Thursday, 9 September 2010

A day at a time

I never know, from one day to the next, how I will feel. Heck, I don't know from one hour to the next how I'm going to feel. One day, I am on top of the world. I have energy, I'm full of life and plans and future and I think I'm healed. Next day, back down and getting up in the morning is an effort.

I've spent most of the summer as a zombie but now I am actually staying awake for about seven hours a day, which is a vast improvement. I walk the dog on the forest every morning, no excuses. It's an effort sometimes, but the fresh air and movement must be doing me good.

And I try to write at least a side of foolscap every day. Some days, I do two or three and am still pleased with them twenty four hours later. Other days, I struggle to fill one side and when I read it back it's rubbish. But I AM doing it.

It helps that I have three projects lined up, so I feel them calling to me and that means procrastination makes me feel guilty. One of those projects actually has a deadline, so that should be a help too.

As a Christian, I felt extremely guilty when I entered this depression. Part of me was thinking, "you believe in God, you should trust in Him and not get upset and worried. Give it to Him." It felt like I was somehow letting the side down.

But then I remembered the utter despair Jesus felt in Gethsemane and on the cross and I realised, if He felt the blackness descending, then it was nothing to be ashamed of. And that realisation is one step towards recovery.

I also remind myself daily that this took a long time to hit. There were many factors, over a long period of time, that led me to this place. If it takes you several years to dig a hole, you won't fill it in in one day.


I may not get everything done I would wish to get done each day. But each day, I get a little nearer to being the me I used to be.

I just have to learn patience and take it one day at a time.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Coming back to life

It's been quite a summer. One when I spent most of every day and night tucked up in bed, sleeping. I forgot what mornings looked like. In fact, I forgot what the world looked like.

Worst of all, I forgot what writing is like.

Depression is a dreadful thing. No-one can see you're ill, there's no limb missing or blood gushing, so most people can't see why you're not yourself. And since depression doesn't always have an obvious cause, there is often precious little sympathy.

My situation had been building for years. It wasn't a quick fall, and it wasn't a bolt from the blue. It had built up a head of steam, and when the lid blew off, boy, did it go up! And the whole world ended.

I couldn't go in to my job at World In Need. That made me feel guilty. I kept thinking, these people are far worse off than I will ever be, what is wrong with me? The children are starving, the people in Pakistan are drowning, and I am wallowing in self pity.

My doctor forbade me to go there, and now, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see he was right. I could not have coped with the emotions of it all, and I would have added to the burden of my colleagues. Not good.

I also couldn't go to church for several weeks. I couldn't face it. Nor could I face shopping, walking the dog, or even doing the washing up. (And yes, that is one of the best excuses ever.) I went to a friend's wedding, a place where I knew loads of people and had a panic attack about going there. I burst into tears for no apparent reason. I couldn't even read half the time.

But worst of all, was the inability to write. Writing is my life. And every day that went past wordless added to the feelings of failure and misery.

I tried. I really did. I tried starting the next of my romance novels. After several days, I felt it wasn't what I should be writing at this time, so I put it aside till I was feeling stronger. Instead, I started writing a pantomime. It took me three times as long as usual, and I was wracked with self doubt. I didn't think it was funny, it wasn't coherent, it was a mess. But when I showed it to people who would not hesitate to tell me the harsh truth, they loved it. Said it was the funniest thing I had written.

Bit perverse, if you ask me.

And now, I've been asked to write a play. With some trepidation, I sat down yesterday. I was so lacking in confidence, I thought I would try and sketch an outline before accepting the challenge of writing it. By last night, the treatment was done and the director is pleased with it. Maybe the drought is over. At last.

So now, like a seed at the end of winter, I am waking. It's not an overnight process, but then I didn't sink overnight. And if I am writing, at least I have hope.

Thursday, 17 June 2010

A shot across the bows

This picture shows me and Harrison Mungai of iServe Africa at Carura Church in Nairobi in May 2009. I think it says it all about my need to change, at least physically.

A week ago, I announced that it was the start of the rest of my life, and I would be endeavouring to change. Boy, was that a prediction! I soldiered on for a few days, trying to lose weight (lost a pound, so was feeling OK about that) writing and lamenting the lack of time to do so. I dearly wished I could have more time to me.

