Tuesday, 30 September 2014

September 2014 - a roller coaster ride

It’s been quite a month.
September is always special to me, for many reasons. 2014 will go down as particularly  memorable. So much has happened. I found the strength to end a relationship with a man, the first and only relationship I’ve had since my divorce from John back in 2005. What’s more, I ended it because it wasn’t giving me what I wanted. The old me would have clung on to the ashes, trying to fan them back to life like I did when my marriages failed. 
I also had major problems with John’s family which, before, would have dragged me down. Instead, I was able to step away, saving myself a wagonload of stress.
My new counsellor has been such a boon. I’ve only seen her three times but so many things have already clicked into  place, things that seem so simple now but which have caused me grief for most of my life. If I ever get round to finishing a novel, I’ll be dedicating it to her.
With so much emotional upheaval going on, I haven’t done much writing, just five new stories since the beginning of August, none of which I’m thrilled with. That might sound like a lot but when I was writing full time, I tried to write at least 8 new stories, every month. For the past four weeks, I’ve written no new stories at all. That was hard but I felt I needed to do it. I had things to work through, things I needed to get clear in my mind (plus  I had a broken heart to contend with.)
I’m delighted to say that as a result of this break,  I feel a whole lot stronger. I even managed to walk away from the pantomime group whereas before now, I wouldn’t have had the strength to do that.  
The weird thing is that I’ve sold more stories this month (September) than I have for ages – seven in total and they’ve all gone to what I call good markets (i.e. ones that pay well). I also have three stories in the latest Fiction Feast which means a decent pay cheque in October.
How do I get sales when I’m not writing new stories? It can take a long time after a story first sees the light of day before it finds a home (that’s if it ever finds one). I’ve also been looking at stories I wrote ten years ago and seeing if, with my greater experience, I can improve them.
This morning, I sold a story to Fiction  Feast that I first wrote way back in April 2003. Since  then it’s been sent all over the place. Each time it was rejected, I had a chance to take another look at it. As a result, the version they bought  today is very different from the original. I only bother to do this if I think a story has potential (quite a few of my old pieces are simply not good enough and are destined to stay on the scrap heap). Is there a story in your files that could be revitalised?
Other things I’ve done this month include starting ukulele lessons, going to a writing retreat at Weetwood Hall, joining Leeds Choral Society  and, for the first time ever,  asking a man out for a drink (he was attached so said no).
As people who follow my tweets will know, I often make plans that come to nothing. Well today I decided to take part in NaNoWriMo (or whatever it’s called) so that I can take work on a novel. Whether I’ll stick to that plan (!), I don’t know, but I would like to at least try to write something longer, just for a change.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Writing about love when your heart is breaking

I am very aware that this blog is meant to be about writing but lately I’ve had other things on my mind. This afternoon, I’m going to Weetwood Hall for a romantic writing retreat but feel as about romantic as a squashed hedgehog.
Regarding my singleton status, I keep getting all kinds of advice, much of it contradictory. People say that while I’m looking, I won’t find anyone but is that true? I know so many people who’ve found love thanks to the internet and if that’s NOT looking, I don’t know what is. I’m told that love appears when you least expect it but as I’ve said before, being a writer, I kind of half expect it all the time, thanks to my very fertile imagination. 
I’m left  wondering what to do. To me it makes sense to try all kinds of things, even lonely hearts, but maybe I’m wrong. Maybe I should just forget about finding love and get on with my life instead. As I type that, it seems to make sense so that’s my current plan…
Yesterday, I achieved my target of five short story sales this month . Three to Fiction Feast, one to Sweden, and a longer story (4300 words ) to Woman’s Weekly. Now I need to make up the numbers again which means I really do need to get back to writing new stories.  It’s all about numbers. I can’t sell stories if I haven’t written them so my aim, for now until the end of October, is to write at least five, decent, new stories.
My first visit to Lees Choral Society went well. They seem like a nice bunch with some great voices amongst them. I’m a bit lost with the Wagner at the moment but now I have the score, I can have a bit of practice before I go again. It was my first time on a bus late at night since I moved to this side of Leeds. I had to be careful to make sure I got off the bus at the right place!
Overall, it’s been a good week, despite the tears. I feel I’m going in the right direction. Quite where I’m headed, I don’t know but at least I’m on the move again.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


