Writer’s Block

If you’ve never had it before then it pretty much goes like this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And so on.  I had it for the first time ever this month and it lasted about a fortnight, during which time I barely wrote a thing, and what little I did write I hated so much it made me want to put down my pen and never ever pick it up ever again. (Actually, it made me want to snap my pen into teeny tiny pieces and stab myself in the eyeballs with them so that I wouldn’t have to read back the utter crap I’d just written…but I appreciate that might just be me having a tendency towards to rage above all other emotions).

So I read a few things which said do this, do that, definitely do not do this, and whatever you do don’t even consider that.  The gist of it being, nobody knows what the fuck they’re talking about.  What works for one person, doesn’t for another, and at the end of the day writing is a creative process, there aren’t any instructions and there’s no way of knowing if you’re doing it right (or perhaps more likely, horribly horribly wrong).

I forced myself to at least sit with a notebook on my lap every single day during those two weeks.  If I hadn’t signed up to Camp NaNoWriMo at the start of this month, there’s no way I’d even have done that.  I’d have just tucked the story away (mentally and literally) and come back to it at some other (unknown) point when inspiration struck.  But because I had a word goal I slogged on, occasionally jotting down words but mostly doodling and distracting myself with Pinterest and watching my boyfriend play on his PS4 and the such like.  Then eventually I just thought “Know what?  Fuck this shit” and I skipped an entire scene in which I had no idea what was happening or what was supposed to be happening and picked up with the following scene and since then it’s been easy breezy again.

It did mean that there was no way I was going to meet my 40,000 word goal though, so when Camp NaNoWriMo e-mailed me reminding that I had until last Saturday to alter said goal, I logged in to my profile and slashed that mo-fo right in half.  And you know what?  I’m not even sure I’m going to make that if I’m honest!

Camp ends midnight on Thursday 31st, and as it stands I have just under 5,000 words to write before then.  I can and have written that many words in a day before now, but just because something is possible doesn’t mean it is probable, so we’ll see…

Generation X (Book Jar Post 2)

So you may remember that I finally got underway with Project Book Jar and that the first book to be picked out was this:

gen x

Something I started last year, got a few pages into and then left on a shelf, got sick, moved house and completely forgot I’d ever even picked it up.

You’ll be pleased to hear that my 2nd attempt at reading it was more successful, in that I actually finished it this time (hurray!)  BUT, it took me 3 weeks.  THREE WEEKS!  Have you seen the size of the thing?!  It’s like 200 pages or something.  I just read it a chapter at a time pretty much.  Which I guess is how normal folk may read, but it is not my usual style at all.  I usually pick up a book and when I set it down the sun has risen and set again and I have forgotten my own name.  That’s how it is with good books anyway.

Was this a good book?  Ehhhh.  It was ok.  Some bits of it were really on the nose, so much so that I had a hard time believing it was written almost twenty years ago and not last month.  There were a lot of really funny bits, astute observations about friendship and life in general….but…and there is a but…I didn’t LOVE it.  Maybe it’s just me, maybe I read it at the wrong time.  It’s a dangerous thing to pick up a book like Generation X when you’re already feeling disenchanted and disillusioned with modern society.  I sort of nodded along with 75% of the content, the other 25% went over my head and when I finished I was left utterly depressed.

I then decided to forgo the Book Jar and read When Dan Lived in the Woods by Ben Wakeling- a book I’d picked up for free on my kindle a couple of weeks ago.  I finished it in one afternoon while I was at the hospital having my IVIg infusion, although to be fair it is a short easy read, 3 hours is quick even for me 😉  It was a stark contrast to Generation X, in the sense that it wasn’t critically acclaimed, nor did it have massively convoluted long and rambling monologues…but in other ways it was similar, in that it was about opting out of society and all it’s bullshit and like with Generation X, I found myself massively sympathising with the main character.  I think the trouble with reading something like Generation X such a long time after it’s publication is that it comes with so much baggage.  People want to tell you how much they love (or hate) it, and you’re almost expecting to be profoundly moved by it in some way and then disappointed if/when you’re not.  If I’d read it ten years ago it might have blown my tiny mind, but I was late to the party (again).  These days I’m enjoying picking up things with no hype and no pretence, like When Dan Lived in the Woods and then being pleasantly surprised when I find myself engrossed and engaged with the story.

