Needs More Work.

It’s been three months since my post ‘The End’ when I was high with the exhilaration of finishing the latest draft of my novel. Since then I’ve been patting myself on the back and enjoying a little time away from the slog of writing such a huge piece of work while juggling a family and maintaining some kind of a life that doesn’t resemble a hermit. But as the weeks have ticked down it’s also been getting closer to the day when I knew my      inbox would ping, or my phone would ring, with the response from my editor. In my fantasy world she’d say, ‘ you’re a genius! It’s fabulous. I couldn’t put it down. Don’t change a thing.’ But of course, it’s not fantasy. It’s the real world. When she contacted me last week, what she actually said was, ‘Better, but still needs more work!’

More work?! It’s been three years already. I need something to happen with this. I need some payment to keep working on this. I need a big fat juicy carrot. I need guarantees. Oooops. I did it again, didn’t I? I slipped back into fantasy mode. Because of course there are no guarantees, not in the writing world, at least. No point pretending,  I was gutted. I might even have shed a self-pitying tear or two as I licked my writerly wounds.

At first, I was alarmed at the scale of the changes that were being suggested, but several emails later, and after I’d read a sample of the manuscript that she’d already edited, I had to admit – it was better. I began to understand that the story was not being criticised. She was only improving what was already there. ‘Gardening’ as she calls it – cutting back the weeds to let the ‘beautiful prose shine through’ (I liked that bit!) My editor is highly sought after. Her reputation speaks for itself. I am very lucky to have her onboard. She would not want to put in extra work if she didn’t think it was worth it. If she didn’t think  my story had potential. So I’ve put my writer’s ego (didn’t even know I had one until last week!) back in its box and I’m putting my trust in her and her expertise.

Richard Branson openly admits to hiring people smarter than him. He surrounds himself with better people, so he can be better too. (I think this is what I subconsciously  did when I married my husband ) Most things in life are a team effort – once the hard slog of a solitary  1st draft (or 2nd or 3rd!) is done, the reality of writing is no different. No one writes in a vacuum. Everyone has help. This week I learnt why every writer needs an editor. And so, it’s true of life. Here’s to the TEAM. Whoever your members might be.

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Building a House of Words.

Sod’s law that after my post on prioritising for thepraminthehall I’ve been failing to do just that! (You know what they say about the kettle and the pot.) I do have a good excuse – well lots of them actually – but don’t we all?
You see, our renovation project is swiftly moving towards its final phase which means I have to organise and choose what’s to go inside!! (Believe me I could bore you to death with architrave chat and titillate you about my tiles.) It’s all kinds of hectic. I’m dragging my four year-old to look at fireplaces this afternoon – bound to be fun! It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of all the ‘stuff’ that needs done, the decisions that need made, and the diarrhea-inducing cost of it all. This is, no doubt, our dream home. A one-off. The place we’ll hopefully call home for the next thirty years or more. It’s important to get it right. And then the universe sent me this –image(actually it was my aunt and she sent it for my boys – but you know…) The beautiful ‘Buddha Doodles’ book by Molly Hahn (@Mollycules) and it made me stop and breathe and gain perspective.  How much better to make the words I speak beautiful, rather than the house I live in. (I’ll be reminding myself of this later, as I try to choose a fireplace with my destructive four-year old in tow!!)

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Has something stopped you in your tracks lately and made you think differently? I ‘d love to hear about it. Wishing you all lots of Buddha wisdom this weekend. x

 

 

 

The power of Prioritising.

This week I was delighted to be invited by the lovely Melissa Addey (@MelissaAddey) to contribute to her brilliant thepraminthehall blog. You can read my post here. I talk about the importance of prioritising your time. We all need to ‘make’ our own time; it’s not simply given to us.
rabbit Alice in WonderlandRight now, there’s a laundry basket of wet towels that really needs my attention together with any number of  ‘other things’ I should be doing, but I have one hour before I have to collect my youngest from nursery and right now is the only ‘free-time’ I’m likely to get, so I’m doing this instead. I know on my deathbed I’ll not wish I’d kept a tidy house (though my husband might disagree!) I’ll be glad I tried my best to achieve my own goals.

What about you, what will you prioritise?

