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New Year’s Resolution Part ?

14 Jan

Just decided on this resolution which came like a bolt from the blue and appears to be the answer to all my troubles (don’t you just love cliches?) I’ve alluded in the past to some fairly major family issues affecting us at the moment, which I won’t go into as this isn’t really what this blog is meant to be about. But the issues are still very present, and aren’t going away anytime soon, so here’s the nub of it, it’s affecting my writing. I’ve been trying to get back into a novel I started writing many, many years ago, which is all ready and waiting in my head, but it’s fairly autobiographical, so sitting down to write it takes quite a lot of emotional fortitude. Emotional fortitude is something I have barrel loads of (who knew), but it is all being expended in other ways, leaving none when I’ve got my writer’s head on.

So what’s a girl to do? For the past year I’ve been footering about with short stories, and have spent a lot of time getting All the Places I’ve Ever Been out to market, but the new novel hasn’t been worked on properly. It is a novel I really want, and indeed, need to write. But I’ve finally realised that now is just not the time for it. But it’s not the time for giving up on writing either. I’ve found it really wonderful having a book published, and everyone is giving me such positive feedback that I’d be a fool not to carry on.

So, here’s what I’ve decided – Triangle of Sky is going on the back burner (a place it has languished for so long it should be used to it), and I’m going to pull out a radio play and re-work it as a novel. In theory this should be easier, and as outlets are limited to one for radio plays (and the Beeb said no),  I’m not losing anything by resurrecting it.

I woke up this morning, and even before I saw what a beautiful day it was (a real Elbow one), I felt more ready to write than I have in weeks, and I think it’s because I’ve made this decision.  Anyway, I better go now and get started. I’ll let you know how it goes.

52 Fridays

16 Aug

I always think that New Year’s Resolutions come at the wrong time. Just think back to January the 1st – did you leap out of bed ready to face the year and all of its opportunities? More likely you’d stayed up late, drank too many sherries and were feeling like the New Year could wait.

So, instead I’m starting my year now. Not quite as crazy as it might seem as the new school year has just started (here in Scotland), so I have peace and quiet (if you don’t count the washing machine). Fridays are the only day when I don’t have any paid work, so they are the best day to get chunks of writing work done. So for the next 52 Fridays I’ll be blogging – major disasters excepted, and mapping my progress (rather than what I hope to do).

But I do need some goalposts, so here’s the wish list:

  • Major magazine publication – short story
  • An agent, sorry that should read AN AGENT!!!!!!
  • At least one competition win (last week’s was last weeks, so blank piece of paper again)
  • Finish first draft of second novel (and possibly second draft, I’m being ambitious/foolhardy now)
  • At least two Animoto videos of flash fiction
  • Edit second ebook, which I’ve been threatening to do for months (The Chocolate Refuge available at and in case you’ve forgotten)
  • Scottish Book Trust Award – shortlisted last year, so it would be lovely to make progress on that one too
  • More readings – already got one planned on the 6th of Sept in Glasgow (details to follow)

That looks like enough to be getting on with, especially when I’ve a party to go to.

Turning my spreadsheet green

17 Jan

Well here we are two weeks in to the new year and I can report that I’ve been turning my spreadsheet green. I think I should explain – because life, work and family tend to take up rather a lot of time and head space when I do settle down to work I want it to be productive. I’m also a bit of a control freak and a pessimist so keeping a spreadsheet of my work really helps.

First I’ve created a worksheet for the year called Goals 2013, then I note down all the competitions, submissions and other writerly task generally needing done in a list, with deadlines filtered so they appear in order. I also put down the weblinks which saves loads of time when I go back to check on competition rules/guidelines etc.

Then I’ve got another sheet with all my short stories listed, with the magazines/comps that I’ve submitted to listed, with dates that they’ve been sent off and the date that I should expect to hear.

Then there’s the colourful part – I colour code everything. On my goals website I’ve got priorities colour coded, although they tend either to be HIGH in red, or just left blank. Then when I send something off I put in my Achievements column the date I’ve sent it off and highlight it green.

On my Submission worksheet I’ve got a more complex system with Blue for’ it’s nowhere/still needing work’; Yellow for ‘it’s out in the world’ and Green for’ Hooray it’s been accepted.’

So my plan for the year is to turn as much as I can Green. I know that all the goals won’t be met (as really they’re mainly a list of possibilities) but it’s great to get over the pessimism to see that I am achieving things and turning them Green.

Want to start your own list, here’s some suggestions of competitions and submissions that are open at the moment – let me know how you get on turning them green: