New Beginnings

Happy 1st May / Beltane Blessings!

beltanealtar2017

I thought I’d better brush aside some of the tumbleweed blowing through this place, after only posting once in the entire month of April.  In my defence I’ve been very busy, but I look set to get even busier in the coming weeks so I thought I’d better at least say hello and give a brief update for anyone who’s interested, before disappearing again for a few weeks!

This time last year I was on the verge of some big changes, and had some major decisions to make, so on the 30th April, aka Beltane, I lit some candles, got myself a cold beer and sat cross legged on my bed and dug deep to figure out what it was I wanted and needed to do in the coming months.  Looking back now, I can see how important those decisions were, and appreciate how brutally honest I was with myself that evening.

So again last night I did the same thing, (except, switch beer for wine, and add some dubious-smelling incense into the mix), and this morning I’m feeling good about the challenges that lie ahead.

This summer I’ll be starting a new job (probably within the next couple of weeks), starting therapy (this Wednesday) and starting a brand-new writing project  The job is back at my old hospital, although in a very different role, the therapy is high-intensity CBT, and the writing project is a young-adult fairytale with a twist.  All of which I’m pretty excited about (well, I don’t know that I’d say ‘excited’ for the therapy actually, but…’positive’, maybe?!)

Between those three things I’m not sure how I’m going to have time for much else to be honest, but I will try to share as much as I can about my experiences, in case it helps anyone else.

I’m still posting my YA contemporary over on Wattpad, and I have a loyal fan base of about ten readers (most of whom are friends/family) who are consistently reading every chapter update and telling me they’re enjoying it, which I think is all most of us really want when we share our work, so I’m calling it a success so far.  I’ve also been pushing myself outside my comfort zone in other ways, like entering writing contests, submitting short stories for anthologies, and taking up burlesque dancing!

My CIDP continues to be well-managed and I’m hoping to reduce my dose of immunoglobulins over the summer months, and my PCOS is also behaving, so for once I don’t feel like I’m using up half my energy in a battle of wills with my own body.

Generally, aside from crippling anxiety, (which the therapy will hopefully help with), and a distinct lack of money (which the job should surely help with), life is good.  (Although obviously I hate typing that for fear of jinxing myself in some way, damn anxiety.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Year Without A Car

One year ago we sold our car and braced ourselves for living the next twelve months car-free.  I’d love to say this was a purely experimental move, for environmental and social reasons, but the truth is we were skint and couldn’t afford to run a car anymore.  So for the past year we’ve been entirely at the mercy of public transport, aside from the occasional lift from friends and family/rare taxi to the hospital.

When we made the decision, I intended to document our journey, from a family who’d always had a car (at least since having kids) to one trying to navigate life without, and I even went so far as setting up separate twitter, instagram and blog accounts specifically to post about our experience.  However, after writing two blog posts and taking a handful of pictures of the kids waiting for a bus/train, I discovered a few things…the first of which, was that what we were doing- what we still are doing- is not actually remarkable at all.

I actually knew this already, having grown up in a working class family with parents who didn’t drive.  My childhood consisted of bus trips and looooong walks everywhere.  So I already knew that going without a car didn’t make us special in any way, so much as remarkably privileged that this was the first time we were having to factor bus times/fares into our daily lives.  And although Chris did grow-up with a car, he has always commuted to work on public transport, so for him it hasn’t been such a radical change, although I’m sure he’ll agree that it’s still been a massive pain in the arse in many ways.

And that’s the other thing I discovered- that not only did I feel silly documenting something so very ordinary, but also, journeys were often such an absolute ball ache that the idea of reliving them in a blog post, to debate the pros/cons of taking the train vs the car, was just…well…urgh is the noise that springs to mind.

But, our year is almost up, and I have a new job (yippee), which means a car could soon become a real possibility once again (double yippee) so to mark our ‘year without’, I thought I’d do a basic round-up post of what it’s been like.

