Do the Olympics inspire you?

4 Aug

Proud to be British? With olympic fever grabbing the nation its hard not to be. Watching the athletes compete not just for their country, but for their own personal hopes and dreams, you can’t help but feel inspired. Watching that final push to gold, you feel their desire and it catches you in the throat. What an honour for us to be able to experience their moment.

I have spent time with people recently that perhaps aren’t part of my usual crowd. this has led to variety of conversation, and ultimately talk of where we hope to be in the future. An example of this would be the question posed to me, ‘What needs to happen for you to be ready to retire?’

Ok, so I am only 30 so that is totally a long way off, and maybe somewhat naively, not something I have ever considered. Having at this point in the evening been in receipt of one or two (OK that would be a blatant lie) cocktails, my flippant response was, ‘oh, ok, ultimate dream would be to be featured on Richard and Judy’s book club.’

Now, calm down. It was a flippant response, and I am sure even just to complete a novel would be a nice thing, but for an off the cuff answer, it made me question how  hard am I working towards that?

Woah. I’m not. Not even slightly. I am however, and this is the crazy realisation, working towards my day job.

Whenever I think about my future, my end goal, the point of happiness (like im not crying into my corn flakes each morning but you get what I mean), I am the proud author of a bestselling novel. When I sit down to write each day, I am working on my scripts, my thoughts are consumed by how I can portray my idea within a script, how I will be different, a bit clever, what twist I can add to make it stand out from the crowd.

I am, a script writer. And that is just fine.

But fine is not enough. I can do scripts, I really enjoy doing scripts. I would love to have a script commissioned, but the dream was never to be a scriptwriter. It was always about the novel. the cheesy photo on the back cover, and yes, the well turned dog-eared corners of the pages.

A novelist I may never be full-time, but I can be a scriptwriter. That doesn’t mean I can’t still work towards the dream. It will just be allowed centre stage once I have the day job. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. Little steps and all that.

Watching the olympics, I have no idea who these athletes are. I mean, on the first day I had a call saying watch the BBC, your cousins in the rowing race. Really? (fact!) I have not been part of their journey, many I know, have competed in the olympics before, but it never registered on my radar. What is registering is the end of their journey. I feel heartache for them when they go out, and absolute joy when they win. I am screaming at the TV, I’m swearing at the athletes that try to challenge the British (Like seriously, step back guys), I am playing ‘olympics’ in the garden with the kids…I am stealing this enthusiasm and keeping it for my own dreams.

So what about you? are you proud? Regardless of nation (apologies for my step back comment), are you behind your athletes? Can you understand their determination sand apply it to your own dreams?

Taking a side step from your greatest dream is nothing to be ashamed of. I am certain many coaches are supporting the athletes, having never been able to realise the dream for themselves. Side stepping doesnt making you less of a person, side stepping shows you understand your strengths and weaknesses. Self belief is vital for your determination, denial will fail you.

The Witches Coven in the Playground

2 Aug

Today I wanted to share with you my experience of the school playground, as mentioned in Sundays post.

This is a situation, I am sure many of my readers are familiar with. If you have never experienced it, ask your friends, better still ask your parents, they shall share similar stories.

It is a common theme to talk about school run mums. their big cars, their inability to drive, their no nonsense approach even when a bus is blocking the road. Nothing, and I mean nothing, will stop a mum getting her kid to school on time.

First off lets address that issue. It would be a rare thing for a parent to say that they are in that mad dash to get to school because they believe in punctuality. More likely, they are desperate for sanity, something of which can only be achieved once the child has been safely delivered at the gates. I have heard many parents competing in the I have the busiest day conversation whilst their child hangs at their ankles. believe me, when that kid walks into school, suddenly the mum has oodles of time. Trust me when I say trying to walk away from the gates is nightmare. It is, officially, time for a gossip. The dishes are forgotten, the food shopping can wait, as for that cake for the bake sale, well there is always tomorrow.

But who are these mums? What makes them tick?

If only I knew.

The attitude is worse that a year nine group of school girls. the bitching, the gossiping, the dirty looks. I thought we were grown ups. (OK so this post isn’t that grown up but just indulge me)

My favourite group is the ones I call the witches coven.  A group of about six or seven. they stand together, meeting on the road before entering the playground. They do not speak to any others, and huddle in a circle. Even as the kids are ‘set free’ from the classroom, they stay huddled, leaving their kids confused as they do not spot their parents immediately (I stand there waiting anxiously waving like crazy – I am far from perfect, but I like my kids to know I am there).

