Monday, 30 June 2008

I Want To Be Alone!

My husband has two days off work. Today and tomorrow. A cause for celebration? No, it isn't in this case. I just want to be alone! I may be odd, but I do prefer my own company. More so as I get older. There are so many solitary activities I enjoy (perhaps I should rephrase that!), like writing, reading, listening to music, gardening and shopping. I don't want anyone around getting in my way and disturbing my peace! When the children are in school, 9am till 3.15pm, well that's officially 'my time' alone to do whatever I want. Isn't that hideously selfish? It's probably because I'm an only child. So is my husband and I suspect he would like the house to himself on his days off as well.

I'm so set in my ways. I realise I do similar sorts of things at the same sort of time each day. The fact that my husband was in the lounge eating breakfast (he finally got out of bed at 11am) when I wanted to be in the lounge eating lunch and watching Loose Women, caused me a great deal of stress. How dare he! I took refuge in my office, bashing away at the PC and swearing at Publisher as I plodded on with the typesetting.

Peace at last, as my dear husband has now gone out for a ride on his motorbike. Of course I have my own opinions about what he should be doing (cleaning my car, putting together a garden bench I ordered, treating the garden fence and shed to name a few), and ignore the fact that the poor bloke doesn't have the luxury of doing the things he enjoys day-in, day-out as I do.

Better go and do some ironing, even if it's just to prove to him that I do useful things when he's out at work and don't sit around enjoying myself all day!

Friday, 27 June 2008

Reading submissions

I have a pile of stories in the basket next to the settee waiting to be read. I feel guilty when I think about their authors waiting with baited breath to see whether I'll accept them for The Yellow Room or not. I admit that I'm rather tardy about reading submissions. I guess this is because as an editor you have to read so many unsuitable stories before you get to a gem, which is perfect for your publication. These gems are few and far between. Of course it's all down to the editor's taste at the end of the day and no writer should feel despondent if their story is rejected. One of the most useful qualities for a writer to possess is perseverance. I can talk! I'm the first to take a rejection of my work personally, telling myself I'm useless and asking myself why I bother. Then I give myself a kick up the backside and tell myself not to be so silly. This is the time when I think of my friend, Jane Wenham-Jones. She is one of the most persistent, determined writers I know. She never gives up. She's like a terrier with a rat. I try to be more like her, but it's difficult.

I have to say that one of the most common reasons for rejecting a story is because it isn't suitable for the magazine. I wonder if some writers have even read the guidelines for submission. The Yellow Room is a magazine with a predominantly female readership, yet I still get stories set in a man's world or which don't address women's issues or concerns at all. Another problem with many stories I receive is that, although they show promise and begin well, they just peter out. It's as if the writer hasn't given the story's ending any thought at all. The worst kinds of ending are those which seem tacked on or rushed. You can almost hear the writer thinking, I've run out of ideas now. I think I'll just finish the story here. Again, as a writer I know how difficult endings are to write. I invariably end up killing someone off. Death always seems like the ultimate ending, I suppose. I know this isn't the way forward and that the reader ideally needs to be left with a feeling of hope or feeling uplifted at the end of a story. It's much easier said than done!

I think as writers we all need to work on our weak areas. I know mine are plot and endings. Each time a story is rejected we need to think how we could improve it or how we can improve as writers. No story is perfect. Sometimes I accept stories because they really speak to me and tug on my emotions. I can't stop thinking about them. The writing may be slightly flawed, but I can ignore this if I'm absorbed in the writer's world. There are some stories about which I can't make up my mind. I have to put them to one side, think about them, then go back and read them a second or third time. Sometimes it's very difficult to decide whether to accept them or not. There's usually a nagging suspicion that something isn't quite right, but I just can't put my finger on what it is. Then it's very difficult explaining to a writer why I have rejected this particular story.

I've been typesetting again today. I feel as if I'm finally getting somewhere with it. It is a rather troublesome job and is time-consuming, but bizarrely enjoyable and addictive. Maybe that's just me.

Thursday, 26 June 2008

A Country Walk

Today was lovely and sunny here again. I dashed off to the Farmers' Market here in Rugby first thing, then out again at 11am to meet two new friends for a long country walk. I met them on the Woman and Home Forum and we decided to set up a walking group in Rugby. We started off at the Blue Lias pub near Long Itchington and walked along the canal tow path, past a series of locks, then over the road bridge and onto a series of footpaths, which took us across fields and down farm tracks. It was wonderful. Boy, did I feel good afterwards. The walk took about an hour and a half and was five and three quarter miles long. And no, we didn't stop at the pub afterwards. We were good girls and came straight home!

I do find being out and about so inspiring. I had lots of ideas for my writing. I also found a lovely delicate little red wild flower, which I picked and brought home, as I didn't know what it was and wanted to look up. I know I'll use it in a piece of writing in the near future. There was also a little wood with two very old kissing gates on the path, which I'll use in a story. It was like going back in time.

I haven't done much in the way of typesetting today. Megan had a friend to tea after school (the second time this week), so I was in demand! The girls played nicely on the whole, but I had to scrabble around in her bedroom for dressing up outfits, then in the shed for the play tent and so it went on. I did nip on the PC while their tea was cooking and tried to transfer a story into Publisher, but it was fraught with problems. I was just a bit too tired and distracted probably. It will just have to wait until tomorrow.

I'm tired now (8.10pm) and relieved I don't have to go out and water the garden as it's raining. Looking forward to a couple of glasses of wine once the children are in bed and a chance to read in peace as hubby is at band practice. This is the life!

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Typesetting Virgin

Blimey, I didn't realise typesetting was such a tiring business. I've done about 15 pages today and I'm knackered. I do like paying close attention to detail, though and find it oddly rewarding.

I've been putting off the typesetting for the first issue of The Yellow Room for weeks. I'll admit I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. I don't know what's happened to my confidence lately, because only a few years ago I would have plunged in and thought, 'What the hell!'. These days I have to make myself do new things, otherwise I'd quite happily stagnate at home, stuck in a routine in familiar surroundings. I even plucked up courage last week to meet up with two women in the local area who had expressed an interest in a walking group via the Woman and Home website. I'm so glad I did, as it was great to combine exercise with a social life.

So, onwards and upwards. Feel the fear and do it anyway. All the old cliches are coming out of the closet as I give myself a good talking to. I will not wilt into middle-age. I will pursue new experiences. But right now I'm off for a cat nap before collecting Megan from school!

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Where does the time go?

Okay, so I'm supposed to be typesetting the first issue of The Yellow Room. And what am I doing? Writing this. I've spent most of today updating my website ( Why are these things so time-consuming? There are still mistakes, so more work needs to be done. Sigh. Oh well, there's always tomorrow. Now it's off for a shower and then to collect my daughter from school. Then all hell breaks loose and there's no chance whatsoever that I'll be able to concentrate on anything other than cooking tea. Am I the only wife/mother who craves solitude for days on end and then feels guilty for even thinking such a thing?