Monday, 31 August 2015


I saw a short story competition in late July that I really wanted to enter. It is a dragonfly tea competition, and will be judged by Jojo Moyes, who is a favourite author of mine. Best of all, it was free to enter.

I knew it would be a challenge - I didn't find the choices of given titles at all inspiring - but the summer stretched ahead and the closing date was today - the last day of August.

I took the titles to Guernsey as we visited my sister. I imagined carefree days of children running along beaches while I sat and scribbled. Instead, we walked, climbed, played tennis and football on the beach, bodyboarded on the beach and kept the kids up late. By the time we came home, the best I'd done was to have a germ of an idea.

Then we had a couple of weeks of squeezing things in - parties, going in to work, and late night planning sessions. Somehow the time to write evaporated like a summer puddle. At the very end, I took them to a playcentre and wrote a draft, longhand.  Last week we went camping with the kids' dad. I took my laptop, which I'd typed the draft onto. We were going to have some time at his parents', and I thought they would appreciate me stepping back, and giving them time with the grandkids. I thought he would be able to do the parenting (for once!) while I wrote.

But that didn't work out either. We ended up camping for an extra night. We ended up putting the kids to bed at 10, and falling into sleeping bags ourselves. There were difficult family moments to navigate; there were children who wanted and needed me constantly. There were people who talked to me whenever I sat down to write. I didn't sleep well, so I felt constantly tired and uncreative. Then my laptop stopped working, and I gave up.

Which left one weekend. I spent Saturday unpacking and ringfenced some time on Sunday, but then Mum phoned and needed me. So it has become a last-minute race to the post, today. We had some family commitments, but in between, I've edited. I don't know how good it is - I came very close to giving in, but in the end, I reasoned that if you give in, you never achieve. And maybe, just maybe, my story is better than I think. Well, I can dream, can't I?! So it has been sent. The deed is done, the deadline met, by a whisker. Now to catch up on the laundry...

Monday, 10 August 2015

Swanwick Summer School

Swanwick Writing School has been running for forty years - only a little longer than I have been aliv! - but this is the first year I've made it, and then it was for a pitiful amount of time.

Despite my best attempts to plan a brief escape from home as a day visitor to the School, mum ended up having a hospital appointment, and no-one else could fill in babysitting. Steve (ex-husband) came to look after the children in the morning, but arrived ten minutes before I wanted to arrive at Swanwick, which is half an hour's drive away. It was not the relaxing, stress-free start to the day I'd hoped for!

The welcome was warm, though, and people were friendly and helpful, even in the short visit I had. I thoroughly enjoyed the lectures, too, though they only whetted my appetite. I wish I could have stayed longer.

Sue Moorcroft gave a great talk on Romantic Fiction - she is so knowledgeable about her subject and gave lots of fascinating information, including about the Romantic Novelist's Association. I hadn't realised before that it is possible to attend talks and events run by the RNA even if you're not a member. It usually means an extra cost, but not a prohibitive one. Up-to-date information can be found on the RNA website. I have heard good things about them from many sources, and will be checking them out again now, instead of waiting for my next crack of the whip at joining their New Writers' Scheme.

So, while it was frustrating putting my own dreams on the back-burner, the kids come first, and I gained a lot of benefit from a short amount of time at Swanwick. Hope I can afford the time and money to attend next year...and that nothing will get in the way.

I wonder what I will have achieved towards my writing dreams by then? Watch this space...