War-zone report from Bournemouth

War-zone report from Bournemouth

I think I’m confusing feature-writing with reporting from a war-zone.

The Friday before last, I had an hour before school pick-up. It’s a twenty minute journey from home to Central Library. And twenty minutes from there to school. That would give me the same time to photograph a clipping in the archives. While driving off, I realised I was doing all this for an article that would be needed by October at the earliest. There was always Monday. I didn’t need to miss lunch.

Later, as I was about to pack up for the day, I received an email needing a considered response. Fingers poised over the keyboard, I began to type and delete, type and delete. Then I stopped. My correspondent would probably forgive me for taking a couple of days to reply.

Sure enough, I managed both of those things, fresh from my weekend, on Monday.

My problem has been not just knowing when I can take longer with tasks. It’s also been knowing the right point to stop for the day. Now the children are older, I can work for a time while they’re around, and only feel a little guilt. But they suffer in the long term, because no one can find anything in the mess that quickly acrues. If the house is only ‘pretty bad’ I’m probably in pitching mode and . If it’s ‘awful’, I’ll be near a deadline.

For the last two week I’ve recorded the work I’ve done- admin and pitches, as well as obvious writing; progress made (commissions, acceptances, new information and ideas etc); and necessary interruptions (school events, housework etc.) There are apps for this task, but I’m using a day-to-a-page diary that was £1 because we’re halfway through the year.

At the end of each day, even if nothing’s been straightforward, I can see I’ve tried my best and the reasons I haven’t achieved more. And I don’t have to flick too far back to see I am making headway.

It’s the best pound I’ve spent for a while.





True Lies

My second article for Writing Magazine is published today in their August issue. ‘True Lies’ is about the difference between reality and realism. I rant about/ discuss equating misery with high art and speak in praise of the well written, yet domestic. And I reveal far too much about my own psyche, defending  happy endings.

Richard Curtis put it well. “If you write a story about a soldier going AWOL and kidnapping a pregnant woman and finally shooting her in the head, it’s called searingly realistic, even though it’s never happened in the history of mankind. Whereas if you write about two people falling in love, which happens about a million times a day all over the world, for some reason or another, you’re accused of writing something unrealistic and sentimental.”

The magazine is packed with plenty of stuff other than my opinions. I’m a subscriber and I’m finding it particularly helpful at the moment, not just for writing and business tips, but ideas and news of new markets

writing magazine cover 2nd article