The balance between real-life and writing.

Blah! Party logo

Blah! Party logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been less than perfect in my day job this week and simultaneously stifled and unable to write in any downtime. Not that there’s been a lot of that….. I’ve clocked up sixty hours this week. – I am not going to throw a pity party about it, that was yesterdays post!

So how do you manage the demands on your time when you are struggling to finish your novel and trying to hold down an intense job that pays the mortgage?

It’s tough and it’s not a subject that gets covered in a positive way by a lot of the advice blogs you read. I think the usual general gist of it is to –  suck it up…. It’s just the journey of being a writer – Blah, Blah.

I’ve seen strategies and spreadsheets. Advice that tells you to get up half an hour earlier. To try harder because you are obviously not utilising your time properly.

Helpful eh?

I think you need to show balance and when you find yourself short on time, focus on the things that count. Sometimes there is stuff more important than writing or building a platform or engaging in social media or anything like that.

How long have you had this dream for? If you are anything like me, it is decades now. Is it going anywhere? – Nope, it’s here to stay. So don’t sweat it and don’t give the inner demons a chance to wheedle their way in. Because once they start they won’t stop and if you let them get a horn in the door of your mind they’re likely to convince you to quit…. AGAIN.

So cut YOURSELF some slack, you are not procrastinating, hey it would be lovely to have the time to procrastinate.

There are probably people in your life and they deserve your love and undivided attention, too. That Novel is not gonna let you warm your feet on them on a cold winters night and they deserve better. They know it’s important to you, they put up with being a writers widow/er so give them some valuable time.

You will come back to the writing, tomorrow or the next day because you gave yourself some room to let it settle. You placed things in the right order of importance. You cut yourself some slack.

It’s only when we force it that the inner demons get into their stride or we end up thinking about what has to give… Something always has too eventually. So stop beating yourself up about it and go hug a husband or spouse or family member or even a little person.

Comments, as always, welcome.

Why Don’t You Get Me?

Bit by Richard Tuttle

A piece of me, I always knew I was Red.     Bit by Richard Tuttle (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

Sometimes, you write a post and it’s all “Hooray” lot’s of likes and comments straight out of the publishing gate. Other times, you write a post (these are the ones you are immensely proud of that you feel a bit like a parent sending your little one to their first day of school) and it’s that tumbleweed rolling down the hill!

So what gives?

Why don’t you get it? Why do I suddenly feel alone in the schoolyard clutching my satchel wondering if you don’t like me and if you’ll never like me?

The writing is the easy bit, the putting it out is  the hard bit. It all get’s mixed up and coalesces into something awful and grimy and messy.

I have a theory that all writers secretly believe their special. Special and different. I know that in my heart,  apart from all the bullshit about grammar, publishing and all that guff, I secretly feel that way too.

I think I fear finding out that I’m deluded and my secret and different specialness is just a dream that keeps me sane.

Here’s hoping I never wake up.

Foetal Writer – My list of baby steps.

fashion faux pas

This is my writing. (Photo credit: Judy **) But I’m working on it 🙂

It’s not all joy and expansive prose when you’re new at this writing schnizzle. Sometimes it just plain sucks. I’ve made a list of all the things I’m good at and all the things I’m struggling with. These are the things where I need to engage the force and shut up and just get on with it!

Good At:-

1. Procrastination. I’m sure that draw needs re-organising, the cat needs feeding and if really in a rut, I may even talk to the husband.

2. Using the words:- Turned, saw, look, looked, began, begin/s, started, while (and whilst, I like to mix things up y’know?), was, had, told, knew and heard.  – I opened Scrivener to see how many words I had in my search list and trust me, – this wasn’t all of them.

3. Editing, because I can’t get past Chapter twenty-two.

4. Fear of finishing (hmm linked to number three above) and the ensuing fear of failure to sell any books because I’ll have to talk to lots of people and be nice and let’s face it the reason I write is because I’m a bit of a depressed loner.

Baby Steps:-

1. Dialogue tags:- I forget the rules and no-one should use that many descriptions of the word said, often with an adverb. I counted seven in one particular piece of dialogue, they sounded like bad thespians rather than characters, she whispered quietly – err DOH!

2. Getting in and out of rooms. My characters seem to get stuck by some invisible force sometimes in doorways or in front of doors. It’s really difficult getting them in and out of blasted rooms.

3. Action:- Now this is the sticky bit. If an arrow pierces a shield the reader knows that it didn’t pierce the person in the next sentence because it’s in the shield. I do this a lot. I’ve taken to watching u-tube action sequences and listening to swordplay. I’m also learning a lot about archery so that I get it right. Especially, because you just know if you don’t know this stuff, someone is going to nicely point out you got it wrong, wrong, wrong….

4. Moving the story on, there’s a lot I need readers to know and whilst I am desperately trying to show not tell, I sometimes do a little too much back story… Mystery is my friend, readers are surprised not, Oh I knew that was going to happen five chapters ago. If they’re still there….

So these are my failures and my top faux pas. What did/do you struggle with?

Comments, as always, welcome.

THAT PHOTO. PRIVACY. CROSSING THE LINE IN BOSTON

Facebook logo Español: Logotipo de Facebook Fr...

