I’m writing this from my annual retreat in Usk. Well, when I say annual, what I mean is that I came here last year at around this time and I’m hoping to be able to come again next year, so if I call it my annual retreat, that makes it come true, right?
The hotel I’m staying in is only about 20 minutes away from home, which you might think isn’t much of a holiday, but when you’re a home educating mother of five, those 20 minutes might as well be 200 miles because they’re far enough away not to have children coming up to you every five minutes to ask you if they can watch a movie/give you a hug/have a drink/punch their sibling. Well, to be fair, they don’t actually ask permission for the latter, but I’m the one who gets to mop up the tears afterwards and help them work on their conflict resolution skills, so if they did, my life would be a little quieter…
I adore my children, but I can get so much more writing done when I’m having a little break and once a year isn’t going to traumatise them – or my husband left looking after them – too much.
Since this is a spa hotel, I start my day with a swim. I do as many lengths as I feel I want to before jumping in the jacuzzi for a while and finishing off with a spell in the sauna. It’s a tough life. In my defense, I am actually working while I’m swimming. I’m plotting out what I’m going to write next, deciding what direction my career’s going to go in and figuring out how to take over the world.
My husband and I have been talking about how we can give me more time to write. He’s looking at restructuring his career as well and if things go the way we both hope they will, by the time I return to my Usk retreat this time next year, our lives will be very different.
I’ve been a freelance writer for a few years now and I’ve been going from strength to strength. I have a nice collection of repeat clients I enjoy working with and who pay me well for what I do, but now’s the time to take things to the next stage. If you want to talk gamification, I need to level up. You see, I love writing. I’ll write anything someone pays me to write, whether that be a short story, novel, blog post, web copy or script. But it’s not the stuff that I want to write, and the one thing I’ve noticed about freelance writing is that being paid to put words on a page is highly addictive. There’s a big rush that comes when someone gives you cold, hard cash to say thank you for writing. The problem is that you end up doing more writing for money, which leaves less time for writing for you and the ideal end game is to combine both of those so that I’m writing my own material and being paid for that.
Speaking of which, We Just Clicked, my second novel with So Vain Books, was released last week and while I’m away, I’m putting the finishing touches to my third book for So Vain, The Trouble with Secrets. It’s due for release in August of this year, which means that there will be a few books out there with my name on them by the end of the year.
In addition, I was brave and submitted a manuscript to a publisher that usually only accepts work through an agent. Since I don’t have an agent yet, I had to jump at the opportunity to be seen by a major publishing house. It might not come to anything, but it was the push I needed to finally re-examine a short story I wrote about six years ago and have always intended to revisit. I felt at the time that it had a novel lurking in it, but have never sat down to work on it. Now I have a full plot outline and a decent start of a story that I love so much that even if it doesn’t appeal to these publishers, I’m going to do something with it so that it doesn’t spend another six years languishing in a drawer gathering dust.
All I can say is watch this space…