Writer Questions

~The Words of Bek – Becky Paroz

Did you always want to be a writer or did you kind of fall into it? Tell us the story of how you came to identify yourself as a writer. 

I used to write in school (many years ago) until my Senior English teacher pretty much killed my love of it. I then spent many years in the construction industry undertaking massive amounts of technical writing, but never really thought of that as writing. I was investigating an option for friends who write, and the contact I was talking to challenged me to write something. 12 anthology contributions later, I kind of got the bug to write. I have published my own non-fiction book. I have contributed to over half a dozen magazines around the world, and won some awards for my writing. I have been involved in a best selling anthology most recently this year, which was a wonderful achievement.

At some point in the last five years my view of myself started to include an identity of a writer. I realised that I had been writing for most of my life, including the technical aspects of writing business and project plans, procedures, website copy, and business reports.

I’m still trying to differentiate between the identity of writer and author, but it’s more of an intellectual exercise than a huge part of my psyche. I’m interested in what other people think is the difference between the two labels. I think I am both.

As a writer, are you a reader? What genres do you read and do you read more frequently in the genre you write in, or avoid it completely? 

I was a reading addict way before it was cool and there were memes about it! My mother stopped reading my Charlotte’s Web as a child, before she finished the book. I was so upset, I taught myself to read, and never stopped! I Was reading Dickens, Conan Doyle, and Hugo before I was a teenager, and then I discovered sci-fi (Heinlein and Pratchett being my fave) and fantasy (McCaffrey and Eddings being some of my first). I used to read the side of cereal boxes as I wasn’t allowed to bring a book to the table, and I volunteered in the library for most of my senior schooling years in order to be near and touch my precioussessssss!

I was dragged up in a caravan for most of my childhood, so owning a library of over 3000 books now is one of my childhood dreams come true. And honestly, thank all the gods for libraries because I could never feed my addiction solely on my wages!

Tell us about your first writing experience. How does that compare to where you are now? 

What I call my “first” writing experience is when I wrote creatively for a non-fiction anthology published in the USA called “The Female Leader”. It was so freeing to just write ideas and weave them together to a point, but without any rigid structure, just around a concept. All my technical writing is to a standard and a format and a template, so this was just so relaxing, and interesting. It felt a bit like freedom, which I think is the point I caught the “writer” bug. It was probably why I then contributed to so many anthologies; I could just write to an idea and make it whatever I wanted. I then wanted to practice short form writing, and so began my magazine contributions – trying to write the same concepts but in 800 words, instead of 3500. I am now working on 2 other non-fiction books, and a fiction book. I think I have developed into a much more creative style than when I first started, and I am definitely enjoying even more freedom to create a fiction novel.

I think writing is like anything, a craft you practice, and while I am really good at the technical side, I can see me growing in more skill as I explore writing fiction more. Hopefully this is the start of some great fun!

We all know the ‘just write’ memes if you are following any writers page, so apart from that, what’s the best advice you can give to someone new? 

I think every writer is going to offer the same advice, just write, but to be more specific, try and work out what type of writing works for you. I am a binge writer, a word vomiter as I call myself. I work best when I can be alone with my world and write several thousand words at a time with little to no interruption. I really get into a zone and don’t want to come out of it. I find it hard to just write 1000 words, unless I am writing for one of the magazines I contribute to. Which is the entire article. Another really big thing for me that I am still trying hard to unlearn, is editing as I go. Because of the demanding and deadline drive nature of technical writing, I usually edit and check my work as I go. I think that is really detrimental to creative writing – fiction or non-fiction. I believe it is much better to get it all out, then go back and almost start again once you have the concept poured out. You can be more focused on how it fits the entire story and you will have developed your skills further once you have finished the first draft of a book. You can use those skills to improve the start of a book, which you can’t do when you are first starting out. Start with the end in mind, then get to the end, and start again.