When breaking from the circle they will look the other mums up and down, never uttering a word. their kids have parties, and it is rare another child from the class will receive an invite, despite their kids always being included as the other mums do not want to be ‘like them’. Whats worse, is several of them send their kids to the parties, without an RSVP, and certainly no present. Is it just me or is that just rude?

I digress.

We also have the ‘older’ mums. many of which at a guess are in their forties. They shy away from the younger mums. Preferring to remain aloof, pulling up at the front gates with their big posh brand spanking new cars. they speak to the other children with disgust, and often tell other kids off in front of their parents.

And now let me introduce you to the professionals. Now this is a classic bunch. These are the ones that are just like you or me, but someone somewhere once told them that because they have a title (and by this I include teachers and nurses – apologies to all for this judgement) that makes them somewhat better than the rest. They do not speak to anyone, not even their fellow professionals. They smile politely, nod their head, but they are in control of everything.

In the playground I visit on a daily basis, we also have the Welsh speakers. they are, the only group that make me feel inferior, and I will explain why. My son goes to a Welsh speaking school. I am English. I do not speak Welsh. Welsh-speaking mums huddle together chatting away in Welsh, and that is fine. Well, it was. I took my son to a party, where all the mums were speaking English. Following the Welsh version of ‘happy Birthday’ the mums started speaking Welsh, completing excluding me from the conversation. Needless to say at this party, I was the only non Welsh speaker. I do not expect anything different, I placed myself in this situation, but it did make me feel uncomfortable.

What makes me laugh about this, is I am judging in my own way. I am just as bad as the rest. Yet when we send our children to school, we teach them not to judge. We encourage them to be friends with all kids. Something is wrong with this picture I think.

So go on then, tell us about your worst experience.

***this post is written tongue in cheek***


Fear. What is yours?

31 Jul


Fear is the emotion that stops us in our tracks, prevents us from being what we truly want to be, stops us from being great.

I know many writers out there that have fear. They can’t share their work, and as a result it sits there, hidden away, never to be read by another.

I don’t have that fear. I have another one that I believe to be more crippling, and I wonder if any of you suffer the same?

I have never worried about sharing my work. In fact, the first time I wrote anything under the guise of ‘learning to be a writer’, I shared it within the children’s writing lecture that took place two days later. This was within my first two weeks at university.

I am the creature that writes and shares before it has undergone the first edits. I believe in my writing that strongly, that I know if something has ‘legs’ as the words are typed. If it is a struggle, it is wrong.

Of course editing is required, but I just want to share with everyone my latest piece of work. I am proud of what I do, and for that, I have no shame.

I explore genres, techniques, nothing is out-of-bounds. There is no limits to what I can do (and you for that matter). Writing is not just the setting down of a story, it is an experiment, a journey. One which cannot be taken without risks.

I identify my strengths, my weaknesses and I use them equally. Quietly pushing myself for the next challenge.

It is when thinking about that next challenge that I experience the fear. It’s like stepping off the cliff face. What if, just consider this for one moment, what if this time my self belief has blinded me. What if, my safety net, the one that slows my process when it is not simply great, does not catch me?

As I have said before, I do not plan. I do not sit there etching it all out, character bibles, plotting, synopsis, sub plots and the rest before beginning. Oh I think, I think a lot, generally starting with one idea and stretching it across, exploring within my mind the possibilities before I start. It is rare I make notes during this process. I have always believed if the idea has ‘legs’ the story will carry itself. Finalising details, checking the  story arc is there, ensuring character consistency is there all comes later. I believe many call this first part of what i do ‘passion’. I write because I feel it inside, a story bursting, a want, a release of emotions.

When I sit down to write, I already know if this is a script, short story, or hopefully the latest bestselling novel. When I try to fight this (see the disaster that was the uncompleted No Way Out Challenge) it grates, it physically hurts, and I feel myself hiding from the crowds. The only situation I can liken this to was taking my son to school when he begged not to go (I pulled him out eventually but that’s another story).

