Tag Archives: The Last Dreamseer

What you need to finish a book:

… tea, chocolate, and desperation (oh, and Post-it notes).

  1. Tea. I’m British, and this is the national curative. Just been in a minor accident? I’ll make you a cup of sweet tea for the shock. Bad exam results? Have a nice cup of tea and remember there’s always re-takes. Leg bitten off by a crocodile? Don’t worry, have a nice cup of tea while I wind this tourniquet around the stump of your leg and you’ll soon be feeling much more the thing… While writing tea keeps me going, and a pause for a cup of tea enforces a few minutes’ break during which my tea-lubricated mind can find something to fill in plot holes and generate a few ‘ah-ha’ moments.
  2. Chocolate. My writing is fuelled by a fairly random reward and punishment system which depends largely on how I feel at the time I’m writing. On a good day, all that’s needed is to let the muse flow through me, the words to add up on the computer, and to note each shiny, new one thousand words with a sticker to show I’m making progress. On days where the words have dried up and the plot descended to implausible treacle, chocolate is required: once I’ve written a thousand words I can have a chocolate brazil. Or maybe once I’ve written 500 words. On truly desperate days, a sentence earns it. Chocolate ensures progress when nothing else can.
  3. Desperation. I was the class swot. During my educational career, every single essay or piece of work was in early or on time (there was one exception, which stands out precisely because of its singularity, that simply goes to show I’m human, although a swot). Those early, ingrained habits show up now in my writing life (case in point: this blog post was actually drafted a week ago in dread of running out of things to say). To finish a book, all I needed to do was set a deadline for publication and watch myself get more and more focused as the date drew nearer with the thunderous drone of stampeding animals.
  4. Which brings me nicely to: Post-It notes. There are backs of envelopes and scraps of paper, but I know I wouldn’t be half as productive without Post-It notes. Invaluable not only for plotting stories, they came into their own as I organised all the other jobs self-publishing requires, creating to-do lists which I could screw up in glint-eyed delight once I’d performed the task scribbled on it.

So, those are my four cornerstones. Anything you wouldn’t be without while writing?

Cover of Katy Haye's The Last Dreamseer
See what tea, chocolate and Post-It notes can create!

A Life Well-Edited

Social media is often lamented for providing a stream-of-narrative, unexpurgated account of what’s going on in people’s heads (for some reason, people Tweeting what they had for breakfast is the most-often quoted evidence of this).

I won’t argue that social media does allow for a sizeable degree of over-sharing, but I would take issue with the idea that it’s unexpurgated. One thing I find fascinating about social media is the degree to which it allows us to edit the face we show both friends and complete strangers.

In particular, it allows us to improve how we present ourselves – to edit our lives for public consumption. A glance through Facebook makes me think all my friends have lives that consist of non-stop beautiful cake baking/eating, magazine-cover-worthy home improvement, sun-filled holidays and fantastically stylish AND on-sale clothes buying. Realistically, I know this isn’t the truth – my friends have to deal with dripping showers, lost TV remotes and socks with holes when these occur. We all just choose not to mention those aspects of our lives – we edit the dull stuff out.

Editing is a particular focus for me at the moment because I’ve just received back substantive edits for my next book – The Last Dreamseer. I wish it were the case that I only needed to edit out the dull stuff. Unfortunately, my editor has pointed out a number of gaping flaws that will need significant repair-work.

Now, it’s not editing how I present myself to say I’m confident it’ll all work out fine, because I genuinely know it will. I hire an editor on purpose to point out the work I need to do. If I wanted to be told my book was great as it was my mum could do that for free – and then readers could point out all the errors in 1-star reviews. This way round is much less painful.

However, in the interests of full-disclosure I won’t airbrush out the fact that it’s going to be a lot of work and will involve a sizable amount of both wailing and chocolate. But that’s life. Whatever the impression we give on Facebook or Twitter, it has ups and downs. What matters is keeping going through both.