Last year was fun (world events notwithstanding), and in places it felt like my writing was really starting to go somewhere. There were many rejections, of course, but I loved seeing my work in print in Halo magazine and The Woven Tale Press, and it was a great buzz to see Labour of Love get so many hits as a For Books’ Sake Weekend Read. I loved reading While The Mynah Bird Watched at Stroud Short Stories again in October, and felt proud when I had stories longlisted and Specially Commended in the Flash 500 Short Story Prize and Elbow Room Prize respectively. I was inspired by the various writing workshops I attended, run variously by Anne Lauppe-Dunbar (at Llangwm Lit Fest), Tessa Hadley (Bath Lit Fest), Chris Fielden and Nicholas Royle (Chip Lit Fest). And I’ve really enjoyed making new writing friends live lit events like Novel Nights, Stroud and Flashers of Cheltenham.
This year, though, I’ve got even bigger plans… I feel like the toddler fog has lifted at last, and with my littlest heading off to school next September, I want to take my writing up a gear. It’s started well – next week one of my stories will be read at the Bath live lit event Story Fridays (run by the A Word In Your Ear company). It’s a brand new story so I’m pleased it’s found an outlet so quickly, and I’m so excited to listen to a professional actor read something I’ve written.
I’ve got lots of other short story plans up my sleeve, but there’s a novel nagging at me too (and another waiting in the wings…). So today I’m thinking about that. Some of the bleaker aspects of 2016 have left me hankering after a little escapism, so I’ve decided to write a romance, albeit a very contemporary one, that will touch on some current issues. It’ll have a lot of art in it, a lot of sculpture, and some of my favourite places in the world. I’ve not written romance before, so although I already had a broad idea of the structure of the book, I spent a bit of time with some of the plotting guidance on Now Novel, making sure my ideas fit with the broad arc of a romance storyline.
I also had to invest in a new notebook, naturally, and a nice set of index cards. Have you seen Helen Redfern’s vlogs as she plots her own novel? – they are lovely to watch, and it’s very clear she agrees that good stationery is vital for effective novel planning! For me, each scene will have its own card, and each character, while I play around the structure some more. Then, as a former accountant, I expect it’ll end up on Excel in some shape or form. I’ve had a go at a first draft of the opening scene, but I realised quickly that I was starting the story in the wrong place, so next week I’ll start the writing in earnest.
So that’s how my new year’s started. How about you?
All the best,