Sunday, 29 June 2014

I remembered that I do, in fact, have a blog

My blog writing has been so monumentally terrible this year (and these past few months non-existent) because I simply haven't had anything to write about.  Or, I should say, anything interesting.

This isn't to say that nothing's been happening in my world of writing - I'm still working on it every day, plugging away at book 3 of my Hide and See series (I'm currently on Chapter 27).  But it's just more of the same, and the last thing I want is for those poor unfortunate souls who actually read this mess of a blog to be bored out of their minds.  Any more than they already are, I mean.

So why am I updating now?  Well, there's the crushing weight of personal shame that I've been so shoddy with this supposedly-regular-blog-which-will-be-important-should-a-legitimate-writing-career-materialise, that only gets worse the longer I leave it.

I don't actually have anything new to report.  Yet.  You see, I'm hoping in the coming months that there might be, even if it's the horrifying self-recrimination that inevitably follows rejection.

That's right, people: I'm going to be writing to agents this summer.

Or that's the plan, anyway.  I need to achieve something this year, even if it involves tearing out my heart and stomping it into teeny tiny pieces.

Wish me luck - I think I'm going to need a hefty dose of it.

Monday, 17 March 2014

The trials of an inconvenient memory

At the beginning of this year I fully intended to get better at updating my blog regularly.  As you can no doubt see to the right, that's been going swimmingly.

(The italics denote sarcasm as, clearly, I suck.)

I did actually start drafting one blog post for last week but it turned into such an epic, whingey rant about my current employment that I knew I could never post it.

The other (main) reason I didn't update - besides my laziness and a new obsession with a tv show on netflix - was that I also remembered that it was my older brother's birthday at the weekend.

Now, I'd like to make it clear that I hadn't forgotten that it was my brother's birthday - I had presents and a card and so on.  What I had forgotten, however, was that I'd resolved to write him a new instalment of the fantasy trilogy that I've been writing for him since I was seventeen, but that I hadn't added to for a couple of years.

This year, however, I thought I could do it: produce a few thousand words and wake the story up from hibernation.

Unfortunately, I only experienced this thought when I was at work - and thus not in a position to do anything about it - and completely forgot all about it when I got home.

On Wednesday at work, I - at last! - put a reminder in my phone, meaning that on Wednesday evening I finally got down to it: which was atrociously late in the day considering his birthday was on Saturday and that I was continuing to write the third book of the Hide and See series as usual.

Over the next few days I wrote with a kind of frantic madness each evening (and Saturday morning) and managed to churn out a little over six-thousand words.  Likely not very good ones but I did it, and do feel some sense of achievement about that.

Now I just need to remember to email him the previous section so that he can refresh his memory about what happened last.

It's okay, I've written myself a note.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Term Time vs. Holiday Time

My plans for the half-term went pretty well.  Although not up to the 10k-a-day writing extravaganza described in my last blog post (for which I should probably be thankful, quality-wise), I did manage to produce four and half chapters over the week, coming it at a little over nine thousand words total.

Considering a good week is normally when I manage to complete one chapter, I do feel like I achieved something.

Compare it to this past week, now back at work.  I've just managed to complete Chapter 15.  Yes, back to just the one chapter.  *sigh*  It's a bit of a talky chapter too, so it might have to be heavily edited once I read it in the context of the whole novel but for now, I'm just trying to get the story down.

It was good - if slightly exhausting - to write so much during the half-term week.  Now that I've returned to work, and my output has shrunk back down to only a few hundred words a day, I'm really missing that sense of accomplishment which came with completing a chapter within a day or two.

Is it bad that I'm already counting down to the Easter holidays?  Five weeks to go...

Monday, 10 February 2014


Next week is half term.  As ever, I am longing for it.

I don't have an awful lot planned for the week yet, other than a trip to the dentist on Tuesday, the prospect of which is naturally filling me with so much joy that I can barely contain myself.

What I do hope to do is plenty of writing.  I am making progress with book 3 - what with my don't-break-the-chain writing - but it's pretty slow going at the moment.  Only about a chapter a week.  I think I can do better, but I'm so weary by the time I get home in the evenings (and generally by this I mean in the psychological sense) that all I want to do is consume stories rather than create them.

