Mid-year recap and plans for the rest

July is very much here and I spent the weekend at Castle Combe race circuit for the RSOC track day with my dad and our friends. It’s been my first proper car day of the year and it was great fun. I passengered all but one session with Dad in the Subaru and had an ace time.

Dad’s new trailer, but hang on a minute – that’s not a GTR inside!

Half of the year is gone already! I’m still enjoying my little job and it’s keeping me out of trouble, though I’ve not had nearly as much time to do my writing or even my blog as I’d have liked. I manage to get up early enough to do maybe an hour before work – or I get up earnestly intending to do an hour before work, but I usually mess around on social media and news sites for about half an hour. As for my blog, it looks like I manage my book review and that’s it!

Things I’ve achieved so far

I’ve finished my third draft of my book! This is the big one, so now it should just be a brutal edit and then I’m hoping to send it out to agents. I’ve started editing the first part and so far have cut a chapter out, which bodes very well as in total I wanted to cut 6 – 8 chapters. Considering once upon a time the story had about seventy chapters and 350,000 words I’m not doing too bad condensing it down.

We’ve got on a bit with the other house. I’ve cleared most moveable stuff away into storage (or the wheelie bin) and so now we’re looking at the big things. Dad pulled a load of the kitchen units out and I had pulled up all the carpet tiles in there so now it’s on to picking out cookers and worktops! The kitchen and bathroom are the two big jobs so once they’re done and the new flooring is down we should be on it. I spent ages weeding the garden and pulling out monstrous dandelions. Like a bad blogger I didn’t take any before or after pictures of the garden. I’m really excited to live in a bigger house and especially one that has such strong family connections.

I’ve kept up with my reading challenge! I’ve managed to read each of my books for the month and some months I’ve read quite a few extra. It’s a great thing to do as I purposefully diversified the books on my list, and this month I’m reading a non-fiction book about the British navy. I’m trying to read all the books I have on my bookshelves before buying any more, as part of both my decluttering and money-saving goals for the year.

I managed to get my hanging baskets done and they look so pretty now that they’re filling out. I really like being out in the garden and really enjoyed making these. I did nurture a dream of making a little business out of it, but the time is passed (as with all such ideas I have). I’m trying in earnest to keep on top of my wild little garden but every time I turn around there are weeds everywhere, and I have terrible problems with bindweed coming from the wilderness next door, strangling my Viburnum, which makes me so mad. I keep nagging my dad to come and cut my hedge because it’s almost as bad as the one next door. Some lovely flowers are coming out though which is lovely to see.

Things to do for the next half of the year

Edit my book – aggressively, but not to the point where I lose sight of what I’m trying to say. Having a little break since finishing the draft has helped, as I’ve managed to – so far – approach the chapters with a slightly more objective view. I struggled with chapter one as I knew that everything my writing group had said about it was right and I was scared to try and remake it in a more effective way, but after a couple of false starts I think we’re there! I want to get on with it a bit quicker. I’m trying to get up at the same time every morning (earlyish) to spend a little bit of time on it each day. It’s silage time too so while Scott is busy on the farm (and I can’t help) I can sit and write, which I will do, without the telly on or anything.

I really want to get back into making things. I’ve not done much baking since I bake a lot at work, but I’ve not done any crafting at all. I have lots of kits – needle felting and cross stitch, including something I’ve been making for my mum for a birthday for yonks now – and I just haven’t got on with them at all. I also wanted to design a series of Christmas cards starring Bilbo (as he looks so very Christmassy) and did a trial run in March/April for Mum’s birthday, making this picture.

So I want to crack on a bit more with that – design my cards, maybe make a picture or two, and try to do some more cross stitch.

Obviously the house is still a big priority. We want to move in while I’m still pulling a decent wage (though I still want to get a job for over winter) so I can build my savings back up, and also so I can afford to buy nice things for the house – not that I feel much like shopping at the moment. I can walk round a shop and see loads of pretty things and yet not feel compelled to buy one! There are bits to do to the garden in the new house and I just need to finish the little bits inside that I can do before we have to get in workmen.

I have loads of clothes I want to sell on eBay too, nice things that I’ve worn once or twice and never got round to again. I also want to go through my CD and DVD collection and take a load to Cex and/or list on eBay. I’m getting fed up of living in a world of clutter, and while a lot of that comes from having too much stuff in too small a place, I still don’t want to just fill the new house up with stuff (which is very easy to do).

Finally, this blog! It needs a good lot of work. I need a new header, loads of photos, and a few more posts. My blog is meant to support my writing, and be the backing for my eventual website. Someday I would like to make a Facebook page plus host a Twitter chat for my writing. I’m really inspired by the Canadian musician Leah, who is one of my favourite artists of all time (and I’m totally not saying that just because she followed me on Insta, such love!!), who doesn’t tour to support her music while she raises her children, and yet is super active on social media and has amassed a great following. I think nowadays it’s so much easier to connect with fans and potential followers, and it’s something I need to be making use of more.

So tell me about your achievements so far, and your mid-year goals!

