Saturday, 20 August 2016

Bringing Order to Chaos


Hello, it's me again. I know, its been a while, and I'm sorry about that. So what happened? Truthfully, I went on holiday back at the end of June, had a lovely relaxing break, and just couldn't get going again. I've struggled with a lot of other things too, apart from the blog.

Writing still figured high up on my priority list, and over the last few months, I've been doing different stuff. Shorter fiction, which has suited not only my mood, but also the bursts of time I've had available. I wasn't writing daily, and sometimes I missed two or three days. Consequently, not very much got done beyond my shorter pieces of flash fiction and a few short stories.  I did think about things though, because I needed to make sense of what was stopping me.

Trying to fit in a career, family, staying healthy and writing is tough on a good day, and I'm sure some reading this post will know what I mean. Even a couple of things going awry in a busy person's day can be nightmarish. When the to-do list has no end, and we allow busyness to rule us, life feels chaotic! I don't feel guilty for pressing the pause button.

I'm not a full-time writer, and I need to keep in mind that it isn't the thing I do to earn my living. Most writers do not make a living out of writing.  To be a writer you have to write. To be a good writer, you have to write a lot. Okay, I know I'm a writer, I DO write, just not as much and as often as those who choose to make a full-time career out of it. I'm working at getting better, and I know it could be many years before I see any success the way I'm approaching it, but that's okay. I'm going to accept that for now, I'll do what I can, whilst remaining mindful that I'm not in some race, and my livelihood doesn't depend on my writing.

Recently, I've got back on track, on average I'm writing six out of seven days. My target is to do fifteen minutes before the day gets going properly, but it's usually thirty minutes before I stop. At weekends, I do more. My new regime is working for now, I'm moving forward, and have some work, life balance now. Where as before, I felt out of control, and angry that I couldn't devote more time to writing.

Very few of us take enough time out to relax. Yet it's so important to take a break now and again. Try it, if you don't already do it. It's rejuvenating, and need not be months, or even weeks. Just twenty minutes spent sitting quietly will bring a little order to chaos.

I'm back now, and intend to update the blog regularly. Let me know what you've been up to?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Try Something New

Maria A Smith

I got to thinking today, it's high time I tried something new, or did something I haven't done for a while. Like what?

Like going to a movie - Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie opens on July 1st and I really fancy going to see it. Some of you may recall it was an outrageously funny BBC sitcom, about Edina and Patsy, (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) two hard living, should-know-better fashionistas.

Like listening to David Bowie, Micheal Bubble, Annie Lennox and anyone else who inspires and entertains me. And makes me feel happy. Time to tune into You Tube, or search through my old MP3 collection.

Like hanging out wth people who make me laugh!  What was it Lord Byron said? Always laugh when you can - it is cheap medicine! Seriously, hanging out with people who make you happy is food for the soul.

Like challenging myself to take more pictures. It's time to capture some of my life in 2016, the things I see and do. I'll regret it if I don't do this one.

Like learning something new. Not sure what, but a change will do me good.

Other stuff I must address.

Definitely time to give FaceBook a wide birth for a while. I feel very very sad, and sickened at some of the things I've read in the last week. People who were friends two weeks ago, are now pitched against each other because they have a different point of view. Honest decent people being called racists, or thick, and the vile comments about people over the age of 60. I want to scream, BE NICE! For goodness sake, be nice to each other.

Overeating and lack of exercise - Yes, been feeling stressed for a few weeks, and suspect this is why I'm overeating lots of unhealthy stuff. As for the exercise, I need to get with the programme again. What programme? Oh yes, I need to make one.

Writing - I need to allocate more time to write.

So there it is. My thoughts thrown down before you.

Is it time you looked at your life plan for the rest of 2016?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

What was I up to?

Russian Dolls - Maria A Smith

What was I up to this time last year? Or the year before, or the year before that? My memory is so bad these days I can't remember what I was doing last week! Let alone what I was up to last year.

I got to thinking it might be interesting to look at my previous blog posts, and see what life was like a few years ago. Have you ever looked back at your previous blog posts?

One year ago at around this time, the rain lashed down just the same as it has been doing here today. I had a goal list in operation, and by all accounts I was trying to stick to the plan. You can read about it here if you want to...The point is, I had a plan.

Two years ago, in 2014 I wasn't feeling much like blogging because I didn't post at all in June. Life is sometimes so busy, and I've come to realise, I can't do everything I want to do. I did blog in May though, and you can see here, by the tone of my words, it looks like I was very tired.

Three years ago in 2013, I wrote a post all about looking after myself. It makes interesting reading again now. See what I wrote here  - are you taking care of yourself?

Four years ago in 2012 I blogged about this and that, and I had clear goals, and a 'to do' list, and I was getting on with stuff and progressing. All was well.

In 2011 at around this time, I was involved with running a workshop at my writers group, and having fun too.

However,  the year before in 2010, blog posts were very scarce at the First Draft Cafe, in fact there were none between March and September. What was I doing? It's a shame, that I didn't record anything for prosperity.

This blog began in November 2009, hard to believe it's been going for almost seven years, and I love that I can look back and see what I was doing with my time over the years. Or what I wasn't doing.

Back to the present - So what have I been up to in the last seven days?

Writing, yes. Two hours which isn't a huge amount of time, but it's better than not doing anything. Truth is I've been terribly time poor and usually write early in the mornings, but I've had lots of very early starts recently which has prevented me from getting on with my rewrites. I've been getting home late too, feeling too tired to start any major edits.

I had a fun evening yesterday though when I went to see Joe Hill, the American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction. He was on the last night of his UK tour, signing his latest book The Fireman as well as doing a Q & A session too, at the Derby Book Festival. It was lively, interactive and fun! He had us singing, and laughing, and he answered a variety of different questions about his life as a writer.

The week ahead will be about continuing on with the rewrite. I'm planning to get on with it in the early morning, and keep to my plan, but suspect life will get in the way, and I may have to rearrange stuff. That's okay as long as I keep moving towards the target.

Have a good week folks.

P.S. In case you're wondering why I've used an image of Russian Dolls with this post, it's because I captured this image a few years ago, and it was high time I used it. No other reason, and good enough for me.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Where Did May Go?

Seriously, where did May go?

Looking back, life just got crazy for me. Leicester City won the Premier League on 2nd May 2016, 
and the city went bananas!

Seriously, it affected everyone and everything around here. Regardless of whether you're a fan or not, you couldn't help getting caught up in the spirit of it. 
After three weeks of celebrations, I realised I couldn't catch up. It's been fantastic though, very up lifting. 

I've also been doing a fair amount of travelling with the day job, and as anyone who works away from home will know, it's draining, both mentally and physically, and nothing gets done at home while you're away either.

On a positive, I've read a lot, and as all writing folk know, reading is vital. It stokes the fire, lots of reading means good writing. I've had a trip out to Brighton, to see the premier of a short film written by a writer I met earlier this year, and I've attended a few Phoenix Writers sessions too. So not a total wipeout in May. 

Does anyone else feel like time is getting away from them at an alarming rate? I've had a lot of time-suckers this month, and going forward I've got to address things before I go insane. I'm always doing something, but I'm getting nothing done! What's that all about? 

I need a fresh start. But. I can't count today, it's been beautiful, the sun shone brightly, and I've done nothing other than get my hair cut. Afterwards, instead of knuckling down to the housework, and generally catching up with household chores, I spent time outside basking in the beauty of the day. I read my book, sat around, drank tea and ate cake! And, you know what? I feel a lot better for it. 

However, I'm back on it now. There will be writing.

What are you up to this week? 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Hello May!

And so begins the fifth month of the year.

Did you know that in 1707 on this day the Acts of Union came into force? England and Scotland united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Wales had already been part of England since the 1500's.