Well, you should be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it.

Tuesday of this week, I had some pains in my chest and side. I thought I had twisted it, or eaten something that disagreed with me. I took things easy and waited for the pain to go away.

Throughout the day, it came and went. Each time it came back it got stronger. I went to bed with ibuprofen and hoped to sleep it off.

No such luck. By 3.30am, I was in agony. Nothing I did would make the pain go away. I felt like someone was crushing my chest under heavy rocks at the same time as stabbing me, hard. I wondered whether to call the out-of-hours doctor. Being me, I decided not to waste his time.

8.15am, I called my GP's surgery. I explained my symptoms to a very unsympathetic and dismissive receptionist, who said the duty doctor would phone me. I gave my mobile number and went to work. Although fat lot of use I was there. I couldn't concentrate, I was tired, ill and in pain.

The doctor phoned and I explained my symptoms. Within ten minutes, an ambulance was outside my workplace, and I was carted away, feeling very foolish and a bit of a fraud. When they discovered this was just indigestion, they were all going to be rather cross with me.

Only it wasn't indigestion. It was my heart. And I am a very lucky lady. Not only am I still alive, but there is no actual damage to the heart muscle. I have the chance to get better.

So, that diet I was sort of kind of doing has become imperative. That one pound a week I was sort of kind of aiming for losing has now become a minimum target. I've cut out cakes and chocolate, sugar and unnecessary fats and salt. I'm taking gentle exercise, and resting when I need to do so. No more alcohol - not that I drank more than a few times a year anyway. Lucky for me, I have never smoked.

My father died of heart disease aged 59. I don't want to join him. I want to see my grandchildren grow up, and reach my goals, attain my dreams. All of which rely on me making sure this warning shot across the bows is heeded.

On the plus side, I am now going to get some time to me, to write. I'm not expected to do so much, I'm not expected to run ragged after my family and friends, I've even got a few days off work. So no cloud is completely without a silver lining.

I just would have liked the lining without the storm cloud, thank you very much.

Watch this space, as I go from death's doorway to fit and healthy in the shortest possible route.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

The first day of the rest of my life.

It’s my grandson’s fifth birthday. He’s quite excited by this. Not only is he older than he was yesterday, but he had lots of presents which were “cool!” and “Look what I got!” types. Presumably, the combination of being older and getting great presents is why his parents had to shoo him back to bed at 3.30am.

It’s my birthday at the end of the month and I am slightly less excited than the lad was. I’m quite a bit older – ten times his age to be exact, so when looking for “cool”, a remote control plane designed to smash into the wall is probably not going to do it for me – although I have dropped huge hints about the latest Lee Child book. :-)

But although I may not share his taste in presents, the lad and I do share one thing. Today is the first day of the rest of our lives. What we did yesterday is gone. We can’t change it. What we do NOW is what really counts.

It may hit me harder than it hits the lad, this truth. I’m much more conscious of time passing than he is, and much more aware it isn’t available to me in limitless quantities. If I want to achieve my long term goals, I’d better start working for them, before I find I’ve lost the chance altogether.

Thus, I have decided to make this the official start of the rest of my life. June 9th 2010 is the day I stop messing about, procrastinating, accepting less than my best. No more, “I’ll just have a cup of tea while I plan how I’ll do it.” No more, “I’ll do that in a minute, but I’ll just read a chapter/magazine article/watch the news first.” Those things come when the day’s to-do list is completely ticked, not when some or all of it is still waiting.

So what is on my to do list? Well, there are two lists, a short term and a long term. The long term is easy:

1. Finish my latest work in progress and get it published/produced

2. Make a decent income from my writing so I can continue the lifestyle I enjoy and continue to buy the lad birthday presents in the years to come.

3. Lose (a significant amount of) weight.

4. Regain my health, which is slipping away.

5. Make a difference to the world in which I live.

The short term goals are not always so easy to define. There are what I want to do by today, this week, this month, by Christmas. You start mixing them up, meaning to plan today, then reaching a little further ahead, and suddenly you’re looking long term again. So I am simply going to list today’s goals, what they are, how I want to achieve them, and how yesterday’s attempts turn out.