Fear is where I stand now. I have three ideas. all workable. two are scripts, one a novel. The daredevil in me is shouting try the novel. Not only have i never completed a full novel, the idea formulating is romance based, chick lit if you prefer. I have never written chick lit. The scripts are comedy based again, so they feel safe. I am still driven by my confidence in my previous one. Yet that could have just been fluke. Either way, what if I have lost my ability? What if I am the one hit wonder?

So tell me, what is your fear? What is the part of you that makes your writing career stutter?

***Without sounding conceited I am not a one hit wonder. I know this from professional feedback. Likewise I have not as yet been successful. I have not previously completed a novel as each one I have started has been abandoned due to other commitments at that time. The fear I speak of prevents me returning as it is the same psychological thought process***

Oh, you are a cancerian too (gulp!)

29 Jul

During my break from blogging, I celebrated my 30th birthday. It is official, I am now a grown up.

Last year following my birthday I wrote a post about horoscopes and chorizo. Being that time again, I feel it is time to embark on this pondering, especially in light of new acquaintances.

Bear with me, this is related to writing and character development, which just shows how much the ‘writer’ in me has matured in the past year.

In the past year I have had a close friend (lets call her Bobo)  that like me is a cancerian. It is safe to say we are a bit of an odd team in terms of where we are in life, as well as in age. The fact that Bobo shares the same star sign has never really risen to the surface, her birthday is in June, mine in July, we are just good mates.

My son started school last year. For any of you that have ever had to face the school playground you will be aware of the various groups that gravitate towards each other (watch out on my special post on the witches coven). As it goes, there were a few of us that mingled around the edges eventually clinging onto each other. Oh my, of that crowd, the three standards, myself, mum A and mum B (names protected for safety reasons) all share a July birthday, all cancerians.

What a nice coincidence. It means we can all go out and celebrate our birthdays together. Makes it more special I think.

Character traits have shown through over time and more and more I have found myself intrigued by how similar we are. Not in the ooh we like shoes type of way, but more of an oh, that is how I would react. I can identify with hopes and dreams, disappointment and rejection. It’s good to have friends that are like you…or is it?

I realised very quickly at this point that Bobo is also the same as Mum A and Mum B. At work, two colleagues of mine hinted at a weakness. As I sat there listening all I could think was, ‘oh, you are such a cancerian’. Both colleagues are cancerian.

Safe to say I freaked. all my life I have only had one friend that was also a cancerian, and we separated ways at the age of 15. Sure kids at school had June/July birthdays, but I was very rarely drawn to them.

Why was I freaked? I thought I was unique. An anomaly in the way I thought and acted. At times I genuinely thought I must have something wrong with me, no self-help book would ever work for me…nope I am normal. I am a typical cancerian, and these people, they are too. What this means however is a desire in me to run and hide. If they think the way I do, that is too much for me to handle.

What does this have to do with writing you ask. Well, my love for character bibles and the such has just taken an unexpected twist. When I started reading about cancerians, I realised I had my start for every character bible. Cheating? Not really. I was always told to give my characters a month of birth, I never understood why. Now it has become clearer.

How does this make me a more matured writer? Simply it shows I am studying other peoples traits and analysing them. Trying to understand what makes them tick. What part of them makes them break the norm, be unrational, remain calm in stressful situations. Developing characters is much more than knowing they have a lisp and blonde hair.

Obviously there are cynics that do not believe in this. That is fine. As I have said before, I am not a great one for following this, I certainly wouldn’t at this time be able to say ‘oh you are a typical…’ as I have heard others do. I do however, believe after these past few weeks that there is something behind these signs. I know nothing of the history, and honestly, I do not have an interest to learn. All I know is of the seven of us that I refer to, we are all typical of the cancerian sign. For now, for me, that is enough.

Oh and a word of warning, if you are a cancerian, and you see me running, it’s because I am afraid,  after all, I know what you’re thinking.

***So I dont know what you are actually thinking, but I know how you will react***

Ooh, so that’s a writing tool!

23 Jul

Have you ever used writing tools?  Not like a pen and paper, no I mean a dedicated programme. Dedicated software to make your life that much easier?

Well up until the last script, I had only ever downloaded a programme. I think I may have opened it, but I never used it. I think I may have decided it was far too complicated and learning hoe to use it would hinder my progress, after all, I want that story on the page NOW. (Not to mention the fcat that I am rubbish at technology – I don’t even have an iTunes account!!)

