Writing In My Head



Ever since Tom and I took the loo to bits trying to find one of my contact lenses I’ve had ‘Buy new specs’ on my ‘To Do’ list. The thing is my prescription is so chunky is it doesn’t matter how nice the frame is or how far the lenses have been slimmed down, I still look like Nick Robinson (‘though, hopefully, with more hair) once the glasses are made up. Anyway, I’ve done the sensible thing and the pair I collected yesterday have, once again, lost something in translation. I quite like them but the combination of retro frame and very beady lenses makes me feel as if I should be sporting a gentleman’s Fair Isles waistcoat and striking a pose on the front of a knitting pattern. I’m thinking about taking up pipe-smoking too, just to complete the look. Although I’m not exactly sure what you do with a pipe (from what I remember as a little girl, folks seem to spend most of their time trying to light them) I’d welcome a touch of the zen-like calm that seems to go with the whole ritual, not to mention a sense of purpose.

Purpose is sadly lacking from my writing at the moment; at the beginning of the year I was merrily rewriting FTT in the firm hope that I’d be well into the sequel by now. It wasn’t even the agent deciding she couldn’t get it published after all that threw me – hey, I’m a big girl now, that’s what happens to writers – but I just don’t seem to know where to go next. What’s making it harder for me to know what to do is that in the summer a friendly publisher asked to see some sample chapters of FTT and I find it sooooo hard waiting for their decision - but, hey, that’s something else writers have to do too. If the publishers say ‘yes’ presumably they’ll want more of the same and if they say ‘no’ I’m free but still unpublished in fiction. I suppose the advice I’d give someone else in the same position is ‘write the book you want to write’. There’s no point in trying to follow a trend which, more than likely, will be gone before your book’s in print. It’s also back to the old advice about choosing your rut carefully; if you don’t love what you’re writing neither will anyone else, it’s a simple as that.

I do have the faint stirrings of a novel in progress but it’s mainly in my head at the moment… hmm, if I actually wrote all the books in my head instead of thinking about them I’d probably have got this cracked by now. In the meantime I’ve got a couple of short stories to think about, one for next OU assignment and another for Mslexia’s short story competition (By the way, I heartily recommend Mslexia for a refreshing, intelligent approach to women’s writing). Short stories are a complete mystery to me so this is going to be quite a challenge.

And, speaking of competitions. Tom’s painting didn’t win the Tenby Open Art Competition but he says the main point is that it’s in the exhibition. Anyway, here it is.
'January Sea' by Tom Tomos

Comments

Elizabethd said…
That is truly a January sea.
Glad things have gone back to 'normal' now, no you arent a mean old witch!
Exmoorjane said…
Oh Chris, I could have written this nearly word for word (apart from the bit about looking like Nick Robinson - I don't look great in my specs though....but can't think of who I look like). But yes, oh yes, to every word about the writing. I am frozen. Totally. Have hit the brick wall with Walker. Can't get my act together to get on with anything else. Isn't it just prap?

Thanks for your comment on mine - yes I have a packet of pills for total emergencies but they make me feel very woozy the next day so try not to take them. But agree totally about them breaking the cycle and, if this goes on at all I'll absolutely go back tothem for a while. jxx
Pat Posner said…
Oh, I do like Tom's 'January Sea'.

It's so hard to write while waiting to hear from a publisher or agent.
But as you've got something 'bubbling' and a couple of short stories to write you aren't really suffering from lack of purpose. I mean, your words:
'Short stories are a complete mystery to me so this is going to be quite a challenge,' show purpsose and determination.
xxPat
liz fenwick said…
Love the painting.

My advice - is write, just write. You have permission to write crap. Getting back into writing is the toughest part - once you past that hurdle things may well become clear as to which is the book of your heart of the moment.
Crystal Jigsaw said…
I'm sure the short stories will flow. I also write in my head and find I haven't enough time to put all my stories onto paper.

CJ xx
Pipany said…
You so are not a witch Chris! The writing freeze is a pain for you but not unexpected. You put so much of yourself into the novel and need to readjust however long that takes, but that is little comfort. New year often brings the peaceful chance for fresh ideas and creativity, so hang on in there xx
Lane said…
Big empathy because until recently I felt completely and utterly stuck and riddled with lethargy. You however, sound much more positive than me. I found writing short pieces helped. I couldn't even manage short stories so just did flashes. So write loads of them and one of them may show you the way you want to go with Novel 2. And I just know that good things will come to FTT too. I feel it in my water:-)

Tom's painting is brill btw.
Faith said…
I couldnt see the painting which was a shame - there wasn't a link. Never mind. I'm sure you look great in your specs - better than me anyway - hate mine!
Milla said…
(slowly slowly got the last one, phewee). funny blog, if sad. why do we bother with creativity though when it goes nowhere and just perplexes us!
ChrisH said…
Sorry, my fault, faith - its' up the top of the page!
Debs said…
Well, it should have won. Tom now has R as a fan too, he loves his paintings.

