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Justine John blog posts

Publishing on my 50th Birthday

Justine Robinson

Ever since my early teens I have loved to write – journals, poetry, short stories. I’ve always been part of a book club or a creative writing group. In my early twenties, a magazine even published one of my first articles and I remember being paid £75 – quite a lot of money back then! In that moment of triumph, I recall giving thought to becoming a ‘proper’ writer.

‘Wouldn’t that be good?’

But it was an idea immediately followed by more realistic thoughts.

‘I already have a job as a PA. I can’t give that up. How would I pay the bills, keep my flat?’

So that was that. The writing was no more than a hobby.  Until my mid-forties, that is, when I felt the need to write about my father’s death. It was a time in which things just seemed to happen, a period of my life that felt almost fictional. The seed of a novel began to take hold and I didn't fight it. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I realised life’s just too-damn-short.

So I …

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With all this talk of goal setting – it's made me think.  How do we not let ourselves down by setting ourselves up for failure?  One answer is to get involved – ask others – network – learn more and approach experts.

Today, I am enthused and motivated to write this, because one of my goals does actually feel that little bit closer, and in no small part down to the belief and advice of another person, or people. There is no way I would have finished my novel had I not had a mentor. Before, I was stuck with a lame and disappointing story, writing draft after draft, banging my head against a brick wall and not really knowing what to do or where to turn next. In front of me was a sea of information, far too deep to swim in. But once I’d honed in on a network of people in the same boat, I came across a mentor. I was encouraged, drew breath, gained strength and the channels became ten times clearer. It’s this – the importance of having a …

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Is Procrastination Really A Bad Word?

Justine John

As I type this, I am waiting eagerly for a response from my favourite agent.  I even dared to prod her after five weeks of sending my whole manuscript.  Today I emailed and admitted I was struggling with patience, even though ‘I know I’m supposed to’. 

Since I’ve been waiting, I haven’t hung around.  I have submitted to a further two agents (one rejection, one still-waiting), diarised chase-dates and targets, entered five competitions, signed up for several workshops (about Plotting, Adding Suspense, Using Your Senses, Adding Depth To Writing etc), bought and read some text books, downloaded and indulged in some self-help eBooks, signed up for NaNoWriMo (I won’t get anywhere with this) and set up a planned Twitter page for my writer's group. 

Additionally, I’ve begun to plot another novel and tried to keep this blog up-to-date.  These are the most difficult, of course – because it’s writing.  The rest is, I am …

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Do I Have the X-Factor?

Justine John

I know I should hate the X-Factor, but, I admit that I don’t.  I love the sheer banality of the old fashioned entertainment, the on-the-edge-of-your-seat competition, and the tears of joy at someone accomplishing a dream, even if it is rigged.  I also know it’s heartless to laugh in the face of a person who possesses profound stupidity, to the point of humiliating themselves in front of millions of viewers across the country, and further, no doubt, on the internet.  It’s so sad, but, in my opinion, it’s also highly enjoyable.  And even though Sting called it ‘televised karaoke’ (I agree, but karaoke is fun), Moby said it ‘cheapens music’ (I agree, but some music is overpriced anyway) and Calvin Harris thinks it’s ‘a joke’ (I agree, a very amusing one), Simon Cowell is a genius for developing a media storming spectacle that not only attracts an audience of millions but one that has also created life-changing opportunities for …

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I Think, I Hope

Justine John

And so I’ve begun.  Begun to be a writer.  I think.  I hope.  I’ve got a manuscript.  I’ve got a mentor.  I’ve got a Twitter account. I’ve joined a writer’s group.  I’ve even got a pseudonym (titter).  And now I’ve got a blog! 

I still feel like a rookie though.  A novice.  A fledgling.  A beginner.  It’s even hard to call myself a ‘proper writer’ because I haven’t published anything. 

I’ve always written something – teenage poetry, industry articles, and good letters.  I wrote the first chapter of my novel long ago… before I had the story.  Before the ‘what’s it about?’ had revealed itself.

I am almost fifty now.  I’ve had a lot of jobs.  Good ones, and some of them well paid.  Some of them even satisfying.  I ran my own company for fifteen years, organising events.  I led a young, dynamic team and …

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