I’d like to thank Lily Malone for contributing this guest post. We met online (was it Twitter or Facebook?) and have since become friends (even though she’s mad about sport and I’m clueless about it); we’ve even managed a couple of lunch dates. Like me, Lily has worked as a journalist, juggles family and part-time work with writing, likes gardening, walking, wine, and walking in gardens (sometimes with wine). She took up romance writing in November 2010, after an ill-fated dalliance with colour-field painting that ended when her youngest son put a golf club through the canvas. In March 2013, her debut novel, His Brand Of Beautiful, was published with Escape Publishing, and in May 2013, she self-published her novella The Goodbye Ride. She has just finished her third published work, Fairway To Heaven, about love on the golf course and lust in the sand bunkers, set in the beautiful beach location of Western Australia’s Geographe Bay. To connect with Lily, visit her website, or follow her on Goodreads, Facebook, or Twitter.

lilym_lowresOh, the joys of this writer’s life

I’ve been creative writing for about three and a half years now, and three of the four books I’ve written have been published. The first, His Brand Of Beautiful was accepted by Escape Publishing. The second The Goodbye Ride and the third, Fairway To Heaven, I chose to self-publish. That made three books published in less than 12 months, which (I think) is pretty good going. Okay. The Goodbye Ride is technically a novella at 32,000 words, but who’s counting?

Well … I am. I count a lot. I’ve never been much of a mathematician, I’ve always had far more of an English brain. But since my first book hit the cyber-shelves, maths has been pressing its way into my life like you wouldn’t believe. It’s always there, a constant. A bit like wrinkles when you hit 40. I have ‘word counts’. I have ‘page counts’. I have Facebook ‘friends’ to count, ‘page likes’ to count, ‘blog views’ to count, Twitter ‘followers’ to count. How I wish I had royalties to count. 😉

Twelve months ago I had no idea how you even looked at a book on Amazon and knew its sales ranking. *Coughs* I certainly know where to find this number now! If I sound like I resent the way maths has stamped itself on my creative writing brain, well … quite honestly, I do! You see, until this week, I thought I’d burned out. I’ve been dragging my fingers. My word counts are abysmal. In fact the only thing I’ve been clicking is the delete key, with morbid regularity. Not only did I not like anything I’ve written, I had no desire to write it. For four years all I’ve thought about and wanted to do in my spare time is write. Yet for the last three months, I’ve hardly pulled out my laptop or booted up MS Word.

I published Fairway To Heaven in January this year. I love this book. I think it’s the best work I’ve done so far. I think my writing is improving all the time. Fairway has had some lovely reviews, and I should be on top of the world. Right? Wrong. I’ve been mopey, and dopey. Grumpy too. When I published Fairway, and spent the next few weeks madly flogging it promoting it widely, I already had plans for the next book I’d write, because it was going to be the first book I ever wrote, which I called at that time, Fringe Benefits.

It was Fringe Benefits that I put aside after about eight months to write His Brand Of Beautiful. When I finished HBOB, I went back to Fringe Benefits. Couldn’t make it work. Put it aside, and wrote my new sparkly idea, The Goodbye Ride. When I finished The Goodbye Ride, I went back to Fringe Benefits. Wasted two months trying to make it work. Put it aside and wrote my new sparkly idea, Fairway To Heaven. At that point, I decided Fringe Benefits was “The Book That Will Never Be Written” and resolved to leave it in the Trash Can on my Mac, where it belonged.

But it nags at me. The hero and heroine nag at me. The bastards won’t go off and choke quietly to death in the garbage. So I sucked Fringe Benefits out of the Trash, and renamed it His Brand Of Business. New name. Same old fruitcake.

I told myself January was school holidays, and it made sense that I spend time with hubby and the kids rather than the characters in my head. I resolved I would dedicate February to sorting this book out once and for all. I didn’t write a word. I’ve now dedicated March to getting my creative writing juices flowing. March is more than half finished, and those juices are about as dry as our Perth summer.

I know there are people out there who think writing romance is easy-peasy. Who think they might “sit down and write themselves a romance, one of these days …” One that’s gonna sell like 50 Tea Bags of Earl Grey. Writing has always been easy as breathing to me. I’ll sit down, start typing, and those little character and word-counts just rise … like baking muffins. Oops. I forgot. I’m crap at baking muffins.

Right now, I’m struggling enormously with my writing, but finally, this week, I’ve had a flickering candle at the end of what’s been a very long, dark tunnel. My husband has been away for a week. My kids have been at school. I took three days annual leave from my ‘real’ job and finally, I had peaceful, quiet time in which to contemplate that horribly blank page. And fill it with words.

Today, I sent the first two chapters of His Brand Of Business to my Beta readers. Teena Raffa-Mulligan wrote a post here about the value of critique partners and Beta readers, and I so recognised myself in her post. My Beta readers like it! They don’t think it’s old fruitcake that should have stayed in the Trash. So let’s hope that means finally I’m getting somewhere because if I am, then one day, the lovely Monique might ask me back.

I promise I’ll be the life of the party then! #amdetermined



Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

10 Responses

  1. Lily, I so hear you. When I finished Being Jade I couldn’t even look at a blank word document. It took me about 2.5 months to feel the urge again, even then sporadically. I think you make an important point. It’s important for creativity to rest and refuel sometimes. Those dry spells are the unconscious recovering I think. And necessary if the subsequent work is to be any good. Good luck with the renamed fruitcake! Xxx

  2. As one of my storytelling friends was wont to say, we aren’t laying bricks here, Lily. I think dry periods are natural, especially when keeping up that kind of pace. Here’s to the story coming good and you having faith in yourself, because you are deserving of it. xx 🙂

  3. Lily, I’ve been writing for more than four decades and there have inevitably been periods when I thought I’d never write another story, that I’d completely dried up as a writer. During those times I’ve taken up all sorts of other creative activities in the belief they’d have to be easier than writing. Always, eventually and unexpectedly, another idea insisting on being put into words would pop into my mind and I’d rush to put it down. As one of my lovely daughters reminded me not so long ago, “Mum, you’re still a writer, even when you aren’t actually writing. It’s such a part of who you are.” The creative well sometimes needs time and space to refill and we tend to forget that. Incidentally, I thoroughly enjoyed The Goodbye Ride.

  4. The ups and downs and rollercoaster ride of being a writer! Why do we do it? Because we love it and we can’t imagine not doing it. It’s during those dry spells of self-doubt that we band together with our beta readers and critique partners, our cheer squad if you will, who become our backbone and muse, and drive us towards ‘The End’. Lily, I love all your work and I know my mum does too. So keep on writing and while you do, I have two words for you…You Rock!!

  5. I am feeling every word here, Lily. I’ve felt the same since Christmas school hols and have only in the last two weeks, got a sniff of mojo back. We expect so much of ourselves as writers that we beat ourselves up when we aren’t prolific! As frustrating as dry spells are, I think they are part of our journey. Your writing is amazing. I love it!

  6. You have had a few good revs of late, Lily. I hope you are getting those words down and that gorgeous, fresh and fabulous ‘voice’ you’ve got going on now (and yes, Fairway to Heaven is a fabulous read) on a new contemporary novel.

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