Friday, 30 December 2011

Goodbye 2011

You know something, I truly think 2011 has been one of my best years ever! I know that's a huge statement to make; to understand why (and in the words of Dr. Doofenshmirtz), you'll need to know a bit of the backstory:

Many, many years ago (although if you're thinking black-and-white, come forward a bit) I wanted to be a writer. I also wanted to be a recluse - I saw myself writing in an attic, with fingerless gloves, churning out works of genius. One day I met a boy who was a musician, and my dreams changed a bit. I now saw myself writing alongside my musician, who would serenade me with songs he was writing. I saw myself sitting in cafes in the long summer months while other people were working, and working in my pyjamas in front of a log fire in the winter avoiding the rain and snow outside.

Reader, I married him.

And then, reader, we had children, a mortgage, bills... and proper jobs...

For years and years, we had proper jobs, jobs that were okay, but also - a lot of the time - less than okay. Hubby was a teacher, I worked in a library. I still wrote, but not a lot, and certainly not enough to have a body of work to send out. My dream job was now just a hobby that I did in the evenings when there was nothing on the telly. And Hubby didn't sing at all. For years he didn't even pick up his guitar....

In 2010, he was inspired to start playing some gigs in local pubs. Then he started playing a few more...

Then - then! - this year, he gave up teaching! It was a big step - we thought about it hard, then took the plunge. I'd already changed my job - I'm now a fitness instructor - and had a lot more time to write. All of a sudden that dream from many, many years ago has come true! (Although I can't claim to be a fully-fledged recluse - what with having a family, friends and a job - I do have fingerless gloves.)

I've been reading other blogs recently where people have not had a good 2011, and I don't want to give the impression that this has been an easy thing to do. It's not, even now. We've had to cut back a lot, budget and re-budget, do without. When a pub cancels a gig at short notice, that's our food money gone. It's scary... it's very scary. But we're happy. We've realised as a family that we can do it - although as a Man City fan giving up Sky Sports in their current spate of glory has been difficult.

So, for that reason, 2011 has been fantastic and I think I'll miss it. I hope 2012 will be just as good.

And I wish that every one of you will find ways to make your dreams come true.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Merry Christmas!!

I tried so hard to get back to my laptop and write a proper Christmas post, but - obviously, as it's the 28th already - I failed. Next year, I'll schedule a post. I might be super-organised and write my Christmas post in October, just to make sure.

I hope everyone had a great time - eating and dranking, overdosing on cake and chocolate and Morecombe and Wise Christmas Specials (probably UK only for that last one) , and spent a great time with their families with no arguments!

I did - a lovely day at my in-laws - but then I got ill. Again. Right now my arms, legs, throat and some of my bones are very sore. I managed some sale shopping yesterday, which - as always, for me - meant buying things that weren't in the sales at all. Every year that happens!

And today, Hubby's cooking Christmas Lunch 2. Yum, yum, can't wait! I just hope my tastebuds hold up long enough for me to enjoy it.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

National Short Story Day - 22nd December

This is just a quickie post. I'm just not getting to my laptop much at the moment, for all the obvious reasons.

The 22nd has been declared National Short Story Day by Arts Council England and Creative Scotland.

(The web site states 22nd is the shortest day, which would make sense as short stories are also short, but I'm sure the shortest day is the 21st, so to be on the safe side - in case the dates have been messed up somewhere - I'm posting this today! If I'm wrong, then I'm simply giving you a day's notice.)

Check out the website, listen to some short stories, follow some links, grab your favourite short story collection and read. I'd love to hear who your favourite short story writers are and what your favourite story/collection is. Mine is Margaret Atwood, and my favourite collection is Ali Smith's The First Person.

In case this is my last post before Christmas:


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Running out of words

Before I start this post properly, I've recently realised that Blogger doesn't show me all the blogs I follow, and if I refresh the page, it shows me a different selection. This means that, unfortunately, I sometimes miss new posts, and therefore don't read and comment on them. I try to make an effort to read and comment on as many posts as possible, because you are all so wonderful at reading my posts, so I felt really bad when I realised I was missing some. I can't see a way around it. I don't want to go through the hassle of de-camping to another blogging site - I'm used to the features on here, so for the moment I'm staying put. I just wanted to explain.

So - back on topic - I've run out of words. I used them all up on my 'novel' of 45,000 words, and now I'm reading it over and supposedly making notes for the next draft, and I'm stuck - no words. I can see where I need a lot of work - I've managed to scribble Major Rewrite! over quite a few of the pages, but I couldn't see how to start, how to change it. My failsafe tecnique is to lie in bed at night and let my mind drift as I go to sleep. On a good night, I have to turn on the light and scribble notes - sometimes, full sections of text - before lying back down and repeating the process. Even that's not working.

