When Things Come To Try You, Try Try Again

Francesca considers how life gets in the way of goals, and notebook mania.

They say things come to try us and that certainly seems to be the case for me currently. When I set out my goals in the December blog, I was confident I’d complete them, but it hasn’t quite gone to plan.

I didn’t finish the current novel by February but hope to finish it soon. As for getting the short story ‘out theres’ up to my usual level… Um… I’ve managed to get a few out, mostly to competitions or anthology callouts. The up side is I have two new 7,000 word stories which, if not accepted, I have ideas for to extend to novellas, plus I’ve written a novel opening for a comp which at a later date could be continued.

What doesn’t help in getting goals achieved is having a ‘really good idea’ for the novel already apparently written and edited, which means you have to go back through it and filter in all the elements of the new sub plot. The novel I’m referring to, Ten Years Later, is doing the rounds, but it doesn’t stop me editing it anew each time it goes out. I’ve had a major idea for the very first novel I wrote, Sea Angel, but I must resist putting it into action until sometime in the future.

Notebooks medEven when life makes it hard to get to the computer, I always carry a notebook. I have a variety of them in different sizes and can’t resist buying pretty ones, even when I really don’t need any more. Recently I’ve been away a lot visiting relatives. I’ve found family are quite understanding when I pull the book out of my bag to record an idea, even if they’ve been the cause of it! If I find myself in the rare situation of not having a notebook on me when an idea strikes, I have been known to send myself a text message.

Then there are my ‘plot bunnies’ books. This was something I started seventeen years ago, long before I sent anything out. I’d recently taken on the role of parish magazine editor and had acquired a tatty duplicate notebook for the job. Instead I recorded story ideas in it. I’ve since filled it and am well into a second book, much prettier than the first. In Plot bunny books medtotal there are 318 plot bunnies, for short stories and novels. All the ideas from the other notebooks go into these, so they’re all in one place. A bit of advice: if you start an ideas book like this, put an index at the end with titles or clues to each idea and number the pages, otherwise you’ll never find them when you want them.

July is fast on the way, with the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference and the Writers’ Holiday in Fishguard, (we work darn hard on those ‘holidays’!), so you’ll excuse me if I crack on…


8 thoughts on “When Things Come To Try You, Try Try Again

  1. Confession, Francesca. I, also, have a serious notebook problem, but, unlike yours, my notebooks are completely disorganised, and there is one other problem: illegible handwriting!!!! I cannot imagine being without a notebook., Writers live in fear of the idea which escapes, so the notebook is an essential, and they might as well be aesthetically pleasing.
    I have designated writing times and apart from emergencies, and holidays, nothing is allowed to intrude.Perhaps it’s writing that’s reality and everything else is irrelevant. I am lucky, because the other half is also writing, so if not exactly sympathetic, feels the same sense of commitment, although he does not see the point of fiction.

  2. Yes, I live in fear of the lost idea too, Angela, and it has happened to me when I’ve been distracted, or the idea has come very early in the morning while I’m still half asleep, and then it’s forgotten. It is torture!

    This may sound sexist but I think it’s largely true that men are less into fiction than women. It has certainly been my experience.

  3. Well ‘Man proposes, God (or fate or life or…) disposes. In the meantime I have enough stationery to start a small shop and enough notes for several mammoth sagas on scraps of paper, old envelopes, the backs of supermarket receipts. My ideas and my beauteous notebooks are never in the same place at the same time.

  4. I had a whole scene come to me in the back of the taxi to Gatwick a couple of weeks ago. Luckily my hand luggage contained a notebook and pen (of course!) so I scribbled away all the way there – about an hour’s drive. Without that notebook, not just an idea, but a whole scene would have been lost by the time I found the time to write it. The right hand drawer of my desk is packed with notebooks of all sizes and styles, many of them too good to use!!

  5. How fortunate you had a notebook to hand, Viv. And what a gift to have that inspiration in what otherwise could have been ‘dead’ time. I used to consider some notebooks to good to use too, then one day thought, well that’s what they’re there for!

  6. My apologies for being a little late to this conversation but I’ve been away for a few days. I also have notebooks, of all different shapes and sizes but I also utilise my Voice Memo App on my iPhone. I found this particularly useful when I’m at work or doing the shopping because I always have it with me so a discreet sentence does the trick. I have my son to thank for that tip.

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