Starting tomorrow, I will list my goals, and starting Friday, I’m going to be honest and open about how I managed. Hopefully, not wanting to embarrass myself will galvanise me into actually doing what I set out to do.

We shall see.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Interesting times

Our little boat would seem to be sinking. But don't panic, I see a big ship zooming to the rescue. Yes, here it comes... the SS Titanic. We're SAVED!

Life seems very uncertain in the usually predictable UK these days. We have no money and don't know how we can get some. We have an election and nobody, NOBODY, can predict the outcome. All around us, countries are going into economic meltdown and we don't have room for complacency.

As a citizen, I hate it. I don't know if I am coming or going, I don't know if I can pay my bills. I've pulled in my belt so tight I can't breathe, and I still don't know if income will cover necessary expenditure.

As a writer, I LOVE it. If I can't find something to write amongst all this chaos, if I can't set an interesting story against this backdrop, then I might as well give up and go watch TV right now. There are articles, diary columns, romance stories, plays, maybe even a thriller in this.

Things are what you make of them. I firmly believe that. And things are bad around here, right now. I know first hand how much we are struggling. But if we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and get back in there, I think we can not only survive but actually get the bad times on the run.

I'm going to go for it. Are you?

Saturday, 1 May 2010

What's in a name?

Ordinarily, I would defer to anything Shakespeare said. After all, he is the bard of Avon and, compared to him, I am just an also-ran. But in this instance, I think he was wrong.

While it is true that a rose would smell just as sweet even if you called it a dandelion, and garlic would still be pungent if you renamed it lavender, the same just isn't true of people.

A person's name is very, very important. It can colour their character, and our perception of them. It gives away age, social status, ethnic origin; it can even display their interests and let us know which football team their parents supported.

This was ably demonstrated in the film, "Shakespeare in Love" when Tom Stoppard had the playwright penning a tragedy about Romeo and Ethel. Would Romeo's love really have stood the test of time for Ethel as it did for Juliet?

For a moment, enter the realm of imagination and try to picture the following people:

Tristan Ponsonby-Smythe
Beckham Smith

Chances are, they don't look alike. They're different ages, their ancestors come from different parts of the globe, their religious beliefs, upbringing, schooling, career choices, even what you picture them wearing, is different in each case. I'll be very surprised if Ethel is under sixty or Tristan Ponsonby-Smythe wears a hoodie and has a walk that's somewhere between a seaman's roll and an arrogant swagger.

And as with real life, so with characters in fiction. As authors, we have to help our readers identify and know our characters in the shortest time and space possible. Giving them a suitable name can cut thousands of words from your explanation and description, and can, in some instances, be the difference between your story being accepted and rejected.

There's a reason why so many fictional bad boys are called "Johnny". Patrik Swayze's character in "Dirty Dancing", Marlon Brando in"The Wild One", virtually every cowboy film villain, half the characters played by Jimmy Cagney and Humphrey Bogart, were called Johnny. The name is shorthand for bad-boy-but-redeemable-and-irresistible-to-film-going-women.

Likewise, heroes tend to have short one or two syllable names. Jack Bauer, Jack Reacher, Sam Spade, Rick Blaine. No nonsense, timeless, ageless, tough. There are exceptions, but on the whole, they're short and snappy, like the stories, the sentences employed in the telling of them, and the dialogue used.

Some names suit a genre better than others. When did you last see a Mills and Boon heroine called Mabel? Even if the book was set at a time when Mabel would be a popular name. Say Marilyn, and you do not expect a big waddling woman with acne, warts and a beard. If you call your couple Fred and Florence, you might sell clothes in a supermarket, but you probably won't sell your story to a romance publisher, no matter how steamy and tear jerking it is.

Sometimes, a name can become better if we use its foreign counterpart. Vincent is not really as romantic a hero as Vincenzo, Laurence comes across differently if we call him Lorenzo. Diminutives work too. Rick instead of Richard, Will insead of William, Josh is somehow cooler than Joshua, and so on.

So, sorry Mr Shakespeare, but the answer to your question is, there's an awful lot in a name, and as writers, we need to be aware of that and choose carefully and wisely. After all, your characters - and you - may have to live with what you called them for a very long time indeed.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

If I only had time, only time

So the song says.

