Making wine, or making vinegar – the difference is in the fine tuning

pink-wine-1964457__340There are days when I feel so frustrated with the world of writing that I wish I had never started. The reality of it all, the hoping for reviews, hoping for readers, the media, working on follow up books, both in The Unexpected Series and my Emotions poetry trilogy has meant feeling overwhelmed. Don’t misunderstand. I love writing but it is hard work and so reliant on what others think, much like the creation of fine wine.

Age or time if used wisely improves the process but like first-time winemakers you need to hone your craft by taking on board the reactions of others.  If you haven’t handled the process carefully then vinegar is the result. It doesn’t mean you give up however you do need to add a bit more thought, to your approach.

I’m Italian and I grew up to the stomping of grapes in the cleverly designed concrete contraption housed in our garage. I lived in Sydney so options for my father and uncles were limited.  They made their own, contraptions that is, contraptions that included a still (an amazing construction of dubious metals) as well as the area that housed the bare-feet grape-bashing once a year gathering of relatives.  In the early years the ensuing results were often foul, at least compared to the wines I enjoy these days, but other times they held a certain appeal and the dregs of those good moments extended into a grape jelly I have yet to taste the equal of.

Why the differences in outcome?  It may have been due to numerous work constraints (real jobs I mean) with available helpers, or perhaps it was the type of grapes purchased.  As time passed and I grew older and understood more, I saw the improvements in the equipment and resulting product as someone new to the growing brood of relatives, added their suggestions to the mix.  My father was many things I was often at odds with (cultural differences) but there was one thing he did that stood out I truly hope he passed on to me – he was a willing learner.

Am I ready for real critique, ready to find out whether the product is wine or vinegar? Who wants to drink vinegar?  Isn’t it good for you? I’m sure I read that somewhere. Regardless the journey has been one of bountiful information. I have learned writers build a bridge to what is often unrelated ideas in order to present a truth.   I have learned how hard it is to do this in a unique and novel way. What I didn’t know was how much of a see-saw writing would turn out to be emotionally, and how hard it would be to wait and see if the end product is vinegar or a fine bottle of red (or white but red sounds better).

Actually, I did know emotions would rise and cause havoc but the colour of our truth is grey and not the black and white we presume.  As Antonio says to his daughter Lia, in Unexpected Obsession:

“What happened isn’t black and white, the truth isn’t black and white. Maybe the facts are, this happened, that happened but the reasons are more complicated, full of grey areas. It’s hard to be open to that but Lia, grey softens the edges, helps us clarify what is important.”

I recalled a writer’s workshop I attended held by the Queensland Writers Centre on honing the realities of marketing. This is the behind the scenes hard work to get the created work out there, a time-consuming and confronting operation. If you didn’t love what you did then you would never attempt writing as a profession.  It is a demanding and selfish task master during the process, and in the necessary extensions of the process. Yet that perfect glass of wine does happen but not if you let things get in the way especially the things that may not be palatable.

Self-publishing has been a little harrowing. Yet it was also a liberating experience as ultimately it is the readers, we will answer to so cutting out the middle man seems fair. Jane Davis says the following:

“Self-publishing is the mechanism that freed me to be more ambitious in terms of where I wanted to take my fiction. Instead of being dictated to, I am free to write about the issues I’m passionate about and fascinated by – the big subjects. Remove the pressure of trying of to mold something to fit the current market – which agents admit is risk-averse and overly-commercialised – and it grows wings. For authors of literary fiction, creative control isn’t just a plus. Increasingly it’s becoming a must.

I don’t know about that, but I do know that I want to make wine and am hoping fervently that readers will take advantage of the current $0.99 sale of my e-Books extended now until the end of March, and that they favour me with a review. I am willing to accept vinegar if I end up making fine wine in the long run. I’m here for the duration but I need your support by way of input and that can only come from reviews.

Till next time

Ciao

Barb

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