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Happy Christmas from Louise
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Dear Reader,

'Tis that time of the year again, and although I'd been prepared for Christmas for a while—the tree was up, presents bought, puddings boiled (courtesy of Daughter #2)—I didn't feel ready. Something was missing. Then yesterday, Daughter #1 arrived home from Melbourne, and suddenly, our family felt whole again and my world was restored. Now, I'm ready for Christmas. (Our daughter's lived away from home for three years, but I still feel as if a piece of me is missing.)

2016 has whizzed past like a blurred landscape out of a car window. Our family began the year with a renovation, and ended it with kids sitting some heavy-duty exams and a 50th birthday. Speaking of which, I wrote about my half-century milestone—and my mixed feelings towards it—on my blog. Like most things that loom large, this birthday wasn't as difficult to digest as I'd feared, and I'm now milking my age for all I can get!

THE NOVEL

2016 has been my most exciting writing year yet, but it was also the year I did the least actual writing. I won't repeat the news here because I've banged on about it so much I doubt there's a person with internet access who hasn't heard I got a publishing contract. (See how I slipped that in! My family now roll their eyes and say, 'Really? You have a publishing contract? You've never mentioned that before ...' and stick their fingers in their ears if I keep talking.) 

My editorial suggestions from Allen and Unwin are coming in January and I'll have a month to complete them. I have no idea how extensive they'll be but I'm preparing for the worst. The family have been warned that I'll be head down and bum up once they arrive. (That means internet silence, too, so if I go quiet in the New Year, you'll know why.)

NOVEL #2

I've been having trouble starting a new novel. I wrote nearly 16,000 words and then trashed them. I tried again, but only wrote about 4,000 words before I ditched those. I must add that I did the same thing when writing the first novel, except that I wrote 50,000 and then 35,000 words before trashing them. At least I'm faster at picking up when I'm writing a crappy story! 

This third attempt seems to be falling into place. The characters are becoming clearer and themes are emerging. I feel a little thrilled by this because the story is beginning to gather its own momentum (if I can stay away from the internet—see below), and I'm looking forward to returning to the project in the New Year. Hopefully, this version won't stall ...
 

MEANWHILE IN THE ATTIC


This month, I've had three amazing guests in the attic talking about their writing lives:

Lily Malone wrote about how her novel-writing began after the birth of her first child. She's also made a recent life-changing decision ...

Maureen Eppen wrote about why she became a journalist (spoiler: it had something to do with a love of words) and her long-standing ambition to write her own novel.

Threasa Meads wrote about the healing power of writing and combining it with the visual arts.
 

LOOKING UP/LOOKING DOWN


I was recently a guest on Amanda Curtin's blog as a follow-up to her 2014 series 'The Next Wave'. In the original series, Amanda introduced a number of aspiring and emerging WA authors, and her recent series focuses on our progress over the past two years. 

When writing and editing a novel, you feel as if you're moving at iceberg pace, so it was nice to write a summary and realise how far I'd actually come.

You can also read the original piece I wrote in 2014, and follow the links to read about the other featured WA authors.

PODCAST

 
I discovered an educational and inspiring Australian podcast called 'The Garrett', which features in-depth interviews with writers about their writing process.

I recently listened to an interview with Toni Jordan about how she started in writing and her writing process—she's a 'pantser' and has successfully written a number of novels this way.

The following week, Graeme Simsion was the guest author. He sits firmly on the 'plotting' side of the fence, and doesn't believe in 'pantsing'. He also talked about writing 'The Rosie Project'—he started writing creatively when he was 50, and it took ten years before 'The Rosie Project' was published. It's an inspiring story of persistence leading to success.

Other writers featured are John Marsden and AS Patric, and I'm looking forward to more next year.

A HELPFUL APP 


I find the early stages of writing a novel, when I must create something out of nothing, the most difficult. It's my least favourite part of the novel-writing process, and it's at this stage I find it hard to resist the lure of the internet, because it's infinitely more enjoyable and less taxing. Plus, it's right there at my fingertips, pinging away, telling me I have a new email or comment, or an interesting article I need to read. And then there's those minor details I should look up before I forget ... Before I know it, an hour's gone by and I've written one-and-a-half sentences.

A couple of weeks' ago, I invested $29 in an annual subscription to the app Freedom. In the past, I've used free apps that lock me out of the internet for fixed periods, but they've been inflexible and I haven't been able to programme them. With Freedom, I can nominate the sites I want blocked—list them individually, or as 'social media' or 'all internet'—and I can programme start and finish times and the days of the week I want them to come on. For example, at the moment while the kids are on school holidays, I've programmed the app to come on between 7 and 10am on weekdays, but not at weekends. I can also link all my devices.

If, like me, you're lacking in self-discipline and are a bit of an internet sucker, at only $29 Freedom's worth every cent!

PS. This isn't a paid endorsement, I just thought you might like to know about it!

GIVEAWAY WINNER


This month's winner of the delightful book, 'A Literary Feast' is Lyn Fowler. I'll be in touch soon, Lyn, for your address so I can post it to you—I hope you have lots of fun reading and baking in the style of Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, and the Bronte's! 
Next month's giveaway is another V&A bookmark plus an 'Alice in Wonderland' soap—it grows smaller and smaller with repeated use, then shrinks away altogether. It also smells beautiful!

All subscribers to my newsletter are in the running to win, so if you're reading this and you're not yet on my mailing list, you can sign up here.

A thank you 


Thank you all for your support this year—for reading my stories and essays, for your comments and messages, and for your heartfelt good wishes. Having support from friends and acquaintances, as well as from people I barely know or don't know at all, has not only made this long and winding road towards publication bearable, but has made it an absolute joy. I can't thank you enough.

For a million reasons, I will be forever thankful I wrote a novel, but especially for all the people it's brought into my circle and the good friends I've made.

I thank you all deeply and wish you and your families a joyful, peaceful, and loving Christmas.
The shepherds and three wise men got a mention, even the donkeys and the sheep, but they forgot to credit the photographer.
Copyright © 2016 Louise Allan, All rights reserved.


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