Saddling up

It’s been a bit of a struggle to adjust to working for myself, as the last few blog posts have suggested.  But I’m hoping I’ve turned the corner.  Got back on the horse.  Persuaded the horse to turn the corner, drink some water, perform a couple of quick stepovers and do the fandango.  Mamma mia, mamma mia, can you put me on the bridle.  Ok.  Enough already.  The point is, things are looking up.One of the magic things about the week in Totleigh Barton was the lack of distractions.  Well, apart from the workshops, cooking, washing up, talking pish and cow-spotting.  Well, since going freelance I’ve found it much harder than I should be to keep my writing time free of displacement activities (blogging included).  So, on Friday I tried a new approach.  I tried to go decidedly retro.

It was a writing day, but I decided to go to the ‘office’ rather than spend another day staring at the magpies staring at me from the rooftop aerials opposite.  Although in this case it was Starbucks. I sat by a window with an oversized mug of coffee and just set pretentious-mode to stun.  Moleskine, fountain pen, coffee.  Obscure book of short stories in satchel.  Sadly, despite every effort to purchase a new nationality at the counter, I could not become French or Russian.  I settled for the compromise of fruit toast.  Well, something had to break the Penguin-perfectness of the moment.

I only meant to sit down to do my ‘morning pages’.  I didn’t have a clue what I would write. And for some reason I wrote down ‘it didn’t look like he would be able to fix the leak now’.  No idea why.  And I ran with it.  And the pen skittered away on the paper and three hours later I had the first draft of a new story for my ‘Shoes’ collection.  Eighteen-hundred words or thereabouts.

And having met F for a novelty cup of lunchtime tea, I then came home and ‘wrote’ it again, at the keyboard.  A shade under three thousand words, this draft. It’s turned into an experiment with first-person monologue, with just a little dialogue to break it up for the reader.  It has lots of little Ivan trademarks, including some fairly savage regional stereotyping.  I’m reasonably pleased with it.

And I’m particularly pleased as it’s my most productive writing day ever (nearly 5,000 words) and probably more importantly in the grand scheme of things seven or so hours of fiction graft.  I’m also happy that the copy-editing course I’ve been attending appears to be having a positive effect on my style, although my new-found idiot-pedant copy-editor occasionally disagrees.

If anyone wants to read it (it’s called Dirty Boots by the way – drop me a comment or an email).

Finally, in other news, I’ve started running again.  Slowly, and only on the treadie.  But two eight-plus-mile runs and a gentle plod in the middle. So getting back towards the work rate from earlier in the year.  And I’m just three miles short of 500 for the year to date.

So two types of shorts, two treadmills metaphorically and literally re-trodden.  Happiness is sheer effort.  And I have ‘deadlines’ for both for October.  Lots of hard work ahead.  Good.

Keep smiling, and keep getting back on the horse folks.  Especially if it’s a unicorn.  Or carved in chalk.  Or perhaps on the bonnet of a blood-red sports car.

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