I’ve posted an extract from A is for Angelica to my Soundcloud channel. It’s from roughly a third into the novel and part of the back story where Gordon questions his faith following his wife’s stroke. You may or may not be interested to know that this was the section I was working on (coincidentally, at first) when my own, much loved auntie discovered and then three months later died from a brain tumour. I wrote about that experience on Medium.
Two weeks ago, I quit my job.
Being sensible and assuming that I wouldn’t become a millionaire as a result of writing fiction, I’ve always thought I’d really quite like to run my own business. As of 1 April 2014, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing.
But what kind of business? That’s a good question.
I will be a freelance copywriter and content strategist. I have work lined up and that’s how I expect to make my money. But one of the perks of self-employment is flexibility. All being well, I’ll have time to pursue other avenues, including writing that pesky second novel.
Having bought a house, had twins, published a book, lost a job and then found a job, all in the space of two years, I feel well prepared for the challenge ahead. The time feels right. I’m excited and looking forward to it.
There will be a new website for sure and I’ll have a company name, but that’s about all there is to say for now. I can think of at least one juicy detail I’ve left out, but I’ll come to that later.
Thank you for reading and listening. I’ll still be blogging here and the Write for Your Life podcast is back this month. The future looks a bright shade of splendid.
My debut novel, A is for Angelica, has won a Coventry Book Award in the Word of Mouth category. It beat off competition including bestsellers such as The Book Thief by Markus Zusak and Rachel Joyce’s The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Naturally, I’m over the moon about it.
But I’m not daft. Last year, I read from Angelica at the Coventry Literature Festival and I know that if I hadn’t done that, the novel probably wouldn’t be on the list. But then that’s the point and it’s why I’m so pleased.
All word of mouth begins with the author and my reading led to the nomination, which gathered momentum as people began sharing the link to vote on Facebook and Twitter. It was amazing and extremely lovely to see all those people who said kind things about Angelica when it came out talking about the book again.
A huge thank you to everyone who voted or passed on the link. I really, really appreciate it. You can find out more about A is for Angelica right here on my website. And you can get updates on my progress writing novel number two by signing up to my weekly newsletter.
Fresh from scooping the Costa Book Award for his debut novel, The Shock of the Fall, Nathan Filer has included my own debut novel, A is for Angelica, in a piece for the Metro here in the UK. If you can’t read the text in the picture above, here’s what he has to say:
This is a brilliant dark comedy, with beautiful moments of pathos. It concerns the daily life of Gordon Kingdom, a rather fussy and repressed little man who still we cannot help but like. Gordon has a problem at home which he can’t quite face – so he looks outwards, spying on his neighbours, keeping meticulous notes. Never again will I see a twitching curtain in quite the same way.
I’m lucky to have got to know Nathan a little over the last year, but even before then he was a great advocate for Angelica. I can’t tell you how much difference national coverage like this makes, so I am extremely pleased and grateful. You can find out more about A is for Angelica over on my very special page for the book.
Update: The full piece is now available on the Metro UK site.
In March 2013, I said the blog is dead, long live the podcast. In January 2014, I say the blog is back, ready and able to coexist happily alongside the podcast. Yes, that’s right. I’m going to start blogging again.
A little history
I started this blog in 2008 when that’s all it was: a blog. I had a separate ‘personal’ site under my own name, but Write for Your Life lived and breathed all on its own at writeforyourlife.net (I still have the domain, it just points back here).
Write for Your Life’s tagline was, ‘Practical advice and productivity tips for writers’. By and large, that’s what I wrote about, all be it with a sprinkling of personal stuff related to me trying to get my first novel published.
At the time, when there were far fewer writing blogs around, I felt like I had lots of things to say about the writing process. I also loved the whole charade of publishing on the web. I collected blog comments eagerly and checked Google Analytics with unhealthy regularity.
But I soon became cynical. Very cynical.
Because blogging is a mostly self-interested activity. Bloggers talk of building a community, when what they want is a readership. They insist you absolutely have to have their free PDF, but what they mean is give me your email address. Topics and posts are regurgitated over and over again. Headlines are written as link bait.
Frankly, I began to find the whole thing very off-putting.
It seems many blogs about writing are written by people with little to no experience or credibility. Everything and everyone sounds the same and to be honest with you, as a result, I’ve long felt stifled by the need to say something new. I have many unfinished blog posts.
But I must take some of the blame. While the Write for Your Life podcast has gone from strength to strength, since becoming a published author, that notion of needing to be brilliant has only amplified. It’s created some ludicrous internal pressure for me to always be brilliant and correct. Which is silly, I know.
Anyway, it’s for all these reasons that I hit pause on my blogging in March 2013. I’d just about had enough of it all.
Last year, I read Austin Kleon’s excellent Steal Like an Artist and it resonated with me in lots of ways.
Its principle theory is that nothing is original and creative types should feel free to take existing ideas and make something new. Kleon says that putting your spin on things has plenty of artistic merit and value. It’s what we’ve all been doing for years.
