Friday, 28 June 2013

Write It Down!

I’m incredibly behind on my submission to the New Writer’s Scheme at the RNA this year.   In January I decided that I would revamp a book I started many years ago, because the story has stayed with me and I thought it would be good to complete it.
However, because my writing was in its infancy when I started to write it, I have found that I have had to do a full re-write rather than an exercise in editing.  I’ve struggled to maintain any kind of momentum and have written it in fits and starts with times of no writing at all in between.
Yesterday I finally finished the first draft – hoorah!  But it does require a serious edit and I’m running out of time.   I’m going to concentrate on doing the best I can with it during July and then send it off.  It won’t be to the standard that I would like, but at least I’ll get some feedback.
I still need to write a synopsis (yeuck) and think of a title.   I was running through possible titles in my mind the other day as I concentrated on some mundane domestic task.  I came up with a brilliant idea, but because I thought it so good, I didn’t write it down.  How could I possibly forget it?? 
Well, you know what’s coming next don’t you?  Two hours later the title had been completely erased from my mind.  I struggled to come up with something else, but nothing compared to the sparkling brilliance of my first title came to mind – well, at least I don’t think so. 
Then, yesterday, I had a sudden flash of inspiration and now I have a title – but I have absolutely no idea whether it’s better or worse than the original or even if it’s the same.
Lesson to self:  WRITE IT DOWN!
This is my third year as a member of the RNA, and although I haven’t had a chance to attend any of the meetings, the value for money for me comes in the feedback you receive on a completed novel.
So by the time I receive the feedback on this one I shall have three novels which could potentially be edited and sent out. 
The trouble is, I haven’t had the time to edit any of the previous two because I’ve been concentrating on the next one.  So next year, I’ve decided not to continue my membership and concentrate on the three existing.  It’s a bit of a shame, because I like the challenge of the submission, but there’s no point in having those manuscripts sitting in a drawer is there? The downside is that when I want to rejoin, I’ll have to camp on the website when the RNA opens its applications, as the competition to join the scheme is fierce!

Monday, 24 June 2013

It's Been A Hard Day's Night

And I should be sleeping like a cat ..........

What?  Sofas were invented for humans?  Don't be ridiculous!

After my last post, I thought I'd make this one a little more light-hearted!

Have a good week.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Stranger Danger

It's been a pretty scary week here this week.  I live in a rural village on the outskirts of Chester, and despite having few local shops and being Mum's taxi, I enjoy livng here and have always felt it a safe place to live and bring up my boys.  I have always felt comfortable going for walks alone along the country lanes, passing more energetic joggers along the way.  Until this week.

A week last Wednesday, a man from Chester who had been jailed for kidnap and robbery was released on Licence after serving only two years of his sentence.

Two days later, 3pm on Friday afernoon, he kidnapped and raped a 44 year old woman, on the other side of Chester who was out jogging with her dog.   She finally escaped her ordeal at midnight.

On Tuesday afternoon, the same man was spotted standing on a bridge, watching the sports day at our local high school.  He ran off and was again spotted down a lane close to where we live.  I had been planning on going for a walk that afternoon, on a route which would have led to the very same road.  Thankfully I've picked up a virus that my son had last week and didn't have the energy to go. The police helicopter was out trying to track him but he escaped.

At the time, I didn't know anything about it so let my eldest go the local park after school with his friends.  Thankfully, again, they all returned safe and sound.

The man was finally arrested last night but for a while it felt as though we were on lock down.  The police issued warning that if spotted, he was dangerous and should not be approached.  It's a shame someone didn't realise this before he was let out on early release.  This time when they lock him up I hope they throw away the key.

My heart goes out to the poor woman who had to suffer such an horrendous attack.  I doubt her life will ever be the same again.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Welcome Back!

It was lovely to see Marian Keyes on The Apprentice, You've Been Fired, last night. I've always been a fan of Marian's writing and loved her passion when she used to appear on Strictly's sidekick, It Takes Two. Being married into an Irish family, I also love her sense of humour and general Irish quirks.

Marian has overcome some difficult struggles in her life, more recently she has suffered from severe depression which she has fought valiantly. But seeing her again on You've Been Fired last night is a sure fire signal that she is coming through the other side.

