February is a hard month, where I find my feelings are too often dominated by the weather. When I open my curtains in the morning I honestly don’t know what to expect. Will I see lovely (if cold) sunshine, pouring rain or (and this the most likely) just a dull, grey sky that sucks the life from the world around it? In the UK, the possibility of snow is real in February, threatening to send the country into chaos with a meagre few centimetres of ground cover.
There is hope, however. It’s about now that I notice the days start to get longer. On my morning commute sunshine takes the place of artificial lamps and strip lighting. Even on the most miserable days, I start my journey home in daylight, and if I’m lucky I get to see the sunset from my train window. The first snowdrops have appeared, and the first of the trees are blossoming. February might be a cold, hard month, but it’s not without it’s beauty.
Of course, all this horrible weather also gives a writer plenty of opportunity to stay inside and get some work done. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, with mixed successes.
Essex Author Day
As part of the Essex Book Festival, in March, I’ll be speaking at “Essex Authors and You” in Chelmsford. It’s not often that I get chance to talk about writing to a room full of writers, so I’m excited about this. I asked to speak on world building in sci-fi, something that I had to struggle with when writing The Unjudged (and am battling again with False Sanctuary). I’m hoping that, rather than me just chatting away for an hour, I’ll be able to convince people to join in with the session and help me make it a really interesting discussion.
I’m not allowed to record the session, unfortunately, but I’m going to write a summary what I’m going to cover as part of next month’s update. As I’ll be there the entire day, I’ll also have the chance to flog some copies of The Unjudged, and increase awareness of the blog. I’m trying not to go in with any particular expectations, as I don’t know who will be attending, or what they’re hoping to get out of it. I’ll be happy if anyone turns up to my session.
If you’re interesting in attending, you can book here.
Write more isn’t enough (The Write with Phil book)
This is still underway, and I’ve made significant progress this month. I’m giving it another run through in what I hope is the final order with a view to publishing early March. After some significant editing, this won’t be a heavy book, but what it lacks in length I’m hoping it will make up for in substance.
The main problem I’ve had with this book is trying to bring together the changing writing style of WWP in 2018. I’m the first to admit that I was often rushing my blog posts last year to meet the publication deadline, and as a result some of the posts were too random, too scatty and too confused for a real book. So what started out as a simple compilation of blog posts has turned into something quite a bit different. Although some of the titles are similar, a lot of the content is now completely new.
As well as creating something of high quality, going back over the posts has helped my think about the structure I used for the blog posts, and how I might improve it going forward. A lot of the posts last year were brain dumps. The information was in there, but how I presented it was very different. Reflecting on this can only improve both my creative and non-fiction writing.
Last month, I powered through a submission for the Mogford short story prize. It was great. I loved writing the short story, and I was really happy with the outcome. This month, however, I got myself into a pickle. I saw the prompt that I wanted to write for – the Writing Co-operative/PS, I Love You competition on Medium – but for whatever reason I couldn’t create a narrative out of the idea that I had. I think that moving into Romance (or in this case, anti-Romance) was a step to far for my creative brain.
Finally, this morning I made the decision to call the project dead. This was a big call for me, as one of my goals this year was to enter a short story competition a month. I’m now halfway through the month with a blank page. I’m not even sure what competition to enter. 15 days is plenty, though. I’m sure I’ll manage something. I’m determined not to fall at the first hurdle.
If anyone wants to help with the WWP book, I’d love a volunteer to do a proper proof read, preferably towards the end of the month. This is simply a grammar job, I’m not looking for detailed feedback at this point, just someone to make sure my sentences make sense.
So, my friends, I’m off to enjoy a walk on a frosty morning. The sun is low and not giving off much heat, but it’s better than nothing. Plus I might get some pretty pictures, like the images on this post.