Saturday, 30 July 2011

My most productive week ever, a good read and a Summer outing

Good morning, the sun is shining, the forecast is good and I've had the very best writing week of my life! A huge statement but absolutely true. Never before have I completed what I have this week. I have managed to edit five chapters of my novel 'Her' which means that after this blog I shall be working on chapter nineteen!!!! As I explained last week, I'm now on school holiday and had set out a schedule for the week detailing time slots for writing - and I'm proud to say, I stuck to it. The momentum of working each morning and having each afternoon to ones self has worked a treat. So, it goes without saying that I will be repeating the routine this coming week to ensure the same results. At this rate, thirty four more days will be all that is needed to complete and prepare for an agent.

As a result of my superb week, I have to say that my confidence and motivation regards my work has increased ten fold. I'm on the final stretch of this project before it does the rounds and the adrenalin is definitely pumping.

One other high point of the week was explaining to the stepchildren exactly what I was doing. I'd worked for three mornings, and we, hubby and I, had noticed that they seemed a little confused as to what I was working on. So, I sat them down and explained that I'd written a book, and was currently editing the manuscript. Both step-kids fell silent and simply stared - they'd thought I was doing school work. I was correct in my prediction last week, that even though they knew I went to 'writers' meetings' they hadn't made a connection what 'writers' was - bless um! Anyway the outcome was that they both unfully appreciate that I need to focus on my project and need to be left alone to work. And.... that was it, as simple as that - no questions, nothing.

I found a gem of a book 'Oranges aren't the only fruit' by Jeanette Winterson - a riveting read which I read in two days - don't you just love it when a book grabs your attention and you just have to consume it in a greedy fashion? I've also updated my bookworming list with recently read titles. The last book that I devoured in this manner was 'The girl with a pearl earring' by Tracey Chevalier, which was recommended by a friend. Or was it 'The Kite Runner' by Khaled Hosseini which was another devour-it-in-two-sittings book.

Thursday evening I attended the Grace Dieu Summer outing which was a meal at a local Italian, La Torre in Coalville - where the food was utterly superb! I shall be returning with hubby in the coming weeks. It was nice to have a social evening, a work free night, with the writers - as I was able to learn a little more about each on a personal and friendly level. I have to say, writers really are the most interesting and diverse group of people you can meet - I love the stimulation that can be gained from the briefest of chats which ignites a plethora of potential short stories.

I am still awaiting news on the two short stories that I sent to a magazine a number of weeks ago. The waiting period is over and yet I am still waiting - so, fingers crossed that I hear pretty soon.

This weekend I shall be entering my novel's opening chapter into the Mslexia Magazine's 'Women's Novel Competition'. The closing date is 30th September for the first 5000 words of an unpublished novel. For further details check out:

So, that's a quick up-date of my week, as always you can follow me on Twitter, ODwyer_author, for daily updates on my progress, other wise it is back here next Saturday for the latest blog up-date. Please feel free to pass details onto your writer friends that may be interested in my blog page.

Enjoy x

Saturday, 23 July 2011

School holiday, planned timetable and a twice daily muse

Good morning's offical, I am on six weeks school holidays - yay! The school broke up yesterday, so today, is day one of my writing holiday to hit that 1st September deadline. I've been a busy bee all week sorting and sifting through the school work to clear the deck, so that I can indulge myself in my project. I've written up a writing timetable which covers the six week period and informed the world and his wife that I will be unavailable for coffee, lazy morning lie-ins or anything else that tempts me away from my desk. Come hell, or high weater this novel will be ready to send to an agent during the first week in September.

I can honestily say, I've never had this opportunity before me - I havn't any degree study to complete, no home decorating to do, no major events to arrange - nothing, except to finish my novel. So, should I blow this chance, I have nothing and no one to blame but myself for being lazy. And lazy is one thing that I am not! So, it literally starts here, well straight after this blog up-date. I'm actually quite excited at the prospect of dedicating each day to the novel and seeing the editing completed and the finished product emerge. I may even give up-dates along the way on this blog, though by now surely everyone knows you can follow me on Twitter at Odwyer_Author for a daily update.

Added to my excitment this week was the task of dog walking, for those who haven't read my previous blogs, I recent bought a poodle pup and last Monday was his first big adventure outside of the garden gate. I have been a good owner and walked him twice a day, everyday since, and I have to say what a pleasure it is. I now have two dedicated 'muse moments' for writing to clear my head and take a breath of fresh air. It goes without saying that a countless number of people have stopped me to enquire about the pup - he literally does stop traffic with his cuteness!

I find myslef in a strange situation at present, as two step-children have recent moved in and as previous explained my novel is about that precise subject: step families. I have been honest enough to say, we didn't see the changes coming, even though we were aware that the children were having difficulties communicating at their other home. The thing that is strange for me, is that I am now living the plot line for the final few chapters of my novel! And, believe it or not it has proved to me that I have under written those final chapters and that the sudden arrival of step-children on the doorstep is a far better plot twist then the general evolving story which I have written. So, I shall be changing my ending due to recent events. Which does follow the age old advice - a writer must write what they have lived and know!

