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Wednesday, 3 September 2014

September: The Start of a New Year

September is my favourite month. It could be something to do with the fact that my birthday falls on the Autumn Equinox or that it has always seemed like the start of a new year to me (probably because the academic year begins in September).

Even though the summer holidays fled by this year, I was glad when my daughter went back to school (my son doesn't return to Uni until the 15th). I do enjoy her company, but I relish time spent alone with space to think, read and write. My husband now spends one day a week working from home, so I have even less time on my own.

We returned from our annual week's holiday in the north of England on Saturday. I felt relaxed and refreshed, eager to begin the new year with a new set of goals. It occurred to me that I've spent most of the last two years worrying about other people and situations, forgetting to focus on my own goals and ambitions. 

I began this week by focusing more closely on eating less and more healthily, drinking less alcohol and exercising more. For most of this year these important daily routines had been put on one side while I worried about other things. After only three days of this mindfulness, I’ve dropped a few pounds and feel so much better! 

I haven’t set myself any huge writing goals. Again, little and often is the rule from now on. I started my writing week on Sunday by writing a few reviews of our holiday let and the places we’d visited. Then on Monday I reviewed a couple of the novels I’d read while I was away (The Secrets We Left Behind by Susan Elliot Smith and Public Battles, Private Wars by Laura Wilkinson) on both amazon and Goodreads. Yesterday and today I’ve tinkered with and edited two potential womag stories, researched short story competitions closing in September, re-read womag guidelines and have written up a Write Invite story ready to edit.

The question which continues to rear its ugly head is this: Am I a short story writer as opposed to a novelist? Does it matter if I only ever write short stories for the rest of my life? Your opinions on this would be greatly appreciated. 

Finally, I started on Operation Get The House and Garden Straight. This is an ongoing project (isn’t it always?). I’m not the world’s most house proud person, but I do have certain standards. Neither am I a natural housewife. I’m rubbish at cleaning. Is it something most women are taught by their mothers or should it come naturally? Most of the time there’s too much stuff going on in my head for me to even notice the state of the house. It’s only when I hear the dreaded words, ‘Can so-and-so come round?’ that I start to panic and get out the vacuum cleaner. Anyway, as far as OGTHAGS goes, it’s a case of essential house and garden maintenance as well as just cleaning and decluttering. You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to get someone in to do these maintenance jobs. The downstairs bathroom needs a complete refit and a guy did come and measure up, but we haven’t heard sight nor sound of him since. Was it really that off-putting?

Anyway, OGTHAGS got off to a small start this week as I began clearing out and cleaning my kitchen cupboards. Okay, so I haven't finished one complete cupboard yet, but I've made a start. Little and often is the rule.

Oh, and look... another writing project finished this week.... 


  1. September is definitely a good month for a fresh look at everything, Jo. I approach the problem of housework by tackling it only when I start having to tease cobwebs out of my hair.

    As far as writing goes, I believe you should write whatever you love to write. It doesn't matter what kind of writing it is, short, long or in between, provided it comes from your heart and brings you that incomparable burst of pleasure. If I feel I can hardly wait to get back from polishing the bath (as if) to whatever it is I'm writing, then I know I've chosen the right project.

    Recently, I wrote an essay for a competition, a totally different type of writing for me, but the fulfilment factor was there and it was worth devoting time to it, even though it took me away from novel-writing for a while.

    I am concentrating on novels for now, but I plan to write short stories again in the future. I think the key is to be absolutely honest with yourself about which kind of writing brings you the most joy at this precise moment and concentrate on that for as long as it continues to make you happy. And while you're busy with it, take a moment to reflect on how much you love it, as a reminder not to let your mind dwell on any projects that are taking a back seat for now. Back seats are very useful thngs - although mine are almost certainly rather dusty. xxx

  2. Thank you for your wonderful comment, Jo. Brilliant advice, as always. I'm just not feeling the love for the novel at the moment. Writing short stories continues to give me great pleasure, even though the rejections from the womags don't!