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.


  1. Synchronicity or what? I don't read much other than psych lit, but I have a Lucy Clarke novel, The Sea Sisters, on my bedside table. It's nice to hear that you are still with us, blogging, and cheerful and upbeat as always. Because you remind me in many ways of my son, may I ask if you have ever felt so afraid of failure that you didn't want to try, and if so, how did you overcome this? (Sorry, I know I'm off topic here.)

  2. Hi Rossa

    Lucy Clarke's book on your bedside table - that is truly amazing! I haven't read my copy yet - I lent it to a friend. I have such a pile of books waiting to be read...

    So afraid of failure that I didn't want to try...hmmm. I suppose that would apply to all those lost years (as I think of them now) in my mid-twenties, when I vegetated in the day hospital for years and then took cleaning jobs for years after. I set my sights so low because I felt that I wasn't worth anything more.

    I guess I pulled out of it because I reached my rock bottom. I really could not have been any more lost or lonely (or physically out of shape) and it just felt wrong. I felt, deep down, that I was worth more.

    I don't suppose that helps you or your son much - you have heard/read all this already. What I would say to him is to keep taking baby steps towards his goal, whatever that is. Just to keep going. You never know what is around the corner. I do remember that it was a real effort of will for me to pull myself together, and it didn't happen overnight - it took years. I never would have guessed that one day I would be where I am now.

    Have you or Chris read the Terry Lynch book, Selfhood? I am sure you have, you are always one step ahead of me! I found that useful, I think he has hit the nail on the head when he says that the sense of self is the thing that is lacking in people such as me and your son. In fact, I keep meaning to get it out and work through it again. I may be recovered now but I still need to keep working on being stronger!

    At the moment I am reading The Power of Now, by Eckhardt Tolle. So many people have read and appreciated this book that I feel it must contain some nuggets of wisdom, but I find it hard because it seems to advocate subsuming the self into the greater common 'Being'. I have nearly finished it now, but can't seem to read it with an open mind - I keep needing to take it with a large pinch of salt. I am interested in your thoughts on this book (if you have read it).

    Sorry for the delayed reply. For all my talking in the last post about blogging and writing more, I have done none of either in the whole of the last week, so I didn't see your comment until today. The time seems to fly past.

    All the best