About the Episode:
Cat Lumb has been writing stories for over a decade: since she was diagnosed with two chronic conditions and was forced to rest more, meaning her imagination was often her only escape. Her first love is novels, and she has eight manuscripts in various stages of completeness, but also enjoys the ease of short stories for a quick fiction fix.
Cat starts by talking me through how she became a writer and book coach. She is a prolific short Story Writer and I asked her about her method for coming up with ideas . She shares with me the what if tree as a great way to develop a plot line . And she recommends using newspaper headlines as a way of coming up with an idea. What is the Story behind the headline , or rather what is your Story behind the headline?
She gives advice for submitting your short stories to magazines and periodicals and the importance of knowing the themes in your work full stop when you understand the themes in your stories you can target your work too particular competitions and magazines. Cat also recommend the small press guide, published by mslexia as a great way to find upcoming competitions.
Cat then goes on to explain her process for writing longer form novels, and this includes using nanowrimo as a jump off point.
We talked to about writing blocks and where they come from. Often those blocks are not to do with your writing, but what's going on in other areas of your life.
Cat runs the Write Catalyst, a coaching community. She coaches her clients one to one as well as in small groups. She hosts monthly webinars covering all elements of the writing life and in her Facebook group "The Write Catalyst", she goes live every Tuesday sharing her top tip Tuesday.
One of her mantra's is “you can do this”. Often self belief is one of the biggest stumbling blocks her clients have . And a lot of her job as a book coach is to guide her clients through their limiting beliefs
“If it’s important to you, it's important.”
We talk about what it takes to finish a novel and again it comes down to self belief and not comparing your first draft to the finished product of another author on the shelf.
Connect with Cat:
Facebook (9) The Write Catalyst | Facebook
The Memorial Tree https://amzn.to/3mXiPUE
Support the show (https://www.patreon.com/emmadhesi)
Hello, I'm Emma Dhesi and welcome to another episode of turning readers into writers. If you're brand new here, welcome. And here's what you need to know. This is a community that believes you are never too old to write your first novel, no matter what you've been up to until now, if you're ready to write your book, I'm ready to help you reach the end, I focused on helping you find the time and confidence to begin your writing journey, as well as the craft and skills you need to finish the book. Each week I interview debut authors, editors and industry experts to keep you motivated, inspired, and educated on all things writing, editing, and publishing. If you want to catch up, head on over to emmadhesi.com, where you'll find a wealth of information and tools to help you get started. Before we dive in, this week's episode is brought to you by my free cheat sheet 30 Top Tips to find time to write. In this guide, I give you 30 ways that you can find time to write in the small gaps that appear between the various errands and tasks and responsibilities that you have in your day to day life. Now you might be thinking that you don't have any time to spare, but I can guarantee these top tips will give you writing time you didn't think you had. If you thought writing always involved a pen and paper or a keyboard. Think again. If you thought you needed at least an hour at a time to write your manuscript. I help you reframe that you won't be disappointed. Get your free copy of 30 Top Tips to find time to write by going to emmadhesi.com/30TopTips. Okay, let's dive in to today's episode. Cat Lumb has been writing stories for over a decade since she was diagnosed with two chronic conditions and forced her to rest more meaning her imagination was her only escape. Her first love is novels and she has eight manuscripts in various stages of completeness, but also enjoys the ease of short stories for a quick fiction fix. Her stories have been published in women's weekly writing magazine and karma press new Manchester writers collection. Her DB short story collection the memorial tree keybinds in the Kindle store in July 2018. Her fiction explores themes such as sentiment, perspective and reflection, often with a surprising turn. Her debut novel a spy thriller called in lies we trust, was published in March 2021. In August 2020, she left her job as museum educator at the Manchester museum to follow her dream life as a writer, and now as the right catalyst. She is a writing coach for aspiring authors who dream of writing a novel. She is keen to support writers develop their confidence and self belief and is an avid believer that we all have a novel inside of us waiting to be written. She's on the steering committee of the Huddersfield literature festival, but lives over the hill on the wrong side of the Pennines in Staley bridge, where she enjoys walking with her dog, Hugo the destroyer. So let's get chatting to cats and find out a little bit more about her journey to writing and how she helps new writers write that book that's deep inside of them. Well, welcome, Cat, thank you so much for being here with me today.Cat Lumb:
