Tag Archives: ambition

stretched thin – what i’m writing

moody sky IMGDo you ever feel pulled between different types of writing? Like you’re in a tug of war between poetry and flash fiction, novels and short stories, or blogging and, well, everything else you want to write?

At the moment I’m feeling a bit caught. I love writing all of the above, but any time I spend on one means I have less time for another. And my writing time at the moment is fairly limited – I have baby naps (when I also need to fit in housework and other admin) and evenings (in which I also spend time with my husband, attempt to have a social life and attend to my telly addiction).

Into these wedges of time I fit blogging, working on my novel, and writing flash fiction and poetry. I haven’t written a short story for a while which I kind of miss as I love writing those too!

I feel stretched a bit thin. “Like butter scraped over too much bread” you might say if you were wanting to quote a certain hobbit.* And I’ve been wondering if I should do something differently. Maybe if I just focussed on my novel I could break through the ‘oh man it’s a pile of steaming horse crap’ thing I’ve currently got going with it?

Or maybe I should ignore my book and just focus on flash fiction which – as I said in my post yesterday – I find really satisfying to write. Perhaps I should blog less? I mean, I’m not a prolific blogger but I write at least three posts most weeks which is a fair old time commitment.

I’m not sure. Do I like trying my hand at lots of different forms of writing? Yes. But is my lack of focus holding me back from getting genuinely good at any of them? Well, possibly. And that’s what worries me – that I’m never going to succeed in any area because I’m too busy experimenting in all of them. I haven’t submitted any work anywhere for ages because I’m too busy writing everything I can, to ever look at submission possibilities. It seems a shame.

But maybe it’s fine, perhaps it’s what I should be doing? I haven’t been writing for long after all. Maybe this is just like getting fit before specialising in a particular sport? My future could lie in 200m or marathons but I’ll never know when I can’t even run down the road without getting out of breath. Or could I have a future writing poems, stories and books? Does anyone do that? Does anyone manage to have time?

  • Do you stick to one form of writing or several?
  • Do you think it’s good to try out lots of different styles, or is focus important?
  • How do you juggle blogging and writing (not to mention other aspects of life)?

I’d love to know your thoughts!

Writing Bubble

 

*That would be Bilbo in The Fellowship of the Ring to give J.R.R Tolkien his due.

from behind the sofa

20140922_104608Yeah so I’m hiding behind the sofa. I’ve lobbed the laptop out of the window and I’m hiding where no one can find me. Specifically where the laptop and the story can’t find me because the story needs to find someone else to write it and the laptop is full of drivel.

Urgh.

Yes, I’m feeling a bit sorry for myself. I thought I was making progress with the novel – another 2500 words written in the last few days – but then I read a bit back and oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

Basically I’m floundering. I set off with an idea and a plan that – if I was writing a short story – would have been perfectly adequate but for a novel kind of leaves me high and dry. I’ve now written myself beyond the point where I had a plan and, although I know roughly where I’m going, I have lots of plot strands that I have no idea how to pull together. Honestly I’m starting to wonder if I have it in me to write a novel at all.

In contrast to this, I write quite a bit of flash fiction these days and one of the things I love about that is that the focus is small. You’re not trying to pull a zillion different strands together. You can go for simplicity and purity and intensity. You can work on the same couple of lines and hone them from a rough lump of rock to a smooth, gleaming pebble. I wrote a piece of flash fiction for my blog earlier this week. I didn’t work on it for long enough to get it smooth and gleaming (not even close) but even in the space of an hour I saw it go from an idea, to a rough outline, to a story that I thought was quite touching. And that was so satisfying, you know? And I compare that to how I’m currently feeling about my novel and it makes me wonder what on earth I’m doing. Maybe novel writing is not for me? Maybe I should work on improving my skills in other departments. I always did love a short story.

But then, I’ve come this far. I’ve written over 50,000 words. And I have other book ideas swimming round in my head too. I can’t just give up all my dreams of becoming a novelist now can I? Surely not. If someone could give me a hearty kick up the bum (metaphorically speaking, of course) I’d be very appreciative.

writing linky!

typewriter butterflies badgeI’m really excited to tell you about a new linky I’m (jointly) starting next week. It’s called ‘What I’m Writing’ and it’s for all you fellow writers, poets and bloggers out there.

Regular readers will know that I love writing. I also love writing about writing and this blog is full of posts about writing challenges I’ve set myself, my aspirations, moments of self-doubt, successes and knock-backs. If it’s about writing and I’m thinking it, then it’s usually here.

