Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not.

Posts Tagged ‘crochet

Learning Keeps You Young, or Busy – #amwriting

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I have realised this week that I am better at practical learning than book learning.

Readers of my Friday Fictioneer posts might know I recently started tap dancing. I didn’t dance as a child – I was too fat and my parents didn’t have the money to pay for lessons however much I pleaded to go to ballet classes with my best friend. Eighteen months ago I started Bollywood dancing and learnt that for year. It was lovely to move elegantly and learn more about Asian film music, but the classes ended.

I have always hankered to learn to tap, probably because of the noise and my imagining that it was easy to stamp around. It isn’t, and I am having to practise between lessons to keep up. I am a complete beginner compared to the others who are re-learning or have at least a term behind them. I am improving, but don’t imagine I will ever be fast enough. I have also taught myself basic crochet stitches and am about to attempt my first piece of clothing, albeit a relatively simple scarf.

However, my online Italian course, which I started last June, is languishing uncompleted. And I have pulled out of the writing MOOC I signed up to complete over the next 6-weeks because I don’t have the time to do it justice. The University of Iowa have run a number of writing MOOCs and I participated in How Writers Write Fiction 2014 and 2015, as well as How Writers Write Poetry 2014. They are professional and stretching courses, but post new classes on a Thursday and I am unable to keep up now work has become busier.

At tap, I have peers in front of whom I don’t wish to fail. With crochet I have physical evidence of my progress. However, with Italian there’s no one to practise with, and I’ve enough of my own writing to get on with without committing to more. So whether I’m better at the practical, or the things I enjoy most, is open to question.

How do people learn without peers, teachers, or projects to keep them on track?

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 28, 2017 at 3:34 pm

Slotting it in – #amwriting

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With clients moving on I thought I’d fill my time with writing. However, new clients have arrived and time home alone to write has reduced. My one free day a week is now Thursday, during which the morning is taken up with work-related report writing.

In order to make sure I do write, I am carrying around hard copies of short stories in progress. On Monday, in the 10-minutes I had between clients, I edited 600-words of a still very rough, but complete, short story. I was able to do the same at lunchtime today. And this morning, I started this blog post before work, planning to get down the bare bones before posting this evening. Squeezing it in, using tiny snippets of time to write, is working… so far.

Last week, on my day at home, I read through chapters 1-3 of my out-with-agents novel and decided Chapter 1 needs re-ordering. There is too much introspection and not enough grab. I think I might also swap Chapters 3 and 4. I like Chapter 4. It introduces a new and loveable character that agents might prefer to the one who arrives in Chapter 3. Because the chapters follow a detailed timeline, I have yet to work out how much work re-ordering might take, and that’s tomorrow’s job, when I have the afternoon free to play.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: re-order/ tighten first chapters of novel; re-edit short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: chapters 1-3 of novel were read and found wanting.

Ongoing projects partially met: two short stories have been edited; my online Italian course has been accessed once more, even if not much learning has occurred; crochet progresses, I’m looking for new stitches to try.

Ongoing project fails: the piano gathers dust.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

May 17, 2017 at 10:47 pm

#amwriting – honest, I am

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It’s difficult to blog about writing when one isn’t doing much. I have (mostly) written a weekly flash and am tweeting haiku most weekdays. I’ve also been doing a bit of reading about writing, but still have a big pile to work through, and there hasn’t been much progress on short stories or other move substantive works.

On the advice of a new, and proving to be dear, writer friend, I am heading back to my currently-with-agents novel to look again at chapters 1 to 3. These are the ones that need to hook and grab and sink in claws that cannot be removed until the remainder of the manuscript has been read. I have never been happy with the opening lines of my book – they stink. So with Lou kicking my backside, I will be tightening, shaping, and giving these opening 7000-words a perfection makeover.

As clients fall but the wayside I have lost 11-hours a week of paid work and will have more time to write. I have divided this week in to days on which to complete different tasks, and subdivided in to mornings/ afternoons/ hour-long windows. For example, today (Tuesday) I wrote up my work reports in the morning and scheduled writing this blog post for the afternoon, as well as catching up on emails hanging over from the weekend. Wednesday morning I will re-read chapters 1-3 of the aforementioned novel before getting out my red pen. At some point during Thursday or Friday I will revisit the short stories I plan to have finished by the end of July. However, I feel that with the lack of progress made during the past month, that deadline might slip by. I have even timetabled an hour of Italian practice for later in the week. I need to master, or at least revisit Italian personal pronouns if I am ever to move on.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: read and sharpen chapters 1-3 of novel; edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted; I’ve crocheted some flowers.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and blog reading are both too sporadic.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian and piano practise have been non-existent.

