Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Miss Julia is writing a novel

Here's what's been happening since I submitted my manuscript to the publishers at the end of March.

I have been carrying on with my writing practice, only this time, I am stretching the boundaries.


This time, I'm writing a story.

Breathe, Miss Julia.

* * * *

About 10 years ago I began to write the basic outlines for a novel.  I wrote quite alot of it and printed it all out.  It has been with me on my journey, carted around from pillar to post.  I didn't really think that I would do anything with it - it was a time for me to creatively explore words and think about the story.  Some of it was and is based on my experiences of years gone by but it's by no means all about me.

There may be some of you who remember that I have been planning to start writing a book about my healing journey back to health from M.E/CFS all those years ago.  There's something not quite flowing with this.  I don't know if it's a case of not wanting to revisit it just now.   I know I'll get there with that.  It's important for me to write a handbook for that journey because I did so many things and found my health again, (which thank the goddess has been with me now for about 14 years).

I hadn't thought of doing anything with my other writing exploits but in talking with a friend recently, she encouraged me to "give it a go".  She offered to be my 'writing buddy', someone who I could send chapters to read.

Woo.  Scary.

I tentatively began.  Rearranging, getting into the mode of writing daily and thinking about the story, the characters and the underlying plot.

I sent her the first chapter.  Those first baby steps in to unchartered territory.

She sent back this email:

Omg, it's completely captivating- please send more!

Then she wrote

These opening pages have completely drawn me in- like a fish on a hook. The effect on me, the reader, is wanting to know more and enjoying seeing the personal development of the main character, knowing that she will find her inner goddess! 
I do believe you are amongst many other things- a novelist!!

I was taken aback.  Now she's not a 'writer' but boy has this woman read a heap load of stuff in her time. She's a lawyer by trade, a hypnotherapist, psychotherapist and all round creative spark so I can only say I was totally floored by her reply.

It has given me the confidence to continue to write this story.  "What will happen with it?" Who knows? 

What it has done, for now, is.... it has enabled me to continue my writing practice.  I am enjoying splitting my time between employment, freelance work, art, writing and drinking tea.

I realised as I tip type away that it's always good to have a blank piece of paper by the side of me as I'm writing.  Suddenly I get the urge to jot something down, or doodle, which may be completely unrelated to whatever it is I'm doing.  This goes back to the good old days of learning to touch type.  

Being so absorbed in the typing, that a part of my brain can remember things I need to do.  It's a form of meditation for me.

I have recently been watching Marie Forleo TV on you tube - she's fab, offering some great advice and is funny too! I came across this quote when she interviewed Steven Pressfield, author of Do the Work! He asked

What is the one thing that scares you the most?
Cos that's what you have to do next.

That's what I'm doing.  
What about you? 

Much Love
Jules xx

PS here's a recent doodle whilst writing!

Monday, 9 April 2012

2 Years Blog Anniversary

It all began just over 2 years ago.  I was in France and I had the urge to write, to pick up a pen and buy a bright pink notebook.  Two years later and I have just submitted my 2nd manuscript, which will be published in July 2012.  

So in 2 years, nearly 2 books.  

That's something I am very proud of and want to maintain.  

A book a year. 

How fab would that be.  I know it's possible.

Here's the first blog post I wrote back on 17 March. 


Actually Starting Writing Today - Rediscovering the pen.

I have been planning my book for about 20 years.  Yes I know this sounds ludicrous!! I have been writing snippets, notes, creatively bloomed the themes in lots of journals and notebooks.   Being in France since December, I have done more of the same, with new post it notes and scraps of paper.  Only recently I bought this massive pink notebook and have started just writing all different chapter headings and sub headings.  Each one on a separate page, giving it lots of blank space.  I thought I'd try using a pen rather than my mac (although I adore my macbookpro), I decided to step away from the tecky and get in touch with the pen again.    The whole point of this *I tell myself* is I can go back and when I fancy it, choose a particular topic and then write about that experience.  *I know I can do this on mac but it's the pen I think I need to rediscover ( I love all things pen-like, all things stationary so a book and a lovely Bic Intensity ticks a box for me)

And that's what I've done today.  Yippee! What an achievement.

