And So It Returns…

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Image copyright Katherine A. Kovács, The Writer Within

Hello Lovelies,

I think it’s obvious to those of you who follow this blog, that since returning to Australia I’ve struggled to get into the right (or ‘write’) frame of mind to continue with József and Anna’s story in “An Anguished Heart”. First, there was the excuses. I had unpacking to do, the “real world” was getting in my way, I even found myself tidying the house rather than clicking to open the file on the computer.

The characters though, were constantly on my mind. I planned and I pondered the fate of my characters, I even went to The Rocks in Sydney to chase a little inspiration, but for some reason I couldn’t bring myself to actually sit down at the computer and type. I did other forms of writing in the meantime, this blog, some poetry even some short stories and children’s stories, but not one extra word was added to the word-count of “An Anguished Heart”.

I was lost and having trouble truly embracing the writer within. Perhaps I was a little scared. Perhaps it was that the last time I worked on József and Anna’s story, it was when I was in Budapest, away from the real world, away from the day-to-day constraints of reality. It was easier then, if I accidentally stayed up writing until 3 a.m, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I didn’t have to get up for work or to take children to school, I didn’t really have to do anything. In my mind I was stuck, I didn’t know how I would continue to work on my writing when I was worrying about staying up too late or making sure the kids lunches were ready for the next day. I just had to find a way to adapt and learn how to  balance writing with reality, I’d done it before we left for Budapest, I just had to figure out how to do it again.

And now… I think I’ve done it. I’ve broken the self-made barrier in my mind and I’ve made the first steps to embracing the writer within again. The last few days I’ve deleted around 3,000 words from my manuscript, it was crap, I revealed too much, too soon. I’ve  since replaced those 3,000 words though, plus more. I’ve researched, I’ve planned, I’ve taken notes and I’ve even figured out some later plot points and logistics of some of the upcoming events in the story. I’m problem solving the details.

I feel positive and energized, I’m telling myself, “That’s it, you can do this!” and I’m actually starting to believe it again.

Yes, it’s returned. The Writer Within is back! Now it’s time to embrace it!

Below is an excerpt of what I’ve been working on, it’s an excerpt where József is reflecting on Hungary’s involvement in the First World War. It is of course a first draft so it is extremely rough around the edges, but it’s been so long since I shared anything with you all.

So thanks for sticking around and as always…

Enjoy,

KK

 

It is not that the men in our family were cowards or disloyal to their country. However this war was not ours, it was a war forced upon the Hungarian people and by many other countries, as a result of the alliances formed over the years.

No, it was not a question of bravery of loyalty, but a question of right and wrong.

Was it right to go and fight a war that was not ours, not our country’s?

Was it right to take innocent lives for such a war?

 Was it right to risk losing our own lives in the process, leaving our wives as widows, our children without a father and our mothers without their sons?

No, I don’t believe it is.

(Excerpt from “An Anguished Heart”)

 

 

© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2017). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

 

A Sense of Accomplishment

Hello Lovelies,

It’s the beginning of yet another month, the year seems to be going by at an astounding speed. Sometimes things seem to be going by so quickly that it’s important to stop and appreciate the things that you’ve enjoyed, seen, heard and accomplished so far.

This month I again feel that sense of accomplishment that comes with achieving a goal. Yes, that’s right! I’ve kicked procrastination’s arse again and met another word-count goal. It was a pretty close call this month, but I was determined to get it done, so what if I left it to the last minute and only went about 20 words over my goal, I still achieved it! And that is something I am definitely proud of.

I was also able to figure out some of the finer details of the more important plot point in József and Anna’s story and I can now see the road we are travelling on and the sights to see, instead of just the destination.

Yes, I am definitely feeling a sense of accomplishment that I intend to hang on to for as long as possible. However, now that I have gotten this far with József and Anna’s story, the more I am beginning to realise that it’s going to take more words than I thought it would to tell their story properly.

When I first set out to write their story, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a novel or perhaps even a novella, all I knew it that I needed to tell their story in order to understand the subsequent stories in the series. I set myself a goal of 80,000 words, which is the length of  a short novel. A goal that seemed so far away but still certainly still doable. I am now at around the 55,000 word mark and I’m not sure if I’m even half-way through their story. This is where the dilemma is, I want to do their story justice, but I don’t want a novel of some gargantuan length that only the most avid readers will consider touching. I want József and Anna’s story to the casual readers and enthusiastic readers alike and wouldn’t want to scare away a potential audience simply because of the length of the novel.