I’m now reading The Rabbit Back Literature Society by Pasi Ilmari Jaaskelainen on my kindle, so something totally different but I’m really enjoying it so far (just a few pages in!)

I will go back to the Book Jar for my next pick though, I promise.  I’m just in a funny place with books at the minute and didn’t trust it to spit out the right suggestion.

NOT a Happy Camper

I am failing spectacularly at Camp NaNoWriMo.

I set myself a target of 40,000 words hoping to double my existing word count on my novel, but two weeks in I have found myself with writer’s block for the first time ever in my life.  There have been times in the past where I haven’t written regularly, or where I haven’t felt particularly inspired, but there has never been a time like this- when I love the story, when I know exactly what is supposed to happen next but as soon as I put pen to paper I hate every single word that I write and end up crossing it all through.  I am seriously doubting my abilities to make this work in a way that actually does the story justice.

Like, what if I am just shit?

That would really suck.

The Camp NaNo site allows me to up date my word count daily and then throws out a bunch of stats for me and based on my current performance it’s prediction is that I will reach my word count on…(drum roll please)…31st August! Ha! A whole month after Camp ends.  So I really need to either accept that it’s not happening, or push through this bullshit block and get on with it!

On a more positive note, I have now passed the 50,000 word mark, which feels like a pretty big achievement considering I started with zero words on 12th April.

So, if anyone has any suggestions on a cure for being completely unable to form sentences that don’t make me want to beat myself over the head with a chair then please do let me know!

Compartmentalising

I suck at it.

So I recently re-joined twitter, and moved my blog to these shiny new pastures and I was all “Right.  This will be for this, and that will be for that. And never the twain shall meet“.

However it turns out I am completely incapable of that kind of separateness.  Already I have been tweeting and blogging about a great plethora of things unrelated to writing in any way shape or form.  I have read countless articles and advice pieces telling me this is A Very Bad Thing, because if people are following me (either on twitter, or here- and there aren’t many of you) to hear about writing-related stuff, and I spend the day tweeting about misadventures in potty training, or posting photos of myself in fancy dress then you’re all going to get bored, assume I’m not your cup of tea and presumably piss off elsewhere.

And I don’t want that to happen, really I don’t.

But I also don’t want to feel like I have to hold back parts of myself because they don’t ‘fit’ with an image I’m supposed to be building of myself.  The truth is, yes I am a writer.  Although no one actually pays me for it, so I feel kind of funny claiming the title if I’m honest.  But I do spend a significant proportion of each day putting words on to pages and will continue to do so even if no one ever pays me for it, so I guess that’s what I am.  But I’m also a mum, and will make no apologies for thinking my kids are awesome (or complaining when they’re not).  And I’m also someone with a fairly newly (ish) diagnosed medical condition, that I talk about from time to time.  I read, and I swim and I love my rabbits, and eating cake and planning my next tattoo (sometimes at the same time with those last two) and I want to be able to talk about this stuff.  Both in real life and here.  And it doesn’t really matter to me if no one actually reads it, or replies, and if I’m just shouting into a void, because, well it’s my void and I want to fill it with the words that are important to me, even if they don’t matter to you.

My friend died a week ago, and there is currently a pretty huge crisis going on within my family, and neither of those things are really mine to share in any detail but I want to be able to at least say that they’re happening, and that if my tweets and blog posts are all “why is the world so fucking crazy” then that’s the reason why.  I am no good at pretending that x,y and z aren’t happening because I’m not a robot.

So, dear reader, whoever you are.  I’d like you to stick around, even if you’re not interested in half the stuff I blather on about, because you never know, something might pop up that you’re actually vaguely interested in.  But if all you want are blog-posts-on-a-theme, then please do look elsewhere, because that isn’t what you’ll find here.  This isn’t a writing blog, a book blog, a mummy blog, or a foodie blog.  It’s just me.  The good, the bad, and yes sometimes the ugly too.

