Monthly Archives: January 2012

Getting back into writing

Oh, I’m going terribly. One month into this new blog regime and already I’m posting three days late. I got into a routine of posting on Wednesdays, which is also my writing day, but this past week has been just a tad frantic. It’s the last week of the holidays before school term starts again, so I’ve been busy doing kid things and, unfortunately, the computer just didn’t get switched on. Now, though, I’m determined to rectify that.

The resumption of school term means that I have my free days back, where it’s just me and the baby. And that means I can actually get some writing done. I’ve done next to nothing since Christmas, simply because to write you need uninterrupted time – an obvious thing, yes, but I was very pleased to have my own experience confirmed by Mat Johnson in this article by Anne Trubek in the New York Times a couple of weeks back – and in my house uninterrupted time is hard to come by. I don’t even get more than about 4 hours uninterrupted sleeping time at night, as a child wakes up with bad dreams, or the baby starts crying, or both. So 4 hours of uninterrupted time during the day is a luxury I can hardly imagine, but I’m willing to accept one or two hours. Anything I can get, really.

So, this is my announcement. Starting this Wednesday, I’ll be writing one day a week again. If I tell the world that, then I will sure as heck have to make sure I do it, won’t I? And I’ve had so many ideas that I just need to get down. I’ve changed the year my story begins, which necessitates a bit of a rewrite of some parts but which makes other bits so much easier, I’ve added backstories, foibles and nuances to minor characters, and I’ve filled in a couple of gaping plot holes, so I’m itching to get back to my manuscript and make those changes, filling in the blanks that I left when I started this hiatus a month ago. The very idea is enticing.

Of course, I see the elephant in the room. If it’s so enticing, I hear you ask, why aren’t you doing that right now? Hard at work on this manuscript you keep talking about?  Well, to be honest, I’m multitasking. I have a few spare minutes before my husband gets home from his sporting practice, I have Midsomer Murders on the television and I’ve got a pot on the stove that is getting the occasional stir. Now is not really writing time. Once holidays are over, though, that’s something else entirely. And I can’t wait.

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On reading

Reading. It’s something I’ve been doing for longer than I can remember. Even as a baby, my mother used to put old magazines in my cot and when I woke up, I’d sit there and flick through them. Whenever my parents couldn’t find me as a child, I’d be holed up somewhere with my nose in a book. It’s what I’ve always done to relax and unwind. In other words, reading is my me-time.

Unfortunately, after the birth of my youngest son last March, I fell out of the habit. I used to read at bedtime, but with a new baby I was always too tired and just went straight to sleep. Since I was on maternity leave, I no longer had my daily commute to get my book out for, and the mental concentration required just wasn’t there. In other words, I did the unthinkable. I stopped reading.

Yes, I know. There are no excuses for this, particularly if I want to call myself a writer. It’s one of the most unforgiveable sins out there as far as that goes. And what’s even worse is how long this slump lasted – I didn’t pick up a book until December. That’s EIGHT MONTHS after my son was born. EIGHT MONTHS. It’s the longest I’ve gone without reading since I learned how to pick a book up. I couldn’t have done better if I’d tried.

However, there is a happy ending to this story. Last month, I picked up a book I’d bought while I was still pregnant – Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norell. It was only released eight years ago so for me, that’s not bad going. (I’m notoriously bad at getting things when they come out. It’s a failing of mine.) And wow, was it good. I really struggled to put it down, which for a 1000-page novel for someone trying to look after young children all the time is both impressive and a little inconvenient. Yesterday, though, while Cars 2 played in the background, I reached the end.  It was bittersweet: there was no more of that book to read, but my whole bookcase jumped out at me, each book shouting, “Me next! Me next!” I have the smorgasboard of my own library to satiate this re-awakened thirst for reading. I can’t wait.

With this first drought-breaking book out of the way, I can promise one thing. I will never go eight months without reading again.

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Attempting Flash Fiction

You know, I’ve never written flash fiction before.  But then I saw this blog from Caroline Smailes, and this blog by the Were-Traveler, and thought, well, why not give it a try? It’s a real test of both writing and editing skills – writing, because you have to tell a whole story in minimal words, and editing, because even my shortest story was double the required word count.

As someone who normally writes romance, doing the tale of that gone wrong was a fun challenge, and I’m proud to say that I got the word count exactly right – 100 words, as counted by Scribendi.

It’s not published here so I don’t jeopardise my chances of it being picked up, but wish me luck!

 

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“So you want to be a writer?”

I know, I know. There are countless websites about the above, and countless blogs giving advice. Me, I’m one of the ones scouring said websites and blogs to try to find information, and to be frank, it’s confusing.  Some people say you MUST have a blog, and Facebook, and Twitter, and Google+, and a website with your own domain name, and that in order to be considered for publication you must have what is called a platform. Others say that for first-time fiction writers there is no such need, and that every case is considered on its own merit.  Well, I’m a novice fiction writer, with a half-finished book that I would like to get out there to the world of agents and publishers one of these days (when it’s done, of course), and I don’t have a platform. Really, I don’t have much at all.

However, I’m trying. (Some would say I’m very trying, but that’s another story entirely.) While it may not be essential, who’s to say a blog wouldn’t help?  If nothing else it will improve my writing, and perhaps might even get some people to recognise my name. That is, some people who aren’t related to me or on speed dial on my phone. Hence, this blog.  I’ve also started tweeting under this name in order to try to help find my niche in this rather scary world of professional writing. Facebook and Google+ are yet to come, as is the webpage, but I figured I have to start somewhere.

My trouble, however, in establishing this platform, is the same trouble most people have.  Time.  While I’m not working at the moment, as I am still on leave following the birth of my youngest child nine months ago, I don’t exactly have a lot of spare time.  I have resolved this year to spend at least one day each week writing, but that can only be during school term when I only have the baby at home with me, and even then I’d be lucky to get three hours writing in during the whole school day. Ideally I’d like to spend that time working on my novel, so that leaves blogging, tweeting and anything else as essentially extracurricular activities that need their own time allocated for them. At the moment, it’s school holidays and I’m lucky to get two hours a week on the computer, and then I spend much of that time doing horribly practical things like banking and ordering stick-on name labels for my children. Once term begins, I will have some more time. *crosses fingers*

I guess what I’m really doing here is, like my youngest son, taking baby steps. For him it’s literal, whereas for me it’s the figurative steps into a world I really know nothing about. And I will still devour blogs and websites that offer conflicting advice, and sift through trying to make my own sense of things and work out what’s best for me. I’m sure I’ll make mistakes along the way, but then again, who doesn’t? After all, I’m only human.

If you stumbled across this page, let me know if I made a real hash of this or not.  After all, I’ve not blogged much before, and certainly not  like this, so I know I have a lot to learn. But we all have to start somewhere, right?

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