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Haven't Even Planned it Yet!

Haven’t Even Planned it Yet!

One of the problems I never thought I’d have with writing was too many ideas.

When I started as an author, I had to do a free-write, and then pants-out the first draft of a novel, to have any idea of a plot or story. If I sat down to think it through, my mind went blank and ideas refused to come.

As a result, I have half a dozen unfinished novels with some potential to be good stories, albeit with a LOT of work. (Pantsing tends to result in huge plot problems unless you have a rough idea of the outcome of the story!)

Every now and then I think I should grab one of those manuscripts and give it the attention it deserves.

At the same time, though, there’s no rush like the rush of starting a brand new project. Especially now I have some vague concepts of planning and character arcs and the like. And I have ideas. Oh yes. Although mostly those ideas come in the middle of the night, or while walking the dog, or are born out of convoluted dreams. (As an aside, I’m reading Gone by Michael Grant at the moment, and boy are my dreams weird and wired!)

On top of all that – the half finished stories and the stories yet to be born – I have a dozen stories already published that need some love. The adult books need promotion and possibly revamped covers. The YA book needs a sequel or two (well, a complete rewrite from part one, actually!) and the eight children’s books need illustrations. Or an agent.

Unfinished Sequel to Moon Pony

Unfinished Sequel to Moon Pony

Recently I had some image credits to use up on iStockphoto, after doing the covers for Josie and the Unicorn and Alfie Stanton Half-Baked Hero. I dug around to see what other stories were near completion and remembered I have sequels to Moon Pony and Will on the Water that are two-thirds done.

So I did covers for those.

And another idea for a YA book has been kicking around my head recently. So I did a cover for that.

And I’d love to write a period children’s book, as I’ve really enjoyed reading Katherine Woodfine’s stories recently – set in Edwardian London – so I used my last credit on a potential image for that.

To top it all off, I had the vague idea of writing a fun book for hubbie, like I wrote Josie and the Unicorn for my niece. The kids threw in some ideas and we came up with Dad and the Dinosaurs. I wrote the first three-hundred words and ground to a halt.

Arrgghh!

That makes eight potential projects: Two NaNoWrimo projects, two Dragon Wraiths books, two half-finished children’s books, and two new ideas. And don’t even get me started on the fact that the Bridport Prize now has a category for novels with a deadline in a fortnight.

So what have I decided to do?

Sleep. Iron. Sleep. Clean. Kill dinosaurs. Sleep.

It’s two weeks to the end of term, and only two months until the children break up for the summer. If I could pick one project, it’s a good amount of time to get stuck in. But with no feedback, no direction, no deadlines or external force driving me, I’m in a quicksand of indecision.

Oh well. At least I’m on top of the ironing!

Bridport and Baby Blues

My Goodreads Giveaway

My Goodreads Giveaway

I wrote a long rambling post for the blog today about parenting, love and life, following on from a spectacularly low point on the school run this morning, that started with yelling in the traffic jam and ended up with daughter and I both in tears. But, if I’m tired of thinking about my failings as a parent then I’m sure you’re tired of reading about them. So I’m going to talk writing instead.

I finally listed a Giveaway on Goodreads this week to win a paper copy of Baby Blues and Wedding Shoes. It’s open to all the countries I can ship to easily from Amazon, so if you fancy reading it, or just like a chance at a freebie, do pop over to Goodreads and sign up, and tell your friends! 🙂

Continuing on a writing theme, I spotted a couple of my Baby Blues bookmarks in a stand at the library today in what turned out to be a rack of leaflets on the Bridport Prize. For those who don’t know, the Bridport Prize is one of the most well-known short story (plus flash fiction and poetry) competitions in the UK, with a first prize of ÂŁ5000. I think about entering every year, but I haven’t written anything shorter than 100,000 words in years. If you have, and fancy your chances, the closing date is 31st May 2014. (I can’t put any more details at present because the website doesn’t seem to be working, but this is the link).

Brittle Star Competition

Brittle Star Competition

Next to the Bridport flyer was another writing competition with a March 2014 closing date, again for short stories and poetry. This is the Brittle Star inaugural poetry and short fiction competition closing on 12th March 2014. The prizes are much more modest (ÂŁ250 per genre) but all winners will be published in Brittle Star and invited to a launch and prize giving event in London (a great chance for networking!)

Incidentally, if you want to keep up to date with UK writing competitions, I recommend visiting (and following) the Sally Jenkins – Writer blog. Sally Jenkins’ frequently lists details of writing competitions both big and small as well as lots of hints and tips and great resources. I learned about the Mslexia Children’s Novel Competition from her and, if I hadn’t, I might never have finished Dragon Wraiths. I’m very grateful!

Reach for the prize

Cover of "Notes From An Exhibition"

Every year about this time I start thinking about writing competitions. More specifically the Bridport Prize.  I did the same when I was painting. The theory goes something like this: enter prestigious competition, win competition (or get shortlisted at least) and therefore have something to talk about in query letters when trying to sell my other work.

I never do enter though, not with my writing. With the abstract paintings I used to gamble the entry fee on the rare chance someone would connect with one of my pieces: art is even more subjective than literature. Not that it ever paid off, mind you. I spent a fortune in entry fees before I accepted the truth.

With writing, though, I always talk myself out of it. The usual litany of excuses: I can’t see my brand of frothy romance getting past the first round; I don’t have the time; I’ve never really been a short story writer (I’ve probably written half a dozen since I started writing again four years ago and they were all for my university course.)

This year though I felt something different.

Determination.

For lots of reasons: I’ve just started thinking about short stories, after waking up with one in my head last week (see last entry). That one ended up in the post to Woman’s Weekly on Friday. I enjoyed writing it, but mostly – surprisingly – I enjoyed editing it. Working with a few thousand words instead of a hundred thousand meant I had the patience to think about every line, every word. Okay, mostly that was because I was cutting 800 words out to fit the Woman’s Weekly word count. But whatever the reason, I was forced to tighten up my prose and I felt pleased with the result.

So Bridport popped into my head again. Maybe this year I could read some award winning short stories, try and understand what it takes. Come up with a less frothy theme than my usual romance. Give it a go. I was further spurred on by noticing the short story judge this year is Patrick Gale, whose novel Notes from an Exhibition is one of my all-time favourite reads.

Then I noticed they’ve moved the deadline from end of June to end of May. Four weeks away. It also happens to be my husband’s 40th birthday, as well as being the week before we take our annual family trip to see the rellies in Italy.

I’ve basically got seven nursery days to sort out a birthday pressie for the man who wants nothing, buy new clothes for the kids, pack and all that jazz, plus read a hundred short stories, come up with an amazing concept, write a fantastic story and edit it until it glows.

Or I could just wait until next year…

I’ll keep you posted.

P.S In my Bridport frenzy I came across some interesting blog entries. See below, particularly the first one, which is a brilliant interview with a previous winner.

http://www.multi-story.co.uk/guestspot-archive-emmadarwin.html

http://www.jonathanpinnock.com/2010/09/the-bridport-prize/

http://teresa-stenson.blogspot.co.uk/2010/05/brief-bits-and-bridport-advice.html

http://teresa-stenson.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/bridport-prize.html