I’ve decided though, that’s a dilemma for another day. For now I will concentrate on simply getting the story out. I will stick to my monthly goals and see where the story takes me. The word-count of a first draft will be very different to that of a final draft and that’s when I will make my decision. For now I will simply revel in my sense of accomplishment and keep on writing!

Keep reading for a little sneak peek from the first draft of An Anguished Heart.

Enjoy,

KK

Our people may now enjoy the freedoms all Hungarians do now, but that didn’t mean that prejudice from certain individuals had completely ceased to exist. There were still many who believed that the people of the Jewish community were second-class citizens, who were no better than the slaves we may have once descended from. Despite the changes in laws, there were many who still believed that the Jewish people in Hungary were not entitled to the freedom and liberty that all citizens of Hungary enjoyed. Many would jump at the chance to openly bring question to the loyalties of the Jewish community and in many ways I think this is why so many young Jews had already enlisted in the army, even perhaps why Dani was drawn in as well, they did not wish to give others the opportunity to question their patriotism or loyalty towards Hungary. Of course I was a proud to be Hungarian and I am proud of my Jewish faith, but I am not about to fight a war that I believe is not ours. Hungary is part of this war because of Austria’s declaration of war, just like many other countries who have now joined this war and those who may become involved soon, it is due to governments and rulers honouring their allegiances and coming to the aide of their allies. It may have began as a war between Austria and Serbia, but each of these countries have many allies and so to, they also go to war, for the sake of honour, loyalty and allegiance.

 

© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

The Gestation of a Novel

Hello Lovelies,

What a wonderful week it has been! So many great things have happened, not only with writing but also in everyday life.

For a start, we got some more snow, which is always nice for an Aussie who hadn’t snow falling until recently. I also walked on a frozen lake! I won’t lie, I almost needed new pants after that experience and was so scared the entire time, but I’m glad I did it. The kids didn’t care, they ran out following their father, walking where he walked just like he told them to do. Me…. I was panicking the entire time and my husband thought I was joking. It wasn’t until we were back on actual land that he realised that I was actually scared and not having a joke. Perhaps it was the look of instant relief that made him realise. You see in the movies it always goes like this: person walks on ice, person feels ice cracking beneath feet, person cannot get to shore in time, falling into the icy water and getting trapped or dying of hypothermia. Apparently though, that’s not how it goes in real life. Those who grew up around snow and ice, have some kind of sixth sense or something, they know when it is safe to walk on the ice and where to walk on it and they also know that there are plenty of signs before the ice breaks, giving you time to get back to land before falling to your watery, icy death. How was I supposed to know this though? I am the Aussie who went on a snow trip as  five year old, saw some snow, but never falling snow. I am the one who has trouble walking on snow unless it is freshly fallen, the one who is struggling not to slip on their arse while the husband and kids just walk on like normal.

me on snow
This is me, trying not to slide down the hill on my arse.

Now that I’m sure all of the experience snow lovers are laughing at me, let’s get onto the topic of today’s post and the reason why I’ve used the word “gestation” to describe the development of a novel. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you might have seen this:

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Yes, that’s right! For one whole month, I kicked procrastination in the butt and stuck to my word-count goal! I know what you’re thinking, it was only for one month, no big deal, but for me, someone who always finds an excuse, it was a pretty big deal. I met the word count, plus a little extra, as well as did some research and brainstorming for later parts in the story.

I went to bed that night (well morning actually, it was 2 a.m.) feeling a huge sense of accomplishment but realising how much further I still had to go. If I am to get my first draft written in the time frame I am hoping for, I have another 9 months that I need to stick to my word-count goal. I joked with myself, thinking that’s how long it takes for a baby to be born, then it dawned on me… writing a novel is sort of a bit like a pregnancy. You spend the first part hoping you’re doing everything right, but not knowing what it’s going to end up like on the other side. The first draft is the gestation period- the pregnancy. At the end of that, it’s like you have a new born and what do newborns do? Eat, sleep and poop, that’s basically it. What do you do with your first draft? You let it sleep for a while, you realise that,

“The first draft of anything is shit.”

