When life gets in the way…

Have you ever felt like the universe is doing it’s damnedest to prevent you from enjoying the things you most want to spend time on? Ever tried to get on with your to-do list and have a million things dumped in your lap that needed sorting yesterday? Ever felt so sure your body is going to collapse under the strain of illness and life stress, that getting out of bed feels utterly pointless?

I should probably tell you that, right now, my hand is stretching itself towards the sky, giving a little wave and shouting ever so annoyingly “Me! Me! MEEEE!”. Yes, life has well and truly kicked my butt and writing has had to take a backseat for the better part of a year! Yes, you read that correctly. Almost an ENTIRE year! Where is that horror stricken emoji face when I need one?

The last blog post I wrote, was published in March a year ago and, looking back over the year I’ve had, I’m not entirely surprised there hasn’t been a peep out of me since. I’m not going to go into details, except to say: I’ve had plenty of good, happy days filled with fun and the things memories are made of, a few too many busy ones full of challenges and deadlines, and then, a whole truckload of the kind where you just want to go to bed and wake up tomorrow, or next week, or perhaps even next year. Looks like I accomplished the last – at least where any form of writing is concerned!

I’m sat looking out the window and spring seems to be on it’s way. The days are getting brighter and I spotted the first crocuses peeping out between the withered brown strands of last years grass yesterday. The world is waking up from it’s long winter nap and I suppose I’m a little envious of it’s ability to start over, clean and bright and eager. What is it with spring that has me feeling like we’re all due for a fresh start?

We’ve had a bleak and unusually snow-free winter this year. Dark, yes. Cold, yes. But instead of the muffled peace that a good snowfall provides, we’ve had rain and a dreary greyness that has dulled even the most cheerful souls. My kids have been decidedly miffed at the lack of snow filled fun. My dog has taken to hanging his head and venturing out reluctantly for his cold, wet walks. And me? I’ve claimed the spot closest to the fireplace and indulged in an endless stream of hot cups of tea, whilst binge-watching yet another tv-series and knitting away the winter evenings.

With warmer weather right around the corner, I’m allowing myself to hope that soon we’ll be able to plant the herbs and veggies we’ve been planning and set out the garden furniture. Warmer weather means less layers going out, oh and note to self: the need for new clothes for my kids that grow like weeds!

As for writing…. I need to read through the chapters I finished last year and take stock, I think. I have a good friend who’s eagerly waiting for the continuation of a story she fell in love with last year. I have chapters she hasn’t even seen yet and I plan to send everything over to her as soon as possible and see what she thinks. Her feedback has been great and I can’t tell you the effect it has had on my confidence! Once that’s done, I should know at least where I am and can plan what to do next.

So, for now, my focus will be taking it easy so I can get back on my feet again and hopefully back on track with writing. I’m by no means out of the woods with everything that’s been dumped on me lately, but I’ve reached a point where I don’t want to feel broken anymore and give up on the dreams I’ve held onto for so long. Let’s see what happens from here on out!

I wish you all a pleasant spring day wherever you are!

And happy writing!

Perfection in the making!

As days go, yesterday was a winner! Let me tell you why…

I reached my first goal of 10K written words about a month ago. 10% of my novel was written! I felt good. Really good! I sent it off to my 2 alpha readers and got some amazing feedback. Then life hit me hard and I haven’t had the health or momentum to write since.

Somewhere in the last couple of weeks I was reading about the pros and cons of self-publishing vs. traditionally published fiction. One of the biggest questions I’ve been asking myself since I started writing is which way should I go? There are so many sides to that discussion it feels a bit like playing hopscotch on a treadmill that’s spinning in circles. For the purpose of this post though, one thing stood out for me in that article – whether you go the self-publishing route or aim to submit and hopefully secure a contract with an agent and publisher – you need to get your work edited. Okaaaaay…

Now, I’m fairly sure I’m not the first newbie author to have second and third and one hundred and seventh doubts about the quality of their work, but I’ve really been struggling to see if what I’m writing is any good. Up until this point writing has been an exciting new challenge and a daunting one not having a clue how any of this works. I decided that, if for no other reason, contacting an editor would maybe give me an indication of “yes, this is good – keep on going” or “hmmm, maybe this is not quite your thing”.

I belong to an amazing writer’s group on FaceBook and in there they do these live events regularly with an editor so we can send in questions and she answers them. I’ve been following these when I can and I’ve really enjoyed the insights she’s shared. Between these live events and the article, I felt like something was telling me to do some research about editing and editors. So I looked up her website and totally fell in love with her concept! Her name is Emma and she runs the site Creating Perfection. Emma offers – amongst other things – a chapter by chapter editing service. The benefit of editing small sections as I write allows me the opportunity to a) learn as I go and incorporate all her advice so each successive submission will hopefully be better than the last and b) spread the cost over a longer period of time and thus make it more manageable for a debut author’s finances.

So, having contacted her and decided to jump in head first, I sent her my first 4 chapters and then tried to keep myself busy for a week so I wouldn’t obsess over what she thought about them. I needn’t have worried! Emma made it very clear at the outset that her feedback is always 100% honest as anything else wouldn’t benefit either of us. She is an absolutely lovely person and not only did she do an incredibly thorough job on editing my chapters, but she also boosted my self-esteem and had me grinning from ear to ear. Her praise and recommendation to keep doing what I’m doing made my day yesterday! It was just what I needed to hear! I now have a clear idea of what I’m doing right and that my plans for the rest of the story are sound. I feel energised and motivated to get back to it – as soon as humanly possible!

It really is an incredibly uplifting feeling to have so many people in your corner – friends and family and now also a kick-ass editor. I don’t know if I could do this without them. Their support means everything to me! If you’re in any doubts whether or not to engage an editor – I would highly recommend you take the plunge! He or she may just provide you with the advice you need to make your manuscript shine! I see it as making an investment in myself and my newest craft and that by doing so the result will hopefully be an amazing novel!