Writing Plans – Past and Present

I had big writing plans for 2016, in spite of the changes that I knew were coming: the move to the UK, the separation, the job-hunting. I was going to finish my WIP and send it through to a mentor for feedback and structural edits. I was going to publish enough poems to be able to fill a collection and start sending it around to poetry publishers. Of course, I was going to continue blogging, both here and on the Geneva Writers’ Group blog, plus all the reviewing and contributing behind the scenes to dVerse Poets Pub and other sites.

Eh, well, no! None of that happened.

Picture credited to Gypsy Rose Lee, 1941: Women at Typewriter
Picture credited to Gypsy Rose Lee, 1941: Women at Typewriter

I struggled to put pen to paper with my novel: the subject matter just felt too close to certain things which I was experiencing, so I kept putting it off. I did make some progress on it during the wonderful writing retreat in Burgundy (about 10,000 words’ worth of progress), but after that it all got very quiet again. It now languishes at the mid-way mark, about 50,000 words or so. However, the screenwriting workshop I went on last Saturday, run by Resource Productions has given me a new appetite for tackling it. I don’t expect to turn it into a screenplay (I don’t know enough about film-making for that), but I can approach it in a new way, perhaps storyboarding, photography etc., so that I finally get the story out of me. Then at least I have some raw material to work with, instead of just having a jumble in my brain. I also discovered the scriptwriting software Final Draft, which may be helpful for structuring thought and writing for novels too (but it’s darn expensive).

I did send out some poems but not in any systematic way. Although a few were accepted, I still don’t have a decent enough bunch to fill a whole volume. I did send out a selection of about 20 for two separate chapbook competitions, but was unsuccessful in both of those. However, I did have a great spurt of poetry in October, when I visited my friends in Provence and some of those poems are amongst the best things I’ve written to date. I seem to have made a bit of a creative jump onto the next step in my progression, and I really hope this is permanent rather than just temporary.

As for reviewing and blogging, I’ve been rather lax with that, at least when it comes to other websites. I’ve cut down on my commitments to reviewing, the Geneva Writers’ Group (no more newsletters, only very occasional blogging), dVerse Poets Pub (no more hosting, only occasional visits). I don’t like doing this, mind. These were some of the most fun activities I was engaging in – but I felt I could not do them justice when they were constantly jostling with other dull but necessary aspects of my life.

This week, just before the Christmas holidays (during which I will take a break from everything but reading), I tried to finish off a couple of projects I wanted to send off in early January. Alas, my Microsoft Office documents seem to be having trouble opening up and saving. I also hear that Yahoo accounts have been compromised. Hurrah, more technological woe to sort out… it will be back to pen and notebooks or semaphore code and smoke signals for me.





44 thoughts on “Writing Plans – Past and Present”

  1. Ah, Marina, it’s so tough when life gets in the way, especially when it gets in the way in a BIG way. I think you’ve done brilliantly to keep everything ticking over with all the “other stuff” going on. Sometimes, it’s a case of muddling through rather than pushing forward. I have also found that manuscript ideas have a delightful habit of maturing while being left alone, so when you do get the chance to get back into your novel with a vengeance, you’ll be surprised at the progression it’s made without you even noticing.

    Here’s wishing you a wonderful, restful and happy Christmas and all the very best for 2017. May it be the one where everything happens just right at long last. 🙂 Love and hugs from

    1. Here’s hoping that the manuscript is composting quietly and turning into rich soil… or is that the wrong metaphor to use on this occasion! Thank you for your hugs, much appreciated! And happy birthday coming up!

  2. ‘Lax’ is not a word I associate with you, Marina. Just reading your first paragraph leaves me feeling exhausted! It seems to me that you’ve achieved a great deal in 2016 despite it’s many difficulties. I hope you manage to grab some restorative creative time over Christmas.