-Ernest Hemingway

Now before you get all up-in-arms and think I’m some sort of baby hater (I have three children, if I really hated babies, something went wrong there), I’m not saying that babies are shit, I’m saying that’s what comes out of them and more often than not, that’s what your first draft will be. Then you begin to edit – a lot, rewrite and edit a few more times – this is the “eating” I guess. You edit and rewrite and edit some more, bringing your story out of its infancy and helping it to grow.

My focus at this point is the gestation of the novel, to get out that first draft no matter how rubbish it might be. I’m not concerning myself with perfecting the grammar and punctuation, because not only will that take time and cause me to lose my momentum in telling the story, but that’s what editing is for! Not so long ago, I used to edit as I wrote. I would reread a chapter as I finished it and edit it before I went onto to next. By the time I got to actually writing the next chapter, what I wanted to write was lost and I forgot where I was heading.

“It’s none of their business that you have to learn how to write. Let them think you were born that way.” -Ernest Hemingway

I have learnt a lot about myself and my writing in the last few years, I have began to learn what works for me and what doesn’t, but I still have a lot more to learn. So for now, let’s focus on telling the story, getting it out and letting it be born. Then later I suppose I’ll worry about the rest when it’s time.

So to my fellow writers, keep writing and to book lovers, keep reading. For the world is full of great stories, stories that take you to different worlds,places and times. Some are already written and some still waiting to be born.

Read on below for a little sneak peek of József trying to prove himself to Anna.

Enjoy,

KK

“You see, I shared with you my hopes and dreams. I’ve never shared those dreams with anyone, not even Apa. I was afraid you see. Afraid that people would laugh or think it was silly, afraid that they would tell me to be realistic. But you didn’t laugh or tell me I was silly or tell me to be realistic. Instead, you asked if you could be a part of my dream, you asked if it could be our dream, our American dream, dreams of hope and perhaps one day, dreams of love. Maybe one day it won’t be just a dream and if that day ever comes, I want to make sure that you will be there to share that dream, together, the two of us.”  -József

An excerpt from An Anguished Heart by Katherine A. Kovàcs

 

© Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within, (2013-2016). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovács and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Twenty-Fifteen on The Writer Within

Hello Lovelies,

For this week’s post, I’d like to share with you my plans for 2015. A little more than a year ago, I started this blog in the hopes of encouraging myself to take my writing and creativity more seriously and take it to the next level. The year resulted in many new ideas and a range of different plot ideas, which I began to explore, causing me to be jumping back and forth between multiple WIP. I realised later in the year that not only was it extremely confusing for myself to do this, but also if I were to really get anywhere with these WIP then I needed to seriously concentrate on one thing at a time and stick it out until the end.

So this is when I chose to stick with Thomas and Rose’s story as it was the one I felt most invested in. Through the name changes, changes in POV and the realisation that I had began their story in the middle of what I hope to eventually be a series, I went right back to the very beginning and things seemed to be working out. Then life got in the way and my highly developed ability to procrastinate.

I’ve done the math and in order to finish Lonely Hearts in 2015, I need to write an average of 6000-7000 words per month. Given the fact that I have written this amount in roughly two days before, for an assessment I left until the last minute, it’s beginning to look entirely possible that I would be able to accomplish this goal. What’s even more promising is that a few nights ago I wrote roughly 1000 words in less than an hour!

So this is what I need to get done in 2015;

  • write 6000-7000 words a month to finish Lonely Hearts (This is the most important!)
  • Stop procrastinating!
  • finish my Masters degree (only two units to go!)
  • Stop procrastinating!
  • Weekly blog posts (which I do anyway)
  • Stop procrastinating!
  • Keep to one WIP at a time (but keep note of new ideas in one of my many notebooks, to be explored AFTER Lonely Hearts)
  • Stop procrastinating!
  • Recruit Beta Readers (already recruited one!)

And finally;

  • Stop procrastinating!

So, there it is, the plan. Let’s hope I can stick to it!

As proof that I have been writing, here is a small excerpt from Lonely Hearts.