I also love reading about other people’s writing, whether it’s to feel inspired by their success or to read about their doubts and moments of writer’s block and think ‘Phew, it’s not just me!’ And I like to be a supportive commenter, in fact that’s one of the most important things about blogging to me – the community.

In all these things I know I am not alone – pondering and procrastinating seems to be part of being a writer!

So with all of this in mind, Chrissie from Muddled Manuscript and I have decided to start our ‘What I’m Writing’ linky to share all these sorts of posts. We hope to grow a community of writers who can support each other, cheer each other on and generally help us all feel we are not alone. So whether you’re a published writer or just nervously putting pen to paper for the first time (or anything in between), and whatever it is you’re working on whether it’s novels, short stories, poetry, scriptwriting or blog posts… we’d love to read about it.

The linky will be every Tuesday and alternate between our two blogs. We’ll be posting a monthly prompt too which we hope will spark discussion and get us all on the same page.

It’s launching on Tuesday 9th September (a week today !) We’d love to see you there!

virtual blog tour

maddy

me

I was recently invited to take part in a ‘virtual blog tour’ which is basically a journey through the blogosphere stopping off at various blogs along the way. Each blogger answers a few questions about themselves and then invites and introduces another couple of bloggers who answer the same questions on their blog a week later, and so it continues. It’s a great way of finding new blogs and gaining an insight into why bloggers write what we do!

I was invited by the lovely Morgan Prince of Shaking Away the Cobwebs. I’ve been reading Morgan’s blog since last year when we both started regularly linking up with Prose for Thought to share our creative writing. She is a stay-at-home-mum who is working on a novel (and various other projects) and I can identify with a lot of what she blogs about. I really enjoyed reading about her creative process in her blog tour post last week.

So, on to the questions:

1. What am I working on?

My biggest project at the moment is my novel. It’s a psychological mystery (with a thriller edge). After an accident, its central character finds she has different memories of the last seventeen years than her loved ones do (in fact some of her loved ones are different people altogether!) The book follows her trying to figure out what is going on and what the truth is, while a growing threat to her safety lurks in the background.

My blog is my other big project. I started it as a place to record my experiences as I explored my ambition to become a published author but as time has gone by I have found myself posting more and more of my poetry and flash fiction on it. To begin with I found doing this terrifying, as I couldn’t bear for anyone to read my work (what with the self-doubt demon biting at my toes) but overcoming that fear has been massively beneficial. It’s given me the confidence to submit my work to various competitions and publications and I’ve even had a tiny bit of success that way!

2.  How does my work differ from others of my genre?

Hmmm. Well, I think every writer has their own voice and style of writing but really I’m still exploring what mine is. I very much feel I am on a voyage of discovery in this area (even though that does sound a bit pretentious!).

In a way I like to think that my book is different from other psychological thrillers because although it has threatening elements and a mystery to unravel it is really a story of maternal and familial love. On the other hand, the genre is a popular one at the moment so I think there’s something to be said for not straying too far from what readers expect and want when they pick that sort of book.

My blog doesn’t really fit into a box – I suppose it’s a writer’s blog but I’m not a published author, and I also blog a bit about parenting but it’s not a mummy blog. It’s also unique in that it’s full of my own pieces of fiction. Every blog is different though- that’s part of the fun.

3.  Why do I write/create what I do?

I write because I love it. It makes me happy. I constantly have stories running through my head and long to get them down somewhere. I get itchy fingers if I take too much time off writing and  this feeling has only got stronger over the past two years (since I started really making time in my life for creative writing).Writing de-stresses me – it’s my ‘me-time’, a time when I can disappear into my own little world and create what I like. (It also stresses me too when I set myself goals and then struggle to reach them but I enjoy a challenge so in a way that’s good too!)

I also write as a record. My blog is obviously this, but I have written poetry about how I feel about my children and about certain events and experiences. I wrote a poem about pregnancy as I wanted to remember how it felt to be heavily pregnant, and I wrote about birth (as a record but it also turned out to be very cathartic). So for me writing is a very important tool – I use it to capture, remember, imagine, create and even recover. These days I would feel lost without it.

 4.  What is my writing process?

I like to set myself challenges. I don’t have much free time to write so I find that setting myself weekly or monthly word count goals (as well as other aims like ‘enter a flash fiction competition’ or ‘write a poem on such-and-such a subject’) help me to use my time more effectively. For my novel, I’ve been setting myself monthly targets since May and I’m currently nearly 50,000 words into the first draft. Doing CampNaNoWriMo last month helped too!

