Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Can't Blog - 10 Reasons Why

I tweeted that I had Bloggers Block, basically giving myself an excuse not to write for some time. Instead a motivational writer called Allison Tait on Twitter suggested I blog about it.



Here goes what I would have blogged about, why I didn't blog and everything in between:  

1. WHY BOTHER?

This month I read a brilliant book called THE HUMANS by Matt Haig. It was about a superior alien being who comes to earth and inhabits a human's body. He learns about the essence of humanity and the value in being human despite being mortal. I was enthralled and also felt like it had a really important message. I considered blogging about it but then I thought of all the book bloggers out there and suddenly couldn't be bothered...


2. WHAT WOULD I DO NEXT?

The Humans is a great story and has a poignant message. But it was a relief to listen to writer, Colm Toibin on Desert Island Discs. He said writers shouldn't get caught up in meaning but what happens next. What happens next with my blog? is a question that has been stopping me blogging.  

3. MY EYES HURTS

I'm writing episodes for a digital story app which involves working online and always on a screen. Bye bye pen and paper, I even have an Instagram account for these fictional characters! Even when I do have spare time to blog, I can't face being on the screen. Parents used to say: if you sit in front of that screen any longer you'll get square eyes! I feel this warning is more relevant than ever.

4. NETFLIX...

I'm watching a really entertaining series called Sense 8 on Netflix about 8 people who live in different parts of the world, who are connected by their senses and slip into each other's lives, sometimes inhabiting their bodies to help them get out of sticky situations. I don't know what's going on, but it's more entertaining than writing a blog post...

5. MONEY... POWER....? MEH.

I feel less ambitious than I used to be. I'm proud of my last novel #PleaseRetweet but I also realise as a small fish it's very hard to get a book to a large audience.  I guess the disappointment has been interfering with my desire to blog.  On the other hand I'm finally getting paid for other types of writing (see point 4) and that's very exciting. Deep down I'm relieved that I no longer feel writing novels is the most important thing in my life. Success isn't about money or fame. Success is the freedom to have a BBQ on a Tuesday because the sun is shining and you feel like it.  


6. MORTALITY (and wine)

Death has put me off blogging. I'm still coming to terms with losing my father in law. I get sad and have a glass of wine instead of writing a blog because what I want to write is too personal. 

7. DITTO 6

There's a friend I love very much who isn't well. It's difficult to write when you're carrying a lead weight in your stomach. Again, it's too personal and should be kept in a diary not a blog.  

8.  NO SENSE OF URGENCY

To deal with the uncertainties of life I keep telling myself to LIVE IN THE PRESENT MOMENT. Unfortunately this command is not followed by NOW WRITE A BLOG!  It's like I've lost a sense of urgency because blogging isn't as important as savouring the moment, something like that...  

9. LOOK AT ME! LOOK AT ME!

I love life in Mallorca. Moving here was the best thing I  ever did. The sun shines, the culture inspires and I have more friends than I've ever had in my life. But who wants to read a smug blog post about that? I've been very lucky to be born in a rich part of the world where moving to improve the quality of life doesn't involve perilous boat journeys and paying off bandits. All I can say is if you're lucky too, don't be afraid to move countries if you feel a pull to do so. Life is short (see point 6 and 7). Take the bull by the horns!

10. I DON'T KNOW WHAT I THINK

Don't take the bull by the horns literally. I don't support bull fighting. I can understand why people do because nothing is black or white. But if endless Facebook videos have proved anything, it's that animals experience great joy, which means they obviously experience great stress and pain. I feel like as a blogger I should have lots of strong opinions. Strong opinions invite strong reactions however, and I didn't become a blogger to argue with people all day, especially as people rarely change their minds about anything! I'd prefer an uplifting blog... I just need to work out what that involves.

Despite being blocked, I've written a blog. Thank you @altait. Evidently part of the solution to creative blockage is having supportive people around you!

Any bloggers out there who want to share how they get over their blogging humps? 

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Magic Lessons and my Hope for 2016

Happy New Year! I've just recovered from reading everyone's New Year's Resolution. What a motivated bunch of people there are out there. May the force be with you all while you work to achieve your goals. I am continually inspired by those making efforts to fulfill themselves creatively against all odds.

Feeling stuck? I've just come across Magic Lessons podcast by Eat, Pray, Love and Big Magic author Elizabeth Gilbert. Her first episode helps a blogger grapple with creative passion, motherhood, guilt, and the code of family loyalty. Gilbert has a melodic voice and if you don't mind a few enthusiastic AWESOMEs!! here and there you might just enjoy it! 

