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Tom Harris

Writer of edgy Middle Grade & Young Adult Fiction

Month

December 2015

Writing Tips for Christmas Day

Christmas R2Many writers have to work two if not more jobs and are used to working on their W.I.P’s (work-in-progress) in mornings, evenings and weekends around their ‘day-job’ schedule, grabbing any spare time they can in the few quiet moments that exist in a modern life.

Despite the hectic work schedule of any household running a faultless Christmas Day of family entertainment, the day itself can throw up some rare opportunities to steal a few moments to plough on with that next writing project. So if you like a challenge, here’s my 5 top tips on stealing time to write this Christmas Day.

Christmas Red Leaf

1/The Early Turkey Escapes the Cleaver: Without doubt your best chance to find that window of serenity will be in the early hours. So set that alarm, sneak downstairs and use subtle lamplight and a slightly parted curtain to get you off to a 2 hour belter of a start to the day. The solitude won’t last, so get yourself a brew and get to work, before breakfast, present opening and tales of drunken family antics from Christmas Eve dull your inspiration. Depending on your family, this may have to be as early as 5am, but it’ll put you in an amazing mood to tackle the day ahead.

2/The Toilet Break: Don’t be ashamed, many people do their best thinking on the bog, and it gives you a locked door to hide behind. Better suited to print out edits rather than laptop work, but who cares, really? As long as the laptop isn’t over heating on your ass – literally! Over the course of the day anyone can get away with a good hour in the crapper – 6 x 10 minute breaks should suffice without your family posting you as M.I.A. That’s an hour of time on your new novel, in exchange for a few funny looks from people who will be so drunk at the end of the day, they’ll think they’ve imagined it in a very boring dream. The kids will just think you’ve got the shits, no biggie! Wear gloves, make up a tummy bug, but you’ll be glad you did it.

Christmas Bronze Glitter Balls

3/ The quantum mechanics of solace: Whilst the family snooze in the afternoon, after copious amounts of food and too much wine, put on a Bond film. Doesn’t matter which one, but make sure it’s one you know well. This plan will entail you having kept your alcohol intake in check, but grab a shower if you’ve let it slip with the Bucks Fizz. Grab a coffee, bottle of water, and you can even work in the living room in full view if you can withstand the odd interjection from a snoring relative or clingy child, but this period could prove fruitful with a possible hour of work up for grabs.

4/ When Hell Freezes over: It’s going to happen, so don’t fight it. They can’t hold you back anymore. Make it work for you. Turn your back and slam the door if you have to, but Disney’s ‘Frozen’ will find its way onto your TV at some stage during the day. Allow your mind to wander into your fantasy world at the back of the room and don’t let them in, don’t let them see. As the rest of the family murder a succession of catchy little ditties that have driven some to drink, some to X Factor auditions and others into asylums be the good person you always have to be and write. Put on the sing-a-long version and let everything fade away and take 1:42:00’s worth of time for yourself, for a bit of light editing. And don’t be too hard on yourself if your concentration is not absolute and you make the odd mistake, just let it go; the misplaced colon never bothered me anyway…

Christmas Flower Ball

5/The Nakatomi Principle: Christmas night is a time for festive family fun, but we’re a predictable lot aren’t we, so when the Crimbo movie arguments begin, vote for Die Hard, and reluctantly withdraw to the back of the room. The familiar plot and explosions will not eat into a valuable 2:12:00 of writing time and let your weary fingers guide you through the final hours of a productive Christmas of writing. Employ the Nakatomi principle and reap the dividends – Yippee-Ki-Yay Mother…sorry Mr McClane, none of that language here please…this is a family show.

Merry Christmas

Tom

 

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The Portsmouth Writers’ Hub: The Extraordinary Ten

This year, the Portsmouth Writers’ Hub has been revitalised. And in a massive way! Like the Kraken rising from the depths to take on Perseus, it has taken the city by storm, and a tsunami of writers have rolled into town along with it.

Tessa Ditner is the lady responsible for this huge sea-change, under a wider-brimmed New Writing South umbrella and along with the hard work of some brilliant local writers, Portsmouth is once again becoming a literary force. To celebrate this, Tessa has spawned a new brain child – The Extraordinary Ten.

So for the last few weeks local writers have been voting for their top 5 influences among the Portsmouth literati and each were royally awarded at a ‘star studded gala’ at the amazing – Café Perisian last night, who have been a huge supporter of the Hub this year.

The event was sponsored by Taylors of Harrogate, Granta, Mslexia, The Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook & Writing Magazine, so a huge thank you to them for that & on a purely selfish note for the amazing prizes – please see blurred post Kebab and DOOMBAR photo – Christmas has truly come early.

Website Ext 10

The full list is below & I am delighted to say I have sneaked in…

THE EXTRAORDINARY TEN

(in alphabetical order)

Lynne Blackwood

Sarah Cheverton

Charlotte Comley

Zella Compton

Tom Harris

James Law

Maggie Sawkins

Will Sutton

Jo West

Matt Wingett

it’s a real honour of course, but mostly it’s been – in the words of Miranda’s Mum ‘such fun’ – which is exactly what it’s been about all year. It has also been a great opportunity to be able to pass on my own thanks to those who have supported me and my writing in the city.

No writer can go it alone. No writer can see the wood for the trees, without their critique partners and writing buddies at their groups. No writer can share their words without a book seller. No writer can find true validation, reassurance, oh and good, liveable, pay-the-bills-sort-of-money without an agent & publisher except an exceptional few of course. And no writers would have these precious communities and networks without support from local councils, venues, volunteers, literacy workers, event organisers and all the writers that attend. It’s as social a scene as any, and with over 80 of us scribblers at last months hub, it’s hard not to socialise with a writer in this city at the moment.

The city is bursting with writing talent and I think 2016 is going to be a special year for Portsmouth writers & the hub.

A final thanks to the person who made all this possible, Tessa Ditner, who after Jose Mourinho’s sacking yesterday can claim the mantle ‘The Special One’ for her own…and to all who read and all who write & the stories that keep me up all night – in the words of my good friend Tiny Tim in fact – Gawd bless you, every one…

Tom

A Book is not just for Christmas

In this time of peace, goodwill & cheer to all children, women and men – written this way to show loyalty to my reader demographic – spare a thought for our dear friend, The Book.

From a long line of clones, squashed tight in substandard living quarters with their man-made brothers and sisters, they can only dream of an airy bookshelf, resting beside a sparkling Christmas tree. With only their jackets for warmth in dusty, cold warehouses around the world, they sit and wait…for their time, their chance, to be all they can be. To deliver the word. To do what they were created to do…but not all achieve this idealistic happy ending.

Some are prized from their siblings and travel incredible distances over land and sea, only to find new homes where they are unwanted, unloved and unread. And when all the trimmings and tinsel are just a sparkly memory, and the fatty aroma of Turkey skin and butter has faded into the ether, they are left to forge new careers, as doorstops or table-leg proper-uppers. Others are transported with ageing strangers to live out their days in the window of a dusty old shop, waiting patiently to be re-homed like a rabid puppy; losing value and credibility and being fondled and slapped about with no loved one to defend them.

So spare a thought for The Book, this Yuletide.

By all means click on the door below to gain access to the orphanage, pick up an amber friend & give it purpose, allow it to fulfil its rightful destiny. Give it that new home it was born for.

But.

Always Remember.

A Book is not just for Christmas.

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