Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Reflecting back and Looking Forward
As I said in my last post, my blog is now five years old. Happy birthday, Blog! In January 2014, I wrote my very first blog post. I'd spent some time deciding on a name for my blog and in the end, I came up with the unimaginative 'Jan's Journey into Writing'. I suppose there's a bit of alliteration there! But that's what the blog was going to be about - a journey. I only started writing fiction when I retired and it wasn't until I undertook a short story writing course at Cardiff University in 2013 that I even had the confidence to consider submitting my writing to magazines, on-line sites and competitions, let alone write a novel. My first acceptances came from Alfie Dog Fiction and I shall always be grateful to editor, Rosemary Kind, for the helpful advice she gave me back then. 
Some of my goals in that first blog post were quite specific:
  1. to start writing a blog
  2. write regularly and more often
  3. get at least one story published in a woman's magazine
  4. get back on track with my novel and finish the first draft 
I never did achieve number 3. I didn't submit very many stories but it was soon clear I wasn't hitting the mark. I did, however, achieve 1. and 4. Back then, my intention was to write a weekly blog and that is something I haven't managed to do. That first year, I wrote forty four blog posts so, if you allow for holidays, I nearly achieved it. Things have gone downhill since. Last year, there were only eighteen posts so I definitely want to improve on that. One comment on that first blog did make me smile:
I need to set some goals. I think, I procrastinate, I dill-dally and dither so . . . in 2014, I must WRITE, WRITE, WRITE.
Things haven't changed in five years! However, I have completed two full length novels and have written 25,000 + of a third mother/daughter saga, so I have been writing. 

Looking back, I was surprised at how many topics I wrote about. They ranged from the benefits of writing buddies and belonging to writing groups, how to undergo research, a series on editing with other authors, dealing with rejection to using holidays to give a sense of place to your writing. Often, attending events were recorded - the Tenby, now the Narberth, Book Fairs, library talks or writing workshops. From 2016, these included the RNA Conferences and it was good to look at photos of new friends made and remember the excellent talks I attended. To start, the posts were often interspersed with news of short story acceptances or long-listings in competitions but apart from my pieces appearing in the annual Worcester LitFest Flash Fiction anthologies, these have come to an end. Due to concentrating on novel writing, I haven't submitted short stories for a long time. One feature of the blog about which I was very pleased was the inclusion of guest interviews with fellow authors, especially when a new book had just been published. This is something I definitely want to continue. Watch this space for some interesting guest appearances soon!

Before deciding to start a blog, I had looked at the pros and cons. See the blog post I wrote on February 20th 2014 entitled To Blog Or Not To Blog . . . ?  And so, five years on, is it worth continuing with writing a blog? I think it is:

  • My blog has helped me become part of a community. I have 'met' some lovely writers and it's been a pleasure to support other authors just as they support me. Although I have a loyal small number of people who leave comments - you know who you are and I appreciate every comment you leave! - I'm amazed how far and wide the blog posts are read. To date, the blog has been viewed 51,973 times and yesterday, even with no new post, it was viewed 146 times. 
  • It has given me an added on-line presence about which I've been able to talk with publishers and agents.
  • Yes, keeping a blog does take away from writing but I feel the advantages outweigh the disadvantages. I think that if I go back to keeping to one specific day for writing the blog, that may help. I've let things slide to writing a post when I grab the time or when I think I haven't written anything for a while!
  • Yes, it is difficult to think of new topics but by reducing the frequency of the posts to, say, fortnightly, perhaps this will take the pressure off. As my journey to becoming a better writer continues, many of the topics I covered in the early posts will be still relevant but I'll be looking at them with new eyes. I'd like to continue with the guest posts and celebrate the successes of other writers. 
  • Here's to the next five years of blogging!
My goals for the year ahead are much more general than the resolutions I made in the early years of the blog. I intend:
  • to continue to submit to publishers to find a home for my Greek novel. It's at the stage where editors are requesting the whole manuscript which is encouraging to a 'bottle half-full' girl like me! After being passed to another editor on the submissions panel of one publisher for a second opinion, it was finally rejected but the second editor kindly gave me detailed positive and constructive feedback. I was able to act upon that before submitting it again to other publishers in January. (I haven't given up on novel one - more about this in a future post) 
  • to plan and research my new novel set in war-time France. I wrote 25,000 words of scenes during NaNoWriMo. Having re-joined the RNA NWS for 2019, I need to write as much of a first draft as I can by the summer to submit for critique
  • to attend the 2019 RNA Conference in Lancaster
  • to support other authors and invite them on to the blog
  • to continue to enjoy my writing and learn more about the craft.

Thank you for reading and your support throughout the last year. Do you have a blog? If so, how often do you post and do you have a specific day for writing it? I'd love to hear your views on keeping a blog. Thanks.  

Good luck in achieving your goals for 2018. If you have a new book coming out or would like to share some writing news, please message me.

You may also follow me on Twitter @JanBayLit and my Jan Baynham Writer page.


  1. Five years! Congratulations, Jan. I know how much work goes into maintaining a blog. You have made me realise that my own will be five this summer. I agree with you about the importance of blogs - they are an expected part of an author's output these days.

    Sending you all good wishes for your Greek novel. You have put so much work into it and clearly that work is now paying off. What a shame about the second editor, but at least you received constructive feedback that you felt happy to use, so now you have taken another step closer to the novel's being accepted.

    1. Thank you, Sue. Your support along the way, both with the blog and with my writing, is very much appreciated. It's been wonderful to watch your own writing journey reap the success it deserves with the publication of your books, an inspiration to writers like myself who are unpublished.

  2. It's a long and painful road to getting published, Jan. But having read some of your work I know you'll get there. And you do so much better at blogging than me, I am woefully bad at posts - let alone regular ones. So congratulations on getting five years under your belt.

    1. Thank you, Judith. Your support is much appreciated. yes, it's a long and painful road but I'm not ready to give up yet. I should have started out earlier! ;-)

  3. Happy blogiversary! Well done on getting so far on the publishing stage. I wish you well with your submissions.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Liz. I notice you're from Swansea - we lived there for nine years and I didn't want to leave! I wish you well with your writing, too.

  4. Five years!! You're amazing Jan - and inspiring, to this author who fails dismally to produce a regular blog output, despite my good intentions :-/ xx

    1. Yes, but you do the writing, Sue.:-) I'm so looking forward to reading the 'Meet Me at the Art Cafe' and to the paperback version of book one. x

  5. Reading your as always excellent blog, Jan, has reminded me that I haven't blogged in quite a while!
    Five years of blogging is a wonderful achievement and even blogging once a fortnight shows real commitment - I don't know how people blog every day and write novels too. I certainly couldn't. I did try to stick to blogging on the last Monday of every month, and I managed that twice before I couldn't think of a new topic! I'm sure you'll be far more organised.
    All the best for your plans for 2019. I for one can't wait to read a novel written by you, so I hope a publisher will snap you up soon! x

    1. Thank you, Sara. That's so kind of you to say that. I hope your writing is going well and there'll be a new one to read in the near future. :-)