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Hello to all you women's fiction lovers out there! I'm carrying out a survey to get your valuable views on what makes a women's fiction novel the best ever experience for you.

I don't know if you're like me, but sometimes I find it difficult to find books I really want to read. Maybe that's partly why I write what I do - because these are the type of books that really grab me. My fantasy reads that transport me to an entirely different world; one where I'm completely hooked on the characters and what's happening to them.

The perfect place to read women's fiction, cosy, warm, cup of coffee

For me, romance on its own isn't enough.

If there's a romance in a story, that's fine, and if I care about the characters I'll root for them. But on its own? No, it doesn't do it for me. (I realise I might be in the minority, as romance novels sell like proverbial hot cakes).

I want something more than that though.

I want to read about women who are overcoming challenges of all kinds, not just the romantic kind. Women who are rebuilding their lives or challenging themselves, or dealing with complicated issues. About secrets and how they can eat away at relationships or self-esteem like a cancer. And personally, I'm quite happy to accept events that might not happen in real life if the author helps me to believe in them. Magic, I suppose.

women's fiction the magic of being totally absorbed

The compulsion factor

So, right now I'm on a quest to find out more about what other women's fiction fans want from women's fiction. I want to see whether I can find people like me, which would be very nice, but also to find other books and authors who can stir and move me, and make me read hungrily into the night. So, I've put together a short survey on Women's Fiction, and, to entice you to spend a few minutes answering my questions, I'm offering a £20/$20 Amazon voucher to one lucky respondent.

women's fiction survey - tell us your views and win an Amazon gift card
Click image to give your valuable opinion and to be entered into a draw to win a £20/$20 Amazon Gift Card.

So, what are you waiting for? if you enjoy reading good women's fiction, let me know what matters to you and where and how you enjoy reading by clicking on the link. Oh, and if you have a fantasy place to read, I want to hear about that too!

your fantasy place to read - tropical island paradise
Where's your fantasy place to read? Tell us!

Thanks so much. I can't wait to read your answers.

Bye for now.

Margaret 

Happy New Year, I hope you had a good Christmas, and a very warm welcome to anyone who’s new to my blog.

I read two extremely inspiring books over the Christmas period – Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott, and Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. They are quite different books, but they are both about the creative process – what it’s like and how we can get the most pleasure and fulfilment from it. I loved both books, and they were an excellent reminder of why I write and why I’m passionate about helping others to write – because they're such amazing, life-affirming things to do.

It’s difficult to pick one thing out to share with you from them, but I particularly liked Elizabeth Gilbert’s advice in Big Magic to treat your creativity as if you are having an affair with it! Gilbert points out that when people are having a passionate affair, they make time to meet up with the object of their desire, no matter how busy they are, and even if it’s only for a snatched – but passionate – fifteen minutes. She advises us to fall in love with our creativity like that and to see what happens. “Stop treating your creativity as if it’s a tired, unhappy marriage,” she says, “and start regarding it with the fresh eyes of a passionate lover. Sneak off and have an affair with your most passionate self.”

It certainly sounds like fun to me!

While we’re on the subject of fire and sparks, I’ve just released a new e-course called Story Ignitor. It’s a highly practical course based on material I’ve used in my successful day-long workshops. I believe in learning by doing, so you’ll fuel your creativity and start to spark ideas for stories by creating a three-dimensional character and using an innovative technique to help you to plan a story. You’ll also learn about story themes – ways to choose one that resonates with you, and how they can make writing easier. I’m offering the course for an introductory price of £49 (that’s about $60), and all of my students are entitled to join my WriteUP Course Café Facebook group. This is a place to connect with other writers and to find out about writing opportunities as I learn about them. Here’s the link to find out more about the course, or to enrol: http://storyignitor.strikingly.com/

story ignitor - a course to help you find ideas for writing
ENROLLING NOW! CLICK FOR MORE INFORMATION.

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re Norfolk-based, I’m also offering some new face-to-face courses this term. Here are the links to find out more about those.

 

I love the start of the year – it’s a wonderful clean slate, just ready to be filled with exciting opportunities. I intend to really get stuck into my writing this year. How about you?