Sharing the unthinkable – credit: Wikipedia)

Some things horrify me.

I believe in freedom and I certainly believe in the right to a free press. We Brits, have had some issues in this regard over recent years, with law suits on how far the Press is allowed to go. Scandals such as “phone tapping” only really became scandals once we discovered they weren’t just doing it to the rich and famous. It turns out they were hacking into the parents of boys who were dying for their country in Iraq or Afganistan.

There’s a photo that came from Facebook,  I’m not sure if it’s real or a fake, but it’s spread like wildfire. It is not a nice photo and every person that forwards it on in emails and in attachments to text messages or even social media should take a moment to think about what they are doing.

THINK ABOUT HOW YOU WOULD FEEL IF YOU WERE THE PERSON ON THE CHAIR?

Oh, did you forget about them? The human being at the center of the story whilst you all gloat and pass it around saying have you seen this?

In an open office of around twenty, there were two of us that said “NO.”

“No, I don’t want to see that damn picture. Why would I want to see that?”

“No, I don’t want to see a human being broken and bleeding”

“No, I don’t get a kick out of another’s misery”

I feel saddened that human curiosity on the macabre is enough for us to lose our compassion and our dignity. So that people huddle around a phone or a screen saying things like “Have you seen this, it’s gross”.

These people weren’t children, or teenagers. So, you can’t blame the complete lack of discretion on naiveté or inexperience.

As much as I believe in the right to Freedom, I also believe in the right to privacy. So if you see or get forwarded a copy of that photo, just delete it. There are things that should stay private and this photo crosses that line.

As for Boston, I wish everyone peace and my thoughts are with the families and friends of those that lost their lives.

Comments, as always welcome.

Sit at your desk writing and all you’ve got is a book about a desk.

A game of squash

A game of squash, if this was a photo of me, I’d be on the floor, sweating and purple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A double yellow squash ball.

A double yellow squash ball. These are slow balls and we play with the blue……(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been killing myself, learning something new over the past few weeks. I have learned how to run around a squash court. I’ve learned that puce is the colour I turn just before I get to full purple and I’ve learned that a desk job and sedentary lifestyle is to blame for a complete inability to move with real pace and grace.

The day after the first match, my legs felt like someone had driven a steam roller over them and as I had fallen over trying to hit a couple of shots, I also had the bruises to show exactly which part of this frame, hit which part of the court when I went down. My legs now resemble a rainbow of yellow greens.

Laying in bed, nursing both bruises and dented pride, I got to thinking about how good I felt after the exercise and how competitive my nature truly is. I knew I was never going to win as my lovely husband used to play Squash for a county up North. Out on that court, I just didn’t care. For every four points in a row he got, I won one back and it was hard-earned, it was hard-won and I rejoiced inside.

My husbands not the type to let me win either and whilst the sensitive are thinking, “how mean!” He knows damn well, I’d hate it any other way.

So a sense of competition and running around doing something to stimulate oxygen to my brain has had an unexpected impact that I think was missing before.

I used to think the hard part was sitting down and writing and continuing to write until it’s finished. That is what everyone tells you isn’t it? A thousand blogs telling you to sit down and write until those digits bleed, until your sick of the sounds of the keys and the cold coffee your nursing.

I don’t think that’s a productive way to produce quality work. I think to write about what you know, if all you do is sit at a desk, well, that’s all you know. The pain and frustration of trying your very best and still sounding stilted, contrived and wondering why you’re not as creative as other people just sucks as a strategy.

You need to get out and smell the roses, do something that you enjoy and like doing. Meet some new people in real life. Do something that stimulates your emotions and your creativity is not going to be far behind.

Make the minutes you spend writing count, by filling the rest of your time with things that matter. I’m not giving you a license to procrastinate but sitting at a desk torturing yourself doesn’t help you achieve your goals. Living life in a full and authentic way is the best and most rewarding road to writing well..

The absolute best thing about doing this from a writing perspective, is a speech impediment I noticed that one of the receptionists had and an incident with a small child and their parent at a roller-disco they host in the sports hall. I’d never have the exact quirks or nuances of those situations – if I hadn’t been going to do something I enjoyed.

Live well, write well. In my eyes – they are intrinsically linked.

Comments, as always, – welcome.

First Draft – Scene.

Bear summarily dismisses the nurse and takes a seat at the head of the bed. The chair he pulls up is small for his frame and he shuffles to get comfortable. Keela, has marked out the head of the bed as Hawk territory and opens her beak and beats her wings as the hulk of his form disturbs her. There are deep grooves in the headboard from her formidable claws, laid down over the past five days.

“Don’t suppose asking you nicely to leave would have much effect?”

Keela squawks and the sound of the tightening claws in the already ruined headboard, grates in his ear.

Bear sighs, “Didn’t think so..”

He reaches out for Mordins hand, the boy lays motionless except for the gentle rising and falling of his chest, the only sign that life still lingers. The silent days since the event have seen most of the bruises and swelling go down, leaving a rainbow of yellow-green marks in their wake. He’ll have a small scar near his eye and Bear feels proud of his wifes handiwork. It could’ve been much worse, stitched badly and he might have lost the eye.

