Residency Day 10: Ups and Downs

Hi everyone,

Day 10 of my writing residency in Iceland is officially over, which means I’m a third of the way through! Time goes by so incredibly quickly while I’m working. I never have any idea which day of the week it is, because every day is pretty much the same. I wake up around 7:30, have breakfast with the incredible sunrise, check my emails, write, have lunch, go for a long walk, write, have dinner, chat with the other writer-in-residence, write, check my emails, catch up with friends and family back in Aus, and sleep.

Although I occasionally feel like I’ve fallen off the face of the planet and into some alternate dream-like universe, I have loved every minute of this residency. It has been the best thing I have ever done for my writing, full stop. I can see myself improving with almost every chapter. The rewriting process is going to be a lot of work, especially those earlier chapters, but for now, I’m purely focusing on getting this first draft down. It’s crazy to think that I am so close to finishing it now, this thing that used to seem like such a huge, impossible task.

Of course, I still have plenty of ups and downs with regards to this story. On a bad day, even the parts that I like the most can seem like the worst things ever written by anyone. But the good days make me forget all about that.

Reading through my journal always makes me laugh, and reminds me that my bad times never last very long. Let me welcome you into my mind:

***

4. March.

I think it’s really starting to dawn on me that I can actually finish this thing while I’m here. It was always the goal, but until now, I had my doubts. I have written three thousand words in the last three hours! Feeling good.

5. March.

HOW IS THIS THING GOING TO END? I HAVE NO IDEA. I hate everything I’ve written today. Why does it all just sound so clunky and flat? There is no actual ending in sight, because I just keep writing around and around in circles.

6. March.

I just outlined the rest of my novel. It’s so nice to know how the story is going to end, and so reassuring to have a little guide to which scenes I need to write on which days. Excited for tomorrow!

9 March.

This is really hard. It’s like spending all day every day focusing on the one thing you doubt about yourself the most. My mood is directly affected by how the story is progressing. I pretty much haven’t left my room in two days.

10 March.

I just came back from the most beautiful walk. It’s crazy that I’ve already hit my writing target for the day, and it’s just past lunch time! I am so excited to finish this thing! Not long now.

***

I don’t know if you are quite as extreme (or as melodramatic) as I am, but either way, I hope this post can serve as a little reminder that the bad times don’t last. If you manage to write through them, instead of giving up, you will eventually finish your novel. There’s nothing stopping you.

I hope you enjoyed reading. Let me know how you get through your bad writing days in the comments below!

All the best,

Tamara

 

 

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Review: “Dreaming in Starlight” by Philip Elliott

 

Hi everyone,

Here is a short review of Philip Elliott‘s new book, “Dreaming in Starlight”. It’s so important to support new and up-and-coming writers, especially when their work is as special and as poignant as this.

 

“Dreaming in Starlight” is a book that I found myself wishing would never end, while at the same time, finding so much beauty in its brevity. The narrator, JJ, tells truths of life, love, and loss, using artful comparisons, spellbinding descriptions, and often surprising connections. The book is written in the form of letters from JJ, addressed to the people who have had an impact on his life. The unique form sets up the tone for the story, and emphasises the narrator’s loneliness, as well as his desire to belong without conforming. Philip Elliott’s prose is carefully constructed, yet exceedingly natural; unique, yet all-encompassing; and small, yet so large in scope.

I wholeheartedly recommend “Dreaming in Starlight” to any reader who also happens to be human.

For more information, and to purchase a copy of the book, head over to its Amazon page!

 

Yours sincerely,

Tamara

 

 

New Bookshelf Additions

I’ve been buying quite a few books lately, but I haven’t had the chance to do a lot of reading outside of my prescribed novels for University. I thought I’d write a post about the books on my shelf that I finally have time to read, and the books that I’ll hopefully be reviewing as soon as I go on winter break in June!

*In the Quiet, by Eliza Henry. I met this author at the Brisbane Writer’s Festival last year, and still haven’t gotten around to reading her debut novel. Main themes are love, loss, and grieving.

*House of Leaves, by Mark Z. Danielewski. This book is a cult classic, confusing, multi P.O.V., over 700 page, insane, experimentally structured romance about an evil house. That’s what I’ve gathered so far, but it’s all very confusing.

*The Rehearsal, by Eleanor Catton. I’ve recently started working on a book with similar themes within a theatre setting, so I wanted to pick this up and read it to make sure I don’t steer my story too closely towards this one. It’s by the author of The Luminaries.

*The Dust that Falls from Dreams, by Louis de Bernieres. I bought this over a year ago and haven’t gotten around to reading it yet. All I know is that it’s about children in the Edwardian age as it disintegrates into the great war.

*Les Miserables, by Victor Hugo. The 1000 page classic novel that my favourite musical is based off of. I really need to get around to reading this.

So they’re all of the novels that I’ve bought fairly recently and haven’t yet gotten around to reading. Have you read any of them? Which one should I read first?

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

 

The Good Kind of Rejection Letter

Hi everyone,

I’m sure you’ve seen the news about J.K. Rowling posting her rejection letters to inspire writers to never stop submitting. It really does help to soften the blow of a rejection when you see concrete evidence of famous authors being rejected over and over again before making their big break. Today I woke up to another rejection letter in my inbox, but it actually put me in a great mood. This one, unlike countless others I’ve received before it, has just a tiny hint of hope–an undertone of validation. I’ve blanked out which journal sent it to me just for privacy, but it’s a journal that I’d be overjoyed to be published in one day. I thought I’d share my rejection with you to remind you to look at every step forward as a success, no matter how small. Here it is:

Dear Tamara Drazic,

Thank you so much for submitting to ************. We have read your work with interest, and although we are not accepting it, it did come close. We would love to see more work from you, so please feel free to resubmit during our next reading period.

Again, thanks for sending us your work. We hope to read more from you soon.

Assistant Editors

************

As writers I think it’s so hard to not sink into the everything-I-write-is-rubbish mindset, so it’s important to pick apart your rejection letters and find the positives inside them. Often you’ll just get a standard declined, but when you do get something more, hold on to it. Being rejected is just another thing you have in common with the writers you admire, after all.

Happy writing!

Yours Sincerely,

Tamara Drazic

Thursday Quotables: “Behind the Beautiful Forevers”

Hi everyone,

I’m taking part in “Thursday Quotables” this week! It’s hosted by Bookshelf Fantasies, and it’s basically an activity that gets readers and writers to share their favourite quotes from the books they’re currently reading. All the contributors then link up to create a treasure trove of priceless quotes, and a whole new to-read list.

books0212tharoorThis week I’m reading “Behind the Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo. It’s a beautifully written book of non fiction that explores life in a Mumbai slum, and it has some incredible quotes, particularly in Abdul’s dialogue. Here is one of my favourites, where Abdul is convincing his parents not to marry him off:

“I hear of this love so often that I think I know it, but I don’t feel it, and I myself don’t know why,” he fretted. “These people who love and then the girlfriend goes away-they cut their arms with a blade, they put a cigarette butt out in their hand, they won’t sleep, they won’t eat, they’ll sing-they must have different hearts than mine.”

He told his parents, “You don’t hold a hot iron in your palm, do you? You let it cool. You think on it slowly.”

I haven’t quite finished reading it, but I’m definitely planning on writing a review once I’m done. Let me know in the comments which quotes from which books have stayed with you long after you finished reading them; I’d love to hear them!

Yours sincerely,

Tamara Drazic