Monday, 29 June 2015

Beating Deadlines

My entries for this years songwriting contest have been submitted - and look there's even a whole day left until the deadline. Are you impressed?

To be fair I submitted what was going to be my one and only entry last week. But then in a bolt of inspiration I wrote some new lyrics, which I loved even more than the first ones, and then kicked myself for having been so organised and already submitted. Which meant there was only one thing I could do... Submit a second entry.

Okay so technically there were two things I could have done, the second being to simply do nothing, but inaction didn't really seem like the best way of getting my lyrics out there.

Of course by tomorrow I'll be cursing myself for submitting either, as I nervously await the results and wonder why I put myself through this torment of anxious hope.

Ah the tortured life of a writer.

The thing is, aside from the knot in my stomach, bitten down nails and thread bare carpet from all my nervous pacing, I wouldn't have it any other way.

So maybe it's not so much a tortured life, but more an obsessed one.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Rainy Sunday Mornings

I opened the curtains this morning and smiled as I saw the rain soaked terrace and muddy deep brown soil.  Rain on a June weekend is not usually a good thing.  However, given my plan for this morning was to weed the flower beds and generally attempt to bring order to the chaos otherwise known as my back garden, rain disrupting my good intentions is definitely a great thing.

The temptation is to utilise this reprieve from battling the wilderness that lurks outside my door, to sit at my desk and write.  My vacuum cleaner however has other ideas, and thinks that I should be cleaning the room I nostalgically refer to as the dinning room, even though no dinning has taken place in there since Christmas on account of the boxes and other clutter left over from the kitchen refit.

Whilst the pen may be mightier than the sword, it turns out it's no match for my vacuum cleaner.  Which has perfected the art of the guilt trip to get me to do something I don't want to do, just by sitting there.  I just hope it doesn't start giving lessons to the lawn mower.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

Scary First Steps

I’m typing this week’s blog while my printer merrily whirs back and forth beside me, the pages of my novel appearing one by one in a neat little stack.  It’s tempting to just sit and watch it work.  After all the time and effort that has gone into the words that are now etched on the fresh white sheets of paper, it feels like a truly momentous occasion.  My novel is complete.

Well almost. 


My novel may be written, but it’s a long way from the end of its journey.  The stack of A4 pages is not quite the same as the bound book with a stunning cover that I envisage when I lie awake at night.

In fact as the pile grows higher and higher that sense of magic that I’d felt when I clicked on the print button dissipates a little more, as nerves take over.

At the beginning of the year I was fortunate to join the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writers Scheme.  Part of the benefits of joining such a prestigious group, is the ability to have my novel reviewed.  Hence the printing….

All 211 pages will soon be carefully packed in a padded envelope and sent on their way.  While they spend the next few weeks of their life being read, critiqued and hopefully loved, I will spend those weeks in a nervous meltdown.

I’m suddenly conscious of the sound of my keyboard tapping while I type, which draws my attention to my now silent printer.  It’s finished.  My novel is printed.  Oh no, wait…  It’s just run out of ink.   Thankfully, I’m the obsessively organised type who just happens to have a spare ink cartridge.

After much clicking, clunking and other disconcerting noises, my printer resumes is duties and my novel continues to emerge from fantasy to reality.

With three sheets of paper spare, my printer goes back to sleep and my novel heads off into the big wide world.  Maybe this is what it feels like to watch your children go off to their first day at school.  They’re off on their adventures, while you stand by the school gate worrying if they’ll make new friends, or fall flat on their faces.  

Here’s hoping it’s not the latter….

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Writing Rituals

This weeks writing class morphed into a discussion about our writing rituals.  Many of my fellow writers admitted that they find it hard to be disciplined to sit down and start writing.  They have to trick themselves into writing a paragraph by promising that they can then do something else afterwards.  Of course, once they start they get lost in their writing and the bribe isn't required.  But they needed that motivation to get started.

Once again I found myself astounded by our differences.  I race through my chores, putting off what I can, just so I can have the luxury of sitting down in front of my keyboard.  I seize every opportunity for a few spare moments to make notes and reach for my note pad the second I crawl into bed at night, even though I'd barely been able to keep my eyes open only moments before.

I don't need help getting started, it's the off switch, or at least the pause button that I need help finding.

Monday, 15 June 2015

Our Song

You may recall a few months back I took the brave decision (ok ok so it was a crazy decision at the time, but it worked out well so now I can call it brave), to share my song lyrics (which had made it to the semi finals of last years song writing contest) with a fellow writing student on the course I'm taking who happens to be a talented musician.

He sent the recording through to me last week and I listened in amazement.  It's like hearing a song you know well on the radio and singing along, except I'd never heard it before I just knew all the words.  I still can't believe that he transformed the words on a page of my old note book into an actual song.  The music and production of the track is fantastic and hearing about all the work that goes into not just recording but producing it is incredible.  I have a new appreciation for the music industry!

Two days later our writing class was considering the influence of music and images on writing, as a result our tutor decided it would be a good opportunity to share our song with the rest of the group.  Since starting this class I thought reading my stories aloud was the scariest thing imaginable, turns out I was wrong.  Hearing your song lyrics vibrating the room as everyone listens attentively is utterly terrifying and, thankfully for the sake of everyone's ears, I wasn't even singing.

I spent the entire 4 minutes while it played, examining every wall, poster and inch of grubby grey carpet, attempting to avoid eye contact with everyone, fearful of the utter scorn and boredom that I was sure I would find etched on their faces.  Now of course, I wish I'd analysed the people instead of the furniture.  Was a foot tapping?  A head bobbing?  Did anyone mime along with the chorus?  Or were they all desperately shoving their fingers in their ears?  

Whilst it was playing fear meant I didn't want to know the answers to any of these questions, but as soon as it finished and the room was engulfed in applause, instead of feeling relieved I suddenly wanted to know if it was real.  Whilst I want people to love what we have created as much as I do, I don't want false praise and empty compliments.  I want constructive criticism and genuine emotion.  The problem is, how do I know if that's what I got?

Sure I could assume they all loved it and chase after my dream with my head held high, but not if it means I'm going to charge straight off the edge of the cliff that I didn't see coming, because I let myself get caught up in the excitement and overlooked reality.  Reaching for the stars is a great aspiration, but I'd rather be doing it with solid ground beneath my feet.

Anyway, here's the link to our song 'This House', do let me know what you think...

Friday, 12 June 2015

Kick Starting Creativity

My writing has taken a backseat as reality took unscheduled control of my life recently.  Juggling work, hospital visits and an overwhelming sense of worry, put everything else on hold.  Sometimes life really is just about trying to get by and make it from one day to the next.

The result is that I hadn't really written much for a few months, other than some rather somber song lyrics.  It seems when I'm happy I write stories.  Happy, sad, romantic, adventurous, it really doesn't matter, the story ideas just seem to bubble away in my head, eager to break free and make it on to the page.  However, when I'm sad the stories fade away and short lines of rhyming heartache take over.  A chorus, a verse, even whole songs will come to me as I drive home or try to sleep.

The start of the final term of my writing course last month however meant that I had to pull myself out of my slump and release my imagination once more, or maybe it was more a case of giving it a kick start...  There's nothing like the thought of reading your work aloud to the rest of the group to inspire determination to come up with something.  Preferably something that isn't horrifyingly bad and embarrassing.