But I'm hoping that in the bliss that is half term I'll have more mental energy to get something really substantial done.

I used to be able to churn out thousands of words a day.  Probably not very good words but still.  Now I consider it a productive day if I manage anything above six-hundred.

So that's my plan.  It'll be great to feel excited about something again.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Author Talk - Rebecca Alexander

After the cheap and easy therapy of last week's blog post (apologies for the excessive grumpiness there), it's nice to have something more positive to talk about this time.

On Thursday 30th January published author and writer extraordinaire Rebecca Alexander came to the college to do an Author Talk about her brilliant debut The Secrets of Life and Death, and her craft as a professional novelist.

I met Reb while doing my MA at Winchester Uni but haven't physically seen her since that time.  We've kept in touch via the wonders of the internets, beta-ing each other's work and chatting about our writing.  It's something I highly value.  Without it I could easily feel cut off from the rest of the writing world and I'm far too insular as it is.

And now that Reb's published, with a three-book deal from a major publishing house (WOO!), she's in the perfect position to impart her wisdom to the next set of aspiring authors (and I'm including myself in that group along with the students).

There were two sessions and though the numbers weren't huge, I felt they went really well, chiefly due to Reb's skill as a speaker.  She oozed confidence and ease, keeping all of her words relevant, helpful and entertaining.  If I'd been in her position I know I would've been an incoherent wobbling mess.  The whole thing took me right back to my uni Creative Writing classes and I loved it.

Ahh - University Nostalgia.

So I say thank you to Reb for a lovely day and urge the rest of you to go and buy her book immediately.

Seriously.  Off you go.  I'll wait.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Grumpy Bugger

Work has been pretty stressful lately.  Not the librarian stuff really - that I like - but the other part.

Student. Behaviour. Management.  *shudders*

If the idea of making hundreds of teenagers be quiet for the entire time that they're in your vicinity sounds awful, it's actually worse.  It's confrontation and argument all day, every day.  And it gets wearing.  Very wearing.

In a way, it makes it worse that the librarian part of my job - by which I mean the books, the research, the displays etc - is enjoyable, because if I only disliked it, I could quit and find something else.  But there's variety and I get to use my brain for a good proportion of the day - and I'm pretty sure this is the first job I've ever had where this applies.  I don't want to quit that part of my job - but with each day that goes by, I really want to quit the other half.

Of course then comes the question of what I'd want to do instead, and beyond library-work-where-all-the-patrons-behave-themselves-in-a-reasonable-manner *, the only other thing I can imagine right now is writing.

It's my tiny bright spot throughout the bulk of the day (when the clock reminds me that it is in fact not time to go home), where I get to go on my tea break or lunch break and write.  I can sink into another world and let the other one fall away, if only for a few minutes.  There's a kind of peace which comes with writing, when my brain just focuses on one thing and all the other noise fades into the background.

I wanted to try to update my blog more regularly this year, especially as I failed so miserably during various times in 2013.  I couldn't think of much by way of sunshine and daisies this week, so I apologise for all the gloom you've just read (if indeed you managed to stick with me 'til the end).  I'll try to be better next week, pinky promise.

* I here feel obliged to make the point that not all of my current patrons make me want to tear my hair out.  There are many polite, well-behaved students - I just don't get the chance to notice them.

Sunday, 19 January 2014


I'd written a draft (a second or third, I can't remember) of a letter to an agent last year.  I read it through the other day but found it so unutterably dull that I didn't actually manage to finish it.

Right.  Maybe I won't be using that one then.

I figure it's probably better to start from scratch, but staring over is always hard - that huge, white expanse of blank page, so completely devoid of the words that you just know must, surely, be rattling around in your head somewhere.

They say that this letter has to be the best piece of writing that you have ever produced in the history of ever.  Ever.  So, naturally, no pressure then.

And I was never really any good at non-fiction.  The whole form for me just seems to lack creativity, although I know this is down to a fault of my skill rather than of the form itself.  I did, after all, take a module for my MA called 'Creative Non-Fiction' so such a thing must be possible.

I'll have to start trawling through the interwebs again, looking for hints and tips and how-tos.  I know from past experience that it can feel like running through a bog but I suppose it doesn't much matter how fast I move so long as I am going forward.