Happy New Year

The first week of January is an exciting time for me as I reflect on the year that's closed and the one that's opening up before me. It's a time to think about whether I achieved my goals last year and why I may not have achieved them and what I want to achieve in the 360 plus days ahead.

2010 was a great year with my goals achieved, ie., African Hearts contracted, meeting many new friends, and my next book, Behind The Masks, working title, well on the way to completion. Also, surprisingly, one of my dreams was realised: we bought a caravan and we're now travelling around Australia; and my son became independent and moved in with friends. These last two were surprises, but nice surprises. Dan is managing very well, and so are Frank and I as we travel throughout Victoria.

My goals always include my writing goals and how I can improve my writing. This year, as I reflect on the mentorship I did last October, I want to continue to improve my plotting structure and my characters' motivations for acting as they do. By asking many more questions of my characters I believe I will get to know them at a deeper level in all facets of their lives. Questions like what makes them angry; who are the people who annoy them most and why; why do they like the particular genre of music they listen to; or read the books they read; and if they could have any occupation in the world what would it be; and many more questions to get to know them better. With getting to know the characters at a deep level makes them real three dimensional characters that my reader will be able to relate to and hopefully see them in the same way that I do.

Also on my list of goals for this year is encouraging others to reach their goals. During our travels around Australia I hope to come across others who have a passion they want to see fulfilled. Walking the journey with others in their chosen field to reach their goal is a passion of mine, although sometimes I can come across as a hard taskmaster. I have high standards for myself and I expect that high standard from others, too.

Sometimes we underestimate what it will take to achieve our goals, and it's so easy to become disheartened when the going gets tough. When the hill seems too steep, it's important to persevere no matter how slow the progress is. Believing what we are doing is the right thing for us is what will carry us through the dark moments as we strive for our goal. Everyone has these moments of doubt that sneak up on us when we least expect. We can be working well toward the goals when doubt hits us broadside leaving us disillusioned and wondering if we're meant to be going in that direction.

Hold fast when this happens! Don't be discouraged, and don't listen to negative comments that seem to come at you from all directions. For various reasons there are people in this world who may not want to see you succeed. Ignore those people. Instead, set you mind on the goal with greater determination than before, say no to distractions, and work until the goal is reached.

You are not alone in reaching for your dreams. Every person who wants to achieve faces highs and lows, it's how you deal with the highs and lows that helps you achieve your goals. During the next few months, I'll be blogging on how to overcome the patches of doubt that creep up when we least expect. Until then write to me and let me know when you're feeling lost on your journey to goaldom, and I hope I can encourage you to step out and continue to look forward.


Three weeks ago I attended a writing mentorship in Adelaide. The week was a full-on intensive learning about novel structure and general editing. If you ever get the opportunity to do a writing mentorship, I encourage you take the time, and be open to learning all that you can.

Like most writers I know, I find it hard to be objective about my work. I can't see the problems with the work because I'm too close to it. During my week of mentoring I learned how to stand back from the writing and evaluate each sentence, paragraph, scene and chapter. I already know a lot of the weak areas in my work. I try and correct them as I go, but when I've revised it many times I go on auto-read so the words in my mind aren't necessarily the ones I've written on the page. In other words I read the words in my head instead of what's on the paper.

Before I went to the mentorship, I hadn't worked on the manuscript for two weeks. I approached the work with fresh eyes, and immediately I started to cringe as I found weaknesses in the work. My mentor, Meredith, found all my choppy sentences, unnecessary words, lack of character development, dialogue inconsistencies, holes in the plot and punctuation problems.

And I thought I had a fairly polished manuscript. Think again, Laura!

Being shown my mistakes was like a stranger telling me my child had many shortcomings and they were all bad. It hurt! So, by the afternoon of the first day, I knew my manuscript wasn't perfect and I had better prepare myself for more constructive criticism. I took a deep breath, prayed for patience and a thick skin, then I set to work to fix my 'problem child'.

By the end of the week, my manuscript had improved immensely. My sentences were a mixture of short and complex; my dialogue was more natural; my characters behaved according to the people they were; and the holes in my plot were fixed. When I arrived home I revised again, and to my delight, I found the quality of writing had gone up a knotch.

The mentorship was a great success. My editor allowed me to fail, but she also gave me the opportunity to make the writing better, and brought my skills as a writer to the next level.

Have you been involved in a mentorship in your field of work and gained from the experience? I'd love to hear about your experience and how it changed the way you work?