When I’m Not Blogging

Time sure does pass quickly. One minute I’m blogging and the next it is 10 months later and I’ve dropped off the face of the web. It’s fair to say I haven’t been as productive as I hoped however I am delighted that during my blog blackout, my first poetry submission was accepted and is now published in a journal.

The Catch was published in November in the Fall Issue of When Women Waken. The poem is an adaptation of a short story of the same name I published here a few years ago. Since conception in my very first creative writing class, The Catch has been through many reincarnations so I am happy that it has finally found success within a medium that suits it.

So what else has kept me away all this time? Here are my top five distractions

  1. My Kindle – Back in November I got a Kindle for my birthday and I have since become absorbed in a new literary journey. I still love to read actual books, nothing can beat that new book smell or the feel of a well loved novel. However for some reason I read much quicker using a Kindle.
  2. The Wire – When I’m not reading or working, I’m watching box sets. They are my vice. My husband and I have been visiting Baltimore for the past six months and we are just about to finish the series this week. I’m going to miss our nightly catch ups with McNulty, Bunk and Omar.
  3. Freelance Writing – Due to a change in circumstances (more on that later) I am now looking at setting up my own freelance copywriting business. Freelancing is still something I do on occasion to fit around my current job but with my life set to drastically change in a few months, it seemed the perfect time to work toward that becoming a more permanent fixture.
  4. Housework/DIY/Gardening – Yes, this does seem like a very lame excuse but since my husband and I moved into our house three years ago, we have never really made it our own. Despite being together ten years, we had never lived anywhere for more than a year or two so we got used to not bothering with making a house a home. It’s taken a while to get out of that mentality, but we are finally there and have enjoyed weekends of unpacking (yes, it’s taken us three years to unpack everything), painting, decorating and gardening. But there is also a pretty big reason for this nesting activity.
  5. The Patter Of… I am delighted to announce that we are expecting our first baby! We are so happy with the news and thrilled that at last we are on the way to having a family of our own. I haven’t got long left of the pregnancy and by mid-late June I am hoping to be able to put my feet up before the little one arrives at the start of July. The first five-six months of pregnancy were rough and it often took every bit of energy I had just to make it into work. Unfortunately that left me little desire to do much else, let alone blogging.

So here’s to a new start, more writing and more posts. I would like to continue with developing my poetry and maybe even completing the final draft of my novel which is currently gathering dust. Maybe the sleepless nights and endless dirty nappies will inspire a new kind of writing. Or maybe that will be the delirium after having not slept for weeks. We shall see, it’s a new adventure and one I cannot wait to start.

 

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Is It Time to Put Night Writing to Bed?

Recently I have been thinking about what motivates writers and how old habits can dictate your writing routine. At some point we were all that young writer, scribbling away in bed with nothing but a torch, Biro pen and a notebook.

Over the past couple of weeks my writing efforts have dwindled to virtually nothing. Feelings of frustration toward my lack of motivation has prompted me to look at whether daily distractions are providing me with excuses not to write or if it’s just old habits. There is always something more important to do such as work, cooking tea, housework, gardening, food shopping, catching up with friends and family. Then when you do manage to steal away a few minutes, a phone call or a knock at the door pulls you out of the ‘zone’ you had struggled to get in, in the first place.

Yet when clock is pushing midnight, all the words stream out onto the page.  There is nothing left to do with the day. The house is silent, the outdoor world is peaceful, the night belongs to you and nobody else. Writing at that time of night puts me into a meditative state and is cathartic release of everything that happened during the day.

The only thing to stopping me is knowing that in less than six hours I have to be up, dressed and ready to go to work. So I crawl back to bed feeling unsatisfied and annoyed that a plot line won’t be written as well at 7pm the next evening.

When I was younger I would write until the early hours and not care that I would be falling asleep during class assembly. The stolen hours were magical and I would (eventually) go to sleep dreaming of new worlds to create in fiction land. I sorely miss those days and I wish it was that easy now, but it isn’t. That’s just part of being a grown up.

