Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Up and Down, Up and Down

The title of this post says it all. Mood swings are affecting every area of my life, it seems.

My attitude towards my writing and life in general seems to change from day to day lately. Today, for example, I feel positive. Yesterday I felt the polar opposite. However, after a glass of wine the positivity returned last night and I hammered out 900 words of the Pocket Novel in half an hour. Sometimes it seems almost too easy.

If I think about my writing too much ie. what I should be writing or that I should be making it pay, then my creativity disappears and rebelliousness sneaks in. Rebelliousness takes the form of 'skiving off' by surfing the Internet or reading a favourite book (I felt compelled to re-read The Boy I Love by Marion Husband yesterday. One of my all-time favourite reads set in a favourite period of history - the aftermath of World War 1). I rarely allow myself to re-read favourite books or stories, because I feel guilty for abandoning the brand new, never-read-before books sitting on my shelves. It's a real indulgence to read an old favourite, but as a writer I think we can learn so much more the second or third time around. We're focusing less on the story and more on the way the writer works.

I've been dabbling in short stories again. I do enjoy the form; both reading shorts and writing them. I have no trouble with inspiration for stories and have no trouble getting ideas. I can write 1500 words straight off without pausing for breath, but then I dry up. I struggle to finish stories. The perfect ending always seems to elude me. I've had some terrific advice from Joanna Campbell here. She also advises starting with the ending, which I want to try. Any more tips on writing endings would be gratefully received!

School holidays are the perfect excuse not to write. Shopping for food takes up more time, as the children spend most of the day searching the cupboards and the fridge for food. That's when they're not asking me for lifts to places or begging me to let their friends come round.

The running is going very well. I'm now running with other like-minded ladies at least once a week and it's much more fun. I did a 6 mile run last Friday, which I didn't think I could achieve. We're aiming for 7 miles this Friday. I did a 4 mile run on Monday and hope to do another this evening. I've fallen into half-marathon training with a friend, even though she'll be doing the race and I won't! I really need to buy new running shoes, however, as mine are making my feet hurt. I hope to make a trip to The Sweat Shop in Milton Keynes tomorrow, where they can assess my running style and recommend the correct running shoes.

Now, back to the Pocket Novel......

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Be Persistent!

I read a wonderful blog post today and it reminded me once more that, as a writer, it pays to be persistent. We have to be a like a terrier with a rat. 

Here's the link:

I love hearing from subscribers and today I received a lovely letter in the post from a long-term subscriber in response to me asking how her writing was going. A proper letter is so much nicer than an email somehow. 

I am genuinely interested in how other writers are getting on; it doesn't matter whether they're a complete beginner or have been published in twenty different countries many times over. As writers we all share something in common. We scribble away on our own with no-one to read our work, thinking no-one cares about it either. It takes a lot of faith in our ability to screw up the courage to submit work to busy editors. That's why, as an editor, I like to give a few lines of feedback to writers who submit to The Yellow Room. I hate getting a story back from an editor with a bland statement to the effect that 'it isn't quite suitable for our requirements'.

Be persistent with editors. Personally, once I've rejected a story from a writer, I'd like them to send something else by return of post. I like to see the same names cropping up again and again. This way I can build a relationship with a writer and get to know their work better. I am much more likely to publish something from someone who has submitted many times, even though I may have rejected several of their stories.

My writing endeavours are very bitty at the moment (sounds like a sketch from Little Britain!). I switch from the novel, to the pocket novel, to short stories to articles. A real butterfly! 

I think the answer with any sort of writing is to write something every day, leave it to rest, edit, then submit. Then to repeat this process over and over.

I must remember to follow my own advice!

By the way, the photo is another old one of my father, his two younger brothers and a friend. The dog in the photo was a terrier and a very good rat catcher, I believe. I think his name was Monty, but I could be mistaken!

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Short Story Writing

I've been itching to get back to short story writing for some time after a long stretch focusing on my novel. I've missed several short story competition deadlines, which I'm rather miffed about, simply because I didn't feel I had anything new enough or good enough to send out.

I've just read this marvellous blog post by Alison McLeod about writing short stories. Superb tips! I would urge everyone who wishes to write good short stories and everyone who submits to The Yellow Room Magazine to read this!

I've just finished sending the last of The Yellow Room Issue 6 out to all those who requested a copy or subscribe. We have a bit of a cash flow problem at the moment, so I would urge you to buy a copy of the magazine, if you haven't already or recommend it to your friends.

I hope you like the photograph! It was taken in the 1930s (my father as a baby, his mother - far left, his uncle and aunt).

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Stylish Blogger Award

Thank you so much to Pat Newcombe for honouring me with The Stylish Blogger award.

I'm very new to all this blog networking, so please forgive me if I get it all horribly wrong!

The Rules:

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award. (Many thanks Pat!)
2. Share 7 Things About Yourself.
3. Award 10-15 Blogs Who You Think Deserve This Award.
4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

7 Things About Me

1. I used to ice skate competitively from the age of 4 until the age of 9.
2. I love wine (Pinot Grigio, Rose or Red, I'm not fussed).
3. My favourite season is Autumn and I was born around the time of the Autumnal Equinox.
4. I like running, but not very fast!
5. I love baking cakes, but don't always fancy eating them.
6. I have a book buying obsession.
7. I tend to talk in song lyrics when I'm drunk.

My Stylish Blogs I Pass The Award On To:
8. Brightwriter60
9. I should be writing
10. Nik's Blog
15. This Itch of Writing

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

The New Office!

Why on earth didn’t I think of this before? There’s a beautiful building five minutes up the road with desk space. It’s full of books, warm and free to use. The wonderful Rugby library!
I’ve been struggling with some symptoms of depression recently. Nothing serious, by any means, but enough to make me feel unhappy and lacking in motivation. It’s taken me a long time to work out what the problem is. And it’s quite straightforward. I spend far too much time in the house. I needed to get out more and see people. I’d become far too wrapped up in a virtual world where I did have contact with people (via Facebook and Twitter), but it wasn’t enough. 
Going to the library each day to write is the perfect solution for me. It gets me out of the house. It feels like going out to work. I feel like I’m taking my work more seriously. I feel like a student again. I feel as if I’m doing something important. I’m also surrounded by people who are quiet and don’t want to talk to me. 
Yesterday and today I sat still for over two hours at a time, writing, making notes and being immersed in my novel. At home I can’t sit for more than fifteen minutes. There’s always something else to do, be it making a cup of tea, hanging out the washing or Hoovering the lounge carpet. 
I can’t tell you how this has improved my mood. I feel a real sense of achievement when I get a scene written or resolve a major plot complication. The only downside is that I can’t use my computer in the library (I knew I should have bought a laptop!). I don’t mind writing longhand, but it’s a bit of a chore having to type it up afterwards.
It’s also quite useful to observe what library users are borrowing. My ‘desk’ is situated facing the Mills and Boon paperback rack and the Crime paperback rack. Today, the Mills and Boon rack was definitely busier. A lovely little old lady took nearly an hour to choose two Mills and Boon books. She brought them over to the table I was hogging (rather a large one with four chairs... I like to spread my work out!) and spent some time reading the first few pages of each, before making her selection.
I plan to spend every weekday in the new office (although how I’ll manage this in the school summer holidays, I don’t know!) and by the end of the summer I should have finished at least the first draft of the novel. Who knows I might just enter the Mslexia Novel Competition, which closes in September?