Thursday, 18 September 2014

Here, now

I seem to have gone from the life of stay-at-home-mother, with not much more to challenge me than a few play dates and some stubborn housework, into a tornado of activity (all studying or writing related), leaving me almost dizzy in the process.

Let's just say it's been a busy week (and it's still only Thursday; in other words, the day before our planned trip up North so my husband can be the best man at his best friend's wedding. But that's another story.)

On Tuesday night I had the induction evening at the university, for my Masters programme which is officially starting next Monday. On Wednesday afternoon, I attended an open reading event where both the tutors and the students shared their work, and which was a real eye opener as to the staggering amount of talent amongst them. Tonight I had the first meeting of the Everyman's Playwrights, at the local Everyman Theatre, and got very excited about the project proposed to us.
A lot of new faces, a lot of new ideas and several projects already commencing. A few awkward moments, as usually happens when you meet people for the first time, but no worry because who could be more awkward than us writers, we are not exactly famous for our social grace so one awkward moment soon fades out of memory, pushed out by many more that followed.

This all seems like a big, momentous change in my life, from one of non-writing to one of writing. But in truth, I have, like Ariadne, been following a thin thread of writing for the last ten years. In 2004, I bought the well known home study course Writers Bureau. I hardly remember anything from that course, which I tried to follow for about a year, but recently while sorting out some old office boxes I came across a notebook. In this notebook I had kept a record of what I had written and sent to which magazine, and whether it was accepted or not. It was quite a shock to come across this as I have neither kept any of the creative work in question, nor do I have any memory of it! I even, apparently, earned £20 for a 'Star' letter published by a magazine, and I don't remember that either.

A couple of years later, I started my first book, 'Jealous Moon Over Serbia'. While not a very good book, it is nonetheless a finished book of some 80,000 words or so. I spent a few years writing it and another year in trying to find an agent for it. I sent it to around fifteen agents I found in the Writers' and Artists' Yearbook 2010, and at one point a large London agency called Sheil Land Associates requested to see the full manuscript (after reading my submitted synopsis and an extract).
Unfortunately this didn't result in me being taken on by them, but it solidified my intent to keep on writing until something happens.

That something happened when I submitted a very poor draft (I realise, in hindsight) of a play called 'The Wall' for the Verity Bargate prize in 2010 and, while it didn't get to the shortlist, it was noticed by a theatre director Dan Coleman who was on the judge panel. He helped me to develop it and for the next two years this play was the focus of my attention. I have sent it to a number of competitions since, it has been shortlisted in several so far, even reaching the top 5. And then all the events which followed on from there, which bring me to right here.

Here, now. I try to keep in mind this mindfulness mantra while I rush from one part of my day to the next, from the hours I devote to childcare, to the hours I trust the childcare to someone else so I can devote myself to my writing. I try to remember not to waste my time with the children by thinking about my course, or day dreaming about my play being on a big stage, or doing a book signing in Waterstones (or just fantasising about the reliably good cup of Costa Coffee upstairs). I remind myself not to waste the time spent with fellow writers by worrying about whether my children have eaten all their pasta for dinner. I tell myself to have faith, to let people and events develop. To let my children develop so they are not more needy of me than their age requires. To let events develop so I can find my flow in them, a natural sense of pace and rhythm without too much stress and strain in my day.

Here now, is the mantra that will need to keep me going for at least the next two years of my life (probably more). Here, now, is good. I am thankful.

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