Letters to Autumn, My Life

Letters to Autumn 11

Dear Autumn,

Sometimes, it turns out, my sporadic nature works for the better without my even realising it.

On Monday night, while I was not scrolling endlessly through Twitter, Tumblr or Instagram I found myself clicking over onto my scheduled posts here on my blog. And well, there are a lot of November posts with titles just waiting to be written because for the most part all the groundwork is there. They are books that I need to review and some other little bookish things that only require the knowledge that is in my head.

And well, I found myself starting to write them.

I didn’t really think much of it at first, I needed something constructive to do with my time and it seemed like it would be more productive than trying to read with my tired eyes (somehow staring at my laptop screen was better for those very eyes once I had switched to night mode) and not take anything in properly.

Then I realised that if I end up with most of the month’s posts written it is one less thing to worry about having to write come the month itself (which isn’t actually as far away as I would like it to be, for a reason that will become apparent shortly). The most I would have to worry about is sharing the posts on the days that they were posted.

And the reason that it is important is because I am crazy enough to think that attempting NaNo this year is a good idea. Now I am a total pantser when it comes to this endeavour. I never really go in with a plan. In fact in the cases of a couple of years I didn’t even really go in with a solid idea. This year feels a bit different in that respect.

For one I’m being a total rebel and working on something that already has a solid almost 16,000 words to it’s name (not that it actually has a name, but you know what I mean) which means that it is something that already has legs with me. Because of that, and secondly, it means that I am just treating November as a way to bolster my word count. If I can bolster it by 50,000 words then great. If I can’t then that’s also fine, I will just be happy that I managed to get it up by at all. Because unlike before this isn’t an idea that I just came up with for the sake of the month and thought it might work and I should try and write 50,000 words on it with no real direction. This is something that has sat with me for a while and that I keep coming back to. And in my head it has a clear direction, I just need to actually get it down onto paper and really flesh out all the details.

Which is what I am using November to do. And I guess to allow myself the best chance of success my brain was like, ‘hey you should really write some of November’s posts up so you don’t have to then’. And so, while I’ve got some time to truly dedicate to that (as well as reading and just enjoying being by the ocean again) I am going to do just that.

Love,

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My Life

Out of the Habit

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When I returned to this blog at the beginning of the month I changed the way I viewed it and took a lot of pressure of myself for the sake of my sanity and to avoid just churning out an old post for the sake of getting something out on a day to day basis.

Turning that switch off in my head has proved to be incredibly beneficial to the way that I view this blog. I stopped looking at it as some kind of chore and that in turn helped to create a more creative view for myself on it. I started to feel more inspired and more inclined to actually write content and it’s great. There is still a little bit of blogger’s guilt when I do miss a day, or in the case of this last week just go days without posting. But I would rather that then getting home for the day and then writing something that I kind of hate the entire that I am typing it and just letting it post. And I have to keep reminding myself of that on the days where my usual posting time passes and nothing comes with it.

Anyway, thinking about this has all come about because come Sunday I am going back to posting every single day. Every day. For the whole 31 days. Something that I haven’t done since Letters to Spring earlier in the year. Which at this point in the year seems like a distant, distant memory. And it felt kind of hard then even though I was in a better habit with this blog then.

I don’t even really know what to expect from next month at this point. On the one hand I’m not all that worried because the beauty of the month is that it is almost like a diary with the way that I approach it. They don’t have to be all that substantial in terms of content, in that in my head I just feel like I can take a little thing that happened on any given day and then just talk through my thought process in some way. In that respect I pretty much treat this project as a way to keep the cobwebs from building up too much on my writing and just get very Virginia Woolf about it all. And that is something that can take as little as half an hour each day. On the other had though I am kind of terrified of having to get back into the habit of posting every day because it’s not something that I used to doing at this point any more. Hasn’t been for months. And I don’t quite know how I am going to react to it.

I mean I have slowly built up to it in some ways with this month, but then I’ve also really not, given my almost near radio silence for the last week.

For one, I am going to have to really nail the whole being organised thing (more on how that is going later on in the week, see I occasionally have things planned…) and secondly I’m going to have to keep reminding myself that it’s okay if they get a bit more stream of consciousness than usual, that’s the beauty of the project that I decided to partake in and kind of make whatever the hell I want.

