‘Are you a published author?’

Yesterday, I was asked a question that I have never been directly asked before:

“Are you a published author?”

At first I stared at the woman blankly. She was serving me at the Post Office counter and the item I was sending was a potential magazine submission. Reading the address she had obviously put two and two together and worked out that I was a writer. The ‘published’ bit, however, was what threw me and it took me a few seconds to work out how to respond.

When I started out on this journey almost four years ago, I figured that to be a ‘published author’, you had to have a bestselling novel flying off the shelves. I have, thankfully, been disabused of this notion for almost all of those four years, but my first thought when asked that question yesterday was still – “erm..not sure – my novel is still not out there.” Then, I remembered something.

stock images

stock images via freedigitalphotos.net

Proudly displayed on my office wall I have a certificate from The Writers Bureau which tells me that I am a ‘published writer’. This is only awarded once you have been published and remunerated for your work (subject to certain criteria) and so, the answer to the question at the top of this post was in actual fact:

“Yes. I am.”

It felt surreal to say those words and, for the duration of my walk home, I kept expecting the writing police to jump out from behind a bush and castigate me for claiming to be something that I wasn’t. Thankfully they didn’t.

What a feeling though. Actually being able to tell a complete stranger that ‘yes, I am a published author.’ Wow.

I don’t think that I will ever forget that moment.

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My 5k journey

I mentioned, in my first post back, that I was training to do a 5k run. This resulted in a few new followers to my blog (thank you) and so I thought it might be good to catalogue my 5k journey.

Every day plus

Image courtesy of everyday plus via freedigitalphotos.net

Having signed up for the 5k version of the Great South Run, I took advantage of the training tool on their website and generated a personalised training plan. Although the run does not take place until October, I didn’t specify a date for completion of the plan as I am hoping to be ready sooner than that. I would like, ideally, to have at least one or two 5k runs under my belt before then and be well on my way to 10k (ha ha!). Anyhow, this means that my current training plan finishes at the end of June.

The first week consisted of run/walk sessions ranging from ten to fifteen minutes. Although everything creaked and groaned, the fact that I have previously trained – albeit in the dim and distant past – stood me in good stead and I was able to increase the running sections relatively quickly.

I am now into week three and have just completed my second ‘full’ running session. The first was for ten minutes and the second for fifteen. I would like to say that I enjoyed them but I have yet to get to that point, however, I did manage to complete them both. From hereon in there is no more walking and the sessions will continue to increase until I reach thirty minutes maximum. Credit to the plan though, the long sessions are interspersed with shorter ones so I am hopeful that I will be able to complete it without too much difficulty.

imagerymajestic via freedigitalphotos.net

I might be needing one of these soon! (Image courtesy of imagery majestic via freedigitalphotos.net)

Next session is fifteen minutes running, the one after that ten minutes and the one after that, twenty minutes. Twenty minutes sounds kind of serious to me so I’ll report back after that one!

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What would you do for your art?

I have, for the purposes of pure escapism and sunshine, recently been watching the popular Australian soap opera Neighbours. For those who don’t know or frankly don’t care, the current storyline involves an explosion at the one and only hotel which has left two of the key characters dead. In an episode a couple of days ago, the funeral service for the youngest victim (a beloved young man in his prime) took place. It was an open casket service, requiring the actor (who I know is not actually dead), to lie in the coffin. For some reason this morning, that scene replayed in my mind and I started thinking, would I actually lie in a coffin even if I was being paid to?

Victor Habbick

No thanks! (Victor Habbick via freedigitalphotos.net)

The answer was no. I couldn’t possibly think of any sum of money that would make me do that – the thought of lying in a coffin just freaks me out – however the actor (as many actors before) was required to do just that. This then led me to the question, what would I do for my art?

As a writer, I guess I am fairly safe. I can portray funeral scenes and open casket services without actually having to partake in them. I can create the most awful of scenarios without living through them and I can marry the most unsuitable of partners, without ever actually meeting them. But wait. Can I?

Surely we can only portray our characters with accuracy if we understand their situation? If we have walked in their shoes?

Helpful tips and advice on a yellow office note

General writing advice suggests that we should ‘write what we know’, yet my mind is far too inquisitive to be that limited. To be the best writer that I can I want to learn everything that I can. I want to explore areas that I would never have dreamt of exploring before I became a writer. This means that I must commit myself wholeheartedly to my art – whatever that may entail – and actually, making that commitment is kind of liberating (if a little scary).

Would I though, lie in a coffin?

To commit to my work, I might just have to say ‘never say never’, but, as the author, there is always a simple solution.

Don’t kill off any characters.

What about you? What would you do (or not do) for your art?

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Who’d want me as their Mum?