In other news, last week my writing group were given the Mark Strand poem ‘Lines for Winter’ were he writes to a friend suffering with depression. The poem repeats the line ‘tell yourself’ and it got me thinking about what we tell ourselves in order to keep us thinking our glass is either half full, or not. And what happens if we stop telling ourselves the positives and slip into the negative. My response to the poem is below. It just may have sparked another bigger story idea. You never know, there might be another book in me after all! I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

I Tell Myself. (Lines for a wife)

I dreamt of you again last night.  I’m not sure if it’s you then, or you now. When I’m awake you’re out of reach. But, when I’m sleeping it’s… it’s like you’re beside me. I can almost feel you.  I worry I might utter your name for David to overhear. I feel guilty. I feel guilty for even thinking about you. But surely, an affair in my mind does not equal the same betrayal? Does it? I mean I never actually wouId…

I’ve been telling myself it’s an age thing. A mid-life crisis. A cliché. Something to do with turning fifty. Because it was all so long ago and we were children – really. I’m seeing it through rose-tinted glasses… aren’t I? There’s no way back, I know, but… a part of me, no –  all of me, would love to be with you again; young and free. We were together for a long time. Years too long.  Most of it has dissolved into the ether of my memory; taped up and packaged away under ‘when I was young’ and ‘first love.’ But some of it, tiny moments of it, have solidified and I continue to feel them. It’s unsettling. And then seeing you last week – well, I just can’t shake you from my skin. It’s as though you’re in my bones. Inside my head. I see you even when you’re not there.

I’ve been telling myself that this melancholy, this greyness hanging over me is hormones. Nothing more. Just stupid crazy, old woman hormones. Because I love my husband. Twenty-five years married and we’re still happy. I think. We’ve not turned completely inward with neglect.  Sure, life is not as exciting or carefree or passionate, but that’s normal – right? We don’t live on the same heightened spectrum of emotions; we’re not teenagers anymore. But then, David and I never were teenagers together – that was us – you and me.  In fact, David was already thirty when I met him; bruised and broken-hearted still from you. We used to spend hours in my bedroom, just kissing. We had nothing else to do. We had time to waste.  I’ve never had better. I wonder if we’d still be as good. We were each other’s first in… everything. It’s no wonder I still feel something for you. We were great together.

I’ve been telling myself to go to the Doctor, but what would I say? That I met an old boyfriend and now I think the last twenty-five years have been… what? A mistake? That I feel as though I’ve been sleep-walking, living only on the perimeter of happiness – not the full blown thing, the way it was with you. I’d be given some pills, for sure. But what would that solve? No. I’ve been trying to be an optimist about this. I’ve been trying to work out what I know. After all, on the eve of fifty I should know – something, right? So why do I feel as though I know nothing at all?

I’ve been telling myself that it’s being nineteen, I miss. Not you. It was a puppy love compared to the love required to sustain twenty-five years of marriage and parenthood. I wouldn’t swap David for you. He loves me and I love him. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

 

Dear Future Me…

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Back in November I wrote Replies From My 39yr Old Self after finding a diary that I’d written when I was nineteen. Well, this week, I’ve been inspired by the fabulous Kelly at www.myprojectme.com who turned that notion on its head and wrote to herself in the future. Cool – huh? So, it got me thinking, what would I say to my future self? What do I hope my future self will have achieved?

I’d set the date to 2021. Five years away. I’ll (hopefully) be mid-forties, my husband will have reached and passed the half-century, I’d have a teenage son and a ten-year old, we’ll be living in the house we’re  painstakingly renovating, and my dearest dog will be very elderly and more grey than black. (I’m starting to feel like Marty McFly, here.) Any more than that, who knows? But If I was to write to myself in 2021, here’s a few things I would like to say,