Well, I've been making time, and that isn't easy. But it is true what they say, the more you have to do, the more you're able to do it.

In the last few days, I have managed to:

* finish the novel

* get started properly on the play I've been asked for,

* cast a play we're doing for World In Need's International Conference (which I am involved in. I hope to attend some of the seminars.)

* prepare to attend the Christian Resources Exhibition,

* spring clean another part of my house. (OK. At this rate it'll be Autumn before I finish but I am making some progress),

* catch up with correspondence,

* maintain the blogs for World In Need ( and Tunbridge Wells and District Writers Circle (

* prepare the script writing workshop I am doing at New Eastbourne Writers this week,

* work out who to vote for (not easy. They all have good points and bad points. And just when I decide on a party I look at the party leader and think, "But do I want them as my Prime Minister? For the record, the answer is invariably no, in all cases.)

And it's only Tuesday.

I've also been reading and working on a book I found called "The Winner's Bible" by Dr Kerry Spackman. Looks good so far. I'll let you know how I get on with it.

Thursday, 22 April 2010


A year ago, I was getting ready for my first trip on an aeroplane - yes, folks, there are still those of us who don't travel on them every day.

I went to Kenya with a group of friends, on a fact finding mission, learning what work was being done amongst the people in the slums, and in some of the rural areas of that beautiful country. We saw the way people had picked themselves up after the post election violence of 2008, and we saw poverty on a scale it's difficult to imagine when you're here in the UK. But we also saw smiling faces, children with a sense of fun and mischief who chased after us shouting the one English phrase they knew - "How are you?". And we saw hope.

I've turned my experiences into a book about the trip and the work we were privileged to become a part of. The book is entitled "Grasshoppers don't eat grapes" and I'm about ready to look for a publisher for it. Any profit it makes which would normally come to me will go towards the work that is being done out there.

Watch this space for details of when it's published and where you can buy it.

The picture at the top was taken at Likuyana, Soy District, just north of Eldoret. The people there had no church and were meeting in someone's garden shed. Thanks to a generous gift from All Saints and St Richard's Churches in Crowborough,UK, and thanks to the fund raising efforts of the church members themselves, we were looking at land to buy so a new church could be built.

It's an ill wind...

It's that time of the year again.

I'm not sure why it is, but the minute the sun shines, the weather warms and the birds start twitterpating, a young (!) woman's fancies turn to clearing out. An irresistible urge comes over me to clear out cupboards, sort through book shelves, dust away cobwebs and wash down walls.

Don't worry. It won't last. It never does. Although when I've done, I look at my house with a feeling of quiet satisfaction, seeing everywhere looking so much cleaner and less cluttered.

This last week, I haven't been able to do much in the way of spring cleaning physically. A damaged knee ligament has left me hardly able to keep pace with the every day work that keeps a house tidy. I wash up in instalments, and the kitchen floor has not been cleaned properly for several days. I dread to think what I'd say if anyone visited and made their way in there!

The knee problem also means I can't spring clean my body as thoroughly as I intended. I can diet, watch what I eat. I can sleep enough. But I cannot do the exercise I'd counted on.

However, it is an ill wind that blows no good whatsoever, and the news is not all bad. Unable to rush round like a thing possessed, unable to spend hours on housework, having to spend time sitting around recovering from the last burst of energy, all of these things have meant the writing has come on apace.

I'm on target for the amount of writing I wanted to have done by now, and am pleased with the standard of it. I'm ready to go. Deadlines hold no dread for me. If only it was always thus.

I'm also managing to read other people's work, and critique it, as well as preparing the script writing workshop I am giving in Eastbourne next week. I've kept the blogs up to date and written letters to friends. And I've managed to read a couple of books, too.

So, although the knee is painful, and some things went by the wayside - the 10k run is out, it seems - life has not been a total loss.

Like I said, it's an ill wind...

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Life after darkness

Life is getting busy, and I am glad of it.

I've just come through a period when, although I was still writing, I wasn't writing as much as I usually do, and there wasn't as much enthusiasm as there always has been before. Truth to tell, it was a great effort at times. I became super critical of every word I wrote, and I began to question whether I really was any good at this game, after all.

