Friday, April 30, 2010

It's Out!

A week later than expected the piece for Pick Me Up magazine is out.  You can find the story about my husband and me on page 43.  The piece I originally wrote was more from a clinical angle and Tanya who has re-written the wording has made it more in keeping with Pick Me Up magazine.  Although it is published it is not entirely my own work but I'm still counting it as one of my two for getting items published this year.

Well it has been a bit of a funny week where I feel I have had my foot on and off the accelerator and not too sure which direction I'm heading! After a productive Monday I've had a couple of quieter days and neglected to remember the end of the month was coming up so spent yesterday doing some competition entries.  The result is I have got very little writing done but lots in other areas of life.

I have often thought about giving up entering competitions as they do eat into my time but on the other hand if I didn't then we wouldn't have gone skiing in February or be heading to the Christmas markets later this year.  So I have compromised and don't enter as many but still enter in the hope it supplies the luxuries that my writing presently doesn't.

Although I do want to be getting on with my writing projects this is the first ever entire bank holiday weekend I have had off since starting my job at WestQuay Shopmobility so I will be enjoying spending some time with my hubby.  So my aim for the next week is to send off my flash fiction entry, continue with the second draft of my playwright, continue reading books for review and consider some ideas for the Writing Buddies Anthology.  Sounds like plenty to me!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Striking a balance

Managed to have a very efficient day yesterday and did everything I planned to do including squeezing in some yoga and domestic chores.  The result of that is I'm slightly pooped today! I walked home from work (about 4 miles) today and picked up a Royal Mail parcel which was my next WHSmith book to review.  Once home I was sat at my lap top but my eye's were closing so I opted for a power nap rather than the work I had planned.

I don't often have naps but one of the effects of Sarcoidosis is fatigue so if I overdo things it can have a knock on effect.  So as always health comes first so I knew I needed to sleep.  No point in making myself unwell over anything.  It means I am a bit behind on what I planned and now only have two afternoons to get more done but I won't lose any sleep over it.

Tomorrow I am meeting with a good friend of mine in the afternoon.  It will be great to catch up with him and I am hoping both him and his dad will help me by reading through the playwright and giving feedback once it is ready.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Turning down overtime!

Eeeek! I made a decision today when my boss asked me to do some overtime in June and July.  I did a fair bit of overtime over December and January and it ate into my planned writing time massively.  It meant that over those months I hardly got any writing done and it really made me feel down that I hadn't started getting on with my goals.  So when I was asked today, despite financially needing the money I said NO to the overtime.

I have to admit to being very proud of this decision.  It may sound silly but it is an indication of how much more positive I feel towards writing since starting this blog.  In the past two months my priorities have completely changed and now I plan my day around my writing rather than the other way round.  It means my output has increased significantly and I now feel I am in a position to tackle more ambitious plans.  Of course this does mean making some sacrifices and this is one of the first.  I have come to realise the potential of my writing is worth much more (if only to myself) than any amount overtime would provide me with.

With this small move forward for myself also comes the great news that the article I was expecting last Thursday is being printed this coming Thursday.  The delay in this news is down to the famous volcanic ash cloud as my contact was caught up in Portugal.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Unusual Writing Competitions!

Keeping an eye out for more specialised writing competitions is a good way of increasing your chances of being short-listed or possibly winning.  I always keep my eye out for these kind of opportunities and also locally run writing events.  They do not come up as frequently but when they do they are definitely worth considering.  An example of this is the Creative Writing Competition ran by Arthritis Care.  It is only open to those with arthritis and as I have sarcoidosis which comes under the umbrella of arthritis I am eligible to enter.  This year the theme is 'A letter to my pain'.  I have entered the past two years and the theme has always remained similar and as pain is not a major element of my illness it has been difficult to come up with something.  I will enter again this year as it is another chance to practice my writing skills.  The closing date for this is the end of July and great opportunity for anyone with Arthritis to practice their writing.

It is always worth looking in more unusual places to enter various forms of writing. Jacqueline from Writing Buddies reminded me of this as she recently won a competition after writing a limerick for the British Hedgehog Preservation Society.  So it is always worth keeping your eyes peeled for more unusual competitions such as these!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Keeping up the momentum.

Yesterday I attended Writing Buddies for a second time and had the pleasure of meeting Penny Legg who originally set up the group.  For some reason I assumed it had been going for some time but I learnt that the group is just coming up for it's first anniversary.  There are plans for an anthology to celebrate the first anniversary.

