Monday, 28 October 2013

Week 2

This may only be my third entry but I'm already becoming aware of how I could easily write the same beginning for each one.  For some people that may be a bad thing whilst for others it may be good.  For me, it makes it feel like the writing of a weekly report for work and I want this to be something different.  It also forces me to think more about what I'm doing.  Writing this blog was to exercise my brain, to get used to thinking differently and developing my writing style.  And I mean 'my' writing style, for once in my life to develop a confidence that the way I do something is ok. To be more than ok would be amazing but I will be very happy with ok.

No written exercise this week, just 'read', as if your life depended on it.  So I have read, although it hasn't been easy.  I've been off work for several months with anxiety and stress and have found it extremely difficult to focus on anything during that time.  I have flitted between several books and found it too much but I have been reading novels that were bought for my children.  My favourite has been Department 19 by Will Hill which has, infuriatingly, turned out to be part of a series.  I have no qualms with books being part of a series if this is clear from the outset so that I know they are all written when I start reading them, but in this case, I am quite cross.  I read the first in good faith and that was fairly standalone but the sequel made it very clear that there were more.  Finishing the third book knowing that the story may not get to the very end for another couple of years has made me very cross.  This is good in one way, it's helping me think about what I do and don't want to write.  Definitely standalone stories, for a start.  Looking at some of the stand-out books during my reading life has also helped.  I am a huge fan of Thomas Hardy, loving the deep sadness in his books, almost relishing that there wouldn't be a happy ending.  I did nearly think there would be in 'A Pair of Blue Eyes' but was brought back to my senses.  Other greats for me are Armistead Maupin, Toni Morrison, Isabel Allende, Gabriel Garcia Marquez and John Irving (in no particular order), all of whom have many of their books on my shelves.  I like the idea of picking them back up to see what I liked about them and to critique rather than just read.  This will probably mean reading them much more slowly than the first time so that I can take that element in.  Of more recent times, the author who got me back into reading was Audrey Niffeneger with 'The Time Traveller's Wife', the first book for many years that had me slowing down as I neared the end of it.  Desperate to complete the story at the same time as not wanting it to be over.  I was bitterly disappointed by her second novel yet inspired that someone who wrote so brilliantly could also write not so brilliantly.  Today I am reading 'The Happiness Trap' by Russ Harris, looking at a mindfulness-based programme for overcoming stress, anxiety and depression.  Profoundly grateful to find an approach that accepts my way of thinking rather than trying to change it.  In my search for my truth and an understanding of myself this is vital and I am enjoying the journey.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Week 1

During discussions I realised that I hadn't been clear about my objective for this blog.  It would be great, in fact momentous, that a completed novel would be the outcome of this effort but, for me, I have to let go of that and see the completion of the 52 weeks of exercises as the objective.  This blog is about creating the habit and developing a commitment to writing, learning along the way and keeping hope that a novel (maybe even a decent one) will, one day, sprout from my brain and fingers.  It's been lovely to receive so much support from my friends and I am really looking forward to sharing the journey and getting your feedback.  So, onward.....

Exercise 1

Write one sentence, beginning with the words, 'The day after my eighth birthday, my father told me......'

'.....not to worry and that everything would be alright.  He was wrong, of course, everything had not been alright and never would be.  Mother had left.  She had left both of us, him and me.  She had upped sticks from our lives and decided to have hers somewhere else.  Why she would do that, no one knew.  Not father, not his mother, neither of her parents, nor Lucy, her best friend, nor anyone else for that matter, nobody.  And it had been far from alright.'

Just in case anyone wants to suggest that I can't count, the exercise did continue that more than one sentence could be written if the need arose and, as can be seen, it did.
I can't tell you how relieved I am that I have completed exercise 1 within schedule, we have lift off!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Week 0

I want to write a novel.

Not in a wistful, maybe one day, kind of way, but because there is a story rolling around my head that needs to be told.  The basis of the first chapter was born in about 2005 as a short story, then in 2009 I realised there was more to it and the unravelling began, mostly in my head with some note-making at times.  I was so excited and whilst I had no experience of writing, it really felt that writing this story would be good for me.

Yet, here I am, four years later, no progress made (on paper) and life doing what it does so well.  I have thought about it a lot but been unable to get myself into the habit of writing on a regular basis.  I even enrolled for an Open University course on writing fiction, only managing to complete the marked work (none of the exercises or group discussions) and doing quite well in it which surprised me, it pleased me too but not enough to get me going.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I should give myself some space and accept that it would take about a year to write a draft and just start.  It was true, I should just start but I was still dilly-dallying like a pro.  Then came the gift of coincidence.  In the window of my local Oxfam bookshop stood a copy of 'A Novel In A Year' by Louise Doughty.  How could I resist?  52 chapters, a week at a time, this was definitely a sign.  All I needed now was a way of sticking to the weekly exercises and hence the blog.  Whether anyone chooses to read it cannot limit my effort and therefore, I commit to a weekly update on progress against the exercises.

I will take a deep breath and begin......