I guess my initial reluctance was my want to be traditional. Once upon a time all you had was  a pen and paper, before that, well, you know how it goes. The greats had to work without, why shouldnt I? Well simply the greats can go do one. Just because it was hard for them, doesn’t mean I am going to make myself suffer.

So, yeah, Microsoft word has been my companion. To be fair, I am happy with it too. I don’t need anything else. Well my pad and pen to make notes I guess, but to be honest, I’m just not a great note taker.

I digress. When writing the script, simply I got annoyed. Annoyed with scrolling and scrabbling around for bits of paper, it bugged me it wasnt in front of me each character description. I am ashamed to admit it, but when I started writing two of my characters kept getting muddled, checking who was who was a pain in the backside, however it did show a major flaw in my writing.

I downloaded Celtx.

Celtx is a free script writing tool. It takes the hassle of layout and just allows you to write, sorting the formatting as you go. You can add notes, edit sections to save for later, as well providing the tools for creating notes about your character (yep, those all important character bibles I always talk about) and the best bit for me, tools for providing descriptions of each of your settings.

It may not be the best, but for me, it was invaluable. I loved jumping from one scene to the next, having a sidebar showing the titles of each scene so you have a reminder at a glance,  and this is just the bits I used. I didn’t explore the software fully, that, remains, a task for another day.

There was one flaw. I exported the completed script into word, at with point I had to play around with the layout. It was acceptable, but I think this just came down to preference, and I just saw it as an extra editing exercise.

So how about you? What tools have you used?  I ask with genuine interest. I am wondering if part of my past lack of dedication to writing has been contributed to by my making, as in, I have making my life unnecessarily difficult by rejecting anything but word. So please, do share.

**If you are not familiar with my blog you will not know that although I complete work, I tend to give up on a lot, midway, due to disengagement, oops!**


Hello…anybody there?

21 Jul

Who would have thought it huh? Returning after a long break is really hard. How should I start, should I say hello, just dive right in, explain what I have been doing…

Well, you all want to know I am sure whether I did it. Did I complete my script?

Erm…of course I did.

Unknown to me, I love a deadline, really gets the old motivation going. That’s not to say it was easy, it certainly wasnt straightforward, but I did it, and I couldn’t be happier.

If anyone asks, I say it took me ten months to complete the script. What? ten months? ten months for one episode? That’s crazy!

Of course it didn’t really, but it was ten months of thinking for sure. Of that, there was probably only four weeks of editing and revising, and then that was only part-time.

You see, I am not one for writing, putting to one side, returning at a later date. No. I am a writer that thinks, a lot. Then when I start, I just throw it on the page, and fortunately for me, this usually works.

I have learnt that I lack confidence in my writing, and I have moments that if I gave into, I would quit everything. But what I knew before I started, and what has been confirmed, is that mid way, I always have a wobble. many talk about the blood sweat and tears of writing. There is none of that for me, just boredom.

I get bored writing.

Oh my god, I actually just said that.

I get bored in everything I do though. I like excitement. I am like the kid that refuses to go on the carousel because it’s not a rollercoaster. Whats good though, is I now know, so in the future I can prepare myself for it. In short, I have discovered who I am in in so many ways.

For those of you wondering, the script is based in a student union. It is a comedy. A very brave move for me as I have never written comedy before. But as I say I like excitement, and this was a risk that was just asking to be taken.

It has been sent to the Wales Drama Award, and yesterday I had my email saying they had received it. I wait, slightly anxiously to see if it gets through the first round. Naturally I will be devastated if it is sent back with a thanks, but no thanks. However, I have taken a huge gamble, changing not only my genre, but my demographic too.

Keep your fingers crossed for me.

So Long, Farewell

30 Apr

I have been out this evening at a BBC Writers Room workshop. It was very interesting – and i now have just short of ten weeks to write a script.

I spoke with some ‘writer’ friends, it has been a while since we were all together…

General conclusion is to say goodbye to the blog, it is too distracting when my free time is too precious.

I plan to return mid july, or at least revise my decision at that time. For now however, I wish you all the best of luck in your writing.

Speak to you all soon!

‘Stop talking about it, and go and write, as simple as that’ –  Russell T Davies