The children situation seems a little sureal, as the children are blissfully unaware of my novel, even though it is being constructed under their noses. My writing isn't something that they have been aware of during their visits, and until recently when they moved in they were unaware that I attended my writers groups. It sounds strange to say but one child asked last week 'are you going to writers?' and yet they know nothing. I believe they just copied the words their father had said to me earlier. The penny hasn't dropped - so I do feel that an honest conversation and introduction to my work is on the horizon. But, this is what us adults love about kids, they just accept the world around them, without always thinking of the reasoning behind it. I am pretty sure, I'd put money on it infact, that when the kids are told that I write they will shocked, even though they themselves asked 'are you going to writers?' I think they believe it relates to something completely diferent.... and as for the huge pieces of magic whiteboard which cover our dining room walls, which have been in place for near on two years - I think they'll be shocked to realise the names and details relate to my characters.

And finally, at my Mad Hatters' Writing Group last Wednesday, Mal Dewhirst shared the poem he had recently created from the words tweeted at Nuneaton's Poetry Day on 2nd July. He was delighted to have words tweeted from around the world - so please, please check out his web page 'Pollysworda' and go to the Nuneaton Poetry page as I believe that one of my blog followers had their word included. So, a big congratulations to you.

Right, I shall love and leave you.... I have a novel to finish and the clock is ticking!

Friday, 15 July 2011

An early bird, writers' debate and a 48 day countdown

To make up for all the times that I've been late and kept you waiting, I thought I'd surprise you with an  early entry.... written on Friday night!

Thankfully, I've had a good week writing wise. I've managed to complete a little each day, not as much as I'd hoped but non the less some everyday. I have a self imposed deadline of 1st September so have exactly 48 days to go - which is going to need some knuckling down in order to achive but I am determined to complete on that date. I've got to, I've already got plans for September. Anyway, I have just five more school days until I finish for the summer holiday when I can dedicate my time to editing 'Her'.

I can tell that I'm back in the writing mood because I've collected lots of ideas and snippets of conversations that can be explored and exploded into fabulous short stories. As always I jot my snippets in a tiny note book, stashed in my handbag, and will revisit the ideas once I find a little free time. Gems, such as;
'All I gave him this morning was a 'happy birthday' and that was his lot', 'I'm not expecting a parcel.... could you show me how big it is and I'll decide if I'll take it' and 'she squeezed it and brussel sprouts came out' - strange little snippets that set my imagination alight.

I am still awaiting news on the two short stories that I sent to 'Take a Break' magazine back in April - the expected three months waiting time is drawing to a close so any time soon I'll either gain another rejection slip or a success! Watch this space, given that a published short story is on my '40 list'. Whilst mentioning my 40 list, I have managed to complete a couple more so have up-dated the tally on the right on my blog. I'm currently up-to-date with my writing task for each event completed - it makes for interesting reading. I have re-booked the hotair balloon ride for dusk on Saturday, 23rd July - fingers crossed that the British weather smiles on us for a successful trip.

Thursday night - I attended my Grace Dieu Writers' Circle at Coalville - the evening started off with just a small group of five but within 15 minutes the group increased to 12 making it a busy night for poetry and prose. The group are planning a summer outing on 28th July - so ideas were being batted back and forth. Finally, we settled for a night at the local Italian restuarant. I shall give you an up-date once I've tasted the cuisine. The groups' readings were very mixed, a couple were very stark regards the cruel reailty of life - one painfully close for comfort. Which began a debate regards whether a writer should ever dumb down an issue, soften the blow with 'a spoonful of sugar' was the term used, as a means of protecting the audience. Although many of the members were shocked by the content it was agreed that the subject had been handled in a professional manner but that to soften the blow would do the piece an injustice. I, for one totally agreed with the rest, though some interesting points were made regards the genre of 'misery memoirs' where abuse and neglect have been sensationalized, whilst forgeting the true victims. Very much a debate that drew out a whole range of opinions, which as a writer I haven't previously encountered due to the nature of my genre but all the same, I needed to know my stance.

This Tuesday, 19th July I'll be attending another of the fabulous poetry evening 'Fizz 8' at the Polesworth Abbey refectory starting at 7.30pm - there is always a mixture of poets from the surrounding area - everyone is very welcome to participate or like me, sit back and enjoy. Please see the 'Pollysworda' link on my home page for more details.

Anyhow, having earnt Brownie points for an early blog post I am heading off to get a slice of editing completed while hubby and step-kids are busy watching a film. I'm guarenteed silence for the next hour so need to make the most of it, given that the children have now offically joined our household.

Hope you're all happy and healthy, enjoy!

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Editing, hard drives and fiction becoming reality

Morning folks - I am exactly twenty four hours late with this up-date - I'm eternally sorry. Yesterday flew by in a complete blur and I've really only just caught up with myself regards time to write this blog.

I am proud to say I had a great week last week - I promised I would write and I did - everyday! Though amidst the family up-heaval it wasn't easy finding the time but I did manage to snatch a few half hour sessions each night to write. And so, from now on there will be no more excuses from this department regards lack of time or hours in a day. I've done it once, I can now do it again!

I did have to cancel my evening at the Mad Hatters Writers' group - because of a last minute emergency that I couldn't duck out of but hey, I'm sure they coped well without me and I shall be eager to see them in two weeks.

As I said, I had a good week - I managed to edit another chapter and have finally realised that I'm not good with this editing lark - I like the writing element of a novel and so must learn how to edit more effectively to shorten the job when I write my next novel. I have started to reflect upon how I could have made this process simpler on myself and have concluded that:

a, I should set and adhere to stricter time periods for writing and editing,
b, have designated editing days during the writing process
c, print a hard copy of each chapter - as this does make the editing process easier for me
d, have a dedicated editing area away from my desk so that I differentiate the duties performed
e, probably stop analysing editing so much and just get on with the job
f, no seriously, stop making lists about editing - just get on with it!

You get my drift.

Last week, I found a bargain on Ebay, a seller was clearing out his 'Moleskine' stock as the cellaphane wrappers were damaged - I did a little dance when I picked up two large lined books for less than the retail price of one in the shops. Woohoo - not only am I 'converted' to using them - I'm creating a little stash of my own.

It was hubby's birthday last week so I nipped into a local computer store to purchase a new laptop for him, only to arrive home and find that the 'birthday fairy' had very generously dropped a portable external hard drive into my trolley, too. It would have been so rude of me to ignore her generous gift so I've made full use of it backing up my novel writing and short stories. The hardest part was refraining from using my 'gift' until hubby had his laptop - boy, did he laugh when I showed him of my extra present. Though, like anything technology wise - how did I manage to sleep at night knowing that my novel wasn't secure on an external drive? I've slept soundly since Friday evening.

I have mentioned that my family home has had two additions in recent weeks and yes, they have mucked up my writing routine but it has been a lesson in many ways. Fristly, teenage boys can cook the most amazing bakewell tarts and don't mind making them three times in one week. Teenage girls aren't as moody as we are led to believe in sitcoms and that yes, I can cope with an increase in cooking, cleaning and bottle washing - though sleep deprivation does not bode well for my temper or wrinkles. But, the point I'm getting to is that I have begun to live out the final chapter of my draft novel 'Her', where my main character does have a step-child unexpectedly come and live - boy, have I under written that chapter block! I  have written a cute little ending that evolves with the situation, when really I should have written about a time bomb that exploded depositing a child onto her doorstep. So, it goes without saying that I shall have to re-write and edit that section making it totally unexpected.

And finally, the poodle pup has his final injection this week which enables me to begin his daily walking routine and I am hoping more 'thinking time' for my writing.

Have a good week, I promise I shall keep up the good work amidst the havoc.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Uni confirmation, lots of writing and a Poetry day

Good morning folks - I hope everyone is happy and healthy. I did as promised, I wrote everyday this week and feel sooooo much better for having had a talking to myself following lasts week pathetic confession. I have just 60 days untiul my self imposed deadline of 1st September and so I must continue this routine come hell or high water. I can't remember if I've ementioned that I have a second idea for a novel brewing in my mind - which is what I hope to begin come September - though, I have started some research and a little day dreaming about the plot lines - may I add the day dreaming usually occurs when I'm standing in queues, break time duty at school or having a quiet moment in traffic. Anyway, all is good on the writitng front.

Monday, I received confirmation that I have my University place having been for a interview on 24th June - I was so pleased I danced downt he lenght of the English department corridor - much to the amusment of a naughty yr 10 pupil who'd been sent to stand in the corridor prior to being spoken too. So, it is even more essential that my novel editing is complete by 31st August otherwise it may effect my uni course.

Now, I realise that many of you view this page from over seas - which still blows my mind a little when I check the stats - but today, in Nuneaton, birth place of George Eliot, my friend Mal Dewhirst is part of a Poetry Day. It is the first time such an event has been held in Nuneaton, but the wonderful thing is anyone can attaned and take part and ..... this is the part I thought you could join in with, anyone can 'Twitter' him a word and he will include it in one of the many poems he will be writing today! His Twitter address is Maldewhirst@maldewhirst  - provide him with a word and possibly tell him where you come from and how you found out and who knows you too could be part of this beautiful day even though you're overseas. For more details of the Poetry Day please, please, please take a look at the website. I can't attend today due to the family situation but I am going to send him a word.

Remember that you can also follow me via Twitter on ODwyer_Author - I try to add a little something everyday as a means of motivating myself and those following. One of my followers is a beautician, so she has answered a couple of questions regards her career for my current novel 'Her' - who knows what you may be able to help me with so please, give me a shout if you follow me on Twitter.

O.K, that is pretty much a round up of my week, next week I have a writers' meeting to attend on Wednesday and a University inducution (which gets me out of school for a whole day) but other than that it is write, write, write.