Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Practising what he preaches

on June 8, 2012

Jeff Goins is causing me a few problems this week with his Great Writers Series, and it’s only Day 4.  Last night I found myself writing a blogpost when I felt I had very little to say, because I made a commitment to blog through the 15 days of the challenge.  It was probably good for me though.  And today he has thrown down another gauntlet with the 4th habitPractise (he says practice – is that an American thing?  I don’t mean that in a derogatory way, I’m just curious, as in UK English it’s practise for a verb and practice for a noun.  A very helpful teacher at school taught me to think of the words advise and advice, with their different sounds, in order to be certain of the distinction and correct usage.  But I digress…).

This will be an easy one, I thought.  Practising is just carrying on with what we’ve been doing – getting some more time in, forming the habit and all that.  Apparently not.  That’s rehearsing.  Practising is when you do it for real in order to improve.  So it’s taking another risk.  I don’t know why I’m surprised.

So, for this public practising I need to show people what I write (and presumably see what they think of it).  This is more than a little scary, for reasons I’ve outlined plenty of times before, but I really want to do it right (or correctly, as some pedants would insist I say).  I’ve decided to approach this two ways:

  • Firstly, I am about to publish part of one of my stories here.  Do not feel the slightest bit obliged to read it, respond to it or do anything else with it.  In short, as far as I’m concerned, it’s part of the exercise and more important that I do it than that anyone else do anything about it.
  • Secondly, I’ve bought a copy of Sue Moorcroft’s Love Writing.  Some time ago I attended a “Meet the writers” session with Sue, Katie Fforde and Benita Brown at which this book was advertised.  I’ve considered getting it ever since but always put it off on the grounds that I wasn’t ready to be told I was “doing it wrong”.  But I’m hoping that as well as advice for actually writing the fiction there will be information on how to go about approaching magazines and other outlets about whether they want to publish my short stories.  I must make it clear that I do not expect to be successful with that.  As Jeff says, “It’s time to put your work out there — not because you’ll succeed. Quite the opposite, in fact. You’ll probably fail. And in the failure you can learn.”  So this is how I’m doing it. (By the way, if you clicked on the link for Love Writing, please don’t be alarmed by the full title; I don’t plan to write anything erotic.  In fact I don’t think I could even if I tried.)

So, what follows is a short excerpt (currently the very beginning) from the thing I call my novel but is more a collection of passages waiting to be linked together in a way that isn’t boring.  I was going to post what I’ve written of the short story I mentioned yesterday, about the Grandma, but I decided to hold back with that one because I’m likely to fiddle about with it as I write the rest, and because the novel is truly something I’ve been sitting on: I’ve spent much more time on it over the past few years and have had much more chance to worry about how nobody would want to read it except me (which is fair enough considering why I first started writing it).  But all the same, here goes.



Prologue: November

She hurried outside, back to the solitude of the car.  She sat there for a few moments, trying to calm herself with deep breaths, but the sobs refused to subside.  The pain was almost too much to bear.  To know how close she had come to her happy ending – she might have known it was too good to be true.  But what hurt even more was knowing how much pain she had caused him, how much he was still hurting, thinking that everything she’d said to him had been lies.  She felt utterly wretched.

She hadn’t intended to drive away, but it just seemed like a good idea, to go home and get away from the whole sorry mess.  She started the engine and pulled the car out of the car park into the narrow lane, putting her foot down to get along as quickly as she could.

Suddenly her mobile phone jingled – a text message.  Her spirits lifted slightly – maybe he’d changed his mind, somehow understood the mistake? With her left hand she flipped open her bag and pulled out her mobile, fumbling over the keys to get to the message.  Her heart sank as she read it and in her rage and disappointment she flung the phone across at the passenger window, inadvertently dragging the steering wheel with her other hand as she did. Then it all happened far too quickly. The car veered left and suddenly she was no longer in control, she was off the road and speeding across a field.  To make matters worse, as she tried to move her foot over to the brake, the heel of her shoe wedged against the floor and increased the pressure on the accelerator pedal instead..  She looked down at it in panic, then raised her head again to find herself hurtling towards a stone wall.

Then everything went black.


3 responses to “Practising what he preaches

  1. Fiona says:

    You’ve hooked me in and now I want to read more! Well done on rising to the challenge xxx

  2. Alice says:

    I agree with Fiona! I could picture it all like it was a film – I want to know what she’s done! I want to know what happens next.

    I am so glad you shared, because I loved reading it!!

    This is scaring me more than I realised it would – I don’t suppose I would have signed up if I had known but I’m grateful for something pushing me.

    Keep going! X

  3. northmum says:

    Thank you both for your positive feedback! I suppose I was slightly cowardly in choosing one of the bits I’m happiest with because I can say without a trace of false modesty that as a whole it’s distinctly patchy. Next time we’re called on to be brave I might have to choose a dodgier bit 🙂

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