First Year Tally – Claire Gillian

Last year, I joined the Absolute Write Water Cooler forums. Inhabited by writers and aspiring writers, the forums have helped me set a foot in the wide writing community. Some of the people on those forum particularly stood out for me; we just clicked. Claire Gillian is one of those.
An air force brat raised a little bit everywhere in the states, Claire borrowed her pen name from The Outlanders book and her mother’s shortened maiden name whose dot com domain was still available. Now senior manager in an insurance company, she is, and worked for years as… wait for it… a Certified Public Accountant! Who said accountants weren’t creative and fun?
According to Claire, all of her novels’ protagonists have been accountants thus far because she is determined to do for CPAs what John Grisham did for lawyers.
Tall ordeal but, once you’ve read her guest post, you’ll has convinced as I am that she’ll get there some day. 😉

Confessions of a Sophomoric Writer

Like most authors, I’d always wanted to write the Great American (substitute your country’s name) Novel, but wanting and actively pursuing were two completely different species.  

At the ripe old age of forty-seven, I created a Livejournal online blog and began writing fan fiction for Heroes (don’t laugh).  Once I fortified enough nerve to share my writing with other fans of the show, I received a few nice compliments and that was the push I needed to keep going.  I moved on to writing brief scenes with characters and settings sprung wholly from my own imagination.  In November of 2008, I decided to cobble and spackle together several of those scenes into my first novel.  I concluded my brilliant masterpiece in a month’s time.  I had begun my journey in earnest….finally.

About four months after that fledgling attempt to write a novel, I joined a writing board and began my second novel.  In late summer of 2009, I received my first major reality check in the form of a brutally honest critique of novel number one.  Phrases such as “I want to burn this book and jump up and down on the ashes” and “when will this thing finally end” gave me my first trophy scars.  As disturbing as that critique was, I couldn’t deny its truth, and it made me appreciate just how tough writing a novel really was.  My rose-colored glasses now pulverized into powder, I re-calibrated my goals and expectations.  I took greater pains in finishing and editing my second novel.  I also began writing more short stories, including participating in a weekly timed writing challenge.  I ended 2009 with novel number one in the trunk (because every writer needs at least one!), some skin toughening from the apathetic responses to premature querying attempts, novel number two out for beta reads, my first NaNoWriMo win, all sparkly in its first draft glory, and my first short story acceptance a few minutes into 2010.  

What had I learned in that first year?

I learned:

  • That I had a lot more to learn;
  • That I was not a good judge of my own writing; 
  • That the only way to improve my writing was to put it out there under harsh surgical theatre lights for vivisection; 
  • That my skin could be both wounded and toughened, but that I had a enough oomph to keep getting up and coming back for more; 
  • That some days I am nothing more than a wannabe hack; 
  • That other days I am a wonderful, talented writer on the cusp of greatness; 
  • That I have enough humility and stamina and drive to keep doing this until I get it right;
  • That most people never get it right and statistically speaking, I will probably be one of the “most”
  • That I don’t let being one of the “most” affect my desire to keep writing; and
  • That I could also be one of the “few”.

With 2011 fresh out of the chute, goal-setting is a popular topic.  I’ve signed up for A Round of Words in Eight (80) Days, an ongoing series of eighty-day long goal setting and execution phases with public accountability.  My first round revolves around finishing my 2010 NaNo novel (about 500 words per day min), editing novel number four, writing flash fiction shorts and blogging on a regular basis, and entering a writing contest once a month.

While I want to set and achieve goals, it’s important for me to keep my writing healthfully balanced between fun but strategic, fulfilling but well-lubed from frequent practice.  Marrying inspiration with perspiration really is the not-so-secret recipe to becoming one of the “few”.

You can find Claire blogging over at

About Aheïla

Somewhere in Quebec City, Aheïla works as a Game Design Director by day and writes by night. Known for her blue hair, unyielding dynamism and tasty cooking (quails, anyone?), she’s convinced “prose is the new crack”. She satisfies her addiction daily on The Writeaholic’s Blog and weekly on Games' Bustles View all posts by Aheïla

16 responses to “First Year Tally – Claire Gillian

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