Calamity Jane, famous frontier woman was born on this day in 1852, an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity could shoot like a man and drink like a fish! I imagine she was quite a character in her day. 

In 1953 a film musical was made loosely based on her life. I recall watching it several times during my childhood, and merrily singing along with Doris Day who played the lead role, with Howard Keel cast as Wild Bill Hickok. There were some great songs, including The Deadwood Stage, Secret Love and I Can Do Without You. 

On May 1st 1931, the Empire State Building was officially opened. It stood as the tallest building for almost 40 years. 

Of course May 1st is also May Day, a public holiday in the UK, we celebrate it on the first Monday in May. 

Now onto plans for the week ahead. Although, first I should say that making a plan last week really helped with my productivity, I got loads of stuff done! Every evening, I referred to my 'to do' list and  got on with the business of writing the next morning, steadily working through my list.

This week, I want to continue with my novel in the mornings, work on a new supernatural story, and write a 100 word flash fiction piece. 

Now I'm off to enjoy the first day of the month.

What will you be doing? 

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Make A Plan

Hmm, how many of you have made a plan this week?

I used to do it all the time, and it worked very well. Then for no reason I stopped. Skipped a few weeks, then a few more, and before I knew it, I'd dropped the habit. I'm annoyed with myself, as I've proved I'm not as productive. I'm getting back to it this week.

Yesterday, I took myself off to a comfy spot, kicked off my shoes, ordered a pot of tea and a slice of Lemon Drizzle, and jotted down my plans for the next seven days. I wrote everything, that I hope to accomplish this week, in a nice new notebook. It's all down in black and white.

Not just my writing goals though, I've also included my relaxation and exercise too. Even deadlines are written down, such as what day of the week I need to have done stuff by. And thats it.

What I'm going to try and keep in mind is that it's important to stay focused on what's in front of you at any one time.

We'll see how I get on.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

Catching Up!

Love Spring  
I haven't updated my blog for almost a month! Ever since Spring arrived, and the clocks went forward, it's all gone to pot! Why?

Partly because I've been  trying to stick to my new self imposed rules - I must do thirty minutes on my novel before I do any other writing. It's been working, the novel is on the move again, and I'm writing other bits and bobs time permitting. I did have to make some small adjustment though, as it's impossible to commit to writing every single day.

So, what else have I been doing?

What am I reading? Well, a few things, my reading style is the same as my writing style, I'm a butterfly that likes to flit around. So, I've listened to Peter May's Coffin Road  whilst I've been driving, cooking or ironing. It's about a murder in the Outer Hebrides, and it's got a fabulous opening hook in the first sentence.

I'm currently reading Baggy Pants & Bootees by Marilyn Chapman in paperback form which I'm thoroughly enjoying, firstly because it's a time slip story, set in two eras I really love - the 1960's and the 1940's, and secondly because I love the characters. I recently met the author and told her I was a slow reader. Well I am. Slow. Probably because I'm not reading one book at a time.

I'm also enjoying, on my Kindle  The Eternal by Mark Chadbourn more horror than fantasy, it's dark, with non stop action. I'm so loving this story.

And then I'm also Beta reading a novel written by one of my writing buddies. And I can't say very much about that at the moment, other than it's full of werewolves and vampires. So right up my street! You can't beat a good dose of Urban Fantasy.

On my bedside table, I have a couple of non-fiction books I'm dipping in and out of too. Scrivener for Dummies and Legendary Quotations which is a tiny little book, i picked up in a charity shop, which does not name the author, it just says; from Lloyds Bank, but has some fabulous quotes.

Here are two towards the beginning of the book that make me smile.

You know's rather like opening a can of sardines. We are all looking for the key

- Alan Bennett

What is drama but life with the dull bits cut out. 

- Alfred Hitchcock 

So this post is more about reading, than writing, still words, but sometimes, a change is as good as a rest. What are you all reading?

And what are your favourite quotes?  Do share with me, I'm on the lookout for my next audiobook, and paperback reads.