    1. Oh, boy, you should have seen me in my heyday, then! I’ve slowed down so much in the last few years, I often feel like I’m a 110! But maybe lots of it was ‘faffing about’ rather than doing anything of substance, so this forces me to reconsider and reprioritise.

  3. I think you’ve achieved a huge amount with a lot of life’s disruptions going on. And I agree with Nicky’s comment about your novel developing behind your back! I’ve been becalmed at the 50K stage but it needed time for reflection and now I’m back on it again. I’m sure you’ll find the same. Hope you have a relaxing Christmas and a surge of creativity in 2017.

  4. …you need a Christmas cookie and a ‘be nice to Marina’ retail therapy!
    Hope you enjoy your holiday reading!

      1. Lebkuchen…I’ll have to investigate…sounds delicious.
        I’m making Linzer cookies with ground hazelnuts in the dough….:)

        1. Ermmm… I may have had one or two whole bars of marzipan covered in chocolate… just testing before Christmas, making sure they are all fine.

  5. Oh I wish you most well, Marina. Just remind yourself that we readers NEED writers, and I do think that many of the best of them (if reading biographies are to be believed) have at times severe struggles with life, and the needs of others, placing demands on time which might be spent in the spaciousness of reflection which allows creativity to flourish.

    I think, wryly of that marvellous Woolf re-read which HeavenAli pushed me to, with her Woolfalong, this year. A Room Of One’s Own seems as pressingly true, still, in many ways, as when written

    1. The physical and the mental space are sadly all too necessary to me. I do wish I were one of those writers who can write anywhere and in every 20 minute gap that they have…

      1. To be honest, I think only those who write on autopilot and churn out something formulaic and cliched could do that. I do think creativity needs emptyness, not chatter, in order to be heard.

        As I understand it, various studies which looked at ‘multitasking’ showed we were all worse at this than we thought we were. Busyness, in its various manifestations, seems to me to mean that even the mundane is being done less well, that ‘human error’ from the trivial to the serious, is on the rise, and much of it is to do with a level of screaming, attention demanding chatter from everywhere, all at once (what is it with the Tweet obsessed???????) so that nothing gets the focus it needs. Even though one imagines Shakespeare was writing in a kind of white heat of deadlines, at least the space was one focused on what he was actually trying to produce, so that the ‘noise’ was all heading in the same direction – get those lines written!

  6. I’d probably feel good about myself if I’d fulfilled the same amount of objectives! Cutting back on too many of them is a wise move, and as you’re settling in to your new lifestyle now, next year will be a very satisfactory one: keep at it, and best wishes!

  7. Life never goes the way we expect it to, does it, Marina Sofia? And sometimes, that includes our writing life. Certainly mine doesn’t always go as planned. I give you so much credit for sticking with it. I think you do have a great idea about a collection of poetry – I hope that works out. And I would love to read your novel, too. But my experience has been that things happen in their own time. Enjoy your holiday break!

    1. It will be done when it will be done. But sometimes my chronic impatience (and that darn clock tick-tocking behind me) kick in! I do feel that I hold myself more accountable to certain goals when I share them with others, so that poetry book is a must now…

  8. It sounds like you’re in desperate need of a relaxing vacation. Enjoy the Holidays, and we’ll all hope that 2017 brings good things! 🙂

  9. Arg, I know “it’s all material” but I’m so sorry that the material life has been dishing out to you lately has been so painful and discouraging. I love your writing, in all its many-splendored variety, and hope that the pendulum swings back soon (SOON, dammit)! It’s time for good things start coming your way again, thick and fast. (Meanwhile, though, I’m lining up on your doorstep for some of that Stollen…)

    1. Oh, thank you, my dear! Stollen is my secret vice – well, not so secret, I devour at least 4 single-handedly during the Advent period.
      How is your writing coming along? When are we going to have a new Murder in Tokyo?

  10. With all that’s been going on in your life, it’s hardly surprising plans haven’t stayed the course. What I’ve read of your work has been impressive – keep on keeping on, and I hope 2017 is a better writing year for you!

