Writing – A Labour of Love

It’s that time of year again when we tend to assess where we are in our lives and how we plan to move forward. 2017 saw nearly as many changes as 2016. I woke up on New Years Day 2016 living in San Jose, then on New Years Day 2017 a resident of Paris. January 1st, 2018 will see me back living in my native Armagh.  How did that happen? Never mind how I’m just happy that it did.

The one constant thing through all of this is the writing – that interminable itch that begs to be scratched, the voices that nag my brain for their very existence, and that sense of joy when someone tells me they’ve enjoyed my writing – the balm that soothes the immense insecurities that haunt every writer.

I keep wondering if I need to rethink my blog now that I’ve moved home. But there is as much to write about here as there is anywhere else in the world. Additionally, this place is marinated in history, as well as my own memories and, hey presto – lots to write.

Even nettles carry happy memories of my Granny’s nettle champ!

I’ve also discovered that the photography here is a good as anywhere else I’ve lived, there’s that box ticked too, and thus on goes the writing of the blog!

I’m always amazed and humbled, not to mention surprised, by the response I get to the more “personal” posts I write. The practical side of me reckons that people want to know the best tips for sightseeing, or gardening (way back when I had a garden) but when I bare my soul the ratings go off the chart. It’s great and it’s scary because like most writers I crave feedback, especially positive feedback – it’s like writer crack-cocaine! But where does one draw the line? Having an introvert husband helps keep me in line to some extent, I reckon. I respect his need for privacy, I mean the guy doesn’t even have a facebook page – in this day and age of “I post, therefore, I am” does that mean he doesn’t exist. Is this the digital age equivalent of having an imaginary husband? But when all is said and done, his support of my writing career is one hundred percent. If it wasn’t for his insistence that I keep plugging away at it, that he’ll support us, that we’ll be okay (as in won’t starve, go naked and be homeless) when I get that panicky feeling of, “What is this all for?” I might have given up years ago.

It’s a strange situation – to work all day (and contrary to popular belief – I do work hard at the ole writing lark!) and not have a set wage. To say writing is a labour of love is an understatement – it’s a labour of love for both of us because I’m sure My Husband would have plenty of things to spend his hard earned cash on if only I still had my teaching wage coming in (for example.) But for him, it’s not even up for debate – I’m a writer and he’s a techie. For some strange reason, he’s more confident than I am that my payday will come. When it does, he has his list – a list I’d be only too willing to buy for him (we’re talking private planes, so he’ll better not hold his breath!)

And then there’s the amazing support I have always received from family and friends. I was prepared for a lot of slagging when my book first came out – it’s a slagging culture here – but I was surprised to find that people were encouraging and kind. It might be what friends are for, but I’m blessed to have them tell me not to lose heart, that I can do this crazy near impossible thing – like write a trilogy, that they believe in me. I enter 2018 with a heart full of gratitude.

I still have my wonderful critiquing group in California and we conference call every two weeks to critique each others writing. My story would be so unstructured and bland without their input. Likewise, I have a monthly skype appointment with my Paris critiquing group whose input is invaluable. I learn so much from these writers.

The writing scene here is amazing and I’ve met a bunch of proactive writers through a variety of events. Its exciting, and it’s fun.

Going into 2018, I plan to start a critiquing group in Armagh. If anyone reading this is interested in joining in, you can personal message me on Facebook for more details.

I’m halfway through writing a trilogy –  in the middle of book two. It’s a long project and one that I wonder if I was wise to even start, but if I’m honest, I’m still enjoying it. There’s the usual rollercoaster. One minute the ideas are flowing, I’m writing like a demon, and the next I’m plunged into despair – the rewrites are too hard, the subject matter too complicated. Really, you should see my google search history. Gruesome and gory isn’t in it.  Things like “hammer blow to the head” and “how much voltage will kill a person” (apparently the current is the key!) I must be on every security agency list across the globe. I’d just been writing a very violent fighting scene one day when my 9-year-old nephew arrived at my door – talk about a swift change of hats!

Writing is a funny old world to live in but one I don’t plan on changing for a while. It is is a labour of love, an addiction, and I’m lucky to have a husband to support my “habit”.

So now, I continue forth with this blog – The grass is greener here than anywhere else I’ve ever been thanks to the rain… but then again – even with that – we didn’t come here for the grass…

The stories also keep on growing, and that’s the heart and soul of the writing, I suppose.

As we move into 2018, I wish you all a wonderful New Year, may we all realise more of our dreams and never be afraid to reach for the stars as we encourage those we love to do the same.

Happy New Year!

Byddi Lee