Thoughts from the tired

Thoughts from the tired

I don’t remember learning much at primary school other than reading, writing and how a mung bean grows. Today, my seven-year-old started up a conversation about the trials of finding a publisher. He’d been given JK Rowling’s struggle as an example. I was in my thirties before anyone told me this stuff.

After a hiatus, I’ve turned back to editing my second novel. It’s rough of course, but to my surprise, readable, at least up to page 60. One scene follows on from the next. Unlike my first novel at this stage, there are no scenes just there for the word count.

This time, I’m using third-person with its pitfalls and opportunities. Telling the same tale from different points of view is a lot of fun. But I miss my old narrator. Like any relationship, it took time to get to know her.

I’ve received word of a commission from a new client – a magazine I’ve wanted to work for, for some time. So I’m pleased if a little bogged down in new contributor paperwork.

 

 

 

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Scheduling, writing and fun.

Scheduling, writing and fun.

It was my friend, Sarah, who introduced me to the idea of scheduling things I wanted to do, like writing, into my week. It seemed incredibly indulgent at a time when my youngest was still at home (and awake). My strategy then was to get through my tasks as quickly as possible and then write. It was a dumb one. I never got through everything, and when I did abandon housework for creativity, felt too guilty to be inspired. Getting up half an hour before everyone else worked beautifully: no guilt – I was using time that belonged to me; I was fresh and, having written, felt much less grumpy for the rest of the day.

Anyway, I am now in the luxurious position of writing if not for a living, at least for my lattes. Most of the time, I prioritise finding and fulfilling feature commissions. However, in the midst of this, I have two, no three, novel-related events in my calendar: writing group every month, joining my friend Rachel once a week to write in the library, and now, she and I have signed up to a writer’s conference in March.

I am so excited! Even if it teaches us nothing, and we’re in great hopes it will, we’ll get the opportunity to meet other writers and industry professionals. All day, listening and talking about writing. I’m hoping it’ll be like freshers’ week at University and everybody will be looking for friends.

I think I’m even ready for the book doctor – I’ll send my novel’s first three chapters, a synopsis and covering letter ahead of time. When I’m at the conference, someone in the industry will give me feedback. I think I can now take the criticism and use it, rather than allowing negative comments to crush me like they did ten years ago. In one group, I read out an autobiographical piece of “flash fiction”. The organiser’s response was, “It’s good. Clearly, this woman is a psychopath!” If I survived that…

Clean feet, interviews and 100 years of the vote.

Clean feet, interviews and 100 years of the vote.

I have different kinds of love for each type of writing I do. Developing a novel is like parenting: you’re bringing something into being that wouldn’t otherwise exist, but there are moments of deep embarrassment and fear it’s going to turn out wrong. Whereas, feature writing offers the steady contentment of happy marriage.

One of the most rewarding parts of it is interviewing people. I’m always nervous beforehand, would always give the job to someone else if I could, but I always come away satisfied, feeling I understand a little more about life.

Today, I interviewed Rosemarie, someone who knows Bournemouth’s homeless better than most people.

She told me of a boy she’d first known when he was sixteen and had left home to get away from an abusive stepfather. He’d ended up a heroin addict, forced into male prostitution to feed his habit, get a shower and a bed for the night. Now twenty-five, he is “going rapidly downhill”, too weak to solicit anyone. “If he’d had access to shelter, he could be living a normal life now,” she said.

But she’s doing something about it. Every Monday night, she turns up to St Peter’s Church with the Sally Army to washes the feet of rough sleepers. This keeps infection at bay, helps people feel more presentable, and gives them a chance to open up.

Different subject, a feature I’ve written on British women’s fight for the vote has just been published in the new 2018 London Guide from BRITAIN magazine.

Whenever there’s an upcoming election, the conversation among my friends is pretty much the same: because of the “first past the post system”, Bournemouth East and West will probably return Conservative MPs; votes for any of the parties are highly unlikely to affect the results; however, we know other women fought tooth and nail for our rights, so we must make a choice and hope we’ve not helped usher in disaster.

Finally,  I understand, people didn’t fight so my candidate won the election, but so that my needs and opinions are considered equal to any man’s by the country’s decision makers. I need to continue voting to maintain that situation.

 

 

 

 

Index cards, school-runs and leaving an over-worked first page to rest.

Index cards, school-runs and leaving an over-worked first page to rest.

Happy New Year!

Two of my children went back to school yesterday, relatives left and my husband went back to work. I went straight to Office World to buy some index cards.

I’d call my relationship with routine “passionate”, rather than “happy”.  I rail against it when it’s here, but goodness! am I glad to see it after a long absence? School drop-offs that force me to start my day by half past seven. The sense of purpose I get just writing an invoice.  The freedom to catch up with my emails, rather than eating another mince pie.

And not having time to look at the first page of my novel, again!

Last month, I showed my first three chapters to my writing group. After two hours of critique, I was as grateful as I was exhausted.  They were supportive, encouraging, but rigorous and my first page received most of their rigour.

There’s so much it has to do: introduce a setting and two characters from one person’s POV; keep to the ground rules of grammar, and interest someone long enough to make them read on.

Whining won’t get it written, but I don’t think working on it at the moment will help either. Like cooks and elves after Christmas, it needs a rest.