Giving up; giving in

Sometimes I feel the only way I can get a major publisher interested in mental illness is if I find a character who has bipolar disorder and is also a love-sick vampire attending an English school called Hogwarts. But I’m not giving up.

Pete Earley

What winning is to me is not giving up, is no matter what’s thrown at me, I can take it. And I can keep going.

Patrick Swayze

It doesn’t take much for me to question my unerring belief in fate and destiny which makes me wonder how strong that belief is in the first place. One rejection from one agent and one loss at the hands of the Northern Writers awards makes me doubt myself so much and I wonder why, when I believe in my story and I know deep down the idea is strong and original and is a good read. I think the rejection from the NWA is the hardest to take because I had convinced myself that the powers of coincidence and the gods of the universe were surely directing me towards that moment; even the demon masters of astrology were pointing me in that direction but maybe they have just jumped the gun, maybe the true story is just around the corner. There is a whole list of agents, competitions, publishers out there that I haven’t even begun exploring so how can I contemplate throwing in the towel now; if I believe that much then I just have to keep on going. Which brings me to Patrick Swayze. My mum has lung cancer but she’s old and she was a heavy smoker. At 83 they gave her a round of chemo and radiotherapy but they told her this week that her cancer is growing again and the first thing she did after hearing this news is to go home and make a batch of strawberry jam; jars and jars of it that will probably live long after she has departed this earth and still every Saturday when I take her shopping she puts her lottery tickets on and every week without fail I wonder why. I want to say to her, explaining patiently like I would to one of my children, there’s no point in winning the lottery when in a few months time you are going to die. Then I came across this quote by Patrick Swayze who we all know died of cancer and it made me realise that while there is breath in my body and while I believe in what I write and while I continue to write and try to support my children then I have no right to give up or give in. The same as Patrick didn’t give up even when he knew he was living on borrowed time and the same as my mum doesn’t give up even though she knows she is dying. And if Pete Earley can keep going then so can I.

Repent in haste

Unreasonable haste is the direct road to error.


The other side of the coin to impatience is of course the fact that we may have been too hasty and may have to eat our words. I was quick to judge those who had criticised my work even though I was the one who had uploaded my chapters onto a website inviting criticism. Criticism is hard to take especially when you have so much invested in your work but actually I take back what I said and I swallow my pride because if more than one person says the same thing then they obviously have a point. So at this stage I can either dig my heels in and be the stubborn person I have always been, who always knows best or I can re-read every single word that I have written and take on board the criticism and use it so that the next agent, publisher or competition I send it to might look twice at it and think maybe there is something special there. I can tighten up the writing and the grammar and the discrepancies so that it is as watertight as it could possibly be and for those people who chose to write an honest comment I can only now thank them.

However, as for the NWA, I refuse to repent. I think if people have taken the time to enter your competition and have invested their blood, sweat and tears into their work then the least you can do is inform entrants of the outcome even if they have been unsuccessful. To do otherwise is unprofessional and that is totally unforgivable.

Impatience is a virtue.

As human beings we are all flawed and the older we get the easier it is to spot our flaws and accept them. My biggest flaw this week is impatience but the way I see it is that it shows how much I care, how much I want something, how much I need something. This week I was impatient with the NWA whose website proclaimed that all entrants would be informed of decisions by the beginning of June. Now beginning of June to me means the 2nd of June at the latest so I sent off an email asking why I hadn’t been informed yet. I am assuming that the lack of notice means I have been unsuccessful but still it would be nice to be told. Having received no reply I decided to phone – at this stage in the game what have I got to lose only to be told that emails would not be sent out until the end of the week, so here I am, at the end of the week, constantly flicking backwards and forwards to check my inbox, even though deep down I am not expecting good news but there is still the smallest flicker of the tiniest flame of hope. Come on, for god’s sake, just put me out of my misery.

Impatience with the greater world often overflows into the mundane world and I find myself on edge, niggling my children, wondering why they won’t behave and then I catch sight of the home made cards and rockets and aliens littering the desk where I write and I know my impatience with them is because I care too much. This writing isn’t just for me, it’s for them, so I can provide for them because they deserve better than this.

