Tuesday, October 03, 2006

My October 01-02 and part of 03

01 October

Having "re-started" as a writer (last month was removing cobwebs) and getting an issue of 7Q out I was raring to go at the start of the month, but unfortunately this start-running writing day coincided with a Boot Camp Primaries Deadline Day and that has to take priority as BC is currently my only income.

Primaries involves setting up a new spreadsheet, doing my own crits and posting them, then updating the grids with other scores as they come in, running a macro and then posting the results etc, occasionally getting into a discussion.

I had a choice. I could write and start the crits later (Monday or first thing Tuesday) but I figured getting the crits out of the way and setting a good example was better. The fact that I had an idea brewing that WANTED to come out was good. Hold it down and build the pressure!!

Then, of course there is Seventh Quark's Eleventh Frantic Flash Competition. This time round I was very disappointed to get ONLY Boot Campers entering and I also lost money, paying out more than the receipts after guaranteeing a £100 Prize.

The IDEA, of course is to raise a few bob to fund Seventh Quark Magazine. I run comps often to keep them SMALL. That way we get change, variety and typically £50 profit per comp) enough to soften the losses made by 7Q (but not cover them), but more importantly, get decent work coming in.

I was nicely surprised by the standard this time.

The marks of the top dozen or so were:


Note that a flash scoring 90 will usually place and anything 100 upwards is very good. The top 3-4 were really very good. One story arrived too much beyond the deadline (it would have won or come second) so it was disqualified from the competition but I took it for 7Q5 (so all was not lost).

It's worth mentioning here that it's not of my doing that non-BC writers chose not to enter the Frantic Flash. BCers have won most of the Frantic Flash Competitions but that's because BC stories have made up 55-75% of every FF competition, and this time they were 100% !!

It's been suggested that I ban BC writers from the comps, but I think that's unfair to them. They are good comps with decent prizes and they reward industry. Normally they are independently judged or reader-judged.

This time *I* have judged because the entry was 100% Boot Camp and the Boot Campers know me and trust me to be scrupulously fair. Four of the stories are easily up to the minimum standard of Seventh Quark and if 7Q doesn't take them I know they will easily place elsewhere.

See later in the diary for my moans about submissions to 7Q.

Sunday also meant taking PJ to Soccer (it pissed down and they lost 11-0 to a side top of the division above them) and then on return I felt achey and full of cold so just did more crits, not right for writing.

Read some Stephen Dobyns poetry (great for ideas) and also some of "Bloody Foreginers" by Robert Winder.

02 October

The school week, so early morning is kids' stuff, take them to school etc, get some bits and bobs from Tesco, buy The Independent.

I also have to pick up Seventh Quark 4 from the printers, asap after lunch.

One thing I HATE is not having to do things but the way they break into the time-stretches. I can never settle into a 4-5-6-7-8 hour writing stint.

A few years back we had an au pair and I used to start at 0500 and write straight through to 1300, make lunch listening to the news, eat lunch watching Neighbours, and then I'd do admin etc in the afternoon. That was a fabulously productive time.

I feel a story (a big/good one) threatening but in the car in Tesco's Car Park I do a Sudoko (in the Indie) then a second, third...

More than once this has happened. Some crude avoidance syndrome. It isn't just the time that's an issue (time lost) but the "edge" disappears. I am a great believer in striking when you feel "in the zone".

Now I've gone and depressed myself!

One excuse, this cold is worse and I have a badly upset tummy (don't ask), and my regularly recurring sore eyes (Blepharitis) are, well, recurring.

(And of course I know I'm going out to the printers, then going out AGAIN to get the kids, who of course finish at different times, 3:30 and 5PM and then PJ has to be taken swimming at 5:30, picked up at 7:30)

We have talked about moving from Kingfisher Barn and into town to save so many back-and-forth's. Ooooooh just think of the increase in writing slots!

Been agonising over Open University. I wanted to do introductory French as I like France and the feeling I get when there, but Deb's did high-level German and PJ and Bridie are both doing German. So German it is, a course starting November for 10-11 months, that allegedly takes me to GCSE standard.

Having seen the level of work my kids do I think I'll reach MODERN GCSE standard in about six days.

I've also decided to do a course at the OU on Twentieth Century Literature. As long as I pass that'll be fine, but the reason for doing the course is to force me to read stuff I otherwise wouldn't.

I'll list some of the set books etc some time.

We don't have the money for these courses. We have the money in the bank but all of that plus about another £15,000 is earmarked for doing up the Chapel in Wales. The German course, I can say is "for the family" but not the 20th Century stuff, but I need to have some part of my life where *I* am looking up at "teach" and not always giving out, talking "downwards".

Besides, for a serious writer my reading is SHIT and my academic background is not good. Yeah, I know I have three degrees, including an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing, but I've never done literary theory (including on the MA!), and there are a few million classics I haven't read (but should have).

Finished crits of Boot Camp Primaries.

I hear from an ex-BCer who puts me on to a very good magazine. I should contact the editor and send some stories.

Eventually I send three, two that missed the cut in Bridport (I'm amazed at that) and another that for some reason I'd shelved, yet when I re-read it it's 140+ and should be doing the rounds.

My keeping stuff out there mode has fallen apart and that's one thing I have to get right.

When I go to the printer I take away two boxes. I get home to find they wern't trimmed of the white edges. My fault, I wasn't clear, so that means another trip and then a return to pick up the trimmed copies.

I do the many school runs, take the boy to swimming, come back, collate some BC crits, then it's out again to get the lad FROM the pool. Dinner is next and I'm feeling rotten with cold, achey, tired and it's already 21:30.

That makes two days and no writing, yet I'm "flat-out"

This is a TRAP, however. IMO you simply have to find the time

[b]03 October[/b]

But I'm writing this at 11:17 3rd (Tuesday) still not a word written this month and the printer has just rung, 7Q is finally ready-ready and I'm another tenner worse off.

Of course now there's 7Q mailing and trips to the Post Office ... !

Still dipping into those books mentioned earlier but started reading The Ghost Road, (Pat Barker) one of next year's novels on the OU Course. One thing about "courses" is they make me read what I've bought. I buy 5 books per one read and have more books in my library than I could read in the years I have left (even if I live to be 80!) TGR I bought a long way back and I was always "going to read it"...

Doing my MA in CW got me reading black writers and women writers where previously (not consciously) I had never bothered. It was doing that course that got me to read Alice Munro, and I now love her work

The Stephen Dobyns ("Velocities") is sitting there begging to be re-read to fire me up again.

But now... the printers.

Maybe I'll write this afternoon?

(after Neighbours).


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