I want to tell you about a book. It’s called EAT PRAY LOVE and has, rightly, been a massive bestseller.  It’s subtitle is ‘a woman’s search for everything,’ and it’s about the author, Elizabeth Gilbert’s search for balance in her life. I thoroughly recommend it for all kinds of reasons, one of which  I’ll go into here.  Many wonderful women settle for relationships that don’t really suit them, making compromises, putting up with things, feeling unfulfilled and frustrated.  I have been married several times and battled to keep each relationship alive long after it should have been allowed to die, thinking that it was MY responsibility to find a way to MAKE it work, and that if I didn’t do everything I could, it was my fault. I see now how crazy that was.
After a very long gap (nothing since my last divorce in 2005), I began a relationship with a much younger man (38 to my 59). Not only was he younger, he was tall and possibly the most gorgeous man I’ve ever met. I couldn’t believe it when he showed an interest in me, we’d known each other, as friends, for a number of years. I’m not going into details here. All I will say is that being with him taught me an awful lot about myself. The biggest lesson being that what he was offering wasn’t, in the end, enough.
I’m going to quote from EAT PRAY LOVE as reading this book is helping me cope with losing this man, a man I loved so deeply, there were times I felt truly lost in him. A friend is telling her how it is. He says this -
“A true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you  everything that’s holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life. ……. ‘Your problem is you can’t let this one go…. (his) purpose was to shake you up, tear apart your ego, show you your obstacles and addictions, break your heart open so new light could get in, make you so desperate and out of control that you HAD to transform your life…. “
Elizabeth replies. “But I love him.”
“So love him.”
“But I miss him.”
“So miss him. Send him some love and light every time you think about him, then drop it. You’re just afraid to let go of the last bits of ( ) because then you’ll really be alone…. But here’s what you gotta understand. If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there… And guess what the Universe does? It will rush in… and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.”
This is an edited version, there’s a lot more, every word of which hits home like a velvet covered sledgehammer.
SO that’s where I am. I’m not shouting at him, or begging him to change, or changing me to fit him, I’m stepping away, still loving him, still missing him but knowing that I’ve finally managed to break that life long pattern of staying in relationships because I didn’t feel worthy of anything better.  
If you’re avoiding relationships because they’ve gone wrong in the past, I suggest you read this book.  Be assured that as soon as some of that love comes rushing into my life, I will let the world know.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

September so far

September, so far, has been difficult.
Having accidentally met my ex’s daughter at Leeds Station on the 1st,  everything has been up in the air. It’s not the job of this blog to go into details about personal stuff, plus I don’t like to write about people without their knowledge but I do have to  say this. She’s been staying with John and it’s been a nightmare.
Now she’s found a place to live and should be moving out very soon. I’ve been finding it hard to cope, so much so, I started seeing a counsellor again. I’m so glad I did because she’s amazing. I’ve only seen her twice but I’m already making giant leaps of progress. She basically told me that I can’t change the way I react to things. I am an emotional person (I wouldn’t want to change that anyway as I believe it makes me a better writer) and my moods will always be subject to change. The important thing is that I now know when I’m in a down loop, and I can then do whatever it takes to switch over to the up loop.  Basically though I will always have ups and downs. They make me who I am. I can’t tell you how much better I feel. I’ve always wanted to be perfect, to try to get everyone to like me. I finally realise I don’t have to do that. I’m OK the way I am, faults and all.
Other news on the personal front is that I’ve finally ended my ‘fling’ with a younger man. Again, this isn’t the place to go into details. All I will say is that having made the decision, I feel lighter which has to be a good sign.
I’m still not doing any writing but, for a change, I’m not beating myself up about it. I will get back into the groove next weekend at Weetwood when I attend a romantic writing retreat. I’m very much looking forward to that. One of the ways I battle my blues is to keep meeting new people, trying new things, making new friends.  Next week I start singing with the choral society and later today, I’m to a brief performance of part of the music from Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman which is the piece we will be working on. I don’t know the music at all so it will be a challenge. With any luck it will be fun too.
Here’s hoping the rest of the month is amazing! For all of us.

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

For the love of it

For some time now, I’ve been struggling to get back into the groove with my writing. When my mother died, I inherited some money which gives me a small income. I am quite frugal and don’t need much money to get by. 
As a result, my writing suffered because there was no longer such a pressing need to sell stories. In short, my motivation had dwindled to almost nothing.  
 During August, many things happened to distract me, and I only managed to finish two new stories. Instead, I became involved with all kinds of other distractions. What these were is irrelevant because it’s what I’ve now discovered that’s important.
I miss writing.
Before, I used to think I only wrote for money - after all, ‘short story writer’ is my job. Until now, I never allowed myself simply to write for the hell of it, for the joy of stringing words together. That’s about to change.
After my romantic writing retreat at the end of this month, I plan to start another, new chapter, in my life. One where writing takes central stage but where its role has changed.
Even typing that makes me feel excited, so watch out world, here I come.