Sarah Ann Hall

Reporting on writing in progress or, more probably, not; practising flash fiction.

Posts Tagged ‘insomnia

Pitch Feedback – #amwriting, well I was

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Awake in the middle of the night last week, having tossed and turned for one hour, read for another, and still nowhere near dropping off, I asked myself, what would I do if I had a week to live. The first thing that popped into my mind was that I would contact the agent to whom I pitched three weeks ago to let her know my revised manuscript would not be arriving in her inbox. This was a surprise to me. Is this really the most important thing I would need to do during my last days? Probably not, but the thought did spur me into action. Since my pitch meeting on 27th November I have been thinking about the changes the agent suggested, and attempted a few false re-starts to my manuscript. However, later on in the morning that this life-limiting thought arrived, I finally buckled down and set to work on the first five chapters of my book.

Chapter 2 has disappeared, being chopped up and pasted into Chapters 4 and 5, as Chapter 5 moves forward to the position of Chapter 2. Keeping track of all the pages and moved paragraphs has been a task, but one I’ve enjoyed as I see the start to the book reshape itself. I am yet to discover if this will result in additional changes through to the end.

The agent suggested I have started my book in the wrong place. Instead of Chapter 1 being a character looking back retrospectively on a lunch at which she hears some bad news, I need to open with that lunch and the receiving of that news. This I am still struggling with, as it was hard enough to get the first chapter written the tenth time I attempted it. Having to shift the timeframe, and add in a character’s voice I was reluctant to write in the first place, is a difficult task. I have to remember faint heart never won fair lady. Unfortunately, with the Christmas holidays almost upon us, my colleagues seem to be dropping like flies and I’m the only one who seems to be available to fill in. My work schedule has gone bonkers, and my re-started novel languishes neglected…. I’m going to have to take some time off in January!



Written by Sarah Ann

December 19, 2017 at 9:09 pm

The Telepathwriter – Using every opportunity #amwriting

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An elbow to the ribs in the middle of the night, as hubby woke suffering excruciating cramp, got me thinking. He was asleep ten minutes later whereas I didn’t drop off again for another four hours. I read a bit, usually a sure fire way to drop off, but not this time. I scribbled a bit, in the notepad by my bed by torchlight, and worked on some 100-word stories as well as drafting this blog post. After two-and-a half hours of lying quietly growing ever more frustrated, I thought about getting up and making myself a drink and hitting the laptop. However, hubby and I live in a very small space with creaky floorboards and I would have woken him. While he says I’m like a bear with a sore head with no sleep, he is worse.

I was starting to get delusional in my imaginings when I began to wonder how long it will be before the Telepathwriter is invented. The Telepathwriter needs another name obviously, but insomniac writers the world over need it. As we lie waiting for sleep and brilliant ideas weave their way into our minds, we need the electrodes taped to our temples to capture and transmit our thoughts straight to a document file. All those wonderful pre-sleep notions and incarnations will be caught forever. Over-writing will be a thing of the past as immediacy and freshness are caught on the page. No longer will those brilliant story plots be lost when we wake. I haven’t actually planned the machine besides the basic concept. Someone with a more technical or scientific bent needs to draw up some blueprints. Perhaps during another bout of insomnia I might come up with an outline design… if only I can remember it in the morning.

Written by Sarah Ann

November 20, 2017 at 11:35 am

#Trifextra: 75 – 33-word free-write

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Over the last couple of weeks I’ve struggled with Trifextra and Trifecta prompts (and I’m behind on my reading). I looked at this weekend’s prompt and thought I’d fail again, but then British Summer arrived and gave me something to work with.


Last weekend we gave you a super prescriptive prompt.  We also promised you we’d ease up this week.  As such, this weekend we are asking for a thirty-three word free-write.  Any topic, any style–just give us your best thirty three.


This weekend’s challenge is community judged.
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Summer Insomnia (33 words)

Hellish flames tickle my feet. Ants encircle my ankles, climb calves, nestle behind knees. Fingers tingle and twitch. Thoughts infiltrate and attack my brain. The duvet covers the floor.

Later I wake, cold.




Written by Sarah Ann

July 7, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Insomnia wins for a change

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I have written many a story whilst lying awake trying to go to sleep. Worry about what has to be done tomorrow is usually the main culprit for keeping my mind ticking over. The more I try to get to sleep (breathing exercises, stretches, day-dreaming) the less it seems to come, and the riveting tales I concoct have disappeared by morning. But last week I resurrected a short story I wrote many moons ago. The story is the same (about a woman finding her lost family following her father’s death), the setting is the same, the sentiment is the same, but the approach is different. Instead of writing in the present, I have her looking back. Lying in bed, as I held on to the new structure of the story, I rehearsed the lines over and over (and over) so I would remember them in the morning. I didn’t sketch the whole thing, but had three or four scenes etched into my brain before sleep finally overtook me. Come morning I was able to get most of them written down. I’m sure I’ve forgotten something vital, but hope that will come back to me as I fill in the wall of the story around the bricks I have already laid.

My return to the short story came after visiting a screenwriting friend who has given up. Following a (paid for) critique of three of her screenplays, she has been using the avoidance technique of genealogy to escape dealing with the review. There was nothing specific said about faulty story structure or technique, but her efforts didn’t fit the critic’s view of a blockbuster. (Apparently he re-writes scripts for Hollywood.) While at first upbeat by the comment, ‘you write such good prose,’ said friend has since become disillusioned. Instead of accepting the comments as one person’s, and developing her stories as she wants, she has let them drift. It was in an attempt to reinvigorate her that hubby and I suggested she enter her scripts in to competitions – cheaper than paying for a critique and a way of getting her name out there.

While I was searching for links that might be of use, I came across a couple of short story competitions that I thought I would go for. It’s been a while since I’ve tried the discipline, but now my long story is finished, it is one I feel the urge to dip into once again – to write and tell a story in a matter of hours or weeks instead of over months and years. Hopefully this isn’t my way of avoiding having to deal with the dreaded chapter 13. I don’t think it is and I was busy again Wednesday with editing…

I have been back into Chapter 1 and finished (for the time being) its latest incarnation. The word count has grown from 3500 to just over 5000 and presented me with a new problem – is Chapter 1 one chapter or two? I had started with each chapter being written from one character’s point of view, but chapter one seems to want to cut itself in half. Both sections are from the same character’s POV: the first covers Stacy’s response to hearing her friend is dying; the second is the conversation Stacy has with her husband in the evening. They previously sat in the same chapter quite happily, but now seem to be two distinct scenes. However, giving Stacy two chapters at the outset would upset the rhythm of the book that follows – Pippa’s emails followed by a chapter of description. And so, for the time being, I have Chapter 1A and Chapter 1B and will decide when I get back to the beginning again what to do.

Moving on to the second of Pippa’s emails, I added 200-words and then tackled Chapter 2. As with Chapter 1, much of it has been added to or changed. I have been living with the characters, off and on, for a year now so I’m comfortable with them; their words are more familiar, and it stands out when my healthy eater (Adam) orders fish and chips in a pub. He still drinks real ale, but he’s got to go for something with fewer calories than deep fried fish and potatoes. Chapter 2 also seems to want to split in two with distinct sections: the first being Dan preparing himself for his meeting with Adam (to tell him Pippa is dying); the second being the meeting itself. By the end of the day I hadn’t finished. Hopefully next time, a re-read of the whole chapter, will settle the issue of to split or not to split.

Written by Sarah Ann

January 27, 2012 at 12:05 pm

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