Thursday, 5 March 2015

Gathering pace

I'm reaching the climax of my current work in progress, and finding it harder and harder to leave it. I was nearly late picking Chick-pea up from pre-school this morning, because I was so busy with imaginary people...not a sign of a responsible mother, I suppose!
The story has a momentum of its own now, which I'm loving. The fact that I can't wait to return to it each time I can is reassuring too - I hope that one day someone else might be hooked, reading it, too.
Meanwhile, I've had a filler published in Readers' Digest for £50, and another article accepted (for no fee) for a tiny local magazine. (I went out of my comfort zone for this one, and sought professional quotes to add in). I've been researching parenting magazines that I could send some of my tweaked articles to, but there seems to be a dearth in this market. There are baby magazines, but not much demand for articles about parenting school-age children. Perhaps it's time I researched and explored getting articles published online - but it's another step out of my comfort zone!
I also haven't yet heard anything from the womentoring project that I applied to in October. I'd better re-read the website, but I thought it said that you would hear if you were unsuccessful so that you could approach a different mentor, and the original project was due to close in April, so I'm running out of time there...Plenty of positives to celebrate but still much to aim for!

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Writing a book a word at a time

My work in progress is skidding along. It's providing me with a much needed escape from the turmoils of home life and half-term, and I can feel it gathering pace now the end is in view. 

So easy to be clever with hindsight. With each 'book' I've written, I've learnt so much. With this one, the thing I'm learning most is that writing little and often is far more important than a good long stretch infrequently. It's the sum of those half hours at a time that adds up to something. And when writing matters, and there's a deadline (or a finish line) in sight, you suddenly find that you can sacrifice that hour in front of the tv, or put the ironing on one side for another night and before you know it, the words are stacking up into chapters, and the chapters into 'acts' and the book is more than half done. 

If only I could bear that in mind all the time, my productivity would be immense...

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Greased Lightning

No, I'm not thinking about Grease today (though it must be in my mind somewhere) but about writing  time. I've posted before about trying to find time to write - a puzzle for every wannabe writer. I've read plenty of articles about how to make the most of your time, and how to prioritise, work to deadlines, conquer the demons of procrastination....

But lately I've been thinking about it from another point of view. When I write, I lose time. I lose myself. I come back to reality and find that an hour, two, or three have disappeared, while I have been unconscious of them. I've always taken it as a sign that I was utterly absorbed, and doing something I loved, but I'd never realised before that the hours and days could slide away, slippery as spaghetti. When it's just an hour here and there, it's a stolen pleasure, but when you start to write regularly, and lost time regularly, you begin to realise that one day you'll find that years are passing in a blur...and it's a bit scary!

I suppose this is why it's important to change pace in your writing life as well as throughout a story. When a novel is done, some marketing, editing or beginning to structure the next novel gives you a break from the all-consuming joy and absorption of writing. And meanwhile, my word count is rising, so who am I to complain even if the time is going like greased lightning?

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Watching the word count rise

We're back into the swing of school runs and pre-school mornings in our home, and despite the annoyance of sandwich-making, bag packing and homework, it's a joy! It's true that I have more work to keep up with in my evenings, but I also have some more time to myself again, and can begin to write regularly after the upheaval of Christmas.

It was so exciting to be back at my keyboard, and it was also a useful reminder that the longer you stay away, the more distracted you have to be by re-reading and editing before you can start again.

And with that in mind, I'm going to waste no more time here just now, but I'm going to try to squeeze in half an hour with my novel!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

How do you find time to write?

It's true that I use my busy life as an excuse sometimes. After all, I have four kids, a part-time job that seeps into the unpaid days and also those other responsibilities I accidentally collected along the way. Finding time to write isn't always prioritised, even though I'd like it to be...and underneath, perhaps it's because I'm afraid that if I found more time, I'd also find out that I'm wasting my time, and will never be as good as I want to be.

I had a kick up the backside last night. I'd bought myself Jane Shemilt's debut novel, Daughter, which is very good so far. Before I settled to read it, though, I read about the author. And it turns out she is a GP with five kids. Despite that, she's made time to chase her dream and corner it. That's commitment and perseverance, and it's so true that this is often the difference between published and unpublished writers.

I have to confess that on reading that, I took a deep breath and paused before I was able to sink into the book itself. It was a reminder not to let excuses stand between me and the things I want in life. If you can't find time, you have to make it... bring it on!

Thursday, 18 December 2014

The Reading Writer - or The Writing Reader

Once you get past a certain point in the journey to becoming a writer, reading loses it's simple pleasure. It becomes a multi-layered experience.

I can still lose myself in a book if it is good - if it isn't, I don't stand a chance. In a good book, I tend to find myself looking for the strings and trying to peek behind the curtain, though, which does spoil the fun of being a reader. Even the best books are unlikely to surprise me lately, and I miss that uncomplicated relationship with story, where you're along for the ride.

But I love trying to work out how my favourite authors have achieved a sleight of story, or created the emotion or flavour that I've enjoyed. Being able to combine two of my favourite activities - reading and writing - in pursuit of a single goal is pretty wonderful. How often does that happen in life? And reading consciously means you really appreciate a book, and all that the author has done...although, perhaps you're no longer enjoying the book as the author intended.

I may not have time and money for a creative writing course at the moment, but I have masters of the craft at my fingertips, and through some self-initiated study, I can learn a lot. So when I ask Santa for a pile of books for Christmas, it's all in the name of self-improvement and work, and nothing at all to do with escapism, widening experience or the joy of a good story......honestly. Maybe you should ask Santa for some new reading material too, and spend the holiday with your nose to a page...?

Happy Christmas!

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Crazy Christmastime

It has been over a week since I last found time for writing. It hasn't stopped me keeping my ears open - I had a particularly good idea for a short story while having my hair cut on Wednesday, while listening in to the conversation next to me...eavesdropping sometimes does pay off!

But it's a busy time for everyone right now, and extra busy for school teachers, and extra busy for mothers so I'm going to be kind to myself and not get the guilts about not writing....but I'm also going to be kind to myself by making time tomorrow.

In the past week, I've had two ill children, an extra day and a half in work (the extra money will be appreciated in January, but both days happened to be Thursdays, my morning when Chick Pea is usually at pre-school and I have time to write), swimming lessons to squeeze in between nativity performances, carol services, and all that writing of cards and wrapping of gifts (especially the children's which I'm trying to do while they're out at school. I'm not a big fan of Christmas Eve wrapping - I want to be stress free and enjoying the evening with the kids on the day).

So I'm going to let circumstances dictate tomorrow. The five year old is ill - currently trying to breathe through a blocked nose while sucking his fingers, with a temp of 39.9 (which is fairly impressive, but I've seen worse) next to me on the sofa. There is no way he will be in school tomorrow, nor will I be able to do the shopping I needed to do, nor run the errands I've been desperate to fit in this week. So I'll be housebound with him and the little one, but they will occupy each other a bit; or sit and watch TV, which I allow more of when they're poorly. Which means I'll be free to write....sometimes the spanners in the works are in your favour after all!