2018 ready.

Are you 2018 ready? Yes, or no it appears to be storming away at an incredible rate!

I was silent on this blog for the last part of 2017 because, to be honest, I hadn’t the heart to write anymore. After finishing my second novel, and the excitement when the team at Hardman&Swainson loved it, I had a summer and an autumn filled with ‘positive rejections’. This means my book was well received, very well received in some cases, but no offers were made. My mojo evaporated and disappointment prevailed. I felt bruised from the inside out. And then there was Christmas; it seems to get more twinkly every year, as each city tries to out sparkle the next. The lights distract us from the real darkness outside and for a couple of months we play along.  Our Christmas was noisy and busy and hectic and full of love, laughter, arguments and (a little?)tiredness. We lost teeth, we shed tears, my eldest at eleven ‘lost his Christmas spirit’ but we gained some great Christmas memories to bank.

As one year teeters and tips into the next I never feel quite ready. I get a worry knot in my stomach for those I love. The future can be a scary place if you stare at it too long. I always want to press pause, to enjoy the moment a little longer, saviour my family as they are.

On Monday I excavated the house of Christmas decorations and suddenly I felt better. I felt braver. I gathered up my courage all around me and I felt ready. I have the idea for my third book. I know what it has to be. I know what I want to write. I’ve gone too far down this road, and got too close, to give up now. I’ve set myself a due-date and so I’ll start, again. Word by word. No one said it would be easy.

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A few of my favourite reads from 2017

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Eight weeks later.

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Hello again. Apologies for my absence, though maybe you didn’t notice I’d been away? A LOT has happened in the intervening eight weeks since my last post. I’ve had the highest highs and a pretty ugly low – but that’s life – right? Most importantly I’ve turned a decade. I’m writing to you from way over here on the other side of the chasm of thirty-nine – can you still hear me? Joking aside, do you know what? It’s not so bad, not so bad at all. (Though admittedly it is early days!)

Autumn has left us (what a fabulous Autumn it was!) and winter feels like it’s well and truly here. Anyone else just want to drink wine and eat chocolate? I feel so blessed to be warm and cosy in our new forever home. I’m getting myself back into the routine of writing again after all the upheaval of our house move and it feels really good to be back at my laptop. I promise not to be so tardy in the future. I’ve got assignments for Uni and I want to put the finishing touches to my second novel ready to submit to my agent in the New Year: no more procrastinating!  Next week I have a treat for you cause I’m going to be interviewing a real-life friend that has become a real-life published author. So exciting! @Lesley_Allen_ is proof that publishing dreams do indeed come true and I’m going to ask her all about it and then tell you. (Also her book is a heart-breakingly good read) ‘The Lonely Life Of Biddy Weir’ is available at all good book shops. Have a read and let me know if you have any specific questions you want me to ask.

In the meantime I’m going to try and live up to this ‘Be the person your dog thinks you are.’ A fab birthday present that will take pride of place on my study wall (once I get moved in!) And if you know my dog (s) that’s a tall order!!

 

 

Being Brave and Broken Hearts.

Dear Sisterhood,

(I don’t want to be sexist, but I don’t think I have any male followers, apologies if I do, and hey if you’re there, speak up!)

The other day I bought Cheryl Strayed’s new book. ‘Brave Enough’ for a friend and ordered a copy for myself.* It’s a small book that packs a mightyIMG_3851 punch. It’s full of words of wisdom to comfort when you’re feeling down, to kick you up the arse when you need it and best of all to tell you that you’re not alone. YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. I can’t recommend highly enough. I’m hoping it brings some solace to a dear, dear, old friend who is having a rough time. She got her heart badly broken a few years ago and in August she lost her Mum, suddenly, and it’s smashed it to smithereens all over again.