Oh, and I also need to remind myself not to repeat myself, so I gotta get better of keeping track what I wrote, which I guess links into the whole being organised thing.

And then I need to start worrying about November…which although themed in my head is also going to still (try) and be an everyday-er kind of job. So far, the month has a lot of book reviews scheduled because those have pretty disappeared recently, but I need to get more bookish ideas that are not that over the next few weeks so it’s literally just a case of writing them up, not thinking of ideas and then trying to figure out what the hell to do with them the day before the post is due.

I’m feeling good about the next couple of months though. So good in fact that I am, yet again, considering taking part in Nano in November. I might cheat juuustttt a little and work on an already existing manuscript,  but if I can get 50,000 words added to that it will be all the closer to actually being a finished thing and that kind of blows my mind. I mean there are a lot of other hurdles to jump over before it gets to that, but I’m doing the damn thing.

But before that I gotta do the damn thing of Letters to Autumn, and also make a modification to my sign off…

Parentheses count: 2. See you next time!

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My Life

Still Talking About It

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I do not know how many times I have talked about creativity in my life on this blog, but it’s been a lot and I can’t imagine that I am going to stop any time soon because it continues to be a thing that plagues me. It’s like this friend that you know you should maybe cut out of your life but also want to impress it immensely and so you clutch on to it in a bid to impress it. And so you find yourself in this weird cycle that seems almost to break out of.

This is relevant to something I swear.

I went through this phase in August when I was just super creative and words just flowed out of me and I ended up with a document that housed nearly 15,000 words of workable material. It was great. Then that all just dried up and I stopped being able to actually produce a sentence.

Okay, obviously I am being dramatic, but I did stop looking at the document for a while and then I stopped having ideas related to it and it all just kind of dimmed out and I accepted that the fickle friend I call my creativity had just sort of left me.

Then, because I’m an idiot, I had a book delivered to the wrong Waterstones and so had to schlep my ass to Piccadilly Circus to collect. And because I was making the trip up there anyway I decided that I might as well just sit in their downstairs cafe and see what happens (and try not to buy anymore books, which I failed at because I am weak and some books are just too pretty to say no to…). And well, I finally finished something that I was arguably supposed to have written a week ago and just couldn’t get down onto the page.

And that was all well and good and then just as I started to eat a blueberry muffin (which was the first one I had had in ages and I forgot how much I loved them) I finally had a new thought and opened up an old word document and then just found myself writing. A sustained idea. That actually made sense and slotted into the general arc that I have vaguely planned for this thing.

I typed out everything that I had in my head and then discovered that it sort of trickled out in a place that I can go back to when I go back to it. Which wasn’t yesterday like I had planned when I came home, but is something that feels to be on the horizon.

This also isn’t the first time that this has happened to me once I walk into the hallowed halls of that building (it’s next door to a church, this almost works). And it makes perfect sense that creativity just starts flowing when you’re surrounded by other peoples’ work that has made it’s way into the world. It’s kind of hard not to be inspired there. And basically it came at time when I really needed it because I was reaching a point when I was almost frustrated at my lack of productivity.

It just seems a little inconvenient that whenever I find myself in a massive rut that I just have to make an hour (or so) trip to a giant bookshop (where temptation is rife) and just eat cake and drink coffee. Although I do love spending time in there.

By the way, I am totally aware that this is most definitely psychological and that it would definitely work if I just got out of the house and go somewhere else, but I am a cliche and a sucker for working in cafes and the like because a part of my brain switches on and I get shit done. I’m gonna have to travel for that anyway, might as well travel to one of my favourite places in the world.

And now I have something to work with again and somewhere to go and a renewed passion for this project. Although I am still also putting off the inevitable when it comes to planning out the nitty gritty of it all still…I’ll save that for another day.

For now though, I’m gonna go to cardio barre and work on this scene a bit more once that is done.

And thank the Waterstones gods for their cafe and the injection of creativity.

I swear I might stop talking about creativity one day. I doubt it though…

Parentheses count: 4. See you tomorrow!

