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Showing posts from November, 2013

Misson Completed!

Yeah, its the end of November, and I have completed my challenge to post every day during this month.   I must admit that it has stopped me missing the challenge of NaNoWriMo, as although the wordcount is miniscule in comparison, I have still had to employ the discipline to post every day, which is something I have never managed to do before.   And it has felt a bit like my experience of NaNo in that I got off to a great start, had a bit of a low in the middle when I couldn't think of anything to post, and then had a bit of run towards the end. A bit like writing a novel me thinks.   There have been times, I must admit, when the posts have been pretty rubbish, so I do apologise for that.    But thank you all for bearing with me, particularly Wendy  and Teresa   who are my two most fervant followers and committed commenters.  Thank you ladies, your support is much appreciated.   Now, I'm going to go away and leave you all in peace for a while, but I will be

How Do You Write?

I've been thinking recently about the best way to write.  I don't mean the nuts and bolts of writing, more about the phsycial way to get the words down.   I do find it easy to write straight to screen, in fact I used to do it a lot when I was at work and I was trying to sneak up my word count during quiet times (ssh!  don't tell anyone!).  Also when I was doing NaNo, I don't think I could have completed the word count if I hadn't written straight to screen.   But these days, although I do most of my editing on the lap top, I'm finding it difficult to write like that. Writing longhand seems to be the only way to get the words down. And although it does take longer, and then I have to type it up afterwards, I do enjoy the process of seeing the words fill up the paper.   It also feeds my notebook obsession.   I don't suppose it matters how you write as long as you do, but how do you get the story out?

A Valuable Skill

Following on from my last post, I've been remembering when I received my first typewriter - then the cutting edge of technology. I'd asked for one for Christmas, probably without realising just how expensive they were. Mum decided that I could have one but to make it an investment, she also bought me a book teaching me how to touch type. I remember it was called "Typing Made Simple" and she said she wanted me to learn how to type properly, that the typewriter wasn't a toy. I spent hours in my bedroom after that, bashing away on the keys.  Being able to touch type has been invaluable in my life, as a student, secretary and now as a writer, a well as in every day correspondence.  So I owe a big thank you to my mum, for guiding me to learn such a valuable skill. Thanks Mum, you're a wise woman!

Hidden Gems

Well, the devastation continues as we have now moved on to decorating the downstairs spare bedroom / junk room.  The contents of the cupboards are now displaced throughout the house but I've given up caring.  The hideous bright yellow walls and orange woodwork are disappearing, so that's something to cheer about.   Tipping out the contents of the cupboards, though, have revealed a few hidden gems.   Back in the early 90's, when I first started to think about writing, I signed up for a correspondence course with The Writing School.  I can't remember whether I ever completed the course, but yesterday I found some of the reference books which came with it.   I started reading the first one, Writing For Cash, and was amused by the following paragraph.   "Tools for the Job   All you need to become a writer is a notebook, pen or pencil, paper and typewriter.  You may think that the typewriter is an unnecessary expense when you first start to write, b

A Lovely Rejection

Is that an oxymoron?  Until Friday I would have thought so too, but then I received the loveliest rejection I have ever received.   It was from The People's Friend and was full of useful feedback, telling me why the story wasn't right for them, which I very much appreciated.   But most of all it was the heartfelt encouragement telling me not to be too disappointed and to keep on sending stories to them.   Well I will.  I have another story which is earmarked for the magazine, which I hope to be sending out shortly.    And I'm not going to give up, not when I get such lovely emails from this editor.  She is a credit to both the magazine and the publishing industry as a whole.

Bye Bye Ben

I was sad to see Ben leave Strictly on Sunday. I think that he is a better dancer overall than Mark. Mark does seem to be able to pull it off in the dance off though, and I do think the judges were right to vote Ben off. Ben did make quite a few mistakes on the dance off and as they have to mark solely on that  performance I felt they were being honest. More than you get on other shows at the moment. All the same, it's getting to the stage in the competition when the people you like are destined to be voted off. Still compulsive viewing though.