What’s your biggest obstacle to writing and how do you overcome it? Most of us know that it is time, so try and let us know when you are best at your writing, and why that doesn’t work, and what you do to counter or overcome that problem. 

Time is always the issue. For me it is the demands of others. I run several businesses, am a coach, a mentor, and consult to a few clients. So I have random requirements of me at all hours of the day, as I do like to be available to my clients in every area. Really hard as a binge writer to allocate an entire day and not expect someone to need me! I’m also a night owl, and would love nothing better than to write for most of the night when everything else is still and quiet. However I have all these demands during the day, and 2 Ridgeback puppies that are very cuddly and need lots of love. They just turned 18 months old and are still in training. So my ideal writing times are their (and my clients’) sleeping time, which means, that’s my sleeping time too. I am still working on how to make my timetable work around my writing, instead of my writing around my timetable. I try and schedule one or two days a month, unsually a weekend, where I am unavailable and binge write then. In the meantime, I am writing blogs, copy for websites, articles for magazines, and that just get done in between all the others things!

Self-published or traditionally published?  Tell us why that works for you? 

Self Published all the way for me! I am a control freak, so the idea of letting someone else creatively managed my project is just this side of hellish! I am an engineer, risk manager and compliance expert, so I research everything. After several years of researching this industry, not only do I realise how “skewed” it is to privilege, I also see how exclusive it is. If you aren’t somebody, you are nobody. I hope to be a part of that change, along with other authors, who see that it is the value of the words, not the publishing house that makes a book worth reading.

Traditional has its place, but its not for me. I think each author needs to work out what is important. For me, the story is just as important as how it looks to the world, aligned with my vision.

Here is your chance to plug a book. Tell us about it and why we need to read it? 

As its my page, my books are already plugged over a the “in-print” page. I was recently very privileged to be given a #1 best seller status for the anthology ChangeMakers IWD Edition [inert link to purchase] along with 21 other women who were involved in the project.

I think that there is a story, or part of story, in that book that just about everyone could relate to. It is a really powerful collection and I absolutely recommend giving it a go.

I say just read. Read until you find the book that you were looking for, that you needed to read. It could be a fiction, or a non-fiction, but just read. Everything, and anything. If you read the same as everyone else, you think the same as them. Seek out the weirdos and the obscure, the lesser known and the recently published. Support the unknown names, tell your friends, and tell the author especially, that you loved their book. It never gets old to hear that something you wrote was powerful enough to affect another human. The series of interviews to follows will have books mentioned in each one. So this is more about plugging a love of all books – go explore!

Next project? Where are you in your writing journey and where to next for you? 

Like all writers, I have several projects on the go. I am trying to finish my first draft of my fiction novel, and I have 2 non-fictions in various stages of progress. I want at least one of these published in 2020. Depending on how well received my fiction is, I hope to be able to produce a few more and turn it into a series. Plus I have a few magazines that I write for, but I really would like to get paid to write more – as we all would!

What’s your favourite genre? Tell us about one book from that genre that changed your life or outlook in life? 

I think science fiction is my favourite. I keep coming back to it and it’s the sci-fi ones I read the most. The book that opened up my world was Mort by Terry Pratchett. He is funny, clever, smart, smart ass, and has a huge amount of social commentary included in his Discworld series. Mort was the first one I read and I was amazed to find an author that wrote in a way that I could relate to, in a manner that reflected a lot of the ways I viewed society. No one else compares to Sir Terry Pratchett, and his is a great loss to the literary world. He also led me to other authors, such as Neil Gaiman, so I have him to thank for that too.

The most personal question of all, what does writing give you? Why do you do it, what’s the point, and what does it provide in your life that you can’t fulfil by any other means? 

Writing is freedom for me. A way of expressing so many thoughts, ideas, concepts and commentary, in a variety of interesting ways. Writing for a book is a different style to writing for a magazine, which is different again writing technically or for copy on a website. The power of words can change people’s life, I know that because they change mine constantly. The way in which I think, view the world, the way in which I interact with people. That is the power of words, and to wield them with influence and wisdom, is a truly great gift.

Bonus Questions (If you wrote both, feel free to answer both!)

Non fiction writers

What is the hardest thing you had to learn about putting together a factual book? Talk about how you verify facts, or try to display the information, especially if there are a lot of photos or diagrams.  Offer some advice for the audience who might want to try non-fiction. 

Non-fiction is an interesting one. There is as much variety in non-fiction as there is in fiction. I think the things for me way the order in which to present information. My book, The Words of Bek, is a collection of speeches and think pieces, magazine articles and poetry, so there wasn’t a lot of “facts” to present. However, I still wanted it to have some flow and so that was mainly what I struggled with – how to put all these pieces together to make something that kept the readers engaged. I think I could have presented it in a myriad of ways and it still would have worked, and therein lies another lesson – that done is sometimes better than perfect. You can spend so long on getting something that is really important to you just so, but you need to remember that the book is for your readers, and that you at some point want them to read it. So knowing when enough is enough, and letting the book out intot he wild, is another really important part. I think that really applied to non-fiction, because you can keep refining, and adding, and polishing, but at some point, only you, the writer, will find those details relevant. Readers want to read – so give them something to read!

Fiction writers

There is a lot of information about world building, character driven plots, and showing not telling. Discuss briefly how each of the elements of your book came together and which part do you love the most – the world you’ve built, your characters, or the story itself?  I know, it’s like picking a favourite child, but give it a try. 

I’m still working on all of these parts, so I will come back and answer this question amore fully after I’ve published my first fiction! For now, I am definitely in love with my main character, and she is a lot of fun to write.

Writing

The Writer versus Pain

must write have to write need to write,  write write write, right? #wordvomit #bingewriting  

It’s hungry and the only way to feed it is to pour the words out, vomit and explode them into the page as fast as you can before the ideas the language the colour the flow, it goes 

It must be captured in that moment because it is beauty it is fleeting it is pure it is perfect   It flows.  

A torrent of picture described in 26 characters and punctuation! A emotional upheaval via ideal twist, a niche observance, and marketing wizardry splitting of the dross of daily writing from the rare jewel like brilliant moments where the intersection of subject matter knowledge intersects with creative/explosive epiphany while keeping in perfect alignmenty goodness with world vision, characters and plot arcs planned… 

It is a sublime and spectacular events that is like a super-blood-redpunkblue-closertotheearththanever before moon it so rarely can happen.  

Except then your gall ball removal uncorks the genie of words and you have them ALL THE TIMES. All of them. All of the times. Like the time you’re sleeping. Muse/bitch wakes you up to tell you that storyline that you just plotted, what if you changed the order?  If you did this and this and this and did it this way…. 

About to hit yes on a phone call, but Muse-y warrior gets all dictator on your ass and demands you write that sentence down, finish that paragraph because if you don’t get it down now…. 

She doesn’t give two shits if it’s your boss. Or client. Or your editor.  

WRITE WRITE WRITE RIGHT NOW 

She is the storm.  

The writer is exhausted because they are but the side effects of the battle between the Muse, so eloquent, so voluble, so verbose, so needy, so won’t shut up, versus the Pain. Sorry THE PAIN… 

The pain of arthritis, that never-ever-ever-ending-friend who won’t ever fucking leave and the pain of the gallstone passed both conspire to keep the Writer down resting and  

ssshhhh….. Now. If arthritis is the nanna who sit y your side knitting and telling you sage avice that is completely useless and unhelpful and you just wish she would fuck right off, then PAIN is her teenage grand-daughter who is overindulged by nanna and can do no wrong.  She is all about expression.  She is a cunt. 

The Writer also conspires by doing dumb shit like interacting with her 2 Ridgebacks puppies, which do as puppies do, and jump and clump and pull and push. The writer keeps thinking that today it won’t hurt. The writer is a genius in every other way but cannot stop doing dumb shit when the body says nooooo.  