Ironically, just as the self doubts crept in, others started to take more notice of my work, people began asking me for things, or praising my work. Even people who'd seen it before and dismissed it suddenly started being kinder and looking on it as worthwhile.

Which is a little confusing, but I suppose it's better that way than the other way around.

Turned out I was suffering from a great depression. The trials and tribulations of life, things that had been building for years, had finally overwhelmed me and shut down my engines. But I was zooming forward at such a pace, trying to outrun those troubles, that I kept going, even when the power failed. It took many months for me to coast to a stop, months when I was slowing down, not able to do all I had planned and wondering why that was so.

Well, I finally stopped. I got the engine overhauled. And now, I am back in the race.

In the last month, I have done an average 1500 words every day to my novel. Not only that, but when reading them back to myself, I am fairly pleased with their quality. Oh sure, there's been some polishing needed, some editing, points needing clarification, typos to correct. But not a massive amount of total rewriting, when a piece has to be scrapped and taken back to square one. And now, it's nearly finished and I am confident enough to think it should be out there, trying to fly on its own.

It's been a long, dark winter. Now, suddenly, it's Spring.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

It's been a very good week

Determined to be known for what I wrote, not for the excuse I use not to, I have knuckled down and worked this week. Not that I don't at other times - 23 finished plays proves I can actually get the job done when I want, but just lately I have not been as productive as I would like.

That, however, is in the past.

This week, I have written nearly 10,000 words to my novel, as well as a blog for World In Need about the Congolese women who addressed the UN in New York. (Power to them! Read the blog at

And then I realised it was time for the monthly script writer's workshop for Tunbridge Wells Writers Circle ( and the play idea I wanted feedback on was still in my head. Now, it looks very polished in there. Award winning, in fact. But other people can't see it.

So, that day, I left the novel to one side and worked on the treatment for the play - which turned into writing a rough first draft of most of scene one. It looks promising. And funny. Well, it made the critiquers at the workshop laugh, anyway.

I came away from the workshop with some ideas on improving, plus a couple of ideas for things to add I would never have thought of alone. I'm 10,000 words from finishing the novel and then I can write the play properly. I am useless at having two projects on the go at the same time. The characters from one tend to forget their way and head off to take part in the other and it gets very complicated. If given the slightest encouragement, fictional characters act like real life people and do exactly as they want, regardless of what you tell them!

So, onwards and upwards. And maybe, just maybe, one day, that award I see the play winning in my head, will be presented on the outside too. *Sigh* A girl can dream, can't she?

Saturday, 3 April 2010

A request for prayer

Steven Wilson, who heads up World In Need in Northern Ireland, had a heart and lung transplant some years ago. Things have suddenly gone wrong for him and he was rushed into hospital last night and is now on a life support machine, waiting for doctors to come and see him re his kidneys.

Steven had planned to come to England in May for our International Conference, but may not be well enough to travel by then.

World In Need is a charity that helps people in the developing world, mainly by sponsoring children and supoprting schools, orphanages and day centres. Our people are all dedicated to making life better for those who struggle. Steven has worked tirelessly for us.

Please pray for a speedy and full recovery for him.

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

The most dangerous place on earth for women

This documentary was screened in Britain on BBC 3 tonight. It was excellent, thought provoking, if upsetting, more so because the women interviewed were not hysterical and crying, but matter of fact and simple in their ungarnished truth. If you want to know what is happening, this documentary is recommended.

If you missed it, or you live outside Britain, you can see the programme online, at and then click on the programme title. It will be there for the next seven days.

Thursday, on BBC 3, Hollywood starlet Lindsay Lohan goes to India to investigate child trafficking.

Please watch these programmes if you can. It is only by exposing the wrongs in the world that we can hope to begin to fight them. If we don't watch, TV companies will cease to make the programmes, and then evil will be able to slide back into the shadows, doing its deeds away from our gaze.

Don't let that happen.

Monday, 29 March 2010

Another day bites the dust!

It started off well enough. And then I got out of bed!

