New craft magazine – Mollie Makes

I spotted Mollie Makes online and, seeing as it’s about craft, looks pretty, and is a Future Publishing production (my rather wonderful first place of proper, grown up employment), I had to hunt down a copy.

Consequently, I just spent a happy hour flicking through its well-designed pages, stroking the lovely matt cover, and day-dreaming about spending lots of money on fabric and the like. Now, that’s how to do Mondays…

The magazine costs £4.99 per issue, but the eagle-eyed may have noticed a special launch offer: Subscribe for three months for just £5. Bargain!

Finding the time

Earlier this week, I had a really good conversation with my brother about priorities, the elusive work-life balance, and the challenges of carving out enough time to write/be creative. I tried to quote something apt but couldn’t remember it properly, so I thought I’d look it up for you now. Hang on… Here you go:

Time is the coin of your life. It is the only coin you have and only you can determine how it will be spent. Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you.

Carl Sandburg

Now, I know how I *want* to spend the coin of my life, but I often forget to say ‘no’ to non-essential time-sucks. How about you?

In which I am proud…

… Of my clever, crafty and creative daughter!

Having spent the pre-school years diligently helping to cut out shapes, threading endless plastic (blunt) needles and  hoovering up glitter, I just about burst with pride and happiness when she studied her knitting and sewing books, got out her own supplies and rustled up this fabby knitted robot toy as a surprise present.

*Beams with mama bear pride *

Pretty things

I love candles and use those bumper bags of tealights from IKEA around the house. However, for a treat (or as a gift) something a bit different it required. This hurricane lamp has antique lace embedded in a wax holder. When you pop a tea light inside, the pattern is illuminated with a warm glow.
At £32, it ain’t cheap, but the wax is protected from melting so you only need to replace the tea light in order to use it again and again. From Cox & Cox.

I visited Liberty on the weekend (one of my favourite shops in London) and, as usual, was treated to a surfeit of pretty. Now, I have neither the sartorial style nor bank balance to be a silk scarf kind of person, but I adore the classic Ianthe print. Here it is on a cobalt blue silk scarf. Sigh.

Liberty also has a delicious haberdashery, which reminded me how much I was missing messing about with my fabric stash (try saying that quickly). In addition to pretty florals and peacock prints, Liberty does a great line in paisley. This modern interpretation is just lovely. So bright, so cheerful, and only £19.95 a metre. Oh .

Kicking The Fear

As I believe I may have mentioned once or twice already; writing is hard.

There’s the self-discipline, the battle with procrastination, the RSI, the inability to leave the house wearing appropriate clothes, and the loneliness, but, worst of all, there’s The Fear.

You know The Fear, don’t you? (Please say yes. Please don’t let it just be me…)

The Fear is a nasty creeping creature that hunches behind your chair heckling you. Who are you kidding trying to be a writer? You’re too stupid/old/young/boring.

The Fear says ‘you can’t’ and ‘you’re wasting your time’ and ‘who do you think you are?’ The Fear says ‘you’ll never succeed’ and then follows it with the cold wet slap of ‘if you do publish this sucker, your neighbours, your mother, and your kid’s schoolteacher will read it and everyone will know how depraved/mundane you truly are’.

The Fear, in short, sucks the life blood from your creativity and wipes its feet on your self-esteem as it leaves.

I’m closely acquainted with The Fear. It’s my near-constant companion on this journey, so I thought I’d share some of my methods for kicking its arse so that I can get something – anything – done.

Read books by writers who have trodden this path ahead of you.

I recommend you begin with The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes. It’s reassuring and gently encouraging and I dip in and out whenever I need a little boost.

Also required is Bird by Bird. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read Anne Lamott’s  funny, inspiring take on writing.

Stephen King’s On Writing encouraged me to write my first novel. His practical advice and ‘just do it’ attitude was exactly the push off the kerb I needed.

However, for the Dark Times when The Fear is particularly vocal, I suggest ignoring practicality from an irritatingly prolific bestseller and head to Russell T Davies’s The Writer’s Tale. Yes, he is incredibly hard-working and successful, too, but this memoir of his time writing Doctor Who is full of Olympian-levels of faffing while Russell does everything to avoid writing. It may not make you more productive or focused, but damn, it’s good not to feel alone.

Which brings me to my final tip. Join the writing community so that you never have to feel truly alone. Take part in NaNoWrimo (in November), start or join a writing group (I like online ones best because you can stay in your PJs), take a course, or find a critique partner or two.

In the spirit of taking my own advice, I’ve signed up for YA author Karen Mahoney’s Spring Into Summer 50k Writing Challenge.

The challenge begins today and the aim is to write 50,000 words (first draft, not revisions) in 50 days. There’s the chance to win prizes, as well as lots of supportive cheering.

Care to join me?