More good things…….

img_2485Two good weeks in a row ? How can it be ? Whilst my health has been a little tricksy this week ( I had to cancel my outing to Wenlock Books and being upright has been less than consistent) I have had a positive week.

To an outsider thinking positively when you have a chronic illness often means dashing around looking for magic solutions to make oneself better. A spot of gentle exercise or a vitamin supplement are amongst the more prosaic suggestions. On the inside, positive thinking means accepting the way things are today and living the best I can. I can’t get up today?  I’ll can write in bed instead. I missed x,y or z that I wanted to do ? There will be another thing soon. It’s not always easy and being positive when I can’t stand the light from the window and wish someone would turn the birdsong down is challenging.  I consider myself very lucky to have the good days that I do. The most difficult aspect is negotiating other peoples opinions. I’ve still not managed it and it still hurts when I’m misunderstood or misrepresented. My resilience is growing though and I’m learning to avoid those who choose to be unkind. img_2468

On the subject of writing things really are going quite well. The short story for my final assignment was very well received, despite me having given up on it and sending it off in a fit of “who cares”.  My intention is to submit it to Mslexia’s short story competition in October. I’ve produced some poems that I feel happy with and am in the process of sending them to my group of Beta readers to get their feedback.

Finally, I’ve had a new opportunity for commercial writing which happens to be on a subject I love. It’s a project I can complete in short bursts so it works perfectly with the limitations presented by brain fog,pain and general hypersensitivity. I’m also learning about the wonderful world of SEO and keywords which is a skill I’ve needed to develop for a while.  It’s a great opportunity and I’m thrilled that I no longer have to apologise for not being able to work. It’s not full time by any means (it’s not even quarter time) but it is a step in the right direction and my hope is that I’ll recover enough to increase the amount of commissions I can accept.

Overall an imperfect but positive week. Thanks again to my friends who support me  x



How to be a contented writer-seven top tips.

img_20180427_075404_217923183536.jpgWriting can be a lonely old business. Sometimes it feels like little more than shouting at the sky . A big part of writing is perseverance. A bigger part is confidence and having enough of it to see me through the moments when writing seems like a terrible way to spend my days.  Here are seven tips that keep me working even when I feel I’m wasting my time.

  • Read

I read as much as I possibly can. I read within my genre to see how it’s done, make notes of what moves me and how, make notes of what leaves me cold and why. I read outside your genre to spark my ideas and give me the ever elusive inspiration. If I’m struggling I find local newspapers have the quirkiest stories that demand that I ask ‘why?’

  • Write

Even when I don’t want to. Especially when I don’t want to. Write about why I don’t want to. I whinge, wail, write all the things I can’t say. If nothing else I feel less furious, plus despite myself, I’ve written something.

  • Grammar

Grammar helps my reader understand what I am trying to say. All those annoying rules are signposts that help them hear the tone I hope to create and read at the pace I intend. I’m surrounded by poorly written content on enthusiastic blogs and it’s easy to think grammar is outdated. It’s not. It’s what makes quality work stand out.

  • Use “How to” guides

There are dozens I’ve dipped in and out of but these are three I return to.

The Creative Writing Coursebook Julia Bell

Writing Down the Bones Natalie Goldberg

and latterly How to be a Poet Jo Bell and Jane Commane.

These three give me a good balance of step-by-step guide, a little bit of hand-holding and a decent amount of “just get on and write.”

  • Talk to other writers

I’ll admit I struggled with this. I’m a solitary soul and the thought of discussing my work with peers filled me with horror. I took part in an online workshop at the start of this year and can honestly say I gained as much from that hour as I did from six months of formal study. The wealth of knowledge and generosity in sharing that knowledge within the writing community is a wonderful thing. I’m gradually getting more involved with writing groups online and am even venturing out to a Poetry Breakfast at a local bookshop. A big step for me, but I know it’ll be beneficial. I might even enjoy myself!

  • Write anywhere and everywhere.

I love stationery and I have many beautiful notebooks. I never have one with me when I need it. Hospital waiting rooms are my current favourite writing space. Lots of time, lots of people and no internet. Perfect. I have numerous scribblings on the backs of receipts that are the basis of some of my favourite pieces.

  • Read

No, this isn’t a brain fog moment. It really is the most valuable thing I do to support my work.

There we have it. Seven writing tips that keep me moving forward. Now it’s time to get on with a bit more work. I should have news of competitions and submissions by next week, so watch this space!

Thank you for reading, as ever please like, share,shout from the rooftops it all helps.

Refining and redrafting

I hated redrafting my work. When I first started studying with OCA, it took me so long to get a piece completed, that I couldn’t bear to begin pulling it apart.It felt so personal. Luckily I had a very patient tutor for my Writing Skills course, who gently helped me see past my ego, and focus on what I was trying to achieve.  The most valuable thing I learnt from my first course is that the first draft of anything is just a sketch, a whoosh of ideas tumbling on to the page. Picking through the ideas, taking away what’s unnecessary, or getting rid of whatever insidious obsession is creeping in to my work this week,  is the best part. It’s the crafting bit. It’s also bloomin’ hard work.

I sat with a piece yesterday, which had grown from one of my middle of the night jottings. I honestly thought it couldn’t be improved (ha!), but kind of knew it needed to be. Just changing one word made the whole thing grow legs, as it were, and suddenly this short poem came to life. It’s an odd thing, it almost feels as though I have to step aside from myself, and really look at what I’m trying to say. Redrafting captures that excitement, and makes it into something that is exciting to read.

Today needs to be a rest day. This is frustrating,but necessary. Brain fog produces crazy, rubbish work.