CONS

Buses are rarely on time.  We live on one of the busiest bus routes in Europe, buses into the city centre are supposed to be every 3 minutes at peak-times.  They are not.  My frequent experience is of waiting for one for between 10 and 15 minutes, and then having two or three turn up at once.  I don’t know how people in more suburban/rural areas manage without a car.  It’s genuinely inconceivable to me.  The only reason it has felt do-able for us, is being so close to the city centre with it’s multiple tram stops/train stations/bus services.

Public transport is inordinately expensive.  A day ticket on the bus for an adult costs £4.30.  A family ticket is £8.50.  We got a family and friends railcard which has made local train journeys much more affordable, but we’ve yet to use it to go anywhere further afield, because even with the extra money off, train fares are pricey, plus the idea of more than an hour on a train with the kids makes me feel a bit wobbly at the knees.

Which leads me onto my next point very nicely.  Motion sickness.  I’ve always had it, but thought I’d grown out of it as an adult.  Turns out, what actually happened was that I just learnt to drive and never went on transport for more than ten minutes at a time.  That’s obviously had to change this past year, and I’ve spent a lot of journeys staring resolutely out of the window and looking very green around the gills.

gag

(me, every time I’m forced to ride on a hot bus/go backwards on a train)

Public transport forces you to interact with strangers.  Rude bus drivers that you’re then at the mercy of until you reach your destination.  People with differing hygiene standards, and musical tastes to your own.  People with no concept of personal space.  People who can’t think of a better way to pass their journey than to spend it judging your parenting.  They’re all right there, and you can’t get away from them.

Which again leads nicely onto another major con- kids on transport.  When we had a car, yes the kids would sometimes ‘act up’ in the back- hitting each other with a Buzz Lightyear, spilling raisins all over the footwell, waiting until I’m in the outside lane of the M60 doing 85mph to tell me that they’re ‘desperate’ for a wee, etc etc.  But at the end of the day, they weren’t bugging anyone other than us.  Chris could turn in his seat and offer some kind of bribe/threat, I could pull the car off at the next services to use the toilets, whatever.  On public transport- when they’re tired, and want to slump across two seats and fall asleep on a commuter train, when they spill food everywhere, when they whine ‘are we nearly there yet’, you’ve got to be prepared with entertainment (no cd player remember!) and snacks, and reasons why they should stop kicking the chair in front, or why they shouldn’t lick the window, and if they need a wee?  Well good luck with that.

Basically you have no control.  Which for a control-freak is so bloody difficult.  Knowing I could leave my house two hours before an appointment and still not get there on time, because I’m not in charge is infuriating and mind-boggling.

Your world feels a lot smaller.  The only times we’ve ventured outside of the city limits have been either to visit family and friends, or when we’ve actually rented a car for the week and decided to make the most of our freedom.  Most of the time we’ve just bumbled around locally, because anything else is a. supreme effort and b. bloody expensive.

Also, over the winter, when my anxiety was bad and there was a spate of assaults in my local area, I felt totally trapped in my own home after dark.  With the car I’d have had no problem nipping out to the supermarket, or to a dance class or wherever, but faced with the prospect of walking places on my own in the pitch black?  No thanks.

Weather.  It’s unpredictable.  It’s generally shit.  And when you’re actually trudging through it in the dark with two miserable kids carrying school bags. and PE kits, and a week’s worth of shopping, then you really fucking FEEL IT, in a way that you don’t when you’re dashing between the front-door and the car.

Which leads me onto- shopping.  So many people urged us to do grocery deliveries, not perhaps fully appreciating that the reason we gave up the car was because we were TOTALLY SKINT.  So paying for someone to drop the shopping off seemed like a luxury that we couldn’t afford.  Hence, more frequent shopping trips and only buying what you can carry (which for me, with my CIDP, and generally piss-poor upper-body strength, is not all that much, it turns out.)

PROS

There has to be some…right?!  Well- yes.  The biggest pro, and the reason we did this was to save money.  We’ve probably saved about £300 a month (the cost of car finance, car insurance, car tax, and the annual MOT combined.)  We haven’t saved on petrol because the car was really economical, and because that money has been spent on transport instead.  So yes, if your car running costs are high (i.e. if you’re paying your car off in instalments, or live in a high insurance area etc) then you will definitely save money, providing you don’t just get taxis everywhere instead of course.

Another pro (I guess?) is that there was a certain novelty value for the first couple of months.  The kids had been on buses/trains before but not very frequently, so they were pretty enthusiastic about our transport adventures to begin with, which probably buoyed us a little too.  And it’s made me more confident on transport (knowing which stop to get buses from in Piccadilly, and even using the metro for the first time all by myself!)

Environmentally, I figure our impact will have been minimal, but NOT having the car definitely made me realise how many ‘quick trips’ I used to use it for, just because it was there, so that’s something I’ll consciously try to avoid if/when we get a car again in the future.

Which I guess leads onto another pro- which is that health wise I’ve had to do a lot of fucking walking.  We all have.  So that’s something.

And finally- daydreaming.  You can’t do that behind the wheel at high speeds.  Long bus journeys, especially if you sit at the front upstairs, jam your headphones in and resolutely refuse to make eye contact with anyone, can be really good for the imagination.  I have done so much people-watching this way, and thinking-time is always hugely beneficial for creativity.

______________

So, there you have it.  A project I intended to space out over 52 blog posts across twelve months, I’ve just summarised (probably quite badly) in one.

The fact is, if you’re in a position to weigh-up the pros and cons, i.e. you can actually afford to run a car without getting yourself into crippling debt, then to be honest, it’s probably worth it.  Unless you live and work in a city centre, and don’t have a driver’s licence, which is possibly the only scenario I could imagine being car-free NOT being a major pain in the ass.  But for anyone else- especially people with kids, then I wouldn’t recommend it.  Unless you don’t have a choice- in which case, my pros and cons aren’t going to be relevant anyway.  Needs must when the devil drives, and all that.

flintstones

(Our new ride, probably.)

short and sweet

If you’ve read any of my other blog posts, you’ll know I’m not exactly what you’d call ‘succinct’.  This is true of my fiction writing too- I’ve never really managed to grasp short story writing, or the idea of flash fiction.  Almost all the story ideas I have would require a novel to execute, or possibly even a series of novels.  Nonetheless, in an attempt to branch out, and improve my writing I attended a workshop last year on short story writing, and found it really inspiring, so I came away thinking “ok, maybe I can do this after all…” but then after about ten failed attempts, I decided that no, actually, short story writing was clearly not for me.

Fast forward to now, and in the past month I have entered two separate short stories into two different writing contests, and I’m about to submit a third short story for an anthology.

I’m not sure what changed- maybe those ten abandoned stories were a necessary hurdle, like me gunning my creative engine, maybe it’s down to not overthinking it so much, maybe it was giving myself permission to suck and to get it wrong.  I don’t know.  But I am super excited to tell you that one of my short stories, that I wrote for the Beauty and the Beast writing challenge on Wattpad has made it into the top ten entries!  I found out a couple of days ago and I’ve honestly been on a high since.  I really surprised myself with how much I enjoyed writing that story, and maybe that shows through, but whatever the reason- having someone I don’t know, who has no vested interest in me say “yeah that’s actually good,” is such a fantastic feeling, I fear I’m in danger of becoming a praise junkie.

The winner of the Wattpad contest will be announced on Monday, but even if it’s one of the other nine entrants, I’ll honestly be chuffed just to have made it to the top ten, and likewise with the other stories I’ve submitted- the joy has really been in the writing of them, and realising that I am capable of executing something in under 1k/2k/5k words and actually enjoying the process (although I won’t lie, editing and cutting words down is harrrrd!)

