Tag Archives: a writer’s life

What I’ve Been Up To

Hello! *waves*

So, it turns out that this whole parenting-writering-life thing is pretty hardcore. It eats away at your time, and before you know it whole months have gone by. Since I last saw you all back in April, I have done some or all of the following:

  • Kept self (and kid) alive and mostly happy
  • Finished an intense second draft of my second book
  • Written to hundreds of schools and libraries across Ireland and the UK
  • Begun to think about a potentially Exciting New Project
  • Led a writing workshop at the Hinterland Festival in Kells, Co Meath

I think you’ll agree, that’s quite a lot of Things!

Hinterland Name Badge

My name badge from the Hinterland Festival! Photo: SJ O’Hart

I really enjoyed the workshop at the Hinterland Festival, and I’m so grateful to the organisers for inviting me along. I led a group of hardy young explorers on a polar adventure where we learned about dogsledding, named our dogsled team, and wrote thrilling adventures on the ice – all on a swelteringly hot day! It was huge fun.

I’m also preparing for a writing workshop next week in Ballyroan Library in Dublin where I’ll be discussing Monsters, Mythical Creatures, and Heroic Tales with a bunch of brave storyfinders. We’ll be uncovering what makes monsters tick, and using our insights to write stories of courage, cunning and (perhaps?) a little magic…

My second book – about which I’ll hopefully be able to tell you more in the next few months – has officially been redrafted, and so I’m expecting edits from both sides of the Atlantic over the next few months. To save myself from chewing my fingernails to the quick while I wait, I’ve been dipping my toe (or my quill?) into a new project, about which I can tell you precisely zip. Zero. Zilch. So, let’s hope all goes well there, and I can let you all in on the secret – eventually!

Annnnd… best of all, I’ve been writing to loads of schools and school libraries across Ireland and the UK, sending out packs of signed prints, bookmarks, and whatever else I can put together. It has been the most rewarding thing to see my little gifts arriving and to know they’re on display, where they’ll hopefully foster a culture of reading among the children who see them. Thank you to every teacher and librarian who has been in touch with me – I really appreciate your interest and support! And if you’re a teacher or librarian who’d like to hear from me, do get in touch.

Next month it will be a year since The Eye of the North came out in the US and Canada, and six months since its publication in the UK and Ireland. I reckon there’ll be a giveaway in the works, so if you don’t already follow me on Twitter, now’s your chance. I’m far more likely to be talking about it over there than I am to be doing it over here, so it might be worth your while.

So, that’s all for now. I’m off to wander in dreams for a bit, to see what I can see… If our paths happen to cross, do be sure to say hello. Until next time: Never stop adventurin’!

Interview with Maz Evans, author of WHO LET THE GODS OUT

Because I love you all so very much, today’s blog post is epic – in all senses of the word. Yes, dear ones. It’s time for an Author Interview!

applause-1

Photo Credit: Lulu Höller Flickr via Compfight cc

All right, all right, calm down. So, you see, one of the many perks of being a children’s-book-writing type these days is the immense joy of meeting other children’s-book-writing types, even if it’s only online. This is how I met the fascinating and lovely subject of today’s interview, Ms Maz (Mary Alice) Evans, a woman who not only writes books, but teaches others how to do it too in a variety of fun and exciting ways using her wonderful-sounding Story Stew, and is a total hoot to boot. The first book in her new series, entitled WHO LET THE GODS OUT, is forthcoming from Chicken House in February 2017, and so I was honoured that she took the time to talk to me about the book, her writing life, and what powers she would like if she could wake up tomorrow morning as a goddess.

On with the show!

Hi, Maz, and welcome to Clockwatching… Towers! Firstly, let’s hear about your book. What’s the scoop on WHO LET THE GODS OUT?

Well now… Gods is the first a four-part comedy adventure series for middle grade. Our hero is Elliot Hooper, a 12-year-old young carer whose troubled life is thrown into further disarray when he collides with the chaotic modern-day immortal community. Accompanied by the haughty teenage Constellation, Virgo, Elliot accidentally releases Thanatos, Daemon of Death and must enlist the Olympians if he is to avert mankind’s doom…

who-let-the-gods-out-packshot

Cover image for Maz Evans’ WHO LET THE GODS OUT (Chicken House, 2017); image courtesy Maz Evans

That sounds amazing! Where did your interest in gods and mythology come from?

When I was eight, I won an award at school – the prize was a book on Greek Mythology. I was hooked. I’m not a woman of religious faith, but I could buy into polytheism – I love that there’s a go-to God for any situation. That said, eight-year-old Maz was pretty peeved that the runner-up got a massive tube of Smarties. On balance, it probably worked out better this way.

Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an author. Did you always want to write?

For me, writing self-selected because I suck at every other field of human endeavour. I am supremely untalented, but I’ve always written. My career has been rooted in journalism, taking detours through copywriting, scriptwriting and academia, before establishing my own creative writing business, Story Stew. Writing and I are like Liz Taylor and Richard Burton – we’ve always got back together eventually.

WHO LET THE GODS OUT has had a fascinating route to publication. Can you talk a bit about that?

I say in the Gods acknowledgements that it’s had more lives than a recycled cat – it’s a bit of a long story, so settle in…

I wrote the uninspiring prototype, Elliot and The Immortals, back in 2009. I’d just had my second child in 15 months and could feel my brain turning into an Annabel Karmel puree. So in the 3.7 minutes per day when both kids slept, I wrote. I sent it to the literary department of David Higham Associates (I was repped there as a scriptwriter) and waited for my enormous advance. Instead, I got a very encouraging rejection. I responded maturely – with a massive strop and writing very little for five years.

By 2014 life – and publishing – had moved on. Most of my kids were at school, I was running creative writing workshops for schools and festivals and self-publishing was now affordable. So I rewrote Gods and published 500 copies, thinking I had the rest of my life to sell them. After launching it at the Hay Festival in May, all were gone by September. So I printed 2000 more. They went by Easter 2015.

Around then, my scriptwriting agent Nicky Lund enquired if I was still alive. I told her what I’d been up to and she passed Gods to a literary colleague. The gorgeous Veronique Baxter snapped it up, sent it out… and the moment I met Barry Cunningham and Rachel Leyshon from Chicken House, I knew Gods had found its true home.

A funny little twist to the tale that I hope might give heart: Veronique – my brilliant agent… She was the same person who’d turned it down in 2009!

When writing, do you come up with characters, plot or setting first, or do they come as a package?

Who knows! I wish I had a process… For my tuppence, your plot should always evolve from your characters and they pop into my head all the time. Comedy set pieces often spring to mind – I find dialogue and comedy come quite naturally – plot structure, much less so. I find novels infinitely harder than scripts – you have to fill in all the white spaces…

You’re a mum of four (ye gods!) Do you find it tough to manage your career and your family, and do you have any tips for writing while parenting?

Absolutely not. I breeze through as a flawless parent and author – doesn’t everyone…?

HA!!!!!!!!!!

People talk about spinning plates – my life is like a Greek wedding. Every day is a mad, chaotic, shouting scramble of a disaster waiting to happen – and frequently is. I don’t find it tough – I find it nigh on impossible to find a balance. But my family and my writing are my two great loves. I have an incredibly supportive husband, I run my own business and I always have prosecco in the fridge – between those, somehow it happens. [Prosecco in the fridge is a genius move… I’m incorporating that one into my life, stat! SJOH]

What, for you, have been the best and worst parts of the publication journey? How do you stay balanced amid it all?

Firstly, I haven’t stayed balanced at all – and that has been the worst part. I was prepared for the graft – and wow, do you have to be – but the emotions… they have totally caught me out. The crippling self-doubt, the anxiety, the waiting – oh GOD, the waiting! – the uncertainty – none of this plays well with my personality.

But the best part? Everything else. I’ve always wanted to be a writer and now I am. How many people get to say that? I still can’t quite believe it myself.

