When I first started writing this blog, I believed I could keep it going with updates about my writing. I soon realised that this idea was both pretentious, and boring for anyone other than me myself personally. Writers who have published the sort of books you pay for may use their blogs to promote them, but their advertising posts tend to be a bit of a yawn. (Over the last few months I have read several articles recommending that writers should keep promotional content on social media to a minimum, twenty per cent or less.) Someone who has made an enormous success of an ‘about me’ blog, however, is musician, Charlotte Hoather, and the reason is that she shares, rather than boasts. Her blog comes across as ‘Look, this is what I’m doing. Right now, I’m singing at the Eisteddfod – isn’t it exciting? Whoever would’ve thought I’d be doing this?” Even though I’m not a musician, but I thoroughly enjoy Charlotte’s weekly updates.
I have to confess, Dear Reader, that over the last few months I have had nothing to tell you. Although I have some stories ‘out there’, the editors I’ve subbed to seem to have caught my inertia and I’m not receiving even rejections. I have been #notwriting, or, more specifically, #ammarking – both of these do exist on Twitter, by the way. During every waking moment, I have alternately either marked students’ work, or cajoled students to produce more work to be marked. Now I am on leave but still the interface of Moodle (the virtual learning environment we use for assessment) lurks in front of my eyes every time I close them.
The stress of work has squashed out of me all thoughts of stories and characters. As my husband is out for the evening, I have peace and quiet and generally the sort of environment for some proper writing – fiction, I mean – yet I’m doing this instead. I am too tired to write. I know the received writerly wisdom is that you should always keep going but I can’t. I just can’t put myself through the stress of looking at an empty screen and trying to squeeze something out of my fingers.
So, I’m going to do some writing-orientated reading instead. Only this week, Helen Yendall, in her Blog About Writing, reiterated that, if you want to write for womags, you’ve got to read them. Pretty obvious, really, but I don’t do enough of it. I have also resolved to do some more background reading for The Novel; unfortunately, all the books I need are expensive and only one is available on Kindle. To the university library, I think – one of the small advantages of working where I do!
Yesterday, I was in Cambridge. (I wish I could say I was doing research for the small parts of The Novel which take place in Cambridge, but I doubt if my character would ever set foot in King’s College Chapel, especially as she is Catholic.) However, when browsing a second-hand book stall in St Mary’s Market, I came across a hard-backed version of ‘The Schoolgirl Ethic’, which turned out to be a biography of Angela Brazil, writer of school stories during the inter-war years. I never buy paper-based nowadays, but I did on this occasion, because this small dusty tome was blatantly out of print. Research? Possibly, because one of my short story drafts is about a schoolgirl in 1939, but this was right up my street anyway! I am also making my way through ‘A Very British Murder’ by Lucy Worsley, even though I know I could never tackle detective fiction.
So, Dear Reader, we are both the same now.
(Copyright of image owned by author.)