November Musings

opened book on tree root

The clocks rolled back a few weekends ago, but with the sun still shining and the unseasonably mild temperatures it’s hard to believe it really is November. Anyone that doubt’s the existence of climate change needs to hot foot it over to England right now! As daylight hours get shorter my excuses as to why my writing is taking so long start to dry up. No more digging over the garden, or taking the dog on long walks – November is here and it’s time to get serious! Thoughts of writing aside, it is already a busy month for me. Family visits and lots of day job nonsense mean that my writing is squeezed into the smallest of spaces. Somewhere between showering and my first Teams meeting I can usually find 10 minutes or so to write, but it is never enough, and I can never really give my writing the attention it deserves, so, I have opted for a quick retreat back in Oxford. The only thing on my agenda for the next three days is writing – no distractions – no excuses!

I have just received suggested edits back from my lovely editor so the next few days I’ll be working on these. Timing is everything and for once it is working in my favour. Fingers crossed I put the hours I have to good use and don’t succumb to the curse of all writers – procrastination!

Winter is coming – it’s time to write my heart out during daylight hours then pat myself on the back and snuggle by the fire with a glass of something fruity. I may even grab one of the many books on my tbr pile! Wish me luck!

The Illusion of Time

I’ve given up trying to figure things out. Take my advice don’t even try! Just when I think I’m close to understanding something – boom there it goes!Like a constantly changing puzzle I’m left holding a weirdly shaped piece with little understanding of how or where it may fit. I am of course talking about my writing.

Today I’ve been busy with my work in progress. I’m about half way through with a reasonable idea of where it may land, although, as you may have gathered I have had a few curve balls to deal with. I do get distracted quite easily and when not ‘day jobbing’ or writing here’s a few of the other things that have been keeping me out of trouble…

Last year my gardening skills were exemplary, we brought a greenhouse, and gave our garden a good once over worthy of Charlie Dimmock. We were rewarded with an abundance of produce. This year my skills can only be described as shoddy, and (rightly so). We’ve had a handful of potatoes and a couple of yellow courgettes to brag about! Even the greenhouse tomatoes have refused to turn red! I’m blaming the wet weather and the army of slugs who have marched across my raised beds! But time has marched on regardless without so much as a backward glance at my decimated broccoli!

Unlike last year we have been lucky enough to celebrate with our son and daughter in law. After a years delay they finally did it and got married. It was the most wonderful of days full of laughter and love. It was so good to be with so many people again – it almost felt ‘normal’ and reminded me how much I’ve missed it. I will never again take such freedom for granted.

So with Summer turning to Autumn and the garden kind of taking care of itself I turn my attention back to my current novel. The odd shaped pieces still haven’t found their home but I’m confident that with a bit more time and attention all will be well.

In November I’ll return to Oxford and spend a few days looking down the backs of sofa’s and underneath tables. There are a few more pieces to find but with a fair wind and time on my side I’m hoping to complete book 4 by Christmas.

Beautiful Day…
The rusty wheelbarrow put to good use with wildflowers!
Now where does this piece fit??
Thanks to Unsplash for the photo

Gifts Worth Giving…

In this crazy world of fake news and dwindling access to reality, books are more important than ever. As a child I stood outside my local library many times waiting for it to open. I was desperate to trace my fingers across the shelves and find books that would stimulate, educate and inform.

I’m saddened to think that children today have far less opportunity than I did to access such a rich seam of knowledge. Libraries encourage freedom to think, they give you courage to be who you are. Almost a fifth of UK libraries have closed since 2010 – it is a shocking statistic.

Organisations which support reading projects get a big thumbs up from me, which is why I want to draw your attention to the charity Give a book. They promote reading for pleasure and give books where they will make a difference. They work within many settings including prisons and schools across the UK.

From December 3rd – December 10th if you donate to the charity through The Big Christmas Give link here your donation will be match funded!

Poor reading is linked to economic disadvantage and reduced life opportunities. If you truly want to give a gift worth giving please donate what you can.

Photo credit ~ Jarred Craig Unsplash

Hey Shorty!

This week I received an exciting piece of news. A short story I entered into a competition made the Short List. As a writer it is the sort of news that sends tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face.

Rejection is part and parcel of the everyday when you write, it comes with the territory. So when you get a short list or long list placing you can be assured that your story has had an impact – it is a wonderful feeling. Some days writing is thankless and hard, it can feel as if you are wading through treacle. You try your hardest to make your story sing only to have it land flat. Moments that make you fly are so important. They serve as a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes you can hold a tune!

Thankfully I do not have to wait too long for the results.

To Be a Good Writer…

Sage advice from the man himself –

To be a good writer, I believe that one has to read a lot of books. Fifty a year would be a good place to start, but twenty five would work... Stephen King.

I shall be putting this good advice into practice over the holiday season.

Merry Christmas everyone x

Restoration Reflections

After the week I’ve had (I know it’s only Tuesday) all I needed to do was to lie quietly in a dark room and recharge. After a super early start and a 5-mile walk with the naughty dog, I sat down to write. It was to be my quiet time, my time to complete another round in my (editing) chamber of hell. That reminds me, my third novel, I’m pleased to report is being tweaked and polished… Again! As a distraction, I wanted to work on something that did not involve a red pen and lines.

For inspiration, I looked through projects I’d begun and not finished. Works which for whatever reason I’d put onto the back burner but didn’t burn. Maybe secretly deep down I hoped they could be resurrected. After all, where there’s life there’s hope, right?

I spend the first hour or so on the internet doing ‘research’ (OK… randomly doing anything but writing), then set to it.

I had two lightbulb moments –

‘who the hell wrote this dross?’ and ‘some of this isn’t that bad.’

The dross has now gone to the log basket to be ‘recycled’ – the rest? Well, the rest is being restored and will be looking for a home in the not so distant future. Onwards people onwards…

National Flash Fiction Day June 16th

Now in its seventh year, National Flash Fiction Day is dedicated to the celebration of writing in one of its shortest forms (Flash). Flash fiction is usually considered to be a story under a 1000, 500 or 300 words. Anything less is regarded as ‘micro-fiction’ (100 words) or a ‘minisaga’ (50 words).

The roots of flash fiction go back (literally) centuries. In the 1920’s flash was known as ‘the short short story’.

Flash fiction sits perfectly with our crazy busy lifestyles. A 500-word piece can be easily read on the train, bus – in fact anywhere.

The nuts and bolts of what measures up as a piece of Flash Fiction are difficult to pin down, but I’ll give it a go. For me, the art of a good piece of flash fiction lies in what the author does not say. It’s down to you the reader to grasp the meaning and fill in those spaces between the words. It needs to grab you, keep you wondering.

This year I am lucky enough to have my flash fiction ‘Yellow’ feature on the Flash Flood Journal blog in celebration of Flash Fiction Day. Take a peak here

I hope you enjoy it.

Photo by Emily Marie on Unsplash