Finding time to write is a treat and I wonder if I don’t spend more time writing because I just don’t feel like it’s a priority. It should be a priority. To me, writing defines who I am and the satisfaction of working on a story is unparalleled to anything else. So why don’t I feel motivated? There is no answer to that. We all have peaks and troughs during our periods of writing, set backs and failures. There will always be distractions and something else more important to do.

You just have to keep on going despite the chaos around you.

“Write even when the world is chaotic. You don’t need a cigarette, silence, music, a comfortable chair or inner peace to write. You just need ten minutes and a writing implement” Cory Doctorow

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Friday Fictioneers – Old School Dirt

It has been a long time between now and my last Friday Fictioneers effort. I am more than a little over the word count so I may edit this again later on. If you want to play, head over to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and have a go. Thanks to Rochelle and also thanks to Danny Bowman for the image.

As always, I am open to constructive criticism.

http://rochellewisofffields.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/danny-bowman.jpg?w=301&h=536

Old School Dirt

The truck hissed as it drew to a halt behind the long queue of traffic.  Tony adjusted his gaze to search for the accident over the never ending line of red lights.

He looked down at his mobile and pressed down hard on the power button. It had been dead for the past hour. Dashboard read 20.30. Late again. Cara would be waiting alone, on the evening of their anniversary, for the third year running. No making up for this one.

Tony turned off the ignition and hopped out onto the sidewalk. A beaten up payphone offered little hope before he could even dial her number. A handset broken in two, he could talk but not listen.

“About right” he mused, before returning to the cabin.

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What I’m Working On – Click

Stephen’s eyes flickered open as the sleep gave way to a blinking light. A bleeping machine brought him back into consciousness. His blurry eyes tried to focus on the white ceiling and the light bulb swinging back and forth.

Easing his head to one side he watched the green lines jumping like tadpoles up and down the black screen. Wires and drips fed both his heavy arms. Stephen attempted to initiate movement, slowly lifting up his hands. It took it out of him. There was a white gold ring on his left index finger. He tried to picture his wife’s face, but drew a blank as if the memory of being married had been erased.

Stephen tried to move his toes but they failed to engage with his brain. He looked at the clock on the opposite wall. It read 7.30. Damp light seeped through the misty window. Stephen couldn’t be sure if it was morning or early evening. The seconds no longer ticked by, time had ceased a long time ago.

Pulling the wires out of his skinny and pale limbs, he massaged his thighs and willed the blood to bring them back to life. Stephen could not tell when he had gone under or why but he was acutely aware the world was not as he had left it. It was too visceral, surreal and for all he knew he may still be in that coma.

Stephen lurched aimlessly out of the sterile room and into a corridor. Boxes of medicine emptied over the floor, overturned wheelchairs and abandoned trolleys created obstacles for his ailing legs.

“Hello?” Stephen croaked, but only his echo responded. His throat stung.

There was a chill in the air, Stephen felt the cold zip up his spine. He staggered  his way through the hospital corridor in bare feet and a gown loosely hanging over his frame. Recognising the urge from his bladder, Stephen headed to the nearest bathroom. Looking in the mirror, he searched the reflection for something familiar, but it may as well have been a stranger looking back. Pale, gaunt and in need of a clean shave.

His stomach twisted into knots. Stephen knew he needed to eat and drink. He felt lightheaded and his heart pounded. Leaning on a nurses station to rest he helped himself to a chocolate digestive. It tasted like soil.

On the floor were a few handbags and a camera nestled in between them. He picked up a camera, a good looking one with a screen and big lens. There was no film inside nor a place for it. He had never seen one like it before. There was a lead attached which led to the power socket in the wall. Stephen unplugged it and hung the camera and strap round his neck. There was a TV on a wall bracket, he tried switching it on but only got static. Not tuned in, he thought.

Stumbling out into the street, Stephen took a deep breath, refilling his lungs with air. It was not at all as fresh as he remembered, the smell was sulfuric and made him gag as it hit the back of his throat.

Stephen walked into the park with the camera hanging loosely around his neck. It was a placed he remembered, but didn’t know why. He recalled how it was usually brimming with people picnicking and sun bathers. What was once an oasis in the middle of the city, now lay abandoned and not even the hum of traffic lingered in the air.