I am also impatient with Youwriteone this week – a website where you upload chapters of your work so readers can review it and leave amazing feedback and constructive criticism. I doubted my words this week so decided to seek out opinions and in doing so have revealed another of my flaws – I don’t like being criticism. Guess I will have to get used to that and grow a thick skin but as much as I like and appreciate this website the two biggest problems with it are that writers can’t reply to negative criticism and readers are reviewing books that they normally wouldn’t pick up in a bookshop so when somebody starts a review with, ‘this isn’t really my cup of tea’ and then just proceeds to tell you where and when you should have put a comma or a full stop it makes you wonder why you bothered in the first place. rate the idea, the bigger picture, not the small grammatical errors, if there are any that is, leave that to the editors.


You always pass failure on your way to success.

Mickey Rooney

It’s not how we respond to success that marks us out but how we deal with failure. Do we fall, lie curled in a ball and give up or do we drag ourselves back up, once more daring to throw our head over the parapet and prefer to fall once more, praying for a soft landing.

You don’t always need a sledgehammer to crack a walnut; sometimes, even your bare hands will do.

Dare to dream

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.

Edgar Allan Poe

My advice from JC this week was to ‘dare to dream’ and as one deadline looms I keep those precise words close to my heart. The Northern Writers Awards are fast approaching and according to their website all entrants will be informed of their decisions by the beginning of June – well they’re certainly keeping me hanging on.

On the one hand I torture myself by thinking that if I surely was a winner I would have heard by now, I mean, you don’t keep winners dangling on a string, they will have plans to make, what to wear, childcare, etc.

On the other hand, these few days of not knowing still represent a small glimmer of hope, a chance in a thousand. So I sit with a single seed from a dandelion clock in my outstretched hand waiting for the wind to blow it into oblivion or for it to land in fertile ground and reproduce standing tall and proud with the sun shining brightly out of its distinctive yellow head. To some it may be just a weed but to others it is also a thing of beauty.


Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother.

Khalil Gibran

I have been plagued with doubts recently. Where once as a teenager I lay awake at night unable to sleep pondering the universe and human existence now as an adult, as a mother I ponder my inability to provide for my children and wonder whether my self-belief in fate and destiny is actually self-delusion. Is it not my fate here in this cold northern town behind the till of a supermarket checkout?

I contemplated playing the lottery tonight wishing for the few million pounds that would change my life and then stopped myself knowing that if I actually won I wouldn’t write anymore because the necessity would have been taken away. I certainly wouldn’t sit on my backside wasting my life away but the hands of fate would definitely swing 360 degrees.

I now realise that to actually succeed in life you have to be plagued by doubts. The super over-confident kids from school are the ones who never tried falsely believing that life owed them a living. They are the ones who are the big fish in the small pond. Me – I would rather be a tadpole swimming against the tide in the ocean of life.


Put on your cloak of patience. You’ll be glad of it.

Jonathan Cainer

JC is my mate this week. Having come out of the doom and gloom of the Bunker relatively unscathed my want and need to have a crack at the literary world is so great that it wears me down and fills me with self doubt and longing. What if my words are no good; what if they are words that no one wants to hear. These are the doubts and fears that plague the greatest of writers and even more so if you are yet to receive any recognition. The long, long butterflydays waiting, wondering hoping that a glimmer or speck of hope lies on the horizon and that an agent or publisher or competition will throw out a lifeline and the potential to be rescued. It is a lonely life being a writer. Lonely I can deal with. Try being a single parent and staring at the four walls when your children are in school or when they are tucked up safe in bed with the only adult voices you’ll hear for company on the radio or TV. Lonely is fine; I have had a lifetime preparing for loneliness but hardship is something else. All I want is that  glimmer, glimpse, glance of hope and then I will be ready to break free of my cocoon and live my final brief days as a glorious butterfly. I am waiting and I am ready.


“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.”
Vincent van Gogh

I don’t know how other writers write as I don’t know any other writers. I only know how I write and the vision I see and for me it is a very visual experience as I see the moving picture unfolding before me and I write what I see. Even when I know what may be happening to one of my characters in twenty pages time I can’t write the story out of order; that character will have to wait until the action comes to them.

Despite the fact that I moved back to a town that had many bad memories for me I decided to try and make good out of bad for setting a lot of my book here, so that as I continued to live and write here the bad memories would be swept away by my own positive associations. This helps me in two ways; firstly it grounds my story in a place that is very real, not just to me but to others who will hopefully read it and they can actually visit the places and see the birth of a story; secondly by turning the negatives into positives I try to banish the loathing from my mind and tap into serenity – I’m not there, yet, maybe one day.

