Where I Am

‘You’re the family sandwich filling at the moment,’ says my dear fellow Choc Lit author, Linda Mitchelmore, ‘between the generation either side needing your help.’ To be fair, most of the time, all that’s required is a phone call, we’re not running around all over the place yet. Our surviving parents, by no means in their dotage, have the medical problems that come with age; aches, pains and the occasional referral which gives rise to concern. Our children are shaping their careers, settling down and even having children of their own. 

It’s six years in April since I started writing Home Thoughts; pretty much unpublished, largely unread and free to let off a bit of playful steam. Lately, I’d begun to think this blog had run its course; family either side of me deserve a bit of privacy to get on with the nuts and bolts of their lives and months of grey skies, endless rain and constant cold have worn me down. Then a lovely reader left a very appreciative comment about Home Thoughts on another post which reminded me that one of the best things about writing is connecting with readers and encouraged me to renew my efforts here. Thank you, Chanpreet!

One of my aims this year has been to recapture the joy of writing. Achieving the dream of being published brings a fear of never being published again which is not exactly conducive to creativity! My head is full of future books and I’m enjoying writing Book Three, but I’d still like to overcome the inner critic who slows me down. I’ve recently reread Hilary Mantel’s Ten Rules for Writing Fiction (one of my favourite articles ever is her hilarious account of not winning prizes here) and finally got round to buying myself a copy of Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande. I can tell you that the ‘morning pages’ are hateful – absolutely the last thing I want to do the minute my eyes open is to reach for a pen and yet, and yet, I can feel something changing. I’m not sure I like the finger-wagging tone, either, but I’ll persevere. One writing book I do very much like though is Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones. One sentence in the preface always stands out for me, ‘You tell the truth,’ she says, ‘and you depict it in detail’ – such a simple and straightforward reminder of what to do.

And finally …
In other news Move Over Darling is on the list of eligible books for the Wales Book of the Year. A couple of other writing friends are there too, including my fellow Choc Lit writer, Evonne Wareham and Honno author Juliet Greenwood. I’m not exactly holding my breath to be shortlisted, ah, but wouldn’t it be nice?

Painting is 'Rain Setting In, Pembrokeshire Coast' by Tom Tomos


Thanks for the links. I'm relieved you're carrying on with Home Thoughts Weekly, I always look forward to your posts.

Good luck with the competition!
Chris Stovell said…
Wow, that was quick, Debs - thank you so much!
Jane Lovering said…
I'm another one who always likes your blog - there's something very approachable about it, unlike some I've read which seem to be all about singing the praises of the Blogger in question, or telling us how easy writing is! It's nice to know there are real, human writers out there who struggle and suffer self doubt.
Plus, the pictures are nice.
Chris Stovell said…
Aw, thanks for that, Jane (ps - if you haven't read Jane's blog it is vair funny, so do go and read it!)
Lins' lleisio said…
I'm with you on the weather wearing us down. It's been terrible and made it hard to build up any impetus at all... my poor blog is sadly neglected. I love reading your blog though. It's a little ray of much needed sunshine and definitely helps keep us connected.
Chris Stovell said…
Thanks, Lins, much appreciated and I hope things are all right with you. The weather has, as you know, been grey for months now, especially with almost no summer and it makes me feel a lot less inclined to go out. Let's hope for some spring sunshine and a chance for us all to meet up.
Brilliant post, Chris.....and not just because I'm quoted! And I admire your honesty....it is so easy to gloss over the hard bits and that doesn't help any aspiring writers looking in. When the going gets tough, the tough get going....:)
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Linda - and for being such a pal! Both much appreciated!
Fennie said…
I've always read this, right from the beginning. It's because you always manage to conjure up such wonderful picture - mainly to do with you running and being chased by dogs, or hula hopping and being chased by your neighbours or else being in a dialogue of the deaf with some of your nearest and dearest. And then there's the mice. And the boats. And the septic tank. All pretty compulsive stuff.
Thanks for the links.

Like Fennie I always read and often comment and very often feel that little jolt of connection when something in your life is going on in mine. I would certainly miss it if you chose to stop. Unlike many blogs yours has a distinctive, generally calm, always honest, often funny voice.
Chris Stovell said…
Fennie and Elizabeth - I'm addressing this to you jointly as we share that bond of The Green Duck and setting out on this journey together, so thank you both for that vote of confidence. I truly wasn't inviting readers to beg me to carry on - just thinking aloud and wondering if I was boring the pants off everyone. I've read both your blogs this week and commmented on neither in the rush to do the next thing so the fact that you've both been kind enough to stop here is another reminder that blogging is a two-way process. Many thanks to you both.
Frances said…
Chris, I was a bit worried by this post, and had prepared a comment to urge you to please continue Home Thoughts...even if they don't get posted weekly.

Then I read the prior comments, and your replies and feel greatly reassured.

I am so happy that your most recent novel is getting additional recognition, and know that I am already looking forward to reading the book that you are now working on.

You've a unique voice Chris, and we veteran readers of your blog know that voice to to true and witty and one that draws us close. Perhaps it't that familiarity that makes it even more interesting to see how you enter the minds of other characters that appear in your novels.

Keep writing, keep running...stay away from those uncontrolled bad doggies!

I very much like Tom's posted painting. It shows that grey and water and Weather can be beautiful.

sheepish said…
Also glad to hear that you are carrying on with the blog. I too have been suffering with the winter blues, yes even here in southern France we have had a wet and miserable couple of months. So bring on the spring, keep up the good work and fingers crossed for the shortlist.
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Frances, your kind words brought a few tears to my eyes! Everyone's been so encouraging, it's been lovely. Tom's very pleased you like the painting too.

Sheepish, thank you. Sorry to hear the winter blues have got you too - I hope the sleep regime is working. Here's to spring!
Pondside said…
I'm relieved to realise that you aren't going to stop blogging. All these years that I've been reading your blog (and your books!)I've often thought of how our lives parallel one another's. There's something lovely about that connection across continent and ocean.
Chanpreet said…
I'm so glad you're going forward with your blog Christine! I am beyond honored that it was my words that helped you make that decision. I'm not even sure what I said.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that you'll make the shortlist. I have every faith that you will.

We all go through up and downs, and while winter may weigh heavy, it will always be followed by spring. Perhaps taking some time for yourself and your family would be something you could do. We'll be here.
Chris Stovell said…
I feel it too, when I read your posts, Pondside, especially when we were both searching for our MoB outfits! (Round Two coming up for me in the future!). I was on the verge of stopping, but I think I just needed to take stock of where I was and how it sat with my family obligations.

Ah, Chanpreet, I was seriously thinking about calling a halt to it when you commented on my RomCon post and said you enjoyed following Home Thoughts. It was that connection that made me reconsider. I guess it's a good example of how important reader feedback can be, especially when I was feeling at a low ebb. I would be very surprised if the judges for the Wales Book of the Year were bold enough to go down the romance route - but let's see what happens and many thanks again for your very kind thoughts.
Emily said…
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