#atinylife Lockdown Pages

Excerpts from Morning Pages.

Lockdown Day 14

‘<child> is v. sad today but hopefully he’ll feel better soon. <Other child> did graze their knee trying to drag them out of bed! And they have no clean trousers…they’re all on the washing line.’

Lockdown Day 15

‘had a migraine yesterday – not sure if it was the ‘trying to like almond milk’ or the ‘trying to look at the novel. Damn you, stupid goal-setting workshop! Took both meds, went to bed.’

Lockdown Pages (1)

Lockdown Day 21

‘Wow we’ve done 3 weeks. Mental. I wrote the dullest blog ever yesterday.’

Lockdown Day 28

‘<child> has been super miserable and sad these last two days. They aren’t eating very well and feel ill by teatime…they miss their life…think actually we have to let them be sad…and not expect to feel better, just because they did things differently.’

 

#atinylife why write?

Mr HB and I went for a walk the other day, and for once he wanted to talk about my writing (this never happens). It turns out he wanted to check whether I still wanted to be a writer. ‘It doesn’t seem to make you happy. At all,’ he said.

I was a bit shocked! But then I remembered. His perception is based on me whining: another rejection, another novel that will have to go in a drawer because it doesn’t quite work, another opportunity that went to someone else, another year with not much or no money. why write

So I reminded him that I don’t do this for money (just as well!). And I told him that, contrary to appearances, I love to write. It keeps me sane. That feeling, when I get into flow and an hour goes by …

#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.

#atinylife Grateful²

Grateful for another thing that might not be considered classic gratitude material this week.

My notso successful writing career.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s going OK. I have crunched this year’s submission statistics, and not only are they a huge improvement on last year’s, they are above the average (which I believe is 1/7 acceptances: I had 1/4.2 this year!).

But despite this, I’m not working with multiple deadlines or receiving lots of requests for work. So when I wake up, like I did on Sunday, with a wee cold, I can stay in bed, drink Lucozade, and the edits and submissions can wait another day.

wee cold

While I’m (not) on the subject, it’s OK to take sick leave when you are ill. My feelings on how this is perceived in UK workplaces would require more than 140 words for me to rant about!

#atinylife blogger

I’m attending a conference in my capacity as a blogger next week, so I’m giving myself 280 words for the first time in this extended post on blogging.

I found it easier to write about reasons why other people blog! Like:

To make money

Some people apparently make a good deal of profit from monetising (ug, what a word) their blogs. To be honest, I have not even looked into how one might achieve this.

To write on a particular theme

I blog about lots of different things, because the blog is called tinylife, and life is lots of different things.

To bitch about other people/be deliberately polemic

I get in enough trouble already! Which is not to say that I don’t put my opinions in my blog, but there are ways of doing so respectfully. And if you find out what they are, please let me know…

 

Here are some reason why blog.

I wanted to commit to writing something every week

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I think it’s important to prove, as a writer, that you can turn up every week and be consistent.

I wanted to put writing out for free

The places I submit to are often pay to view, and lots of pieces are yet to place anywhere. But in order to showcase my work, I wanted to put writing online in the public domain.

I wanted to build a community

And yay, I did! I’ve got some lovely readers who comment often (yes, you Jena, Joanne, Ann), and many more people who read and enjoy my posts. My favourite bit? When a conversation about a post leads all the way to another, guest post – like here and here.

 

 

#atinylife Good Enough

For writers, a rate of one acceptance for every eight submissions is standard.

I had assumed that writing that was rejected was writing that wasn’t good enough, and I think sometimes that’s true.

But after a  treasured, longed-for acceptance, I couldn’t help noticing that all further correspondence is about what an amazing writer I am. I’m not complaining about this – validation is wonderful.

tinylife Good Enough

But it’s a binary.

 

In or out.

Maybe it was 80% of the way there, maybe it was 40% appreciated, but all I can have is 100% or 0%. And this is before you add subjectivity or any sort of gender bias into the mix.

So I’m trying to be less swayed by both the ‘No, thank yous’, and the ‘Yes, pleases.’

My work is what it is.

I write: I let it fly.

Sometimes it lands, and sometimes it doesn’t.

#atinylife s-No-w

The first few flakes were expected. She dusted them off and kept writing. Later, as drifts of rejection letters built up, she was told to be patient. There were no short cuts. No-one owed her anything. Of course, she had always known there would be snow, it was a given, it was part of the deal.

tinylife s No w

Later, her voice muffled by the expanding polar landscape, she struggled on, through piles of ‘no thank yous,’ and ‘please do submit agains.’ It became harder and harder to lift her feet above their pull and drag, like she was treading cold sand.

In the end, her voice petered out, and her words got lost in the wind. No one realised she could have changed something for one person. Someone else, looking out at the sleety dawn, today, and wondering whether she should try.

#atinylife success

Those of you who follow my writing life, either through this site, or via my Facebook page, will know that the last part of 2017 was something of a success. I won a poetry prize. The Scottish Book Trust chose my piece for their ebook. I got invited to speak at a Poetry evening.

But I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

tinylife success (1)

Which was that I couldn’t write. At all.

Success, which I had thought I wanted, needed – something to balance the sixty two rejections received over 2017 – was harder to bounce back from than failure.

I had plans to work, a quiet house, and instead ended up sleeping through multiple episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

It was a relief to discover this is normal – I let myself write tiny things, and rest, and watch Netflix.

There are always more words.

 

 

#atinylife Event

‘I’m just emailing to see if you’d like to have an event at the Hub.’

This is a special feeling. I spend a lot of our time creating my own opportunities, submitting, asking to be included. Often, the answer is no answer. Often, the answer is ‘no thank you, please try again.’ Sometimes the answer is yes – an amazing feeling. But the question coming from someone else? This was a new one, a welcome addition to my writing experience.

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So I am curating an event at Humbie Hub, with writer R L McKinney. It’s just over a month away, and I’m not as nervous as I am excited. We’ve planned such a great night, of stories, songs and STOVIES*. Please use the contact page if you’d like tickets. Or you can get them at the Hub!

 

 

*a traditional Scottish dish

#atinylife BookFest

Yesterday, I made my first appearance at a Book Festival. I’ve not managed to visit many, even as a punter, but every time I have made it along to one, I’ve felt like I was among ‘my people.’

Our event, Books, Blogs and a Blether, comprised of myself, Joanne, who runs Portobello Book Blog, and fellow writer Natalie Fergie chatting blogs and writing. how-many-wrongsMy favourite moment?When we asked everyone to share what they were reading with the person next to them, and the room exploded into a cacophony of book enthusiasm.

The idea of writing being a lonely profession isn’t new. But events like yesterday don’t just help me feel less alone. They make me feel supported by my network, new friends and readers. I even got some great feedback on the first Chapter of lucky draft 13 of Novel number 2.