Wednesday 30 October 2019

Jumping in the deep end

Viv and I walked along Mylor Creek on Sunday after horrendous weather on Friday and Saturday - and this week has just been terrible. Torrential rain is one thing but howling gales as well make me feel really miserable. So I've put on my SAD lamp - I'm never sure if it works but it can't do any harm - and clearing my decks before getting stuck into my novel again.

It was this time last year that I was teetering on the edge, feeling really nervous about starting to write it - because I didn't know if I could. I proved to myself that I could, but having had two months away from it while waiting for essential feedback, I've got out of the swing of writing it. Admittedly, the changes I am going to have to make means that there has been a shift in the entire novel - it will still the same story essentially but pared down. It will, I hope, be a stronger book. I have faith that these decisions are the right ones, but it's still daunting.

But having had those two months off, I'm terrified of starting. All those fears have rushed back, just the same if not worse. Admittedly I have to do a lot of planning to make sure I know what I'm going to write, but it is really scary and I don't feel ready yet. I'm hoping I will feel ready in a week or so, but in the meantime I just need to think it all through which is essential.

You know when there are things - big things - you have to do, and you feel sick at the very thought of it? You weigh up the pros and cons, and your stomach gives that horrible flutter, then plummets, like descending in a very fast lift. Your pulse races and you can't concentrate, nothing makes sense. I've been doing some of that too, but I always write things down. Well, being a writer, of course I do. My thoughts make more sense to me through my fingers - they become more cohesive.

And then, well, at some point - when you're ready - you've just got to jump in the deep end. Which is what I will be doing very soon with my novel.

In case you think that it's all doom and gloom in the Flowerpot household, it certainly isn't. Admittedly Moll has had another upset tummy but fingers crossed she's OK now. Then the van broke down on Sunday but dear Paul spent hours fixing it yesterday. And my painful tooth has subsided. But the good news is that I finished my deadlines a week early for my research work, and the new walks book is going well. I'm hoping to do another walk next week - weather permitting.

In the meantime, here's another antidote to this horrible weather. Another of Terence Coventry's wonderful sculptures.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

An artist and novel changes

I had a lovely weekend away and although the weather bucketed down on the Friday, it cleared up and we had a fabulous walk along the beach - Moll went bonkers, having been cooped up in the van for hours. And later found a pub called the Jolly Sailor which was dog friendly and provided very good food and wine at decent prices.

On the way back I had arranged to interview the artist Amanda Hoskin for my next book. We met at the pub in Charlestown and she was lovely - as well as being a dog lover which was fortunate as Moll was in on the act. She has also asked me to write the introduction for her next coffee table book which she is working on - so we can help each other. Do have a look at her work - I think it's fantastic. If I could afford to buy her work I would!

Apropos of nothing, I was given a big plant which has suddenly exploded into flower. They look like baby chrysanthemums and are really joyous at this time of year when little else is flowering.
Just before we went off for the weekend, I'd had some severe comments back about my novel. The previous comments I'd had were all very complimentary - loved it, thought it dealt well with difficult topics and deserved to be printed. But someone else (who I trust, having helped several other people I know get published) was much more harsh.

She's certainly taken a lot of trouble and thought and finally came back saying what she thought I should do, which is ditch a lot of the plot and start the entire novel earlier in the timeline. Which means a huge rewrite. I was really confused, having had two such different comments but talked to another author who said she'd had exactly the same thing. I need to do what's right for my book, and I am mulling through that, but I do believe she's right. And while it does mean a lot of rewriting, I know all the stuff anyway having done detailed character biographies when I started out.

In her words, this should "make a decent novel" so I need to take time to mull it over and figure out how to do it. I've just been landed with some work which has to be done by the end of October so that will stop me rushing the novel.
It does go to show how difficult the whole process is - it really depends who reads your work and whether they like it or not.

But I'm not giving up! Wish me luck...

Tuesday 15 October 2019


No, I haven't turned religious - this is the granite cross used as a navigational marker near Dodman Point - a walk for the new book last week.

When you live on your own you get used to not sharing a bed with someone. I have to say this is one of the things I really miss. Also eating alone. But it does teach you to be resilient. Ultimately you have only yourself to rely on.

I was a bit apprehensive, as I said, before going to Roscoff, as I didn’t know how we’d all get on, but in fact it worked so well and it was lovely to have people to eat with. To go to sleep in a house with other people.

We shared some very personal things which always brings you closer. I learned that I have some true friends, and I am so grateful for that.

Last week I had some unexpected news that really shocked and hurt me - particularly as it meant the holiday I’d been looking forward to whistled out of the window quicker than you could say ‘knife’, with no mention of an alternative date. (Why knife, I wonder, or am I mixing metaphors?)

A week later, the sense of being let down still sits in my gut in an undigested lump, too sore to think about, let alone prod. A cancer of my feelings, raw and bleeding, that I can’t go near.

A dear friend once said to me that friends are people who you would forgive, no matter what they do. I was discussing this with Anne, on a walk this morning and she said, “I think the opposite is true. A friend shouldn't need forgiving. If a friend lets you down, that is the ultimate betrayal.”

I agree. To me, friends are those who will always support you, who never let you down. They are people you know you can trust.

And while I might have had a kick in the guts, I’m so fortunate to have several dear souls who I am honoured to call friends. This, of course, being one of them...

Thursday 3 October 2019


Well, having been a little apprehensive about our Roscoff trip, we had such a brilliant time! The night ferry over went very well, we landed in Roscoff and from then on the sun shone - some of the time - but most importantly we had no rain which, given the weather here, was a real bonus.

We walked miles every day exploring and found our way around the town, had some lovely food, good wine, lovely coffee, and brought some goodies back too. We have cemented firm friendships and all our French improved remarkably.

The only slight drawback was the ferry crossing on the way home which was - rough. We were all ill apart from our lovely professeur who took charge and looked after us all. And at least the rough crossing was on the way home so we could recover here rather than it ruining the holiday.

So here's to our next trip, next year! Here is one of the sculptures on the sculpture trail around Roscoff....