Who ate it?

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It wasn't me

It wasn’t me

‘The dog ate it.’ Believe me, that’s not an apocryphal excuse for not doing homework. I heard it, more than once, when I was still teaching, along with the slightly less well-known, ‘the budgie ate it’. And then there was the, ‘my dad was laying a new floor and he concreted my book in by mistake.’ I was almost  tempted to believe that one.

Of course, there have always been the students who’ve put their trust in the sympathy vote, hoping their sorry tales will earn them a reprieve. A colleague once received a note explaining why their offspring’s homework responsibilities lay unfulfilled: ‘I had to keep him off because he was sick in the head,’ the note, hastily scribbled on the back of a fag packet, read. Perhaps one of the most creative reasons I ever heard, stunning in its simplicity, was the my-mum-locked-the-door-when-she-went-to-work-and-I’d-lost-my-key-so-couldn’t-get-out-of-the-house-to-come-to-school. Who couldn’t fail to be moved by the injustice of illegally imposed house arrest?

It wasn't me either

It wasn’t me either

It’s not that difficult to come up with excuses, some of which can even take on the proportion of reasons, to at least put off, at worst completely fail to do, the things we ought. But what about the things we want to do?

No one holds a gun to my head to make me want to be a writer. No one threatens me with detention, or worse, should I fail to complete a project. The truth is, like any self-imposed goal or ambition, the impetus, the determination, the sheer graft and commitment to keep on keeping on comes from inside yourself. Creativity feeds on the creator’s own blood, sweat and tears. Maybe that’s why so many of my posts last year were about climbing mountains or running races?

I will never be an athlete, but I am determined to be a writer. To keep on keeping on being a writer. To that end, I am pleased to report that I am still on track to achieve the self-imposed goals I wrote about in my last post. There’s just one piece of inspirational news I’d like to share before I get back to authoring and it’s here. Please follow the link.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-30935874
Priscilla Sitienei’s desire may be ‘to inspire children’, but she’s also inspired me.

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What next?

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I planned to mark the first anniversary of beginning my blog by posting a review of my writing year on 1st January. I missed the deadline. (Don’t you hate it when deadlines shift themselves?). Life and influenza got in the way (well, influenza is probably a bit dramatic …). Anyhow, later than intended, and not the post I’d planned, here’s the review I wouldn’t have foreseen (if I’d happened to be a foreseer) just over twelve months ago.

As 2013 morphed into 2014, I made a decision that still sneaks up and astonishes me today; I decided to publish my novel, “Strong as Death”, as an ebook. Having received rejections from agents (the decisive one being the subject of my first ever post), it struck me that waiting for strangers to approve of my writing and tell me I was allowed to bring it to a wider audience than that of those who love me because they are a) married to me b)related to me c) friends with me, was a bit like waiting to win the lottery when you hadn’t bought a ticket. That decision made, within twenty four hours I’d created a Facebook account and started a blog. Not knowing how to do anything on a computer apart from word process and emails, my daughter sat beside me and told me what to do; that’s how I ended up with the name julialundauthor, which felt rather presumptuous to me, but, as she said: ‘That’s what you are’.

In February 2014, I made “Strong as Death” available on Amazon. People began to buy it. And review it. As well as the review support I received from the blogging community, readers I don’t actually know began putting positive reviews on Amazon. I even received a few letters, which somehow found their way to me, in which people said very encouraging things about the book and my writing. In response to reviews and feedback, I then made some adjustments to the formatting and updated the cover.

Garden room planning Jan 2015

Garden room planning Jan 2015

In May of 2014, I finished writing my novel, Selkie, which I began during the summer of 2013. The manuscript had some initial interest from an agent, but they chose not to take it further ‘at this stage’. However, the feedback they provided was invaluable and set me on a path I hadn’t planned, that of seeking professional editorial advice. After much research and some raiding of my meagre savings (which, I reasoned, I’d otherwise just spend on a care home in my dotage), I commissioned a full editorial report, which included a face to face meeting with the editor, on Strong as Death. I have now redrafted and, as the result is being proof read at the moment, am having a new cover designed. If all goes to plan, the second edition will be available to mark the first anniversary of initial publication. Not much has changed in the book, just a couple of structural points. As for “Selkie”, in the light of what I learned from the editorial report on “Strong as Death”, I plan to redraft it in the next few weeks, with my eye on March for publication. But you know how these deadlines drift …

In the meantime, I have begun planning a trilogy that has been in my mind for a couple of years, but I felt I needed some stand alone novels under my belt before tackling such a major project. My hope is to develop it enough to apply for some Arts Council funding that would come in very useful to see the books come to completion. The deadline for applications is early February. Given how much I need to do before then to get my submission ready, it’s a long shot, but not as long as winning the lottery without buying a ticket …
My writing progress has been slower than I would have wished during 2014, due in the main to the fact that in April of that year I was finally diagnosed with a condition that impacts greatly on the energy I have at my disposal. So, as my doctor works with me and 2015 unfolds, here’s to shifting deadlines and year reviews that contain the very best of the unforeseen and the unplanned.