Written by Sarah Ann

May 9, 2017 at 1:21 pm

#amwriting – Agents, here I come.

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My novel to pitch is now with eight agents. While I hoped this would take a day, it took two, as submissions were adjusted to meet agency specific requirements. Some require a query letter instead of a cover letter and synopsis. Most want the first three chapters as attachments, although one preferred the first chapter pasted into the body of an email. And there are agents who want submissions via hardcopy only, which I will approach once I have a new toner cartridge for my printer.

I realise submitting to agents should be an ongoing process until I find representation. However, it has been an energy-sapping couple of days and I am looking forward to writing again without strictures.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: edit and write short stories based on friend’s picture prompts; prepare more agent submissions.

Ongoing projects successfully met: novel has been submitted; Friday Fictioneer stories have been posted regularly; piano practice has taken place; crochet projects have been completed.

Ongoing projects partially met: blog posts about writing and progress have been sporadic; blog reading is improving.

Ongoing project fails: learning Italian has taken a back seat.

 

 

Written by Sarah Ann

April 22, 2017 at 11:35 am

Work Life Writing Balance

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My current job, while part-time, takes place over four days. The one contact-free day, Tuesday, I am usually writing up reports from the previous day. For this post I drew up a schedule of my week to see how my work hours fit in with everything else. This has helped me realise why my writing has been suffering – I don’t have free time of any length to write.

Hubby and I are trying to work the same hours so that time home together is just that, spent together and not with either one of us with our eyes glued to a screen. Weekends also need to be down time, as his job is emotionally demanding. Having spent many years self-employed in the same business, we are used to spending all our time together. Our more recent foray into working for others, and the need to sometimes work from home, has caused sniping and arguments, so we’ve set boundaries – no work at the weekend. If we both agree to do some work at the weekend then fine, but otherwise it’s verboten. Just as much as his client logging and statistical reports, my writing, work-related or creative, distances us from each other, and what’s the point of being in the same room if either of you is not present?

My work rota is drawn up a month in advance and so far I am scheduled to do the same hours in May as in April and March. At the moment, I am resolved to try to use the evenings of Monday and Wednesday, when hubby is out with clients, to complete my reports from the same day. However, to have a whole day free, as I did yesterday thanks to cancelled appointments on Monday, was bliss, and I made the most of it by working on my novel synopsis and covering letter, doing some blog-reading, and emailing writer colleagues. I have therefore decided to monitor my writing progress during April to decide whether I need to ask for a change in hours/days worked to get a completely work-free day so I can write creatively.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: finalise covering letter and synopsis and submit to agent; work on short stories; review priorities for the year in light of current progress.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I’m managing to blog regularly, but it’s still early days; I have contributed to Friday Fictioneers; I’ve crocheted three eggs for Easter presents.

Ongoing projects partially met: I fell across a short story competition on Monday needing an entry by this Friday and I’m 1800-words in. It won’t be ready in time, but it had a theme and I forced myself to write to it. That’s what can happen when I have a completely free day.

Ongoing project fails; I’ve done no piano or Italian practise; having looked briefly at the boating diaries I planned to self-publish, I think this might be a project too far as they need more work than I’m prepared to commit at the moment.

Written by Sarah Ann

March 29, 2017 at 8:55 pm

It’s a Pitch

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After two days of pacing a friend’s kitchen reading my manuscript aloud, I have decided that it is good enough for me to send off to seek agent representation. My friend is away and I’ve been house sitting. The neighbours hearing me repetitively tread bare floorboards, and a constant chatter in an otherwise empty house, must think I’m mad.

It is two years since I completed the last draft. The time gap allowed me to read without knowing what every next line would be. I even read sentences and sections I don’t remember writing, which was gratifying. Thirty pages in, I was pleasantly surprised and decided the book was good enough to go.

Reading out loud enabled me to find the missing words and letters, the sentences cut off during the previous edit, and missing punctuation. However, even with this slower, more careful pace, there were still typos and the odd missing word when I ran a final spell and grammar check after I made my current edits, all of which were minor and mostly word or flow related. I wonder if I will be ever rid of the need to tweak, but feel the book is ready for a professional edit. I lack confidence in the starts to my chapters; the ends are better and have a neatness or hook that pulls the reader on. I still have difficulty describing the plot succinctly, but there is a story with characters who are different from one another, and dialogue that flows and sounds real. I now have to write a synopsis in order to be able to get someone other than friends, family and fellow writers to read it. There is a synopsis based on the previous draft but at the moment I plan to start afresh and then compare with what went before to see how my approach and what each version says might differ. Tomorrow I will start the process of summarising 84000-words on one side of A4.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight: write synopsis of novel and submit; work on short stories.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have blogged only a week and a day after my last post; I have crocheted 3 Easter eggs, although my other half says they look nothing like real ones. I can only say I followed the pattern.

Ongoing projects partially addressed: short stories have been considered and the odd word written; I have started to read my old boating diary project.

Fails (as before): blog reading is too low; Italian practise is non-existent; the piano is dustier.

 

Written by Sarah Ann

March 16, 2017 at 11:06 pm

Accountability

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When I blogged in January, for the first time in 18-months, I didn’t have huge ambition for the coming year. I wanted to get back to writing and I needed to plan and organise. This was helped by a fellow blogger, Erin Leary, who commented on that initial post and suggested we become accountability partners. The concept was new to me, but made perfect sense for two people with a number of ongoing projects. As accountability partners we would report to each other, keep each other on task, support and maybe chivvy a little. This idea focused my energies and I listed what I wanted to achieve during the year. I then ordered projects in terms how long I estimated each would take to complete, and the ease with which it could be completed. The combination of these two factors enabled prioritisation. The last task, and the one I have still to complete, is to set deadlines by which each job should be completed. There are 8 things I hoped to achieve during the year, which I share with you below, along with my progress 6 weeks later. After all, the more people to keep me on task, the merrier.

Task & Priority   Ease of completion   Progress 6 weeks later (end of Feb)
1. Keep up with blog   Variable on time allowing/ having anything to say. Hopefully on the easy side.   Not great.I’ve not posted as often as I would have liked.
2. Read 85k word novel and decide whether to pitch or ditch.   Easy and relatively quick if I decide to ditch.

Time commitment if I’m going to pitch and it needs editing.

Time commitment if start sending to agents.

  I have allocated the week of 13-17th March to do the read through. I’m away from home and will have the head space.
3. Edit diaries of living and travelling on a narrow boat and self-publish.   Hard. A lot of editing and additional writing to be done. Self-publishing is new. Large time commitment and learning new skill.   No progress
4. NANOWRIMO story from 2014. Work up 51k words into a novel.   Medium. Big time commitment.

Hopefully enjoyable to do.

  No progress
 

4. Write short stories to go with friend Jan’s paintings/ prints/ illustrations.

 

  Relatively easy if I come up with any ideas.

Enjoyable. Able to do between other things as shorter time commitment.

  I have drafted one short story and am looking at the other pictures chosen. I need to re-visit the project with Jan to see if she wants to paint to my words.
 

 

4. Continue with novel-length abuse story started 2014.

 

  Medium. Need time and space to pick this up again. Has a beginning but needs a middle and an end.   No progress
7. Short stories for competitions   Quite hard. Time commitment to look for competitions and then write themed stories to deadlines.   One short story submitted. No other competitions identified to enter.
8. Friday Fictioneer stories   Easy to do if have nothing else on. Requires time and concentration. Can be addictive so need to limit or will get caught up and carried away to the detriment of other things.   No progress. I wrote a story to one prompt, which I was pleased to have achieved, but didn’t manage to post it.

 

Priorities for the next fortnight (as before): work on men-on-bench story; get into a routine of blog reading and writing; start short story based on picture of a hare.

Ongoing projects successfully met: I have finished a crochet project (see below); I am bouncing Italian possessive adjectives around in my head; piano scales have been practised and an old piece rehearsed.

Fails (as before): blog reading has not increased.

 

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Written by Sarah Ann

February 27, 2017 at 1:29 pm

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