HIM update for January 22 on the 26th and much debate about crowdfunding options

Quick explainer: For those of you who don’t know yet, I am writing my second book HIM and have staggered my word count goals this time. If you support me on Patreon you get to read the first draft. If you don’t you just get this update on whether I hit my goals or not each week.

Word count goals this week: 2,000
Actual word count this week: 0
Total word count so far: 2,007
Total word count goal at this point: 6,000

How long did it take me? Not long. I didn’t do anything.

Here is the timetable of targets to reach: 

Jan 8 – 2,000 words      Feb 12 – 15,000           Mar 18 – 40,000
Jan 15 – 4,000                  Feb 19 – 20,000           Mar 25 – 45,000
Jan 22 – 6,000                  Feb 26 – 25,000           Apr 1 – 50,000
Jan 29 – 8,000                  Mar 4 – 30,000             Apr 8 – 55,000
Feb 5 – 10,000                 Mar 11 – 35,000          Apr 15 – 60,000

What have I learnt?

  1. Nothing related to writing. More things related to depression and my mood and what triggers things.

What distracted me?

  1. I got really emotional and upset over something mid-week which rendered me kind of unable to do anything. I found it difficult to focus on things and I was rather worried and wound up.
  2. Prior to the mid-week incident I was just, as usual, tired. I didn’t even get this blog post done on the Friday. I am looking forward to this being my last week of working here in Sri Lanka just on the whole “I won’t be too tired to write my book” front of things.
  3. I am also reconsidering Patreon as a platform. Yes, you heard it here first. The issue with my Patreon is that I do want to let those who are interested participate in the whole process of my creative practice – then I get to learn from you, and you from me and all of that nice stuff. And so I can put stuff up on Patreon. Behind a gated community. That subscribers of the blog have to then sign up again to which seems daft. Another option was Kickstarter which about fifty people I know are already plugged into which would make raising funds easier and quicker but raising funds aren’t just the issue. Patreon supports your practice of creating work, Kickstarter is set up so that you kind of do need things like a publisher in place before you even start because the rewards are usually things like advance copies. But if you are like me, writing with no publisher and no contract yet, you can’t promise advance copies just draft versions and so on. And far as I am aware Kickstarter isn’t for something long term and ongoing. Ideally, I would plug you all into Patreon straight away – you would all be able to use the donation system on Patreon without needing to set up new accounts and one of you even emailed me asking if you could donate via PayPal. Thank you by the way.And the point of all of this is that I get to show you what I write, build a community or group of you that hopefully do also talk to me and maybe, maybe get some money together to help pay my freelance editor a decent rate. So if no one is reading, or joining in, and so far I have maybe $51 after three weeks, I am not sure it constitutes as working as I want it to. But maybe it’s too soon to tell, let me know in the comments.
    What do you think? Would you prefer that I just put up a Paypal button and put up the drafts as I write them in posts that only subscribers can see on the blog itself rather than using a separate platform? That way you don’t pay each time, you pay IF you want, WHEN you want and HOW much you want via Paypal, no new sign ins or sign ups required.
    Or would you prefer two separate mailing lists? One for the regular blog posts, one additional list with the drafts and updates IF you want to be on it and support me?
  4. Am I upset about not writing last week? A bit yes. But I can still (hopefully in between work) write this week. I am looking forward to rejoining #thesisfriday on the 5th of February and on hopefully being able to have a more productive useful stable schedule from the 8th onwards (I can hear Murphy’s Law lurking around the corner as I type).
temporary book cover for the novel in progress titled HIM by Marisa Wikramanayake
Phase:Exploratory Draft
Due:2 months

Elizabeth Gilbert on the drive to keep creating

Last week I shared Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on the creative genius and the expectations we place on people.

A few years after that talk, she gave another one – this time it was about how to navigate the vagaries of creative work – not just thinking about creativity and genius but also how to get back into a productive state where you can not only shield yourself from expectations and fears but also carry on with your work and reconcile both failure and success.