The Writer and Arthritis have been in a war /friendszone relationship for over 25 years now. They know battle lines, actions versus reactions and how the other thinks acts and breaths. Besties.  At least the familiar and the known.  

But the new player Ghost of Gall Stone Passed has bought back an old player.   

And old player pushed off the chess board or at least blocked like a rook in a corner… until now.  

PAIN IS BACK BITCHES and she has more piercings than ever. Cranking the apolcayptic-Scottish-death-metal-with-monk-chanting-punk-mixup banshee noise she calls music, PAIN strides in, her docs and oversized safety pins clanking, kicks a chair into place and says  

(look away now children or the easily offended)  

OI CUNT. IM BACK. YOURE A FUCKINGLAMEASSMOTHERFUCKER AINT YA 

POOR PRICK SUX TO BE YOU RIGHT NOW 

I’M NOT HERE TO MAKE IT ANY BETTER…. 

and then she switches tone and get down real low in your ear and you’re lying there as the Writer and you’re starting to sweat and not writhe in pain already given and the anticipation of a fresh batch in any form in any place will be a searing poker stabbed between two ribs stirring something deep within.  

Will it be a twitch that spasms but not at regular intervals so you can’t plan and you can’t win and you can sleep and you cannot be comfortable?  Will be a searing stab inside the lining of your bones?   

As PAIN leans in, her lips practically touching your ear and she stage whispers… 

If you won’t stay still I will fuck you up. I will fuck you up so bad and so many ways you will wish for death. I will do things to you that you can’t describe and then I will make it worse. Do not mess with us.  

The Writer sees the other Evil Bitch in this horror story, knitting needles held ready to defend….who?  the Writer is not sure what, or who, the needles are for and fear overcomes…  

They have formed an alliance, PAIN and Arthritis. The punk teenager with a gift for pain and the old lady who is as deadly with her knitting needles as she is with her tongue and her inability to shut up about my joints; they are now A TEAM. A formidable army of ineptitude, inability and sanctioned violence upon the body of the Writer.  

The Ghost of Gall Stone Passed howls with laughter’s that echoes down tomb like halls and the cold stone hallways to finally reach the heart of the Writer.  The maniacal cackle echoes around hollowly, sounding like lost dreams… lost time… lost words… 

It is suddenly chilly, lonely, deserted, creepy, malignant, eerie, and echo-y. The Writer is alone with the Ghouls suddenly and aware that there needs to be caution… 

The Writer is willing, please no more I will be good I will rest I will remind to myself and I will accept what you are trying to tell me.  

The Writer tries to makes deals with the Devils, or the Angels, never sure which, and pleads that being good will return good favour from them all.  Please? 

The Muse stirs…. 

Fluff Writing

Writer versus Project Management

The framework of project management applied to the practice of writing, the use of a professional tool in your creative works

The Key Principles

Project Management in Australia is based
on the PMBoK (TM) and uses the following
framework to achieve an outcome or
goal:
• Scope
• Cost
• Schedule
• Risk
• Procurement
• HR
• Quality
• Stakeholder Management
• Communications

Scope

What is your book about?
Must be pretty cheap to make a book these days, every is doing it.
I reckon I’ve got a book in me…

Why, for what audience, by when and for how much are you producing this book? How do you determine what is client satisfaction – the project complete?

For your plot, how do you summarise what you need to have happen and the step along the way according to the following considerations:
• Plot
• Length of Story – both in words and in story timeline

Cost

The cost of editing, publishing, marketing, illustrating,
writing, printing, selling, appearing, talking,
promoting, and otherwise begging for anyone to buy
your book now it’s complete…
The cost of writing to your life:
• Time
• Sacrifice
• Imposter Syndrome
• Mental Health
• Motivation

The cost in your plotting, why the conflict occurs and
who it affects most, what is the payoff at the end?