 

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My Life, writing

Camp Nano – The Final Update

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So last week I felt full of hope that I could actually churn out 10,000 words for the month and get it done on time. I honestly felt like on some level that I could achieve that.

At this point on the 27th of the month, I am not so sure anymore.

My word count has not officially changed since last week. That’s mainly because for some unknown reason I have yet to type up everything that I have written up in a notebook so I don’t actually know the true word count. I would guess that it’s around 5,000 words.

And look, realistically speaking I could actually probably reach my word count because the words are in my head. They won’t leave me alone, but for some reason I am lacking all motivation to actually get together and type it up. And so I haven’t. They just sort of exist in my head.

I am going to try and reach my word count. I finish work tomorrow afternoon (hello half day) for two weeks and I am thinking that I am going to just sort of blitz it all that I can. That is my intention at the very least. I am definitely going to get some shit typed up from that damn notebook if I do nothing else.

So the final update is that there has been no real update from last week. I have tried to use this month as a way to kickstart myself to get back to writing and on the one hand it has because I’ve been feeling creative a lot more recently, but also it hasn’t because there is nothing really to show for it right now.

The good thing is that I’m not letting it get me down or anything, I am just taking this as something that has happened and am going to keep on going with it.

It is what it is.

Parentheses count: 1. See you tomorrow!

 

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My Life

Camp Nano – Week 2

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The title pretty much tells you all you need to know about this post (which I am currently writing while being distracted by Game of Thrones, so good to have it back). I am doing another update on Camp Nano.

It’s going well so far. Officially I have just over 3,000 words written down on the document that is currently housing this month’s attempt at this. However I have written more than that.

I’m not quite sure how much more, but it’s all scrawled in my truly awful handwriting in a notebook and I haven’t quite gotten around to typing it up and adding stuff to it, because it is mostly dialogue. That is mostly because I have been really good at procrastinating, as per and also I was finishing up Jane the Virgin (as well as starting it to be quite honest, I clicked play on ep 1 of Season 3 on Saturday and was finished on Monday) and am trying to keep on top of blogging this week.

But I was randomly inspired on Friday night while I was sat in a church and ended up with a lot of time to kill (I was at a book launch event in Piccadilly being held in a church, I didn’t just go and hang out there on a Friday night after work) and I spent about 45 minutes just writing and ended up with about 4/5 A4 pages to work with.

I am slowly getting around to typing that all up and I think that I should soon hit the halfway point with it. And luckily for me I have a couple of ideas related to what I am writing that I can embellish and so right now I feel kind of confident in the fact that I can get to my word count set for the month.

Which isn’t something that I thought I would be, but there you go.

Parentheses count: 3. See you tomorrow!

 

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My Life

Camp Nano- Week 1

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You know me, I love an update post and it’s been a week since July started which means it has now been a week since Camp Nano has started, and well I actually have words to contribute to my overall word count aim for the month.

You read them al yesterday.

That’s it.

That’s all I have written so far.

And it is just under 2,000 words.

Which means that I am 2/10’s of the way through my goal for the month. I am not gonna lie, I am surprised at myself. I know I set myself that target and all but I also know myself and so I didn’t necessarily think that I would actually get close to that. Or even really make a start with it.

My faith in myself is real high as I am sure you can see.

The fact of the matter is I’m almost scared of writing at this point. It’s gone past the point of writer’s block and just careened into outright fear. But I feel like now that I have momentum with that I can actually achieve my current target for the month, maybe even exceed it if I so dare.

I just need to remember that in the end as long as I am putting words on a page then I am at least doing something. Which is more than I have been doing for months now.

So my current word count 10 days into the month is: 1,780 and I am going to go back into it and work on this thought that plagued my head on the train journey home.

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow!

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Creative Writing, writing

Snapshot 53

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Yeah, I know I went dark again, I was all prepared to get home on Friday night and finish this post up, but then I went and got a life instead and that went out the window and so here I am doing it today instead. I got randomly inspired to get back to these characters one afternoon where I pretty much lost the will to work in the heat and got distracted. And then I remembered that I don’t really know my own timeline of this thing anymore so I had to read through all my previous ones, of which there are 55 in total, and I still don’t think it 100% lines up, but it does enough. Please do not ask me where this slots in to the whole thing, because I don’t quite know specifically, it’s all very vague in my head. But there you go. 