He squeezes the fingers and takes comfort in their warmth, waiting for movement, his eyes moisten and he chides himself for expecting. He blinks at the wetness, afraid to let a single drop fall in case he can’t stop. At his feet a book lies open on the page he stopped at last night. The spine proclaims in gold leaf “Hevensgate – a scholars musing”

“Mordin, can you hear me?” the silence echoes.

“I’ll read for you when I’m finished. You’ll have to wait for the great Master Zaphis Brigsaimum to impart his wisdom. As I need to tell you something and time is running out.” He shakes his head, “I’m not making much sense am I?”

He looks to the open window where the light in the sky is dying outside. The smell of lavender and herbs drifts up from his garden carried on soft warm breezes. Golds, reds and oranges illuminate the castle; a perfect sunset lighting the world.

He restarts hesitantly, “There’s so much more this” He stops and exhales, his voice raspy and broken.

“I’ve written you a letter and it explains everything. Easier written down and I was going to be a coward and just leave it at that.. I’ve sent it on to Gadrial at the Gypsy capital, the old bastard will know when it’s right to pass on.”

“I always wanted to tell you in my own words but the time never seemed right… This doesn’t change anything between us and I am proud both of the man you’ll become and the boy you are now.”

“You’re my son and you’ll always have my name. The name of Ranaya. Keep it safe and honour it. We are not the richest house, and we’re sure as fates – not the grandest, but there’s good men doing what’s right all the way back to the cataclysm and that has to count for something.”

Bear looks over, his eyes have been fixed on a small crack in the boards during his speech. The boy is pale and he keeps hoping for a flicker of an eyelid, some sign that he can hear what he’s saying and will remember.

He pulls the chair closer to the bed, leans in and unsettles the hawk, Keela squawks angrily.

“This is between me and the boy. Go sit on the nurses chair over there..”

Keela hops down from the headboard and waddled across to the vacated chair. Hopping, first on the seat and then perching on the back, trying to find the balance lest it tip.

He leans in close and begins to whisper. These are secrets he hasn’t spoken aloud in twelve years. He hopes Marianne will forgive him, he needs to tell the boy before death silences him and the Arbiter makes his judgement.

The Flower Market Tree is coming into bloom, the blue flowers exactly as they are in his vision, it won’t be long now. This is the fate he could not alter and he has loved and been loved, it has been a good life. He counts himself lucky that the only talent the Gods ever gave was knowing the time and place of his own death. He’ll go to greet them, safe in the knowledge that Mordin will live and thrive,  a perfect moment captured of the boy laughing as a grown man, a small babe in his arms. Bear hopes it is his grandchild, the second part of his gift.

Ten minutes pass, the only sound the soft whispering of a father to his son and when finished, Bear leans back on the chair.

“I pray to the Gods what I am about to do will save you from pain and shield your heart”

Bear gently turns the boy over and removes a small wooden pot and horsehair brush from his jerkin. He opens the nondescript wooden box and a brilliant blue flash drenched the room in light for just a moment. Keela chirrups in recognition of the light and as Bear paints on Mordins naked back in the silvery substance contained within his expression is unreadable.

“This could have bought your mother and I our very own Kingdom. Perhaps that’s what I should have done. Fates be damned I saved it.”

It takes a long time for him to finish, with long sweeping brush strokes and intricate detailed close work. As he lays each stroke down, the silver disappears into the skin. With the pot empty and no visible marks remaining on Mordin; he turns his son back over slowly and places a kiss on his forehead before picking the book up from the floor.

He begins to read aloud, “The debate about whether Hevensgate during the first age……” and continues until the oil lamps begin to fail.

IT.

The Story of Stuff

The Story of Stuff (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The words have stopped being heard, it’s just a wall of sound with past indiscretions and minor infractions building into slow steady bricks. She plays her part, each of them batting in turn. Insults bouncing off or being traded. There are no tears, they died along with the simple things, a long time ago. No more gentle words or kind smiles.

A thousand things irritate her, things that used to make her light up when she saw them. They never tell you that love can die. He knits his brows and three distinct creases appear in his forehead. It makes her angry and she digs her nails into her palms – arms straight, sweaty fists forming. The anger and the frustration has nowhere to go, her shoulders hunching and she hears the distant drumbeat of the blood rushing through her ears.

How can she look at someone who used to mean everything and see a slightly older stranger, at once consumed with avarice and self-pity. How did they get to this? Broken promises and once golden dreams, falling like confetti around her feet.

Then she says it. She’s not sure where it came from pouring into the air, treacherous yet true. He stops, his mouth hanging open, the wall has solidified into silence. He open and closes his mouth and it reminds her of the fish you see in tanks at aquariums.

“I’m sorry – what did you say?” He is trying to pretend he didn’t hear, the hope in his face is too much and the air feels heavy.

“You heard me.” she says softly.

It’s out now, the words, the secret thought that she was never going to say. She’s said it and she can’t and won’t – take it back.

You know how I love to mix it up. This came to me laying in bed last night. Hope you like it or even hate it. Opinions of any sort – welcome.