Do you believe in time travel, our ability to communicate into the future or reach back into the past. Whether you do or not, here’s the deal, this is my present self, who will soon be my past self, talking to your future selves, who are out there somewhere unaware of me, unaware of my work but one day in the next few years you will pick up my book and wonder a little bit about the author and where her ideas came from so these images are for you curious few. bookbeach beach bookhouse bookhouse2 bridge2 cowtree 2015-05-04 16.12.08 2015-05-04 16.29.39 2015-05-10 13.43.32 These places all feature in hopefully my first book.


Some actors couldn’t figure out how to withstand the constant rejection. They couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Harrison Ford

Rejection is never easy, ever. To hear back from an agent, a publisher, a future employer saying NO however politely they say it is always hard. It always hits me like a punch in the stomach winding me, knocking me back making me reflect,making me doubt. Then you realise rejection is part of the journey and if every agent and publisher said yes to everything what a boring world full of sameness it would be. Normally a rejection would make me think my work wasn’t good enough, that I wasn’t good enough but this time I just think the agent that rejected me wasn’t the one and if she didn’t share my vision then she was never going to be right for me. That doesn’t mean the right one isn’t there, just that I haven’t found them yet…and then I came across this quote. My son loves Star Wars and is counting down the days until Star Wars 7 is releasetunnel2d; as I sit writing this I can hear Star Wars 5 in the background, in fact because it is released on December 18th we will be eschewing a visit to Santa in favour of a trip to the cinema. Also I like this quote because I was just working on some photos that I was going to post that were part of the inspiration for my first book – one of them is a tunnel, so that must be fate- and yes, I can definitely see the light at the end of it.


There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

It’s a good time to be a writer. Another competition looms on the horizon hosted by It’s only open from 5-19th May and they have promised to read and respond to every manuscript within three months at which point a shortlist of five works will be selected. This is not only a chance to have my work read by the publisher of Philiip Pullman among many other brilliant authors but also, should I be so fortunate, to have my work actually published. However, I don’t know what the protocol is within the writing world; is it unacceptable to enter another competition when I have entered the same manuscript elsewhere. My heart says that I only came across the Northern Writers Award via serendipity and I am sure that my fate lies there yet my head coldly says that these chances do not come up very often and in my desperate circumstances I have to grab every chance I get with both hands. Decisions, decisions.

When I entered NWA I had to also fill out a short questionnaire and one of the questions asked how long I had been writing. I immediately put since September 2014 yet when I actually seriously thought about this I have always written. During my teenage years it was poetry, followed by short stories and then novels, always started but never finished. The difference between then and now is that in the past I have always been someone who writes for a hobby and now I am a writer. The NWA has a top prize of £5000; this might seem a paltry sum to most people and I know it won’t even hit any of the top ten in my children’s wish list but for me that amount of money is a small chance of happiness; it is enough to stop claiming benefits and enough to feed me and my family for a year. With that small amount of security behind me I can commit myself to writing every single day instead of spending the whole day filling out application forms, downloading job specifications, searching every single jobs website, filling out all my searches so that the benefit nazis can check up on me, posting applications, going to interviews where I’m just invited along to make up the numbers or they are just curious to see what a person who used to work in the Ritz looks like. (Run down and harassed – just like every other mother).

After entering the NWA competition my aim was to have the book at least half finished by the time the winners were announced. I finished it in February,six months after I had started it, snatching only moments here and there, a full 83000 words. If nothing else comes of it I am proud of my achievement. When I read it back to myself I had goosebumps on my arms and the words thrilled me and astounded me as I felt that they must have been written by someone else as I just couldn’t remember any of it. I am now working on the sequel to this, plus a young adult novel that is just bursting to get out and I still have to re-enter The Bunker Diary. Imagine how much more I could do if I was allowed to do this full time. I am waiting and I am ready. 

I’m realistic; I don’t expect to make a vast fortune from writing but I would like to make enough to be comfortable, to not have to worry, to buy a new car when my old one finally disintegrates, to take my children to Harry Potter world, oh, and to buy some new teeth.