It's been a tough few months my end and I find myself reducing all my hopes for 2016 to: Can everyone I love please stay intact for the duration (and beyond)? 

There's nothing like death and disease for making you realise how little control we have over the future. Which is why they say we shouldn't live in the future. It makes me feel less ambitious somehow. Suddenly it feels just as important to enjoy a meal fully, as it does to publish a book. I don't think that's necessarily a negative conclusion either.

Anyway I don't believe that we are without ANY control. We can decide what we do with our present. January wouldn't be January for me without some sort of plan of action. Today I drew up  a simple grid to tackle my scheduled three months of editing my new novel. I've also just had the green light to write my second episode for an interactive fiction app I'll be able to share news about soon. 

With winter, life has become very peaceful on the island of Mallorca. For some, there is no work until Spring, but as a freelance writer there is always plenty to do. I suppose it wouldn't be normal to be highly motivated all the time, the key is just to stick to our creative path and keep going, step by step by step... 



Monday, 14 December 2015

Writing and Money: The Reality is...

The First Book! Is it the One?
Self-pity is so unattractive. When I feel a dollop of the stuff, I get very annoyed with myself. Even more so with the world in the state it's in, and poor little me living in paradise* (*Mallorca) with a roof over my head and my belly full. But bear with me, because if you're a writer too you might recognise what I'm feeling.

The thing is I thought that once you'd written three books you'd be making money from writing books. Alas, far from it. The reality is, the time involved in writing and selling the books, and how much you make from each book and the quantities you're likely to sell, mean that it's more like a very expensive hobby.

When I feel demoralised like this,  I turn to my favourite podcast The Creative Penn. It's a podcast in which self-publishing guru, Joanna Penn, interviews other writers with entrepreneurial spirits like hers who have worked their socks off and now make a comfortable living from their writing 'business'.

Listening to them blows me away. These people are machines. They don't write one book a year like traditional authors tend to, but raise the bar to four books, five, even six books a year. They're full-time writers setting big goals each day and achieving them. I don't know how they do it. Are these books ten pages long? No, they're full-length novel. Are they terrible quality? Put it this way, they're good enough to have attracted lots of loyal readers! 

Today, listening to the interview with  Russell Blake, I found myself hearing exactly the message I needed to hear. Artists have always had lousy odds of success, that's how it is, and the best thing is not to have great expectation. His advice? Work really hard! 

"I have friends that write in the movie industry and in TV and I have friends who have been professional musicians and make good livings at it and they all say the same thing. They all work their asses off, they work long hours, and they all say it’s not rocket science.- Russell Blake

The amount of books that need to be written in order to make a living out of writing books is a point that has been made time and again on The Creative Penn podcast. You can't earn a living from one stand alone book. Yet most of us writers dream of just that. It's what Blake refers to as 'magical thinking'.

I'm guilty of tons of magical thinking - and before you start with the 'but what about JK?' - we never get to see all the books and all the work these famous authors did before they finally got their big deal.

Some people spend years polishing that one book, getting excited when they get a book deal (a book deal doesn't necessarily mean getting money upfront - I have yet to be paid an advance!), and then they inevitably feel disappointment when it doesn't sell as well as they fantasised it would. Because the odds are a new writer only sells a couple of hundred books, of which they make less than a pound a book, which means earning a couple of hundred pounds for a year's work! Crazy, right?

It makes so much sense that you're not going to make money from one book. I was brought up in a shop and my Dad was always obsessed with increasing our stock. The more stock you have the more likely you'll sell. Having one book to sell is like having, well, a book shop with one book in it. If you sell ten books in a day, congratulations, you've made £10.00, you'll be able to pay for lunch and the bus home.  

Basically, if we want to make money from writing novels, then we've got to forget about writing one novel, and think long term. Think 8 novels. If you can write a series, then lucky you. I'm still not sure I could write a series...and besides the other message writers leave on the podcast is, you've got to write what you would want to read!

Instead of complaining about how hard it is, I think I had better knuckle down and get on with stocking up my book shop, don't you?

Thank you for reading!  


Thursday, 10 December 2015

5 BRILLIANT Christmas Gifts which are not pointless at all

Yay, Christmas! The time of year where we spend loads of money on stuff we don't need while half the planet struggles to make ends meet. God Bless us everyone! Well, not everyone obviously, just the ones lucky enough to be born in the right place at the right time. All I'm saying is, why not let us buy sensible presents? You know it makes sense.

After careful research I've selected five simultaneously fun and practical gifts for the Christmas seasons. I know you're bound to fall in love with one of them...

1. FOR THE TODDLER

How many times have you heard parents say it? Oh, little bubs here, he has more fun with the box than the really expensive present we bought him! 