If you could be a goddess, what powers would you like?

Flushing the toilet from afar. My children leave our bathroom like a Turner Prize entry. [Well, if it works for Tracey Emin… SJOH]

What’s next on your agenda, writing-wise?

I’m just finishing Book 2 – Book 3 is due later this year and Book 4 next, so that should keep me quiet. I have two adult novels I am desperate to write and a series of kids’ picture books, as well as lots of scripts that are waiting for Mummy to come back. And my tax return. Better get onto that.

Ah, yes, taxes – the eternal leveller! Thank you so much, Maz, for these great answers to some intensely nosy questions. I can’t wait to get my hands on WHO LET THE GODS OUT; it publishes on February 2nd, 2017, and it is the first in a series of four novels about Elliot and his godly chums. You can find out more about Maz and her books on her website, or her publisher’s website, and you can (and should) follow her on Twitter, too.

mary-evans-6-of-15

Mary Alice (Maz) Evans, author of WHO LET THE GODS OUT.

A Writer’s Carpetbag

Let’s imagine we have Mary Poppins’ carpetbag. It’s essentially endless, yet totally portable (and sports a snazzy, fashionable print). You can put anything you like into it, up to and including livestock – though it might be an idea not to weigh yourself down too much with excess.

We’re going to put into it all the things we need to be a writer.

Photo Credit: clothalbatross via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: clothalbatross via Compfight cc

First of all, you need a spark of something impossible. You know those perpetual motion machines that aren’t supposed to exist, in reality? Well, sometimes I think a writer’s self-belief is a bit like one of those machines. It feeds on nothing, gets no input from anywhere, is barely maintained, and yet manages to keep running. So – yes. The first thing in our writer’s carpetbag is: something impossible.

Then, you need courage. Not just the type of courage that lets you take risks, but the type that sees the value in daydreaming and the type that knows how important it is to tell stories and the type that’s not afraid to dive down into the darkest bits of life. You need the sort of courage that means when you end up in a locked room with a minotaur, you don’t go down without a fight. Put your courage in beside your impossible thing, and let them nestle together.

After that, you need enthusiasm. You need to be able to keep yourself enthused in the face of boredom, general disinterest, rejection and even downright hatred, and you need to be able to maintain your focus on what makes it all worthwhile – the words that you love. (I find getting the sort of enthusiasm that you can sprinkle is the most useful. So, sprinkle in a big generous handful over your courage and your impossible thing, and watch them sparkle).

Now, this next one is a bit hard to handle, so you’ve got to be careful. You also need sticking power, the sort of thing that keeps you plugging away even when it feels like there’s no point. You need something to stick your impossible thing, your courage and your enthusiasm together (and to keep them stuck, through everything), and which will also help you to stick yourself to your chair, your schedule, your commitment – whatever you need sticking to. You’ve got to take your time with sticking power, though, and make sure you pick it up and treat it properly, and store it correctly. It can get everywhere, sticking you to the wrong things, and it also tends to go off quickly. So, be aware of that.

You need love – of stories, of words, of books and bookselling and publishing and the whole world that revolves around writing. You need to keep this love even when it seems like things aren’t going your way. You need to never reach a point where you couldn’t be bothered to read, or take an interest in others’ success, or in developments in the world of publishing, because if you reach that point it’s hard to claw your way back. If you don’t find yourself thrilled every day by the promise of a new book to read, a new story, a new exciting tale from the world of publishing, a new success for someone, somewhere, who’s walking the same path as you, it’s time to work on building up your love again. (Note: it’s always easier not to lose it in the first place). You should place your love right at the middle of the writerly mixture we’ve been creating so far, because that’s the best place for it.