Until next time.

All the best.

Margaret

8 Comments

Hello there!

With Christmas fast approaching, I thought it would be fun to adapt the lyrics of the popular christmas song The Twelve Days of Christmas to make them relevant to writers. Here's my effort, which is designed to give both fun and focuss!

If you're unfamiliar with the tune, you can play it using the link below as you attempt to fit my words into it.

TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS MUSIC

 

By the way, in my version, YOU  are the writer generously giving yourself all these things so that you can write!

Have a wonderful Christmas, and I wish you an amazingly creative and fulfilled New Year!

Margaret

 

mail-1841718_640

 

 

 

On the first day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the second day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the third day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the fourth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the fifth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the sixth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the seventh day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

Self-washing children,

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the eighth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

A freezer full of meals

Self-washing children,

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the ninth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

A large glass of wine

A freezer full of meals

Self-washing children,

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the tenth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

A brand new notebook,

A large glass of wine,

A freezer full of meals,

Self-washing children,

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the eleventh day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

Supportive writing friends,

A brand new notebook

A large glass of wine,

A freezer full of meals,

Self-washing children,

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my writer gave to me

An inspiring writing course,

Supportive writing friends,

A brand new notebook

A large glass of wine,

A freezer full of meals,

Self-washing children,

Voices in my head,

A giant Keep Out! sign.

A huge cup of coffee,

Two perfect plot plans,

Three-dimensional characters, and

A compulsion to write all the time.

 

4 Comments

Sometimes my writing flows smoothly, like a stream along well-worn channels, curving around obstacles, intent on its course.

Sometimes my writing flows smoothly, like a stream along well-worn channels, curving around obstacles, intent on its course.

 

At other times, my ideas are like ants in a disturbed ants' nest, scattering in a hundred different directions.

Sometimes my ideas are like ants in a disturbed next, scattering in a hundred different directions.

 

Sometimes my images come out almost as a list on the page:

  • a glint of a gold tooth

  • the rhythmic rocking of the boat

  • red and gold fabrics, gleaming in the midday sunshine

ecuador-1257123_640

 

I take what I get, and use it any way I can, pushing aside thoughts of

should be

should do

the right way

the wrong way

 

There is only what there is, and it helps me to remember that:

Streams flow to the sea.

Every ant has a designated role in the colony.

Lists help you to remember.

This past week has been a disrupted one for me. It can be difficult enough to deal with self-inflicted disruptions to our writing - a tendency to get distracted by social media, or to put our own dreams and priorities last.

But sometimes Life just happens. A two-day headache that divorces you from your imagination. A phone call from the school asking you to collect your poorly son.

That's why I've learnt to take writing - especially the writing I do for a first draft - as it comes, whether it's in the form of streams, scattered ants or lists. However it comes, it  accumulates and gets stuffed together. After a while it coagulates and becomes part of something bigger.

A book, with a life and an identity of its own.

narrative-794978_640

 

How wonderful!

Until next time,

Margaret

 

2 Comments

Today I want to talk to you about how Joan of Arc destroyed my self-confidence. Actually, that’s not right - my apologies to Joan. It’s not fair to blame her. It was all entirely my fault.

Or maybe the teacher’s for putting me under so much stress.

 

708px-joan_of_arc_on_horseback

 

But whoever was to blame, those few unhappy seconds in a French lesson when I was eleven years old had a dramatic effect on my self-confidence – an effect that lasted for almost twenty years.

Let me set the scene for you. I was newly transferred to the class, and painfully shy, so it was unfortunate that one of the first things I had to do was to give a talk in a French lesson. My allotted subject was Joan of Arc (for those of you who don’t know, Joan – otherwise known as Jeanne d’Arc – is a Fifteenth Century French saint). I duly did my preparation and went to stand nervously at the front of the class when it was my turn to speak.

Then I opened my mouth, and, with all eyes upon me, I said: “Joan of Arc was brought up as a pheasant.”

pheasant

 

I had, of course meant to say peasant – a country dwelling agricultural worker, not a large, colourful game bird – but nerves got the better of me, and I’m sure you can imagine the reaction that followed my slip up. There was general hilarity in the class, pretty much drowning out the rest of my faltering words.

 

giggle-608824_640

 

I expect my classmates soon forgot about it, entertaining as it was, but I certainly did not forget about it, and the incident affected me drastically. I clammed up almost completely after that – never saying anything at all in class unless I was forced to, and unfortunately this silence and terror extended to my life post-school. My extreme phobia about public speaking limited the courses I could take, and the jobs I could apply for.

Until finally, with my thirtieth birthday looming, I decided enough was enough. It was time to do something about this fear.

So, I did. Very gradually, until I proved to myself that I’d made a complete recovery by performing stand-up comedy to a crowd of two hundred people in a London comedy club. (I put my experiences into a novel!).

 

dare-club-cover1

So, how did I do it? By taking baby steps, and celebrating each and every one.

First of all, I joined an adult education class – I don’t even remember what it was about now – and then I challenged myself to make one statement, or to ask one question at every session. Then two statements or questions. Then three. (You can’t imagine how my heart pounded and my hands sweated as I willed myself to speak).

I did it just a little bit at a time, until I was ready (yikes!) to join a public speaking course. There, I made people laugh. Deliberately, this time. It felt fantastic. After that, I felt ready to take a teaching qualification. And I discovered that I loved the performance side of teaching. Everything about teaching, in fact. Then, eventually, came that three-minute stand-up routine at the Up The Creek Comedy Club in Greenwich, which was one of the greatest moments of my life so far, and the pinnacle of getting over my public speaking phobia, I’m sure you’ll agree. Every time I feel my self-confidence ebb a little bit, I just watch myself on YouTube and remember that I did it. I actually did it. The sense of achievement that night was incredible. On a par with holding my first published book in my hand…

 

me-doing-standup
Performing stand-up comedy at The Up The Creek Comedy Club in Greenwich, London

So, if you want to write, but something’s holding you back, find out what that something is. Be kind to yourself. Take baby steps to deal with it, and celebrate each and every one. Think in terms of asking a question in an adult education class, rather that a full-blown stand-up comedy performance straight away. Get support on your crusade. (Although maybe not from Joan!). Your efforts will be worth it, because all those little steps can add up to something bigger.

Like a novel!

Want to learn more about how fear can affect writers and what to do about it? Join my Feel The Fear Webinar on 20th October. If you can’t make it live, a recording will be available to those who register.

Oh, and just a reminder that the early bird price of my course Feel The Fear and Write Anyway ends on Sunday 24th October.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Margaret

 

 

 

2 Comments

The Thursday Blog Feature about writing despite challenge or adversity.
The Thursday Blog Feature about writing despite challenge or adversity.

Hi there!

My guest for this Thursday's Write Despite blog  feature is best-selling author Shani Struthers. When I first met Shani at a Romantic Novelists' Association party, she was writing romance fiction, but since then she has become a best-selling Paranormal author. Shani is fun to be around, and passionate about her writing. But is writing always plain sailing for her? Let's see. Over to Shani.

Shani Pic
Shani Struthers

What challenges have you had to overcome or deal with in order to write?

I haven’t had to overcome physical challenges as such – well, not unless you can call three children a physical challenge! Actually… thinking about it, I think you can term them a physical as well as a mental challenge! I’m the mother of three children. I also work (a freelance copywriter for the travel industry) and, like so many people, I have a million daily tasks to complete. Life is busy, busy, busy! But, I’ve always known I wanted to write novels. Copywriting is great but, in terms of creativity, you’re limited by the brief. It was only when the children had grown older that I could make that dream a reality, grabbing whatever hours I could whilst they were at school, or on play dates, or visiting the grandparents, fitting in a third job rather than taking time out to relax. It’s been worth it though, and, I’m learning now how to find a balance, even if the scales tip slightly over sometimes into late nights and early mornings – writing always seems to find a way!

How do you think this challenge has impacted on your writing?

It stopped me frankly, because for many years. I was too tired! But there comes a time when you have to stop making excuses, when you have to sit down and write the first sentence, finding a way to fit it all in, to write the next sentence and the next, until, voila! You have a book.