The thing is; you can’t see a broken heart the way you can a broken limb. But boys-a-dear does it hurt. Anyone who’s been there (and who hasn’t?) can testify that a broken heart breaks you from the inside out. It usually comes with tears. Oceans of tears that make you feel wrung out.  Many years ago I lay on my kitchen floor sobbing over my first real broken heart.  It’s been broken again since that, this time by my husband, and that hurt more than anything that’s gone before. And no doubt it will happen again. Unfortunately in order to live we have to experience loss. What a tragic exchange? And yet how many of us, I wonder, would forgo the love in order to avoid the heartbreak? None, I bet. Because the memories of the love, the experience of loving and being loved is always better and stronger than any loss. Yes, we might do things differently, but I don’t think any of us would want to delete it. Would we? Because without the darkness we would never recognise the light.

To the rest of the world my friend looks normal: she goes to work, she smiles, she functions, but I know that if I shook her she would rattle with broken bits. And I hate that all I can do is stand on the sidelines and urge her to take it day by day, breath by breath, step by step. Our hearts heal, they may never be the same but they do heal and what’s left behind is an eternal afterglow from all the love. At least, that’s what I like to think.

Nx

*Waterstones have texted that my copy in in store. Be prepared for a liberal dose of Strayed quotes!

Slowing down to Speed Up.

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Those of you that follow me on various social media thingys will know that I’m a yogi.  It keeps my mind clear and my body strong. Last night my yoga teacher read this by George Carlin and  I wanted to share it with you,

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families, more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment, more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our
possessions, but reduced our values. W e talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We’ve learned how to make a living, but not a life. We’ve added years to life not life to years. We’ve been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space but not inner space. We’ve done larger things, but not better things.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We’ve conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We write more, but learn less. We plan more, but accomplish less. We’ve learned to rush, but not to wait. We build more
computers to hold more information, to produce more copies than ever, but we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow digestion, big men and small character, steep profits and shallow relationships. These are the days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one nights stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill. It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and nothing in the stockroom. A time when technology can bring this letter to you, and a time when you can choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe,because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn’t cost a cent.

Remember, to say, “I love you” to your spouse and your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

If you’re like me, much of this will have resonated. We spend so much of our time chasing ouIMG_3739r tails and not communicating meaningfully with those we love. I am as guilty as the next person. I’m a SAHM with a complex.  I often feel guilty for spending time on my writing while my husband is out there at the cutting edge of profit and loss as he tries to earn a  living for the whole family. I’m always bemoaning that I don’t get enough time for my writing, but any amount of time never seems enough! And it’s been years now and still no novel on the bookshelf! The truth is,  I am not a patient person and writing is the ultimate game of patience. I have just finished Anthony Doerr’s fabulous novel ‘ All The Light We Cannot See’ and it took him ten years to write! In that case I’ve hardly scratched the surface. It’s all too easy to get so fixated on your end goal that you forget to enjoy the journey. I am still young(ish), I have two gorgeous boys who are growing up far too fast; these are the days of my life, these are the days I will want to live again.

It was great to hear the lovely @DinahJefferies on BBC Woman’s Hour this week talking about becoming a bestselling novelist in her sixties. It was a reminder there is no sell-by-date with writing. It’s about perseverance and the only person putting time limits on it is myself. Note to self; remember who won the race between the tortoise and the hare.

Love

Nx (channeling my inner tortoise)

My top three for 2015

When I read a great book I immediately want to share it and what better way than on my new blog. My top three picks, so far, in 2015 ( in no particular order) are:

Appletree Yard,  by Louise Doughty. This is the second book I’ve read by this author and she writes female protagonists in a fearless and uncompromising way. www.louisedoughty.com

Outline, by Rachel Cusk. I first came across Rachel when I read her book on motherhood, ‘A Life’s Work’ just after I’d had my first son. In it, she wrote about motherhood with a brutal honesty that I appreciated. In ‘Outline’ she continues to observe people, relationships and ageing with a razor sharp eye. http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2015/01/05/told-2

The Story of Before, by Susan Stairs. I was tweeting like mad about this a couple of weeks ago. Its a debut book that blew me away and left me rattled for days afterwards.

This month in book club we’re reading ‘Elizabeth is Missing’ by Emma Healey. I haven’t finished it yet, but if it makes it onto my list I’ll let you know.