Friday, 2 January 2015

A Year's Worth of Happy Moments


At the beginning of 2014, I read an article by Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love and The Signature of All Things. She suggested keeping a happiness jar for the year. Basically, you start with an empty jar and put into it a note of anything that makes you happy or grateful during the year. I always have a daily positive thinking calendar, so used the back of the used pages for my notes.


 
 
I was busy running a New Year's Day celebration on 1 January 2015, but was itching to open my happiness jar. There were fifty three notes in the container and an analysis shows that four categories of things make me happy - Achievement - 15, Family Time - 15, Health - 10 and Writing - 13. This is fascinating.


In my Achievement category, eight notes relate to my personal achievements, mainly to do with my swimming lessons (jumping in, swimming a length of proper breast stroke, spending time in the deep end of the pool) and writing, but one covers learning to use loom bands and another my love of selling jewellery at the school fete. The one, which will probably make you laugh, is my joy at learning the roll on method of putting on a quilt cover - almost as exciting as learning how to fold a fitted sheet!

Most of the other notes in the Achievement category relate to little son - progress and prizes at school, settling into secondary school and cooking a Victoria sandwich cake from a recipe without any help.

The final note in this group relates to the publication of Janice Preston's debut novel, Mary and the Marquis. I was so proud of her.

Family Time covers lovely holidays and days out. New Year's Day and Christmas Day celebrations. This group emphasises to me how lucky I am to have a lovely family.

The Health category covers the health of family members and myself. My joy that little son's knee cap wasn't broken after a fall at school (the casualty nurse suspected it was before the x-ray). The sigh of relief when big son's suspect mole was okay. The miracle that my hubbie didn’t suffer serious injury after a fall down fourteen tube station steps in London. My minor operation that wasn't as bad as I'd feared.
 
Considering that I nearly gave up writing in 2014, the Writing category relates solely to me. It covers my joy at completing the NaNoWriMo writing challenge to complete 50,000 words in November, the writing courses and events I've attended and enjoyed - including the RNA conference, a Sue Moorcroft course, an Alison May course. Having an uplifting Twitter conversation with the lovely Iona Grey. Finishing my novel to send to the RNA New Writers' Scheme and then a later note celebrating the positive comments on that manuscript. The amazing appearance on the charity book stall in Sainsbury’s of a book on the very subject covered by my work in progress - a clear sign I was not meant to give up writing. The encouragement and fun provided by a small group of writers in my local area who meet to beat the doubt crows.

I could go on, but don’t want to bore you. I have found the process of keeping and analysing a happiness jar, very uplifting and, needless to say, I have started one for 2015 already. I recommend the process to you.


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Thoughts

I was reading somewhere about how your family traditions anchor you in your society and culture. What traditions do you have at Christmas?


We put up our trees early in December and every bauble has a story or a memory associated with it. For example, the five glass icicles that my grandfather bought back from somewhere during the Second World War. There are more, my sister has some too. The Santa koala on a surf board that my mother bought back from Australia. The silver foil bells my eldest (now 26) made at nursery school. The glass candy cane my nan gave to me. The gorgeous baubles and wire hearts that belonged to my husband's late first wife - I think of her a lot when I'm decorating the trees, even though I never met her (she died aged 38). Numerous decorations made on creative evenings with my sons and friends. The glass balls that once graced the Christmas trees of my childhood.


As I decorate the trees, I have happy memories and tears. I remember the year our family Christmas tree was much too tall and my dad had to cut the top off to make it fit. The year the turkey my father was given was so big it sat on the fridge shelf and no one wanted to eat it. The little glitter house with Santa on the roof, which was always at the bottom of childhood trees – it had been my mother's when she was a child. My childhood concerns that because we hadn't got a chimney Santa wouldn’t visit - explained away by a book my mother found where Santa arrives in a helicopter and comes to the front door.


Childhood sacks were always put at the bottom of our beds. If we were lucky we'd wake to fantastical ice patterns on the bedroom window (no central heating of course) and pillowcases full at the bottom of the bed. We'd take them next door to my parents room to open. There was the one year my sister saw what she swore was a naked Santa - dad must have dashed in to leave our gifts! Another year, Santa was disorganised and our presents weren't at the bottom of our beds, but scattered all over my parents room and we had to guess which gifts were for me and which for my sister seven years younger - my parents must have overslept. 


My eldest son has now left home, but my little one, eleven and still, as far as we are aware, believing in the magic, will put his sack underneath the Christmas tree tonight with excitement. We always put out an alcoholic drink and a mince pie for Santa and carrots and water for the reindeer.

Merry Christmas to you all. I hope Santa brings you what you desire for Christmas. I'll settle for a peaceful family time. What would you like?

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Strange Times and Successes

I haven't posted on my blog for a while. When I last posted I was doing well with editing one of my novels using a technique of analysing the text with coloured post it notes. Shortly after that I'm not sure what happened, but the doubt crows began to circle and I also started to have a lot of headaches. So, I stopped editing and writing for a while and wondered if I would ever start again.

Having always enjoyed the November novel writing challenge NaNoWriMo, to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month, I decided to clear my mind and start something new and different. It worked! I wrote with enthusiasm and completed the 50,000 word challenge in 24 days. This novel needs work, but I have a full outline of the plot, including the ending. It felt so good to get my mojo back.

I'm back!







Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Gathering Pace

Yesterday I showed you my scene pieces from my work in progress sorted into sections. 

After that picture, I bagged the sections up, so that they didn't get moved around and I can work through each one individually. I probably should have said that the story themes and scenes are drawn from a rather scrappy mixed up first draft.

Sections Bagged up

Working on Section One, I then split the pieces into themes used the colour coding and then put the theme strands in the right order.

Section One sorted into themes
Section One themes sorted into order

The next stage will be to interleave the themes to make a coherent story. Feeling quite surprised and pleased at this stage. Back soon.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Mmm maybe this can work

I posted last week about my experiment with printing plot points from my work in progress on colour coded paper.

Initially I didn't think it had worked in the way I expected, in that, I promptly ignored the cut out paper and re-wrote my first chapter in the first person. 

However, this morning I had the urge to sort the bits into rough sections of the book. I've ended up with seven phases and the bits of paper are in random order within those sections at the moment.

Below is the state of play so far. It looks a bit better I think you will agree... I'll post again as my project progresses.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Do Not Laugh

I've decided to try a few mini blogs, as I don't seem to be getting around to blogging very often.


The photograph shows the current state of my work in progress novel. Yes, it is in bits! I'd got rather bogged down in it and decided to try a new approach. The bits of paper represent each scene in the book and give me a key to where it is located on my computer. The colours represent the character or combination of characters in the scene.

Now I just need to put it all back together again.

Wish me luck and watch this space....