And you need patience. So much of it. You need patience as you draft, you need patience as you edit, you need patience as you submit and resubmit and resubmit, you need patience as you wait to hear back from agents, you need patience as you systematically cross names off your lists as the rejections pile up, you need patience as you focus on a new project while waiting for your inbox to ‘ping’, and you need patience as you wait for the ‘yes’ that will, with any luck, be yours. But then the need for patience really gets important. You need patience while you’re on submission. You need patience while your book deal is forming. You need patience, endless patience, when dealing with publishing at every level. You need patience, and you need not to confuse hopeful patience with hopeless dejection. Sometimes it can feel like the same thing, but it’s not. So, put your patience on top of everything else, tucking it in well at the edges, and it should serve to keep everything neat and well-contained.

And after all this? Well, you’ve got to pick up that carpetbag and bring it with you all the time. Luckily, it’ll be light and you’ll barely notice you’re carrying it – but it’s important never to forget it, because you never know just when you’re going to need it, and every scrap of what’s inside it. Carrying the bag is not a guarantee of success, of course, but one thing’s for sure: it can’t hurt.

Blooper Reel

Sometimes, I’m not surprised that people think writers are crazy.

*Klaxon* Crazed individual at work! Take appropriate caution! Image: New Old Stock, http://nos.twnsnd.co/

*Klaxon* Crazed individual at work! Take appropriate caution!
Image: New Old Stock, http://nos.twnsnd.co/

Not only do we spend all our spare time – or, in some cases, all our time time – stuck behind a desk having conversations with people who don’t exist, but we pour everything we have into these odd little encounters with the unreal. We get upset when our characters do; we feel their triumphs and their sorrows. We might be in the middle of having dinner, or watching a TV show, or a cosy chat with a loved one, when we’ll suddenly leap up, shouting something about plots, and knots, and unravelling, and we’ll have to go and find something to write on.

It’s probably a little like Archimedes, and how he felt the day he took that fateful bath.

When you’re working on a book, your brain is only ever partially present in your day-to-day life. Behind the scenes. it’s churning away at your novel, thinking out plot structures, working at textual knots, thinking about characters and whether that reaction is realistic or this conversation is too stilted – and it always picks the most inopportune moments to drop its findings into your lap.

Hey! Yo! I know you're tryin' to sleep, an' all, but this is your brain callin'! Yo! You payin' attention? Image: gratisography.com

Hey! Yo! I know you’re tryin’ to sleep, an’ all, but this is your brain callin’! Yo! You payin’ attention?
Image: gratisography.com

As well as plotting problems – you may remember my post the other day about my storyline resolving itself in the depths of the night and my patient husband’s forbearance as I disturbed his sleep to take note of it before it vanished – my writer’s brain is constantly on error-spotting duty, too. The other day, out of the blue, something struck me about the book I’m currently writing, and it was a mistake so stupid that I started to laugh.

I was in public, but nobody knew me. So, that doesn’t count. Right?

Anyway. I laughed aloud at my own silliness, and then dug out my overworked phone (if I ever happen to lose this teeny piece of technology, it will be an international crisis situation, because my entire life is on it), and made myself a short and not-so-sweet note. I reminded myself, using some quite colourful language, that this error needed to be fixed without delay and that I was a proper idiot for letting it happen in the first place.

The reason for all this? I’d written a scene earlier in the book where my protagonist has an accident and hurts her wrist, which ends up being bandaged. At that point in the story I’d even had the doctors put it in a sling, which obviously restricted her movement and left her only one hand to work with. It was all terribly sad and painful and dramatic and everything that goes with a sprained wrist in a modern hospital scenario, and that was fine. I was happy with my day’s work; I saved it, turned the computer off and went about the rest of my duties.

But the next day – in the very next chapter – I blithely re-entered my fictional world and wrote about my character tapping away on a laptop and carrying things in each hand and shuffling papers (hard to do one-handed – try it sometime), forgetting entirely about her injury.

So, I’m sure you’ll now understand my laughter, and my reasons for writing myself that terribly unflattering note. Because, of course, forgetting that you’ve injured your character, and that such injuries have consequences on them for the rest of the book, is very silly. Sadly, it’s something I do a lot.

