Sunday, 26 October 2014

Life is a rollercoaster

For the past few weeks, I’ve felt as though I’ve been riding a carousel, round and round, up and down. I filled up my diary with all kinds of things and maybe, just maybe, went a bit too far. I’m now trying to slow down a bit so I can squeeze in some more work.  Of course, that means something will have to go to make room so I might drop the ukulele. If I do, my fingers will be happy as holding down the strings is actually rather painful, especially when you have soft, writer’s hands.
Work is going well, sales wise at least. Compared to last year when I sold 20 stories, mainly to markets that paid less, this year so far, I’ve sold 38 almost all to my best markets. Last year I was secretary of Leeds Writers and a tutor for The Writers’ Bureau. I was also working too many hours. Now I’ve dropped LWC and WB, AND I’m only working part time. Sometimes quantity doesn’t equate to quality. Of course, I’m very aware that until I replace the stories I’ve sold with new ones, I can’t expect many sales in the next few months but I can live with that. The important thing for me right now is to find some kind of balance between work and leisure.  I also want to meet new people.
To which end, I placed an ad in Two’s Company (Lonely Hearts). I’ve been in contact with a number of men as a result. This has taught me a valuable lesson. There are lots of men out there who are down, fed up, or disillusioned with women, and who are as nervous about meeting new people as I am. 
I know that some of the people I meet will be dreadful, or boring, or downright odd, (they might well think that about me, too!) but it’s worth the risk. I may need to meet a few toads before I get to Prince Charming.  Talking of Prince Charming, the panto I wrote a while back is now being rehearsed. Somebody’s dropped out so if it does go ahead, guess who gets to play the Prince?

Friday, 17 October 2014

Keeping busy

I’ve been so busy, I haven’t had time to blog. Since my all too brief fling came to an end, I’ve been filling my days in order to avoid feeling miserable  I’m over the worst now, thank goodness, which means I need to get back to some serious work.
Norah McGrath of Fiction Feast fame came to my rescue two days ago when she emailed asking if I had any one page stories with twist endings, and if so , could I email them to her. Whenever an editor asks me for anything, I jump. I sent her three the next day, and another last night, which just goes to show what can be achieved when you focus.
I’m hoping to partake in NaNoWriMo so I only have what’s left of October to get my story numbers back up. I’m happily surprised at how much better I’ve been doing this year compared to 2013. It proves how far I’ve come on my road to recovery.
I’ve booked a four day break with National Holidays to Devon at the end of the month. The idea being that the break and the sae air will give me an energy boost in readiness to get on with a  novel.
Today, Friday, is now an art day, with a group in the morning and volunteer session in the afternoon. I didn’t get much done at either as I spent too much time chatting. Had a lovely conversation about the Crucible this afternoon which was great as I missed the second half of the play  when I went to see it.
On a personal note. I have had some responses to my ad in Two’s Company (lonely hearts) but so far haven’t actually managed to meet up with anyone. More news, as and when it happens, and if nothing does happen, there’ll be a story in it somewhere.
Tomorrow afternoon, I’m at the Light, Headrow, Leeds, from 12 – 3, vigilating an art exhibition for Arts And Minds. I have two paintings in the exhibition ( a portrait of a lion and one of a  Maine Coon), the first time I’ve ever been able to say that. They’re for sale too and I’ll be thrilled if either of them finds a buyer.  If you’re in Leeds, why not pop by and say hello?
I’m planning on take a notepad and some ideas with me so that if it’s quiet, I can do some work. I used to think that I could only write in the mornings. Now I know that if I really want to, I can write any place, any time.  Maybe I can come up with some more one page twist stories….

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Sometimes being ill is OK.

I have a heavy cold and deep, chesty cough. I have locked myself away, hoping it will shift soon as I have a lot on later in the week. The strange thing is that I feel better than I have in a long time.
There have been some major shifts in my thinking recently.  For the first time in my life I’ve been looking at relationships sensibly. This is hard for me to explain but before I’ve felt it was my responsibility to make other people happy.  Often that meant I had friends and relationships where I was the one doing most of the giving while they took.  When those relationships hit rocky patches, I did everything I could to patch them up.  I’ve also felt I needed to ‘buy’ friends. I don’t literally mean with money, at least not all the time, but the way my thinking worked went something like this – I need to make sure they’re getting something from this.. It never occurred to me that anyone might want to spend time with me simply because they LIKED me.  The problem was that I didn’t like myself. Now, at last, finally, I get it. I don’t need everyone to like me. I don’t need to be perfect. I don’t need to put up with relationships of any kind that aren’t working for me.  
Right now, I have a huge hole in my heart. I’ve lost a lover, and some people I thought of as good friends. It was hard letting them go, so hard, I’m still hurting, but it had to be done.  
Someday soon, new people will come along, people who will help to fill that void. I have to say I can hardly wait. 
The photo is  one I sent to Amateur Gardening in exchange for a £10 garden token. 

Back to writing now. This morning I sold THREE Christmas stories to my nest market – Fiction Feast – which keeps my record of selling at least one Xmas a story a year intact.
I’d like to tell you about one of them in particular. It came about thanks to a Writers News/Writing Mag competition with a Christmas theme. I’ve wanted to win one of their competitions for years but once again, instead of entering the comp, where the prize was at most  £200,  I sent it to Fiction Feast where the rewards are greater.
Sometimes I wonder if this is the best thing to do. A win in Writers News would raise my profile, wouldn’t it? But as a working writer, I need to make sure I’m getting the biggest reward available. It’s a shame, but there it is.  
 I’ve had an amazing run of sales recently which is great as it gives me a breathing space. I know I need to write some new stories to make up the numbers but the money from all those sales takes the pressure off. Who knows, I might actually allow myself to do the write a novel in a month thing come November.
I’m not saying it’s a plan though…..

Monday, 6 October 2014

Bog off, bug

For the past few days, I’ve been poorly. Just an annoying virus, aches and pains, coughs, sneezes, generally under par. I know that when I feel bad, my writing doesn’t work as well as it needs to so there’s little point in trying to write anything. That leaves me with a problem. If I had a proper job, I’d call my boss, say I need a few days off sick, then take to my bed, or do whatever I felt like to get myself better.
 As I’m self employed, and therefore my own boss, you’d think that would make it easier. I don’t need to see a doctor, or produce a medical certificate, I don’t even need to make that call. I can have as much time off as I want only it doesn’t quite pan out like that. After a day or so I start to feel guilty. I SHOULD be working. I NEED to make up the numbers after having sold so many stories last month.  I feel as though I need a boss, somebody to say ’don’t’ worry, there’s a lot of it about, see you in a week or so.’
Of course, it doesn’t help that I have a lot on this week. Some things like ukulele class, don’t matter too much, but others, like the Spice Quiz and a slot on East Leeds FM do matter.  Maybe that’s what I find annoying about being ill. It means I’m not in control, the bug is. Whatever the reason, I wish I could feel better.