As far as running a blog goes, 2020 did not go according to plan. In 2019 I wrote two pieces every month and had every intention to achieve the same on my differently focussed blog for the following year. As I wrote in my first 2020 post, I planned to enter a writing competition every month. The competitions had to take me into unfamiliar writing arenas. I aimed to write a piece about my writing process and, depending on the outcomes, post the submitted pieces on my blog. Up to July, it was going well. Enthusiasm was high and I had done OK in the competitions – a win and a couple of commendations. And then… we all know what happened then. Lockdown.
Lockdown coincided with a family funeral, selling my house and moving 300 miles away. Throw in our house purchase falling through leaving us homeless and I had a perfect storm of ‘stressful situation’. Fortunately, homelessness was seen off by belongings going into storage and my partner and I moving into a caravan on a lovely peaceful site while we looked for a new house to buy. We had a bit of an extended summer holiday and it was lovely. Then the government decreed that the site had to close. We were fortunate to be able to find a fully furnished rental which allowed pets but again… ‘stress’ doesn’t cover how challenging the period was. For the record, a word of advice: don’t sell a house in a pandemic or try to move 300 miles in a lockdown.
Thanks to Georgy Rudakov Via Unsplash for the image
I stopped writing. From the end of June 2020 until mid-January 2021 I did not write as much as a shopping list. It wasn’t apathy, fugue or procrastination. With hindsight I think it was process-related – I simply got out of my ‘groove’ which included elements of physical space (my lost office and only having my laptop to work on) and different measurements of time in a lockdown.
What kickstarted me back into a groove was the astounding news from Pen to Print that I am one of their ten Book Challenge Competition winners. Way back at the beginning of 2020 I submitted a synopsis and first chapter of a novel. Submissions are filtered down to ten winners and I was one of the ten. The winners all get mentoring support to get the book to publication. The prize is worth £5k. Next year, the ten completed books will also go into a final competition and the ultimate winner will be chosen.
I am beyond thrilled to win such a valuable prize which is packed with opportunity. Pen to Print has a great deal of book industry respect and support and I am so lucky to be joining their stable of writers. I have already (virtually) ‘met’ my fellow writers and the mentor team and am at last writing again – with a curious wonder that I ever left something I love so much.
For those unfamiliar with Pen to Print do check out their website at https://pentoprint.org/ They run amazing competitions and fabulous courses.
I will not, mostly, be entering competitions in 2021 but I will be focussed on completing my novel. So, I am changing the name of the blog to reflect the different writing focus this year. I will continue to blog about my process as the year goes on.
PS Am delighted to have had a poem, ‘FUG’ (about lockdown) accepted for the annual on-line Febulous (sic) February blog. I have recorded a reading of the poem which is to be played on Medway Pride Radio sometime in February. I will add a link when I get it.