With that in mind, let’s talk about linklogs.
Some of my favourite blogs are linklogs, which is where regular blog posts intersect more frequently published links (with added quotes and commentary) to other articles on the web.
It sounds simple, but there’s an art to it. Most linklogs are rubbish, but the best have a storytelling quality and intimacy that I really love.
For a few months in 2011, I tried this method of blogging on Write for Your Life. It didn’t work out because I didn’t take it seriously enough and fell into the trap of posting for the sake of it. However, I’ve always felt that there’s a gap for a thoughtful, hopefully interesting linklog about writing, reading and publishing.
So that’s what this new blog will strive to be.
I understand the format far better than I did before. I feel like the world of writing and publishing continues to change and is ripe for discussion. More than anything else, it feels like the right thing to do.
My return to blogging doesn’t mean I’m going to stop doing the other stuff I’ve been working on in the last year.
The Write for Your Life podcast is in the process of moving to 5by5 and me and Donna are making plans for upcoming shows. It’s been the one constant in my online publishing world and I still love recording and producing. More than ever, I think it will be the perfect companion to the blog.
I’m going to keep on recording the videos too. There’s been a short hiatus but I think the vlogging (what a word) has lots of potential and there’s an entirely separate audience over on YouTube.
Again, I love the production process and though I can’t commit to a weekly schedule, you’ll definitely see regular videos appearing on the blog.
How Very Meta
One final change to tell you about. The name. It’s changing.
In many ways it doesn’t matter because the blog has long been part of iainbroome.com and the title could, I suppose, be anything. But it’s nice to make some distinction and I know that there are plenty of people who subscribe to the blog who aren’t interested in my personal wares.
Write for Your Life was a smashing name for a blog aimed at writers, but that’s not my only audience. The podcast will remain the Write for Your Life podcast, as it still makes sense. But the blog (this blog) is now called Very Meta.
This was initially the name I chose for what was a short-lived one-man podcast project. The podcast wasn’t very good. I liked the name.
Notes for subscribers
For those of you who are subscribed to Very Meta (stick with it, it’ll grow on you) by RSS, you’ll notice that link posts will behave differently to normal posts. Basically, the titles will direct you to the article I’m linking to.
For email subscribers, you will still get updates on the day I post them, but you can expect them more frequently. I’ve had to move away from Mailchimp for this service too, as it would have cost me a fortune to send so many emails a month. Your emails might not look so pretty, but it’s what’s inside that counts, I hope.
Finally, you can opt to follow the site’s account on Twitter, where posts will automatically appear when I hit publish.
If none of this makes sense, I’ve put together a handy guide to how the new approach, particularly link posts, will work. If you have any questions, you can of course email firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Twitter.
I was interviewed recently by The Book Salon, a smashing site for writers and readers. It’s the first interview I’ve done in a while and it gave me chance to reflect on the various, mostly baby-related, changes in my life this last year.
I encourage you to head over and read the full interview, but to whet your appetite, here are some brief titbits.
On a good writing day:
There’s really nothing like putting a paragraph together that you know is just right. The tricky bit, of course, is stitching all those paragraphs together. That comes later.
On thinking like a writer:
People get so hung up on labels – now more than ever – and I’ve never really seen the point. Much better that we get on with what we do and let our work do its thing.
On having an ideal reader:
There are plenty of authors, published or otherwise, who openly admit to writing for a specific audience because it’s where the market is. I can’t think of anything worse.
The title says it all. Amazon have chosen my debut novel, A is for Angelica, as one their 100 Books promotion in October. It means you can snaffle the Kindle edition of the book for just 99p, which really is no money at all.
This Sunday, 11 August, I’m delighted to be heading down south to Oxford(ish), where I’ll be appearing on a guest panel of authors at the Wilderness Festival. Alongside Nathan Filer (The Shock of the Fall) and Martin Bannister (A Map of Nowhere), I’ll be reading from A is for Angelica and discussing mental illness in fiction. Our slot is called Method in Madness and takes place at 12:00-12:45 in the Secret Forum. If you’re going to the festival this weekend, do come along, watch and say hello.
Tom Evans recently interviewed me twice for The Zone Show, an audio/video extravaganza that came about via Tom’s book, The Zone. The book is all about how we get ourselves into various states (zones) to do our best (and worst) work. In my interviews, Tom asks me about my writing and performing.
I’m very pleased to be reading and talking and answering questions at the Coventry Literary Festival on Monday, 10 June. If you’d like to pop along, have a watch and say hello, the event starts at 6.30pm at Coventry Central Library. You can bag your free (free!) tickets on the festival’s EventBrite page!
A is for Angelica, my debut novel, is one of the books nominated for the Spring 2013 People’s Book Prize. If you read and enjoyed A is for Angelica, it would be very kind and most wonderful if you could take the time to cast your vote and maybe even leave a pleasant comment.
Just head to the novel’s special profile on the People’s Book Prize website and scroll to the bottom. You’ll need to register, but it’s all relatively painless and won’t take long. Thanks a squillion. I love you.