heartening thought, indeed. Facebook really brings out the worst in people.
 
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Barbara

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Will stick with SM Worsey for now, though keep Rogan Birch as a pen name in reserve and if I do get published,
I think that's a good idea. You don't have to decide now. I wonder though if you're still pondering / torn because you really DO want to change it but you're not fully happy with Rogan Birch?

Just as an example, I was trying to come up with pen name for YEARS, but all the ideas I had never fully sat right and I was um-ing and ah-in like you. Finally, I had my mother pick one from her local phone book from 2000andsomething which she refuses to throw away because it's the last ever edition. She had a couple of attempts picking one, but then one felt ok. I initially settled for it because I needed one at the time, and thought: 'that'll do'. But now I'm totally sold on it. My quest to find a pen name has ended because I'm totally sure I have the right one.

What I'm saying is, maybe let 'Rogan Birch' go, and fester a new one. If RB felt fully right, you'd be sticking it onto your stationary.

Another thought, 'Rogan' is quite 'exotic' (I don't mean the curry way). It may date on you. These days fancy names are fashionable, but eventually that craze will fade. Something more 'normal' (wrong word but you get what I mean) might be more long-lived with you. And it sounds like Logan from X-men. Some stars have unusual names, but it never is heavyweight sounding. Using initials are probably your best bet for the gender neutrality.

But like you say, let it brew until you really need it.
 
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The point I was trying to make, is that a publisher picked up Dogs of London, I would do online promotional stuff willingly, because it would feel like mopping a filthy floor at the end of a fun catering shift. Rather than a tedious and time consuming, necessity, it would just feel like part of the job.
I agree entirely. I don't do social media. never have.
But I told one indie publisher, interested in my social media activity, that I didn't feel doing social media in my own persona (I am a mature person) would be appropriate to the potential readership, which is much younger, maybe 25-40.
However, I said I would be very prepared, ahead of agreed publication, to set up social media in the persona of my pseudonym. Personally, I would regard this as akin to cleaning the gents' loos (which I once did as a student in a posh golf club), but I would do it if I had to.
 
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Galadriel

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Ok, can I wade in here? I occasionally think about changing my name. I entered a poetry competition once under the pseudonym Sulis Temple - I quite like it. Husband says I should just keep my name as it is.

But, I sometimes wonder if Galadriel is off-putting. Agents or readers might assume my writing is Tolkienesque (it isn't) or that I'm away with the fairies (well, sometimes ;) ).

Re: @SM Worsey and resistance to SM. I've got the nascent beginnings of a website, but what I'm swiftly realising is that blogging is saying more about the internal life of me as person than it is about someone who is trying to promote an as yet unpublished book. I'm not even thinking about where I might alphabetically sit on a bookshelf. I'm finding myself at a crossroads, where I'm now wondering if my thrust is to write stories to tell stories, or if I'm writing because something else wants to come through. Can't explain it.

I've been very resistant to social media, and I've no intention of tweeting. Blogging however, is something I've pondered many a time. But why should a writer feel they must have an online presence? After all, there's thousands out there already, and unless people know how to find you, or it's happenstance they do, then you could be just as invisible as you are being an unpublished author.

When I began blogging (very recently), I deleted several posts without ever publishing them. I thought, every post is 'defining me.' I'm putting up a version of myself, that can't possibly be representative of all that I am. And someone is going to come along and try to define who I am based on what I've selected to write about on my blog. So, an agent might draw their own conclusions about the kind of person they think I am and will make a decision (possibly) to take me on or not, rather than on my query letter, synopsis and extract.

The insight that came to me, was actually a fear of failure and a fear of not being seen in the 'right way.' Once I looked it like that, I've discovered a new energy has entered in the way I write. It's like the 'non-fiction' blog is enhancing creativity and feeding into my fiction writing.

To return to the name, SM Worsey - I think Jonny's right - it could sit nicely with any genre, and as he says, it does have gravitas. Perhaps it's difficult to regard your own name objectively. There again, like my issues with blogging and identity, we're drawing conclusions about personas behind names. . .
 
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RG Worsey

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Thanks for wading in.

One way around the public/private persona thing, would be to use different initials. If I Google "SM Worsey", the first six entries are all about me. If I Google "Ronny Worsey" (my non-fiction and informal name), at least the first 19 entries are about me. So I am easy to find online.
 
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RG Worsey

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But, I sometimes wonder if Galadriel is off-putting. Agents or readers might assume my writing is Tolkienesque (it isn't) or that I'm away with the fairies (well, sometimes ;) ).
If you were to follow Galadriel with some common-as-muck one syllable surname, it would remove that assumption. Galadriel Bloggs, Galadriel Smith, Galadriel Green...
 