Knees weak and ankles ready to buckle, Stephen let out a long scream. He wasn’t sure whether it was terror, frustration or an attempt to eject himself from the nightmare. He collapsed on the grass and looked up at the sky. It was blue, but the clouds were yellow. A small rumble rippled across the grass, just as a beautiful rainbow cascaded past the clouds. Stephen stood up, a deep hum demanding his attention. He lifted up the camera and adjusted the zoom. In the distance he could just make out a figure standing near a group of trees. Zooming in closer he saw two more figures in blurry outlines. They were running towards him.

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Friday Fictioneers – One Two Three Four Legged Friend

Copyright -Douglas M. MacIlroy

Copyright -Douglas M. MacIlroy

One Two Three Four Legged Friend

I unsaddled Mystic and felt around in my bag for an apple. One left, it was a little brown and bruised from the ride but otherwise perfect. I rubbed it on my thigh and fed it to Mystic. The sun was heating up, telling me to head back to the air conditioned truck waiting to take me home without my horse. I looked around the large paddock. It was more than I could ever offer. She would be happy here.

“We’ve had some good times, haven’t we?”

Mystic tossed her head with a snort.

“Yeah, I know, I’ll miss you too”

I found this one hard as there are so many lovely stories this week, I have found it hard to follow. In fact I was tempted not to post up as was struggling to put something together. Head over to Rochelle’s place if you want to have a go at Friday Fictioneers. Pop over to Doug’s to get the moving story behind the picture.

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Do All Writers Hate Their Work?

Yesterday I completed a short story. I had spent two weeks agonising over the editing process and finally, as midnight approached, I sat back with a satisfied feeling that I had finally finished my story. I went to bed content that I had created something that wasn’t half bad.

When I woke up and re-read it on my Kindle app, the cold light of day hit. The well crafted and thought-out sentences were clunky and the story seemed a little dull and ill thought out. I felt embarrassed by my premature optimism.

This isn’t new though. It is the process many writers put themselves through to get the job done. Editing is an up hill struggle. You have to battle doubt and lack of motivation for starters.

I abandoned one short story because I wasn’t getting anywhere and moved on to another that I had better success with. Yet every time I read it through, I pick and pick and cringe. One minute I love it and a couple of hours later I hate it again.

Now I have decided to let it go. I’ve sent it to some family members who I trust to give an honest opinion and not just say it’s good because they want to be nice. Waiting for feedback is like waiting to hear back from a tutor grading an essay. This is a necessary part of editing and crucial when you have lost objectivity. For me, the writing is good when you don’t feel like you are consciously reading. With your own writing I don’t think you are able to get a sense of that.

Do all writers hate their work? Does they ever get that ‘good job, well done’ feeling and easily move on?

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love writing and it gives me a thrill whenever I start something new. But there is something tortuous about sharing something so personal that you pour your heart and soul into. This is probably why a lot of writers have a turbulent relationship with their work. Perfection is everything.

Either way, I’m going to keep working at it and strive to arrive at that point where I know that my work is the best that it can be.

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Friday Fictioneers – The Lighthouse

The Lighthouse

Sam rubbed his tired eyes and focussed on the blinking light. All was calm but winds from the dark ocean were starting to gain strength and rumbles from the sky spoke of a storm. He looked down at the net lying on deck and his heavy heart sank. Three days and only a few fish to show for it.  His skin was grainy from the salty air. He craved a shower and a cold beer. The beacon was getting brighter as the winds pushed his drifting boat towards the land.  Sam submitted to defeat and allowed his mind to think of Amy. She would be waiting and tonight, he could do with some comfort.

***

Here is my Friday Fictioneers. This picture instantly reminded me of a lighthouse. I have never actually been inside one but the spiralling staircase made me think of that. So loosely based on that interpretation  I came up with my story. I have been working on my short stories and editing and not really blogged in a while or taken part in this weekly tradition. Better late than never.

If you want to take part, head over to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and have a go.

 

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