SO WHY DON'T THEY EVER JUST BUY THE BOX? Every year parents waste money pimping up the box with really expensive brightly coloured plastic bits, when for a couple of quid they could just buy what bubs really, really wants. Wrap it up of course. A present isn't a present if it's not wrapped up.


2. FOR THE CAT

If your cat is scratching your sofa it's because it's trying to tell you something, you're just being too thick to understand it. 

YOUR CAT WANTS TO BE A DJ. No, it doesn't want a boring old post. Would you want to scratch a stick? No! Buy poor kitty some decks and let her fulfill her dreams this Christmas.







3. FOR THE NEW PARENTS

Most parents with small kids are knackered. This is because they are not delegating properly. This present helps parents feel less guilty about getting their baby to chip in with the housework. Dribble. Polish. Dribble. Polish. This present will light up their lives and their living rooms.




4. YOUR ORGANIC FRIEND

I'm not taking the piss. I am one of these organic-free-range-save-the-world people. But if like me, you've grown bored of trying and *failing (*forgetting) to cultivate the chili seeds given to you free with your bill at Wahaca, then maybe it's time to sweeten up your horticultural experience with mini donut seeds. 

You'll benefit from the gift too because the donuts should be ready in time for Christmas next year when your organic friend is bound to invite you to a mouth-watering meal! RESULT.




5.  FOR YOUR ANNOYINGLY BUSY FRIEND

For your friend who is OMG so busy, accept it, it's probably too late for them to change. If you buy them roses they'll be too busy to smell them. These bread gloves may be enabling their hurry hurry lifestyles, or it might stop them in their tracks, and think, maybe I should stop and eat a proper lunch because maybe life is too short to eat sandwiches every day. 

Either way, it's definitely memorable. Who can forget their first bread gloves?





If none of these are suitable, then you could buy my book instead. It's suitable for reading, holding a door open or starting a fire on a cosy Christmas evening. Unless its the 99p kindle version, in which please do not burn but dispose of responsibly.

If you'd like a signed copy, you can buy direct from me via Paypal. All books will be sent out 1st class on 19th December. Book plus UK postage cost £9.99

I should put a button here but it's not working plus it charges me money and I'm trying to keep things cheap for you. If you're familiar with paypal then you know all you need is my email emily@emilybenet.com to transfer £9.99 for each book. I will reply immediately. Promise.




For a less commercial Christmas post, take a peek at Emily Benet's Advent Calendar








Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Death's Lesson is: Live!

Nothing prepares you for the death of a loved one. It's been three weeks since my father-in-law died so unexpectedly and I still don't really believe he's gone.

I'm heading home from Colombia tomorrow. I want to slide under soft sheets and sleep until the New Year. But the universe has made this impossible by presenting me with an innovative writing project which involves deadlines and actual payment. Life it seems, must go on, however unbearable it seems to those grieving. 

My father-in-law's passing has shaken me. He was only 73. My grandfather, who died in February, lived to 91. My grandmother celebrated her 92nd birthday with us in Mallorca a couple of months ago, and laughs like she'll live forever. I always assumed everyone I loved would live at least to their nineties.

In September the four of us, my husband and my parents-in-law, spent a wonderful month together in Spain. In Mallorca we swam in the sea, ate delicious food every day and made up for all the distance that had been separating us. In Jerez we became experts in sherry; in Seville we caught a rare peek of street Flamenco.

Everyone tells us now how happy my father-in-law had been after that trip. He returned home renewed and with a fresh enthusiasm to travel and enjoy life. He told his wife, my brilliant mother-in-law, that she should give up work and that they should spend their next years together having fun.  How cruel it seems. The only comfort is that his death was swift and painless, and he was a healthy man until the end.  

I miss my father-in-law. He was a kind man. A calm man, who didn't fuss or stress. He was curious about life and always learning; interested in what you were doing and supportive. If you didn't know something, he would be straight on Google! 

Like my husband, he always seemed to weave his way through the bureaucracy of daily life without getting flustered or angry. 

Patient. The only thing that threatened his calm was Bogota traffic, but after experiencing Bogota traffic, you would sympathise. He was better at organising a trip than any travel agency. He knew that life was for living and he lived it with a great appetite. All these qualities, he's passed onto my husband, for which I'm so grateful.

I look at my husband now and I want to engrave each moment in eternity.

If my father-in-law's death has taught me anything, it's that we must live life fully now. Enjoy it. Don't waste it all thinking and planning for the future. Choose experience over possessions! Don't wait until you're retired to embark on the life you dream of. Don't put off what you could be doing today if it's something important to you.  