The Course Continues

I've just had my assignment back from my Writing Bureau tutor and I'm really pleased with the comments. He thought my play was well written, realistic and was suitable for radio.   I must admit, I've always found writing dialogue easier than description. I can do description when I put my mind to it, but its not something that comes naturally to me.    The play was only a partial, but I was so encouraged by his comments, that I think I might complete it and see if I can get it accepted.  You never know.    I read a really interesting article about one of the writers for The Archers.  I was brought up in a farming family and listening to The Archers is one of my guilty secrets - I download the podcasts and listen to it while I'm doing the washing up!  Maybe I could think of an interesting plot line for them , even if its just for a bit of fun.     But I'm getting carried away with myself now.  When I got my assignment back I was also surprised to fin

Strictly Addictive

Its midway now in the Strictly series, and I'm still loving it.  It's got to the exciting stage when the majority of the celebrities have become pretty good dancers. This week, as much as I love him as a personality, I think it will be Mark's turn to go. Technically I think he's the least competant of all the dancers, and his dodgy knees don't help him much, but his personality will be greatly missed when he goes. As for the rest, well, I've always loved Natalie and Ashley and I think Abbey's great too.  Susanna is running up on the outside,  she's improved so much in the last few weeks and I definitely think she's a contender. Ben is great, for a big guy he's incredibly graceful and Patrick certainly has rhythm, especially in the latin dances.  Sophie is beautifully graceful and elegant, although she suits some dances better than others. It's going to be tough to predict who's going to go over the next few weeks but I'm certa

A Return to Chaos

The day started off well, I edited an old assignment story and sent it off to Take A Break Fiction Feast, and then I edited a story I wrote on holiday and sent it to my writing group for a critique. Then I completed a mailshot for my freelance work and was feeling pretty pleased with myself. This was all done before my eldest, who was off school with an Inset day, dragged himself out of bed. Then, I gave up the computer so that he could catch up on his homework.  The only problem was that, because he was off school, he'd decided that he was going to spend the day on the Xbox. During the ensuing meltdown, my husband came home and decided to redecorate the kitchen, so I ended up trying to supervise homework and get everything out of the kitchen so that he could crack on.  On the one hand I'm really pleased that progress is being made on the house but I'm having to grit my teeth too.  Trying to make some lunch for us, with everything under the cover of dust sheets was

Track Record

I've been toying with the idea of submitting some articles to magazines recently.   I have some articles in mind and some publications, but so far I've put off actually doing anything about them because, quite honestly, I'm scared.   I know that sounds silly, I have no qualms sending my stories off to magazines, even before I had any published, but with articles it is somehow more daunting.   Catching up with December's Writing Magazine, I read what I thought was a brilliant step by step guide to submitting articles, but the thing that made me quiver, was the bit about telling the editor what articles you've had published before.   I've had a few fillers and recipes published but I don't think that would make an editor choose me over a more experienced writer, neither am I expert on the subjects I would like to write about (local and family history) but I am very keen on these subjects.  Would my passion be enough?   It's daft really

Completion!

Finally finished the dreaded last assignment and sent it off this afternoon.  I feel free!!!! Actually it hasn't been such a bad exercise as the play was based on a story I wrote in draft a while ago.  For the length of the script I've had to give it much more depth, and now I'm wondering if I can convert it into a serial, which I've never tackled before.  Should be an interesting exercise. For a while now I've been a bit of a butterfly brain, flitting from one project to the next and never getting anywhere.  This week, I've got so fed up with it that I've adopted a strategy of prioritising each project and working on it until its finished.  I know that probably sounds simple, but I just haven't been doing it.  It's worked with the assignment, so next I'm going to tackle a story I wrote for assignment 9 of the course.  I'm hoping with some careful tweaking I can turn this into a story for Take A Break Fiction Feast (Its a bit too gritty

Writer's Bureau

Despite the distractions of the decorating, I've managed to get some work done today, but writing has eluded me once more.   I've tried to make up for it tonight though by starting to edit my last assignment for the Writer's Bureau short story and novel course I've been trying to finish.   I can't say this course has been a resounding success for me.  I think it would be very good for complete beginners, but after have done other courses before, I don't feel I've learnt a great deal from it.  Also, I've found that the course has concentrated more on the short story side, and I wanted more of the novel element from it.  The last two assignments have been about writing radio plays.  Having never written these before, I've been rather stumped by the lack of guidance and so have put off completing these last two assingments.  In saying that though, by having to do this, I feel that I have learnt something about a genre I wouldn't normally co

Disruption!

