Chain Letters and New Beginnings

This Week, I’m…

Working to keep my mum well. I’ve assured a young friend she’ll be live and kicking in 20 days’ time. Why? My teenage chum sent me a text promising dire consequences (my mother’s death) if I broke the chain.

Ah, the chain letter! It’s enough to send you hurtling back to the 80s and those letters that did the rounds. I got a few of them. In those days, they were actual letters and much harder to pass on. You had to copy them out a few times. They focused on good luck—send this to 20 friends and you’ll come into money, marry a handsome stranger, etc. The bad luck wasn’t stated implicitly, but implied.

Now, it’s much easier to copy and paste a text or email of forty words that warn of terrible misfortune. And how kind of people to prey on the vulnerable and fragile among us, such as my poor wee friend.

The text promised me my mum’s death was imminent—giving me a woman’s name to Google as it happened to her. Must be true if the internet tells me so, hmm?

So, after sending my friend a text begging her not to believe this awful s**t, I’ve told her I’ll message her on May 7, confirming the continued good health of the wonderful woman who granted me life.*

There’s a story in there somewhere…

Starting a new job on Thursday. I’ll be working part-time for a project based at Glasgow University looking at better ways public sector services can work together. My role is to help the existing communications administrator.

I’m delighted as this gives me the best of both worlds. Freelancing is terrific and I love the freedom (the clue’s in the name) it gives me, but the money isn’t regular or great. It’ll also satisfy my need to do something worthwhile. I’m not going to change the way public sector services work, but at least I’ll write about some ways they can!

 

*A bold promise, but the odds are with me.

Writer’s Block or Sheer Laziness – You Decide…

None of this is getting words written hmm?

None of this is getting words written hmm?

It appears, dear readers, that my declaration of triumph over the war on words (my battle to keep stacking those numbers up) was over confidence on my part. Misplaced optimism, I’m afraid.

Here I sit, in front of my laptop merrily emailing friends (in great detail; those poor souls surely thought there couldn’t possibly be 2,000 words to describe a lamb recipe I tried out recently), re-organising my folders and files – the joy of re-naming! – and reverting to previously noted tactic of finding long and complex recipes to try out.

In addition, the sun has shone its heart out in my part of the world this week. We have experienced temperatures in the mid-20s. The cat has collapsed in a soporific state in the coolest part of the house he can find and I count the hours, well minutes, until I can justifiably say to myself: “I’ve been on the flippin’ lap top for AGES. It’s time to remember all those important Primal Blueprint rules about getting out in the daylight and soaking up Vitamin D. My health demands it!”

Two hours of sunbathing per day. Sometimes I read, sometimes I daydream, sometimes I snooze.

In short, I have procrastinated, deliberated, added in countless other jobs and twiddled my thumbs rather than write a book. To be fair to myself, I have also applied for several freelancing jobs. Heck, I’ve even done a few of them and been PAID, which is always a bonus in the freelancing world.

I also – very important task – tutored Mama Highheelsandpinkglitter on the use of Windows 8. She now knows how to switch her laptop off.

But, but, but… There’s a book waiting to be finished. There’s a bottle of champagne chilling nicely. There’s even a, gulp, writing competition to enter (deadline 20 September). Time to kick procrastination back into touch.

The Sun-kissed Freelancer

This sunbathing station was not set up until at least 1,000 words had been written, oh no it wasn't...

This sunbathing station was not set up until at least 1,000 words had been written, oh no it wasn’t…

Ah, the sunny day is the enemy of the writer hmm? We who are already experts in the art of procrastination gird our loins, set up our laptops in the far corner of the room, hidden away from any hint of sparkling and enticing sunshine outside and buckle down…

Still, beats working in an office though! So here I am trying to carve out my living as a freelance writer and keep myself in wine and cat food*. There are kind souls who have contacted me and offered me their advice a la blogging tips to make money, so thank you the two Joe’s (Warnimont and Seeber), Glenn and the Daily Phil; I do find your newsletters most useful.

Then there are the freelance sites, elance and People Per Hour where I can flog my services to the whole wide world. “Yes, yes, I promise I can write about almost anything, I’ll make it original, it will pass Copyscape no problemo and, thanks to my skills with key words and SEO techniques, three trillion people will find your business as a result of my words!”

(And of course buy whatever you are flogging…)

Blimey, selling yourself is hard work though and occasionally dispiriting especially when hirers post jobs where they will pay you $2 or less for 500-word articles… (Seriously).

Having written some 50,000 words of my own book – a fantasy adventure aimed at young adults – I dilly dally with tidying up those pages most days. I had got a bit stuck; two-thirds of the way through and I had bored myself, I hated my characters and I wished them out of my head for ever. “You lousy lot,” I muttered to myself, “stop bothering me with your foolish adventures and your lacklustre dialogue!”

Then I found myself a writing buddy – a gent with far more experience than I who has written books and screenplays before and we began exchanging emails about the writing process and even – gulp! – swapping chapters. I challenged him to write a synopsis for the remaining part of his book and then thought I had better take my own advice and write one myself.

Off I went and researched the narrative arc, investigated the seven plots and looked into characterisation. Et voila, a synopsis was born. I swapped it with my writing buddy. He made an extremely good suggestion and pointed out where the story didn’t exactly work. I gave it to my mum. She was kind and constructive, as the best mums should be.

So, I now have the complete story in my head and on paper. Better keep writing hmm?

And now for a little interaction… I’d love to hear from you if you have any tips on writing a book and what forces you to keep going when motivation is lacking?

 

*Reader, fear not. Life has not deteriorated to the level where Whiskas whets my appetite on a daily basis. It’s just that as well as myself and husband, we do have one greedy cat to feed.