Outside of the structure of my self-imposed challenges, there is a lot of ‘winging it’ that goes into my writing. I’m not much of a planner – I like to write and see how things evolve. I love it when characters surprise me (which they frequently do) and am always open to sudden changes in direction (the ‘thriller element’ of my book just appeared!).  Really my writing process is just me on the sofa, with a laptop and a drink, seeing how it goes.

I also have an ongoing limerick challenge where I write a limerick on a subject of my sons’ choosing and post it on my blog, so in that way my kids are very much a part of my process!

Lastly, I read a lot of fiction. This feels intrinsic to my writing. I love getting stuck in a good book!

So that’s me. Now I’m going to pass on the blog tour baton to two fabulous bloggers:

Be who you are... Dr Seuss

Mummy Tries’ avatar

I’ve been following Mummy Tries‘ blog since the start of the year when I happened across it on a linkie. At the time she (who shall remain nameless as she blogs anonymously!) was heavily pregnant with her third child and attempting to write a book. My third baby was ten months old at the time so I could identify! Since then she has become a loyal and supportive blogging friend.

I can throughly recommend a visit to Mummy Tries where she blogs about life with her hubby and three cherubs. She shares parenting insights, thrifty tips, what she has learnt while on the GAPS diet and lots of ‘free from’ recipes. She also takes the odd trip down memory lane to a dysfunctional past that is well behind her. She is currently writing a self help book and hopes to inspire others to break the ‘Cycle of Dysfunction’ like she did. I’m continually impressed by how often she blogs and how much she manages to fit into her life, especially with so little sleep. I’m looking forward to reading her Blog Tour post next Monday and finding out more about her book!

Chrissie's avatar

Chrissie’s avatar

The other blogger I would like to introduce is Chrissie from Muddled Manuscript. Chrissie is another fellow writer and mum-of-three who I met (in a virtual sense) early this year. Her blog focusses on her writing and right from the start I was fascinated by her insights into the novel-writing process. She has a lot of experience as she started writing her first book fourteen years ago (and she’s still younger than me)! She is a talented writer who also posts a lot of her own creative work – both poems and short stories – on her blog so it’s well worth a read.

Chrissie has been an inspiration to me as she has taken part in – and won – no fewer than eight NaNoWriMo’s, three of the November ones (where participants aim to write a 50,000 word novel in a month) and five CampNaNoWriMo’s (where participants can choose their own word target… but she has also written a 50,000 word novel each time)! It was Chrissie who encouraged me to take part in (and win) last month’s CampNaNoWriMo. She has been an excellent support to me with my writing for months and become a good friend in the process.

Well, I really enjoyed writing this post so thank you Morgan for inviting me to the tour.

Remember to pop over to Mummy Tries and Muddled Manuscript next Monday to read their blog tour posts – I’m looking forward to it!

time to toast some marshmallows

No real time to blog at the moment but just wanted to share this:

2014-Winner-Vertical-Banner

Yes, I won Camp NaNoWriMo!

Of course ‘winning’ just means achieving the word count target you set yourself – I completed my 15,000 words last night – but it still feels good!

As I said in my last post, I’ve really enjoyed Camp and I fully intend to do it again sometime. With my CampNaNo words added to it, my novel is now at just over 46000 words so I’m making progress. I’m hoping to finish the first draft by the end of October.

And now for a campfire with some marshmallows toasted on sticks!

progress

ron-swanson-advice

Ron Swanson. Parks and Recreation

This quote pretty much sums up my approach this month. I’m blogging less in order to write (creatively) more. And d’you know what? So far it’s working. By whole-assing my creative writing I’ve written 6453 words (and counting) of my book in the last nine days. That’s nearly six-and-a-half thousand of my twenty-thousand word target for the month. I’m getting there!

I should whole-ass more things more often I think!

Oh, and if you’ve never watched Parks and Recreation: DO! It’s very funny.

day six

waves IMGTowards the end of April I made the decision not to take part in any blog hops (and to generally blog less) throughout May. The idea being that I would use all the time saved to do some creative writing and, specifically, to work on my book.

So how have I done so far? Well, not that great actually! I didn’t do my limerick challenge last Monday, only to find my sons so desperate for me to write a limerick that I ended up doing two and posting them on Thursday. And then I decided to link them up with Prose for Thought! Oh well.

And the creative writing? Well, I shot off the starting blocks on May 1st writing nearly 2500 words (go me!) and declaring (quietly, to myself) ‘I’m going to write LOADS this month! Today is just the start! This is how it’s going to be for the whole month!’ But I’ve written NOTHING since.