Catching it early is important – something that can be helped by reading your work over whenever you sit down to add to it. Not the whole thing, perhaps, but the last chapter or the previous few paragraphs, just to reacquaint yourself with what’s been going on. I had neglected to do this, and so I’d managed to get a couple of chapters in, post-injury, waffling on about things that should have been impossible for my character to accomplish with one hand bound to her chest. Once it had been spotted, about twenty pages of unpicking to do – removing references to my character using her ‘hands’, adjust her clumsiness levels accordingly if she tries to do anything more complicated than hold a fork, be aware that she’s injured down one side and that if someone bumps into her, or tries to hug her, it might hurt. In the end, it wasn’t that hard to undo, and the day was saved.

But imagine the horror if I’d forgotten this detail for the rest of this draft. My heroine clambering across rocks, braving the heights of a ship’s rigging, saving her friends from fates worse than death – all without me remembering she has an injured wrist? If I’d managed to write the rest of the story while forgetting this detail, it would have been far worse. I’d either have had to remove the injury – and, therefore, lose an important scene – or rewrite every other action scene the heroine had in order to take her injury into account.

Or, of course, risk leaving the book as-was and hoping nobody else noticed – but that’s not very clever.

Luckily, however, all this has been averted. In future I think I’ll try to leave myself some more flattering notes – not ones written in all caps, full of exclamation marks and rude names – but I hope my brain will always remain on duty to remind me of these writerly slip-ups. Even if it does take a couple of days for the message to get through, it’s better late than never.

See the Gal with the Stage-Fright…

At the weekend, I gave my first public reading. Of my actual work. In front of actual people, who were not related to me. Well, one was related to me by marriage, but you know what I mean.

Image: edwardboches.com

Image: edwardboches.com

This all came about because I was asked to read at a book fair (which was extremely generous of the organisers) a few weeks ago; my instinct, when the email came through, was to run a mile in the opposite direction. Thankfully, though, my husband and other family members calmed me down and got me to see sense.

‘Take every opportunity that comes,’ they said. ‘You big eejit,’ they may have added.

After a few moments’ panicked thinking, I realised they were right.

I still felt a flutter of nerves as I replied to the organisers’ email, though, and I quivered a bit as I chose the piece I was going to read, and as I read it over and over in preparation. It was a familiar story, one of my own favourites, and one which I thought would suit the audience and occasion. I made myself as ready as I could get, and then I did my best to forget about it and stop worrying.

That worked for a while.

As the time drew nearer, the nerves grew stronger. I saw the stage, and the microphone, and the other performers and readers and how excellent they were. My little story, far from being the reasonable piece of work I’d been happy to share, started to look like a jumble of words which had no meaning. The person who read before me was animated, entertaining, eccentric and extremely memorable – and I was just a gal with stage-fright and a few sheets of stapled-together paper, blinking.

I did it, though. Nobody died. I got a small ripple of applause and some polite smiles. I only made one flub that I can remember (mixing up the word ‘eyes’ with ‘ears’, which – in the context – turned a very profound moment into a hilarious one) and I didn’t babble. In fact, I may have gone too slowly, which is definitely a first. When I get nervous I tend to suffer from verbal and mental diahorrea (apologies for the image) and I’ve been told, all through my life, to keep things slow when I’m speaking in public.

For this reading, of course, wasn’t my first public speaking engagement – I used to be a college lecturer, if you recall. So why was getting up and reading one of my own short stories – ten or fifteen minutes, max. – so much scarier than lecturing a couple of hundred college kids for nearly an hour?

Well. When you’re lecturing, the audience sort of has to be there. Not that a university takes attendance, but the students have a reason for coming to the lectures – i.e., to pass the course. The people who came to hear me read didn’t have to be there. They were coming to hear me out of kindness, or interest, or possibly because they had no other plans for those few moments. That immediately makes you feel a burden of responsibility. I owe these people a few minutes’ entertainment, you can’t help telling yourself. They’ve made the effort to come and sit here, listening to me – the least Ive got to do is make it worth their while. So, not the most relaxing way to think.

Image: theguardian.com

Image: theguardian.com

Not that my audience was anything like Statler and Waldorf, of course – they were lovely. But when you’re the one behind the microphone, your mind tends to go to funny places.