You can read my Beauty and the Beast inspired story ‘Inner Beauty’ here and the other entries here.

 

Déjà Vu

That’s the title of the story I’ll be releasing on Wattpad, starting this Friday (24th February)!

I promised last night that I would a. actually follow through and DO THIS and b. tell you, my tiny but loyal readership, a little more about the story itself in case any of you want to read it.  So, here I am.

Déjà Vu is a young adult contemporary novel, set entirely in North Wales, and dealing with- well, basically a lot of the stuff I dealt with as a teen, so- friendship, identity, trying to overcome past trauma, underage drinking, crushes, self-harm and a generous helping of snark.

It is not, however, in any way shape or form autobiographical.  Yes there are little snippets of my experiences parcelled up in my characters, but no more so than in any other character/story I’ve written.  I think all writers put something of themselves in what they write, like little two dimensional horcruxes, but that doesn’t mean that any of the main characters are actually me.  Likewise, although setting the story where my boyfriend grew up, and enlisting the help of our family (thanks guys) to translate some of the Welsh for me- it isn’t in any way based on him or his experiences either.  It’s fiction.  Just to be super clear about that:  I made it up.

It currently stands at 76k words, across 46 (quite short) chapters, although I can’t swear I won’t start tweaking and editing along the way- so the exact figures may vary.  I’m planning to upload new chapters every Monday and Friday.

 

Here is the cover:

dejavucover

(Ta daaaaaa!)

And here is the blurb:

“Ryan Lovell detests the sleepy Welsh village he has lived in his whole life- along with most of the people in it, and in some cases the feeling is mutual. All he wants is to get out the place, but to do that he needs a university place- and to get that he needs a-levels, and money. Neither of which is easy to come by when you have an alcoholic Dad, and are living in the shadow of your own reputation.

Ryan’s best friend Hester is living in foster care and battling her own demons, and his only other friend Dewi has grown distant since they left school. When a new family moves into the village, Ryan gets both a way to make money- in the form of a part-time job as their gardener, and a distraction from his worries- in the form of the new girl Pippa, who joins him and Hester at the local college. For once, Ryan thinks things may finally be looking up- but when he starts blacking out and waking with no memory of what’s happened, he realises that his university plans- and hope of a relationship with Pippa, may be sliding out of his reach.”

 

So, if you like a bit of angst in your literature, enjoy un-pronounceable place names, and are down for strong romantic subplots, then Déjà Vu may be just your thing.  Or alternatively, if you’d just like to offer some support/critique my debut then that’s all good too 😉

This is my profile on Wattpad, where the story will be appearing, so…maybe see some of you over there?  And of course I’ll try to update here too, to let you all know how it goes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

N.B. (And I’ll be putting this disclaimer on Wattpad too).  This story does contain reference to (but not descriptions of) self-harm, previous SA, and suicide.  As a survivor of all three, I would hate for anyone to be triggered by that.  I like to think I’ve dealt with the issues sensitively and not used them for shock value- but really, who am I to say what might be triggering to anyone else? So if you think this might apply to you, then it might be best not to read Déjà Vu. I’ll be putting helpline links in the relevant chapters in case anyone is affected.)

I wrote a book

I wrote it a while back now, and I even blogged about writing it at the time, so this is not really news.  I came up with the idea in 2004 (!) forgot all about it for a wee while, had some babies etc etc, and then finally came back to it and started writing it in 2014.  I edited it in 2015, gave it to some beta readers (thanks you lovely lot) in 2016, and since then I have done…PRECISELY NOTHING WITH IT AT ALL.

Seriously.  I looked at the file information on the word doc today, and it was last modified in March 2016 (i.e. when I received it back from my final beta reader).  I also have a paper copy in an A4 file, that has been sitting on a shelf in the study for so long it has gathered a significant layer of dust.