It seems to me that the lesson of death is to live. To live with all your heart.


Rest in Peace my dear father-in-law

Friday, 20 November 2015

What 9 year old readers want! Interview with Martin

Home is where the heart is. Right now, that means Bogota, Colombia. My father in law passed away very unexpectedly on the weekend and we flew over as soon as we heard the news. To write this down, makes it feel horribly real. When I'm ready, I might write about the wonderful man that he was. 

For now, I can't think about anything because I'm very busy playing with my 9 year old nephew and three year old niece. My nephew, Martin, is an avid reader. Smart, creative and fun I thought he would be the perfect person to talk books on my blog.

Interview:

Describe your ideal setting for reading...
On a fluffy bean bag cloud.

Do you have a favourite snack when you read?
I like to eat popcorn with a little bit of butter and a LOT of salt. My drink would be a chocolate milkshake.

What are you reading at the moment?
The Land of Stories 'The Wishing Spell', by Chris Colfer. He's a Golden Globe-winning actor best known for being Kurt Hummel on Glee.

What is the best thing about it?
I like that it's in a fairy tale land.

What are the best book covers that you can think of?
All the covers of A Diary of a Wimpy Kid.  

If you could be any character in fiction who would you be? And why?
I would be Percy Jackson. He's the hero of the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Why? Because I like adventures. He can control water. If he's 18 miles or even more, he can use it however he wants.

Scariest villain in a book?
Voldermort from Harry Potter.  

Do you have any advice for authors trying to write a book for someone your age?
To not just have normal humans, but to have frog humans or people with special powers. Preferably set in medieval times. It should be funny. It shouldn't have more than 8 main characters or it gets confusing. Don't use confusing names, for instance a  brother and sister called Jonathon and JonOthan!

What's your favourite book of all time?
The one I'm reading.

What's your worst book?
I can't remember one! (Phew)

Should a book always have pictures? Or would you rather imagine what happens?
It should have one or two pictures so you know what the main characters look like. I like the Roal Dahl books because they have sketchy pictures, not perfect ones, but enough to get an idea. I prefer the pictures to be black and white.

What do you think books will look like in the future?
I think you'll be able to open the book and feel what's happening, like you'll be able to feel the wind if it's windy. There will be a button that if you press, the book will be read in the character's voice. Some books will have holograms coming out of them.

Thank you Martin!

In other news, we are currently writing a magazine together. Our first edition of The Awesome will be out soon...




Readers! What books would you recommend to Martin?

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Publication Day! Baby Book doing well (Mother, being a bit silly)

#PleaseRetweet is born! 

To celebrate, I've wriggled my way into the following blogs and magazines. 

Thank you so much for hosting me!


Writers and Artists - Guest Post  

Did you know more people die from taking selfies than from shark attacks? One man even got attacked by a shark while taking the selfie. It didn't put him off taking another snap from his stretcher though. I guess he was thinking about all the potential 'likes' and 'retweets'. Getting bitten by a shark is social media gold; I'm thinking viral.

The question is no longer: "If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Rather, it's: If we were at an event but didn't tell everyone on Facebook / Twitter / Instagram ... were we really there?"  Read More. 


Rather Too Fond of Books - Q&A

Is life better now we have social media or was it better before?
What social media has done for freedom of speech and enabling the broadcast of important issues is incredible. With social media we can get different perspectives that aren’t offered in mainstream news. It has motivated people to help lots of great causes. 
On the other hand, being bombarded by so much information and so many opinions, not to mention the trolls and haters, can be difficult to process and can cause anxiety. There are plenty of pros and cons. How long have you got? Read More. 

Rachel's Random Reads - Guest post
In a recent author questionnaire I was asked, Did you go on any exciting research trips for this book? 
I laughed out loud. Oh yes, I've been all around the world for this book. Scrolling through Instagram photos does count, doesn't it? It's just I follow a lot of travel photographers. I don't think you get that kind of escapism on other social networks. Read more.

Litro Magazine - Guest Post
My young writer’s dream was very traditional: Get an agent, get a publisher and voila, career sorted!
I bought my first copy of Artists’ & Writers’ Yearbook in 2005 and would go through it with a pencil, underlining all my options. Next I’d print out my three chapters and a synopsis, put them in a big brown envelope and head to the post office, my heart brimming with hope. Maybe this time, maybe this time… Read more.
Becca's Boooks - Guest Post

Social media is a brilliant tool for connection and creativity, but the key is to use it and not let it use you. 

It should never stop you doing what you love. That's what #PleaseRetweet is all about. Taking stock of what you're doing with your life and remembering to enjoy the moment! Read More.