Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Saying goodbye


One of the most important lessons I have learned when trying to write is that the support from friends is hugely important.  Without them, everything seems pointless. Today, I lost one of those friends. It's probably a little soon to be writing this post with the pain of his loss still so raw but I can think of no other fitting tribute to Les than writing about him. Les Moriarty was one of the first online bookish friends I ever met. After chatting online for some time we eventually met up at The Festival of Romance in 2013. At that event, a group of us became really firm friends and have been meeting up regularly. Unfortunately, I missed the last meet up back in September and never got to spend time with my lovely friend one last time.

Les was one of those people who was generous to a fault. He was always giving his time to offer words of support and encouragement or to tell you the sensible stuff you didn't always want to hear but needed to. Each time I came to London he always met me either at the airport or on the Tube because he knew I had absolutely no sense of direction and could have ended up anywhere! The man had the patience of a saint! Les and his wonderful wife Viv even let me doss on their sofa during a visit to London and their hospitality was second to none. His faithful dog Rosa was always by his side.

Les was an easy person to like. As someone has just reminded me, Les loved music. He had a vast knowledge about bands, singers and songs and would often share his music with his friends. My daughter often received cds through the post from Les as he knew she loved to dance and sing to the latest pop sensation. He knew how much my husband loved The Beatles and sent him some Beatles stuff too. So generous.  He loved to cook and often derailed a diet or two when he posted up pictures of his latest culinary masterpiece. And, always thinking of others, he sent me lots of vegetarian recipes he thought I might like. With a wicked sense of humour, Les loved nothing more than getting together with friends and setting the world to rights over a glass of wine. I remember when we were all in Leighton Buzzard and spent the entire day in coffee shops talking all things bookish. He was such a well read man and there was nothing he didn't know. There are so many wonderful memories I have of Les and most of them involve laughing our heads off. He was a truly fascinating man and knew everyone! And, the whole world knew Les and adored him!

Quite often I have lacked the motivation or confidence to carry on writing. Les was always there to give me a kick up the backside and tell me to get on with it. Thank you for that Les. It's going to be tough without you my dear friend. The world is a little bit darker, colder and sadder without you in it. We are all better people for having known you. Thanks for the memories Les.  RIP. xxx

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Stress? What stress? Finding my mojo again!

It suddenly occurred to me today that I haven't written a single post here since July. My wonderful intentions to be a prolific writer while I was off work during the Summer months all went completely to pot whenever I found myself snowed under with other book work and falling asleep at my desk due to some difficult parenting issues and a child who has been unwell. Coping on little or no sleep for days on end really put an end to any creativity I had. My brain had left the building. Things still haven't improved too much on the sleep front and for a while I had to scale back on the book work and my writing. I even stopped writing in my journal! But, thankfully things are on the up again. 

It's amazing how your body learns to cope with weeks and months of exhaustion. I have now reached the point where I can function ok on 2 hours sleep now. So, I have started writing again and taking on more book work. I feel great and realise that in actual fact stopping writing and scaling back on work were the stupidest things I did through it all. Now that I am writing again I feel rejuvenated and happy!  If I had only forced myself to sit down in front of my laptop during those days when I thought my eyeballs were going to fall out, maybe things might have been different. I'm really enjoying taking on more book work again and feel buzzed about it all. What had I been thinking, stopping the 2 things in my life that brought me the most happiness!?

The one constant through it all has been my wonderful writing group. We started off as part of a group facilitated by our local library. However, over the Summer and, despite being promised a new facilitator come September we did find ourselves running the group and keeping it going. To be honest, I quite enjoy it but really do have to rein myself in sometimes as I know it often appears I am Ms Bossy Boots and trying to be the facilitator. We all contribute to the group in our own ways. Me.........I'm an organiser. I have organised for some lovely local writers to come to the group to talk to us. I research stuff and bring print outs and writing prompts that are probably boring the rest of the group to tears. But, they are very gracious and thank me politely. What they probably want to do is beat me round the head with the endless bundles of paper I throw at them. Thankfully they haven't yet! They are a super group of people.

Being part of a writing group has given me a new found confidence. Each time we meet we try to share something with the group that we have written. That means finding my story telling voice and letting the group listen to what I have written. It has got to be one of the most nerve wracking things I have ever done. Up to this point I have never shared my work with anyone. But, all my fellow writers in the group are as equally terrified as I am about sharing work. It is such a supportive group of people and I have made some lovely friends. The depth of talent within the group is amazing and I am often in awe of the skills they all possess.  I only hope to be as good as they are one day.

One thing that I never got to be a part of this year has been NaNoWriMo and I am gutted as I have another idea for a book. Actually, I have two ideas! But, I am trying to be realistic. I am still working through editing the book I completed last year and it would be madness to take on another project with this one only half finished. My big wonderful Summer plans had been to finish the book so that I could take part in NaNoWriMo but of course that didn't happen. So, I am being gentle with myself. I'm managing to get to the library most Saturday mornings to work on the book. And while its not happening at break neck speed, it is happening. I still adore my book. It still makes me cry when I read it. I'm not ready to give up on it just yet! Plus, I have lots of author workshops to attend over the next few months and I am really looking forward to those. I am hoping they will provide me with more knowledge and skill around the writing process. My big goal for 2017 is to sign up to The New Writers Scheme with the Romantic Novelist Association so fingers crossed I manage to get onto the scheme. Then, I have no excuses not to finish the book as I will be on a deadline then!

With regards to the book work and blog tours......well I am now officially a part-timer in the day job! Work offered me a part time post a few minutes from my house and I almost bit their arm off! I've now got more time for my beloved book tours which I just love! All in all, life is good.  So, the lesson learned throughout a stressful Summer is...............don't stop doing what you love because you are stressed as it only makes you more stressed!

I'd be really interested to hear how other writers work through times of stress or when life gets in the way.