Admittedly it’s been the bank holiday weekend, we’ve had friends over, I’ve had all three kids to entertain all day and the baby threw a couple of horrendous nights my way… but even so, I’m a bit disappointed in myself. Surely a committed writer would have slipped a few words in here and there instead of using her one free (and awake) evening to watch The Hobbit? Don’t you think?

So I’ve decided what I lack is a target. While I often itch to write during the day I don’t have much time then, and though I am often free in the evenings I am usually too tired or busy with my blog (or intent on visiting Middle Earth/watching Breaking Bad) to be particularly motivated. A target would be just the kick up the bum I need to really achieve something this month.

So, here’s my goal: I’m going to write 20,000 words of my book during May. It’ll be like my own version of NaNoWriMo… just not national, without online support, with a much smaller word target and only aiming to write part of a novel. Ok, so not much like it but a bit of a MaPaNoWriMo perhaps? (If you can you work out what that stands for I’ll award you a virtual bar of chocolate).

It’s day six and so far I’ve managed 2321 words. So I’ve got some catching up to do. On that note, I’d best be off!

starlight

adkfjh

UPDATE for The Prompt 12/09/14

I’m trying not to pressurise myself to write this week (it’s a challenge I set myself for #WhatImWriting). Instead I’m dedicating some time to other things. But when I saw that #ThePrompt this week was ‘Shine‘ it reminded me of this post and I thought I’d link up. I have to admit the poem makes me cringe a bit but I’m interested in the idea behind it.

Our aspirations shine brightly when they are distant but are they as beautiful up close? Achieving aspirations can be a hard slog so does the reality live up to the fantasy? Do we even want it to live up to the fantasy or does the appeal of aspirations lie in their distance? After all, it is lovely to have something beautiful twinkling from afar that we think, one day, we might reach. Or at least I think so!

Anyway: here’s what I wrote back in April:

 

Starlight

 

Aspiration:

Dazzling star of my creation,

Glittering from across the galaxy,

Another time, a future reality.

 

Distance grants you power untold,

As burning beacon, flag unfurled

You tempt me ever up and on,

Magnetic beauty growing strong.

 

Yet, aspiration:

Could my vision be mistaken?

Would reaching you, your power dim

Fading and faltering within?

 

Would you gleam just as you did afar?

Or melt into the night,

Leaving just the dying light

Of a once transcendent star.

 

I’ve been thinking about aspiration this week, considering what I really want from life and how to go about getting it. Obviously, writing figures very high up on my aspirational agenda. If I imagine a life where I have unlimited time to write, alongside all the aspects I currently love in my life (as it is now), then I imagine myself pretty much perfectly happy.

That thought got me thinking about the nature of aspiration though, and whether the beautiful, perfect dreams we have are beautiful and perfect precisely because they are dreams. I love having something to aspire to. I love my dreams of a future where I am a successful published author. On particularly rough, sleep-deprived, shouty-kids days those dreams keep me going!

If I achieved that dream, would it live up to the fantasy though? That’s what inspired the poem.

I’m not sure about what I’ve written and I’m having huge doubts about publishing this post… but if I didn’t post things I’d written because I wasn’t convinced by them then I’d not post much at all!

For what it’s worth, I bet aspirations glow just as brightly close-up. Or at least, that achieving them sets off some sort of chain-reaction and a new beautiful star shoots off to glitter in the distance. The poem suggests a negativity which I don’t really feel.

What do you think? Do your aspirations still dazzle you when you achieve them?

mumturnedmom
Prose for Thought

wondering about writing

cropped-books.jpgThere’s new linky starting today over at Beautiful Misbehaviour and I’m really keen to join in. It’s called ‘Writing Warriors‘ and Stephanie has designed it to help people with writing goals support each other. Hopefully by sharing what we want to achieve and posting about how our ‘writing week’ has gone – and then reading and commenting on each others posts – we will all be more likely to succeed. Great idea!

I thought I’d use my first Writing Warriors post as an opportunity to reflect on where my own ‘writing journey’ (I’m wincing at the term, but it seems like the right one to use) has taken me this past year or so. I’ve been pondering various issues recently and maybe sharing them here will help me to sort them out.

I decided to dedicate some of my time to writing nearly a-year-and-a-half ago. My middle son had just started nursery school five mornings a week (and my third son was, as yet, unborn) so I suddenly found I had some time to myself in the morning. What better way to use these precious hours than to write? I started a blog to chart my progress but before I’d even published any of my posts, I decided that blogging would be a distraction. Instead I spent the following year just writing.