Seriously, it hasn't been a bad day. I did a lot of things. I...

received a chatty letter from an old friend and spent the morning answering it, managing about half the letter I plan to write. (It's a long letter.)

planned the next chapter of my romance in detail and it's now ready to write, although I haven't actually written any of the body of it yet.

accepted an invitation to go and see Bridget Christie, who is, apparently, very funny. Should be a good night out, not least because it's a chance to catch up with a friend I haven't seen in ages.

found some pictures of my trip to Kenya last year and wallowed in good memories.

did a little bit of spring cleaning. At the rate I am going, it'll be finished in time for Spring 2012, but it's a bit nearer.

So why do I feel as if I haven't achieved anything?

Probably because none of the above are finished. There's a lot to be said for one thing at a time. Finish it and move on to the next. Trouble is, the yucky jobs (like Spring cleaning) will always be two things away from the top of the pile and won't get done. And besides, they seem much less daunting if you can do them in increments.

But then it takes longer to reach the point of finishing on anything.

Ho hum. I suppose no-one promised me life would have a perfect answer.

And I did get a letter half written and a chapter completely planned.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

A competition to enter

Thanks to Lori, whom I know from online writing site, Critique Circle, I am now going to enter a one act play writing competition. Thank you, Lori. It's much appreciated. However, I'd best be quick as the closing date is 2nd April.

Luckily, I have a couple of one act plays waiting their turn to be polished. They've just moved up the queue. Why is it that I always have more work to do than time to do it in? Still, I suppose things could be worse. I could be twiddling my thumbs with more time than work to fill it.

And since the clocks go forward tonight, I've just lost another hour. It's a conspiracy.

Just because I'm paranoid doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

Looks like the next few days will be busy indeed.

Oh, what a night!

I managed to get my thousand words done for yesterday. Each one was wrung out of me - it was that kind of day. At just before midnight, I got to the end of the chapter and thought, wahey! I can do this.

I plan to get up early in the morning, do another thousand before breakfast and get a good start to the day.

For now, my head aches and I'm still getting over the chest infection, I've had a busy day, so I head off to bed. A good night's sleep is just what I need before I come back and start the next adventure for my star crossed lovers.

The light goes out, head hit the pillow, and...

The phone rings.

Now, when the phone rings in the day, you can ignore it, if you're strong willed enough. If it rings at midnight, you KNOW you can't. Nobody rings at midnight unless it's urgent. So I race downstairs and answer it.

My son in law is having chest pains, an ambulance has been called, can I come and sit with the kids in case he has to go to A and E?

So by 12.30am, I am sitting on their sofa, watching the paramedics decide that he needs to go to have tests to make sure it's not anything serious. They take him, daughter follows in her car, I stay and babysit. All is quiet, I get a duvet out of the cupboard, curl up on the sofa and doze off.

1am. The dog wants to go outside. I get up, let her out. She starts playing out there, pulling at things, making noise the neighbours will love. I call her back in. Several times before she comes. She takes a while to settle, but by 1.20am, I am back on the sofa, snuggled up and ready to sleep...

2am, one grandson cries out. I go upstairs to find him in the bathroom, totally disorientated. I help him, give him a cuddle and put him back to bed. I doubt he even knows I was there. He settles back to sleep. He looks so wonderful there, peaceful, perfect. I stand for a moment in awe of how wonderful.

Then I come back down to sleep.

2.30am, the dog is crying. She wants to go out AGAIN???? She's been ill, she's on medication. Maybe it affects her bladder. I let her out again.

3am, another grandson cries out. I go up to him. I don't know if he's a deep sleeper, or if he picked up on the anxiety vibes in the house, but he's had an accident. He needs a complete change of pjs and bedding. Of course, I don't know where daughter keeps clean clothes, why should I? And in the dark, at 3am, I'm not going to find them.

So I strip him off, clean him up, bring him down and put him on the sofa with me. He cuddles into me and we settle down.

3.30am, the dog wants to go out. Again. I am fast changing my mind about being an animal lover.

Grandson is in a deep sleep. He fidgets. He pushes me. I am forced further and further over, until I am perched on the very edge of the sofa. How can such a small body need so much room?

The next hour is a fight between myself and Small Fidget, as I try to stay on the sofa and he tries to push me off. He is fitful, having bad dreams. Once he murmurs that he wants his Mummy. Then he settles, happy that he has a space to sleep in roughly six times his size, and I have a space roughly one sixth of my size.

