I've been away from the blog for some weeks and sadly not because I've been busy writing. In February my mum passed away suddenly and I quickly learned there are many things to sort out when someone close dies - and there is no time to really process there are no longer in your life. Consequently, my head has been crowded with other tasks other than writing. I've been back home for several weeks and starting to get myself into a rhythm again, though mostly editing and subbing work rather than creating anything new.
A poet friend, Zoe Mitchell, reckons the writing well can get depleted and sometimes you need time out to let it refill. She advocates lots of reading, watching films and TV, going to the cinema and theatre to help the process - I'm up for all of these. Another friend is a keen runner and always claims no matter how long the distance for a run or walk what matters is 'time on legs.' I like that idea and believe it applies to writing too.
I don't seem to suffer from writer's block, when I need to write then I can always get on with it. My problem is a block of ideas - when there's nothing in my head then I can't write. I need the idea to be almost fully formed before I start. I often work through stories or chapters in my head while doing other stuff, such as washing up, ironing, gardening and my weekly swim. Running isn't good for writing as my village route is a mixture of road and woodland, so I need to concentrate on my feet and not tripping up! Walking is brilliant for plotting and spending time in my head. We're blessed with living in a beautiful part of West Sussex and walk on the South Downs. I often go out with hubby and sometimes we like to chat - he works from home and sometimes has programming problems he wants to talk through, as I used to manage programmers/statisticians I actually can follow his conversation (and sometimes help), but mostly he wants to talk something out. But there are times when we both agree we just want to walk and think. This is perfect for me to spend quality time in my head. On a long walk back in January a new story came to me. I was able to write it over the next couple of days and submit it to a competition. Incredibly, that story 'The Gingerbread Fox' went on to make the final 16 of the 2017 Mogford Prize (worth £10,000). It didn't win but just goes to show what can be achieved when you allow yourself writing time in your head. Above is a photo of Ferdinand the fox (he visited our garden all last summer), the handsome inspiration behind the story.
The universe has been kind to me in the last few weeks, bringing good news of writing success. What I need right now is simply to day-dream, so if you catch me staring off into space then remember I'm actually spending valuable time in my head ...