Saturday, 24 August 2013

Huffington Post/TED weekend

A whole host of info here

Featuring Katy Gray, who is making an amazing recovery from her mental health problems and who is reaching out to help others who are on the same road.  Well done, Katy!

And as for me - I am enjoying the school hols.  Been spending an awful lot of time at the beach with the kids, and an awful lot more sorting out the house and garden, de-cluttering like mad.  And hardly any time writing...

The plan is that when the kids go back to school - all too soon - I will be able to write to my heart's content, because everything else will be dealt with. 

The field is clear.  The only thing I am continuing with this academic year is my writing group.  I will no longer be running it for the mental health charity though.  I have decided to run it as a 'normal' writing group, because the mental health connection put some people off, and because there will be less admin this way. 

Everything else I have been doing - helping at school, ghost-writing, psychology studies, is finished.  (I got a B for psychology by the way.  I am delighted with that - the same grade that I got for all my other A levels, all those years ago.  So the old grey cells must still be in working order). 

I might go back to helping at school one day, but for now I think it is more important to my family that I get on with my work.  And as for the ghost-writing - after fifteen months, that book is completed!  It does need editing, but I am having a bit of a break before I start on that, and I don't expect it will take me long once I do get started.  The author is happy with the book in its present form; he doesn't want me to cut out much, if anything.   

It has been a learning curve, writing someone else's autobiography.  I have found it frustrating at times, not being able to shape the book more, and for that reason I was looking forward to the editing process.  However, now it seems not much editing is called for - and I really have to step back now, take my ego out of the process and accept that this is not my book - I am simply an agent in the writing of it.

Meanwhile, I have watched in wonder for just over a year as the book has taken shape.  Between the two of us - Anton writing his bit every week, me re-shaping it, the words have added up fast.  The book now stands at well over one hundred and sixty thousand words.  And it has only taken me four hours, week on week (sometimes a little less, sometimes a little more) to put it together.  I am sure it has taken Anton longer, because he has had to think about what to put in, and how to write it, but still.  Four hours times (say) sixty weeks, because we have scarcely missed a session - is only 240 hours.  That's how long this book has taken (me) to write! 

The message is that perseverance pays.  And that is what I am going to take with me for the next year - perseverance, this time on my own projects.  I vow to finish every single one of them from now on. 

I have been sorting out my writing space today, and thrown away lots of old magazines, journals, notes, etc etc.  And there are still hundreds, thousands, of pages of writing - and those are just the handwritten ones - there must be millions more words that I have typed out, somewhere on my computer or on various discs.  And yet hardly any of these words have been published, hardly any stories completed, hardly any ideas seen through to fruition.  What a waste.

And yet...perhaps not a waste.  I was reading a long letter from Sylvia Plath to Ted Hughes today, in the Saturday newspaper.  She poured out her heart, she wrote about all sorts of stuff.  A lot of it was in connection with her writing and some of it reminded me of myself, of my hopes and plans and aspirations as a writer.  And she achieved success of course - she forced herself to write, and she wrote good stuff... Brilliant, some of it.

And yet - she gave up.  She gave in.  She died young, by her own hand, leaving small children behind her.  She despaired.  Poor thing.

And this made me think - maybe my life is a success anyway, even if I never 'officially' succeed as a writer.  Even if I never get into the habit of finishing my work, or writing anything brilliant.  I am raising four children, and as long as I have them, and Paul, I will never despair, because I never could.  My life is happy, almost all of the time (although worry and stress do creep in a little too often I know how to combat them before they get out of hand).

Maybe I have done enough already, I thought, just by surviving.  Just by being here, and raising my children to be happy and successful.  By home-building - the ultimate career.

I feel that there is more ahead for me though, more to me.  I want there to be more.  I have written one good book (and some other short silly ones) and I see no reason why I should not write several more, perhaps better, ones.  All I need is the determination, the stubbornness and the grit, and the time.

I'm gonna do it!

(I'm gonna start by not writing any more about writing, and by writing instead!)

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