‘What if I wanted to quit all this?’ Lizzy asked quietly as she gently closed her laptop. Ryan looked up from reading her most recent book and raised an eyebrow.

‘Quit what?’

‘This whole being an author thing? The slaving over a keyboard and hating everything that makes it onto the page thing. My job. The job I chose and backed myself 100% to achieve’ She sounded dejected and was tugging at her hair absent mindedly

‘Well what would you do instead?’ Ryan settled the now closed book on his lap and turned to face her fully.

‘Become a lady of leisure.’ She laughed humourlessly.

‘Would you be content doing that though?’ 

‘Probably not.’ She shrugged.

‘Then what would you do?’ He tried again, gently.

‘I don’t fucking know. I don’t have a plan B. I never had a plan B.’ Her voice was clipped, anger bleeding into it.

‘There’s nothing wrong with that.’ Ryan offered quietly.

‘I never said there was.’ The anger came through the forefront and winced slightly at herself as the anger hung in the air. Ryan closed his eyes and took a deep breath before he continued talking.

‘I know you didn’t, where is this coming from?’ Lizzy sighed and scrunched her eyes shut.

‘I’ve been staring at my screen for the last hour and there’s nothing. And it goes beyond just regular writer’s block. I can always work through that, this is something else. This is a deep rooted sense of nothing. I can’t pull a sentence together. I’m two chapters into this book and now there is just a black hole of nothingness where I can grab hold of nothing and have no idea where to go. It’s just darkness.’

‘Then stop.’ Ryan said simply and Lizzy opened her eyes to look at him intently.

‘And do what?’ She mirrored his earlier words.

‘I dunno, nothing. You’re burned out. It finally happened. So just stop’

‘I have a deadline, I can’t just stop.’

‘Have you talked to your agent about this?’

‘No.’

‘Then how do you know they won’t be flexible? It’s better to have a slightly awkward conversation that might actually be beneficial to you then to have you force a book out that you are not even close to being happy with.’

‘But that’s the problem. I don’t know if I will ever be happy with it. That book you’re reading right now, I have  rewritten the ending to it about seven times since I submitted it.’

‘You always do that, that doesn’t signify anything. Just take a break. A long break.’

‘What if I wanted to quit all this? Lizzy asked quietly as she gently closed her laptop. Ryan looked up from reading her most recent book and raised an eyebrow.

‘Quit what?’

‘This whole being an author thing? The slaving over a keyboard and hating everything that makes it onto the page thing. My job. The job I chose and backed myself 100% to achieve’ she sounded dejected and was tugging at her hair absent mindedly

‘Well what would you do instead?’ Ryan settled the book on his lap and turned to face her fully.

‘Become a lady of leisure.’

‘Would you be content doing that though?’

‘Probably not.’ She shrugged.

‘Then what would you do?’

‘I don’t fucking know. I don’t have a plan b. I never had a plan b.’

‘There’s nothing wrong with that.’

‘I never said there was’ she snapped, wincing slightly at herself.

‘I know you didn’t, where is this coming from?’

‘I’ve been staring at my screen for the last hour and there’s nothing. And it goes beyond just regular writer’s block. I can take a step back from that and then work through that, this is something else. This is a deep rooted sense of nothing. I can’t even pull a sentence together. I’m two chapters into this book and I’ve reached an abyss. A black hole of nothingness where I can grab hold of nothing and have no idea where to go. There is just darkness.’

‘Then stop.’ Lizzy looked at him intently.

‘And do what?’

‘I dunno, nothing. You’ve churned out a book a year almost the entire time I’ve know you, sometimes two. You’re burned out. It finally happened. So just stop.’ Lizzy groaned and titled her head up to the ceiling, closing her eyes again.

‘I have a deadline, I can’t just stop.’ Her voice was strained, but still held an element of exasperation.

‘Have you talked to your agent about this?’

‘No.’ She whispered.

‘Then how do you know there is no flexiblity? It’s better to have a slightly awkward conversation that might actually be beneficial to you then to have you force a book out that you are not even close to being happy with.’ Lizzy titled her head back up slowly and pushed her hair off her face.

