Of the three priorities I set myself in my last post, there are two successes and one fail:
I have married the first and second halves of my competition story and submitted it.
I am not sure of its worth, but I never am. I emailed it to two writer friends asking for their opinions, and I let it sit for a few days before I read it again. Unfortunately, neither of my friends was able to get back before the deadline, and I was still tweaking the fourth time I read it aloud just before hitting the send button. It’s not ready and won’t get anywhere, but it has shown me I can get things done with enough forward planning.
I have written more of my story based on a picture of men sitting on a bench.
I have changed the tense – past to present – to increase the energy in the story. I now need to add in more emotion and feeling, as well as doing some research on Ukrainian food, which features as a comfort for my protagonist. The story is currently 1000-words and might increase to 1500. At the moment it is possibly more a vignette than a story: it starts in the middle, goes back to the beginning, and the ends with the characters about to live a new life that the reader has to imagine. I’m not sure this is enough of an ending. I’ve left the story alone for a week so it’s time I looked at it again.
I haven’t blogged my progress until now. I had drafted a post to put up a week ago, but life intervened and this is my first free time in a while. I wonder if I should give myself deadlines for posting in order for me to keep them regular.
Priorities for the next fortnight: work on men-on-bench story and get it ready to show colleague on 25th Feb; get into a routine of blog reading and writing.
Ongoing projects successfully met: my crochet learning has been facilitated by some very long car drives and my understanding of patterns improved. I should be making things soon.
Fails: both piano practice and Italian study have been neglected; blog reading has not increased enough.
Writing progress has been made of sorts. After writing 1000 words of a new short story and feeling very pleased with myself, I roughed out a second half on paper and then typed it in. However, marrying the two together hasn’t happened yet, and I’m not sure about the ending. I keep reminding myself that the deadline is 13th February so I have plenty of time, but I know I don’t. If I want to get it finished and leave it a while before editing, then I need to get on with it.
On the plus side, I did start to write a story based on my friend Jan’s picture of two men on a bench. This has been on my list of jobs to do since the beginning of the year and was facilitated by a train journey to London. After a break of possibly two years, and at least 18-months, I had lunch on Tuesday with a couple of women I met on a writing course in the autumn of 2014. One of these now has an agent for the book she was writing at that time, but has since largely re-written, and we heard how friends and acquaintances helped in that process. The other has ditched the book she was writing when we met, the cathartic one she needed to write, and started afresh, and we were all excited by her new departure. Only I have not developed my book of the time, it having been re-drafted but still sitting waiting for the re-read that will determine if I continue to pursue its life or decide it was my cathartic book and needs to be laid to rest.
Lack of routine has always been an issue for me getting around to writing. I had pencilled in Thursday to be my writing day, as currently have no clients booked on Thursdays. However, my hours at work have increased and I worked 10am to 6.30pm on Wednesday, which meant I spent Thursday writing up reports. I am sure that when I get used to my new client list, I will find the pockets of time free to write, but even fashioning a daily haiku has been a struggle this week.
Priorities for the coming fortnight: knit the putative halves of my short story together; type in and finish my men-on-bench-picture-inspired story; blog my progress.
Ongoing life goals slowly being achieved: I have leant a bit more Italian and emailed an Italian colleague mostly in Italian; I have completed my first piece of crochet and gifted it to the aunt to whom I made the promise to learn.
Fails: there’s been no piano practice; I’m still putting off reading my novel, the excuse being I need to get these short stories written first; I haven’t upped my reading of other’s blogs.
This morning I wrote 1000 words of a new short story. The incentive is a competition with a deadline of 13th February 2017. There is no theme and no chance of me winning. However, I am still committed to writing upto 2000 words and sending them off. Procrastination is my greatest problem, ideas float around in my head and there is always some reason, usually something inconsequential like housework, that prevents me writing. In this instance I had a vague idea on Monday, scribbled on some paper on Tuesday, and sat at my laptop this morning turning those two initial paragraphs into my character’s background. I haven’t quite worked out how sinister she is, or whether she is at all. The story hasn’t ended, there are two deaths and a visit to A&E to describe, so with only 1000 words left, I suspect the story will grow quite a bit before I do some much needed paring. But the point is, I have started and could be halfway through. More importantly, I didn’t want to stop writing, but also didn’t want to run out of words or get to a point where I couldn’t see which way to go, got bored, or didn’t like the character any more. Instead, I noted down some possible plot developments that I can pick up when I go back to it.
I am not someone who can carry too much at a time. I take on too many tasks, spread myself too thinly, and end up getting nothing done, so while there is a list of things I want to get done, I am starting small. As well as the competition story, I want to write one inspired by a friend’s print. Many moons ago a visual artist friend, Janice Hume, and I decided to collaborate on a joint project – I’d give her some stories to illustrate; she’d give me some pictures to write stories about. We both made the exchange, and I worked up a story to one of her pictures, although I wasn’t happy with it. At the moment I am working on the picture below and have two character names – Elena and Pavel – and a comment about it always raining in the UK, and that’s it, but I know it’s going somewhere. There is something about the angle of the shoulders, or the way the men are sitting, that tells me there is a story here waiting to be written. The other things on the list can wait until these two pieces are done and dusted, or at least have each reached their fourth drafts.
After a year of no writing or blogging, my head seems to have made room for both. I have changed jobs, from one where I looked at documents and computer screens all day long and all but gave up reading for pleasure, to one where I see families for short periods and writing is limited to an hour-long report per visit. This work is also part-time, giving me space to do some much needed decorating, practise piano, learn to crochet properly – something I promised my husband’s aunt I’d do 18-months ago – and get back to reading.
There is something else spurring me to write again. One of the women I met two years ago on a writing course has got herself an agent. True, her writing is very different from mine, more on-trend and much tighter, and she got an agent through someone who knows her husband, but I am an eternal optimist/ eternally deluded. If she can do it, so can I. And so, over the next weeks and months, I will be reading across my bookshelves to get my head back into the groove, and hope, in time, to get on with editing my own work. I re-commenced reading on New Year’s Eve with Barbara Kingsolver’s Prodigal Summer, a birthday present from a few years back, and was blown away by page two by her detailed and fluid descriptions. Her prose is nothing I can ever emulate and, if I weren’t so deluded, might have sent me straight back under my writing-free stone.
Well, maybe that’s a bit strong, but I’m not finding it easy to juggle full-time work with writing.
There’s not much writing going on, but quite a bit of reading about writing on the train to work, and there’s been no blogging, as you’ll have noticed.
Instead of flogging myself and worrying about not keeping up, I’ve decided to not try for a while.
Hopefully I’ll return in 2016 refreshed and with a little more time.
Every Wednesday Rochelle Wisoff-Fields publishes a photo prompt to inspire writers to write 100-words of flash fiction or poetry.
At any point during the following week, the Friday Fictioneers post their 100-word tales. Read the other stories by clicking here.
I’m not confident writing or critiquing humour so am putting this up and hoping for guidance.
(Genre: humour; 100-words)
It’s getting ridiculous. You give an inch and they take a mile. I’m not kidding. Once we were surrounded by nature and watched the seasons change. Now we’re crammed in liked sardines and the view’s as stimulating.
The last building’s foundations almost took my toes; Lottie lost an arm. Pity it wasn’t her head the way she goes on.
There’s not much peace and quiet in this garden of rest, for residents or visitors. I wouldn’t be surprised if we’re concreted over soon in the name of progress. Or dug up. Who knows who we’ll mix with in an ossuary.