 

Shani's "Runaways" series.
Shani's "Runaways" series.

What was your greatest fear when you first started to write?

My greatest fear was that I wouldn’t be able to craft a novel. For so long, I’d thought about it, but I’d never put it into practice. I’d gained some confidence from my copywriting but a novel, as I said above, is a completely different beast. My first novel was called The Runaway Year, a contemporary romance, set in Cornwall, and, sending it off to various publishers, I was surprised to receive several acceptances. That spurred me on a bit!

Tintagel Sunset
Tintagel, Cornwall. The inspiring setting for the Runaways series.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write, but who is feeling held back by circumstances and/or challenges?

Writing is supposed to be enjoyable, it’s supposed to be fun; you have to love what you’re doing, and not feel that it’s a chore. Find time for it but don’t beat yourself up about not finding enough time either, not initially – you have to live in the real world too. For people who lead busy lives, balance is something that will come if you’re determined enough.

The Highlands of Scotland, the setting for Jesamine.
The Highlands of Scotland, the setting for Jesamine.

Tell us a bit about something you've written that you're really proud of, or something you're writing now.

I’m proud of everything I’ve written but my heart lies not in contemporary romance but the paranormal, which is why I’ve switched to that genre.

Shani's best-selling Paranormal Psychic Surveys series
Shani's best-selling Paranormal Psychic Surveys series.

rise to me

 

eve

I love my Psychic Surveys series, a set of paranormal mysteries, but it’s Jessamine, my heart belongs too. A Gothic-style paranormal romance, set in the Scottish Highlands, the story wrote itself over a couple of months, making me cry on several occasions. From all the feedback I get from readers, I’ve gathered I tend to write emotions well – in Jessamine, a range of emotions are covered, including grief, loss, acceptance and hope. You’ll need tissues if you read it!

front

 

Thanks so much, Shani. So interesting and inspiring to us all! Good luck with your future writing.

Here are Shani's links so that you can connect with her and find out more.

Facebook Author Page: http://tinyurl.com/p9yggq9

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shani_struthers

Blog: http://shanisite.wordpress.com

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/mq25mav

Until next time!

Margaret

You might also enjoy:

Write Despite. Meeting Louisa Heaton. Vertigo is Not Romantic!

Write Despite - Meeting Jane Bwye. Forty Years to Fruition.

 

3 Comments

 

The Thursday Blog Feature about writing despite challenge or adversity.
The Thursday Blog Feature about writing despite challenge or adversity.

Today's Thursday Write Despite features the incredibly inspiring Ailsa Abraham. Ailsa is a multi-published author who writes fiction despite having suffered brain damage and a stroke as a result of three separate accidents - a fractured skull at the age of 15 when she fell onto rocks from a cliff top, a stroke following a car accident, and a near-fatal motorcycle accident which put her into a coma for three weeks.

Beautiful but deadly. Ailsa fell onto rocks from these cliffs at the age of 15.
Beautiful but deadly. Ailsa fell onto rocks from these cliffs at the age of 15.

If you can write despite all of that, I think you can write despite pretty much anything!

But I'll let Ailsa tell her story of writing against the odds.

What challenges have you had to overcome or deal with in order to write?

Brain damage and severe pain are the most awkward. My spine is pretty well crippled which can make sitting at a desk rather sore. I have experimented with voice recognition but it turns my Julie Andrews' accent into a mangled version of rubbish so it's easier to touch type, at which I am fortunate enough to be good.

Since a few head-injuries plus a stroke, my mind becomes disconnected. Often I don't know which language I'm speaking, one of the disadvantages of being bilingual. This results in me losing words in both tongues and screaming in frustration. Sometimes I have to act them out to a friend to get the answer.

Ailsa on the motorbike which ended up putting her in a coma for 3 weeks.
Ailsa on the motorbike which ended up putting her in a coma for 3 weeks.

I'm a very impatient person. I want it done now. No, I want it done five minutes before I thought about it which makes writing a very frustrating occupation. Consequently I write in the patchwork quilt method – whatever scene grabs me gets written. When I have a few in hand I stitch them together in the right pattern until the tale is coherent. Overall this works better for me than trying to write chronologically.

patchwork-112548_640
Ailsa finds a 'patchwork' way of writing suits her best.

How do you think this challenge has impacted on your writing?

Possibly it has given me insight into other people's suffering. I tend to be compassionate both with real folks and with characters, both good and bad. When I have a bad character I need to work out what made them like that and so they become less two-dimensional, perhaps even pitiable.

IRL (in real life) I laugh at everything. That is my defence method. When lying on the floor, having been attacked by furniture when my feet and brain aren't speaking, I can hardly stand on my dignity, can I? Face it, I can't really stand up so...I giggle. There tends to be a lot of “off the cuff” humour in my work. A woman involved in very serious and dark work will suddenly “throw a googlie” by saying “Well, you don't piss off gods, do you? Just in case!” That's really me speaking!

My profile picture
Ailsa Abraham

What was your greatest fear when you first started to write?

I didn't have any. Given that I was only writing for the amusement of friends it was not a fearful situation. I don't tend to scare easily anyway. Having shaken hands with DEATH regularly I tend to look at it and say “What's the worst that can happen?” With writing the answer is that in the worst case scenario, everyone will hate your book. Hey but then you would be famous for writing the worst book EVER!

When I first started I was writing male romance under a pseudonym and the only trepidation for me was that some gay men resent women writing that kind of fiction. So far nobody has had anything but praise for it. Even straight people apparently like them!

A's kiss book

What advice would you give to someone who wants to write, but who is feeling held back by circumstances and/or challenges?

Don't let it. Writing is something you should HAVE to do, not want to do. I would never have got into this malarky if people hadn't bullied, pushed and shoved me. I didn't think my stuff was good enough but publishers have agreed so I'll go along with them. They know what they are talking about. The only thing that should put you off writing is if you can't possibly face rejection because it will happen. 99 people will love your book and one miserable git will leave a one-star review. Being a normal human being, you will ignore the ninety-nine and notice only the bad one. Stop it. If you can't take that, don't write. Get as much feedback from friends, writing groups etc. and be open to constructive criticism.

Tell us a bit about something you've written that you're really proud of, or something you're writing now

As usual, with my disorganised brain I am writing three WIPs (works in progress) at once. I'm not especially proud of any of my books in particular, as they all mean as much to me. Each was a huge achievement. I think when I get Book 3 of Alchemy series finished, it will be the greatest one because I have literally had to come back from the dead to write it. I was getting on fine with the first draft until a motorcycle accident nearly wiped me out and put me in a coma for three weeks. It has taken over a year for me to get back to writing properly. I couldn't even do blog posts at first which will teach me to do somersaults over the handlebars at my age!

I am quite proud of being able to mix genres so well. I consider it rather like cooking. So I don't just make cakes, I do a mean home-made soup as well. Alchemy series is magical reality, my boys are in romantic detective drama and I'm about to embark on non-fiction too.

Out of the way, folks, the literary motorbike is revving up again. Thanks for having me over Margaret and here are my links (works from all over the world!)

both with Amazon

***

BIO – Ailsa Abraham retired early from a string of jobs, ending up with teaching English to adults. She has lived in France since 1990 and is married with no children but six grandchildren.  She copes with Bipolar Condition, a twisted spine and increasing deafness with her usual wry humour – “well if I didn't have all those, I'd have to work for a living, instead of writing, which is much more fun.”. Her ambition in life is to keep breathing and maybe move back to the UK. She has no intention of stopping writing. Her other passions are running an orphanage for homeless teddy bears plus knitting or crochet now that she has had to give up her beloved black Yamaha.

Ailsa's Publications:

As Ailsa Abraham :

Alchemy and Shaman's Drum published by Crooked Cat

alchemy

shamans drum4 go mad

 

(Shaman's Drum was nominated for the People's Choice Book Award)

 

Four Go Mad in Catalonia – self-published, available from Smashwords

Twitter - @ailsaabraham

Facebook – Ailsa Abraham

Amazon Author Page

Web page

Thank you so much, Ailsa. You're a complete inspiration to me, and I'm sure to everyone who reads this post!