Why haven’t I done anything with it?  You might ask.  Well…a billion reasons really.  I still wasn’t sure if I’d achieved what I’d set out to do with it.  It had evolved so much both in the decade between the idea and the execution, and also during the writing, that it had become something else altogether, and I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.  Also it had some flaws, as all stories do, and I wasn’t sure how minor or major they were.  The feedback from my beta readers was good, but two out of four of them were related to me, and another shares my bed, so I mean…how critical were they ever going to be?  Was it secretly shit?  Should it ever see the light of day? Etc etc.  And so you can see, I think, how it almost became easier just to move on to writing the next thing, rather than devote my time to working out what if anything else needed doing to the book and how it should be shared with the world- if at all.

In the time since, I’ve successfully bashed out a first draft during 2015 NaNoWriMo (that I’ve yet to go back and edit at all), as well as starting and then abandoning two separate WIP’s (oops), and right now I am busy working on the first draft of two very distinct stories, and they’re actually going- dare I say it- ok?  One is probably a couple of weeks away from being ‘done’ (in the sense that I’ll have completed the scenes necessary for the plot, and be ready to step away from it for a while) and the other is nowhere near done, but I’m not rushing it and I’m enjoying myself in the process.

In the meantime, I’ve been thinking about that first story- the one that’s been idling in the wings, and wondering what it’s fate will be.  It seems a shame to have spent two years on/off working on something for only four people to ever read it, so I brushed the dust off the physical copy yesterday and had a flick through, and to my amazement I felt like- it wasn’t awful??  Usually when I read my own work I find myself cringing in that way that basically everyone does when they hear their voice on a recording.  Like: “damn, is that really what I sound like?”  And yes, ok reading some passages, I was like “Dafuq you on about in this bit?” or “Goddam girl, you need to get you some grammar lessons,” but on the whole I came away thinking that it seems a shame for it to go back onto a shelf and be ignored for the rest of eternity.

And so…I am probably going to put it on Wattpad.

I only joined last month, and I have a grand total of 2 (yes, that’s two!) followers, but if they both read it, that will increase the book’s audience by a whole 50% at this point, and honestly, even if no one does- at least I’ll have put it out there.

More and more (and I genuinely think WORLD EVENTS are having an impact here), I am coming to realise that putting stuff out there, is what’s important.  So long as what you’re putting out isn’t hateful bullshit I mean.  But just creating things that didn’t exist and saying “hey, this is a thing I made,” and spending less time worrying about:

  • If it’s the best thing you will ever make
  • If it’s the worst thing ever made in the history of the world
  • If everyone is going to hate it/you or
  • If your efforts will in fact be ignored completely

Because honestly, all that shit is a. exhausting and b. uncontrollable.

I don’t actually think that this story is the best thing I’ll ever make (pretty sure my kids take the biscuit there tbh), nor do I think it’s the naffest story ever (otherwise I wouldn’t have inflicted it on four people I love), and as for people hating it/me- I’m trying to get my head around the fact that someone always will, and I can’t let that stop me.  As for being ignored- honestly I don’t think shouting into the void on Wattpad will feel much different to talking to myself on here 😉

So really, the only thing that remains is for me to DO IT.

I made the decision today, and this blog post is a way for me to hold myself accountable in case I wake up tomorrow and go “Whaaaaat?  That’s a stupid idea, past Rebecca- no way!”

So my plan will be to post two chapters per week (the way Wattpad works, you have to release a section/chapter at a time, like a serialisation) probably on a Monday and a Friday, and see how it goes.

Before I encourage any of you to join Wattpad and read along, I should possibly give you a bit more information about the story, but I’ll do that in a separate blog post (probably tomorrow, because this one is already super long, and it’s almost midnight- when my laptop turns into a pumpkin and my jeans transform into pyjama pants- oh, who am I kidding, I’ve been in pyjamas since 7pm already 😉 )

So yes, if you want to know more, then please do subscribe to the blog/ follow me on Wattpad / follow me on Twitter / but probably don’t actually follow me in real life that will definitely freak me out.

