Eight years old again

Sunrise on the Exmoor coast.

Sunrise on the Exmoor coast.

About a year ago, I had a dream that I found an old notebook with outlines and ideas for a story I was writing when I was eight. On the cover was a yellow-and-gold-toned photograph of the sea at sunset, and inside was lots of my loopy, girlish writing. Finding this notebook filled me with impossible bliss. I’d found it! That thing that made me happier beyond all other happinesses! When I woke in the grey dawn, I almost wept. That pleasure of putting stories together as a child was what had driven me to write for most of my life. But becoming a published author (or, in my case, two published authors) and having deadlines to manage, not to mention a job to hold down and children to raise, had more recently made writing a task to be scheduled into a busy life. Often, I would sit down feeling distracted and despondent, and take a good half hour to get any momentum. I was still writing, still enjoying my stories, but it wasn’t like in the dream, where it was the most perfect joy of them all.

That dream made me revisit my priorities. It’s taken some time and some tough calls, but right now I am writing the sequel to Daughters of the Storm (tentatively called “A Sea of Wings” and yes, it is mostly set by the seaside, just like the photograph on the cover of my dream-notebook), and the feeling is back! I wake up itching to write. The story is playing in my head like a movie the whole time. The solution all along was to make time and space in my mind all throughout the day, rather than forcing myself only to think about the story in the small windows of time I had to write. I’m writing reams and reams and it’s massaging my soul; I’m so happy. I’m even getting great ideas for the next book (a Kimberley Freeman) so I’m hoping to continue riding this wave for a long time to come.

Remember, kids: know the difference between what is urgent and what is important. Writing is the most important thing that I do. Everything else can wait a little while.

7 responses to “Eight years old again

  1. That is so wonderful to hear! I love it when a dream like that reminds you of something lost. I am going through a similar writing transformation myself. This year I published and it has been so hectic juggling ‘real job’, publishing, uni and life that something got lost along the way. This month I decided to focus on a huge word count (2k a day minimum) for a new book and I have been having reckless fun writing it. Such a change has occurred in my moods that a friend of mine actually said, “I am glad that you are getting your mojo back, I know publishing robbed you of some of your enjoyment.” Really made me stop and reassess why I had let the pressure of publishing get to me and interfere with the fun of telling stories. It’s pouring out of me and reminded me that the story is the thing to focus on. As you said publishing, life and everything else comes second.

  2. The solution all along was to make time and space in my mind all throughout the day

    This is awesome, and exactly what I needed to read today. Please expand on this point a little? I need to achieve exactly this, and any tips/pointers from someone who’s gone before (i.e. had to think around a 2.5 year old chattering non-stop at them all day long) would be awesome! My next novel is languishing because a toddler transitioning to no naps is throttling my will to live.

    • Deborah, hello! In terms of simple, practical things I do: if I have ten minutes (e.g. waiting outside my daughter’s school at pick-up time) I take my notebook and I write down ideas for scenes and organise them and so on. I am really trying hard to stay off the internet (which is where a lot of us go when we have a spare 20 mins or so) and that also really helps. I also try to work outside at least a little while every day, just sitting in my garden or patio where I can hear birds and see trees. I have a very small garden as I live in the inner city, but I find it helps immensely just to create some space in my brain. I hope those things help!

      • Thank you, yes, that does help! Funnily enough a few months back I made the conscious decision to move my internet usage to those lost 10 minute windows throughout the day (in an attempt to keep my writing window free of errand-running). Which perhaps has been working a little too well? I’ve been paying attention today to how often I pick up my phone for a mini-break from whatever I’m thinking about, and it’s far too much! I think perhaps I’ll dedicate a half-hour at some point in the day to running those internet errands and steal back my lost minutes for the novel.

        I also like the idea of finding somewhere outside – I’m inner-city too, and in an apartment with no garden, and I’m dearly missing a window/patio with an outlook. Time to try and remedy that, I think.

  3. Thank you for the reminderđŸ™‚ I was just talking to a buddy about how my academic life is squeezing everything else out … But really only because I’m not making the choice otherwise.

    I’m so happy thinking of you joyfully writing more about the sisters. I’m loving my state of anticipation.

    Happy creating
    xo

  4. You are amazing Kim. I absolutely adore your writing & your captivating stories that I cannot put down. Keep doing what is important!! Xx

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