4.40am, everything seems to be calming down. Small Fidget has made himself comfortable and I have found a position where I can sleep without worrying about falling off. Dog is asleep, her bladder seemingly empty. Other children are fast asleep upstairs.

If I didn't have Small Fidget in my arms, I'd go get a drink of water. My mouth is dry as chip and there's a horrid taste in there. But as things are, I'll put up with it. Under Small Fidget, my arm is asleep. Shame the rest of me isn't.

5am. Last time I look at my watch. Small Fidget feels me try to take an extra inch of space. He objects. I move back to the edge. I begin to drift...

5.30am, daughter and son in law arrive home. He's had a barrage of tests, he's to take it easy and if anything happens, go straight back. Daughter takes Small Fidget up to sort him out. As he is being carried upstairs, he realises he is naked. "Mummy," he says, "my pyjamas fell off."

I get home at 6am. I fall into bed and woe betide anyone who disturbs me before I've had some sleep.

That writing I had planned for first thing in the morning? Um....

Friday, 26 March 2010

Another new day, another chance to write my novel.

Well, that's the theory.

The alarm goes off, the day begins, and my plans are all before me. I'm going to do a minimum of one thousand words today. It's going to be great.

Only, the house needs cleaning. Not spring cleaning, like THAT's gonna happen! Just ordinary, tidy and hygienic cleaning. Just "I-know-I-put-that-somewhere-and-if-I-could-find-the-floor-under-this-junk-I'd-probably-be-able-to-see-it" clean. The kind of cleaning I wish I could put off, but if I do someone important will call and I'll be embarrassed.

So I spend an hour or more cleaning.

Right, that's done. Now, to writing.

I make the mistake of checking my emails. Things need attending to. Answers are required. Research needed. Yes, I'll meet this person and deliver that to so-and-so.

Another hour goes by.

I did promise to write on the World In Need blog today to make up for being sick on Tuesday and not doing it then. ( The subject, HIV/AIDS and its effect on women in Africa requires research and care. But I do it. All together, two hours have flown by in pursuit of this.

Next on my list: Writing my novel.

The dog looks at me with her big, brown eyes and wags her tail, helping sweep the floor. It's stopped raining and she'd like to go for a walk please. *Sigh*

An hour and a half later, dog walked, pressing problems dealt with, lunch (not altogether healthy) eaten, I sit at the computer. I pull up the story of Rafe and Ellie and start to immerse myself in their events, happenings and feelings. I'm feeling good. I can visualise what I want to happen to them. If the words come easy, I may write more than a thousand today.

I write the first two words: Chapter Ten.

The phone goes. AAAARRGGGHHH!

I should know better than to answer it. I DO know better than to answer it. I'm working. I'm not available.

What is it about a ringing phone that we can't ignore?

My daughter needs me to pick up my grandchildren from school and look after them while she takes her sick dog to the vet. How can I refuse?

It's fun being with the children. We laugh, we play, we sing silly songs. I am exhausted.

I come home. It's dinner time. The day ends.

There's always tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I WILL finish this novel!

I'm working on this novel, a romance. It's going down well with my trusty victims - er - guinea pigs. These include a workshop that's part of the Tunbridge Wells and District Writers Circle, a group of people on an online writing critique site, and some non writing readers. I've had good feedback from all three groups, constructive comments, encouraging noises.

I've never written a romance before, and it's not as easy as some people think. It's slow going, getting it exactly right so you engage the readers and make them love your characters without making them sick. And it's even slower going when you have to keep stopping.

Why do I have to keep stopping?

Well, for reasons that are good, to be honest, and reasons I shouldn't complain about. Such as, "Will you write a play for us, please?" and "We're going to need a pantomime for next Christmas, could you write us one?" And "I need three short sketches".

Great, great reasons.

Butu I'm perverse. I WANT to write the plays and the pantomime and the sketches. I WANT people asking me to do it, and I relish the deadlines.

But I also want to finish the novel. I've never completely finished a final draft of one before and I want that sense of achievement that I know will come from doing it.

So, anyone know - how can I either increase the number of hours in a day, or learn how to do without sleep for a few years?