I am finding the group very helpful with lots of information from some very experienced writers.  As I am relatively new to writing I have to admit to finding the group very beneficial and am sure I will get lots out of it by continuing to attend.

At present I am considering the prospect of taking on a larger project.  To be honest I find the concept quite daunting.  Much of this is down to confidence and as discussed by others yesterday this is an issue most writers seem to battle with.  Knowing that it is not just me that struggles with confidence does give me some hope that I can overcome it and the main way to do that is to just carry on writing.  So before the end of the year I plan to start a big project and will make this the third of my large projects I planned to do this year.

For this week I will be making sure I get some projects finished though.  I plan to do the second draft of the play I am writing and get the flash fiction piece I have done sent off.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Coping with disappointment.

Disappointment is something most writers have to deal with.  My first encounter with disappointment was when I braved sending in samples of a short novel I wrote at University.  I sent it off to a few places and have the rejection letters to prove it.  Sadly it had the effect of putting me off writing for many years feeling that I was not capable of being a writer.  Undoubtedly in the future I will face those same rejection letters so it begs the question how will I cope when that disappointment comes.  These days I know I would persist and not give up so easily.  I may not be everybody's cup of tea but I will be somebody's cup of tea.

The idea of disappointment always reminds me of my competition entering.  I'm sure I have mentioned before that I enter competitions as a hobby.  In doing so I have been very lucky and won a multitude of prizes.  A lot of people tell me how lucky I am.  My response to this is to point them in the direction of where to enter competitions and wish them luck.  Often people say to me they never have any luck as they never win anything they enter.  When I ask them how many competitions they have entered it is normally only two or three.  This highlights to me the fact that my luck is not so much luck but more down to time and effort.  By spending a bit more time entering competitions I have significantly increased my chances of winning.  I now think of writing in the same way.  It is down to me to write as much as possible in the hope of increasing my chances of getting items published.  

The reason I am on about disappointment today is because having chalked up my first piece of published work this year I rushed to the shop today to find it wasn't there.  Today was the release day for the magazine issue it was scheduled to be in and no sign of it.  I'm not too worried about this as they had brought it forward and it has obviously been put back to a later issue as previously scheduled.  Only problem being I don't know when that is.  I have e-mailed to try and find out and hopefully they will get back to me but in the meantime I have to wonder if I have been premature in assuming it will be published.

I am so glad the internet exists these days and helps encourage budding writers like myself.  Yesterday Bubble Cow tweeted a link to this blog article about 'How Writer's Build Courage'.  Maybe I should take some lessons from there and it is great to have encouragement on hand on the days you need it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Pacing a Play?

I have managed to write and type up the first rough draft of the one act play I am writing.  Having never attempted to write a playwright before the main problem I have come across is knowing how to pace the play.  I  have got used to working towards a word count so writing to an amount of time has been difficult.

Yesterday I read it through (out loud!) to have more of an idea how long it was and at present it is about half an hour in length.  At least this gives me some idea of how long it represents as an actual play.

I still have quite a lot to do on it and hopefully that will make up the other half hour.  I also need to think a little more about the scenes to avoid too many frequent changes.  Next week I am working mornings all week so when I finish at 2 I will head to the library to try and get a second draft finished and typed up.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

BOOK REVIEW: Old Magic by Marianne Curley

Ordinary school life changes for Kate when Jarrod moves to town and joins her class.  Outside of school Kate has magical gifts and quickly realises Jarrod has magical capabilities.  Problem is Jarrod is completely unaware of his own talent or how to control it.  

In trying to help Jarrod understand his own powers Kate has the opposite effect of alienating him.  Several disasters later Jarrod gradually comes round to the idea and soon they discover his misfortune is in fact down to a family curse created hundreds of years ago.

With the help of Kate’s grandmother they attempt to try and get rid of the curse.  But will their skills be enough against the Old Magic of the past.

Old Magic takes you on a journey risking both Jarrod’s and Kate’s life.  Told from both perspectives Old Magic is a great read.  I would definitely recommend particularly for teenagers and any fans of Twilight.  

Available to buy from WHSmith at the moment for £5.24 (RRP £6.99)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Checking In

I have another busy week ahead but am so much happier knowing I am making use of all my time.  I have managed to do a first draft as planned and just need to finish typing it up next week.  I also plan to finish reading my WHSmith book to review.

