Friday, January 20, 2017

Frosty Walk

One thing I've enjoyed about living in this area is how much frost we get! A small thing, perhaps, but when we lived on the coast we hardly ever got frost, and I realized after I moved here how much I missed the sight of frost-covered hills on a sunlit morning.

Over New Year's we took a few walks, to Tintern Abbey and also to the Brecon Beacons, and enjoy some beautiful, frosty days. As pretty as snow, but without the hassle!

In the Brecon Beacons
The visitor's centre near Brecon

Walking in the Brecon Beacons

Tintern Abbey

Frost-covered fields by Tintern Abbey

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Too British? Awkwardly British part 2

I recently read a review of one of my books where the reader felt duped in learning I was American, because my book sounded British. Now I admit I found this a little annoying. When writing a British book, I want to sound British. And just because I didn't grow up with it doesn't mean it isn't real. In fact, most Americans, if they met me, would think I sounded British. However... I do recognize that in writing I can't sound entirely British. Kindly readers have pointed out Americanisms to me that I never would have realized (or rather, realised). So it seems I can't win. I can't write an authentic British voice, and I can't write an authentic American voice, either.

What, you say? But you ARE American! Of course you can write in an American voice! Dear reader, I cannot. I have spent twelve years in the UK. I had three out of five children here. I am SURROUNDED by people speaking in English (or Welsh!) accents, using English (or Welsh!) expressions. Two out of five of my children have British accents themselves. An authentic American voice is beyond me.

So what ends up happening is I sound like a bit of both, and I don't know what to do about that. In fact, in writing my latest Willoughby Close books, I worried that I wouldn't sound British enough, because those irritating little American turns of phrase would slip in. And yet somehow I ended up sounding too British!

I suppose I will always have to walk this line between America and England, for my whole life, so I ought to stop whinging--or rather, whining about it. According to the fascinating book Third Culture Kids, if you live in a country that is not of your parents' birth for more than two years, you cannot look upon your 'home' country as truly home any longer--and that is certainly true for me!

But I suspect this type of polarity will be true for many as people move countries. So at least I am in good company, straddling two cultures--and two languages! 

Monday, January 2, 2017

New Year's Resolutions

Every year my family and I try to write down three ways we want to grow in the coming year--in mind, body, and spirit. I usually write some form of exercise, a plan to pray and read the Bible, and then a wild card mind one--last year I wrote I wanted to learn to play piano. Sadly, I rarely keep these resolutions going past January. I admit I didn't touch the piano!

So this year I decided to be more realistic and reasonable. My goal this year is actually to do LESS. That is, to write less. I love writing books, and I tend to get grumpy when I don't write for a few days, but the last few years have been manic writing-wise. I've finished a book and started a new book the next day. I've written through holidays, in the evenings, even in the car (not while driving, though!). Deadlines have hounded me constantly.

I did it because of a good thing--so many opportunities! So many publishers! And best of all, so many stories to tell. But as I kept writing frantically I found I was losing my joy. That heart skip of excitement when you start a story. It all felt like plodding.

And even more alarmingly, I was distracted at home. Always trying to carve a minute here, an hour there to write. And my family suffered as a result. I suffered too, because even going for a coffee with a friend felt like it was taking away from my writing time. And that is definitely not how I want to live my life!

So my goal for 2016 is to write less and live more. I still have deadlines, and for the next four months they're quite tight, so I can't actually enact this resolution for a little while, but it is in my mindset. Don't go crazy trying to meet those deadlines! Ask for extensions. Enjoy the moment. Treasure your children, because with one about to fly the nest, I know they don't stay little or even around forever. And enjoy the stories I choose to tell, because joy was the reason I got into this business.

What about you? What are your new year's resolutions, if any?