Love, Actually

Happy Valentine’s Day! Yes, I know it’s been and gone, but I wasn’t blogging on that day, was I? And I can’t just pretend it never happened, can I? After all, as my headline quote thingy says, “Love is woman’s moon and sun”, and so it is. Well, in the world of fiction, at least.

I’ve had a proper up and downy kind of week. (Doesn’t my grasp of the English language thrill you?) As you may or may not know or care, I am currently separated from DH and, trust me, being a separated person in Valentine’s week isn’t much fun. I sat, slumped in the office in a state of gloom, while all around me people discussed their plans for the evening and simpered on about the presents and cards they were planning to send and, more importantly, were planning to receive. Me? I typed solemnly on, ignoring the whole conversation. I had no interest in Valentine’s Day. I wasn’t listening to their silly plans for this shallow, over-hyped, over-commercialized waste of time.

Then, on Valentine’s Day, I staggered downstairs in my glamorous ensemble of pink pyjamas and fluffly slipper boots to discover a beautiful cellophane wrapped bunch of red roses – proper ones from a florist, not grabbed from Tesco’s or a garage, I might add – and a lovely card from DH. Was I chuffed? You bet your sweet life I was. Of course, in spite of my total aversion to this special day and my separated status, I had sent him a card.  I’d Funky Pigeoned him, so to speak. But I wasn’t expecting anything back because a) we’re separated, b) he’s usually as tight as a gnat’s arse and c) we don’t do Valentine presents. A card, yes, but not presents. And I don’t think he even sent me flowers when I had the kids. So you see, it was a massive deal to me.  So I swaggered into work, grinning to myself as I realised that for the first time ever I could proudly announce that I had been given red roses for Valentine’s Day, and what happened? Nothing. A Big Fat Zero. I think my work colleagues, sensitive to my separated status, had decided not to mention it to me nor to ask me what they were asking each other all flipping day.  Absolutely typical. Still, I don’t think I stopped smiling all day. Just shows you how ridiculously happy this shallow, over-hyped, over-commercialized waste of time can make you. Ain’t love grand?

I’ve been very busy writing this week, and also doing a lot of thinking. I think thinking is under-rated. When you’re sitting there, staring into space, trying to work out a piece of dialogue or untangle a twisted plot point, absently chewing on a pen and gazing blankly out of the window, people simply don’t seem to appreciate that you’re actually hard at work. Unless you’re physically writing or tapping on a keyboard they think you’re wasting time. It’s very annoying and rather rude. Mind you, I was at the office at the time and there was a queue for prescriptions…

I’ve been pondering word counts this week as you will know if you’ve read my page entitled Word Count Worries, and if you haven’t read it, why on earth not? You’ll find it by clicking on the Writing  tab at the top of the page. Off you go, then. Oh, hang on…best finish this first. I won’t go over what I’ve been pondering or what suggestions the dear souls who responded to my plea for help came up with. If you want to know, you know where to look.

What I do want to say is that I have been completely overwhelmed by how kind and supportive the writing community is. From the minute I took the plunge and made my intention to write a novel public knowledge on Twitter and Facebook, I have been literally dumbfounded by how much other writers – many of them published – have encouraged and advised and been generally jolly friendly. My gob has been well and truly smacked by their kindness and their lack of ego. They really are a fantastic bunch and I am so pleased to have made their virtual acquaintance. I appreciate every single one of those wonderful people’s comments and am constantly shocked when they take the time to respond.

Just yesterday, some marvellous authors commented on my blog post and offered me advice, and the other day Veronica Henry “liked” a Facebook comment I’d made. Veronica Henry!! I tell you, I went to work with a face like Zippy. I couldn’t smile wide enough.

So in spite of the fact that I may have to buy myself a wig as I’ve been tearing my hair out so much over this novel, my resolve is still firm. In fact, I am more determined than ever to continue as I know I have such amazing back up and have been assured by so many fantastic writers that they, too, struggle with insecurities and lack of confidence. I know it’s not just me and that makes a whole lot of difference.

So if you’re a would-be writer, or a newbie like me, struggling along in silence and not daring to connect with the writing community, please just take the plunge. There are so many people out there in various stages of their writing careers and they are more than willing to share advice, give tips, congratulate, commiserate and encourage. You don’t have to be alone.  Online you have a whole world of friends to lean on. Go for it! And to all who’ve helped me on my journey so far, thank you! Two small words but they mean a whole lot.

Yes, I know, this has been quite a soppy post, hasn’t it? Still, it is Valentine’s week and I’m allowed to be soppy. I’m pretty sure normal service will be resumed before too long…

Have a great week x

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