It’s like Clapham Junction in my head. Trains of thought speeding about, vying for space, and none stopping long enough for me to get on.
Annoyingly, they seem to be running in the middle of the night, so I get up in the morning too tired to execute anything on my to-do list.
The 1.14 to Clutterham
I’m Spring cleaning at the moment and as it’s not really an annual thing in our household, we’re talking about some serious decluttering. Since there’s only a finite amount of space in our home, I should be getting rid of much of this stuff. But there are so many boxes labelled ‘to be repaired’, ‘to be sold on ebay’, ‘to keep for a rainy day’ and it feels like I’m just shifting things from one place to another. Nearly every inch of floor-space is being taken up with containers and piles of paper that need filing and until I clear that, I can’t get on with anything else.
The 2.25 to Writerton
My daughter’s friend recently asked me what kind of work I did. As I didn’t really have an elevator pitch to cover my multitudinous skills, I simply said: ‘Well, I suppose I write for a living’. This is true, when you consider that the earnings declared on my last few tax returns were mostly as a result of writing – press releases, content for a corporate website, short stories, turning a mammoth business document into plain English, even blogging. It means my personal writing projects have gone to pot. I am juggling three at the moment:
- a second novel. I’ve shelved the other one for now because my writer’s ‘voice’ has changed quite a bit over the years and it would need major tweaking before I do anything with it. The second book is completely different from the first and involves a lot of research which I don’t seem to have time for
- a feature on crisis communications. I was fascinated by a PR conference I attended on how businesses can make or break their reputations by the way they handle a situation when things go wrong. I wanted to look at Vauxhall’s response to fires breaking out in some of its Zafira B cars. The company’s director of communications has given me a very substantial interview, but a Facebook group which is raising a petition and taking legal action against the company is proving to be more elusive.
- more short stories. My writer friend Kim Fleet has been a fabulous mentor and I’m ashamed to say that while one of her main pieces of advice was to keep sending my work to publications, I’ve pretty well failed to do that. I have several that are ready to go, but I just haven’t got around to farming them out. I did have a competition win last summer, but it only involved emailing my manuscript rather than printing it, placing it in an envelope and heading to the post office to get it stamped and sent off.
The 3.40 to Film City
Every February for the last three years, I’ve been filming the Bristol Sound and Vision Show for the hi-fi retailer Audio T with my good friend and former BBC colleague, Andy Barnard, who now runs Sure Shot HD Video Productions. It’s manic, the subject is not really my cup of tea but actually, it’s immense fun. And every time we do it, I say: ‘I want to make other films.’ We’ve knocked about a few ideas, but with all of the above going on, they remain just that. But the desire to do something about them still keeps me awake at night.
The 4.52 to Volunteersville
I recently dropped in on a planning meeting where our local community association was arguing against the development of a nearby pub into flats. The four-hour hearing went in our favour and during a celebratory drink, I found myself agreeing to help out with the association’s website and marketing. It was probably the prosecco talking, but here I am, adding more trains to the junction.
Something else which hasn’t yet kept me awake, but probably will nearer the time is that I have been invited by author Rachel Sargeant to do a joint talk with her about being a writer for members of a twinning group in Gloucester. I feel totally out of her league, but very flattered to have been asked. To writer friends who have already done one of these, any tips gratefully received.