What am I writing about?  I'm writing about my recovery from M.E (myalgic encephalomyelitis) also known as C.F.S (chronic fatigue syndrome).  I was really very ill when I was 20 until the age of about 26.  (I'm now 41).   Title headings range from What is ME, About ME; Symptoms; Family/Friends; Food; Body image/Weight; Environment; Sprituality; Arts and Crafts and getting creative' Pets; God/Goddess; Love life; Books; Dreams; GP Support; DHSS; Consultants; Support Groups; and a HUGE section on all the complementary therapies I experienced as part of the healing process.

This has given me a good feeling today - it reads back well and I feel like I have begun.  Yay!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Manuscript Finished and Sent Off - Yay!

Completed Manuscript - ready to be posted

I have now come to the end of writing my manuscript for my 2nd book “Creating your first ever CV in seven easy steps”.  34,000 words, 11,000 over what I initially had planned.  It was tough this time because I was fitting it round everything else that I do, so I really did have to develop a writing practice and ritual that helped me get through it.  My note taking and book development takes place off line, with pens and pad.  Then, when I’m ready, I move to the computer where I expand on the ideas and start the writing process. 

I absolutely love sitting down with a journal and pens, developing ideas, thinking of the process and creating the formula.  However, sometimes, in translating that to sitting in front of the computer screen, I need to be guided and cajoled into it.  Don’t get me wrong, I love it when I’m there and ‘in it’ however with this second book and managing my time, I have developed a really important practice that gets me through that initial phase of ‘starting’.

Step 1: Take some Concentration Essence – from the range of 12 flower remedies by Jan de Vries (it’s Wonderful stuff, I love Relaxing and also Emergency).

Step 2: Make your environment welcoming; light incense, a candle, essential oils. ( I love Clary Sage and Geranium, plus Nag Champa.)

Step 3: Use music when you begin.  Put on a piece that you can start to link to your writing.  I never listen to words in music; Two years ago, I started to listen to the same particular Baroque album over and over again, now it has free-associated itself to my writing practice. Just recently I have also introduced Sacred Drums, which too, assists my brain function and almost takes me into a trance-like state.

Step 4: You’re now going to do something computer based and methodical

  • Tidy up files on your desktop – all those messy documents and downloads – well, it’s time to organise them. Set the timer for 10 minutes and get going.  Send them to the Recycle Bin.
  • Sift through any old word documents that you have saved and relevant to your creative practice and file it in an Ideas Folder - you have one of them, right?
  • Print out anything that you have found inspiring – only do this if your printer is all set up to receive (don’t be getting up, sidetracking and setting up the cables!).  Print out what you feel is relevant.
  • Go through your photos and assign them to albums, send ones you want to print out to a Print File so that you can do that at a later date. 
  • Create a new desktop background that inspires you.  
  • Generally do any clean up work on your computer that gets you 'in to' the zone, whilst taking in the music, letting the concentration essence work its magic, drinking some tea and smelling some smells - it's all about the senses!

Step 5: Go and find something or someone that reminds you of your creative self, could be from childhood or younger days - maybe a cuddly toy you used to tell your dreams?.  Give Hugs and sit him beside you so that he can be witness to the occasion.  Yes, I’m serious.  Go on.  (Oops, I think that gives away the fact that this is EXACTLY what I did : ))

Step 6: Finally, when your head is in writing mode - Reread your writing from the day before or the last time you wrote.

Step 7: Make a cup of tea (in a mug you adore) and before you know it, you’ll be back into the swing of it.

Some of the above may instantly appeal – you may already be doing some of them – so Well Done YOU – hope that I have helped with any ideas.

Much Love
Jules xx

PS this can work just as well if you have revision to do or a computer task that needs undivided attention. 

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