Saturday, 14 February 2015

Happy Valentine's Day

I always used to hate Valentine’s Day, probably because it gave all the more popular, prettier girls in school an opportunity to boast about how many cards they had received whilst I never received any.  I consider it a night which is overpriced, over commercialised and is a bit of a poke in the eye for anyone who isn’t currently in a relationship.

Also, with a distinct lack of babysitters at the moment, going out for a romantic dinner is pretty much off the cards.

But I do like to make an effort and we’ve swapped cards this morning and tonight I will be cooking a three course meal.  I love cooking and a chance to try out new recipes so I’ve spent the day doing my domestic goddess bit and feeling very happy with myself.  Let’s hope the dishes work out and I’m feeling just as happy by the end of the night!

Anyway, for those of you who have ever wondered about the origins of Valentine’s Day, here’s a bit of history.

St Valentine was an early Italian Christian Saint dating back to around 269 AD.  At that time the Emperor had decided that single men made better soldiers and Valentine was imprisoned in Rome for performing secret marriages.  During his imprisonment the Jailor;s blind daughter who studied scripture and prayed with him was miraculously cured. But this miracle could not save Valentine and before his execution on 14 February he’s said to have written her a farewell note – From Your Valentine. 

So whilst Valentine’s Day does represent the love between two people, the day itself is rather sad. 

It’s not just those who are alone who may have reason not to like Valentine’s Day though.  In the 19th and 20th centuries unflattering “vinegar” Valentines were produced to send to people as an insult.

Here’s one that I came across:

“You’ve had your day my dear,
Remember your age if you can,
People can see without looking,
You’re mutton dressed as lamb.”

Charming! I’d be quite glad not to receive a card if the alternative was that!

Here’s something that is rather sweet though.  Sending messages via sweets has been around since Victorian times. Early unromantic examples like “Take ye not to strong drink” soon gave way to phrases like “Can you Polka?” or “Love me” on floral scented sweets. 

I like the originality of this.  So that’s why tonight I’ll be cooking a meal for my husband rather than buying him a present. I think the personal touch works every time.

Happy Valentine’s day everyone.  And even if you are alone, have a fab time and be your own Valentine.

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

February Challenge

I’ve decided to go back to basics for February as I wanted to make this month really count as far as my writing is concerned.

After a day of work, tied to a computer screen, I don’t always feel inspired to switch on the laptop when I get home, so I’ve decided to get out my notebook and start filling up the pages instead.

Now, I’m a big lover of buying notebooks  and as the pile of freshly printed paper is building, it’s about time I started to use them and I’m finding that the whole pen to paper way of letting my words out is a hugely satisfying process.

I’ve set myself a challenge throughout February to write a minimum of 500 words each day.  That might not sound a lot, but after a long period of editing rather than writing I am pleased that every day I am now producing something new.

I know it’s probably quicker to write direct to the screen as I am a fast typist, but I’m just glad that already this month I have written two new stories and am onto my third.

Obviously it will take time to type up the first drafts and edit them but I’m feeling really inspired.  And the good thing is that I can pick up my notebook whenever I have a few spare minutes and just carry on for however long I have. I’ve even managed to complete some of my word count on the bus to work. 

Now I just have to keep generating the ideas so that I can carry on writing for the rest of the month.

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

A Long, Slow Process

I haven’t blogged much about writing recently but that’s because I’ve been working on a long, slow project.

For a few years now I’ve been working on a couple of novels but one in particular is the most complete.

It’s a novel about a working mum, who struggles to find the right balance between her work and her home life.

After completing a very rough first draft I started an online course with Writing Magazine where for each assignment I submitted a chapter which was critiqued and re-written before sending the next chapter.

The course was good and really gave me the confidence to improve the rest of the novel. 

It took me a while but I completed a second and then a third draft and then sent it for feedback to the Romantic Novelist’s Association for a critique on the New Writers’ Scheme.  After receiving some positive feedback I redrafted it again and then sent it to my online writers’ group.

By this stage I actually felt that it was almost complete but it was still too long, so on my next read-through I cut out all the superfluous words and sentences I could find, aiming to reach for a total word count of 100,000.

I slashed and burned and killed my darlings but by the end of this draft I still had a wordcount of 108,000 words.

So, during January I have been laboriously working through the entire novel and yesterday I managed to achieve a word count of 99,999 words – yeh!

Now I need to dust off my synopsis – thankfully already written, research possible agents and then hopefully, in the very near future, I will be in a position to allow my child to fly the nest. 

I’ve been working so long on this project that I day I send it out for the first time will be a champagne day as far as I’m concerned – regardless of the outcome.