Also, when you’re lecturing, the audience has a sort of grudging respect for you, most of the time. I know I did, when I was a student – I always felt that the lecturer knew more than I did about whatever topic was under discussion, and even if they weren’t able to tie their shoelaces or put their clothes on the right way out in real life (both of these things did happen to lecturers of mine), they were still an authority figure in the lecture theatre. It cuts down on the nerves a little when you know that the people listening to you are going to assume you’re worth listening to; it makes you believe it, too.

And, finally, there’s a huge difference in performing a lecture – even when it’s something you wrote and sweated over and rehearsed, and into which you really worked to include anecdotes and interesting details and attention-grabbing facts – and in reading a story which came from your heart. A lecture tells the listeners about the stuff you love; a story tells your audience who you are.

Anyway. I stood up there, and I gave it all my might. I made my husband proud, and that’s enough for me. I did accents for my various characters (or tried to, at least); I put some effort into making my fictional people sound different, and unique, and real. Reading the story aloud gave me a new appreciation for it, and that in itself made the whole thing worthwhile.

And the organisers have asked me back to read next year, so I can’t have been that bad.

Nothin’ to See Here…

So, it’s that time of year again. That pink, beribboned, heart-shaped balloon, teddy-bears-’round-every-corner time of year.

Ain’t nothin’ wrong with showing your loved ones how much you appreciate them. Don’t get me wrong. But I shudder to think how many people only say ‘I love you’ to someone else on this one day of the year.

Image: profmuluka.com

Image: profmuluka.com

I love to love people. I think love is the most important thing in the world. I love everyone I meet, just a little bit (well, all right. Some more than others.) I love to tell my friends and family that I love them, and – even though it can sometimes be scary – I have found that taking the risk to tell someone they’re loved is, in most cases, worth it. You don’t always get the love back – and you have to accept that – but you nearly always make someone else’s life a little easier.

It doesn’t have to be about grand gestures, or gifts. It doesn’t have to involve spending money at all, in fact. Love’s in the unasked-for cup of tea that you hand to someone when they look like they need it, or the favour done to the best of your ability, or the chore completed without any fuss because you know your loved one hates to do it. It’s in the quiet time, sitting side by side just enjoying being together. It’s in the long walks and the warm conversation; it’s in the moment when you pay someone a visit; it’s in the phonecall or text message when someone you know is going through a hard time. It’s the hand in yours when the world seems dark. It’s the playing along with a child when they want to bring you into their imagination. It’s the hug, or the gentle touch, or the smile just when it’s needed; it’s the switching off of your own thoughts to listen closely to what another person is saying. It’s the hearing of another, and the validation that their words are important. It’s the gentle attempt to understand, and the respectful acceptance of another person, and the assurance that yes, I am here – no matter what.

I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day, mainly because I believe every day should be Valentine’s Day. We should remember to love above all else every day of the year, and remember that love takes many forms. Most especially, we should remember every day never to take all the love we’re lucky to have in our lives for granted.

So, I’m not wishing you a happy Valentine’s Day. Have a happy, love-filled day. Then, go and have another tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that…

**

This Friday, for the Flash! Friday challenge, our compulsory element was ‘Patience’, and our prompt image was this:

Kolmanskop, in the Namib Desert. Image: lovethesepics.com

Kolmanskop, in the Namib Desert.
Image: lovethesepics.com

So, in honour of it being Valentine’s Day, I wrote a story about death. As you do.

Deathtrap

Every breath boiled. Sweat trickled down my spine. The trail was clear, her deep footsteps beckoning. Their darkness calling to mine.

Soon, it would be over.

A tumbledown house swam into view. Sun-bleached, half-rotted, its front door stood open. Paint peeled off its walls.

I paused, breathing hard.

Then, I ducked inside.

In a dim room, half-filled with sand, she waited. Her body bore my scars. I settled my hand around my gun, and my skin prickled.

