Monday, 25 November 2013

Christmas is coming

I have not written a word for a whole week - I know that because I just found a comment on my last blog post that I hadn't seen before and it was dated the 18th.  I can't quite believe that despite my best intentions, as documented in the last post, I still don't get on with it.

My eldest daughter loves to write, and she signed both of us up for NaNoWriMo.  The idea is that you should write a novel - a minimum of fifty thousand words - in the month of November.  My total number of words so far?  Zero.  And my daughter's?  About twenty thousand words, believe it or not.  And she is writing in her spare time, in between school work, Guides, choir and so on. 

To be fair, I am busy doing all the housework, cooking etc, and looking after the puppies.  Even the weekends pass in a blur, although I did escape to the shops for a couple of hours yesterday.  I don't really mind that I don't have time to write - it is only a couple more weeks until the puppies go to their new homes, and then I will have more time. 

Oh - except that we are keeping one puppy, so although my workload will be less I will still be busy.  And of course, it is Christmas coming up, which means I will need to start shopping for gifts, and for food and so on.  And then it will be the school holidays.

But there's always January.  Yes, I'll get back on track then.

During my sojourn at the shops, I bumped into an old friend.  We used to attend Hahnemann House - the dreaded day hospital - together.  She recognised me - I wouldn't have known who she was if she hadn't called out my name - and we stopped and chatted for several minutes.  It was good to see her looking so well.  She is working in Waitrose  (a posh supermarket, for those of you who live abroad) and she says she has put all her mental health problems behind her.  I was really encouraged by this - especially as she also had a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and so many people seem to languish with this label.  She was a good person, who deserved better in life than she had, and I am pleased and relieved that things seem to be on track for her.   

That's all I have time for now - got to go and collect my eldest son from school - but hey, at least I have done some writing today!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Opportunity Knocks?

I went to an Author's Day at the local Arts Centre last weekend - there were three authors each giving an insight into their work and their method.  It was interesting, and motivational as usual.  I say 'as usual' because I have been to quite a few of these sort of events over the past five or so years.  I am hoping that eventually I will tire of hearing how other writers do it and get on with doing it myself.

Anyway.  I went with a group of friends from my book group, which was nice.  Often I can't find anyone who is interested in attending author talks, or writing workshop days, and so I go alone, and although I still enjoy myself I can't help wondering whether other people think I am a bit sad (almost certainly, yes they do).  So it made a change to go in company.

I haven't been thinking all that much about my memoir recently.  I have been making an effort to move on and write something else instead of banging the same old drum.  But at lunchtime when I was chatting with my friends (while glancing around the room thinking, 'Look at me, I have friends!') one of them suggested various ways that I could move forward with my writing and mental health activism.  She pointed out that lots of people make contacts through their blogs and thus get invited to speak on their specialist subject and that this can be quite lucrative.

Well, I don't want to be money orientated.  But I have four kids, we need a larger house, and if I don't start earning some money through my writing soon, I will have to get a proper job.  Perish the thought.  In fact, I mentioned to Paul yesterday that I was thinking of applying for a part-time post at Marks and Spencer and instead of his usual reply when I say I am thinking of getting a job, 'No, you should write,' he said something else; 'You don't have to get a job, but you can if you want'. 

Aaagh!  Because I don't want, but I feel that I should!  And I love it when he tells me that I shouldn't!  But now it seems that even my beloved husband has got fed up with me being 'a writer' who doesn't actually write, or earn, much at all.

Actually, I have just remembered I went to another author talk last week.  This one was by Lucy Clarke, who has just had her first novel recommended by Richard and Judy, completed her second which will soon be published, and just signed another two book deal with Harper Collins.  She says she writes every day from half six every morning until six in the evening.  Lucy Clarke also looks like a supermodel, by the way, and speaks like an actress, so the whole experience was a bit - how do I put it? - surreal. 

I am more in tune with Sabine Durrant (one of the weekend author speakers) who says she often prevaricates until it is half an hour from the end of her writing day, when she dashes off a thousand panic-stricken words.  The difference between the two?  Durrant has three kids, and Clarke has none of course.

So, freshly motivated, what have I done in the way of writing today?  I - er - spent a happy hour or so on Twitter, mostly twittering about mental health.  I enjoyed it - nobody can stop me blathering away, but equally nobody is forced to listen.  I think it is the perfect arena for the airing of opinions in the modern world.  And to my delight, I heard a whisper that the editor of a certain magazine might want to speak to me!  My old school magazine! 

It won't lead to fame and riches, but I love my old school and I would be absolutely honoured to write a piece for them. So, even though I may not be any further forward in one way (i.e. did not take any major or minor steps towards writing the Great British Novel today) mentally I feel so much happier and more positive now I know that something exciting might be in the pipeline.  And that may not have happened if I had not been on Twitter.

By the way - there is a reason why I have not written much in the last few weeks.  A better reason than usual.  My lovely little dog has had puppies - five gorgeous bundles.  They are five weeks old now, and as they are growing they are becoming ever more time-consuming.  Apart from having to clean around them, I have to feed them, house-train them, play with them and most importantly give them lots of cuddles.  It has been really enjoyable - so much so that I have been considering the possibility of breeding dogs rather than getting a proper job.  There are certainly a lot worse things that I could do with my time! 

More anon.