Wednesday, 22 February 2012

My So-Called World of Writing

For a number of reasons, it’s been a while since I posted here. 

I thought about it at Christmas. And then again at New Year. I couldn’t find the right things to say. Everyone is full of words at these times and I had nothing to add but good wishes and good fortune, which I gave across Facebook, Twitter and in cards and spoken words to people in my real life and people online. I wondered who would be interested in what I had to say on my blog and if my platitudes would be any different to anyone else’s. I decided not to bother. The world was full of end of year reviews and my little bit of research on Facebook told me that most people didn’t like the idea of a round-up. Naff, said one. Bragging, said another. Not interested, said someone else. A couple of odd voices came through and said, actually, I quite like to catch up and find out what folk are up to. I still decided not to bother.

Most people wanted 2012 to be better than ever. I didn’t want 2012 to be better than ever because I know each year is a variation on a theme. Life doesn’t change with the chiming of Big Ben at midnight. It comes gradually, by making little changes over time. And I had quite liked 2011.
It’s difficult to make posts on Twitter and Facebook sometimes. It can sound like bragging if you gush a success, or can be depressing if you bemoan a difficulty. Not easy, this blogging lark. Especially when I can blog all day about writing, about my family, about my nursery, about EDS. And then there’s the non-specific jumble too.

Carole Blake, the esteemed literary agent, said today on Twitter, as she tweeted from the #tweetblog conference and on behalf of the speaker, that it’s important for writers to blog. I’m just going to have to think of really interesting things to say. And I have a plan … my clever brother in law is going to create a website for me and I will be able streamline and separate my blog posts into different sections.  

I can’t not mention my nursery, what I do for a real job, the thing that pays the bills and takes me away from home once a month for four or five days. We won 2 local Business Awards last year, and a prestigious Nursery World Award for team development. It takes hard work, commitment, and passion. We built the nursery up from a business that was facing closure. I had no business experience but I knew what parents want and need in terms of childcare. I also know how I like to be treated as an employee. We have over thirty staff and care for children from over ninety families in Hartlepool. No mean feat but it doesn’t come easy and it has to be balanced with the everything we have all put in. 

The EDS (Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome) thing is ongoing, it never goes away, we just manage it the best we can. It could all be so much worse and I am grateful that it’s not. 

In the meantime, in the world of writing, I have a number of projects ongoing and my head is full of ideas. I’ve teamed up with Jo Derrick, of the Yellow Room,( ) and we send each other prompts daily and write for half an hour. Since we started, I’ve written nearly thirty new pieces. Out of those thirty, four or five have been reworked, edited and sent out to various markets/competitions. It’s a great way to work. I can’t commit to writing every day, what with the business and family etc but it really does help to generate fresh stories. 

I’ve also had more and more requests for advice and information from writers who want to know specific things re the world of police and crime. It usually involves a dead body or two. I’m very happy to provide information to any writer who would like to ask a question. I can’t guarantee I can answer it but if I can’t, I’m sure I know someone who can. So if you have a pressing question for your story or novel that you need to be answered but don’t know how, or where, or who, just ask Effie!

Last year I won or was placed in 27 competitions. Sounds good – but when you add up that I entered 165, it sort of puts it into perspective. That’s roughly a hit rate of 1 in 6 (if I’ve done the maths right) or one every two weeks. Ultimately, it proves to me that if you want build up a portfolio of work and a credible CV, then you have to put yourself out there. It takes time and effort and hard work. I counted up today that since 2005 when I started writing and meant it, I have had 127 hits (publications online and in print). Just keep reminding me to sort out the novel! Please. Thank you. 

Last year Katie Fforde came to dinner. I met up with Ian Rankin in Aberfeldy for the music festival here and I had the privilege of meeting his son and Jon, his son’s carer. I also met Ian in Edinburgh for coffee, with JF Derry and Louise Kelly. I attended another workshop run by Nicola Morgan – as brilliant as ever. Then I went for a drink with Vanessa from The Edinburgh Bookshop and we talked books and other such gossip. I thoroughly enjoyed it. And I have finally met Jon Pinnock, one of the people who inspire me the most, when I attended the Get Writing conference in Hatfield with Verulam Writers’ Circle. Lovely he is too. I networked and got to know some well known and some not so well known writers. I met a few people from the world of Twitter.  The thing everyone I have mentioned has in common is not the writing, but the support for each other.  

As much as I sometimes fear it, become scared, lose confidence, and beat myself up about it, I love my writing world. Long may it continue.


  1. I'm glad you've picked up blogging again - it's good to see what you've been up to.

  2. Thank you Jo. My intention is to continue. Not to bombard but keep it a constant. Thank you.

  3. Great blog post! I love our writing sessions. They're the highlight of my day and it has helped increase my output tenfold! You're a great writer and a very generous person. Thank you! x

  4. Oh Jo - it's been like a new lease! No pressure, no obligation, just mutual support and encouragement without any trouble or strife. And thank you for your compliments - reciprocated of course. You have taught me through your writing, the benefits of analogy, using the right description to enhance the writing and of dialogue. We write very differently and I'm glad to take what you give me when you send me your stories. I hope it works the same for you. Thank YOU. xx