‘So. Death comes, even for one like me.’ Sand, gritty and sharp, began to whirl like multitudes of tiny knives as she spoke. I spat and blinked it out. ‘Each grain is a life,’ she hissed. ‘A life you took. A life you touched. A life you destroyed!’

‘Not my problem.’ I fired.

But my bullet became a desert wind, and my gun crumbled to dust.

‘I have waited so long for you,’ she smiled, as I shattered, sparkling, at her feet.

**

I’m off to batten down the hatches – another storm is predicted to roll in off the Atlantic today, and I want to try to be ready for it – and to get through my words. I am rewriting one book while trying to do a final, final draft on another, and planning out my strategy for submissions, and trying to keep everything straight in my head, and it’s not easy.

But I love it.

Of course.

Image: catziac.wordpress.com

Image: catziac.wordpress.com

 

The Coldness of the Mind

Last night, I had a dream in which the whole world was iced over. I looked out my front door and a creeping, crackling pattern, like grasping pale fingers, was coming right for me. It had spread its way across the green, where there were no children playing, and made me feel like an ant crawling across the face of an iceberg. I slammed the front door shut, but I knew it was only a matter of time before the grey-blue ice, hard as steel, wormed its way in around the hinges and through any gap it could find.

It wasn’t a pleasant dream.

I’ve been thinking about ice a lot lately (due, of course, to the setting of ‘Emmeline’), and that’s probably why my mind went to a cold, dark place when I was lost in dreams. It’s an unfortunate coincidence that ice – at least, the sort of ice we get here, the dark insidious kind, the kind which no footwear can outsmart – is one of my biggest fears. This winter, however, my little island has been battered by Atlantic storms instead of Arctic vortexes, which is equally dreadful; most of the south of Ireland is underwater at the moment.

Flooding on Wandesford Quay in Cork City. Photo by Darragh McSweeney. Image sourced: rte.ie

Flooding on Wandesford Quay in Cork City. Photo by Darragh McSweeney.
Image sourced: rte.ie

So many people have lost everything – businesses, homes, property – and so many of them can’t purchase insurance, due to where they live being prone to flooding. Sometimes I don’t understand the world. Surely people who live in places like that need more help, rather than less?

Am I the crazy one? Wait – don’t answer that.

I have been out of sorts this week. My head is distracted, my thoughts are ragged, my energy levels are through the floor. ‘Emmeline’ is sitting beside me, not-so-neatly printed and annotated, from last week’s editing sessions; I have three or four small changes to make before I’ll be ready to leave it to percolate for a while. Then, once I’ve checked it again post-percolation, it will be ready to send out into the world. I hope to get to those final edits today, and then it’ll be on to the next thing.

Oh, and I may not have mentioned this before, but – last week on Twitter I noticed an author excitedly promoting their newly published book which not only had the same title as one I had been planning, but took as its central plot motif something which I had come up with in the middle of last year, and which I was quite excited about. This, surely, has to be something nobody’s ever thought of before, I told myself at the time. This is interesting and unusual and could turn out to be something great! Little did I know that the other author was probably doing their final edits on their book at that stage. So, that was another of those bittersweet moments where you realise you’re having good ideas, but just not quickly enough. Of course I’ll be interested to read this other book when it’s published, and I wish its author well. However, I really hope this ‘idea duplication’ thing stops happening to me, one of these years.

Anyway. My mind feels gripped with a cold hand this week. I hope it relaxes its hold soon, because I have a lot of work to get to. I have another idea I want to flesh out, and I want to revisit ‘Eldritch’ and try to do a rewrite, and I need to start picking up with my submissions to competitions and magazines, because I’ve completely let that slide over the past few months.

I think I need a calendar, and an action plan, and someone to tell me to pace myself… Or maybe just a holiday.

Dragon boat racing in Hong Kong - rowing to the beat of a drum sounds like just the ticket! Image: dailymail.co.uk

Dragon boat racing in Hong Kong – rowing to the beat of a drum sounds like just the ticket!
Image: dailymail.co.uk

Have a good Thursday, one and all.