Enjoy,

KK

His words beautifully etched on the card, caused my stomach to flutter and my cheeks to warm. How could something as seemingly innocent as the word ‘tonight’ hold so much power and promise? I wondered what his plans were for the night, he spoke of dinner but I was beginning to get the feeling that what most men meant when asking a woman to dinner was not exactly what Thomas would have planned. Would there be dancing, music, where would we go? There were so many lovely restaurants in the luxurious hotels in the city I wondered if he would choose one of those. I’d been inside the lobby of a few of those hotels to deliver suits and other items that some of their guests had ordered and each I was overwhelmed by the extravagance each building and that was just the lobby! I was so caught up in my daydreams that I failed to notice the woman who had entered the shop until she was directly in front of me. The woman had dark chocolate coloured hard which she wore pinned back at the sides, she was probably in her forties and she carried a small bag, what seemed to be a large garment box and another smaller one which she placed on the counter to my left. “Oh I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you come in. Can I help you? Do you need some alterations done? I’m free now if it suits you.” The woman smiled at me kindly and shook her head, “Oh no dear, you don’t understand. I’m here to help you.” I stared at her blankly not understanding what she meant and she continued, “You see I understand you have a gentleman admirer who has planned something very special for tonight…” I nodded vaguely beginning to understand where she was going with this. “…Yes, well I have specific instructions that I am to get you all dolled up and ready…”

“Oh, well I’m not quite sure what I’m wearing yet.” I actually was sure I even had anything suitable to wear, especially considering the extravagance Thomas has already gone to, I was actually positive I would have nothing fit to wear.

“That’s fine Miss Greene, I have already taken the liberty of choosing a dress and shoes, under Mr Heath’s guidance. I’m sorry but I had to guess your sizing, but if it’s wrong I can get someone to pick up the correct size and bring it over in a jiffy.” Before I could gather myself and the extent that Thomas had clearly gone to, József wandered out from his office, “Rosie, has the papers from Mr Hea….” His voice trailed off as he noticed the woman in the store, “Oh I’m sorry, I did not realise you were with a customer. I will speak with you later.”

The woman, whose name I still did not know quickly corrected József. “I’m not actually a customer. Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m Lillian Jones, a personal assistant and secretary for the Heath family.” She smiled politely and extended her hand to József which he shook, but with a rather confused look on his face, mirroring my feelings exactly. “Very nice to meet you Miss Jones, is there something I can help you with or has my Rosie got everything under control?” The woman who I now know is called Lillian Jones, took a moment to understand József and his strong European accent, it is sometimes difficult for people to understand József at first, especially when a word has a ‘th’ sound, it always comes out as someting, anyting, everyting. “Actually, there is something you can do for me, if you don’t mind.” József listened as Lillian Jones spoke, “You see Miss Greene here is to accompany Mr Heath to an important dinner engagement this evening. Would you mind terribly if she finished work a little early today?” József looked as shocked as I was mere moments ago and he hasn’t even seen the jewellery yet. Shaking of his moment of shock he pulled me into a quick hug, “Of course not, off you go édesem, enjoy your evening.” Turning to Lillian, his fatherly instincts took over, “It was lovely to meet you Miss Jones and please tell Mr Heath to make sure he looks after my Rosie.” Smiling like she was privy to some hidden secrets she replied to József, “Oh not to worry Mr Szabó, your Rosie will be very well looked after.” I mouthed to József a quick, “thank you” before handing him the papers that were delivered earlier and heading out the door, helping Lillian Jones –Personal Assistant and Secretary, with her things- my things I guess. “So Miss Greene…” she said as I led the way next door, “Are you ready to be all dolled up for a night on the town?” She smiled that smile again and I knew she was the one who helped Thomas hatch his undoubtedly grand plan. I let out a nervous sigh and opened the front door, “Ready as I’ll ever be.”

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fact or Fiction?

Hello Lovelies,

It’s hard to find the time to write, but this week has been quite a productive one. My characters have given me enough insight into their first meeting allowing me to be able to fill in the blanks and put it into words, my fellow writers will understand just how exciting it is when something like that occurs. You see, it is not the writer who is simply writing the story, the characters are taking us on their journey and we are merely putting their story on paper. Sometimes your characters show you the whole scene and you have to find the right words to depict the scene, other times your characters let bits and pieces slip and you need to find out the rest. That’s where the fun of research comes in (again and again and again).

