All or nothing : Little and often #amediting #amwriting

All or nothing

I’m usually an all or nothing woman. I took a week off work to design and hand paint fabric for my dining room curtains (they’re wonderful by the way); usually read a book in two days; love to see a number of films in one visit to the cinema; knitted a jumper recently in four days from scratch and have drafted a novel in a month at least once a year over the past four years. That’s what I love about my character and doing things compulsively in one go keeps me feeling alive and loving my life.

hand-painted curtains

Little and often

When it comes to something that would take a longer time commitment to complete in one go that my current need for financial security (the day job) allows, I often struggle to find the space in my life to complete it. I need to find my equivalent of all or nothing in little chunks. Finally this year I’m hoping I’ve done that with my editing. If you’re a regular reader of mine, you’ll know I have five draft novels I want to complete, each one will take at least seven edits with a lot of research. Let alone the amount I need to learn about how to write and how I write.

This year I think I have finally found the answer. I’ve carved out an hour a day on work days and I’ve become the project manager of my novels. It’s my responsibility to coordinate the getting of the novels into shape. My other roles in this new project (I know I’ve been writing for over four years but humour me here please) are of editor and researcher. The researcher’s going to have to wait a few weeks but the editor role’s kicked in. The project manager gave me two weeks to do my first read through in three years which I not only completed but am onto page seventeen of the first edits. My target is ten or more pages of edits each time I do an hours work and that seems more than achievable.


When there’s something I want to do that competes with my work life I have to break it into manageable chunks that seem doable and not too overwhelming. One hour a day on week days to do ten pages of edits, that’s doable. ‘John’s holiday’, the novel I’m working on, is currently two hundred and twenty two pages long. That’s ten times twenty two point two which means my first edits should be typed in by fourteenth of Feb and if I spend some time on it over a weekend I could easily take a week or more off that date.

Now, let me do my hour of edits for today before the day job kicks in..


Womens talk.. and the C word..

I was going to ask to take a picture of one of my breasts in the x-ray machine (I’ve no idea what it’s called), while they were taking my mammograms this week. You might have gathered from my last post, it was a second screening I had to go back for. When I was growing up people didn’t talk about cancer. I’m not sure how much we talk about it now though there will be few, if any, of you reading this who’s family and friends have not been impacted by cancer.

When it came to it I didn’t take my camera in as I wanted to be present, there in every moment and not viewing my moments through a camera. I tried really hard but whatever I did I wasn’t truly there. My mind was all over the place. Mostly thinking about their décor and what I thought might make me feel more relaxed. Plain white walls with nothing to break the eyes view. Dark blue chairs. Those were the only colours I noticed, pure white with a line of dark blue at chair seat height.

Thoughtfully, a consultant had sneaked in some more interesting pictures and colours where no-one bar the patient would look and I was very grateful for that, as I expect most patients are, it gives us something else to focus on while our mind is trying to tackle some more fundamental information we may hear.

The week between having the first pictures taken and the second, after the first showed up something that needed investigating, threw up all sorts of thoughts and emotions including the reflections I wrote about in my last post. As a second thought, I picked up a couple of leaflets while I was waiting to have my second x-rays taken. Just in case, you know. I was staying positive, a positive mind helps heal the body if you ask me, thinking of all the content I was getting as first hand emotion if I wanted to use this experience in one of my novels. However, just in case, I slipped the two booklets into my bag as I knew I might be a bit of a wreck later and not think to pick them up.

What were the booklets? ‘Breast Cancer Risk the facts’ by Breakthrough Breast Cancer @BreakthroughBC and ‘HOW ARE YOU FEELING? The emotional effects of cancer’ by Macmillan cancer support @macmillancancer. According to one of them, in the UK, ‘One in eight women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime’. Thankfully, I was given the all clear but it gave me a minute insight into how someone who is called for a second screening might feel if they have another outcome.

be breast aware

There’s lots of information out there if you want or need to know more. There are things that affect our risk that we can do nothing about, age at puberty, age, time of menopause. Then there are things we can do, including monthly self checking.

Please make sure you are breast aware and know the risks you are taking in your lifestyle choices. For me I think the main risk is my weight and lack of physical exercise these days. I need to make some lifestyle choices to change that.

Breast cancer affects men and women, please make sure you and your loved ones are ‘tuned into things’. There are also some new charities out there providing advice to men on all cancers, @ballstocancer is one I currently follow on twitter.