Don’t give up the daydream

You’ve heard the old saying. Somebody does something stupid, or funny, or badly, and you go, “Don’t give up the day job”. And usually it’s comic effect – haha, we all laugh, how funny, and go about our merry way. Because silly Sandra never really planned on being a professional juggler, or an impressionist, or whatever. She’s quite happy doing whatever it is she’s doing.

But I’m here as the advocate of daydreams – and their bigger, badder cousin, The Dream. Because I have A Dream (a song to sing…) and I’m sure as hell not giving up on it.

Continue reading “Don’t give up the daydream”

#my500words reflection

So, after a month of trying to stick to writing 500 words a day minimum, how have I done?

Well, there were a couple of days where I didn’t write anything, despite all my best intentions. Sometimes it just happens like that – there might be a lot of things going on at the farm, and by the time we get home I just collapse on the sofa. There was some success with getting up a bit earlier and managing my 500 words before breakfast, but other days I could snatch some time before cooking tea. A few days it would be the bare 500 I could manage, however I’m happy to say a lot of days it was a good more than 500.

In total, over the month I wrote 14 chapters, so it averages out as just under a chapter per two days. Some of these chapters are barefaced edits – straight rewrites of previous chapters I have been happy with. Others have had to be complete overhauls. And I have been quite ruthless. A lot of chaff has been cut. To put it into real terms, I’m writing what is now Chapter Seventeen, but in the second draft equated to about Chapter Twenty-Five. There are still one or two chapters that I have rewritten that could potentially be for the chop. And within the chapters themselves, I’ve gone from a single chapter easily exceeding 10,000 words to a much more realistic 5,000. My only concern is I’ve maybe been a little overenthusiastic with my executioner’s axe!

I’ve really enjoyed taking part in #my500words. More than anything else, it’s been a personal motivator, and it’s worked. There were 69 chapters in total for #MFB (make of that what you will). If I can manage to cut 7 out of the first 25, maybe I can do the same over the next part. We are however coming to the end of the part that was for me the most indulgent. I’ve had to do some serious chopping and changing to streamline this part, but at least now I’m happy with its continuity, and I feel it reads a good deal better.

So I will continue with writing a minimum of 500 words a day. I have a feeling I will hit something of a mental block in a few chapters’ time, as previously I have had issues with timing and locations for my character, so if I miss a day of writing, I would hope it’s for the sake of ironing out some continuity issues.

How is your writing going? Are you on track? Do you have any motivational tools you use to help you get on? If you do, I’d love to hear them!

Katy

Two weeks into #my500words, and a missed day

One of my big aims for the year is to nail Draft Three of #MFB and be in a position to maybe tentatively send it off to people who read and make dreams come true. I started #my500words this January, aiming to write 500 words a day for 31 days, and it went really, really well until yesterday, when I wrote nothing. I should have known I was doomed when I tweeted about how well my progress was going! It had snowed a little bit yesterday morning and instead of getting up early and writing my 500 words before breakfast, I was still laid in bed, watching it snow. And I didn’t go up to the farm, but I did a load of washing, swept and mopped the downstairs floors, did a load of ironing and baked some chocolate cupcakes. All non-essential when it comes to being a writer, though when it comes to being a “housewife”, which I think most people view me to be, all required tasks. I am fairly houseproud and every day it horrifies me that my house is such a mess, with muddy floors and a kitchen table with no space to dine off. But it also horrifies me and fills me with that feeling of waste when I don’t do any writing whatsoever.

There’s no excuse for why it didn’t happen. We went to my parents’ in the afternoon to mend the tractor and there was nothing for me to do except sit and get more frustrated. Then after taking the tractor up to the farm we came home, I cooked tea, and after we’d eaten I was tired and we just sat and watched rubbish on TV. Now I wake up this morning feeling like yesterday was a waste of a day! Sure, people say it’s good to have time off, but when my writing is constantly playing out in my head, there’s never time off. I’ll never get anywhere if I keep taking time off.

So it was one day. A blip. Since starting #my500words, I’ve actually completed 5 chapters for #MFB. I’ve written more than two weeks’ worth of 500 words all in all, so that’s a good accomplishment. I’ve cut out a lot of chaff, including a whole chapter’s worth. I’ve streamlined the plot a little, and turned characters and incidents around. Finally, I’m getting excited about it again.

So yeah, I missed one day! Big deal. Get over yourself, self. Today is a new day. I have my writing group today, and then the rest of the day to write, write, write. If I can do 5 chapters every two weeks, in four months I’ll be romping home.

How do you get back on the writing train after a hiccup? I’d love to hear your tips on motivation and how you keep at it!

Katy

How to Energise Yourself Pt 1

Here’s something I’ve noticed of late, guys… We seem to be a culture of walking zombies! I’m twenty four years old and I should have buckets of energy: I should be able to work all day Friday, drive home, leap in the shower, get my glad rags on, and go out on the town. Yet I get home from work and if I allow myself to sit on the recliner settee after tea I will fall asleep. I am not a good napper. Everybody seems to be in an eternal cycle of tiredness and exhaustion. But is it true exhaustion? I think genuine tiredness is when you feel it in your bones, when your leg muscles cramp up and try as you might, you just can’t life those arms above your head. On Saturday I was in my garden in the afternoon; I was sowing lots of seeds and then I was digging up some muck and running around with the wheelbarrow, and then I was pulling up a load of leeks for our tea. We then took Bilbo out for his walk, and we were accompanied by Daisy, the little Shar Pei puppy who isn’t so little any more.