To be honest, You've Been Fired is the only reason I watch The Apprentice in the first place. I love Dara and the panel makes a funny programme, often side splitting.

I'd love to see more of Marian on both this series and next season's It Takes Two.

Well done Marian, I hope your dark days are behind you

Friday, 14 June 2013

Writing Advice

One of the things I did in May, which I spectacularly failed to recount, was to go to a talk by Fay Weldon at Malfest (the Malpas Literary Festival).

I’ve never been to this before but decided to take advantage of a literary icon speaking more or less on my doorstep.

Fay was a good speaker, she had a dry sense of humour and was very humble despite her success.

It was bit weird walking into the talk though, because the speech followed a lunch, so all the attendees were sitting around round tables. Fortunately I managed to find a spare chair which meant that I didn't have to join a crowd I didn't know especially as they all seemed so dreadfully, dreadfully -  ladies wot lunch, if you know what I mean.

I digress.  I'd forgotten how much of Fay Weldon’s work I knew, even though I've never read anything of hers. Remeber The Lives and Loves of a She Devil and The Cloning of Joanna May?
She originally worked in advertising - said she got into it because she had a boyfriend who worked in advertising and that was all the qualification you needed in the 60's.

On her first day she was told to sit down and write copy and eventually she became good at it (her words not mine). She was part of a team who coined the slogan "go to work on an egg".

From there she drifted into writing scripts, and from there books. It made me wish I’d been born in a different era when publishing seemed so much easier – or perhaps nostalgia makes it seem much easier.

She wrote the first scripts for the original Upstairs Downstairs but was “sacked” because Mrs Bridges wanted to be portrayed as a nice person, and Fay didn't think it would be true to type.

She has written a trilogy set at the turn of the 19th Century - based on an upstairs downstairs theme. Two have been published and the third just completed. I've read the sample chapters of the first two and think they are something I would enjoy, so yet more books to put on my To Be Read list.

The image that most stuck in my mind from her talk though, was when she had young children, she said she used to sit on the stairs with notebook in hand, so that the children could still see her and be comforted by her presence but couldn’t get at her. Just goes to show “not having time” is definitely not an excuse!

She was very humble about her success and said the only way to ever get published was keep writing and sending your stuff out.

Wise woman.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Electricity Rules!

The other night my husband decided he was going to watch the ten o’clock news.  I hate watching the news at this time of night – it’s just so depressing.  So I went upstairs to read. But just as I was about to climb into bed the light from the main blub went out.  I thought that the blub had blown, but when I tried the bedside lamp, that didn’t come on either, and through the open window, alarms were going mad. We had a power cut.
As people came out of their doors we realised that the whole street was without electricity.  It generated (pardon the pun) quite a sense of community spirit and would have been fun if I hadn’t been worried about our freezer, which we had just filled up, defrosting.
Fortunately we had candles and matches to hand, and we lit ourselves to bed.
To me it felt quite Dickensian to be walking upstairs to the light of the candle, but it also made me wonder at the number of potential house fires in those days with so many naked flames about.
My husband, who is more pragmatic, said it reminded him of the 1970’s.  His comment triggered a childhood memory of sitting around a fire in the middle of winter for warmth, food and light.  It amazed me that the two periods in history were similar and yet the latter was still in living memory.
The electricity, thankfully, came back on before we went to sleep but my final waking thought was how much we depend on electricity these days.  In a dystopian image I began to wonder what it would be like if our fuel ran out and we could no longer use our computers or charge our mobile phones.  Even our landlines today are plugged into the wall.  It would be like being plunged right back into the dark ages. Literally. So much for progress then?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Out Of Office

I’ve been a bad blogger during May. It’s mad.  Theoretically I have more time for writing now but I seem to be less productive.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I was spending my days lolling on the sofa, eating chocolates and drinking wine.  But I’m not. 
It’s a sad fact that if you’re not “working” people think your time isn't worth much, and can be used to their own ends.  I need to practise saying no – either that or just go away from the house and refuse to answer my phone.
However I do it, I’m determined that June is going to be a month when I finally find some focus.  Keep your fingers crossed for me.