Dear Future-Self,

  • Yay -first things first,  if you’re reading this you must be alive and well! ( I bet your fortieth birthday doesn’t seem such a big deal now!)
  • I hope my happy little boys have grown into bigger healthy  versions of themselves.
  • I hope my boys still give you the fiercest of hugs and fill you up with love just by being them. At least one must be taller than you now – that must be weird! Do you make him sit down when you tell him off?
  • I hope you’ve shown them how to love full-throttle and demonstrated how it’s important to be strong on the inside, not just the outside.
  • I hope you still look at your husband and feel thankful.
  • Maybe, now that you’re a best-selling author, your secretary is reading this?  Seriously, I hope you’ve got a least one book published, and if not, whatever else you may be doing, I hope you’re still writing. Much worse to give up, than to fail. (no matter what, well done btw, I know how bloody hard it was.)
  • I hope you’re still practising yoga and have cracked ‘the boat’ by now and have some other fancy balance poses in your repertoire (I know that’s my ego talking and it’s not what it’s about – but it would still be cool and I reckon it could be one sure way to get some respect from your teenage son, so I hope you can.)
  • I hope you don’t act your age.
  • I hope you embarrass your boys often with lots of ‘Mum dancing’ at home.
  • I hope you throw great parties at a moment’s notice in the house that still seems a dream away.
  • I hope you’ve acquired more patience.
  • I hope you’ve said ‘I love you’ and ‘thank-you’ today.
  • I hope you can speak reasonable Spanish by now.
  • I hope you went back and did that MA in Creative Writing.
  • I hope you make time for the important people in your life.
  • I hope you love your wrinkles and yourself.
  • I hope you practise kindness everyday.
  • I hope you’re happy – a successful best-selling author kind of happy – but happy none the less 😉

Love

Your younger-self.

I hope I’m not tempting fate! I hope I’m not run over by a bus in the morning leaving no future-self to read my hopes and dreams. I don’t like the thought of them hanging in the ether: homeless, empty, unread. But you’ve read them now, so thank you. Feel free to chase me up in April 2021! You can have  ago at www.futureme.org

 

 

 

 

 

Friendship and turning 4-OH.

If you wanna be my lover, you gotta get with my friends.

The Spice Girls.

There are many reasons why I’m glad to be a girl / woman (what are you supposed to call yourself at 39yrs?) And one of the top ones is because of my girlfriends. Men can’t do girlfriends the way girls can. It’s something we’ve got all to ourselves, like growing other humans, they’ll never be able to do that either.

For many of my crew (including myself) 2016 is the year our lives rolls over into our 4th decade. Cue lots of parties and excuses for weekends away, the first of which took place last Saturday for Naomi who has been my BF since I was in double-figures and has enriched my life in countless ways. For twenty-four hours I was surrounded by amazing women, ate great food (that I didn’t have to cook myself), drank lots of champagne and danced to the wee small hours. What can I say? My cup runneth over.

When I am surrounded by my womenfolk, most of whom I’ve known for at least twenty years, I defy my 5″ 2inches and become 10ft tall. It feels as though time has stopped and not a day has passed since we were all teenagers, or bright young twenty-somethings. Whether we see each other every week, every few months, once a year, or for those even further afield (JAM I’m looking at you and counting down till August!) less than that, we can still pick up exactly where we left off and run from there. Why? I hear you cry. Because that’s the power of love; it’s ageless. When we fall in love the clock stops. Think about it: if you’re married your partner remains the youthful version of themselves they were when you met, our children remain the babies they were when they were placed in our arms, our parents remain the same fresh-faced versions of themselves they were when we were growing up. And so, I’ve concluded, it’s the same with  girlfriends. We never age. We are exactly how we have always been to each other.  How beautiful is that?

I am blessed to have an amazing bunch of women that I am lucky enough to call my friends. They are smart, beautiful, stylish, they have proper jobs (unlike moi): I’m talking solicitors, teachers, barristers, a few of them even run their own businesses -for example-  have you ever wondered what Ireland smells like? Well then you need to check out www.bogstandard.ie My friend Alix started it at Uni way before scented candles were even ‘a thing’! A real-life mum-preneur and she still manages to read every crap draft I send her and give me honest, detailed feedback! There’s also a professional equestrian rider among the mix who does some seriously gutsy stuff on horseback and manage three kids. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg – you get the gist. A-MAZING! Some have been to hell and back, some are married, some are not, some have children, some have not. But we have all had our ups and downs. And we are in this together. We started out in unison; wide-eyed and bushy-tailed and now forty years into this thing called life we are all a little bit wiser (sometimes!) and plan to party the heck out of 2016. In a world where older women are deemed insignificant and  invisible we’re not going to be put on a shelf, we’re not going to be silenced and we’re not going down any hills!  It’s only the start of our 2nd Act and it’s going to be girl power all the way!

Put in a call, text, or send a cartoon picture of a cat to a girlfriend just to tell her she rocks!

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The grainy night-club shot when we all should have known better!