Okay, I thought to myself, no biggie. I'll write a short story instead... No words. I have a blank page. I have a pen. But my imagination isn't playing.

I even did the ironing. Voluntarily. That's how bad it is.

The problem is, this has happened before, after finishing a long piece of work. I didn't write anything for six months. No re-drafting, no new work. Nothing. Last time, I didn't have a blog. This time, I do! I'm hoping that if I keep writing here, evenutally I'll find some words and kick-start myself a lot quicker. Otherwise, I might be forced to take in other people's ironing.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Before I start my second draft...

In my last post, I was being secure when I was supposed to be insecure. Now, today, I'm feeling insecure! Let me share the problem:

I've written a novel - granted, it's very short at the moment at only 45,000 words. Four beta readers read it, liked it (at least that's what they told me) and made a few suggestions which I happened to agree with anyway. The fifth reader was my hubby who said it was a brilliant start to a psychological thriller, but that  I stopped it too soon, and another 100 pages and a really big twist would make it perfect.

Now, I hadn't tried to write a psychological thriller. I don't read psychological thrillers; they're not my thing. Anyway, because the story I've written is very character-based, I suppose - at a push, although I could never bring myself to call it such to an agent or editor - what I've written is... literary!

My hubby reads a lot of Jeffrey Deaver who writes thrillers, so maybe he's just hard-wired to need a dramatic twist. But... am I missing a trick by not writing in this amazing twist (although I have no idea what that twist would be)? I wrote something of a 'aah' moment, but it's not very obvious because hubby didn't get it until I explained it. Hubby's asked me to read a Jeffrey Deaver novel, which I will, because he says that will give me a better idea of what he's talking about.

So, my problem and my question is: should I stick to the story I wanted to tell, or take a right-turn into a completely different genre? Is the label literary something that other people apply to your work, or is it possible to write for that genre? Do you have to be much cleverer than I am to even consider writing something literary?

I'm hoping, when I start to re-read the novel myself, the answers will come naturally. But, in the meantime, if you have any comments, I'd love to read and consider them.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

In Security!

(I wonder how long I can stretch out puns on the word insecurity?)

Well, it's that time of the month again, the first Wednesday of the month, when I lay bare my insecurities.

But, this month, I'm not sure I have any - in fact, as the title suggests, I'm pretty secure.

At the risk of repeating myself, my current level of security stems from signing the contract to have a novella published early next year. Someone likes my work! They like it so much they want to show it off to other people!

It helps that it's a story that I'm particularly fond of. Some things I write are good - more than good, very good (big LOL :-)) - but some grab me (like my favourite Thorntons chocolate), some make my spine tingle as I read the closing lines, some have characters that have truly come alive for me. When one of those stories is accepted, it's like receiving a fantastic school report for my kids, or watching them excel in their school play.

So everything's good.

But, of course, as a writer, I also think a lot. And in the back of my mind, I've been thinking what if they change their mind, what if the company folds? When I read the original email, one of the negative thoughts I immediately had was what if they made a mistake and think they're accepting a different story by a different author?

But, then, as a writer, I think... wouldn't that make an interesting story?

Thursday, 1 December 2011

My 100th Post!!!

Okay, I know this is my third post in four days, but I couldn't wait... It's my blog's centenary! 

Wow - one hundred posts!

So much has happened in the last 16 months - two competition wins and now on the verge of having a novella published. Who'd've thought it! Certainly not me!

When I first started this blog I had three followers for a very long time - three very important followers, because if it hadn't been for them, I doubt I would have lasted very long. I simply hadn't appreciated the work and time I had to put in to gain more. As you can see from this post a few weeks ago, I've only just figured it out.

In those early days, some posts were never even read. I know!! It's like baking a cake that never gets eaten, or buying shoes that'll never be worn.

So, now... I've started to feel a bit sorry for those poor lonely posts, so to mark my centenary here they are, in all their original glory. Be gentle with them, they're very shy! (I have purposefully not read them, so that I wouldn't be tempted to self-edit.)

My writing day - first appeared 30 July 2010

Hmph! - first appeared 25 August 2010

There's always something new to learn - first appeared 30 October 2010

A general chat - first appeared 16 November 2010

Here's to the next 100 posts! My hope by the next anniversary is that I'll have my novel ready to submit, I'll be in the middle of submitting or even publishing a trilogy of novellas, and I'll have a stock of new stories to enter into the many competitions I've bookmarked over the next six months. That'll be enough to keep me out of trouble!