Writing Is Hard

For the first time in a while I am feeling good about myself. I finally feel I have a story worth writing and I am determined to actually do it.

It is going to take a long time and a lot of hard work. At the minute for various reasons I am only spending a small amount of time each day on it. I am still building up background and and noting plot points, still figuring out exactly what story I am trying to tell. But the real achievement for me is that I am spending time on it each day. I am thinking about it all the time, I am beginning to see the world of my story open up, and coming from the state I have been in for the past few months this is very exciting.

The crunch will be when I have outlined as much as I feel I can or should, and actually start writing. I need to accept in advance that the first couple of drafts will be poor and there will be parts that I hate. Hopefully there will be parts that I love! But I must not expect to be happy with the first draft, else there will never be a final draft for me to be happy with.

It is easy to question yourself when you have dry times like I have just had. Should I even thinking about writing, my inability to do anything is just making me frustrated and miserable? If I was meant to be a writer, wouldn’t I feel energised and motivated, compelled to write anything and everything constantly? Shouldn’t it be harder to stop me than to start? But I read a few things lately that have made me think twice, and have given me permission to say: writing is hard. It is like alcoholism – acceptance is the first step to recovery. Allowing myself to say that writing is hard allows me to keep restarting, retrying and not give up.

Right now I am actually pretty proud of myself for not giving up – I have kept a journal going, I have restarted my blogs, I have drafted a couple of competition entries, and now I finally have the basis of a novel I think I can do something with. I am putting in some writing time every day, and it is becoming natural, even necessary. I intend to stop feeling guilty that I am making slow progress, and start feeling proud that I am making any. I will let myself work at a comfortable pace now and work up as the words begin to flow better and faster.

Because I think that now I am becoming a writer, and once I get going I will not give up. Individual projects may falter and fail, but my goal will not.

The Challenge of Loving

My son has recently turned into a two year old. Not age-wise, his birthday was actually back in July, and we have been congratulating ourselves on escaping the Terrible Twos. But behaviour-wise, tantrums and selective deafness have arrived in our house.

To be fair to him, he could be a lot worse. He is not particularly aggressive towards other children (he saves it for us) and his worst behaviour comes when he is very tired; otherwise he’s actually a lovely little boy. To paraphrase: “When he is good, he’s very, very good. But when he’s bad, he’s horrid.” The trouble is, Daniel (who has never been a good sleeper) is not sleeping well and is consequently tired a LOT.

It has been quite a shock to the system. Our lovely, happy little boy has turned into a child who hits and kicks us, ignores us constantly, causes huge amounts of mess deliberately and screams whenever he doesn’t get his own way. In fact, I have seriously wondered if toddlerhood is training for adolescence, both for us and for him. My throat is sore from shouting and I only seem to have one phrase in my mouth at the moment: “Daniel, don’t do…”.

We have had two choices. We could choose an easy road and basically let him get away with it. It would certainly be kinder on the vocal chords. We could let him keep coming into bed with us at two o clock every morning and letting none of us get any decent sleep for the rest of the night. Again, no crying and tantrums. We decided not to do this, and at times I think we must be mad.

We have decided to have a crack down on behaviour and sleep, handing out ASBOs right, left and centre. The sleep plan at the moment is not working out great for me although Daniel seems to be gradually getting better – he is at least staying in his own bed, although this is under great protest, particularly if it is Daddy going in to settle him at two o clock and not me. For us it involves a good hour lying on the floor, and I don’t know about Daddy but it’s murder on my poor muscles which have apparently been softened by pregnancy and crushed by growing baby. So there is a light at the end of the tunnel but it’s a dim, distant spark at the moment.

Behaviour, hmmm. Being firm but fair is our guideline at the minute, and following every confrontation with a cuddle and an ‘I love you’. But the real challenge, to me at least, is dealing with the huge emotional swings that ‘behaviour modification’ brings. Not his – mine. I go from being at the limit of my patience, seethingly angry to doting mother and back again in a heartbeat, and it is actually exhausting. Not to mention the huge guilt you feel when it turns out you don’t have unlimited patience and tolerance after all. Experiencing negative feelings towards your child is, to say the least, heart-wrenching and has you constantly questioning your fitness as a parent. Not that how much I love my little boy is ever in doubt, not for a second, but the fact that I don’t constantly see him as a source of delight and satisfaction is, to me, disturbing, difficult to deal with, and makes the path of least resistance seem highly tempting.

I am saved from this by the strength of my husband – I guess we give each other strength, thinking about it – and the reward when our plan actually works, when he does listen or say sorry or do as he’s told. It’s still rare, it’s still early days but it’s happening and we are getting our beautiful boy back. Even if it’s only temporary.

 

Another fresh start

Right then, Fresh Start #451 begins now. Mainly in writing, but also other areas of my life – namely being a better mother to my son and keeping on top of the house. Writing, though, is where the serious FS#451 is aimed.

At the moment I am caught in a vicious circle of not writing because I am not enjoying it and not enjoying it because I am not writing. Once down in the ‘Slough of Despondency’ (is that Pilgrim’s Progress?) it is incredibly difficult to struggle out of it. I have reached a nice little comfort zone with a journal entry every couple of days and am not pushing myself to do much more. Enter Fresh Start #451.

So here is a list of new (again) short term and longer term goals. I have included a guilt-free reading list because, as I was reminded in a blog today, reading is an essential part of a writer’s life. And I AM a writer. Maybe not a very good one but I will get there.

By the way, is it slightly ironic that as I am typing this in WordPress, the spellchecker highlights ‘blog’ as a misspelling? No? Ok, it must just be me. On to the lists…

Short term goals

  • Begin reblogging on both this blog and The Daniel Pages. Not necessarily long posts, but published, tagged and categorised PLEASE.
  • Explore tutorials on getting the most out of WordPress and look at getting hosting so my very talented hubby can build me a nice shiny customised blog. (He is really very talented, leave a comment if you’re interested in knowing more)
  • Enter the monthly competition in Writing Magazine – this needs to be an inflexible rule, even if it’s the only one I’ve got and even if I’m not particularly inspired. One short story on a given prompt every month.
  • Poetry. As the muse strikes!

Longer term goals

  • Filing WIP on paper and on disk
  • Poetry – as above
  • Compiling ideas for stories and journaling whilst out and about as opposed to a page’s rant every couple of mornings.
  • Compiling subjects for research (see below)
  • Finding inspiration for the best-selling novel I WILL write.
  • An Open University course

Reading and Research

  • More contemporary literature to broaden my experience
  • More non-fiction on a range of topics – journalling or blogging interesting points. This is a) to keep my brain working and b) to provide material for blog posts
  • Newspapers / The Week – for the same reasons as above
  • A ‘Flavour of the Month’ – not strictly monthly! An area that takes my interest and could provide inspiration for any type of writing whether it is a blog post, short story, poetry or novel; taking notes and making information files on the computer for future reference. For example in the past year I have had brief but genuine interest in astronomy and aromatherapy and have greatly enjoyed looking into these areas, and currently fancy looking into early feminism and women’s enfranchisement. So if anyone knows any interesting blogs, books or materials, please let me know.

So there you go. Fresh Start #451, raring to go. And now it’s on the internet, so it must be the real thing.