After a couple of years of commissioned writing, moving house, setting up a second home in France and winding down a full academic career at a Russell Group university, it’s time to get back in touch with ‘the book’. Why now? It’s the busiest writing time of my life, editing a commissioned book (with Maggie Robson), the 2nd edition of the Sage Handbook for Counselling Children And Young People, authoring commissioned distance learning university courses, writing articles for a professional journal, reviewing articles, and preparing proposals for new counselling and psychotherapy books. Having recently retired from Newcastle University and working part-time for Arden University Ltd, as well as running my private practice counselling, clinical supervision and training, I’ve perceived lots of free time. Surely ‘semi-retired’ means that?
It means working with a new vigour on projects I choose to take on. More flexibility and choice. Different locations, but working from home. Always. ‘Home’ may be the North of England, or the South of France (or Florida, Costa Rica, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, more about this later) but my choice of location and my choice of times.
So why #my500words again now when I’m writing so much? I write more than that everyday. I want to get back into my novel, Under Her Skin, and this is what the challenge refers to. It’s slipped, big time, and I miss it.
Watch this space!
The Sage Handbook for Counselling Children and Young People was launched today at Blackwell’s bookshop on Keele University Campus. Along with co-editors Maggie Robson and Ann Beynon, I signed many copies of the book. We were fuelled by wine and nibbles, and it was great fun, the end of 2-3 years of hard work writing, editing and managing a large number of authors. Writing is not just about the words on the page!
I’m taking Jeff Goins 500 word October blogging challenge. Can I write 500 words a day on my blog? What will I write? Who am I writing for? Are you my audience?who are you? While writing this blog post, I realised that the theme is creativity.
It’s been months since I’ve written for this blog, I’ve been too busy, the counselling book, family, work, travel. But the effect on me is lack of fulfilment. Many of us need to be creative in order to feel fulfilled, check out the book- The Creativity Cure: A Do-It-Yourself Prescription for Happiness – written by a psychiatrist and a hand surgeon. Creativity and being in touch with our creative self can change the way we feel, about ourselves, others and provide immense pleasure and satisfaction, taking us into the ‘zone’. I spoke with a counselling client today who could not find her own creativity, her feelings were too mixed up with being ‘bad’ at painting and drawing, rather than enjoying a broader sense of creativity not linked to achievement or the judgement of others.
This brings me to the idea of achievement in writing and others’ judgements of my attempts to produce clear, coherent writing, a novel, a psychological thriller. Write a bestseller and get rich, friends say. Sadly, miss the point. Or do they? Who am I to write such a book, a best selling novel? I’ve written a best seller, a therapy book, this isn’t the same. Can I write a best selling novel? Do I want to? You can sense my ambivalence here. I’m not special, famous, or particularly interesting. How can I write a book that will engage and entertain? Why would I?
Here’s why. I’m me, special and unique in my own introspective, introverted way. I’m feisty, I can and will do this. What has feistiness got to do with it? My natural inclination to hide and remain anonymous, in true introvert style can be overcome by a sort of grumpiness, partially mildly aggressive attitude to get the better of my inclination to hide under a stone, eyes closed, wishing everyone would go away and leave me in peace. My feistiness gives me a voice, it says ‘bring it on, here I am’. Wow, the power of words! I’m taking the 21 day blogging challenge and leaving e safety of my cave. Bring it on!
My 500 word January writing challenge went well until I hit the last week and our academic publisher sent us (myself, Maggie Robson and Ann Beynon) the review of a draft and the deadline for completing the Handbook for Counselling Children and Young People. However, I thought, wrongly as it turned out, that this would provide the impetus and motivation for the last week of the 500 words a day challenge.
This brings me to the title of this post, Is writing really just about writing? Well…sometimes it is and I can sit and write word after word, sentence, paragraph and page. You writers out there will recognise this, the ‘pen’ flows with words and ideas and you just can’t stop. Alternatively, you sit at the desk and agonise over every single word, phrases such as ‘like pulling back teeth’ spring to mind.
However, writing for the Handbook deadline did not involve much actual writing at this stage. It involved liaising with authors, re-structuring chapters, fiddling about with bits of prose and adding links to theory and practice and dialoguing with our publisher. This did not add anything to my 500 word challenge, it stopped me from reaching my goal.
Is this writing? Is writing as narrow as putting words onto the page?
What do you think? Post a comment to let me know your thoughts on this.
Our book: Handbook for Counselling Children and Young People, will be published in November this year by Sage Publishers, Edited by Sue Pattison, Maggie Robson, and Ann Beynon.
See link below for pre-ordering:
This is a brilliant challenge and much better than making New Year resolutions that never seem to work out. By taking this challenge to write 500 words a day, every day, for the whole of January (at least), I have managed to produce my second Writer’s Newsletter and complete The first chapter of my book, Under Her Skin.
It’s a fabulous challenge, check it out on this link:
Hi, if you haven’t already received Chapter One, email and I will send it across to you. Sue
I hope you enjoyed the first newsletter. I’ve had some very positive feedback from several readers regarding introducing my novel ‘Under Her Skin’, with comments such as “send me Chapter One now”.
In my first Newsletter I introduced Kate, a young psychologist who becomes the target of a cold-blooded psychopath. Escape the cold, dark, damp English January and curl up
on the sofa with a glass of whatever hits the spot for you (at this time of year a mellow Merlot or Malbec does it for me), kick off your shoes and read Chapter One: Darkness and Deceit. In this chapter you will meet for the first time several characters, the major ones are Kate, forensic psychologist and James, smooth, rich, cold-blooded psychopath. Other characters include Nadia, abused prostitute and whistle blower; Anton, James’ London manservant and chauffeur; Robert, his Scottish butler; Morag, his Scottish housekeeper; and Tom his Scottish chauffeur and gamekeeper.
Let me know what you think of the chapter, the characters and what the chapter/characters did for you, share with me your thoughts, feelings and emotions. I’m working on Chapter Two, which should be ready by February and could benefit from your inout.
Check out my blog, where I will also be posting material from the Newsletter and other stuff. You can post your responses, be part of a community of strong women and contribute to the Tribal discussions. Also Tweet if you want to.
All the best,
I have emailed my first Writer Newsletter to my supportive writing community. This felt so good and its something really concrete.
My writing is for and about strong women who dealing with, or have overcome adversity in their lives. Some would say that adversity is a natural part of all women’s lives. I agree.
“Being a woman is hard work”
That is not to say that men don’t have challenges to overcome, they do. This Newsletter is also for all the men who support the women in their lives, wives, girlfriends, lovers, sisters, mothers, friends. You are welcome to join our Tribe.
What do I mean by Tribe?
A tribe is a group of individuals who are joined together by common ideas and form a community. In this case the community is strong women and supportive men, and the ideas are open to discussion, but will centre on overcoming challenge and adversity and supporting each other’s development.
My first novel is a psychological thriller, written around a central character or protagonist, Kate; a young psychologist who becomes the target of a cold-blooded psychopath. Her main drive is to rid society of dangerous men such as James McCain and in doing so she is forced to confront her own internal demons and fight to lay them to rest.
The working title is : Under Her Skin.
Alongside this novel, I’m gathering research for a different type of book about the psychology of strong women, their narratives and what gives meaning to their lives. A possible title is : Live Strong, Live Happy and it will contain a solid self-help core.
You can post your responses here, or email me, and be part of a community of strong women and contribute to the Tribal discussions. Also Tweet if you want to.