Schedule

When do you find time to write?
Must be nice to have all that time to just sit and write.
I’d love to write a book but I would never have the time. Routine is over rated, but kind of helpful in getting the habit of writing practiced and actually finishing a project. Or a novel.

In your pantsing, how can you keep your writing to the point and focussed on the outcome, not getting sideline by subplots, other ideas that look shiny, new book concepts, marketing, social media, people…

Risk

What could possibly go wrong? Consider things like keeping two copies of your work and saving regularly and backing up your work. Have a agreements in writing with people who are “supporting” you – editors, publishers, book-sellers, cover artist… Try to make sure that when you publish your book, it remains YOUR book. Read the fine print.

When you are plotting and pantsing, this is all of the reasons we write, we love what we do and the bit that makes it worth while to write, when we ask of our characters… What could go wrong?

Procurement

All of the other things you have to write for…
• Website
• Social media
• Hashtag everything
• Speeches, press releases, and readings OH MY!
Plus writers photos and inspo backgrounds and time. Do we know anyone who has stock in time? In order to save money, or spend money, or both. The experts you need to assist in the polish of your writing aren’t taking exposure bucks for payment either. While still writing, what else does your MC need to achieve the scope? What risks will they take to obtain it and how will that affect the timeline of the story?

HR

What team do you need around you and what skills are they offering? What are your weaknesses and can you find someone with a complimentary set to help you meet your scope and schedule and just keep writing? Did you even know the other skills you are supposed to have when you decided to be a writer? Surprise!

Does your MC have the skills to pay the bills? How has their life contributed to the skills set they suddenly need in order to achieve the scope, is that the point of the story or is that subordinate to the plot? Is it the character development they need and who will assist them? How will they procure this help, pay for it, and what will it do to the schedule?

Quality

What you wanted to create versus what you actually created. Where did you go in your journey as a writer and will you use it next time to make you a better writer (continuous improvement) ? How much did you invest (time, money, etc) versus the reward, personally or financially, or both, that you and others received from this experience? Are your readers responding to this?

Are your characters and your plot, your outcomes and your delivery what the scope was originally? How did it change the story and did it make it better? How far from the plan did you go?

Stakeholder Management

Juggling family, career, study, learning, work, expectations, appointments, life, writing, marketing, begging for sales… Rinse, repeat… The writer is also a stakeholder in this mix and sometimes, you just get to pick one or maybe two of the framework categories to focus on today. And let tomorrow take care of itself. At least you have a plan to come back to. Or sort of. Maybe. Lets check the schedule…

As you MC finishes their journey through the maze, the plot twists and the resolves all the risks, who else is changed by this adventure? How will this benefit those around the MC? And will they make it through the editing process?

Communications

The sales pitch. How do we sell ourselves, our products, our wares, our words, when we have spent so much time nurturing them and protecting them from risk. What do we say when asked “what is that book you’re writing about again?”
The very word needed and the bloody thesaurus just won’t work properly enough for you to find it and you’ve just lost 2 hours to time and space vortex or alphabet soup. And did you get that social medial blog post website update new blurb written yet?

When all is over and the arc is resolved, did the MC and cast carry out the vision, the mission and achieve the scope. Did they gain the rewards and complete the project in full? And most of all, did they satisfy the client requirements? Are you happy with what you wrote, and are your readers?

And They All Lived Happily Ever After

Breaks the process of creating a book into manageable portions and separate from the process of writing the book. Help build categories of knowledge for use and re-use as you produce more work. Gives you a different angle to examine writer’s block and other associated writers’ problems. You can discard any category if not relevant to the outcomes at any time, or re-instate it.

Gives you an overall pathway to finalising aspects of your novel and a new way of looking a your writing once complete to see if you have left any key details out of your world building. And your world domination plans.

Provides a reference point to where you wanted your journey to take you, even if you didn’t follow it, you can still see how far you made it.

Mentoring Writing