Oh, thank you very much. It's a it's lovely to be here.Emma Dhesi:
Now, I wonder if we can start with you just telling us a little bit about yourself in your journey to writing and where you are now.Cat Lumb:
Yeah, so it's a typical story of childhood love of writing and reading. And I was always the kid that went to parties and then hit on this table with a book rather than partying. And But it wasn't until I was in my late 20s that I really picked up fiction writing again. And basically, it was because of ultimately I became quite ill. And I became housebound, actually with a an Lchronic illness called M.E or also known as chronic fatigue syndrome. And then later in 2011, I was also diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is a chronic pain syndrome. So, because of this, obviously, as I said, my energy was limited. I was often in a lot of fatigue and pain. And it meant that I couldn't work for a few months. So I basically couldn't do anything other than sit on the sofa, and rest. And the only really company that I had to get me through was either terrible daytime TV or my imagination. Unfortunately, I have a very vivid imagination. So I started writing again as a kind of means to help me heal, I guess. And it was journaling. I started blogging again. And I started writing short form fiction. I made an attempt at a novel which took me six years to even finish the birth one. And I think it's probably developed from there, all of it has come from the fact that had I not become ill with this, these two disabilities, I may never have got my dream of writing a novel and publishing it. So it's a really interesting turn around. And last year, during the pandemic, I left my job as a medium educator. So I was working part time teaching kids how to use collections, to you know, that history and things like that. But in the pandemic, working from home, my health just got so much better. And so what I ended up doing is making the big leap, and leaving that job, and becoming my own boss, and really committing to my writing dreams and my dream of actually helping other writers do the same thing. So I left my job in August 2020, I finally built the dream plotting shed that I've been dreaming off for three years. So the shed that I'm talking to you now from is in my garden is a little shed, it's got a blackboard wall, where I can plot out my novels. And I just absolutely love coming to work every day. And my health is so much better, that I now I can modify care. So it was definitely the right choice.Emma Dhesi:
Gosh, absolutely. It is amazing how life takes these meandering tones. And we don't always know how we're going to achieve our dream or what obstacles we're going to come across. I'm sure you can never afford that. You know, a chronic illness might be the catalyst, pardon the pun, to to get you to where you wanted to be, not just with your potting shed, but also to get that book out in the world. And that's, I love that you mentioned your potting shed, because I've obviously I've been following you for a bit so I I recognize the wallpaper and things in your shopping shed. I didn't realize it was going to share that you had the special, she shared plotting shed there was your creative space. So it's lovely.Cat Lumb:
Yeah, I mean, I sometimes joke that actually what I've probably built is quite a large dog house because my dog who got the destroyer, absolutely adores, sitting in the corner, looking out the window watching the squirrels in the back garden. And he gets more excited on a Monday morning to come to the shed than I did.Emma Dhesi:
Sounds perfect. So you mentioned there that you you started off doing short form fiction. And that's actually a challenge that I've given myself this year, I've got the challenge of writing 52 short stories this year. And I don't mind telling you I'm finding it. I find it a challenge to come up with the ideas for short stories. Where do you get your ideas from work for a short form rather than the long form novels?Cat Lumb:
Oh I have to admit that I have a very vivid imagination, as I've said, and I find the problem is stopping the ideas. everywhere I've been to look, I always ask the question, What if. And, in fact, it's one of my key tips for new writers, if you ever get stuck in a story, just do like a little decision tree of what if this happened, what if this happened, what if this happened, and then choose whichever one would make more sense for you. But generally, they just pop into my mind when I'm sort of peak. I love people watching. And it's a bit difficult within the times of pandemic, but I used to sit in a cafe and just watch people go past. And in fact, I was out on a walk at the weekend with a couple of my friends. And there was an elderly man walking past holding a small child. And he was kind of walking really quickly and looking over his shoulder at the same time. And immediately I was thinking, Oh, what happens if that child's not his. And that just suddenly starts me on that story. And so I guess I have a quite a dark mind, there is a general just to my certainly short form and sometimes long form stories that I have to kill somebody. So generally speaking, in my short stories, somebody has died or somebody will die. And but that's because one of the things that I write about are things like loss and grief, and how that impacts us on the memories of people. So I would say that if you're struggling to find ideas for your short stories, or if any of your listeners are I tend to go to newspapers, look at headlines and decide what the story is from the headline. And use the water method and just continuously. One of the reasons I like the what if tree is you can plot out a story really quickly and see the options and without having to sit at your desk for hours and write the story. So yeah, that's that be my two best tips for you. headlines are really good ones that are kind of what's the story here. Perfect. Have you even read the story? Especially with some of the clickbait that goes on now? So?Emma Dhesi:
Yes, well, good tips. Thank you, I think I will be having a look at Yeah, the headline, one in particular, kind of resonates with me. So I'll be trying that. Thank you. And now I saw from your bio as well that not only do you have lots of good ideas, but you've been very successful with them, and you've submitted them to different publications, and had good success. I wondered if you had a kind of methodology for that, or how you were how you decide which stories you're going to submit to which publications and or was it just good luck?Cat Lumb:
I think it's a little bit of luck, I generally look for themes that I know that I write about already. So again, like memory loss, and nostalgia, we like the idea of characters that lie or that don't tell the whole truth. So I generally look for competitions that sit within those themes. And then what I try and do is, I do my wife tree, for a lot of them. I always like a good prompt. So if something says it's an open start with category, you can write whatever you want, that's when I usually get stumped, because they've got too many ideas. And so I One of my favorites is for competitions is always the last line competition, love a good last line. And really good theme. So I've been really successful with things like having stories published in women's weekly. And again, that was grief and loss, with a slightly off turn, obviously, at the end, and mighty magazine competitions and things like that, where they do have the last line or the theme. So I think if if your listeners are looking for short story successes, it's really good for them to look in places things like writing magazine competitions, of themes, theme stories that they know that they can write about. And sometimes I know it's quite difficult as a writer to figure out what your themes are. But if you've started writing stories, or you've got a lot of short stories, and you don't know what to do with them, just read, have a read through them, and see if you can pull out some of those themes, what you consistently write about your characters, all women in their 40s that are struggling with relationships. And I think by doing that, it means that you're more targeted as to where you're submitting your work. I tend really tend to look for anthologies and things like that. And one of my best resources happens to be the small press guide by Miss lexia. Magazine. They've got a little sort of guide where it basically tells you all the small presses and the apologists are looking for short stories, memoir pieces, essays and things like that. So it's a really good resource for the writers to have.Emma Dhesi:
Yes, I know that one is is very good they do that. Debbie, there isn't she does a great job. Yeah. I know, you've mentioned it a few times that your the themes that interest you are about loss and grief and things or would you be willing to kind of share with us why those those things interest you so much?Cat Lumb:
You know, it took me a long time to figure out why. I mean, one of my most memorable childhood moments, is one of those that six I think was about six or seven. And actually one of my school friends died. And I have a very lingering memory of my mom answering the phone at the bottom of the stairs just before school. And she just crumpled at the bottom of the stairs into sobs. And that that was when we found out and I think that's kind of something I carry with me. I've been very fortunate not to have suffered too much grief throughout my life from that, obviously, loss of grandparents, loss of dogs, which is one of the other grief that I go through. But I just find it fascinating the way that people deal with it in different ways. And also the lingering effects that it has that you know, years later, that childhood memory is obviously leaked its way into my writing, without me even knowing that first. So yeah, and it's got something to do with that, that perception of things and how people perceive grief. And what people think grief is and so often it does look like you know, hiding and crying and, you know, missing people, but it can also be being in a supermarket by yourself and not knowing which brand of washing powder to buy because you never bought it. So it's it's one of those really interesting concepts to me and I think that's what you're kind of like to explore in my stories.Emma Dhesi:
Yeah, and I wonder I am one of those women whose theme does tend to be women in their 40s Who are kind of, you know, looking at relationships, whether it be with a partner or a friend or or children often as well? Um, do you find that that the way that? So though the theme generally is sort of around grief and loss, have you noticed over the years that maybe the emphasis has changed? Do you find? Or are you still still exploring this one and haven't yet evolved...Cat Lumb:
I think the emphasis does change, because I think the stories that I write can either be quite dark, and I do quite like a twist at the end that last line of, you know, surprise, but I think it's also come from the optimistic nostalgia of really good memories as well. So it kind of has a different strand, for different stories and for different approaches. And obviously, with my debut novel, it was a slightly different genre than I usually writing. But again, even the, in that nobody dies until the end, I'll give that away. And there is still elements of grief and loss through it and how people respond to it. So even if it's not a central theme, it's still somehow bubbles, its way up to sort of lesser themes and less funds.Emma Dhesi:
I was talking to a writing teacher recently, and she says that she's been writing the same thing, essentially, for the last 14 years. So I'm always interested to note whether I'll be the same or whether whether I'll change. And now you mentioned your novel, and that you've moved on to longer form fiction and then just First of all, because your first your debut novel was published just in March of 2021. So not long ago. So big congratulations on that.Cat Lumb:
Thank youEmma Dhesi:
that a lovely milestone. And so you've moved on to longer form fiction. And I was wondering what your process for writing this was, was similar to doing short stories? Do you plot it in the same way that you do your short stories? Or was this more of a discovery? exploration? Talk us through it?Cat Lumb:
So as I said, the short stories, I generally pick a theme, and general How about one question to answer that one water. And for my long form fiction, genuinely my process is to is to do a bit of plotting. So I have to know what the inciting incident is, what sets us off on this story. And I always like to have an ending in mind. So that allows me to think, right, where am I heading, what has got to happen between the inciting incident and the ending that I want to make that happen? So I generally do do a little bit of plotting. But I often find that with all the plotting in the world, somehow, I end up on a discovery journey as well. So I tend to do NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, every single year. So in November, usually what happens is that I've got an idea for a novel sort of a big concept, or what if, and I just start writing. And in that month of november 50,000 words in 30 days, it doesn't give me any chance to question whether or not it's going to work. It's just, I just need to go from one scene to the next and one happening and one plot point to the next, and see what happens and explore my characters. And then from that, it gives me a good idea to whether or not the idea is a novel worthy idea, I guess. And then I usually rewrite it. Because let's face it, the National Novel Writing Month is great for getting the words on the page, but they're not necessarily the right words, or the end words. And it just gives me a really good idea of what the plot is going to be, and how my character is going to change throughout that story. So then, generally, I rewrite it. And, you know, the novel can go through a number of rewrites. So like I said, for my first novel, which is still in a drawer somewhere, it took me six years and about eight different rewrites. And I've just got to the stage now, sort of 10 years into my writing process where I don't have to rewrite it 700 times, I can rewrite it once and then just edit it. I figured that out now.Emma Dhesi:
It's nice to know that that time has been well spent. So now you know, you've got a process that works for you. And although it's never easy writing, particularly a first draft, at least you you know, have some experience that tells your brain you can do this. Don't give up Yes, this bit in the middle might be a bit tough, but you've got foreign here, you know, you can do it. And I think that's where a lot of confidence can come from. It's just knowing that you've struggled through it in the past and you did it. So now you're again,Cat Lumb:
I definitely agree with that is that the more more you practice them more you realize that the hard writing there's a just as valuable as the writing, there's that flow. And I'm very much of I actually don't believe in writer's block. So much like the idea that you sit, you can't sit down and write something, I actually believe that's just a mental block. That's just you telling yourself that you can't do it, when actually, you can. It might just be that you don't know where you're going, or you're, you know, you're fatigued, or your energy levels are low. So there are a lot of different things going on there. And certainly with the people that I work with, that's one of the obstacles that we overcome together, where we identify what is the block that's happening here, because it's not about you can't get words onto a page. Because you can put any words on a page, it's fine. But it's about how you approach that writing. And I think the confidence that you come to your writing, this is so important, because that can make the difference between a good writing day and a bad writing day.Emma Dhesi:
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. Just before we move on to talk about how you work with writers, I was interested when you mentioned earlier on, so your debut is cold, and in lies we trust, and it's a spy thriller. But you've said that that's not your usual genre. So I wondered, oh, what made you decide to write this one and then for this to be your to be your debut?Cat Lumb:
So yes, the my usual genre, the genre I'm most comfortable at is women's commercial fiction, that sort of reading group fiction. But the spy thriller actually came from a challenge for my writing group A number of years ago. So I think it was in 2015, or 2016. So the National Novel Writing Month, then the I think, sometime the beginning of October, my writing group, put an exercise forward that says write something that is not your typical genre, something that you would never ordinarily write. And I thought, right, okay, women's group fiction, what's furthest away from that spy thriller. So try writing a spy thriller. So I wrote this little excerpts about a woman being kidnapped, really taken to the warehouse, and she was reporting into her superior officer because she used to be a spy. But then her superior officer, and another person gets shot by a man wearing nothing but a trench coat. And then that's why the exit stopped. Cuz that's, as far as I got on my writing group, like, you can't leave it there. We want to know what happens next. Why is he only wearing a trench coat? So I thought, okay, and I had a few more ideas about what was happening. So I sat down, and I wrote it in that November. And actually, the story that came out is pretty much the story that's in the book now. But at no point did I plot this novel, I literally was complete discovery. So as you read it, and you're kind of figuring out well, do we trust that person? What's going to happen to that? Where's that going to go? Those are all exactly the questions that I were asking myself as I wrote it. Unfortunately, it just, it must have been something in me because it just came out. And it was so much fun to write. And reading back over it. When I left my job last year, I was like, this is a fun adventure novel. This is something that actually people could really enjoy. And the fact that it's not my usual drawn genre doesn't mean that it should sit in a drawer and never see the light of day because it kind of deserves to see that light up there and get those readers. So it's like, right, okay, well, it's it's complete, I've just got to do a bit of tidying up so and then I can release it. So that's what I did. And I am absolutely delighted that in the first week of its release, it actually got to number 16, in the best sellers for spy thrillers on Amazon, which completely flummoxed me because this was, you know, the fun project or something that was a bit different. And, and I've had amazing reviews, my favorite being the one person who said that they started reading it one night, couldn't put it down and had to pull a sticky at work the next day, just so they could finish it, which is a writer, it's like that is the perfect review. So it was one of those ones where it was a challenge. And it was something different. And I think, as writers we shouldn't shy away from that we, you know, if you do get a bit of writer's block, try something completely different, you might find actually, that's kind of one of the places where you shine. And that novel taught me so much about piercing about, you know, putting hooks in chapters and things like that. So I'm actually really proud of it. So I'm glad that I was my debut novel in some ways, but you probably notice I published it under my real name as my dad would say, which is Katherine And that's because I intend to publish sort of commercial women's fiction under catalogue. So they do have a bit of a separation. So if in future you're looking for, you know, women's fiction, and you come across in lies waitressed, I want you to make sure that you know, it's not the traditional stuff. So don't want the disappointed reading a spy thriller when it's like, this isn't the the nice women's fiction. Although Having said that, the main character, Liz is one of my favorite women, she's strong. She's fun. She knows what she wants. So she's a great protagonist.Emma Dhesi:
Yeah, I just wanted to kind of go back a little bit. And she when you mentioned that, you know, if the audience is thinking, Oh, where's this gonna go wisest man in a trench coat. And you were thinking that, and you were going along for the journey, I just wanted to kind of comment on how, or observe just how you trusted your process, you didn't know what was going to come up, you weren't in control of it all. But you trusted yourself and the music, you like to kind of just go with it and see where it had, where it went. And here we go, we've got a finished product that you're kind of really happy with. Because I think sometimes a lot of new writers feel that they've got to know every detail before they can start writing. But often, the details are already in our brain, we've just got to trust ourselves to let them out. And and your story there, I think is a great example of that. That would you can just... yeah.Cat Lumb:
Yeah, sometimes I think you just have to give yourself over to the star, I certainly have novels, I never used to believe that characters took over, you know, I was like, you know, as a writer, you should be my partner thinks this, as a writer, you should be in control of your characters, they should really do what you tell them to. And that is not how it works. In the first novel that I ever wrote, I had the doctor's wife who was supposed to be a background character, you never saw her. And yet, somehow she ended up in loads of scenes. And I just couldn't stop her from coming into these scenes. So in the end, she actually became an integral part of the story. And that's what she was trying, it was my brain knocking on my door saying, she needs to be in the story, you have to let her into the story. So I think if, as writers you do have to learn to trust sometimes, and you do have to believe that where your imagination is taking you is the place that needs to go for this story to be told.Emma Dhesi:
Now, you've mentioned obviously, already, but just to kind of I'd love to delve into a little bit more that not only do you write your own stories, but you help other people write their stories, too. And I wonder if you could tell us about the right catalyst?Cat Lumb:
Yes, so I am the right catalyst, helping writers get that novel their dream have written and done. And it was something that I never thought I would do as a writing coach. You know, for me, I was a museum educator. But the more and more that I got involved and realized my own writing process that we have, the more I realize that I actually have a lot of knowledge and confidence that I can share with other writers. So I set up the right catalyst, we do plan your novel challenges, which is one of my email challenges. And I do I have a Facebook group where I do a top Tip Tuesday live, every Tuesday, we're talking about writing in the process. I do a monthly webinar, every month different topic, new webinar, and we'll just get together for an hour. And we talk about all things writing. And I absolutely love it, it lights me up. Because I think sometimes we take for granted that if we can do something that everyone must be able to do with certainly with writing, you know, even through school, it's like you should be able to write. And I think we forget that as adults, we forget that we can trust our imagination. And the confidence that we can build up just by having someone else say you can do this is actually one of the core things I think people need from a writing coach, it's a reminder that, you know, it is always going to be easy, there are going to be hard days and how you actually get through those hard days can be really helped by having that belief. Even if you don't believe in yourself, someone else is there saying you can do this. This is how you do it. You know, you've done this, and actually recognizing that they're doing more than they think a lot of my clients, I find like they come to meetings and say I haven't done a lot of writing this week. But I did plot out this and I did do some character development. And I did research this and I'm like, that's all writing. putting words on the page isn't always the end. Sometimes you do have to do the legwork that goes beneath it. So I think we take for granted sometimes that writing is putting words on the page when it's so much more than that.Emma Dhesi:
Yes, and so do you, you mentioned that people they come to the groups? Do you work with small groups? Or do you do one to one? Or both? How does it work?Cat Lumb:
I generally do the webinars for sort of groups. But I do a lot of my one to one work, I really love sort of delving into individual writers, how we can best sort of help them in their process, and is very much it's not a cookie cutter type of thing. You can't say, this is how you, this is how this person writes. So you must write like that. And again, that's something that I think can be very intimidating for new writers, they'll look to other writers, when actually, it should be what works for you. When do you have time? How can you carve out that time? What boundaries Can you put in to make sure that you prioritize your writing time, other, you know, scrolling through Facebook, for example. And so did a lot of one to one, either, sort of to individual sort of meetings to one to one, I know a lot of coaches only do like an hour, but I tend to do 230 minute one so that we can look at a problem putting some solutions, and then review and reflect I think the reflection bit is really important. And so I do that as sort of a two week process. I do a six week coaching one. But I also do a three month one called get drafted where we work on either getting that first draft down, our editing it so that it's a publishable standard. So and I really, really enjoy working with clients on those.Emma Dhesi:
Yes, yeah, I like one to one, working with people one to one and really seeing that transformation, and seeing their face light up when they realize there have overcome something they were struggling with, or even get to the end of that draft and are really happy with it and think, oh, that eureka moment that they've done it is veryCat Lumb:
Yeah. and those the insights that they get along the way, one of the reasons I love working on one to one is because you get to hear more about their story. And their characters, and you get to see their characters develop and the story develop. And I love that as a you know, I'm a bit nosy. I like to read everything. So getting a preview into some of the best sellers that are going to come out in the next sort of five years.Emma Dhesi:
And know so with your students, so I wondered if you could just share with us, maybe one or two of the more common stumbling blocks that you see your students come across your clients come across?Cat Lumb:
