#atinylife Novel #4

I was planning my next novel the other day (as you do). As many of you know, there are apparently two types of novel-writers, the pantsers and the planners.

I’m a planner.

I use the excellent ‘Save the Cat’ for story structure, mostly so I can use phrases like ‘break into Act 3.’ Ripping up little bits of paper for the required fifteen sections, I filled in what I could, hoping the blank sections would somehow become magically completed as I worked.Meow

Number 12 is a story beat called ‘Dark Night of the Soul.’ By my calculations it occurs in Chapter 36 of 40.

When I looked over what I’d written, it said ‘main character realises she needs to be a fucking mum and get on with it,’ I realised this was exactly. It.

It’s now written on slip number 2: ‘Thematic Premise Stated.’

#atinylife write what you know

I am just settling back down to work. Chapter two of Novel number 4 – a woman sits in an office, trying to work on her PhD. Her phone rings: it’s her mother in law. Her phone rings again: this time it’s her friend.

The Spotify playlist I’m ignoring stops playing, my phone rings.WWYK

It’s Mr HB. Well, it’s Mr HB’s phone. My youngest had asked if he could ring, and Mr HB thought he wanted to say hello and ‘some other nice things.’

Fat chance. He had rung to tell me how bad his day had been.

Then Mr HB told me the oldest had been in trouble again. I listened as they lost screen for the afternoon and melted down.

Mr HB apologised. I went back to work. The woman got some work done. Her phone was silent: for now.

#atinylife book week 2019

Next week is Book Week Scotland!

It’s a great chance to get out and about in the writing/reading community. Get inspired, make connections, give yourself an enthusiasm boost as the nights start to draw in.

This year, on Tuesday (21/11/19) I’m at one of my closest libraries: the John Gray Centre in Haddington. Fitting, as our topic is ‘Local Blethers‘! Myself, Rebecca McKinney, and Charlie Laidlaw will be talking inspiration, setting and how our localities feed into our writing. We’ll be blethering from 6pm-7:30pm and the event is free.

On Thursday I’m taking up my new position as co-host of Listen, Softly: EdinburghBook Week 2019. This isn’t just a one-off Book Week visit, I’m joining Claire and Dom to help with programming, sound, and the usual ‘any-other-duties-as-required!’ I’m excited and honoured to be involved in this popular addition to Edinburgh’s spoken word scene.

#atinylife privilege

As a woman with mental health issues, and the parent of an enby kid, I’m often aware of other people’s male-cis-het-ableist privilege.

Today, however, I have the most privilege I’ve ever felt in my life.

  • I am in an air bnb (financially secure enough for this, and multiple trips to Tesco for cashews and vegan chocolate)
  • for two nights (not in a nine-five with four weeks of holiday a year)
  • my children being looked after by their dad (co-parenting: surely the ultimate privilege?)
  • writing (able to pursue this un-lucrative work for many years now)
  • listening to music and podcasts (having decided I can afford Spotify: currently on free trial)
  • and reading (only one was free from the library).

This is heaven.privilege

This. An accident of birth, and race,  cisgendered heterosexual marriage, and secure family that led me to this point.

#atinylife Autumn Song

Autumn SongAutumn: I wake before the sun rises.

Warm myself on a cup of tea,

the feeling of my hands across the keyboard,

the central heating’s clicks and taps.

The sun’s light pierces clouds ruffled

on the horizon,

reminding me it’s still here

even at this turn of the year.

Rising into the sky, all blue and white

and blue and white

and falling leaves. Rain comes on

from nowhere, and I shut the window tight,

watch the leaves, pushed off

by the wind to fall with the raindrops,

to end up slicked, shining on the concrete.

By teatime, the sun is gone again.

Pink clouds wrestle with the oranges,

the yellows, the browns of the trees.

Red berries are picked out

in the evening light. Drops rest on the branches,

 

the rooks fly over like factory workers, heading for home.

 

#atinylife yeah whatevs

My oldest drew me this picture and challenged me to write a blog to go with it. Here goes!

When I think about becoming what society calls beautiful, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about becoming what society calls financially successful, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about not ever buying anything that is remotely close to the latest fashion, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about having a fancy holiday in the sun every summeryeah whatevs, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about other people’s religion, ritual or practices, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about how other people choose to parent, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about other people’s taste in music, I think: yeah, whatevs.

When I think about what pre-teens say about almost everything, I think: it’s usually ‘yeah, whatevs.’

 

#tinylife write like a grrrl

For the last six weeks, I’ve been escaping from the teatime/bedtime routine and driving myself into Edinburgh.

I’ve been learning how to build a character, a setting, dialogue, and how to put these elements together into a short story, all under the magnificent captaincy of Dr Claire Askew.

WLAG

But by far the best part has been meeting the rest of the group. My WLAG colleagues. Writing with them, sharing with them. We have already started championing each other’s work and projects – a meet up is planned at my next spoken word gig! I can’t wait to see what each of them go on to do next. I’m looking forward to saying ‘yes, we did Write Like a Grrrl together.’ 

Writers work alone. But we need that community, too. That encouragement. The busy silence of a roomful of writers, writing.