Bilbo is 3 years old – that’s so scary, that he’s three! We got him on my 22nd birthday; I’ll be 25 this year. That’s scary. Daisy the Shar Pei is only a puppy and she has so much energy; she was chasing Bilbo around and hanging off his ruff and in the end, I think she absolutely floored him. He was pooped – and then we took him for a walk! But just gulf between the levels of energy of the two was huge. Bilbo is lazy; he’s meant to be an endurance dog, able to drag a sled across a craggy snowy landscape for hours on end, and when I tell him that he just looks at me as if to say, Really? I don’t think so.

It got me thinking though – I wish I had boundless energy like Daisy.  This morning I woke up and I had such a job to get out of bed. It just wasn’t happening! I staggered downstairs and made a coffee and just sat on the settee in a daze. Then I roused myself, fed the cats, make my lunch and breakfast, and read a whole bunch of Pinterest boards about how to get out of bed on a morning. But I mean all day, every day – maybe it should be how to get out of your chair at any given moment.

So here are my thoughts on how to energise yourself!

How to energise yourself!

1. Eat properly. This is a major one. Every magazine or Buzzfeed article will probably tell you this. It sounds very preachy but it’s so important. When I was making my kale-spinach-apple-pear-banana-mega-Victoria’s-Secret smoothies, I felt a lot better and like I had a good bit more energy. I have tried to cut out a fair bit of junk food, and increase how much fruit and vegetables I eat. Especially now that I’ve got my weekly budget in place, I’m really trying to get the most of my ingredients. The smoothie maker might have to make a reappearance! Though it’s messy and people made fun of me at work, which gets me in a rage. Next post – how to quell one’s undeniable anger at everything. 

2. Don’t get too comfy. I make this mistake every single night. I get home, cook my tea, wash up, half a bath, and then when I sit down on the recliner I fall asleep, all by half nine. But if I get sat on a dining room chair, or on my swivel chair upstairs, where I can’t lie prone, I start to feel more alive. The same goes for having a bath: I could probably fall asleep in a bath if I wasn’t terrified of drowning. But I have definitely fallen asleep on my bed after my bath, when I just wanted “a nice sit down”. A nice invigorating shower, on the other hand… though I’d draw the line at whacking it onto freezing cold for the last twenty seconds. That’s a bit much like water torture if you ask me.

3. Go outside. When I was at school and poorly, the receptionists always used to try and convince me that ‘getting some fresh air’ would miraculously heal me. While I all I ever wanted at that time was to go home and curl up in bed, I can’t deny that the days I’m outside a lot at the moment definitely make me feel a lot better about myself.  I do think being in a warm enclosed space is something akin to a bed; it definitely evokes that cocoon element. Whereas charging around outside – chasing Bilbo around the garden for a bit, or even just patrolling my vegetables – might make you feel physically tired, but I think it gets your brain cells moving. I certainly know I have some of my best ideas while I’m walking Bilbo – I just need to remember them!

Bilbo with hearts
This is my baby doggy Bilbo – and he always makes me happy and energized – though sometimes he tires me out too! Picture edited with picmonkey

 

4. Do something. I don’t mean for the sake of it. I mean use your time productively. If you approach life with a sense of purpose you might find that you are more energised and more inclined to finish those tasks. I’m trying to think of things I want to do at home – and I stress want – on my drive home: so when I get home I can have my tea, wash up, and then get on with the few things I want to do.

5. Be positive! This is the most important! If you think you’ll be tired, then of course you’ll be tired – you’ve convinced yourself of it. I am a big believer in self-duping. I am very good at convincing myself of one thing, almost without much effort at all. But if we turn that on the flipside – you can convince yourself of good things, and then those good things will happen! OK, OK, so there are people who will whinge and whine on Facebook (I hate those posts, you know the ones I mean – Bonnie Boris is having the worst day ever. Nosy Parker comments what’s up hun? Bonnie says I’ll PM you. Why tell half a story you crazy people?!), and out of that they seem to magically get all they ever wanted. But I guarantee you, deep down, that what they end up with is not what they wanted. Didn’t your mothers ever tell you that whining gets you nothing?! I am inclined to be a bit of a pessimist – not a vocal one, but one all the same. But if I take a step back from whatever bums me out – usually comparing myself to others, or something like – I realise I have an awful lot to be very, very thankful for – and a whole lot to be very happy about! And when I am happy and cheerful and sunny, I find that I do have that bit extra get up and go!

So these are the first five! I’ve thought of a few more, but that’s enough for today’s post.

What about you? What do you do to energize yourself?!

I’d love to hear your ideas! Please share in the comments.

Much love – I’m off to bed!

Katy

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