I wrote a whole mishmash of stuff: short stories mostly with some poetry flung in, and I also made a start on a book. I wrote about pregnancy, and when my third son was born I wrote about labour and birth just to get over the ridiculousness of it (I do not give birth easily!) Apart from one competition entry, I didn’t do anything with my writing. It’s all just sitting around on my hard-drive gathering dust/pixels/bytes/whatever the technological version of dust is.

Then September rolled round and I suddenly felt like re-starting my blog would be a good idea. I wasn’t quite sure why… maybe I wanted some company with my writing endeavours? Anyway, I decided to just go for it and see what happened and I quickly found myself loving it. I discovered the Prose for Thought linky over at Verily Victoria Vocalises and really enjoyed joining in with that community of writers, reading their work (by turns inspiring and intimidatingly good!) and getting feedback on mine. I also found Prose for Thought great for encouraging me to write something creative and ‘get it out there’ on a weekly basis rather than just squirrelling things away on my computer.

To begin with, putting my work on my blog took some courage (I was having a lot of visits from the nasty, squelchy, demon of self-doubt) but now I’m kind of used to it. The poems I write (they’re almost always poems, for some reason… even though I really want to write prose!) aren’t perfect by any means, but I figure that if I re-write them till they’re perfect I could be doing that till the proverbial cows come home.

But the problem is, I don’t have much free time (I have three kids and a baby who is with me all the time) and I’ve started to find that all my ‘writing time’ is being used up by blogging (and I don’t even post that often!) I almost never spend time on the book I’m attempting to write.

And I’m also wondering if publishing a poem that I’ve only just written that morning, on my blog every Thursday (to link with Prose for Thought) is really a good thing to do… I do wonder if I need to spend more time on quality control.

Plus, I’d really like to start submitting some work to competitions or publications, but I never seem to find the time to research what is out there (although thanks Stephanie for that list last week!)

So those are the issues I’m currently pondering, and I’d love feedback and/or suggestions from any other writers out there. Particularly:

  • How do you juggle writing and blogging? (I’m frankly in awe of some writer/bloggers out there!)
  • How important is blogging to you as a writer? Would you consider giving up blogging to give yourself more time to write? Or are they one and the same thing?
  • How useful has blogging been to you as a writer? Has it given you opportunities you wouldn’t have got otherwise?
  • Do you ever write something and quickly publish it on your blog, or do you only publish poems/prose that you’ve spent time perfecting?

This has been a rather rambling post. I’m normally more concise, but felt the need to write it all down this time!

I’m going to think through these issues this week and come up with some solid goals and some sort of plan for how to achieve them in time for next week’s linky!

I’m looking forward to reading the other Writing Warriors posts. Together we can all achieve our writing goals!

Stepping into the bubble

So, this is it: my first blog post on my whole new blog. I have to admit I’m feeling slightly daunted.

I’ve started this blog as part of my attempt to follow a long-held ambition to become a writer. Writing is something I’ve always loved and have pursued to various degrees at different points in my life, but somehow other things have always taken precedence. Now I’ve decided I need to actually have a go at it while I can.

I say ‘while I can’ because life has been pretty hectic recently and in a few months time it’s about to get more so. I have two young sons and I am currently expecting our third child who is due in February. However, two weeks ago my younger son started nursery school giving me three wonderful mornings a week where I am free from parenting responsibilities and free from work responsibilities. I still can’t quite believe it!

I’ve called this blog ‘writing bubble’ because I’ve decided that that is what this time is: these mornings are my little bubble of time, my chance to start writing again. So I’m going to attempt to ignore the housework (frankly that ironing pile never gets any smaller no matter what I do) and put pen to paper. Or rather, fingers to computer keys – I don’t think I’ve written anything longer than a shopping list in long-hand for years.

This is a personal blog so it will probably document all sorts of areas of my life – I’m not going to try and tie it down, especially at this early stage – but there will be a focus on my writing endeavours. I don’t mean in a dull list-like “I wrote 300 words on the subject of camels today” way: I’m more interested in documenting how it feels to have a crack at this and the things that inspire me along the way. I’m also hoping the blog keeps me focused on my goals and, of course, that it helps me connect with other like-minded people out there (hmmm, I sound a bit like a dating site now… ).

I’m not planning on letting my writing bubble burst or float off (or any other bubble-related metaphor you can think of) come February either; my plan is that by starting something now, I can pick up enough momentum to carry me through the sleep-deprived early days of new motherhood. Maybe I can write stories in my head while feeding in the depths of the night; who knows?

Sitting here now, I have no idea where this is all going to lead which is why, as I said at the start, I feel daunted. But it is kind of exciting too; I’m stepping into my writing bubble and it could take me anywhere…