Saturday, 31 May 2014

Reflections on being a full-time writer

photo Jane Ayres

I wrote this last year. 

"I think there are arguments for doing a job in parallel with a writing career.  I've never been a full time writer and don't think I would want to, because I enjoy and am inspired by interactions with people and different experiences.  I've had a full time salaried job for most of my working life and when I did, I fantasised about giving it all up to be a writer.  This made me value my precious writing time and I probably worked harder as a result, because I was striving for success.  I had more self discipline too. When I went part time (first down to 4 days pw, then 3.5, then 3 days) my intention was to spend more time writing.  But weirdly I then found it even harder to write!  It was like the more time I had, the more I seemed to procrastinate.  Duh!  I wouldn't want a full time salaried job again, as I enjoy having more control over how I structure my time.  I envy writers who can be single minded and motivated enough to be a full time writer."

Hmmm.  I was made redundant last summer and became, by default, a full-time writer, which means I also teach writing and do voluntary freelance work for arts projects I am passionate about.  So, 9 months later, how do I feel about the pressure of solely relying on self-employment?  Scary.  Pressured.  I find myself looking for part time salaried work once more (after a panic during financial projections for the next few months).  Between blocks of frenetic writing activity, I lapse into periods of writing inactivity, which makes me feel guilty and useless.  I set myself targets for my next two novellas that I haven't even started yet.  

Struggling to see the wood from the trees right now....

Thursday, 15 May 2014

Word Count Podcast: short stories read aloud!

You can now HEAR one of my short stories, read by the wonderful Lisa Payne, on The Word Count Podcast. I'm totally chuffed about this as I am in company with 8 brilliant writers. Please check it out!

Here's the list of stories (mine is called Finders, Keepers).

"Glass. Bed. Bow."
This weeks show challenges our Word Count Irregulars to weave a tale around three words.  Nine fabulous authors were up for the challenge and we are happy to bring you the largest number of stories in a single episode of the Word Count since its humble beginings.
Host: R. B. Wood  Show Notes:
Our Guests:
Eden Baylee "The Final Countdown"
M. A. Fink "Living in a Bubble"
Jane Ayers "Finders, Keepers"
C. Thomas Smith "El Chupr’aw Who Gives A Shit"
Cameron Garriepy "Calm as Glass"
M. M. Tosen "Caprice"
Matthew Munson "Glass"
Kasen Seton "The 3rd Division"
Bill Kirton "Princess"
Direct download: TWCep40.mp3

And for more info on the writers featured go to

Friday, 9 May 2014

Writing for success: writing for failure

I love the TED* talks, and just saw this short and inspiring talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love.  

Some folk say that it's not failure we are afraid of, but success, and this thought-provoking talk regards success and failure as two sides of the same coin.  Great stuff!

*TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

Related posts:

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Whose story?

Last week I’d written in my diary “Start sequel to Beware of the Horse”.  Instead, I wrote another story.  Something I’d intended to do for ages, but kept putting off.  The Sunday before last,  I created a Just Giving page in memory of my parents to raise funds for Pancreatic Cancer UK. It took all day and well into the evening and was emotionally draining. Which I’d anticipated, and the reason I had put it off. Because to make it work, you must, as the charity help sheet advises, tell your story.

That’s hard and painful.  And it’s not my story.  I need to tell it properly and it's a huge responsibility. I want to honour my parents, but how would they feel about me doing this? And when I think of the last few years of their story, it breaks my heart.  So I try, for now, to block out the bits that haunt me (and will forever).  Real life is brutal and messy, tragic and unpredictable.  Recalling the detail can be too harrowing to contemplate.  Memories remain to be both feared and cherished.

Deciding which photo to use on the Just Giving page was also difficult.  I have lots of family pics , so I chose one of my favourites of a time before, when Mum and Dad were on holiday together, and happy.  One day, perhaps, I can add the photo taken on their 50th Wedding Anniversary.  It is especially poignant, as it was so important to Mum that they made it that far together, and she determined to stand up, with Dad’s support, to cut their celebration cake, the wheelchair put out of sight (she was still recovering from her stroke then). At this time, Dad was being treated for a heart condition and prostate cancer, but the pancreatic cancer was not yet diagnosed.

Less than a year later, just 2 weeks before what would have been their 51st anniversary, Dad had passed away, and less than 6 months later, also suffering from pancreatic cancer, so had Mum.


Here’s the link for the Just Giving page.
To everyone who has ever set up a Just Giving page in memory of loved ones, I salute your courage.

Related post:

Friday, 2 May 2014

Why do only authors have editors?

photo Chris Ayres

Okay, I might alienate some folk with this post.  But here it is.

Painters, sculptors and artists don't have editors.
Composers don’t have editors.
So why do authors?  

Are we incapable of critically assessing our own work? What does that say about our faith in our abilities and creative spirit? 

I'm not attacking the profession of editors, by the way. Or saying editing isn't important - writers are constantly editing.  It's part of the writing process. There are different kinds of editing, and different reasons for it. It involves re-creation and selection. It can be subjective and political.  So I'm curious. It seems to be accepted as fact that when it comes to writing, other people are more qualified to edit our work than ourselves.  Why?  Where did this idea originate? How many visual artists would happily pay someone to add a splash of paint here, a brushstroke there, to enhance the canvas?  I don't know any concert composers who would invite opinions on how to structure a dramatic passage or score their finale. 

Just putting it out there......

photo Jane Ayres
To read what I was saying about editing back in 2012 go to: