I am sharing this completely delicious picture painted by a friend of mine as I float today in a bubble of nostalgia.
I went to boarding school as a child and as anyone who has experienced this will tell you, the friendships you make at such a school are quite different from other friendships. Boarders inevitably become surrogate family. Powerful memories. Strong glue…
During my telly years, I tended to struggle to keep up all my friendships – what with two small children and five live programmes each week - but working as a freelance writer has allowed me to realign priorities and I have been meeting up with my old boarding school pals pretty much every year…for more than a decade.
This last week we all got together to celebrate the 75th anniversary of our school and one of our number Gale McGarry brought along some pictures of her latest paintings for an exhibition this coming Friday – June 21st. Wow. I always knew that Gale was a talented artist but my goodness.
And so I share the details here not as any great sales pitch and not with any great expectation that all my lovely
writer pals will have the time or funds to attend her exhibition in Odiham, England but simply because they will make you smile. (And – don’t we all need a smile.)
So three cheers for nostalgia bubbles and catching up with the people we care about.
Link to Gale’s “happy, shiny” pictures Exhibition from Fri June 21 (preview) The Frame, High Street, Odiham, England.
Oh, for goodness sake stop counting, Teresa.
Why do we writers do this? Obsess with the maths.
If I write a thousand words a day, I will have a book in so many weeks…
If I write 500 words by lunch, then divide by the paragraph I first thought of, I will be re-born as Zadie Smith….
Sometimes when I start a new book, I set myself temporarily free of all this madness. To be frank it feels both exhilarating and too daunting all at the same time. In the very early days of a MS, I simply can’t bear to check the word count as the hill ahead is too darn steep. I keep my head down into the wind and it’s only when I pass the quarter mark, that I can face it.
Then the pendulum swings entirely the other way and I become completely obsessed with the word count– checking the numbers much too often for my own ( or anyone else’s) sanity, carefully working out precisely what
percentage of the book I’ve written.
It is pure, yes - madness and I should clearly stop doing it immediately but the truth is it is an addiction. Probably just one of the many procrastination techniques I have developed to distract myself from the task in hand.
Naughty, naughty writer.
Stop doing the maths and just write, damn you.
But hang on a minute. While we have the calculator and the word count button to hand, I have just
realised something rather nice. Tap, tap. = button. Well, goodness gracious. Seems I have passed something of a milestone in my writing life. Yup. According to my sums, I have now officially sold a “book’s worth” of fiction. And if “A book’s worth” sounds a strange turn of phrase...
Oh, all right. All right. What I have actually done is sold a book’s length…but in terms of short stories. Dozens of ‘em. And while we’re pressing buttons – tap, tap, tap – according to my calculations, I have earned from short fiction more or less the sort of sum I would have earned from the advance from one of the major publishers for a first novel (that is; according to my spies. Modest first advance, please note. I am not Cecelia Ahern, more’s the pity).
Anyway. Experienced authors may smile. Even mock. But for me this is significant. For though I have earned a jolly fair living from words as a journalist for decades, I have yet to nail that elusive book deal in the fiction field –
despite having a super enthusiastic literary agent and more near misses than air traffic control.
So this word count milestone, then?
Smile you may but I reckon I might just savour it. Yes, indeedy. Makes me feel as if I am at least on the right track. Especially as an email has just pinged into my inbox confirming the sale of another 2,000-word short story to a leading mag which ups the word count and the dosh yet again. ( Pause while she taps number into calculator).
So. A “book’s worth” – ahem- of fiction sold, eh?
As a man might say to a pig…
PS If you live in Devon and fancy picking up some tips on your short story writing, do check out my next workshop. Details by clicking here : WORKSHOP JULY 20
(PPS Word count of this blog = 500+ . Sorry. Just saying)
Teresa Driscoll - journalist, author, mother of two and lover of great coffee.