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…


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