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Vagabond Heart

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Ok, can I wade in here? I occasionally think about changing my name. I entered a poetry competition once under the pseudonym Sulis Temple - I quite like it. Husband says I should just keep my name as it is.

But, I sometimes wonder if Galadriel is off-putting. Agents or readers might assume my writing is Tolkienesque (it isn't) or that I'm away with the fairies (well, sometimes ;) ).

Re: @SM Worsey and resistance to SM. I've got the nascent beginnings of a website, but what I'm swiftly realising is that blogging is saying more about the internal life of me as person than it is about someone who is trying to promote an as yet unpublished book. I'm not even thinking about where I might alphabetically sit on a bookshelf. I'm finding myself at a crossroads, where I'm now wondering if my thrust is to write stories to tell stories, or if I'm writing because something else wants to come through. Can't explain it.

I've been very resistant to social media, and I've no intention of tweeting. Blogging however, is something I've pondered many a time. But why should a writer feel they must have an online presence? After all, there's thousands out there already, and unless people know how to find you, or it's happenstance they do, then you could be just as invisible as you are being an unpublished author.

When I began blogging (very recently), I deleted several posts without ever publishing them. I thought, every post is 'defining me.' I'm putting up a version of myself, that can't possibly be representative of all that I am. And someone is going to come along and try to define who I am based on what I've selected to write about on my blog. So, an agent might draw their own conclusions about the kind of person they think I am and will make a decision (possibly) to take me on or not, rather than on my query letter, synopsis and extract.

The insight that came to me, was actually a fear of failure and a fear of not being seen in the 'right way.' Once I looked it like that, I've discovered a new energy has entered in the way I write. It's like the 'non-fiction' blog is enhancing creativity and feeding into my fiction writing.

To return to the name, SM Worsey - I think Jonny's right - it could sit nicely with any genre, and as he says, it does have gravitas. Perhaps it's difficult to regard your own name objectively. There again, like my issues with blogging and identity, we're drawing conclusions about personas behind names. . .
I quite agree that blogging can enhance your creativity. Because it is more writing practice, and the more we do, the better we get (hopefully).

When hubby and I set off travelling in a big, American Motorhome, I started a blog thinking it would be a how-to guide for people thinking of doing the same.

Utter rubbish, of course. The how-to bit got covered quite quickly, as we had to hit the ground running. Then it morphed into comic accounts of all the idiot things we did, and how often we fucked it all up.

But what it was, most of all, was writing practice. Sometimes it took several days to get a blog post right, with all the editing and rewriting, until the sentences were crisp/funny/accurate enough. (Then it could take just as long finding enough WIFI to download all the pictures, lol).

I came back, after three years of that, a different writer than the person who’d gone away.

So I wish you all the luck in the world with yours, and hope you enjoy doing it as much as I did.
Xxxx VH
 
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Galadriel

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I quite agree that blogging can enhance your creativity. Because it is more writing practice, and the more we do, the better we get (hopefully).

When hubby and I set off travelling in a big, American Motorhome, I started a blog thinking it would be a how-to guide for people thinking of doing the same.

Utter rubbish, of course. The how-to bit got covered quite quickly, as we had to hit the ground running. Then it morphed into comic accounts of all the idiot things we did, and how often we fucked it all up.

But what it was, most of all, was writing practice. Sometimes it took several days to get a blog post right, with all the editing and rewriting, until the sentences were crisp/funny/accurate enough. (Then it could take just as long finding enough WIFI to download all the pictures, lol).

I came back, after three years of that, a different writer than the person who’d gone away.

So I wish you all the luck in the world with yours, and hope you enjoy doing it as much as I did.
Xxxx VH
I think that sounds really entertaining - the idiotic things you did. People can relate to plans and trips going awry. I'm trying not to get too hung up on writing brilliantly (just so long as it's grammatically correct, etc) because 'perfectionist me,' will spend forevvvvvvver on that, when I 'should' be rewriting novels!

I'd love to read your blog, if a) you have an active link, and b) you want it to be read! :) Really, you're right, it's the writing practice - the more you do it, the more proficient you get - and to write in different styles too - blogging v poetry v novel prose xx
 
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Vagabond Heart

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I think that sounds really entertaining - the idiotic things you did. People can relate to plans and trips going awry. I'm trying not to get too hung up on writing brilliantly (just so long as it's grammatically correct, etc) because 'perfectionist me,' will spend forevvvvvvver on that, when I 'should' be rewriting novels!

I'd love to read your blog, if a) you have an active link, and b) you want it to be read! :) Really, you're right, it's the writing practice - the more you do it, the more proficient you get - and to write in different styles too - blogging v poetry v novel prose xx
Nothing wrong with being a perfectionist :).
And here’s a link to my blog, Down unknown roads.
 
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