Being the wife of a painter and decorator, my house is usually last on the list.  In fact when I had a new kitchen installed, I waited three years for the decoration to be done. So, yesterday, when my husband said he had a day free today and was going to do the living room, who was I to argue, despite the fact that it was a mad rush to get everything out of there. Now the rest of the house is in chaos, I have furniture in the kitchen and electrical equipment, lamps and books in the dining room.  Of course, it's been far to disruptive today to write, or even do any work, instead I went out and started the Christmas shopping - not that I made much headway. But never mind, it will all be over in a few days, I'll have a clean and sparkling living room, and then hopefully I be able to get back to work. Can't wait.

Sunnier Times

Today was grey and dismal and a bitter wind cut through me as I was standing on the side of the football pitch this afternoon. So to cheer myself up, I thought I'd look at some pictures I took in spring.  This is a beautiful little village, near to my home, where I used to work. Hope they bring some much needed sunshine into your life. Hope tomorrow is a brighter day and that the rain keeps away!

Christmas Is Coming ......

And I am getting fat.  (I keep meaning to go on a diet but that's another story!) Every year, I try to stay in denial about Christmas for as long as I possibly can, but it appears that I can deny it no longer. It might be something to do with the fact that Christmas cards have been in the shops since August, or that the supermarket over the top adverts are gracing our TV's at every opportunity, or even the school newsletters which are full of requests for money and Christmas gifts. But mostly its due to my husband who has been muttering all week that we need to start doing something about Christmas. I'm not sure where the "we" comes in, I think loosely translated it means me because I'm usually the one who ends up doing 95% of the preparation. My husband is one of six and I am one of three, and although we dont buy for the adults, we do buy for the children, some of whom have children of their own.  It's not that I mind, just that its such a mamo

Inspirational

As I'm typing this I'm watching Children In Need.   As ever, the stories of the children who benefit, or who need to benefit,  from the money raised are both heartwarming and heartbreaking.  It never fails to amaze me how optimistic people can be in the face of such adveristy. And it always makes me appreciate just how lucky I am in my life.   So this is going to be a very short post because I'm off to make my own donation.   Have a good weekend everyone.

List Mania

I've always been a bit fan of lists, in fact, if I didn't write things down, I would be in a right pickle because I'm sure I'd forget half the things I'm supposed to be doing. So when I finished work last year, I wrote down a list of things of all the things I wanted / needed to do, because I was determined to remained focussed.   I'm horrified to realise that a year on, some of the same items are still on the list.  And although I have achieved many things over the last year, the list has grown rather than diminished.    Some days when I look at the list I feel demoralised by what still needs to be done and instead of it being helpful I feel haunted by it. In an act of retaliation I go off and do something completely different just so I don't have to look at it any more.   So I was interested to read that Peter Jones had had a similar experience in his book, How To Do Everything and Be Happy (see yesterday's post). He recomends lists to the

How To Do Everything And Be Happy

It's an interesting concept isn't it?  And one which is much needed in my life,  so I was keen to read this book, written by Peter Jones.   I read it on holiday  and thought that what he said made perfect sense.   At least while I was on holiday it did, now that I’m back at home, I’m finding some of his ideas incredibly hard to implement, although that is probably more a reflection on me. The book made me think about what I really want from my life and whilst I was away I was determined to put my writing first, well at least before some of my day to day challenges.   Hasn’t quite worked out that way though.   Must try harder! One of the recommendations in the book is to have a Boxing Day once a month.   A Boxing Day is a day which you set aside, and when you get up you spend the day doing what you want to do, not what you have to do.   Its fine if that includes work, housework, or even DIY or decorating, as long as you’re doing it out of choice, and you haven’t planned

