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This blog was featured on 08/07/2018
Georgia Clark On Vampire Slayers, Using Your Strengths and Persistence
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
August 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
August 2018

Georgia Clark’s newest release The Bucket List is expecting every bit, if not more, of the success of her novel The Regulars. Her novels feature complex characters struggling to find their way within the world and their circumstances. Her success is largely based on learning the process along the way.

On Finding Her Feminist Inspiration

Ask any writer when they first realized that they wanted to make writing a career and you’ll likely hear a story about a book they read that changed their perspective on life. For Georgia, as she shared with Jean Book Nerd, it all started with a show.

My love for fiction-with-a-feminist-kick really started with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It was the first time I’d seen a fun, shiny pop culture show with an openly feminist agenda AND a sense of humor. It felt revelatory and revolutionary. I fangirl over books by female comedy writers (Tina Fey, Lena Dunham, Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, etc.) and generally like any smart take on the rom-com genre, which mixes the business of being a feminist with the pleasure of love, sex ‘n’ romance (bonus points for girls kissing girls). I’m also always learning from elegantly crafted literary fiction about the female experience.

On Her Editing Process

While the writing and editing process can be night and day from writer to writer, Georgia shared some interesting insight on her process with The Threepenny Editor.

My guiding light for how to edit has been to offer the kind of feedback that is helpful to me as a writer. To get better, you need to use your strengths to improve your weaknesses. If all you hear is criticism, it’s crippling. I try to put myself in the author’s shoes first, and imagine what brought him or her to the page day after day for years. Writing a novel is mentally brutal—unless you’re insane, there has to be something urgent and beautiful that lures you back. Once I am looking at a story’s merits, I can use them as a starting place for exploring the parts of a writer’s craft that are lacking.

Spit polishing a manuscript isn’t enough. If superficial changes are truly all a novel needs, then the editor who does it won’t be me: he or she will be the acquiring editor for a publishing house, and you will have already found an agent. Usually, revision means re-seeing your novel. Fiction is unified: theme, plot, characterization, voice, and world-building are indivisible. Although in workshops we talk about them as separate skills, the interface between them is volatile. This is why changing from first to third person or past to present tense alters the feel of a story so much—often, everything has to change to accommodate it; how your character develops, how much ground a scene can cover, and so forth.

Opening pages are also a more significant revision than many writers realize. It goes back to what I said about readers’ expectations looming around the first page. If you change that page, you meet the reader on a different ground, and how you engage with their expectations in the next few chapters will be different, as well.

On Her Publication Journey

The next logical step from editing and revision is the publication process. That process can prove to be a treacherous one, especially if it’s your first novel. Georgia’s experience was not unique in that sense according to her conversation with The Trend Den.

My “path to publication” was long and complicated. Less a path, more a washed-out-road-that-isn’t-even-on-this-f**king-map. I’ve had some opportunities handed to me on a silver platter and others refuse to acquiesce to me despite fighting tooth and nail for them. I’ve written two books that didn’t sell and both times thought they would end me (they did not). The first was a young adult novel I wrote without being familiar with young adult writing. It seems so obvious now, but it is near-impossible to sell anything without being familiar with the genre: any assumptions you have about a genre are likely outdated and untrue. I was cocky enough to think I could write a YA without doing my homework; it was a girl-detective called Tigerskins Incorporated, with an odd-couple set-up and a PG-rated detective tale. Too PG-rated: when my agent took it out, it suddenly became “middle-grade” (not my intention) and then didn’t sell. I was beyond gutted: every writer knows the feeling of years of “wasted” work. It definitely set me back and shook my confidence, and only through sheer, stubborn perseverance did I cobble/force another YA into existence, Parched. My advice: read your genre and don’t kid yourself about whether your ms sits comfortably in it or not. Work with a freelance editor. Don’t get hung-up on perfecting one book—if it’s been over 5 years, think about starting something fresh.

On Setting Big Goals

Goals are key in any career, but especially when writing a novel. In an interview with Booktopia, Georgia shared the highest writing goals she’s set for herself.

I’d love to get a six-figure advance to write a No. 1 New York Times-best selling novel that gets turned into a fantastic movie, thus entering the pop culture Hall of Fame forever. I’d also like to write something that concretely affects people’s lives, and gives them a greater sense of hope and self-worth.

For All the Aspiring Writers

In the same interview with Booktopia she shared her top tips for the aspiring writer.

Write stories in genres you read, and that you personally, would love to pick up in a bookstore. Commit to a regular writing schedule, ideally in a space away from home. Try the app Freedom if the internet distracts you. Don’t worry about the lacklustre first chapter; you’ll find your writing gathers steam later and you’ll go back and rewrite it anyway. Remember that talent is persistence: most writers don’t sell their first book, they sell their third or fourth. Writing is the long game: stick at it. Live a life worth writing about: take risks, say yes, follow your heart, and me, on Twitter: @georgialouclark.

(Photo by Isabelle Raphael and designed by She Writes.)

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