(Image from Goodreads profile)
To give my readers and fellow writers an insight into the processes and successes of other like-minded creatives, I'll be featuring some hardworking authors in my journal each week.
Today's author is R. A. Whitworth and she's independently published.
BIO (from Goodreads):
'R. A. Whitworth is an artist and writer from South West England. As an artist she paints coastal scenes and animal portraits, as a writer she lives within worlds like the Eárie, full of mystery and beauty devoting herself to explore its many secrets as well as the people who live there. Before becoming a writer she studied Animal Management at college with goals of going to university to study marine biology, wanting to make a difference in the world and help to protect wildlife.'
Where do your ideas come from?
From personal experience and how I feel about a place or subject. Sometimes going to a place and feeling its energy can be so inspirational. I love the arts, nature and history, it seeps into every crevice of my work, people living on the land, working together as a tribe, the colour and feel of fabric, the first brush of spring… (Here I go again!)
Why do you write?
To venture to places that can only be explored on the page. I’ve fallen in love with the Eárie and its characters, I feel the need to tell their story and to let my characters come to life and give them justice in telling the story of their journey.
Writing to me is also an extension to my art and mostly they support each other. I can paint scenes which could later become the Eárie and write with a visual que and mostly the reverse.
What do you find most appealing about your chosen genre, RA?
The adventure and possibilities that fantasy offers! I can explore culture and creatures that other genres don’t generally allow, and integrate them into the world. It also presents different challenges, such as world building and the need to understand the character’s environment in more depth. It really is a more immersive genre.
How do you deal with bad reviews, rejection and criticism?
It’s hard, especially when you put your heart and soul into something you believe in to receive criticism and rejection. Criticism doesn’t always mean that what you’ve created is wrong or bad. I’ve found that it can mean you’ve created something great and getting criticism anyway puts you up there with other authors, everyone gets it!
You write for yourself, if others love it as much as you do, that’s a bonus! I keep in mind that as long as you enjoy what you’re writing and believe in it enough then you’re already winning.
What do you find difficult about writing?
Day to day life! Fitting in the hours writing and carrying on with the everyday responsibilities of life whilst your characters still talk amongst themselves inside is difficult. I’ve had big book ideas whilst cleaning out a hippo pool (seriously!) Then there are times when they refuse to talk to you at all!
Watch RA's appearance (Nov 2016) on my podcast, The White Room!
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What is your opinion on indie vs traditional publishing?
It’s a competitive industry either way! Indie publishing gives you more freedom with your work, you can truly write from the heart without pressure from an agent/publisher about what you should and shouldn’t write, but it can also be a costly business.
Promotion is completely up to you and you have to organise it yourself, getting the book out there for readers to see is tough, especially as a debut author. But it is tough through traditional publishing as well; even though you have some support from those in the business but pressure as well it is also just as unpredictable.
Talk us through the creative process from start to finish.
It doesn’t always start with the idea, sometimes it can even start with an expression or feeling on something which matures when you bleed onto the page. After this, the idea starts to take form and you begin to discover more about what you’re writing about, either through your own research (which must be done thoroughly!) or through the depth in which you delve into the subject through your own philosophy. As you develop your ideas and sense of the writing topic drawings, notes and sometimes, (I’m guilty of this!) bits of twig, stone or shell which remind you of or hark back to the idea. You’ll become a hoarder of all things to do with your writing; it will spill out from your writing space and leak out onto the floor like water from the sink. It is then you truly begin to write.
If you’re writing fiction, by the time you begin to write your novel, you will already feel immersed into its world and characters, and it/they should guide you as you are writing. Your notes will swell, old discarded drafts, throwaway doodles forgotten and seemingly meaningless stray jottings will appear. You may even find yourself beginning to live the story away from your writing. Then you begin to doubt, as it grows and develops you’ll read other’s work (which you should do anyway) and become critical of yourself. The trick here is not to learn to hate your work, you spend weeks, months, even years working on it, so it will, to you at least seem predictable, but you must remind yourself at this stage, that the reader will not see the book the same way, to them it will be fresh.
After this stage, you will drive yourself to keep writing, and with the right belief in yourself and your work. You will enter the final stages and head to finish the writing. This can be the most eventful time of your writing, the pace speeds up as the novel heads towards its climax and close, and you yourself may develop the turmoil. You might want it to end, but yet fear it coming, but the need to keep writing, as strong as the need to breathe will drive you onwards. Then the homestretch comes, the climax is over and the end is nigh. As you write those final words the next stage looms. It is a happy time, and maybe the mood at the end will affect how you feel. But the satisfaction at completing it will be strong, then the hard part comes and you must then return to the beginning and read it as though with fresh eyes, pulling out mistakes and marking out plot holes, but it’ll be worth it as you see the novel together as one piece for the first time.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Read, live, write, learn and repeat. Before you sit to write, go for a walk, do something to get the blood pumping that’s always a great cure for writer’s block.
Also never give up! Even in those darkest of times when all seems fruitless, keep going. You have the duty to yourself to finish what you’ve started. It’s all part of the adventure, your characters go through it hard in what you’ve written, that’s what makes it interesting and whatever you go through whilst writing and whilst getting it out there is all part of the big game of life. It’s all experience, and material for future writing. You have the story you want to tell and it’s up to you to make time to write it. Turn off the phone, lock yourself away if it helps or even go out and get into the environment of your writing and bleed away.
If you could go back 12 months what advice would you give yourself?
Don’t take negative feedback to heart. Use it as a positive and keep going. Keep believing in yourself, you never know what’s around the corner.
Thank you so much to author R. A. Whitworth for sharing her insights on writing and publishing books. If you would like to support RA and her work, please consider purchasing a copy of the book, A Retreating Tide, available on Amazon now. Check out the handy link below: