Monday, 24 December 2007

Back in 2008

Signing off now until the New Year. Have a wonderful festive time.



Saturday, 22 December 2007

Sewing a story

I was sewing last night. Not something I do very often but when I do I enjoy it. I was making felt Christmas tree decorations (as you do, last minute and all that) and while my mind drifted in and out with the needle I had a thought, and then another and then a whole run of them - all about my novel and all incredibly useful. A lot of loose ends (to push the metaphor) were tied, several connections made and a whole new lovely character walked in.

So many times I have tried to write and it hasn't come and so many times I have looked despairingly at my pile of sewing projects (rag rugs, half made bags, dresses and tablecloths that I am trying to turn into skirts) and decided that I haven't got time to finish them . The answer it seems is simple, get on with the sewing and while my body is distracted my mind can deal with the writing - how productive is that!

Thursday, 20 December 2007

24 hours from Tulsa

Have had this song in my head ever since writing my last post and just wanted to share the video with you. I thought it really incongruous at first, that amazing voice from a small man in a suit, but then I saw him as the travelling salesman who's done wrong and it all fitted perfectly. Got to be one of the best openings to a song ever.

Got lots of writing done after tearing myself away from The Man in Seat 61. Inspired by dreaming.

I'm only 24 hours from Florence

Not that I'm planning on heading off there right away but I've just found a fantastic website called The Man in Seat Sixty One , which helps you plan your travels around the world using public transport and avoiding flying.

We have family and friends in Italy and we tend to pop out there quite often, usually courtesy (odd word in this context but I can't think of another one that isn't extremely rude) of Ryanair. Wanting to reduce the environmental impact of our trip we did consider driving there last time, but were deterred by the prospect of all being confined in a car for so long and the fact that I'm a bit of a wuss when it comes to driving abroad. So I'm now very excited at the prospect of travelling there door-to-door by train. It will take exactly 24 hours, (we live in the semi-wilds of Yorkshire not next door to St Pancras, so that's pretty impressive) inc an overnight sleeper train - very Agatha Christie - and if we book it early enough it will cost less than flying (financially as well as planet-wise). So hurrah for trains.

Of course once I'd found the website I didn't stop at Italy - I have planned dream trips all over the world now - including travelling to America by Freighter.

A bit of a non-writing post this one but that's cos I've been so busy following the train lines that I haven't done any writing - oops.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

A message

The 15th Dec at last, end of vow of silence, I can make public the news that one of my messages for the Your Messages project is going to be included in the published book. I'm extremely chuffed and very pleased with the piece they have chosen as of those I submitted it was one of my favourites.

Well done to everyone else who is to be included in the anthology, can't wait to meet those of you who will be attending the launch of the book and of Sarah and Lynne's Messages in January.

Big thanks to Sarah Salway and Lynne Rees for thinking up such a great idea. Profits from sales of Your Messages will go to the Kids Company charity, which:

"Provides practical and emotional support to ‘lone children’. These are children and young people who experience significant psychosocial difficulties because their parent is unable to function as a caring adult."

A really good cause to support. Follow the link to find out more. I will post up details of how to purchase the book when they are available.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Right words and lost words

I'm back from my residential writing week at an Arvon centre. Been back since Saturday morning actually. So why no posting? Two things: one, I was a way for a week so had a whole load of work to catch up on, not to mention reconnecting with my family. Two, trying to find the 'right words'. Felt a bit lost for them this week. People keep asking me 'What was it like?' And I can tell them what we did on a day-to-day basis and that I 'wrote lots of stuff'. But it's harder to explain what happened in terms of how my writing, my thoughts on my writing and me as a writer have been changed by my experience. It was huge though. So maybe 'huge' will have to be the right word.

What I can say unreservedly is that I recommend an Arvon residential to anyone writing or wanting to write. The tutors were amazing and the accommodation and setting was wonderful.

'Intense' - another right word, but intense in a good way like a strongly infused flavour or a flavour-infused memory.

I have returned with huge enthusiasm for my novel. Not least the fact that I can say or write the words my novel, without putting them in inverted commas. I've got lots of writing to do. One of the tutors told us we would write 100,000 words that we would not use in the final draft. I found this depressing until I realised that most of the 10,000 or so words that I have written so far probably won't end up in my final draft, but they are vital to what I will write and will use. They will not be lost.

Just spent a couple of very productive hours in the library - another thing I learned from my week away is that trying to write at my computer desk isn't great - as a freelancer that is where I do my work. So all of my associations with that space are work related. I found sitting in the library a really good way to write unencumbered with thoughts of emails and invoices (and it saved me a morning's worth of heat and light at home!)

Ok, enuff, back to the scribbling (think I will try the kitchen table - good light and a comfy chair -but a nagging feeling that I should be washing up, cooking, sweeping underneath - may have to go back to the library)

A place and a space and freedom to think- more right words

Sunday, 2 December 2007

An over excited post

Got a lovely surprise in the Hags, Harlots and Heroines newsletter this month. I've been shortlisted in their summer short story competition - '21st Century Woman, Fast and Loose'. Winners to be announced this month. I'm so pleased, as the story that I submitted is one that I really enjoyed writing and its good to know that the judges enjoyed reading it. They gave some good feedback too about the importance of a good opening and following it through.

November was a great month for writing, with Your Message as an inspiration every morning and three stories sent off to the Fish Short Story comp. I'm hoping December will be just as good. I'm particularly optimistic as I am off on an Arvon Foundation residential tomorrow. The week -long course was a prize in a competition that I won way back in June. Its called Enjoying Inventiveness and is described as being 'For new or experienced writers, this course will help you discover your potential and express your individual voice.' It couldn't have come at a better time as I feel it is just what I need right now. I think I will get more out of it now than I would have done this time last year. The course tutors are Jill Dawson and Romesh Gunesekeras and the 'course guest' is Kate Pullinger.

I have packed all my favourite pens in a fluffy pencil case (the only one I could find!) and crammed my backpack with sheets of the scrap paper that is a by product of my day job and which I find particularly good for writing on. Think I'm all set. Just need an emergency bar of Green and Blacks chocolate for moments of insecurity.

I'm also taking my recently begun Dream Diary. Its something I have been meaning to start for ages. Entries are a bit sparse at the moment but I'm hoping that the more I do it the better my dream-remembering will be.

There is no web access at the Arvon centre so I'm signing off now for a week. Will report back next weekend! (Too many exclamation marks in this post I know but I really am very excited.)