I spend an age trying on glasses and when I buy them, they never seem to look as I remembered them.

Best of luck with the feedback from the publisher.
Preseli Mags said…
I loved the writing advice - especially the bit about 'choosing your rut carefully'. Good luck with getting your ideas out of your head (and bring on the day when someone invents a computer that can read minds!) xx Mags.
LittleBrownDog said…
Love your description of waistcoat and pipe ensemble. As well as trying to light them, I think you give them a bit of a chew from time to time. At least that what it looked like with my uncle Bill's pipe whenever I managed to catch it out of his chops as a child, which wasn't at all often.

At least you're a writer who writes. I'm just a poor excuse of one who things about writing. From time to time. From what I understand with almost every writer I know is the agent/publisher thing is just par for the course. Do keep trying with FTT - I'm desperate to read it.

Did you find the contact lens, by the way?
lampworkbeader said…
I am just sooo impressed you even have an agent. I have lots of 'things' written and even some rejection slips, but to have actually spoken to an agent, well that's as far as I let my dream go as yet.
elizabethm said…
I know you will get there and sympathise with the lethargy. I am suffering from something similar. I think you are absolutely right about loving the rut you are in. I think if you do what you love you have to leave it to others (agents, publishers) to decide whether it will sell. I know this is a counsel of perfection and runs utterly counter to my accountancy/business training but you can't be everything. That is why there are agents etc. But only you can write.
Hmmmmmm a mean old witch with jam jar bottom glasses ---now could this be the basis for a new charater in Chapter 2? Tee hee!!! Stick on in there Chris you'll be fine!
ChrisH said…
LBD - I did find the lens... after we'd put the loo back together again, Tom found it stuck to a towel!!
Flowerpot said…
I'm so sorry you're feeling a bit adrift Chris but it's not surprising is it? I tihnk what you're doing - the OU course and submissions for the Mslexia competition sound fine. Sometimes we need to just lie still and let ideas gather, not beat ourselves up about our writing, but recharge our batteries while doing other things. Hugs - I do feel for you.
sheepish said…
I think we all suffer the same doubts and blockages. Look on the bright side you have a finished ms which is an amazing achievement in itself. And if you have ideas in your head just put down the bare bones as you can always come back to them another time, don't risk losing ideas.
Fennie said…
Thanks for the details of the Mslexia competition. I've been most unsuccessful with short stories. My favourites are those by Saki. And his technique is to take a normal situation and then to reverse it.

Yes, I think you just have to persevere. In that respect writing a column is a good discipline. You have to find something to say and mail off those 1000 words by the deadline whatever you are feeling. Curiously I find that the best pieces often come from the most unpromising of circumstances.

Trollope and Geoffrey Archer both wrote or (write) for three hours every morning, come rain or shine and I suspect sometimes they are not even aware of what is coming out. Good luck anyway, and I am sure the glasses must have some redeeming features.
Fiona said…
When's the next OU assignmnet? God, we've only just had one.

Painting reminds me of the cornish sea.
Zinnia Cyclamen said…
Della Galton's new book on writing short stories is very good, if you want some practical tips. I enjoy writing short stories for the change of pace. I don't think it's any easier than writing novels, word for word, but it's a lot quicker!
Expat mum said…
It's some comfort that with the current financial crisis, the publishers are taking even longer to make decisions about what they want to publish. The comfort being that they have other considerations than just if your stuff is good enough! Works for me!
Sally's Chateau said…
Glasses are a pain aren't they ? mine are well overdue for replacement but as usual I am last on the list !! Someone wrote on my blog when i complained of hitting a brick wall just to write, write, write and he was right.
Zinnia Cyclamen said…
Just read your comment on mine. I know it was expected but that doesn't help much in the event, does it? Sending you big cyber-hugs. I hope the next week or so goes smoothly and that you find some comfort.
Flowerpot said…
Just read your comment on Zinnia's blog too - I'm so sorry. Being expected doesnt make it much easier to deal with. Love and thoughts and hugs from Cornwall.

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