I already knew that Thomas and Rose met at Rose’s place of employment ,a small clothing manufacturer owned by a Jewish family who migrated from Europe several years before. I saw through Thomas’ eyes as he walked into the man’s office and looked into Rose’s eyes for the first time, but I didn’t know the Jewish man’s name. This is where research comes into play. Although this character in only in the story for a very brief moment and this story is a work of fiction, the name had to be factually accurate, this is when the research begins. I discovered many things about Jewish surnames, that I will not bore you with now, but through this research I did find what I believe to be the perfect name for this family, Schneider. Whilst this surname is a common German surname, my research has told me that it is a name that is a German-Jewish surname meaning tailor, the perfect surname for a family who design and make clothing, don’t you think?

After exploring the darkness last week, it was nice to be able to come into the light and discover the softer side of my dark and mysterious leading man and the beauty of my lovely and compassionate leading lady. Perhaps love was in the air? After all it was Valentines Day on Friday. I’m getting closer to completing the chapter that I abandoned a few weeks ago, but I am also discovering that the story is not heading quite in the direction I was anticipating and in some parts I’m not sure what will happen next. No need to worry though, my characters will show me the way when they are ready.

This week I would like to share with you a little excerpt from Thomas and Rose’s first meeting, again remember this work is raw and unedited and will likely change many times through the editing process.

Enjoy,

KK

Image

Image Flickr Creative Commons user Saif Saif

When I entered the small business, I was greeted by the owner, a dark haired Jewish man by the name of Szabo, who had migrated to Australia some years before with his wife and daughters. As I entered Mr Szabo’s office and sat down, her words took me by surprise, “Tea or coffee Mr Heath?” I did not even realise that someone else had entered the room. As I looked up I saw for the first time her warm brown eyes that hinted at the kindness and compassion she possessed. My brain struggled to register the words which she had just spoken to me. Her long waves of chocolate brown hair that sat below her shoulders were held back at the sides by two small brown hair combs. She was wearing a beautiful jade coloured dress, that had a ruffled v-neckline and belted waist that accentuated her curves. I know I was staring at her as after a brief moment her cheeks reddened and she glanced down at the small tray she had placed on the desk and repeated the question, to which I stammered out an almost unintelligible reply. Her mouth gave way to a small smile, I am sure she was laughing at me. I had been in the presence of many beautiful young women, but none had caused such an effect. The moment I looked into those warm brown eyes, I felt as if the world around melted away and this beauty, whose name I did not even know, was the only thing preventing me from drifting away. As she left the room and I sipped my coffee and remembered that I do not even drink coffee. I decided that I had to find out more about her, I had to find out everything, “You have a beautiful daughter Mr Szabo, you must be very proud,” what I said was the truth but I didn’t care whose daughter she was, I just knew that I must have her. “Who, Rosie? You very kind Mr Heath, but Rosie, she not my daughter, she not even Jewish girl. Rosie just work for me, she very good dressmaker.” Rosie… of course her name was Rose, it suited her perfectly, but in the words of William Shakespeare, “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” I asked Mr Szabo everything he knew about Rose, I found out many things by that afternoon, he explained that Rose was the only person besides his immediate family who worked for him. Even though he could no longer afford to pay her during these difficult times, Rose still continued to come to work each day. While I was told many things about her I did not know if she was betrothed, but it didn’t really matter, I would have her either way, but it would make things a lot easier if she were not. 

******

Most importantly I became privy to the fact that she was not betrothed to any man and so I began to pursue her, making unnecessary trips to Schneider’s, just so I could bump into her and invite her to lunch. Rosie was not like any of the other women I had been with and she was not the type of woman I would usually lust after, but for some reason I felt drawn to her. I had found what I was searching for, unaware that I was even searching until our eyes met for the first time. I was not used to having to court a woman, on past occasions, women would lust after me and I would let them. I would wine them and dine them, take what I wanted from them and send them on their way, feeling no emotional connection to them whatsoever.

From the beginning with Rosie, it has always been different.  

© Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within, (2013-2015). Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Katherine A. Kovacs and The Writer Within with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.