- On 27 February I’m at the Purbeck Literary Festival with Clare London and Charlie Cochrane doing a session on gay romance and gay fiction. Come on over and see what we have to say, and ask us a question or two. This was cancelled.
- Self edits on Kev 1, 2, 3 so they’re ready for submission. I fast drafted these in 2014, but they’re very rough first drafts so I need to spend time tidying them up before anyone else sees them. This may be way too ambitious to try and do this, but it’s a clear block of time I have with minimal distractions so I’m going to give it a go. To be honest if I get half way through these edits this week I’ll be pleased. I self-edited these 3, adding 5300 new words to them while editing. I’ve noticed this is something I tend to do when editing, I think it’s because I do a first draft so quickly I often miss out things (description, parts of sentences, internal thoughts, etc). I also self edited Glitzy Gay Saga, adding 10,000 words in the process for the same reasons as above. This story is about to be sent to beta readers. It was my first third person multi character story so it took a lot more editing than I was used to having first person and about 4-6 characters. But I wanted to challenge myself to write in a different way, and that’s what GGS has done, I hope.
- After my friend Nick’s funeral, I free-wrote 4500 words about him, memories I have of him, reflections on the funeral, just letting it all flow out, having a really good cry in the process. It was hard, but it felt good to get it *out* and down on *paper*. Not sure what or if I’ll do anything with it, but at the time I think just writing it was exactly what I needed.
- I beta read a 65000 word mm romance for an author friend, and wrote a report for her about character, pacing, dialogue etc. I was very fortunate to have author friends doing this for me when I started writing, and so I like to do my bit in this way, and through being a reader in the RNA’s New Writers Scheme too.
- I finished the first draft of The Other Man, a spinoff story from The Guardian Angel, which was my current work in progress. I wrote 4500 words on that, and typed up 24500 words I’d written long hand, while in Australia. Then, because it was in 3 documents, I put it all together in one and now it’s resting for a while before I look at it again.
- Reading writing ‘craft’ books (when I’m too tired to edit). I’ve a couple of these which are gathering dust on my shelf, so I’ll spend time to read these and reflect on any learning from them. Finished Becoming A Writer by Dorothea Brande – a wonderful book, not about the craft of writing, but about how you can train yourself to write on demand, and how you can take notice of all around you to so you have plenty of things to write about. Thoroughly recommended. It was written in the 1930s and she suggests having two typewriters, one for at home and one for extended train journeys! I always take my laptop for extended train journeys for just this reason.
- Among all this hard work, it’s important to rest and recuperate, so I’ll build in some time to watch films and dramas (working my way through Gilmore Girls as I can pretend it’s work because the dialogue is so damned great I can pick up a few tips while I’m with the wonderful characters in Stars Hollow). Watched season 5 and about another 6 episodes from season 4 and season 6. Good progress, I feel. I also watched some of my favourite films most evenings when I wasn’t caught up in a feeding frenzy of Gilmore Girls episodes.
- I did something I rarely do, as I don’t have time, except on holiday - I read for a whole day, nothing else. It was wonderful. I read The Witches of Eastwick, by John Updike, and loved it. Its witchy magical elements gave me ideas for things I want to include in The Other Man when I look over it in a while, so I took some notes while reading.
- I will walk for 45mins to an hour every day. I started this in December 2014 and noticed my moods have improved from the exercise, the light, and change of location from my desk all day. Yeah, this didn’t happen I’m afraid. I did eat healthily, fruit and veg every day, and sat in the conservatory with lots of natural sunlight, which helped my mood no end. But, strictly speaking, walking every day, not so much.
- Catching up with friends from Hampshire. I’m at the writing retreat on my own, so it’s important to meet real people and not just fictional ones in my imagination and in TV series. This happened, I met friends in Bath, Winchester, Botley, Southampton and had a day trip to where they filmed Broadchurch, West Bay, in Dorset.
- Let’s see how that pans out. I’m sure I’ll have the odd day shopping in Southampton Salisbury/ Winchester/ Bournemouth, who knows, but I don’t want to fritter away the time so hopefully these goals should help. I went shopping in Southampton after an extended lunch with Charlie Cochrane. It was great. Noticed how much the city has changed since I last visited, about a year ago. It always reminds me of the ghosts of previous nights out and shopping trips when I was a teenager going to secondary school in Southampton.
I was pleased with what I achieved during this writing retreat. Have any of you used a writing retreat to give you a boost with words, editing, reading before? How did it go? I'd love to hear from you.
Until next time,
Liam Livings xx