 

Patrons and Patreon

Two blog posts in one week?! Apparently I have a lot to say right now.  Either that or I’m procrastinating in order to avoid writing a tricksy scene in my WIP…hmm.  Could be that too.

I DO have something to say though, and that is this:

I am now on Patreon!

The idea of setting up a Patreon page has been something I’ve mused over for a while now, and in great depth (as my poor partner will attest to).  I’ve read success stories, not-so-success stories, how-to articles.  I’ve mulled over what it means to be a ‘creator’ and the pros and cons of asking people to fund your creativity (which is essentially what Patreon does).  I’ve spent literal hours debating all of this and more, and then finally, on his way out of the house this evening (no doubt happy to be escaping yet more hmming and ahhing on my part) my boyfriend said “just do it!” And so…I did?!  Apparently Nike really were onto something with that, huh?

In an ideal world (Ha! Hahahahahahaha) I wouldn’t need to ask for financial support to write, but clearly this is not that world.  I am not a starving writer (yet) but the reality is that without some form of patronage or a lottery win (and I don’t gamble, so that seems…unlikely), I will probably need to start looking for a second job on top of my library post soon.  Two part-time jobs, two small children, a chronic health condition and spiraling anxiety doesn’t seem like a recipe for success though, and certainly not a scenario in which I imagine my creativity will flourish.  Hence, I have finally bit the bullet and set up a Patreon.

To be honest, given my online following (all ten of you reading this) I doubt I’ll be the next Amanda Palmer style success story, but nonetheless I have set a goal of $500 (annoyingly, Patreon only works in dollars, for those of you who can’t convert in your head- like me, that’s about £400) because if I were to get enough patrons to reach that amount, it would mean that I could forgo the ‘second job’ idea and just concentrate on being- well, me.  I.e. raising my boys, being the best goddam Saturday girl the library ever had, continuing to be a CIDP warrior, and- of course- writing.  Whether that’s blog posts, novels or short stories- just getting my words out there.

So, there you have it.  If you’ve got $1 to spare (that’s 80p to us UK folk) you can become my patron.  And if you haven’t, it’s all good-  I’ll still be here, wittering away when the mood strikes me.

On swimming & writing

I’ve blogged before about my love of- but not necessarily skill at- swimming, here and here.

Well this week I went for my first swim of the year, and by that I mean not only my first swim of 2016 but literally my first swim in almost a year.  I am usually a seasonal swimmer anyway, as the thought of leaving the house after dark in the winter months and voluntarily plunging into luke-warm water wearing nothing but a small amount of lyrca just seems, well wrong.  But I didn’t manage much swimming- or really anything at all- last summer on account of fostering a newborn baby, which left very little time for anything else.

So I was looking forward to getting back in the water, but I was also apprehensive- we have a new local pool so I’d never been before, I didn’t know how busy it would be, where the changing rooms were, I was worried I’d be so out of practice after my year of very little exercise that I’d get in and promptly drown.  But actually?  It was fine.

It was moderately busy, but I was able to swim up and down without getting in anyone’s way (or anyone getting in mine).  Yes there were people there swimming faster than me, and people with better technique, people who weren’t afraid to put their head under the water…but there were also parents with kids struggling to just stay afloat, an elderly man with his daughter practicing rehabilitation exercises, and a woman not much younger than me wearing armbands.  No one cared that my breaststroke was sloppy, or that I kept my head above water.  Everyone was too busy with their own stuff to notice how wide my thighs are or how long it took me to make it from one end of the pool to the other.

It’s no secret that I haven’t been writing much lately, here on the blog things are pretty quiet, and behind the scenes not much is happening either.  I told myself that this year would be the year I would finally DO SOMETHING with my writing, that is- start showing it to people other than my close friends and family, enter competitions, query the book I wrote in 2014 etc etc.  But it’s the middle of April and I haven’t done any of those things yet, and truth be told I’m not sure when I will.  I’ve been crippled with self doubt for weeks now, thinking that every word I put down is pure garbage, reading over the fourth (and so far, final) draft of my YA novel and thinking there’s not a chance in hell of it being published, holding back from the blog because I don’t know how to put my feelings into words, and because there are some things I don’t know if I’m ready to share.  I’ve been comparing myself to anyone and everyone, and always finding myself lacking- in skill, in accomplishments, in LIFE and EVERYTHING.

It’s been pretty shit basically.

I vowed to do Camp NaNoWriMo as a way to push myself to JUST GET WORDS DOWN and get a new project off the ground, but it backfired horribly when I realised I wasn’t 100% on the project and felt completely unqualified to write it.  For a couple of weeks I didn’t write anything, and I thought maybe that could be the answer- to just STOP.  For a while anyway, to not force it and hope that whatever was missing would come back, or whatever had gone wrong would somehow right itself.

But as I swam up and down the pool on Tuesday, I began to feel lighter.  Not just literally, but metaphorically too- does it really matter if my new WIP is a wobbly disaster?  Does it matter if only a handful of people visit this blog?  Does it matter if other people are getting agents and publishers and PHDs and I am scratching down vague notions in a Tesco Notepad?  Or does it only really matter that I do things because I enjoy them?  Like swimming…

I used to be able to swim between 40 and 50 lengths in an hour, so I was torn on Tuesday between setting my goal at 50 lengths or setting it at one hour.  And then I realised that what was important was that I’d got in the pool in the first place, and anything after that was just a bonus.  So I swam for an hour, in which time I managed 35 lengths.  I could have beat myself up about that- last year I could do 50, that guy over there must have done about twice that in half the time, I really need to synchronise my legs and arms better and try putting my face in etc etc etc.  But instead I thought how pleased I was to have made the time to go, how nice it was to try out the new pool, how pleasantly tired my limbs were on the way home, how glad I was that I learned to swim as a kid and how fortunate I am that my CIDP is so well managed that I actually physically CAN swim right now.

And it hit me, that I could apply that same mindset to my writing too.  Sure some people have a stack of writing qualifications, and have won prizes and secured book deals and have a billion followers on twitter and enough money in the bank to not need to worry.  But there are also people who can’t read or write, who wouldn’t know where to start coming up with an idea for a story or who are staring down the barrel of their first ever first draft.  There will always be people ahead of me in swimming- and in writing- and in life, and there will always be people behind.  And actually it’s not a race, and no one is keeping score.

Maybe it is good to take some time out now and again- if everything is frustrating and nothing is working and even trying is making you feel bad about yourself.  But in this case, I think I need to do the opposite- and just push through.  I abandoned my WIP (which was really just a character list, vague plan and a folder of research) and instead jumped on an idea I had a while back and just rolled with it- no planning, no thinking about target audiences or marketability or if it would be The Best Book Ever Written (it won’t).  Just writing.  Making words appear where there weren’t previously any words, and not beating myself up if those words are a bit naff at times, and what do you know- I now have 2500 of them, and my aim is to get enough of them (probably about 10,000) to know whether this is something worth throwing myself into and that’s IT.  My aim is not to have a polished MS by the end of the year or to have an agent by my next birthday, it is just to write.

I thought having clear goals this year with my writing- like entering a short story competition or sending my first query letter would help me feel focused, and truth be told help me justify the vast swathes of time I spend writing when I could (and sometimes should) be doing something else.  But actually it paralysed me with fear, so for now I’m sticking to VAGUE and trying to remember that it doesn’t matter if I am never the Best Swimmer or the Best Writer in the world, and that’s good because I never will be either- it only matters that I don’t let my lack of confidence stop me from doing things I love.

 

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