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Author Life: Part Two

Author Life: Part Two

In the second half of our Author Life series, we look at two more inspirational stories that have resulted in self-published writers seeing their work in print. Fred Scott’s battle with cancer motivated him to share his story with others in the hope that it might help them to deal with their own struggles. This has helped him to find the willpower to write. Ruth Livingstone has changed her life in order to fit writing and self-publishing around an already incredibly busy schedule. Read on to see how they did it. Share your thoughts and opinions with us in the comments section, or on Twitter with the hashtag #writerslife.

 

Author One: Fred Scott

‘One of the key difficulties when writing my book was retaining my level of inspiration and excitement for the entirety of the project – from the instant of the initial prospect, to the final proofread. Particularly towards the end of the process, formality and routine can outweigh innovation as the book becomes another job to fit in. However, it was my unwavering belief in the fact that my words could do good for someone experiencing similar extreme challenges to those described in my book, that kept the end goal in sight Having battled with a rare form of bone cancer and multiple complications for the past thirty years, I wanted to put my remarkable story of survival into words to inspire other cancer patients in their fights and also show the clinicians what the process is like from a patient’s perspective.

As a father, husband, working musician, patient and ambassador of many cancer charities, hospitals and projects, my day­to­day schedule was (and always has been) very busy. Actively choosing to fill whatever gaps I would have with hours of staring into the (initially) blank canvas of a laptop monitor and recasting memories (sometimes very dark ones) into words was a bold move, met thankfully with unconditional support from my loving family. Essentially, most of my early mornings and late evenings outside the normal working schedule were spent telling my story to the ever-attentive computer, which recorded my ramblings. The initial draft of the book was completed within a fairly short timeframe, leaving a whole host of formal and semantic issues to be resolved with redrafting and proofreading in the coming months.

If you are considering writing a book, the most difficult thing is to actually start and then to keep on going without being overly self-critical. It is crucial to stay true to your initial intentions and believe that what you are writing is worth it. If you don’t believe in it, you cannot expect anyone else to. Finally, you need a skilled and trusted editor to advise you. It is so difficult to maintain the right professional distance from your work but in all likelihood you, like me, are not a professional editor. The major issue is sentimentality towards what you have written simply because you have written it. Trust your editor, who will be trained in areas you might not be. For me, I am foremost a musician: my usual language is sound, not words. I was extremely fortunate to have had the great help and guidance of Leila Dewji of I_AM Self-Publishing, who helped me to understand what was working in the book and what needed to be changed. Her sound judgment has given me confidence to undertake another project, which is now under way.’

Self-published author Fred Scott

Fred’s self-published book, One Autumn Day, is out now.

 

Author Two: Ruth Livingstone

‘I started writing seriously rather late in life, in my 50s. There is nothing like the death of both your parents to focus your mind. Life is short. Do you want to be a writer ‘one day’? If so, you’d better get on with it.

When I made this decision I was working full time as a medical doctor and had taken up long-distance walking as a way of relieving some of the stress in my life. In fact, I’d set myself an amazing challenge. I was determined to walk around the entire coastline of mainland Britain, over 5000 miles, something only a handful of people had achieved before me (less than have climbed Everest, in fact).

I didn’t want to give up work. Neither did I want to give up walking. But how was I going to fit writing into my busy schedule? Firstly, I needed to drop some of the many activities I was currently involved with and create some space for writing. I wouldn’t give up coastal walking, but I gave up playing tennis, stopped reading trashy magazines and reduced my television time.

I looked for short projects I could fit into free moments, and so I invented some short writing assignments that were easy to complete in one session. For example, for a month I wrote a piece of flash fiction every day. More recently I’ve used the Pomodoro technique, which involves setting a timer for twenty minutes and then sitting down to write. Why? It goes to show that anyone can find twenty minutes in a day to write. I started blogging and began publishing a day-by-day account of my long-distance walks on a site I set up: coastalwalker.co.uk. Blogging regularly helped to hone my writing skills and gave me renewed confidence as I discovered my writing attracted both an audience and a fan base.

I gave myself deadlines and signed up to courses that imposed time limits. For example, I took a three-month Open University course in fiction writing, and later signed up for a part time BA in creative writing with Birkbeck, University of London. Assignment deadlines certainly focused my attention. If I wanted to pass the courses then I needed to get the work done.Gradually, I accepted challenges to write longer pieces by signing up for NaNoWriMo, the online writing festival that takes place every November, during which you commit yourself to writing a 50 000 word novel in thirty days. I used the energy generated by this to write the first draft of several fiction novels and to produce the first draft of my current non-fiction book, Walking the English Coast, which will be out in late summer.

I sought feedback and advice. My experience during the degree course confirmed the benefit of sharing your work and being open to comments and criticism. Although I’ve chosen to self-publish my book, I’ve decided not to do it on my own; I’ve signed up for a package that includes editorial input and feedback, knowing this will not only improve my finished manuscript but help me focus attention on the project.

How did I fit writing into my life? I cleared some space in my life, picked easily manageable challenges and looked for opportunities to impose deadlines on myself. I stopped procrastinating and started writing.’

Self-published author Ruth

About The Author

Rachel is the Editor of The Self-Publishing Magazine. The magazine aims to educate, inform and entertain the world about everything to do with self-publishing. Rachel has an English degree and a Creative Writing MA from the University of Southampton, and writes in her spare time. She is also a keen runner and an avid reader, especially of historical fiction.

From the editor…

With a new year come new opportunities to find out about or enhance work on your self-publishing project. One of the best ways of doing this is by attending events where you can met and discuss your own work with like-minded individuals. The spring sees both the 'Self-Publishing Conference' and the London Book Fair, both great events at which to broaden your knowledge of self-publishing.

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Details of the 2018 Self-Publishing Conference are given on this website, which is again pleased to be one of the event's sponsors. We always receive great feedback from the event, which is why we are happy to support it once again.

In the next few months we will be altering the way that this magazine reaches readers, so watch this space!

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