Friday, 22 October 2010

Bloody housework, and other things which overwhelm me!

My ironing corner, a permanent fixture in the lounge, and piles of clothes that get strewn all over when kids hunt for school socks etc.  Aaaargh! 
Messy, overflowing bookcase :-(
Sorry about that. No news from me for ages, and then I suddenly reappear swearing about housework.  I just had to say it though.  Housework is the BANE of my life.  I'm not totally sure what a bane is, but my mother uses this expression frequently, so so shall I.

My house, over the past few weeks, has been a complete tip and I have had no motivation or inclination to do anything about it.  If I was a person who could work in the middle of a big mess, this would be fine, but I'm not.  My messy brain needs and ordered environment around it in order to function correctly.  Strange but true. This isn't an unusual state of affairs for me to find myself in. It always happens, repeatedly, over and over.

It's not only with housework either.  I find that I get very easily overwhelmed when faced with a lot to do.  My tendency is to bury my head in the sand and hope it all goes away.  There are other people like me out there, I know, because I meet them from time to time and we commiserate with one another, never moving any closer to actually cracking the problem.

Yesterday however, I had a long phone conversation with a friend of mine.  A writer and broadcaster who is also a real go-getter believe it or not, she was sitting on her sofa feeling totally overfaced by the mountain of things she had to do, none of it anything she actually wanted to do, and was phoning people up instead of actually doing anything. We had a very liberating chat, in which we admitted we were OVERWHELMED.  At the end, we both agreed that we would each do 30 minutes housework.  Not too much to be daunting, but long enough to get something actually achieved. It really didn't seem as bad when I knew someone else was going to be suffering along with me. Here's what I did in my 30 minutes (it actually took 42 - I Mr Sheened the bookcase and cleaned the window too):

Tidied bookcase! Hooray!
Tidied ironing corner! And a new rule - I put the ironing board away when I've finished using it. 
Weird how doing this has made me feel empowered.  Having a clean, tidy house always does.  Not that the rest of it is clean and tidy, but I've decided that if I can make a difference like this with a 30 min slot every day, I might actually get there one day, who knows!

Apologies for this unromantic post folks, by the way.  The next one will be better, I promise - it's high time I reported back on my hot date with my husband, after all!!

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Today's New Voices Announcement

If I'm not careful, I could get all worked up and jittery about today's impending announcement.

For anyone who doesn't know, the Mills and Boon editors will later be making public a list of those New Voices contest entrants whose work shows promise, and who they'll be contacting once the competition is over. Which is quite a biggie really, especially for an aspiring romance writer who would so love to have just a hint from HQ that her work shows a spark of something they quite like. 

If I let myself, as a daydreaming romantic fiction writer might, I could start imagining how fantastic it would feel to have that kind of affirmation of my work, and start dancing round the room, thinking: Will it be me? Will it be me? And then as doubt and panic set in, it could change to: Wail! This is my last chance!  Wail! Today I might find out for certain that they didn't like me!

If I sound like I'm speaking from experience, well I admit, I have been there quite a bit this morning, and am having to fight not to let it start over again.  But fortunately for me, my attention is also focused on quite a few other things. In no particular order, here are just a few of my current preoccupations:

1. I have an interview to write up - with a celebrity chef I was lucky enough to meet this summer - about his DOGS, and I'm going to pitch it to a doggy mag, whoo hoo! A bit daunting, as I've never done a celeb piece before, but exciting too!
2. I have a dilemma to ponder: what the HELL am I going to write for NaNoWriMo? Will it be another historical romance? Will it be "that idea" for a more arty novel I've had hanging around for ages? Will it be something else completely? HELP! What shall I write?
3. I have something to look forward to -  I am going on a HOT DATE with my husband on Saturday night, (see last post for events leading up to this). I've just booked a table for two at The Blue Bicycle in York, a restaurant which used to be ... wait for it ... a 19th century brothel!  They have booths made from beds!

Going on a date with my husband here on Saturday night
Look! Booths made from beds!
4. I have a project I'm loving - I'm actually very excited about submitting my re-write of Ch1, along with another 2 chapters and a synopsis to Mills and Boon. I now know more than I did before about what makes the editors tick, so my chances are better, and I'm enjoying the writing big time.

My original New Voices entry  ... There are some things I really like about it, and some things I don't, and it may or may not show to the editors some spark of what I could eventually be capable of. But for now, I have other things to concentrate on, more projects than I've mentioned above, and it's just as well because the essential is to keep on writing, keep on sending work out and having new exciting plans and aims.

I'm still looking forward to some hovering round the New Voices site later on this afternoon though, and even partaking in a bit of manic page refreshing. I just feel a lot better now my eggs are spread over a few baskets so to speak. And  I really am excited about Saturday night!

What are you up to right now? Anyone else got other irons in the fire, or projects underway?

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Writing Romance can be Revealing ...

I never expected writing a Mills and Boon romance to be a journey of self discovery. I expected it to be lots of things: fun, exciting, time consuming and yes, I'm going to admit it, quite easy (rolls on floor laughing hysterically). But I didn't think it was going to be an experience that taught me something startling about myself. That came as a surprise. 

One of the big misconceptions people have about category romance is that it's a "light read" and therefore it doesn't go that deep. In fact deep is exactly where it does go, right to the heart of what the characters are thinking and feeling. To know a character's innermost thoughts, the writer must know exactly who that character is and what makes them tick. And in order to do that, it goes without saying really that the writer must be a thinking, feeling person themselves, who is probably quite in touch with their own emotions.  

Over the past week, while I've been fleshing out the characters of my hero and heroine, Gauis and Samhaira, I realised I'd shied away from going into their adult emotional make-up. Samhaira was a little girl thoughout the piece of writing I'd done so far, so any feelings the hero and heroine had for each other in the beginning stages were tender, rather than romantic in nature. Getting them past that stage has been a real stumbling block for me, but finally, I've done it. I now know why they are attracted to one another as adults and how intense and all-consuming those feelings of attraction and love actually are.

Getting it all worked out took me on a real journey, right back in time to the occasions I've had similar feelings, and even back into my teenage daydreams where I always fell in love with what I imagined the boy to be like, not what he actually was like! Some of that imagined ideal man, I' ve put into Gaius, and I make no apologies for it. Romantic fiction is not real life, and nor is it supposed to be.  But isn't it funny how over the course of real life, along with all its difficulties and disappointments you can bury some of your hopes and dreams as you go, and stop daring to even aspire to having a romantic relationship. My own relationship, like most people's, I suspect, has not always been an easy one. Mostly it has been damned hard work, and sometimes there has been disappointment and heartbreak.

Yet we love one another, and we are together, and before creating my characters this week, I admit I had no idea at all how unromantic I have become. In fact, I think I am the most unromantic person I know. I wonder if my husband's noticed? Maybe I should book us a table at a candlelit restaurant this weekend? What do you think? I think we'll give "talking about feelings" a miss, but a special restaurant might be a start ...

Wish me luck!