The winners of July’s Word Weaver Writing Contest share their thoughts on the contest, writing in general, and other stuff.
DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?
HEATHER HACKETT: I did sit down with the express purpose of writing something just for the contest, but this piece took over my thoughts and demanded to be written. Or rewritten, as it turns out, because Mind Games is a scene from a larger fiction story I’m working on, a psychological thriller. I had written this part of it quite some time ago, but revamped it, edited and changed it for the contest. Rewriting it helped to bring together a lot of nebulous ideas I’ve had floating around in my head for some time.
Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece /completed story?
Ideas go around in my head for quite some time before they get onto paper. They’re often all mixed up, and they may not all be part of the same story, so it can be confusing. I tend to keep a lot of balls in the air until something gels and then, when I sit down to write,
“I start with very brief outlines of all the scenes that might be in the story. I try not to edit these scenes, just brainstorm them all out.”
– Heather Hackett
Then, when I have a pile of them, I transfer each one onto a post-it note and sort them into some kind of logical order, sticking them up on the wall as I go. My office looks like the incident room for a training exercise.
While I’m writing, I try not to edit. That’s a tough call, because I’m a perfectionist. But ‘Better done than perfect’ is the quote above my desk that I try to live by. And that’s why I have an editor, and lots of other people who get to read my work before it gets anywhere near the publish button on Amazon.
If you’d like to join my launch team for my next book, and get an advance reader copy – for free – just flick me an email – email@example.com. Read and review is all that I ask in return.
Where do you do your writing?
“I write everywhere – at the coffee shop in the mall, at the picnic table in the park, on the deck at the back of my house, at the dining table, at the beach (though the screen glare can be deadly there).
When I’m driving long distance, I dictate notes.”
– Heather Hackett
I often wake up in the middle of the night and type notes into my phone. Sometimes I even sit at my desk.
I tend to fall into my story life quite easily, so I don’t really worry about background noise. Sometimes my music playlist is quite loud, depending on what I’m writing, but it seems to keep me focused. Certain artists, like Neil Young, Jackson Browne and Bob Dylan, have been a huge part of the soundtrack to my life, and hearing their songs again puts me in the best space to write.
Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?
I want to self-publish many more books and build a platform that can support me as a full-time author. I currently work from home as a freelance copywriter, writing articles, blogs and sales copy for other people, but I’d much rather be working on my own stuff.
What does writing success look like?
Last time I answered that question, I said it was
“the Amazon orange bestseller banner.
I managed to snag one of those on the Australian Amazon site about a month ago, and it’s been attached to my book ever since.”
– Heather Hackett
But I realize now that success is more than that. Success means I will be able to give up writing for others and have my own body of work support me. Success means that readers will email me and tell me they loved my books. Success means my editor will stop saying, “You need to show me more here.” Success means that I might eventually get a full night’s sleep.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on finishing my second memoir, the sequel to my first book – Restless. Following on from my years of budget travel as a backpacker with kids, this one is about the 8 years that I spent living and working in Japan. It’s about half done – I seem to always be saying that, but I’m determined to get it done very soon. Then I want to concentrate on the psychological thriller I have in my heart.
Did you know the piece you submitted was special?
Special? No. Emotionally engaging? Maybe. Difficult to write? Definitely.
“It’s one of those sensitive subjects that we don’t often address, and don’t like to think about on any deep level.”
– Heather Hackett
But psychological abuse is just as real as the physical variety, and it can exist right under our noses without ever being seen, because it’s not obvious.
What’s next for you?
I need to start thinking about the title and cover for my second book. Recently I changed the cover of Restless, my first book, and it has made a huge difference to the sales. This is the new cover. It’s me and my son trekking in the Nepal Himalaya, one of the rare instances I was not the one taking the photos, but it’s much more relevant to the topic, even though the original cover image held special meaning for me. What do you think? Original cover on the left, new one on the right.
Check it out on Amazon at the following sites:
Amazon US – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MXSWC3J
Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01MXSWC3J
Amazon AUS https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01MXSWC3J
Connect with me on Facebook at – https://www.facebook.com/heatherhackett.author/