Well, I think it's one of the ones I think you focus on a lot with your writers here as well is time. And saying that you don't have time to write, and I'm very much of a believer Are you got MC time you can only find it. And one of the key things that I see is that the people as writers, we don't prioritize our writing time. And by that, I mean because it's four rows. And it's only something that we do. And generally, we do it alone, that people think it's not important. So they will do things for other people, or they will do the housework. You know, our, you know, the kids will come in and say, our where's this Mambo and all this. And then they will go and find that with them. Where was I'm very much a believer that if it's important to you, it's important. And this is something I repeat to my clients over and over again, if it's important to you, it's important. And prioritizing that isn't something that we should feel guilty about. It isn't something we should feel ashamed about. And it isn't something that we should let other people take away from us. So I find a lot of the time that people are trying to please other people more than they're trying to please themselves. And so that's one of the things it's sort of that that time, but also the guilt that's associated with the time that I see a lot. And it breaks my heart because I know exactly what that is like I've been through that. And it's only by putting in some boundaries are actually stepping up and saying, I am a writer, which means I do need my writing time. You know, it's not an argument, it's a statement. So I think that's probably something I work the most on my clients with that self belief and the underlying prioritization and the boundaries that need to be put in.Emma Dhesi:
Yeah, that guilt one is a funny one, isn't it? It's then that we would feel guilty for doing something that gives us so much pleasure and makes us feel happy. And I don't know if it's women in particular, but it's it's a strange one. It's ammmmCat Lumb:
Do you said married women? Yeah.Emma Dhesi:
Now I blog posts of yours recently was and maybe we've maybe answered this a little bit already, but I'd still love to hear your answer is I saw a blog post that was, you know, what does it take to finish a novel? Because in my experience, certainly, it can be very easy to start one, but it's a lot harder to finish one. So what what's your thoughts on that? What does it take to finish a novel?Cat Lumb:
A lot of determination. And a lot of self belief, as you say, you've got to get past that point of thinking that you can't do it. I think the word can't is a terrible, terrible word. And I always advise my clients to moderate it. And so I can't yet or I can't until, but I think to finish a novel for me, it's, it is that thing of not going back to the first chapter and re editing it over and over and over again, just because I mean, the amount of times that I've written a book, you know, I put most of it in between eight and 10. Now full length novels, and the first chapter, or even the second chapter, are no longer relevant by the time I've got to the end. So why, you know, you don't need to perfect those the first time round. And again, it is just that sitting down every day, or at least as much as you can. And just keep going. And just keep going. And sometimes I know how difficult Why is, because sometimes you do get stuck. And then as I said, the what if tree really helps me there. And there are usually some mental blocks. But I think what it takes to finish a novel is self belief, knowing that other people have done it. So you can do it. It's, you know, you if you're a reader, you've got bookshelves, and you know, that hundreds of hundreds of books. And each one of those books is evidence that it can be done. So writers that you read, and that you admire, and that you think I'll never be as good as them. They thought the exact same thing about other writers. So it's never seeing other writers, it's competition, it's always making sure that you're seeing them as inspiration, that is literally the proof that it can be done. And that you can do this as well, because they did it. And I absolutely love that. And it's something that I do, I tend to talk about a lot in my facebook group. And I think, for me, it's certainly something that has pushed me forward, when I've met other writers, and that I've spoken to them. We're all just people, you know, even like Stephen King, jack Kerouac, all of these authors that are big and massive, and millionaires, and we think will never be that good. It's a case of they're just people. And they're messy first draft, you'll probably never see. But comparing your messy first draft with their beautiful finished published novel that's had editors work on it and all of this, that's not a fair comparison. So you have to sort of take that step back and realize that we all have messy first drafts. We are all at that point where we believe that we're stuck in the story. And it's a case of you are not alone. And that's one of the reasons why I love the writing community so much on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We all support one another because we all know what it's like. And sometimes that can be as soothing as it is comforting.Emma Dhesi:
Yeah. Or such wise words, their cat, it's so true that we It's so unfair for us to compare our first draft for the finished product on the shelf. And I certainly use that myself a lot. Just to remind myself when I'm feeling really low and thinking, Oh, this is rubbish. This is awful. Just it's all this part of the process. And if they can do it, I can do it and not not to get that comparison itis. Yeah. So tell me, what are you working on at the moment.Cat Lumb:
So currently, I am editing a novel, that it's back into my women's fiction sort of genre, but more comfortable. And it's about a girl or a woman who focused on her career. And then she discovers that her boyfriend of six years and has been cheating on her with her protege. And not only that, but everybody that she knows, knows about that and hasn't told her and it's been going on for years. And it's very much about how she then responds to that and rebuild her life and rebuild trust. So I think trust is going to be a big theme for this one as well. So I'm currently doing final edits on that before we go on to some more agents. So I already have it on submission once and got the lovely form rejections that you can you can get as a writer that you should be proud of because they're proof that you tried. So I'm just editing it tightening up a little bit more. There's been a couple Things that I've picked up on that I want to change. So I'm doing that, and then that will go out again for submission probably in June.Emma Dhesi:
So you've Yeah, because your first book and my writing thinking you self published that one. Now you're going out for submissions was was that? Was that always the plan? Or have you had to kind of change your thought process about the publishing process?Cat Lumb:
I think certainly when I first started out traditional publishing was the be all and end all. And, you know, it's the put it on a pedestal and look up at it and dream about it. I think, for me, traditional publishing is is a way to reach more readers. And that's probably why I'm going for it. The reason I self published in lies with trust was because that was a novel that I was very proud of, it would have probably taken years to get it through the traditional publishing route, especially considering the competition spy thriller, genres. And I didn't want to wait. And I thought readers deserve to have it now. So I mean, that's the joy of self publishing it, it allows you instant access to readers. And the star is, and again, that was one of the reasons why I published my first short story collection, the memorial tree, that included some of the stories that I'd had on submission, as well. And it was just a way to get out there and to almost put my name out there. So people started seeing what I was doing. So I think for me, I will always do some form of self publishing. I think I've now accepted that. It's fun, it gets me to readers. And, you know, there is no big difference between self publishing and traditional publishing anymore, as long as you've got a book that you are proud of. And, you know, you've edited properly. And so I think that for me, the traditional publishing route for sort of the commercial restriction will just get me to reach more readers. And also take an element at that marketing stuff that I don't like doing. I think as writers, we kind of like, I don't mind being behind the screen, but when it comes to shouting about how great my work is, you know, self belief isn't that far yet. And so yeah, so that's one of the things, one of the things that I'll do is I'll have to the two strands of publishing the self publishing under traditional publishing.Emma Dhesi:
It does feel like is the way forward for many people is that hybrid approach. And so thanks for sharing that I was just good to know what your process was. So listen, cat, where can our listeners find out more about you and what you do?Cat Lumb:
So yeah, you can find me at my website, catlumb.com. You'll find my blog there, which has posts about my writing life with Hugo the destroyer. And also as the right catalyst I blog. They're using writing tips and things like what does it take to finish your novel. And they can also find me on Twitter at cat on the scholar. And if they're on Facebook, the right catalyst page, Facebook group, both free to join. And like I said, a good live every Tuesday with Tip Tuesday in my facebook group. So if you look for the right catalyst, come and join the group, we'd love to have youEmma Dhesi:
Fantastic Thank you very much. I'll be sure to put links to that in the show notes. To make it that bit easier. That's lovely, Cat, thank you so much for your time today.Cat Lumb:
Thank you so much for having me. It's been really good fun having a chat with you about writing.Emma Dhesi:
Thank you. And just before we sign off, I want to remind you to go over to my Patreon page, where not only will you find further conversation as previous guests, but Cat has very kindly agreed to read an excerpt from her novel, and she has a writing prompt for you We shall find over @patreon.com/Emma Dhesi. Thanks very much. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I hope you find that helpful and inspirational. Now, don't forget to come on over to facebook and join my group, Turning readers into writers. It is especially for you if you are a beginner writer who is looking to write their first novel. If you join the group, you will also find a free cheat sheet there called three secret hacks to write with consistency. So go to Emmadhesi.com/turning readers into writers. Hit join. Can't wait to see you in there. All right. Thank you. Bye bye.