Thursday, 26 August 2010


to see if I can upload video from my camera

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

when your phone number is similar to the local vet's

"Hello love, sorry to bother you, it's Joyce Marvin here, that's M-A-R-V-I-N, and I just wondered how the little hedgehog we brought in on Friday afternoon is doing, is he alright?"

Friday, 20 August 2010


"And it was the 2 things she couldn't bear: wounds and phlegmy chests, wasn't it?"

"Yeah. And I was always all right with the gangrenous feet."

Thursday, 19 August 2010

If you and your manuscript were fictional characters, which ones would you be and why?

Wowsers - nearly 2 weeks since my last post. Just a brief one to say hello, to assure you I'm still here.

The 500 words on each day off thing isn't really happening as easily as I'd like, but words are being written, just not so many for The Book as I thought. I fall in and out of love with this project very easily, and the 500-words were meant to encourage me to consistently work on it, along with my usual stash of short stories.

But a new incentive presented itself when my filmmaker friend Miles told me he's working on a novel and he'd like me to read the first chapter - Sure, I said, and hey - I'll send you the first section of my book too, and - let's have a deadline - howzabout 31st August? Sorted.

So in 10 days or so I'll send him the rough and very first-drafty draft of the beginning of The Book. I might even tell you what the fook The Book is (not a novel, not exactly non fiction, seriously not a memoir) instead of all the smoke and mirrors. It's the way I said I fall in and out of love with it - writing about it here is like commitment. I'm like Nick in Coronation Street (I realise that might be relevant to less than 1% of anyone reading) afraid of committing to Natasha. I'm such a user.


If you and your manuscript were fictional characters, which ones would you be and why?

Friday, 6 August 2010

Ha, so, anyway, but. Sigh.

HA, well. Yesterday was s'posed to be the first day of writing 500 words of The Book. I did everything else on my list of things to do, apart from write the 500 words.

SO, not the best start. But I did go to the hairdresser's, and having my hair cut is always a traumatic experience. Not that I'm precious about my hair, I just hate being in the hairdresser's. There is something about being sat in front of myself that makes me act like an idiot. It's intimidating, and weird, and I try to over compensate for this by talking too much and acting like I don't find it intimidating or weird. One of my earliest published stories (2006, called The Closest Thing, in this anthology) was set in the chair at the hairdresser's.

ANYWAY. After the hair thing (good cut, by the way) I did all kinds of essential stuff like wash the sofa throw, make a rice salad, finish reading a book... Good book, actually, so not my fault. One Day by David Nicholls - great, absorbing, funny... nice premise too: each chapter is set on July 15th over 20 years - 1988 to 2008, following the almost-relationship and friendship of the two lead characters, Emma and Dexter. I'm certain it'll be made into a film and ruined some time in the next couple of years. *See comments*

BUT. Today. Today was better. Today I did it. 557 words of The Book exist that did not exist 2 hours ago. It still took me a while to get there. First I had to go for coffee, do some food shopping, do laundry, read blogs, check emails, check the websites of prizes I've entered, check emails, read blogs, check emails. But I did it with that Grayson Perry quote 'Creativity is failure' firmly in my mind.

SIGH. Pat on back. Sip of wine.


And now - a couple of useful or interesting things for your writer's eyes:

Competitions Closing Soon

Wells Festival of Literature
Stories between 1800-2000 words
£500 first prize
£4 entry
Closes August 31st
(Festival takes place in early October, which means there's probably a quick turnaround for the results with this one.)

Aesthetica Annual Creative Works Competition
Send 1 or 2 stories of up to 2000 words each
£500 first prize
£10 entry
Closes August 31st
(I think 2 stories for the £10 entry fee is pretty good)

Ilkley Literature Festival
Stories of up to 3000 words
£200 first prize
£4 entry
Closes September 1st
(Like the Wells Competition, the festival takes place in October so there's probably a quick turnaround for results again.)

And 2 blog posts I've enjoyed this week

Editorial Ass on the different types of publishing we can choose to pursue - a really direct, useful and balanced post from someone who works in the industry.

Creepy Queery Girl's inspired metaphorical post entitled 'I feel like a sperm'. Read why here.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Best intentions

Hm. I haven't blogged much this past month, and the few posts I've written have been about other things: pointing you to more useful blogs, or to competitions, or to photos of Kestrels wearing plaster casts. I've been out-sourcing a bit. 'Skirting around' a bit. And that pretty much mirrors where I've been with actual writing too.

I've had a few rejections, been unsuccessful in some competitions I'd thought too much about being successful in. That happens anyway, but coupled with not-writing much, I've been feeling a bit jaded, a bit lacking in direction.

And, we all know that when that feeling is identified, a list of THINGS TO DO must be made. Direction must be found, goals and targets written in list form. A great sense of excitement and promise occurs in this stage of the writing process: anything is possible. I have the tools, I often have the time, I just need the kick up the ass every now and again.

I've learned in the past few years that there are times when I need to not write, or not write much, and that can go on for a few weeks, but when the angst rears its head, it's time to make a list. Preferably with a new way of measuring progress. This time it's word count. I've never really done that before, even though it's the obvious one.

So, on my days off I will write 500 words of The Book I Want To Write. (It's not a novel, and it's not non-fiction either. I'll just call it The Book from now on. When I get into my stride a little, I will tell you more about it.)

I might get one of those gadgets for marking my word-count progress on the side of the blog.

500 words isn't much really, is it? I bet you're reading this and thinking - 'Pah! I write 1000 before dawn!' or something equally intimidating. I did read that Kate Mosse gets up at 4am everyday to write. 4am! Reading that kind of thing can be seriously damaging to the insecure-about-my-writing-routine-writer. I'm not like that now, I think I used to be. I might still be a bit. But not much.

Along with the 500 words on days off (I have 3 days off a week) I'll also be working on short stories, and keeping an eye out for the prizes and competitions I really want to send my stories to.

And when I enter something I'll send the story away and let it go - and keep writing, keep writing.