I have a catch up week ahead and have booked three appointments - Doctor, Dentist and Hairdressers.  So alongside work it's a pretty jam-packed week and as I have been at work all weekend sadly I have little to add tonight.  Hopefully there will be more to report next time especially with the release of the magazine with my article in later this week!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Writing everyday?

I am having one of those days where I'm a little unmotivated.  I have managed to do quite a bit over the past couple of days and I guess I am nearing the end of my first draft for this one act play.  I am doing so reluctantly though as if I don't quite want to finish it.  I have no idea why I feel like this but I guess once it is finished you must do something with it.  It needs to be scrutinised not only by yourself but also by others.  I guess it is at that point for me the doubt creeps in as to whether it is any good or not.

I think it is very easy for negative thoughts like this to creep up on you and make you seize any activity and leave it for another day.  This is kind of where I am at today.  I see no harm in leaving it until the weekend but know in reality I am working and highly unlikely to do anything.  Then it will be put back until the next week and so on.  I guess that is why there is an importance in writing every day.  Even if it never gets read by another person at least it keeps you in the habit of writing.

So I am writing here to motivate myself in to trying to finish the task I had set out to do at the beginning of the week.  I figure not really knowing how to end something can be an issue as well.  Let's just hope I am happy-ish with the end product.

In other news, I strangely had a dream last night about a line to enter for the Nicci French competition I mentioned the other day.  Normally my dreams are complete nonsense so it made a nice change that my dream might be helpful.  I have entered it and fingers crossed you never know what it might bring.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Organising my twitter lists.

I have been on twitter since about October.  It took me a while to get used to twitter and after following lots of people for some time I now think I should sort them out into lists.  Only got round to it this morning but hopefully if will be helpful for others looking at my profile.  I have listed them in various book related categories mainly publishers, bookshops, authors & writers and literary festivals.  In particular I had spoken to the Writing Buddies about publishing houses being on twitter and often opportunities may come up like competitions and the chance to review books.  After going through I was surprised to find the publishers list I created consisted of 47 different groups.  I'm certain there are more but I have never really searched them out rather just come across them.  Another day I may try and look and see if there others to add but that seems plenty for now.

Whilst at the group last week I was also invited to join Writers in Southampton by the lovely Tessa Warburg.  I have e-mailed about this today and their next meeting is on May 6th and I look forward to joining them.  I had found a small amount of information about this group but as I only have short stories published thought I would not be able to join but it turns out I can.

Now back to writing up my play, now one question - how many pages equals an hour??

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Planning Ahead and a One-Liner!

Turns out I might be a fairy godmother myself after performing the heimlich manoeuvre on my friend last night.  A scary couple of minutes where she was choking and being moments off her not breathing and needing an ambulance.  Fortunately it worked and within a short while we were sat round chatting again.

I had planned to head to The Art House tonight to try out the Write on Writers group but have decided I will attend this for the first time in a fortnight.  Instead I happened to chance upon a book that looks very useful on one act plays.

The next three days I am off work so can spend some time on my to do list.  Part of this will be sorting out my Twitter listings in the hope of this being some use to the Writing Buddies.  I am also going to spend as much time as possible on the one act play in the hope of completing a first draft.

I received an e-mail today about a very nice Competition.  The challenge is to write the FIRST LINE of a Nicci French crime short story.  The best first line will then be picked and Nicci will write a short story from that line.  It will then be published in a future novel and you will be credited if picked.  Only one entry per person though so better make sure it's a good opening line.  I will definitely enter this one as I'm sure I can manage one line.  Not sure I can class it as one of my small projects though.  Good luck to anyone who enters this.

Also a note of thanks to Jacqueline for being so complementary about my blog especially as I can only work half of it so far! I hope other Writing Buddies will also find it useful as well.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Fairy Godmother?

I am wondering where my fairy godmother is? I am dreaming about giving up my mind numbing job.  Mundane and as perfect as it is to allow me time for my writing it is also frustrating when you have much more pressing and far more enjoyable tasks to do at home.  Today was particularly bad for repetitive conversation and occasions when people are unable to identify the need for silence.  Most of the time I manage it okay but I am waiting for the day I jack it in and become a full time writer.  If words could pay bills (and I mean in the instant, meeting monthly demands way) then yes I would without doubt.  Unfortunately they only ever have the potential to pay bills so until my finances are a bit better off I have to stick with it.  Unless a fairy godmother brings me something better along?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Meeting Writing Buddies!