    1. Yeeee-ha! May I do a little dance of joy and hug you? You’ve heard it here first, folks: Kaggsy thinks my work is impressive! If that isn’t motivation to keep on writing and submitting in 2017, I don’t know what is… Thank you!

  11. O how dear, I do know the feeling. You have a list of 20 things to do, and before you’ve had time to finish two of them, three more get tacked on. Sigh… However, one must look on the positive side, and think of how many things you HAVE achieved. You’ve moved on with your life, and written some damn good poetry on the way. Also, the WIP is still in dream stage – would you have liked to face a pile of rejections this year? (this is what’s happening to me… I dread looking at my emails each evening – hope has turned to dust, and have now embarked on a second book which, hopefully, will fare better.) Anyway, 2016 has turned out to be an awful year for most people (there are some exceptions, such as Bob Dylan!)
    So let’s hope the omens for 2017 are better. Happy holidays🎄🎉🍾

  12. Maybe all your big writing plans didn’t come to fruition, but you still did a lot and I for one am really impressed! Congratulations on all the wonderful things you did do!

  13. Well, I think you’ve done remarkably well in a tough year, m’dear, and should give yourself a pat on the back and a large box of chocolate liqueurs! And I’m confident this is the year you’ll get the second half of that book written – as you say, you’ll soon find a new routine that works for you. I’ve left a reading gap for around November…

  14. Marina you need to be a little kinder to yourself, there aren’t many people that can cope with the challenges that you’ve met in 2016! I for one wish you the very best for the New Year, to a more settled existence where you can find the space to finish that novel and create a fabulous collection of poems.

  15. I’m impressed by how much you’ve managed to do this year! Moving countries requires a lot of effort so the fact you’ve managed to write anything is a bonus. Hopefully you’ll find things much easier in 2017. Good luck!

  16. I know where you’re coming from (especially in term of poetry, submitting, chapbooks, etc). You’re still in the game, which is great. I’ve been in hiding since starting my job teaching English to 8th graders, but I’m almost on break, so I’m peeking around. Keep writing and don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s good to hear from you.

    1. Thank you – I knew you’d understand (and do start submitting again!) I’m not going to give up writing for another I don’t know how many years, like I did in my early 20s. I don’t have the time to waste anymore.

      1. I gave up writing for a while, and I remember it felt like years and years…but it turns out it was only a few weeks. And I’m going to start submitting again. Thanks for the encouragement. : )

  17. I’m amazed at everything you do and how you manage to juggle with everything.
    You’re too hard with yourself really.

    I hope 2017 will be better, at least you know you won’t spend so much energy moving from one country to the other.

    1. Yes, not having to move or sort out taxes for two different countries will certainly be a bonus! I try not to be too hard on myself, but it’s just that I know I’ve already wasted so much time in the past (when I had less going on -grrrr, stupid fool that I was!).

  18. Don’t beat yourself up, you achieved quite a lot given the circumstances! And I’m glad that amidst this difficult year we got to meet in real life! At any rate 2017 can only be better than 2016, I wish you a good end of year and a fresh clean slate for next year!

  19. Nice to read all your plans. Never worry that some were unsuccessful. Keep trying. I am sure the next year will be a fruitful one for you. And you have some progress on your novel. So I am sure the rest will follow.

    PS: I didnt know you were part of Geneva Writers’ even though I follow both of you on Twitter. 😀

    1. Thank you for your encouragement. I suppose it takes however long it takes, and for the first novel at least you have the luxury of no deadline.
      As for Geneva Writers Group, I am the Twitterer for them, so sometimes I get the two accounts confused, which leads to merry moments!

  20. I think you do a fantastic work at writing this blog, Marina. So, don’t be too hard on yourself. As for the changes in your personal life, I hope you’re doing fine (as I come and go to the blogging world I somehow missed your separation). You know where to find me (us!) for anything: from bookish to personal. We’re here 🙂

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