November Challenge

Well it's the 12th of November (how did that happen?) and this is my 12th post so I'm pleased that I've managed to keep up to my challenge so far.  I can't say that it's been easy, quite a few times I've panicked myself in the evening remembering that I haven't posted and haven't got a clue what to write (apologies for the drivel).  But the discipline of having to post every day, and having to think of something, however trite, has been a good one.  Normally I promise myself that I will try to post at least 10 times during the month, and each month I fail spectularly, so at least I've broken my own record. Coming to this blog every day though has made me realise that it's looking a bit tired (or is that just me?)  I need to spruce it upand possibly learn more about how to do that.  For instance, I've noticed that I have the title Followers on the blog and no one listed.   Now I know I have followers (at least they used to be there), so I th

New Beginnings

Today I unoffiicially started my new job - a lot earlier than I expected.   I went to meet some website designers with my new boss to discuss the company's website. I was really keen to make the most of this opportunity as I am hoping to design my own website for my Virtual Assistant work.  I can honestly say that I learnt a lot, but what I realised is that there is so much I don't know about technology that I really need to address this problem. More research is needed before I can even dip my toes in the water.  But that's not a bad thing, I like learning new things, and it's been on my list of things to do for a long time now. I also found out that quite a lot of the company's literature as well as the website needs re-writing.  Something to really get my teeth into. I can't wait to get started.

Lest We Forget

I couldn't post on Remembrance Sunday without paying tribute to all the men and women who have given up their lives to keep this country free.   I always make sure that my boys attend a Remebrance service, because I think it's important for the younger generation to realise what previous young men and women have done for us.   I've been doing some research on the Second World War, particularly reading accounts of people who survived in the Forgotten Voices series of books, and  I have been humbled by what people have been prepared to do to keep this county safe.   It's all to easy, with the passage of time, to forget the sacrifices which have been made, and I feel that our children, who really are living in a time of privilege, should be made aware of just how lucky they are.   In church today, the children spoke of our freedom.  Without the people who fought in previous wars, whether they lived or died, we wouldn't today have the priviledge of that

Back to Reality

After the excitement of the last few days, today is defintely back to normal.  Saturday morning was the usual standing on the sidelines of the football pitch - fortunately, unlike last week, the sun was shining.   My son's team won and it wasn't too stressful for me as the team largely kept the ball away from him. As he plays in goal that's always a good thing.  I've aged so much since he started playing in goal!  Last week, even though they won 4-2, he was really upset on the way home because he'd let two goals in, bless!   This afternoon has been uber exciting, defrosting two freezers and a fridge, supervising homework, and cleaning the bathroom!  Don't I know how to live life to the full?   Now though I'm off to have a long hot bath before watching Strictly, the highlight of my weekend!   Hope you're all having a much more exciting time.  

I'm In The Friend!!

I'm so excited to see my story published in the November 9 edition of The People's Friend.   The story was originally titled The Proof of the Pudding, but they have renamed it Playing Cupid which is fine by me (maybe an improvement?)   Its so long since I read this story that to read it in print was a wonderful, I didn't even cringe too much over places where I thought it could be improved.  In fact, as I was reading I thought it sounded like it was written by a proper writer, not little old me. Half of the anticipation of seeing it in print was wondering what picutre they would use to illustrate it.  I'm not sure I envisaged seeing my couple sitting across a cafe table, but I do like the obvious spark they have for each other.   It's really spurned me on to send some more stories off to them, I don't think the novelty of seeing my work in print will ever wear off.   I just have one query though, now that I have had a story published would it

Glad Tidings!

Well, now I need to say goodbye to Mrs Pessimistic because I got a phonecall today to say I got the job!   I'm so chuffed.  It's only two days a week, but that's enough to enable me to continue with my freelance work and trying to write.   I can't wait to get out into the real world again.   Big grin!