Until next time.

Margaret

You might also enjoy:

Write Despite with Author Miriam Drori

Finding Your Writer's Path

3 Comments

The Thursday Blog Feature about writing despite challenge or adversity.
The Thursday Blog Feature about writing despite challenge or adversity.

There can be so many reasons why it's hard to sit down and write.

These can be as varied as the necessity to earn money to eat, or long ago memories of teachers who called you stupid as you struggled with dyslexia. Then there's ill health, low self-belief, or the need to make a perfect cup of coffee or to empty the bins before you start. Not to mention the inconvenient demands of a family, or an non-supportive partner.

In my first years of writing fiction, I had a boyfriend who was driven demented by the sound of me typing.

 

typewriter-452187_640

He would come into the kitchen - which was the only room in our flat where I could have a desk - and read out passages from my current work in progress in a cynical tone of voice.

"He strode off without a backward glance. She turned and walked slowly in the opposite direction, feeling as battered and bruised as if he had hit her physically. They hadn't spoken for more than five minutes, and in that short time he had made it quite clear that he no longer found her attractive. Well, asked a little voice, what did you expect?"

In those days, I wrote romances filled with tall, dark heroes with amazing cheek bones. Was my boyfriend jealous? Maybe. Certainly, those books were written despite him.

Never fear, reader; I dumped him. Not as soon as I ought to have done, but that's a different story.

I have written despite having repetative strain injury in my wrists from a brain-numbing data inputting job at a college. (I wore tubigrip bandages).

I have written despite relationship break-ups and in snatches of time while my baby son napped.

 

baby-215299_640

 

Writing takes time, and it also takes self-discipline, so in a way, all writers Write Despite something.

But some people have to overcome greater challenges than others in order to express themselves on paper, and I thought it would be inspiring and reassuring for us to hear these writers' stories of creation against the odds.

So, from next Thursday, 21st January, I'm introducing a new feature on my blog: Write Despite.

Each week, a writer who has successfully dealt with challenges in order to write will inspire us by answering these 5 questions:

  • What challenges have you had to overcome or deal with in order to write?
  • How do you think this challenge has impacted on your writing?
  • What was your greatest fear when you first started to write?
  • What advice would you give to someone who wants to write, but who is feeling held back by circumstances and/or challenges?
  • Tell us a bit about something you've written that you're really proud of, or something you're writing now.

I can't wait!

Cheers!

Margaret

You might also enjoy:

Finding Your Writer's Path

What is Writing Success for You?

Can Writing Improve Your Confidence? Try Writing About a Stand-up Comedian!

write to mend your broken heart

If you're coping with the aftermath of a relationship break up right now, I bet you've had people telling you "I know just what you're going through."

Wrong.

Nobody but you can know exactly what you're going through.

So, I'm not going to tell you that. But I will tell you that I know about sleepless nights. Wanting to pick fights. Feeling so low and so reckless you don't care what happens to you. Or you wouldn't do, if it weren't for your kids, family or friends who want or need you to be OK. To function.

I know about that big feeling of WHY? And all the other questions screaming around your brain as you struggle to comprehend and to accept what's happened to you.

How could he?
What about all our plans and dreams?
The promises and vows we made to each other?

I know about the complete denial that this is really happening to you; that at this stage in your life, you're going to have to make a new start when you thought you were set up for life.  Or maybe, as was the case for me, this isn't the first time you've had to make a new start, and you know how damn hard it can be.  That you can't believe you've got to crank up that amount of energy all over again when you're tired; so tired, your eyes hollow and burning with it, and yet you still can't sleep.

But listen, you will get through this.

Not only that, but maybe you'll be like me and you'll end up in a place when you can actually be grateful this break-up happened. I know that might seem unlikely right now, but honestly it really is true for me. I was so completely in love, I was like a moth hovering around a flame. I gave away all responsibility for my happiness to somebody else; somebody, it turned out, who didn't care enough about me to take care of it.

