Where Change Continues?

Giles being my office co-pilot (looking at me like I’m mad because I probably am).

It’s Monday morning, day fourteen of 2019. After an initial wobble on day one, this New Year has been pretty good for me. I don’t mean to say that the past two weeks have been completely plain sailing, because there have been a couple of health-related blips, but I’ve been feeling pretty positive aside from them.

At least until I hit this past weekend.

After ten days of being on top of my game and managing to stay in super-productive-mode, I got up very late on Friday (the eleventh). It was to be date night for my husband and I and we’d pre-booked tickets to go see Collette at Queen’s Film Theatre. We were both pretty tired and, I’ll be honest, the fact that we’d already paid was the only thing that stopped us going back to bed immediately after breakfast.

We went, we saw, we enjoyed. Then we went for dinner at a Chinese buffet restaurant where I overate and ended up in very intense pain on the walk back to the bus. I think I triggered one of my food allergies but, regardless of the cause, I was left feeling pretty rough. I went home and slept. I slept for most of Saturday, and most of Sunday, though not restfully.

Last night, I took a look at my commitments for the rest of the month and freaked out a little. Here I was with so much to do and I’d wasted a whole weekend!

One of the things I’m continually trying to fine tune is how to pace myself; to not do too much and find a balance between home and work. I wanted to make a resolution about it for the year but found that A-I already had more than enough to try and achieve by the time I wrote all my necessary tasks out and B- I couldn’t quite put my need for balance into any better words than that.

‘Do more but not too much’ isn’t a very helpful goal to try and strive toward. It’s not specific. It’s not measurable. It didn’t make it onto the list. And yet here I am, striving for it anyway. Because as much as I’ve resisted following a routine for most of my life, I’ve come to a point where I’m finally willing to admit I might need one.  Continue reading

2019 Goals (Part One)

I’ve come to the conclusion that, too often, the goals I set are unrealistic. I usually make a list of everything I want to do — everything I want to be — and that’s that, goals made. This year, however, I’ve been putting more thought into it. It’s why I’ve held off announcing my resolutions for the year before now, because I hadn’t made any firm decisions before now. I had my updated list of everything I wanted to do, same as always, but I wasn’t making a direct translation of it to my ‘to do’ list because some of what I want to do just isn’t in my power. Prime example: getting a literary agent. It’s something that I’ve been striving towards for a long time but it’s not something I can make happen completely under my own will. It’s in my power to make my novel the best it can be and it’s in my power to submit that novel to agents, but there’s absolutely no guarantee that an agent will take it. Great books get rejected every day. It’s not a failure to be one of them. Not when the odds are against you to begin with.

Alongside my ‘get an agent’ goal for the past few years has been one to join the Society of Authors, and that’s more realistic but still slightly beyond my reach. To clarify, I’m talking about associate membership here, not full membership which would require me to already have an agent and/or publisher in place. What’s holding me back, then? Well, I simply can’t justify the money for it right now. It’s not a lot, in the grand scheme of things, but when you’re struggling to pay for bread and milk (which has been the genuine reality for me a couple of times in the past year), of course I’m not going to be signing up for anything.

So, I haven’t achieved those goals. They are still goals but they’re not going on my list for this year and that’s completely okay. Their time will come.

I started 2018 with three other goals: to read 52 books, to get healthier, and to learn to drive. Driving didn’t happen for the same reason as above. It’s just too expensive for me right now. But I do have some good news to report on the other counts.

Part-way through the year I upped my reading goal from 52 books to 55 and I smashed that by completing a total of 61. I also lost a good chunk of the weight my doctors told me to shift, and I’ve been more active.

I have set my 2019 Goodreads reading challenge to 60 books and that’s the only year-long goal I’m assigning myself. What I’m going to do instead is set myself shorter-term goals that take into consideration what I already have on my plate.

The first quarter of this year will see me submitting my tax return in January, celebrating my second wedding anniversary in February, and turning thirty in March. March is also a big month for Women Aloud NI, so that’s going to be fairly busy. Plus I’m helping to put together an anthology for Belfast Writers’ Group.

Three things I want to do between now and the end of April, aside from all that: Lose another stone in weight, finish editing and uploading the backlog of Women Aloud NI videos for their YouTube channel and, the biggy, completing the first draft of my second novel.

That’s definitely enough to be getting on with!

Novel Updates/What I Wrote in 2018

It’s hard to believe (for me, at least), but it’s been months and months since I shared any real update about my novel on here.

Back in December 2017, I announced that the title of my book changed (from Ripped to Full Term), I discussed sequels (stating that I had two planned), and I shared some concept cover art I’d made.

Around the middle of 2018, I finished writing book one, had it looked over by a writing mentor, and sent off the first submissions to agents. Then (in news I have shared here previously), I was awarded funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland to help support me write book two (Life Lessons).

So that’s where I’m at right now. I’ll be submitting Full Term to yet more agents by the end of the month and will have the complete first draft of Life Lessons done by the end of April.

As for what I wrote in 2018 more generally, I have just totted up the figures and they come to a grand total of 146,000 words — the exact same number as 2017! It’s an odd little coincidence, but I’m pleased with my output across poetry, blog posts, short stories, fan fiction, and — of course — work towards my novels.

Here’s to writing in 2019!


P.S. The image in this blog post was for a NaNoWriMo Instagram Challenge in which I had to imagine which actors would play the main characters in my book. Number One is Jessica Sula as Mya, the main character in book one. Two is Malachi Kirby as Richard, secondary character in book one and main character in book two. Image three is  Brian F. O’Byrne as Kian, my villain. And image four is Ella Purnell as Zhara, secondary character in books one and two, main character in book three.

Where Change Happens

This is the difficult part, where the change is actually supposed to be made rather than just promised.

It’s just past 2pm on New Year’s Day, which would already be a late start for most people but is actually pretty early for me. Giles (my dog) woke me up at 1 to say he needed outside and I dragged myself up, went to the loo myself, checked my Facebook notifications. Then…

It’s the ‘then’ part I struggled with. I almost went back to bed. I was so incredibly tempted, because I’m oh so tired, but I hesitated. I wanted to sleep, but I also want to make the most of the couple hours of daylight. There are at least ten things, off the top of my head, that I could be doing.

It took me many minutes to summon the strength, but I got up again, got changed, started writing this blog post, by which time Giles wanted out again. So I pour some cereal and eat it while watching a few YouTube videos. I can do this, I tell myself. I can stay up and get sh*t done.

Some of the resolutions I considered assigning myself this year have been getting up relatively early, getting out for a walk, trying for some semblance of a routine where I get my housework done and then sit at my actual desk and do some writing. All of these are relatively small and achievable, especially when looked at individually, but here we are on day one of a new year and I had to have a ten-minute argument with myself about whether I could actually be bothered to start.

The important thing is, I got up.

This is me. Starting.

I’m going to come back to this blog later with (hopefully) something better offer in terms of revolutionary content but, for now, I am putting my shoes on, sorting recycling, and going for a walk.