 

 

A sense of accomplishment

Earlier this week I had one of those rare days where you feel like you have your shit under control (well, they’re rare for me anyway- can’t speak for anyone else).

I’d done grocery shopping, picked up these beauties that I won on ebay:

 

dms

 

I’d dropped forms in at school ready for September- hell I’d even bought my 4 year old’s book bag, even though he’s not going to have a book to go in it for another 2 months.   All with two kids in tow, and with playtime and lunchtime inbetween…I really felt like I was On Top Of Things.

Then I made the mistake of going in the kitchen:

 

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Someone should really do something about that, I thought to myself…oh wait, that would be me then. Damn it.

See, this is how it is.  Pick any two of the following three and I can do it:

1. Tidy house

2. Happy children

3. Sanity intact

But for all three to exist at the same time I’m gonna need help, and by that I mean paid help, in the form of a cleaner and a chef and possibly a nanny…as well as a dishwasher and an extra few hours in the day.

Later that same evening, when the boys were asleep in their beds, Chris was out at work and I was wearing my pyjamas (or, you know one of Chris’s clean work t shirts…whatever) I went into the bathroom and discovered that at some point we had also completely run out of toilet roll.

So much for having things under control hey?!

The thing is though, 9 months ago, just the fact that Chris was able to go out to work and I was able to walk around and take care of the kids solo would have been a miracle in itself.  Back then fastening my own bra was an achievement, as was showering by myself, and walking to the toilet and back on two crutches under the watchful eye of three physiotherapists.

So I am kind of torn.  Because on the one hand, life has moved on, and everyone (including me!) is expecting a bit more from me these days than just being able to mobilise around the house.  And that’s awesome and I can’t lie, I definitely get a kick out of surpassing other people’s (and my own) expectations of someone with CIDP, otherwise I wouldn’t have just taken part in 4 charity runs/walks in the space of  about 6 weeks would I?!

But, on the other hand, I am still not over how amazing it is to be able to get a shower by myself.  To not have to ask Chris to wash my hair (unless, you know- I wanted to for some reason), to not need crutches every time I leave the house (I haven’t used mine since February)  I kind of expected the novelty to wear off, and for me to begin to take it all for granted again, and yes there are definitely days when I let the everyday grind get to me, and forget that months ago I would have fantasised about being able to do incredibly mundane stuff like take my kids around Aldi for the week’s shopping.  But on the whole, I have somehow managed to hold on to that appreciation that I felt the first time I took steps unaided.

So while other people might applaud my achievement on walking 10k (or they might not, and might just wish I’d quit bugging them for sponsorship money) I am able to feel a sense of accomplishment over even seemingly insignificant stuff, like having control over my own limbs at any given moment (well, most of the time anyway…)

 

The Import/Export Business

The observant among you may have already noticed that it’s looking a lot fuller around here.  I finally made the decision to port (most of) my old blog posts over.

I think it’s the right decision as a lot of what I talk about doesn’t make much sense unless you know me personally or have read older posts, and it’s a bit much to expect folk to visit an entirely separate blog to get the whole story should they want it (not that I flatter myself that any of it’s that interesting, but a whole story is surely more interesting than a snippet of one?!)

The only thing that is really annoying me is that the import/export business has completely messed up the formatting with a lot of the posts, so if you do decide to read back a bit, please forgive me the crazy spacing and lack of discernible paragraphs, it honestly isn’t my fault.  I have tried to correct them but having a “computer says no” response. Gah.

I’ve updated all the back-links as far back as the start of 2014, but the idea of amending them beyond that is frankly depressing so in the interests of my mental health I’m not going to bother 😉

Also I’m anticipating being pretty busy this month on account of Camp NaNo, and, you know, life…so if I don’t manage to post as often as usual you’ll all have plenty of reading material to trawl through.  Because, who wouldn’t want to read about that time I traumatised my child with Nemo?  Or get an insight into what it’s like to have a birthday three days before Christmas?  Or re-visit the blog post in which I realised that my life was a series of GCSE Maths problems?

Failing all else you can always marvel at the way in which life can be completely tipped upside down without so much as a minute’s notice.

So…enjoy!!