My recovery took a long time. Yours may do too. There's a definite process to go through, with clear stages to it. You will have to deal with each of these stages before you can move on to the next one, just as I did. But in dealing with them, you'll become a stronger, more grounded, content person than you were before.

I will never walk in someone else's shadow again. Or be dependent on someone else's whims to feel happy. These days I have an underlying strength that comes from the knowledge that I got safely through the most painful time of my life. And because I did, I know I can cope with whatever life throws at me in the future.

Writing played a key role in my recovery, and I'll show you how it can do the same for you as we work steadily, caringly though those crucial stages of recovery together.

Are you ready to make a start?

OK, I know you might not feel ready. Right now you might be feeling as if you'll never be ready. But just pretend you're ready for now, OK? That will be enough, I promise you. Together we'll set off on this healing journey together.

So, I want you to pick up a pen and find a piece of paper or a notebook. Now, write the word HOPE in big letters. There. Now, look at it. You've done your first piece of healing writing. This is what we'll be travelling towards together. Hope.

I know you can do it.  Trust me.

Margaret

write to mend your broken heart

He was the love of my life, and he'd been away from me for a week, on a skiing holiday with his brother - the first time we'd been apart in three years. I'd missed him so much, and now here he was, back again, walking towards me along the platform in the station like a suntanned God.

Handsome and charismatic, without him life was a silent world without colour and light. He was my light, and I flew towards him now like a moth to a flame, flinging myself into his arms. Everything was right with my world again; he was home. I had my man, my passion, and I had my imagined future of the two of us, white-haired, strolling hand-in-hand by the sea together in our old age.

Man and woman holding hands

Two months later, our relationship was over.

I'd been to the supermarket to buy food for his packed lunch the next day. When I entered the house, everything was quiet. Too quiet, because the car was outside, so I knew he was home, and he didn't do quiet. Whenever he was alone, he filled the silence with music, or by making long phone calls to his friends.

I went into the sitting room to find him sitting on the sofa, strangely still, his face filled with tension. Immediately, I went to sit next to him. In the past year, he'd lost a close friend in a cycle accident, and I'd lost my father to cancer. Not unsurprisingly, I feared the worst.

"What is it?" I asked, taking his hand. "What's wrong?"

Absolutely nothing had prepared me for his reply. Since his return from his skiing holiday, life had continued exactly as normal. Shared meals. Doing things with his daughters when they stayed with us. Walking the dog. Going out to social events. And passion. Plenty of passion. As I say, everything absolutely as normal.

He hadn't met my eyes since I'd walked in, but now he looked up.

"I've met someone else," he said.

Time stood still. I swear, it really did. For around 10 seconds, it was as if we were both frozen in time.

I didn't need to ask any questions, because I knew exactly what he meant. I didn't have all the information I would later learn - that he had met this new woman while he was on his skiing holiday, that he had tried to resist her, but the connection between them was too strong. That she had been phoning him at work. That he had lied to me about his whereabouts on several occasions to visit her.

For those ten seconds, none of that mattered. A shaft of light penetrated my brain; a light I knew would all-too-soon be swamped by extreme darkness.

 

shaft of light

 

I can remember my thoughts being really lucid for that short period of time. I knew a tidal wave of indescribable pain was about to hit me. But for those ten frozen seconds, that shaft of light showed me a glimpse of what the future could hold for me - a future without him.

"This is going to hurt so much. It's going to take a long time to get over. But when I have, I won't have to struggle with being a stepmother to his girls any longer. Maybe I'll even be able to have a child of my own."

Readers, I did just that. After I'd dealt with the tidal wave.

So, my challenge to you, if you're dealing with a broken relationship right now, is to use this TEN-SECOND TIME-FREEZE TECHNIQUE yourself.

Find somewhere quiet, where you won't be disturbed. Close your eyes and take a series of deep breaths. Imagine the sky, with the sun breaking out of the clouds and sending down a shaft of light. Let that light connect with you, revealing the best future you can possibly imagine for yourself after you've dealt with the pain of your current situation.

What do you see?

Try to make it just about you. Your deepest dreams and desires. Now, write them down - just a few words will do. And put them somewhere safe. They're your treasures.

Treasure_chest_color