Rejection

One thing I've learnt about being a wannabe writer, is that rejection is not a reflection on the person you are.  Perhaps your writing style doesn't suit the editor, or the subject matter of the story isn't quite right for the magazine at the moment.  And remember, one man's meat etc, so while one editor might not want it, it might be just what another is looking for.  So, whenever a story lands on my mat with a thud, I take a look at it, see how it might be improved and send it right back out again to a different magazine. The route to publication is based on perseverance. Or so I keep telling myself. Today I went for an interview for a part time admin job.  It's only ten hours a week, but would fit in nicely with the freelance work I'm doing and still might leave some time for writing.  It was a nice set up, I liked the people I would be working with if I got the job, and as it is a new position there is plenty of scope for making the job your own. Yet

Remember, Remember

Well, this is the quietest November 5 I can remember, but perhaps that's because most people seemed to be celebrating it last weekend.  I must admit, Bonfire Night is much more furn when you can wrap up warm against the crisp autumnal air.  It's quite different sinking into squelchy mud while rain slowly seeps through your clothes - I had quite enough of that watching the boys playing football at the weekend, thank you ver much.   But thinking about bonfire night reminded me of something which happened years ago.   When my eldest was developing his reading skills, he took a fancy to history.  One day, whilst reading about the life of Guy Fawkes, he said to me, "Mummy, did you know that Guy Fawkes' step-father was a Catholic but his mother was a prostitute."   I only just about managed to keep a straight face before asking if he meant Protestant?   Out of the mouths of babes!  

Is Writing Really a Form of Madness?

Sometimes, amidst the clutter of my family life, TV, the internet, emails and texts, I struggle to find the head space in which to write.   On holiday I like to disconnect from technology and the outside world and exist in a bubble of my family, reading and writing. I refuse to have a laptop and don’t even watch TV or buy a newspaper, and whilst my husband is snoozing in the son, and the boys play in the pool, I scribble away in my notepad.   I’m sure my fellow holiday-makers think I’m a complete loon.   Fortunately my family are used to me and don’t bat an eyelid when I whip out my notebook while they are watching a game of football in a bar.   In my mind it frees us all up to do what we want to but who else goes on holiday with the aim of being more productive then they are at home.   Perhaps I need to invest in an apartment in sun kissed climes where I could take my family every holiday (I wish).   Imagine my output over a six week summer holiday – I can but dream.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn

    I’ve heard so much hype and good things about this book that when I saw it on Kindle just before I went on holiday that I couldn’t resist.   I must admit, I struggled to get into it at first but I’m not sure whether that was because I was reading it on my Kindle, as sometimes I do struggle to connect initially when I’m reading things electronically.   I have to admit though, the more I got into it, the more I struggled to put it down. This is a book that does need to be read quickly. There are so many twists and turns that I think I would have struggled to have remembered what had happened previously if the passage of time had intervened. It is the story of a woman who goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary.   Her husband comes home to find her gone with evidence of a struggle in the living room.   The story is told from the viewpoint of the husband, and from past diary entries of the woman which gradually lead up to the day of the abduction. Right fr

Good News!

I had a productive month in September, submitting five short   stories to magazines.   Sadly these weren’t new stories but some of them have had extensive re-writes so I’m pleased that at least I’ve got a few more stories out there. Sadly, I didn’t manage to sub anything in October, but I did draft my final assignment for my Writer’s Bureau course and drafted one short story and half of another one.   Mostly, though, I’ve been thinking seriously about how I want my career / work life to pan out and how I can set the wheels in motion. And finally, I’ve had some good news from The People’s Friend.   My story “What’s Cooking?” which was accepted a while back is going to be published in the 9 November edition of the magazine.   I can’t wait to see my story in print!

November Madness

Today is the first day of NaNoWriMo, so good luck to all you scribes out there who are aiming to get 50,000 words under your belt this month. Sadly, this year, I feel that I have too many unfinished pieces of work to start on a fresh one, so I’ve decided not to take part.      But November would feel slightly empty without some sort of a challenge. Right? So I was delighted to read the article “Ten inspiring ideas to try instead of NaNoWriMo” on pages 12 & 13 of the November issue of Writing Magazine, and it set my little brain buzzing. And, in light of my very poor number of blog posts in October, I’ve decided to issue myself the challenge of posting each day in November.    It seemed like a good ideal at the time, but I’m beginning to wonder if I'm not just a little bit insane.   Now it does feel like it’s the first day of November. I’m sure some posts will be very short and some will probably be complete rubbish, so please bear with me. One down, only 29 to