I have just returned from the Writing Buddies Meeting at The Art House.  Alongside this blog I am hoping this group will help keep me on track with any writing plans.  I am pleased to say the group are very welcoming and had a whole range of projects, experience and knowledge.  As I said to them writing for me is a bit of a stab in the dark having come from a health care background.  I'm sure I will be calling on their wisdom at many points in the future.  In the meantime I have vowed to convert them all to twitter and have tasked myself with categorising some of the people I follow into groups making it easier for them to come across some useful contacts.

I have had a busy week with little opportunity to write but plenty of time to think about it.  I hope the plot is developing in my head even if not on paper yet.  This weekend I am heading to Derby to catch up with my University friends.  Again there will be little opportunity to write but I will take my pen and paper just in case.  It does however mean I am crossing two things off my big list of things to do for the year!  I have three days off in the week next week so plenty of time to catch up then.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010


Sticking to one project or deciding which direction to head in has always been a bit of a problem for me.  I tend to flit from one idea to another and end up doing three projects partly but don't complete one of them.  I guess that is the point I am at the moment.  I am part way through reading the book for review, part way through the playwright and haven't completely finished off the flash fiction piece.  This is alongside me looking into available courses and despairing at the prices and so am planning to do a bit of self-teaching via the library books available.

There is a real danger at this point of not completing any of the projects I have started.  I have a real sense of starting off strong and then being distracted by whatever comes my way.  But fortunately that is the whole point of this blog.  To rally myself into sticking to these projects and seeing them through to the finish.

I feel as if the wind has left my sails a little with regards to the play.  Mainly because I have lost my way a little with the story.  However I have brain-stormed it a little more and now just need to get back to work on it.  As it is only the beginning of April I am giving myself an aim of completing the first draft of this by the end of April.  This should be very achievable I just to make sure I allocate the time needed for it.  

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coming out of my dyslexic shell!

Last night's workshop was really helpful and made me think about my learning and how to expand it.

Although the class was on erotica it went through some more basic tasks about description.  I have to admit to feeling rather uncomfortable when put under time pressures and then reading out what you had come up with.  Fortunately I only had to do it once but listening to the others in the group and the amazing amounts they had come up with in a short amount of time was an eye opener.  Partly it made me realise the amazing volume of talent out there in just a small room.  It also made me feel momentarily discouraged and in awe.  It also made me realise that it is almost like my brain is in two sections.  My dyslexia was more on show in that pressured situation.  I have had a habit for many years when I can't remember the word I want.  When I can't remember rather than stop writing I always put a _________? on the page and then come back to it later.  I did that a couple of times last night and not given the time to think I had to fill them in with a substitute word.  The other part of my brain is more free flowing always coming up with ideas but I find it difficult expressing these thoughts and images.    Even though these kind of go against each other given the time and effort I always come up with something.  It is just slightly more difficult and I plod along with these things rather than having an evident prowess.

For a moment last night it made me feel like I might go back into my shell and pass up on my ambitions like I may have done in the past.  That moment quickly passed though as I know that identifying my weaknesses and working to strengthen them can only be of benefit.  It has made me realise that any opportunities like this are going to be of benefit and I need to embrace them even if I don't feel that comfortable partaking.  I plan to look into more learning opportunities like this either on-line or in group settings.

Before that though I am determined to get one large project completed so am presently concentrating on the playwright.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Where does the time go?

My life feels jam packed at the moment.  I always like to keep myself busy but in the past I have found myself wasting time with the likes of bejewelled blitz when I should be doing something constructive.  I'm glad to say that this blog has changed that and I am squeezing everything in that I can.  These days going into work (the one that pays!) is my respite.

Yesterday I said I had another idea for the story I had thought of.  I have decided it might serve better as a playwright and I started it last night.  My hope is that it can be used by the local amateur dramatics group Maskers.  They have there own studio space so it could be put on their as a one act play.  Would be great if they could so I will put it forward for consideration once I have finished it.

I also came across another short story competition via a fellow tweeter.arp  It is with Harper's Bazaar Magazine.  It is for a 2000 word story but there really isn't very long to enter.  Entries are by post and have to get there by the 12th April so not long to go at all.  Really fancy entering this one but wish I had spotted it earlier.  If I come up with any ideas though I will get something sent.

Tonight I am going to an Erotica Writing Workshop at The Art House in Southampton.  Should be interesting as I have never been to anything like this but hoping it will be helpful.

Better get back to it! Hope everyone is having a good April Fools Day (No April Fools included!)