All Good Things Come To An End…

snoopy-charlie-brown-end-of-summerIt’s back to school for me this week as one of my day jobs involves teacher training. It’s hard to believe that the summer break is over and I’ve not worked for six weeks. But I’ve not been idle!

Challenges like NaNoWriMo where writers attempt to rack up 50k words during the month of November and with many writers setting themselves a daily target of 1000 words, this would suggest that as I was ‘free’ for most of the summer, I could easily have written half a novel. So what was my final total? A big fat zero.

I made no effort to write anything new as I was too busy enjoying summer, just like my Twitter pal, Catherine Noble who blogged recently that she too felt the need to relax and get “oot and aboot”.

downloadThe life of a ‘tortured artist’ is not for me. This summer, the weather has been great and I wasn’t going to miss it stuck inside tapping away on my laptop. Once the darker nights return, I’ll be happy to stay cosy and hide away with my next writing project. But since the end of June, I’ve been packing as much into my break as possible.

I’ve caught up with friends and visited lots of interesting places. I went to see family in Campbeltown and walked along the beautiful beach at Westport, wandered round the Himalayan-styled woodland Crarae Garden, explored the maze of underground passages at Gilmerton Cove, celebrated my 7th wedding anniversary with a stay at Melville Castle, took in the magic of Jupiter Artland, watched a demo of an original 18th century loom in action at Weaver’s Cottage, learnt more about the amazing Scottish explorer at the David Livingstone Centre, was entertained by Phill Jupitus at Funny in Falkirk, heard local writers such as Janet Paisley and Alan Bissett perform at the For Falkirk’s Sake event, listened to artist John Shankie talk about his work, attended the Edinburgh International Book Festival and felt inspired by Nathan Filer and Stewart Foster,  popped into the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art and had no idea how to interpret the sculptural installations, and reserved two pygmy goats who’ll join our family soon…

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Max & Jess paddling at Westport beach.

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A tranquil spot at Crarae Garden.

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A mysterious series of hand carved passageways and chambers that lie below ground.

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Our romantic anniversary hotel bedroom.

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One of the surreal ‘Weeping Girls’ figures among the trees at Jupiter Artland.

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Total respect for such skill!

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Even being mauled by a lion didn’t stop David Livingstone continuing with his travels – he definitely wasn’t a big fearty!

More of a storyteller than a comedian.

More of a storyteller than a comedian.

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Great to have a showcase for local talent

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So glad the artist was there to try to explain the ‘art’ of clothes inside a freezer!

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Nathan Filer reads from ‘The Shock of the Fall’ – one of my favourite books so far of 2014.

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Sheets of knotted polythene as ‘art’ were literally over my head!

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Getting to know Victor, one of the pygmy goats we chose.

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Who’d guess that inspiration could be found inside?

It’s been an interesting summer. I feel it’s really important to do stuff and see things to help feed my creativity. Who knows what will eventually creep into my writing later? But I haven’t completely neglected my writing. I may not have written a new story or started another novel but I’ve spent lots of time thinking through my next project.  Possible beginnings and a ‘voice’ have been floating around my mind and I feel almost ready to start, especially after the latest idea involved a trip ten miles down the road to deepest darkest Airdrie for invaluable research.

I’ve also spent a bit of time sourcing potential literary agents and publishers and live in hope of finding someone to represent me and publish my last novel…

downloadThe other writing related highlight of the summer was an invitation to be filmed reading a short story on the theme of sectarianism which I wrote a while back after attending the Mixing the Colours workshop run by Glasgow Women’s Library.  I was a bit nervous about being filmed (especially at the thought of the camera adding pounds – something I can’t afford!) but Rebecca Jones from GWL made me feel at ease and said all the right things to boost my confidence. The film may be used as part of a conference being organised by Rachel Thain-Gray next March. It’s a fantastic initiative and one which I’m very proud to play a teeny-weeny part.

Has your summer been productive? Do you feel you need gaps between projects?

 

 

 

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13 thoughts on “All Good Things Come To An End…

  1. Wow, Helen, more than a little bit dazzled and very impressed by how much you’ve packed into your six weeks off! Undoubtedly much, if not all, of these experiences will sink into your writing and it’s brilliant that you’ve managed some thinking, planning, and research time, too. My kids don’t go back to school until early September (as we’re in England) so we still feel in the middle of our summer, in spite of the visit from Hurricane Bertha today. I’m still fine-tuning my poetry pamphlet but once it’s been sent to the printers, I will let you know if I get up to any high jinx. Very envious of that four poster bed! 🙂

    • Hi Josephine, I read your post about having a break from work and your bed looked very inviting too! Yes, hopefully the experiences will fire up my imagination. All the best knocking your poems into shape. I’m keen to hear the title you come up with and see the finished pamphlet. 🙂

    • Hi Rebecca, Yes, the filming was a bit daunting but not as bad as a public reading. Glad I pushed myself to do it but not sure I want to see the result! Yes, summer seems to have gone here too – I’m wearing a fleece today! Enjoy the rest of yours and hope the sun comes back again.:)

  2. Hi Helen – your summer sounds terrific! It’s strange that it’s over, we haven’t even been on our holiday yet (four days and counting!) I am also a big believer in breaks between – and during – writing projects. We need a life outside fiction to be able to write well. I’m about to take 3 weeks off after reaching my 40K interim goal and you’ve made me feel I’ve earned it! Good luck finding an agent – I love your writing!

    • Hi Isabel, Yes, I was lucky enough to fit in a fair amount of interesting experiences. Your 40k word count is really impressive and makes me feel slightly guilty but I know I wasn’t ready to start and needed some thinking time. You’ve certainly earned your break! Thanks too for your encouragement. I’ve just had a rejection from an agent which I’m sure will be the first of many. Have a lovely holiday when it comes.

  3. Hi Helen. You’ve packed a lot in! I definitely have a seasonal writing rhythm – almost like being back to school, come 01 Sept I feel the urge to get writing. In the summer I’m motivated to do other things and somehow just can’t access any book ideas. This year I’ve been painting my house/having my kitchen done/growing an amazing crop of onions (seriously, they’re BIG). The highlight was staying with my two girls on Loch Long for a week, with various tickets for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games. Fantastic.
    As for rejections . . . my last (third) novel is on the shortlist for the Yeovil Literary Prize: literally the day after I got the Yeovil letter and was squeaking with joy, I received a standard rejection from an agent, then, two days later, another. And on it goes . . . it really is a question of never giving up.

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