Battening Down the Hatches

You can always tell an Irish person by the fact that they’re obsessed with talking about the weather. I’m afraid to do a search on this blog to find out how many times I’ve mentioned it so far; I’d probably break the internet if I tried it, so I won’t.

This being said, I have to mention the weather today. It’s atrocious.

Sort of like this, except not as well dressed.Image:

Sort of like this, except not as well dressed.

There’s wind. There’s rain. There’s freezing coldness in abundance. At least there’s no snow this week (at least, not where I live), for which I give grateful thanks to whatever deity/ies may be listening.

This would all be fine, of course, if the weather wasn’t supposed to look like this:



It’s depressing to look out the window and see grey, rain-lashed, puddle-dashed concrete when what you want to see is a hillside full of nodding daffodils. My everyday life is soundtracked by sneezing, nose-clearing, voices thickened by sore throats, and people complaining (I’m not excluding myself from this list), and I really can’t wait for the weather to lift, the sun to come out and a little bit of warmth to soak into my sodden country. Irish people are a whole different race when they’ve had a bit of sunshine. We can be troll-like in wet, cold weather, but in the sunshine we turn magically into poets, raconteurs and professional comedians.


In writing news, I’ve been making good on my promises to keep submitting work for publication. This week, I’ve submitted work to one competition, and submitted two more pieces to literary magazines. I’m still pinching myself at the thought that over the next few weeks, three of my stories will be seeing the light of day in three separate magazines. It’s a feeling I’m not sure words can adequately describe. An added benefit is that with every small success, submitting work to new places gets easier and easier – you feel better about yourself when you can say in your covering email that ‘My work has appeared in X Magazine, Y Magazine and Z Magazine’. It makes you a better prospect for a new publisher if you’ve been published elsewhere, and it also makes you feel like less of a spoofer and more of a professional (albeit an unpaid one).

That’s not to say it’s an easy thing to do, this submitting pieces of your heart to the cold scrutiny of an Editor. In fact, it’s been one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. And it’s only when I started talking about it here, and on Twitter, that I realised how many other people struggle with it, too. Other writers, many of whom I deeply admire and whose talent leaves me in the shade, find it hard to summon up the courage to submit their work to journals, periodicals and magazines. I hope that my efforts will encourage them, just as their efforts may encourage me in the future. The writing karma-wheel spins on.

In April, I’m planning to get back into ‘Eldritch’. It’s been so long since I’ve mentioned it that I’ll forgive you if you’ve forgotten all about it. I’ve had a break from it for long enough now to come back to it with fresh eyes, and I’d love to get it edited, trimmed, tidied-up, scrubbed and tied in a bow, and flung around to agents and publishers before the end of April. I think having a small clutch of publications in my sweaty, hopeful fist will look good when I try to find a home for my precious little novel, so the work I’ve put in all during March won’t have gone to waste. At least, that’s what I’m telling myself.

It can be hard to keep going at times, and occasionally the inspiration/motivation engine will burn low. Finding out that a story you’ve loved, sweated over, tweaked and fiddled with until it’s nearly driven you cross-eyed has been selected for publication is like having a shovelful of coal thrown into your writing furnace, and it’s a very welcome boost. The only problem is, those shovelfuls of coal can be rare and unexpected, so it’s hard to rely on them to keep you stringing one word behind another. Then, I guess the beginning stages of any writing career are like the rainy, cold, unwelcoming weather we’re having at the moment – hard to put up with, depressing to live through, but a necessary precursor to the sunnier days that will follow.

If I can believe that sunnier days are on the way, I’m certain I can believe that things will – one day – turn up golden for my words, too.

Happy Friday, all. Stay warm, stay well, stay writing!


10 thoughts on “Battening Down the Hatches

  1. Kate Curtis

    Everyone gets troll-like when the weather is blah. As the weather turns here I feel myself trolling-up. I can handle the awful weather, it’s the loss of light and getting home in the dark I hate the most. At least it’s good writing weather.

    On that note, I’m glad you’re travelling along well with your writing, that is definitely something to smile about! 😀

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Ha! Well, I’m struggling with the conclusion to yet another piece of flash fiction right now. Typical.

      I wish I could channel the late, great Magnus Magnusson. ‘I’ve started, so I’ll finish’. Easier said than bloody well done, Magnus baby. 🙂

  2. anna3101

    Oh, the weather! I’m so with you on this! And we don’t really ask for much – just a bit of sun and a bit of warmness 😦 I’m afraid that what will happen is that winter will turn into summer one day, without any spring. And I would hate to see that – I love the spring so much!

    Good news about the competitions and the submissions 🙂 I would like to see you get a famous writer someday. This will have three major benefits for me:

    1. I will be able to earn money by giving interviews to magazines about those long-gone days when SJ O’Hart was just beginning her career and I was her blog follower;
    2. It will give me one more reason to believe my tastes and judgements are impeccable (which they are – of course!);
    3. And it will allow me to finally read your books – normal books, not just short extracts.

    So go go go! And hurry up – I’m 30 already, and you need to get famous in not more than 30 years because I will probably have eyesight problems later on.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author


      Quick! Must write! Need to get famous before Ania’s sight fails!

      I hope I’ll be able to point you towards my first novel long before you lose any of your faculties. Until then, though, stay indoors and keep warm and pray for spring to come! 🙂

  3. Maurice A. Barry

    Take some comfort in the fact that the rotten weather deprives you of an excuse not to write. There’s nothing else to do! Same here, by the way–freezing rain, my favourite.

    1. SJ O'Hart Post author

      Pshaw. Like I need a reason to write. 😉

      The only possible excuse not to write at the moment is the fact that my head feels like a helium balloon bouncing gently off the ceiling, and my eyes feel like they’re facing in opposite directions. Also, my throat scratches and my nose… well, the less said about that, the better. But, never fear. I Shall Overcome.

      1. SJ O'Hart Post author

        I’d have to travel with a leper bell around my neck! 😀 I’m going to stay put and take some paracetamol, and hope for the best. But thank you. I’ll be seeing some old friends at the weekend, and I can’t wait.

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