And she makes a good point about what home is – she asks what one loves more than one loves oneself or one’s ego and that that, whatever it might be, is where one is truly home, when doing that.

I think it’s a good question to keep asking oneself throughout one’s life and it’s something worth passing on so here you go – let me know what you think in the comments:

Opinion, Writing

Why you should love your writers more (or pay us more)

Note: I wrote this piece after seeing this image sometime in December 2014 on Facebook. I was reminded of it recently and thought I would repost it here:


There are career paths and structures that support various other occupations but some of us don’t get that stability when doctors, lawyers, accountants etc can. And you can sell a million books and still make less than $10,000 per year because you get a small percentage of each sale as royalties.

Every writer or artist or anyone in a similar occupation that has to deal with this weird pay inequality gap type thing has to a) support themselves and b) limited time and energy that has to be somehow efficiently prioritised both on some sort of work that does pay and their actual work like writing or painting or even in some cases, awesome social work. And doing good work takes time and a lot of mistakes made.

So 1: It’s not glamorous, it’s hard and while I love how much you believe in the eventual quality of my work, it’s far more statistically probable that I won’t win major prizes or sell several million copies. There’s no problem believing in that possibility but I must also be realistic and focus on the now so please limit that enthusiasm a tad. Besides there aren’t enough writing prizes and there aren’t enough with any sizeable amount of prize money really when you realise that a writer who might win one doesn’t get a $60,000 salary every year like everyone else in a fulltime job and so even a third of that is awesome but is highly unlikely and is probably down to chance. And writers have insurance, taxes and super like anyone else does. To you, $20,000 prize money may seem a lot and of course it is but you are adding that to your annual paycheck, your benefits and savings.

For many writers that is the first big chunk they may get and maybe the fame from winning the prize may get them a few more copies sold but unless it really blows up it probably won’t make a difference in royalties. Ask any writer who has been around long enough – no one writes for the money, unless somehow you have tapped into some really odd market.

You write because you are compelled to, somehow. It’s weird, don’t ask. Virginia Woolf told us that we need a room, we need money and time to write – not just women, anyone. That was over a century ago. It’s still valid.

2: It is hard to create something complex that reads simply on the outside, saying everything you want to, and to make everything connect and work and leave the reader room to subjectively experience it how they want to. It takes time, I don’t completely know how to do this and even after several books I still won’t know how to do it bar sitting down and writing and going with my gut on what works and what doesn’t within each piece.

So when you ask me to hurry up with Sedition because you are excited – thank you my pre-ordering member of my eventual fan club, hold on, wait. I may finish writing it, then it has to be edited, then a publisher needs to like it enough to take a financial risk on publishing it and there are millions of writers both better and worse than I am, both a better and worse financial risk than I am – so you may not get to read Sedition for years yet. All I am aiming for is finishing the manuscript – baby steps, people. EDIT: Sedition‘s first draft is done and you can keep up with the new book HIM and support me to get Sedition edited on Patreon.

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, asked people years ago to stop putting the pressure of creating genius work on demand on creative people in her TED talk because we can only sit down and write – genius is beyond our control.

(Source: TED's Youtube Channel)

3. I can’t write to the tastes of a market two to ten years from now. My stories don’t work like that – I have minimal control. The plot is the plot, it’s driven by set characters, I just dictate which scene I need to look at and what works and what doesn’t and then write it.

4. It means a great deal of balancing and sacrifice, something I don’t think other people realise. I have room, time and energy in my life for paid work and writing. In between those two things, I just may have time for other things like doing something awesome for the community I am in, or time with friends and family (whom I barely see, sorry frown emoticon and thanks for your patience), or a scattering of hobbies. And frankly speaking, a lot of the time, I am torn.

There are other things I do want to do as well – degrees for example. To do my postgraduate degree was frustrating because I wanted it but it also meant putting my creative writing to a side – easy to do but hard to bear. There wasn’t room in my life for it when my life was so full of general chaos and all the other things above and I am not someone who can do it all – I have a personal individual limit on what I can juggle at any given time.

And so when you ask me why I am not married yet with kids, I am not saying one cannot have it all, I am saying I have sacrificed actively looking or having a relationship and kids and such things because those things require time and effort on my part and I don’t have that to give right now and it would be unfair – wait till the book is written at least, ok. Also why are you asking me about private matters, you nosey parker you?

5. I am not the only person with this balancing act, one job to support another job issue.

For some of us, we need other jobs so that we can support ourselves doing our actual jobs unless we are lucky enough to have financial support from spouses or patrons or some other source.

I mean, it’s additional stress that others don’t have to deal with once they land their first full time job in their occupation of choice except we kind of have it all the time – I kind of want to ask for hazard pay now. I think that a system that makes that a reality is a bit weird and needs to be changed. If only so I don’t have to tell a parent that yes her child can be a writer but she should probably qualify as an accountant or something else that doesn’t exhaust her or drive her mad so that she is supported and has time and energy to write because the system means that being a writer alone doesn’t pay. Because we think writers are cool but we also seem to think they shouldn’t be paid.

If you want to believe we are all making money as writers, then change the system. Make books more expensive to buy and be ok with that or allow publishers to somehow make better returns at a cheaper cost and give us all $60,000 AUD a year salaries (including our editors whom we adore and who face the same dilemma of not being financially valued properly for the work that they do especially since good editors are invisible – that’s their job). I don’t know how you will do it but change the model, change your thinking.

Or understand how much goes into certain types of work, creative or socially changing or otherwise and value it as much as you value your awesome doctors, your awesome lawyers, your awesome accountants and engineers. And then change the collective thinking to reflect it so that something can happen. And we can get paid and not get anxious, angsty and depressive and all those other stereotypical things that can often be generally true.

If we were paid properly, then we could produce more because we wouldn’t need to run around with other jobs and the more time we have, the faster we would learn how to do things, how to fix our errors, the faster we would produce good stuff to knock your socks off.

Love your writers more. We write about you.


Elizabeth Gilbert on the elusive creative genius

From time to time, I need to remind myself that writing is what I love doing.

That I don’t need to take on other people’s expectations while doing it.

So I really appreciate Elizabeth Gilbert’s TED Talk on the topic of expectations and the idea of genius. And I think anyone doing anything creative is going to benefit from this too. So even though this video is a few years old now, just in case you have not seen it, here you go – let me know what you think in the comments:

Australian Women Writers Challenge, Book Reviews, Literary Journalism

The Australian Women Writers’ Challenge 2016


image-200x300So in case you didn’t know, I often volunteer, and often fail (sorry Elizabeth) at rounding up and discussing what people have read for the Australian Women Writers’ Challenge in the genres of non fiction and short fiction and poetry. Occasionally, I interview authors for podcasts as well.

The Challenge aims to get people reading more books written in all genres by Australian female and female identifying writers and to promote their work since we seem unable to rely on mainstream media to do a good enough job of doing so with no gender or racial bias involved.

This year we hope to introduce a bingo card element to the entire challenge. I have stated 10 books for my challenge this year but I am happy to read and review more than those ten books if I can.

I also want to do more and not fall off the bandwagon with my responsibilities for Australian Women Writers this year because I feel awful about not hitting my mark last year and I need to do a far better job this year.

So I invite you to join in with me. Keep me accountable too. Poke me online every month and say “Hey, where’s the round up? Where’s the interview? How much have you read so far?”

And to keep up with what’s happening with the challenge on Twitter, you can follow the @Auswomenwriters account and the hashtag for this year #aww2016.


HIM update for January 8

Quick explainer: For those of you who don’t know yet, I am writing my second novel HIM and have staggered my word count goals this time. If you support me on Patreon you get to read the first draft as I write it. If you don’t you just get this update on whether I hit my goals or not each week. What did I write about this week? Commutes and wishing and sleep. And possibly also swimming through air.