Tag Archive | writing

First Blog For A While

Well this is embarrassing. My last blog post was 2014. That’s not so bad in itself – the end of the year was only 9 days ago.

If only my last post was at the end of the year.

It wasn’t.

It could be worse. My last post could have been a year ago. That would have been terrible. Shocking. Awful. So it’s not as bad as it could be. It’s not great though.

1st March 2014. *runs and hides under a cushion*

Yeah, it’s really not good.

I don’t really have any good excuses either. I’ve been busy is a good one, but busy with my day job, not anything fun – or writing (ha).

That’s a bit of a lie, there was some time in 2014 where I took positive steps towards my writing career (career?). In June I did the first edit of about 80% of The Man of My Dreams. I sent it to Romantic Novelists’ Association – I’m on the New Writer’s Scheme, where you can send a novel in and a published author will read and give their comments. Last year was my second year as a RNA – NWS member, the previous year I hadn’t sent anything in, so I was determined to in 2014. And I did. 60,000 words I think I sent, and I got some very positive comments. Positive both in that she liked it, and positive in good critique of things I should change. Some of them I knew myself, so gave me a bit of extra confidence.

I also took part in NaNoWriMo for the 5th year. I’d won the other 4 years, but took a year off in 2013, because I didn’t have the time. In 2014 I didn’t have the time, but I really wanted to do it. I MISSED doing it in 2013 (I know, I’m nuts right?). I thought up a story idea, that I really like, created a ‘holding’ title (it was horrific), and on 1st November I started.

Actually, I was on holiday on 1st Nov in Brussels, so I started on 2nd Nov – already a day behind. And it carried on like this. There were a couple of days where I hit (exceeded) the goal of 1,667 words, but they were few and far between. Work was busy, my social life was busy – holidays, weddings, birthdays. It was too much. On about 26th I decided I wasn’t going to finish it. I’d done 26,000 words.

I’m very disappointed, but I’m fine with it. I COULD have done it, but it would have meant writing about 7k a day, which I’ve done in the past, but I NEEDED down time. I needed some ‘Helen time,’ where I just relaxed in front of the TV, or with a book and, just well, relaxed.

And… um… yeah… That’s all I really did last year.

Except for reading. Don’t they say to be a writer you have to read. Well I read quite a bit. I have no idea how much because I didn’t keep my normal record of the novels, but I’ll try to catch that up.

This year, I’m going to do better.

I want to set some goals, but I don’t know what they are, so they’ll come in another blog. Soon. Not in 10 months! I promise!

5 Year Blogiversary

When I posted my blog yesterday, I noticed a notification telling me that 5 days ago, my blog was 5 years old. WOW! 5 years. 5. Five. FIVE.

I can’t believe it. It feels like a lifetime ago, but at the same time, it doesn’t feel like 5 years ago.

I remember starting it. I’d been made redundant from my job, and could only get a job with much lower pay, and responsibility. I’d do my hours at work and leave (on time) and not worry about anything until I got there the next day.

I decided I’d do something productive with my time, and start a correspondence writing course with The Writer’s Bureau. My boyfriend suggested I start a blog to track my progress. This was back before I knew much about blogging, twitter, or anything much online. I thought it was a geeky thing to do, not something someone like me would do. Besides, who would read it, who would be interested in what I write? More to the point, what would I write?

I decided to go for it, because, you know, it was a good idea to track my progress.

And I loved it. Almost immediately I loved it. It was like writing a diary again – something I did when I was at school, but hadn’t really since leaving university (I’m not even sure I did at uni, I do remember writing one when I had my year out in America though).

I loved just writing about what was going on. I loved that people read my blog. I loved that people commented on my blog. I loved finding other blogs,  by other people, who were like me – writers. Other than my mum, I’d never met anyone else that shares that passion. I loved getting involved in the writing community on blogs and Twitter. I loved everything about it. I made friends, discovered NaNo, and wrote – I wrote novels and short stories and random bits here and there. I even published writing on my blog (mostly unedited as part of Fiction Friday, which I was addicted to).

5 years later, I don’t have that passion for blogging, and for writing anymore, life (my job!) has got in the way, but I want them back. I love blogging, and writing, and hopefully I’m going to love editing. I remember what they’re like and I want to be that person again. My job is stressful, and takes up way more than the 35 hours a week that it should – it tires me out and I get back from work and just want to crash in front of the TV, but, I also want to be the blogger/writer that I was – no that I can be. I can be more than I was. I can do this editing thing and send my novel to agents etc. I can blog regularly. I can, and I will.

Time Is Flying – This Week’s Goal

I can’t believe it’s February. A whole month into the year.

January was an up and down month. I printed and started re-reading my novel The Man of My Dreams. I’ve read up to around p60 (bearing in mind it’s printed in a small font on A4 paper). Most of that however was done in the first two weeks of the year. Weeks 3 and 4 were a little hit and miss. That’s a lie, miss. Completely. Work has just been crazy busy, and I’ve either worked really late, or just been exhaused when I got home and had no energy to do anything.

Weekends of course are different. I don’t have any excuse over weekends. I just keep forgetting about it. I used to be in the habit of writing in spare time. In the last two years, I have stopped having a routine and I need to get it back.

My boyfriend is going away on business tomorrow until Sunday. I’ll do a lot of work over that time, but I’m determined to also do some writing/editing. When I get home, I’m not going to turn the TV on, I’m going to have my novel and the pages ready to go. This is my plan for the week, my only goal – and I WILL stick to it.

 

Editing/Reading – Week Three

I’m on week three of project edit. Of course, as I’ve not touched the book for about a year, stage one is actually reading through, to remind myself of the story, what I’ve got and what’s missing.

Reading through means I can do it on the tube to and from work, which is great, for this stage. I’m worried about the next stage, where I actually have to sit down and make time for doing it. I have time, I know I do, but at the moment, I’m in the habit of getting home from work and chilling with the boyfriend in front of the TV, watching one of the many, many series’ we’re in the middle of.

I need to remind myself that this is what I want though. Long term it is. I really do. At the moment, it kind of feels like it’s not a priority. Work is so busy I’m not sure I have the energy for anything out of office hours. But I do want this this. I want to write, I want to publish a book, I want to be a writer. I go to RNA (Romantic Novelists’ Association) events and it’s as such a reminder that I want to be there as a full member, not a NWS (New Writers’ Scheme) member.

I’m liking my novel. Well, parts of it. Some parts I read and I think ‘Wow, editing this bit will be really easy,’ (because I’m basically going to delete it all), but on the flip side, I’ve almost missed my tube stop a couple of times because I’ve really got into it. That must be good. I’ll be reading it, and totally forget it’s my writing, and enjoy it. Yes, enjoy it. And because I’ve forgotten it’s mine, that must be good, right?

I’m up to page 60 of about 89 pages. Of the main bit. From something I read the other day (notes at the bottom of a page), I’ve got some more, somewhere (that I need to find sometime – maybe another computer or something). So I’ve maybe got another week or so of reading.

The plan is… to post-it note it. That involves putting post-it notes up on a wall in the bedroom. Hopefully the boyfriend won’t mind (and hopefully the people looking round the flat won’t mind – we’re moving in a couple of months, so will have agents showing people round looking for new renters soon). I’ve started them – I started them last time I was ‘editing’ (which didn’t last long, definitely not to page 60!). My plan is to have 2 colours of notes. One for major plot points, and one for each tiny detail. With it all up on the wall, I should be able to work out what’s missing, and what needs removing (from a plotting point). I know there’s bits missing, because I wrote sporadically, and jumped between bits, not filling in details. I also know there’s a side story I started, but didn’t continue, so needs to be added back in.

I’m looking forward to it. So much, that instead of reading tonight, I’m writing this blog (and drinking wine!).

:-/

No I am.

I am. I’ve not editing anything other than a short story, and a dissertation (10,000 word university dissertation, but non-fiction obviously). I think I am. I’m just not looking forward to finding the time. At the moment, I’m ‘editing’ (reading) three times a week. Once I get to editing, editing, I’m going to cut it down to once a week, to make it manageable. I’m going to put it in the diary, and either get the boyfriend to cook, or have something cooked the night before, so I can’t use cooking as an excuse.

I also hope I’ll start blogging more. I used to love blogging so much. And I WILL get back into it!

ROW80: Goals

It’s been a while since I took part in A Round of Words in 80 Days, but I think now is time to get back into it. 

In 2013 I did pretty much no writing. I had a couple of new (demanding) jobs, I ran a half marathon, and I had a life. I couldn’t (wouldn’t?) squeeze writing in too. I don’t want this year to be the same. At the end of November I went to a Romantic Novelists’ Association party. That evening I had to admit that I wasn’t writing, and hadn’t done any for ages, and it was horrible. That night I made the decision to turn it around. I printed of my novel The Man of My Dreams the next day. Unfortunately it sat in my bag for a while. 

This year, I’ve started reading it. I need to read it first to remember where I need to fill in bits, and finish things. I’ve started. Once I’ve filled in the blanks (and checked the story flows), I’ll start editing properly. I’m going to do it.

And ROW80 will give me a push to do it. 

I’m starting with baby steps, and when I hit them, I’ll increase. 

Goals (not just writing, but life goals):

– Spend some time at least three times a week, editing. I don’t want to be specific, I don’t want to set anything specific – baby steps. Just some time, three times a week. I was going to say once a week, but I’ve read 20 pages of the novel over the last 2 days, that I think I can confidently do it three times this week at least. I can carry on reading at this rate. 

– Exercise three times a week. If it’s walking, no less than for 20 minutes. 

– Fast 2 days a week (500 calories a day).

– Check in for ROW80 once a week, one book review blog once a week. 

I’m capable of more, but after a year of doing nothing, I want to start slow and steady. The great thing about ROW80 is you can change your goals as you go. I’ll be changing these in a week or so.

2014 – Here’s Beginning A Good Year

Happy New Year everyone!

It’s a new year! I don’t want to begin it with all that, ‘New year means new me’ rubbish, because if I do, anything I say will go down the drain in a week or two, a month at most. So I’m not. 

But, I’m going to take this opportunity to make some changes, just little ones, so small, they won’t impact my life, and I won’t even realise I’m doing them. Then, when they become habit, I’ll increase them, then they will become habit, and before you know it, I’ll be writing or editing every day. But forget the big stuff, I’m starting with baby steps.

My plan is still my novel, The Man of My Dreams. I still think it’s got legs. If, 2 years after I started it, I still believe in it, there must be something there, right? I hope so. It’s almost all written, I’ve got a few holes in it that need filling, then it needs to be edited. And edited. And edited. Probably edited, then edited, and maybe again, edited. 

Editing is my nemesis. Well I think it is. I don’t want to have to do it. I’m scared of doing it. Scared on two fronts. 

One – this is my novel, my baby. I don’t want to have to chop stuff out. Not if it’s good. To be honest, probably not if it’s bad. What if I make a mistake and take out the wrong thing? No one will know but me, but I’ll know. How will I know what to take out? How will I decide if I have two contradicting ideas? How…? What if…? Where…? Agh! 

Two – once I edit it, and it’s done, I have to do the next step. Submit it. Try to find an agent. AGH! That terrifies me. I think I can write, but what if I can’t? What if it’s just an illusion I’ve given myself. What if I get rejected again and again – I know I will a certain number of times, but what if the YES never comes? I don’t know if I’ve got hard enough skin, and I can take that rejection. 

Two I have to just get over. If I want this, I need to get thick skin. Each rejection will take me closer to a YES. (Hopefully!). Two, I get over.

One – that’s a bit harder. Well, it’s not. I just have to do that too! I’ve been told by several successful, printed, bestselling authors that they love editing, and I should just do it (two of my favorite authors – Lisa Jewell and Jojo Moyes). I’ve edited short stories, which are so different to a novel, how do I know I won’t love it myself? I don’t! Exactly. 

2014 is going to be the year I edit this novel. I can’t wait. 

My plan initially is to do a bit of editing once a week. No set amount of time, just some editing on either one evening after work, or one weekend day. This week, it’s going to be Saturday. I haven’t worked out yet what my plan is, I’ll work it out either tonight, tomorrow, or on Saturday. I’m doing it. 

In addition to the editing, I’m going to get back into blogging and book reviewing (reviews both on here and Novelkicks ). I love doing both so much, I know once I get into them, it won’t be a chore, but a pleasure. It’s getting back into it though. Baby steps will get me there though. I’ll do one blog a week, and one review a week – alternating the reviews on here and NK weekly. It’s going to be fun, and 2 blogs a week is nothing. 

The other morning, I woke up having had a dream I’d got an agent and a publishing deal – it was fantastic. The only way to make that happen in real life is for ME to take the steps to make it happen. It may not happen if I try, but it DEFINITELY won’t happen if I don’t! 

So, here’s to a good year. 2014 – I’m coming for you! 

Things I Haven’t Done This Year

It might be a much shorter post if I called it, ‘Things I HAVE done this year.’ In terms of writing, reviewing, editing, it would have finished already.

This time last year, I was doing NaNoWriMo. I ‘won.’ I wrote the 50,000 words in the month. And then I stopped writing. I was going to take December off, then edit The Man of My Dreams.

January came. I got into the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writer’s Scheme – meaning I could submit a manuscript to be critiqued by one of their novelists. That was something to encourage me to edit, right? Um, wrong. February came, then March, April and May. Then it was summer, then it was August, I had just until the end of the month to submit my manuscript. I could still do some of it – a few chapters. Then it was 20th. Then 22nd. By 26th, I’d finally admitted I wasn’t going to do anything.

Gutted.

So what’s happened this year?

Well in February I did a course at work, which was really intense and I worked on out of work time too. Then in March I transferred to a new company – in the same role . It was a lot of learning, and quite tiring being the newbie again. Then, in May I got offered a promotion (woo!), and started the new job in June.

Since then I’ve been flat out. Pretty much all the time. I’m contracted to work 35 hours a week, but I’d be surprised if I’ve done as few as that, ever. Most of the time, I enjoy my job, and I’m back to a role where I feel like I’m making a difference, so it’s good. But it’s not good on the writing/editing front.

Also, in May, I started running, training for a half marathon I completed in September. My team and I raised just under £2,000 for the MS Society, which is amazing, and I’m really proud of. I also completed the half – my first, and hopefully not last. All good, but again, it took up so much time.

Sometimes, I feel like I don’t care that I haven’t done anything, I’ve been busy, my job’s demanding, and I’ve done a half. But then, I remember how much I love writing, and miss it. But, as you can see, it’s still not enough to push me back into it. I think a lot of the problem is that what I need to do is edit the novel.

I hate editing. Well, I think I do. I’ve never actually done it, I hate the idea of it. No, I’ve edited short stories, but not a novel, a whole novel. Not 80,000 words, or however many it is.

On a positive note… I’ve read loads this year. I think that’s positive, isn’t it?

I’m hoping writing this, will encourage me to do this.

My Poor, Poor Blog

Hi there everyone, if there’s still anyone out there. I’ve just looked at my page, and I haven’t posted since 1st May. That was a book review. I haven’t written a proper post since April. It’s now July. Almost half way though. My poor blog. It must feel so alone. I must change that.

I have a few reasons why I haven’t blogged. All pretty good excuses, but excuses all the same.

I got a promotion *happy dance* It’s to a similar position, but I’m responsible for more and bigger buildings. It’s more money, more work, more enjoyment – I was getting stale in my last position. I’m loving it. But it’s hard work. I’m not really getting lunch breaks so no blogging during them (you remember, once I went through a month of blogging at lunch, yeah, not quite enough to be a habit).

I also have been crazy busy in June. My mum had an operation – hip replacement – so I went up there – a lot. I also had courses, and of course the new job. I was busy.

At the beginning of July we also went away for my birthday (Dusseldorf, Germany – lovely).

For some reason, blogging and writing and editing haven’t been on my radar. If I think about it, I massively still want to write, and get published etc, but this year, something’s stopping me.

I have an idea what it might be too.

This year I’m a member of the New Writers’ Scheme at the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Because of this, I get to send a manuscript in to them, and a published author will critique it. How incredibly awesome is that.

Wait…

How incredibly SCARY is that?? That’s a MASSIVE step. My friend Laura that runs Novelkicks.co.uk (who I also haven’t reviewed for, for MONTHS), was a member last year and was really shaken by the critique she got back last year. I’m scared of that. And I think that’s why I’m not editing. It’s just so scary.

Part of me is thinking ‘What if she says I’m terrible and I can’t write and I should give up?’ That part of my brain is almost silenced by another part that says ‘You’ve already sent work into your writing course tutor (remember THAT?), and she didn’t say you were rubbish – she said some quite good things.’ I like that part of my brain.

I am thinking though, what if this idea for a novel isn’t any good? What if my characters aren’t any good? What if there’s no story arc? What if it’s too predictable? What if it’s too unrealistic? What if…? What if…? What if…? See, it’s easier to bury my head in the sand than face up to these thoughts, and the realistic fact that any of those could be true.

Plus, so send the novel off, I need to finish the massive holes in it, and edit the silly thing. AGH!

I’m scared. But I know I’m not going to get anywhere if I’m scared. But that’s not forcing me to do this. I NEED to do this. I have to do this. I WANT to do this.

I just can’t do this.

No, I can. I will. I WILL.

Even if it’s just to prove the boy wrong who said I shouldn’t join the RNA cause I’ve not done any writing recently. HAVE to prove him wrong 😉

Incredibly Busy, If Only It Was With Writing

I can’t remember the last time I wrote a blog, and I’m too ashamed to look. I know I’ve done a few book reviews in the last few weeks, but nothing really writing about me.

I’ve been busy though, so busy.

I’m in the middle of a course called NEBOSH, if you’ve not heard of it, it’s a workplace health and safety course. It’s thrilling. And long. We did a whole 9-5 week there a couple of weeks ago, then a week back in the office, and now we’re back for another week. I am shattered. Today was our last learning, tomorrow is a revision day, then next Friday we have 2, 2 hour exams. And then there’s a practical report section too.

Sigh.

If this wasn’t enough, I started working for another company last Monday. I’m still managing the same buildings, but now have a different company I’m reporting to. Not what I need in the week between NEBOSH weeks.

On top of this, I applied for a job with my old company, which I really wanted, and didn’t get it.

All in all, I’m pretty exhausted. Mentally and physically (because I’ve been to the gym tonight). I’ve got a glass of wine in front of me, and totally see myself going to bed in an hour or so (is 9.30pm too early to go to bed? I probably won’t sleep will I?).

So, because of all this, I haven’t done any writing or editing. It’s fine though, because I decided before it all started that I was going to give myself these 4 weeks off. As soon as we get to 23rd, I’m back on it. Well, probably 24th, I’m totally going to go out and celebrate it’s all over on 22nd, so probably won’t do anything on 23rd!

You know what I’ve done though? I’ve only gone and forgotten about Belinda Jones’ Sunlounger Short Story Competition. Closing date is 31st March. Eek. I need to think about that. I haven’t even got an idea yet, or characters. AGH!

Also, I found another competition I want to enter. National Express (yes, coaches) have a short story competition, with the subject travel. It closes 28th April. The winner gets their story published in Jenny Colgan’s new book The Good, The Bad and The Dumped in August. Exciting.

When I’ve posted this blog, I’m going to have a QUICK play on Twitter and Facebook, print off some stuff for tomorrow, and then think more about these stories.

I’ve got a couple of plans for April. I can’t decide which to do, or if I should do both. I’d really like to take part in the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Post a blog a day for 26 out of the 30 days in April, with each day’s blog being based on a letter of the alphabet. That would get me back into blogging for sure. So far 1058 people have signed up, I really wouldn’t be alone on this one. Also, if I do it, I’d want to add a category, but would I chose Writing or Books. Of course it would be writing, but I like the idea of writing about books too. You can’t have two categories. Damn.

My other idea is Camp NaNoWriMo. They’ve changed the rules this year, only for camp, it doesn’t have to be 50,000 words. That would suit me, because if I did it, I wouldn’t want to write 50,000 words. I wouldn’t want to write any actually. I’d want to edit. I was originally thinking of editing for 50 hours. But now the blogging challenge is a maybe, I might go for 25 hours. Or maybe 12.5 hours. Half an hour a day. 12.5 isn’t much though. I’ll have to think about it. Maybe once I’ve done the Sunlounger story!

Ooh, my second review of You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane (first being the one I posted on this blog), is live on Novelkicks today, check it out here.

Happy 4th Blogiversary To Me

Happy 4th Blogiversary To Me,

Happy 4th Blogiversary To Me,

Happy 4th Blogiversary Dear Meeeee,

Happy 4th Blogiversary To Me.

Guess what? My blog is 4. 4 and 2 days if we’re going to be exact. Just over 4 years ago, my boyfriend suggested I started a blog to chart my progress through my writing course. I hated the idea. I didn’t know there was this community of writers out there that had blogs. I thought if I did it, no one would read it, that people would laugh at it, and I’d hate it.

Well, they did, they didn’t, and I don’t – I love it. Blogging is great. It’s like writing a diary, only for other people to read. I write comments that come to mind, and sometimes they inspire people to read them, and sometimes write a comment back to me. It’s brilliant.

The writing course didn’t go too well. I started it, but then got into writing novels (NaNoWriMo and more) and so haven’t carried it on. I need to speak to them to check I can carry on with it, and I need to carry on with it.

The blog’s done pretty well. It’s been up and down, sometimes I write a lot, often, sometimes I go a while without writing anything.

In total, this blog has had nearly 16,000 views and nearly 1,700 comments on 615 blogs, with 820 tags (820 different things I’ve talked about?). The busiest month was April 2011, where it had 831 views! Even the quietest of months (always December when I’m so knackered after NaNo I hardly post anything), it had 122 views. 104 people subscribe to this blog, and everytime I post, my 374 twitter followers hear about it.

That’s pretty awesome.

I can’t wait to post the stats again in another 4 years – if I carry on this way, I’ll have 32,000 views by then. Wow!

Enough of this bragging (if you can’t on your blogiversary, when can you?) and on to my week – it’s going well.

This week I’m rocking my goals. Steve is on a course this week, and has ‘homework,’ so while he was studying yesterday, I was editing. Today, I had the day off work, so I spent about 2 hours on the novel. I’ve now printed off all the bits of it (who knew I had 2,000 words stored in a seperate document here, and 5,000 in another one there?), and read through everything. I next need to make notes on the last 20 pages I read, then write up my post-it notes, which should help with what I’m missing, where etc.

I hope.

So I’m feeling pretty good.

Today I’ve also been to the gym, where I did almost double what I did on Sunday. Woop! I think I’ll go again tomorrow. I know I shouldn’t push myself too much when I’m first starting, but I wanted to get 2 diet fast days in this week, and I’m only going to manage one now, so want to make it up in another way.

I still need to do a couple of book reviews (one I started today), spend an hour on my writing  course, more on my novel, and then I’m pretty much on track for my goals this week. And I’ve got 4 days to do it. Feeling pretty good!

Also today, I’ve made a cake. Or, I’m making a cake, it’s still in the oven, then I need to put it together, and marzipan it. I’m doing a Battenberg cake. With 4 layers. Yum! Photo will be coming!