Yesterday I received a text message from my son, only I didn’t realise it was from my son until a full ten minutes later – largely because I was busy, my phone was over the other side of the room and I was challenging myself to see how long I could ignore it.

When I admitted defeat and retrieved my phone, this is what the message said:

Can u bring in hw (homework) i stupidly forgot on desk ict folder and maths shape meet u in reception sorry thanks

Aside from my instant desire to correct every grammar and punctuation error, three thoughts went flashing through my head:

  1. No way. I told you I was not going to bring your homework in ever again. You have forgotten it – take the consequences.
  2. Ah, the sun is shining, I’m in a good mood and he did say sorry – can I be that mean?
  3. Crikey. He sent that ten minutes ago which means I have less than five minutes to get it there before the end of break.

Now, I don’t know about anyone else but when I am working from home, I dress for comfort. Comfort (because I am still a long way off a svelte 5k runner’s physique) generally means jogging trousers, oversized t-shirt and brightly patterned socks. I figure that my husband married me for better or worse, the postman sees people wearing a lot less and if there’s a fire, all I’ll be concerned about is grabbing the cat. Having to take my son’s homework into school (ie. being seen out in public) does not usually come into the equation.

nenetus

Courtesy of nenetus via freedigitalphotos.net

In the few moments that I had to get out of the door I decided that I could make my appearance somewhat acceptable by wearing my running trainers. That way I could be mistaken for one of those ever fit parents who had just finished an energetic workout. The only problem with this theory was that my running trainers were in the washing machine (courtesy of my ‘plod’ yesterday along a muddy path). That left me with dress shoes or, what can only be described as unisex, utilitarian clodhopper boots (walking boots if you want to be technical). With no other choice I donned the boots and prayed that my son had enough common sense to wait at the school gate – that way my foray into the public world would be limited and unlikely to be witnessed. What I swiftly remembered, however, as I pulled up to the school gate was that one thing my son lacks in abundance, is common sense. Of course he was not standing at the school gate. There was nothing for it but to walk into the reception area and leave his homework there.

Holding my head high I made the journey, all the while pretending that I was proud of how I looked. After all, doesn’t every mother wear clodhopper boots, grey jogging trousers and a bright blue t-shirt that proclaims the last (and only) 5k race she has ever run? And doesn’t everyone leave their hair to dry naturally in an odd, last been tamed two months ago, style?

Stuart Miles 6

via Stuart Miles @ freedigitalphotos.net

Upon returning home I took stock of my situation. Having realised a long time ago that I was never going to be a trendy Mum I began to wonder, now that my eldest son is a teenager, if I ought to be representing him in a more socially acceptable manner?

I considered this for a full five minutes (?) and then decided that despite my appearance, a Mum is generally uncool at this age regardless. What was the point, I argued, in getting out of bed earlier to actually dry my hair, just in case he happened to forget his homework again?

Needless to say that today sees me wearing the same ‘comfortable’ attire – there is, however, a slight difference. I am no longer challenging myself to leave my phone if it beeps. The second a message arrives I am onto it. After all, as I did discover yesterday, five minutes to get from here to acceptable public persona is just not quite long enough!

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I’ll do it tomorrow…

It’s been a very long time since I’ve been here – 7 months according to my stats – which I must admit was never the plan. Unfortunately, in many respects, I am one of life’s procrastinators and am fond of saying that I will do things tomorrow – yet we all know that tomorrow never comes.

debspoons

debspoons via freedigitalphotos.net

The only area in my life about which I do not procrastinate is writing. I have, although the evidence on this blog would suggest otherwise, been very busy in my little writing world and have experienced some publishing success. I have also submitted my first fiction novel to a competition and just yesterday sent a proposal for my first non-fiction novel to a publisher. Writing does, and will always, continue to be my passion, but what of the other things I promised to do tomorrow?

Well, this blog is one and look how that turned out. I have however decided that I am going to use this blog as part of my ‘write something every day’ discipline. It may be that no one reads it, but that’s okay. The point of writing something every day is not necessarily to gain readers but to hone your writing skills and, if typing on here on a regular basis does that, then who am I to complain?

I have also finally done something else that I planned to do ‘tomorrow’, and that’s try to work on my overall fitness. My husband (who I am sure is currently having a mid-life crisis) has signed up to do the 10-mile Great South Run so I, feeling desperately unfit, have signed up for the 5k version. On the basis that I have paid the entry fee there is no going back, so those who live local to me are now being rewarded with the rather unflattering sight of me plodding (because I can’t call it running yet) along the pavements.

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I think this might be pushing it!

Maybe dusting off this blog will help with my writing and maybe I’ll achieve my goal of running 5k in a relatively respectable time, but even if I don’t achieve either then that’s okay. Finally I’ve stopped saying ‘I’ll do that tomorrow’ and, in terms of my future goals and career, that can only be a positive thing.

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