Readers know all about time travel – you sit down with a good book, and before you know it, a whole afternoon has passed in the blink of an eye! And through the medium of fiction, you are magically transported to another time, another place, perhaps another world. (Who needs a TARDIS?)
It’s the same for writers, of course. “I’ll just spend a few minutes editing this paragraph,” you say to yourself, and when you next look up, you realise you’ve missed a meal/an important appointment/a whole day. We all know there’s nothing quite like the feeling, when the writing is going really well, of leaving the everyday behind and being totally immersed in your fictional world. [NB: Social media is also an extremely effective way for writers to hurtle through a few hours at great speed!]
There is a flip side for writers: whilst time flies when there’s an approaching deadline, it positively crawls when you’re awaiting a response to a submission, or the outcome of a story competition, or – joy of joys! – publication day. [NB: Or indeed payment…but I hesitate to add that, for fear of sounding mercenary, and not having the right attitude to the true rewards of the creative process!] Writers also experience a distortion in time as often the fruits of their labours are not evident until long after the labour itself. (Sometimes long, long, long after the labour itself.) Recently I’ve had two short stories appear in print, and had another placed in a competition – so to the outside world, all seems busy, busy, busy in my writing world. But in each case, the writing process itself took place many moons ago. Writing is created from not just inspiration but anticipation – thinking ahead to future competitions, and planning in advance for seasonal submissions.
Yesterday was National Writing Day – I’m ashamed to say I didn’t honour the day with any writing-related activities of my own. I…erm….didn’t have the time. Presumably in some parallel universe, it’s National Writing Day right now. Hmmm, if I could just find my TARDIS…
A year ago, I posted here about having lost my beautiful mare, Cracker, how hard I was finding adjusting to life without her – and how difficult it was to focus on anything, even writing.
Since then, a lot has happened (including a house move), and while I’ve been horse-less, I’ve definitely had more time for writing-related activities. On the non-fiction front, I’ve had my first full-length article published in a national magazine (equine-related, of course). And on the fiction front, most excitingly, I achieved my aim to release an eBook short story collection on Amazon. (Two, in fact!)
I’m quietly proud of “Beyond Words” (the second of the two collections) as it brings together some of my favourite short stories, all of which have achieved competition success. There’s so much to be gained from entering competitions – the discipline of meeting deadlines, word counts and themes can only help improve your writing, especially when it takes you away from your comfort-zone, and being short-listed, placed or commended can only increase your writing confidence. If you’ve never entered a writing competition before but would be interested in having a go, there’s a reference list at the back of “Beyond Words” which gives each of the competitions in which the stories were entered.
And a year on… Well, I finally decided it was time to take on a new equine partner. This is Deemon Whirlwind, my new part-Arab gelding:
After 15 educational years with Cracker, I’m looking forward to an equally long and inspirational partnership with this handsome chap. And of course, I’ll keep you posted!
This month’s Writer’s Forum magazine suggests taking a step back from your writing and having an “ideas week” as an antidote to burnout. Well, I think I agree with their approach!
Just back from a week in a holiday cottage in Wales – sleeping, eating, walking, site-seeing – all very conducive to battery-recharging. Have managed to return with at least one almost fully formed idea for a long story (possibly even enough for it to be the basis of this year’s NANO attempt), and another scribbled beginning. Last night in that dozing moment before properly going off to sleep, I even had an idea for a potential amendment to a previously rejected story, so might have a crack at that today.
I deliberately didn’t take my laptop on holiday – partly, it has to be said, because the thing is on its last legs and tends to do rage-inducing things like randomly switch itself off whilst I’m in the middle of typing (and that sort of thing always seems to happen when you think you’ve written something spectacular, and the re-write never quite measures up). But partly it was just to have a change of pace. I took a notepad and pen instead. And I scribbled. It was fun.
Mid-week, issue No 78 of The People’s Friend Special was out, and it was an extra special joy to pop along to the newsagents in tourist-mode and be able to pick up a copy – which includes my story ‘Going Solo’ (with an excellent illustration by Jim Dewar – Judy is exactly as I pictured her!). ‘Going Solo’ was a story originally written for my local writers’ group – yet another reason I have to be grateful for the group’s support, encouragement and deadline-provision!
The publication of this story though has given me a bit of a slap as it’s the last thing that was “out there”. I now have no other stories so much as submitted, let alone awaiting publication. So it’s official: the holidays are over – time now to get back to work!
Hypothesis: inspiration and creative output are inversely proportionate to daylight hours and sunshine!
And lo, the first week of autumnal weather brings with it the return of meetings for two local writers’ groups. Whether it is simply the power of a deadline, or the thought of an audience, but suddenly there are ideas sparking in my brain and hope that my creativity has not dried up after all!
I had tried over the summer – I did force myself to sit down with my now infuriatingly slow laptop, or better still, paper and pen, and try to write. But the characters stayed stubbornly wooden and the plot ideas always ended up in some creative cul-de-sac from which I had to perform an inelegant three point turn.
Yesterday though, I had not one but two story ideas (one provided inadvertently by a chance remark from my husband – who stared at me, perplexed, when I told him he was a genius!). Can I simply put it down to the change in weather? The anticipation of those mythical long winter evenings by the fire? Or has creativity been regenerating subconsciously over the summer months, fuelled by numerous books read and the diversion of manual labour in the garden and with the horses?
Whatever, I’m feeling strangely optimistic about my writing at the moment. And on that note, I’d better stop waffling on here and get on with it!