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Before You Quit Writing, Read This

“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”

Thomas Mann

Before You Quit Writing, Read This is a new collaborative book from Dave Ursillo and The Literati Writers (of which I’m a member) which is now available on Amazon Kindle.

The purpose of the book is to share our personal stories so that we can encourage fellow writers who might be considering quitting to keep going.

Digging Deep

My contribution is called I’m a Writer, Damn It! and it’s a very personal piece.

Dave challenged us to really dig deep and write about something we haven’t revealed publicly before.

So I delved into some difficult childhood memories, and told a brief story of my life, including the times when I wrote and the fallow periods when I did anything but.

“The act of writing is itself an act of understanding. By putting pen to paper, you’re engaging in a very reflective and sometimes even confrontational practice of facing your own truth: everything etched within your soul.”

Dave Ursillo (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)

My intention was to let any struggling writers out there know that I too have struggled. I spent many years not writing and without much hope of ever achieving my creative dreams. I almost gave up. But I’m still here, writing, publishing and even getting paid for it.

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It’s Covered

One of the things that made this such a great experience was that Dave put this project together in a highly professional way, from bringing in illustrator Mars Dorian to create the cover, to hiring a professional editor to give each of us feedback on our contributions, to preparing publicity material.

Edited Highlights

As a professional writer and content creator for a variety of clients, I’m used to receiving feedback on my work, however it is a different matter when it’s something so personal.

It took me a day or two to digest the editor’s comments and to accept that making those changes would definitely improve the piece, such as being clearer and more transparent about what I was trying to express. It was a great thing to experience and has definitely made me think more carefully about how I write.

Breaking Through The Fear Barrier

The day before the book was due to be published, I read over my piece again and was suddenly seized with a terrible fear that what I’d written could upset my parents. I had never discussed some of those memories with them directly and I didn’t want to them to misinterpret what I had written.

I shared my fear with the other Literati Writers and got some very supportive responses and advice, which really helped. But the fear remained.

“FEAR is a bastard. He has this way of wrapping his cold, sinewy hand around your heart that takes your breath away, sends a chill down into your guts, and causes you to freeze up. He takes the joy you get from writing and ruthlessly smashes it to bits, making you second-guess your abilities.”

Jessica Glendinning (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)

I’ve read other writers and content creators talk about this type of fear gripping them, and the general consensus seems to be that this is what happens when you break out of your comfort zone and start sharing something real, something that truly matters, and that will actually be of value to others.

And maybe by writing about those negative experiences and sharing it publicly, I can finally escape their hold on me.

“As you dig, you will learn. And once unearthed, you can choose what to keep around, and what to let go.”

Dave Ursillo (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)

That’s something that makes sense to me as a writer, but is probably difficult for others to understand, especially if they find themselves entangled in my words without having chosen to be.

Dare Greatly and Do The Work

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The fact is that what I’ve shared in my article is my own truth, of how I experienced and interpreted circumstances at the time they happened.

Perhaps those half-remembered moments from the past lack their proper context, and perhaps they are an unbalanced account of what really happened. But it is what came to me when I sat down to write.

“What’s left on the page is pure, unadulterated me. It’s not always pretty, but that’s okay. Neither am I. It’s not always funny or insightful. But whatever it is, it’s me. It’s a snapshot of myself. A little glimpse into my brain at the moment the pen hit the paper or my fingers hit the keys.”

Tom Meitner (Before You Quit Writing, Read This)

Either way, I will learn from this, and keep going. Because as Brené Brown suggests, you’ve got to Dare Greatly, and that means being vulnerable, taking risks and leaning into the discomfort that comes from baring your soul to the world.

And as Steven Pressfield says, you’ve got to Do The Work, and make a habit of sitting down to write, every day.

Whatever failings I may have, at least I’m doing both those things. This, I’m discovering, is what it’s like to be a writer.

Thanks to Dave, Jessica and Tom for their quotes above – each and every contribution to the book contains similar wisdom about writing, so I’d highly recommend having a read.

Before You Quit Writing, Read This is available now on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk as well as other Amazon stores worldwide (affiliate links).

It is free to download until Thursday July 12th 2013, and you don’t even need a Kindle to read it. 

mountainshores_icelandDave Ursillo is also the guest on the most recent Mountain Shores Podcast:

Finding Home In Writing (and Rhode Island)

In an in-depth and honest conversation, Dave chats to Fabian and I about how writing helped him bounce back from depression and how he has carved out a career as a creative entrepreneur after leaving the world of politics behind.

Visit MountainShores.net | Listen/Subscribe on iTunes | Stitcher

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ONLY A CITY APART MASTER

Hit the Kiss (and Tell) Button – an Interview with Lomond Campbell

ONLY A CITY APART MASTER

Last weekend I spoke to Ziggy Campbell, frontman of acclaimed Edinburgh band FOUND, during a wedding in the grounds of Edinburgh Zoo.

After a failed attempt to noise up the monkeys we thought we’d record a wee interview instead as a special treat for you.

 

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The ‘nitty-gritty specifics’ we cover during our conversation include:

  • His forthcoming EP under the guise of his mysterious alter-ego Lomond Campbell (you can also hear sneak previews of some of the tracks)
  • Why he’s calling himself Lomond and not Ziggy (the below picture is a clue)
  • Why he isn’t your typical singer-songwriter
  • His joint record with band member Kev Sim aka River of Slime
  •  How to get into their intimate Edinburgh house gig in July and get free records and whisky into the bargain
  • whether there is a future for FOUND ‘the band’ following internet guru and bassist Tommy Perman‘s departure
  • fellow FOUND collective member and computer genius Professor Simon Kirby’s debut singing performance (it involves carrots)

Ziggy also gave me a wee preview of the new EP and it’s cracking  – if you like FOUND you’ll love it. My favourite track is the epic krautpop closing track Hit The Kiss Button.

LOMOND-Press-Shot-3More info:

Only A City Apart is the debut EP from Lomond Campbell and marks the first music to come out of the FOUND collective since their acclaimed 2011 album factorycraft. It’s being released on the 19th July 2013 on coloured vinyl, limited to 250 copies.

The EP features a guest vocal from fellow Fence Collective member The Pictish Trail. The record will serve as a taster of the forthcoming collaborative album with River of Slime, which is due to come out on Chemikal Underground later in 2013.

The 12” EP will be given away for free at a “secret” house concert in Edinburgh on 20th July 2013. To reserve a space email 42music42@musician.org. All who attend the concert will also be treated to a dram of whisky decanted personally by Lomond and River of Slime.

The remaining copies will be available from Chemikal Underground & Fence Records online shops and in various independent record stores throughout the UK. A digital copy will be available to download from Lomond’s Bandcamp page.

www.facebook.com/lomondcampbell