‘But that’s the problem. I don’t know if I will ever be happy with it. That book you’re reading right now, I have  rewritten the ending to it about seven times since I submitted it.’ She gestured vaguely at Ryan’s lap and he threw the book on the coffee table.

‘You always do that, that doesn’t signify anything. Just take a break. A long break.’

‘It’s not that simple and you know it.’ She quirked an eyebrow.

‘No, I think it might be that simple, I think you’re just making it complicated. You’re scared.’ His voice was soft and it riled Lizzy up in an unexpected way.

‘No, I’m not.’ She snapped.

‘You don’t have to get defensive with me Liz. But you can’t ignore this.’

‘So I admit defeat?’ Her voice dropped and Ryan moved from where he was sat on the armchair to sit next to her, pulling her legs onto his lap.

‘To who? What has defeated you?’ He started tracing random patterns on her bare calf. Lizzy stared at his fingers as they moved in some kind of trance as she spoke softly, any anger she may have felt slowly seeping out of her.

‘This has. My job has. The job that I chose to do. The one that I fought tooth and nail to get into and stick at. The job that people told me I shouldn’t do for so many reasons. I just accept that those people were right?’ Ryan’s hand stilled momentarily, bringing Lizzy back into the room.

‘They’re not right though are they? People love your books. You’ve had your books turned into films. Your books have been on the New York Times Bestseller lists. You’ve done what you wanted to achieve, but sometimes even the best of us have to accept that we are not a superhero and take a break.’ His hand started moving again and Lizzy’s attention settled on it once more.

‘But this is the last  book though…’ She protested weakly.

‘So, you want it to be as good as it can be, don’t you? If you’re looking at a screen and you can’t figure out what you want the characters that you have lived with for years to do then you need to take a break.’ He said matter-of-factedly.

‘What like you are?’ She scoffed, shifting her gaze to his face momentarily.

‘If you’re referring to the fact that I have never been in the studio more then since we announced our hiatus then I see you that and raise you almost every single holiday we have ever been on where you claim that you are going to take a couple of weeks off and then don’t. We’re just not taking part in the juggernaut that was our life that threatened to ruin us and burn us out even further, I’m a song writer, writing songs is what I do, no hiatus is going to take that away from me.’

‘Yeah, and I’m a writer. If I don’t write, or can’t write, what the hell do I have?’

‘You still have that, don’t be ridiculous. It’s a break not a retirement.’

‘Of course it’s not a retirement I have people waiting to see how the fuck this thing ends, I can’t leave them hanging like that.’ She smiled.

‘And you won’t, you’ll just leave them for a little bit longer then you originally anticipated.’ His hand stilled again and the room briefly fell silent.

‘What if I never go back to it though?’ Lizzy whispered after a few moments.

‘We both know that you will. But for now, try and relax. Stop stressing about everything, which I know is easier said than done, but think about it. Dyl and Tom are gonna be dads soon and we have a nursery that needs finishing. We’ve never been off for an extended period of time, well ever, really. And before you know it you’ll go back to having about a million different ideas that you want to write and not enough time to write them all again in no time. But it’s okay to say that you need to stop.’

‘How does one even go about doing nothing?’ She laughed.

‘Well first of all you need to talk to your agent and publishers before you can entertain it is an idea. And then you just take it one step at a time. I would suggest we go on holiday, but we can do whatever. Just go off the grid.’

‘A holiday sounds good. I’ll deal with the logistics of it all and then get back to you.’

‘It’ll be fine. It may even be fun. I don’t think we’ve ever not been working the entire time we’ve known each other.’ His hand started moving again, shifting further up her leg.

‘Well that’s depressing.’

‘Let’s not dwell on it and just let it happen.’ Ryan smiled at her and stilled his hand again on her thigh.

‘My family are going to be so confused when I tell them I’m taking a break from this all.’ She joked.

‘Can’t lie, I’m surprised you’re considering it. But I’m grateful that you are.’

‘I’m gonna go deal with this before I chicken out.’ She stretched behind her and grabbed her phone, smiling at Ryan before swinging her legs off his lap and getting up to leave the room.

Parentheses count: 0. See you tomorrow!

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