This Lent I tried to give up two of my psychological props with rather mixed success. This Maundy Thursday, I’m reflecting on how it’s gone so far. Continue reading
I keep a tiny book-themed B&B – and I offer my guests fresh fruit salad every morning. Our raspberries are just ripening, and there are only a few home-grown blueberries. I had sliced an apple but felt it needed a bit more interest – so I had a rootle in the depths of the fruit bowl. Out came a passion fruit – and that got me to thinking about characters… Continue reading
January joy – I have been attempting the accounts for my writer-friendly B&B: “Peacehaven” You can’t blame a person for plugging her day job, can you?
It’s a slog through all the receipts and expenses to see what I have made. Amongst all the spreadsheet terrors, I’ve been thinking about the profit-and-loss of my writing.
Please enjoy a snigger at my ‘shelfie’ whilst I write.
Normal blogposts will resume in due course…
First the not-so-good news
I have been away in Spain this last week. Just before we went, things got very complicated with The House with No Name. I shan’t bore you with the details – but at present it looks exceedingly unlikely that we will own No. 34.
This has been something of a blow.
However I will honour my promise of a 10% discount to all name-that-retreat entrants. You can use it for my B&B or wait till we find another property. The choice is yours.
Now on a lighter note
On the flight home to Gatwick, we crossed the English channel in bright afternoon sunshine. I found it absolutely fascinating to speculate where we were and then spot landmarks. I notched up Beachy Head lighthouse, both Brighton piers ( the old one looks like a very dead spider or a fuzz of tarry string) and Newhaven Wall with pleasurable ease.
But the best of all was Selsey.
The new ‘managed realignment’ sea-defences have now been deliberately breached. The sea is reclaiming the land once drained by rifes (ditches) in the 18th and 19th centuries. A gleaming creek showed Selsey to be almost the island it once was ( Seal’s Isle in Old Norse).
For me it was a thrill to see ‘Selchester’ , my imaginary city from the air – well, almost.
My creative friends – have you ever seen an imaginary location come to life?
I’ve just been for a refreshing swim in the Solent. Whilst I was splashing about and enjoying the waves, I thought about The House with No Name and our seaside retreats venture. How do I get it going?
I really don’t want to be a pushy, self-promoting twonk but I do want people to know about it. I had found that no-one knew in the village about my B&B – and even worse, if they had, they would have told visitors. I don’t want that to happen with this enterprise. I can’t afford it to.
And on the other side of the process, I have had such conflicting advice about running a B&B or guesthouse. I’ve also had a variety of experiences. How do I decide what to do for the best?
The only way as far as I can see to combine integrity with our coastal retreat business is a commitment to provide what our guests really want. A commitment to help, to nurture and to find out what truly works for them.
I was thrilled when Lynn Breeze commented:
involving us all in this way makes us feel a part of it too
That’s just what I want.
The same goes for the promotion of our seaside retreats. I can’t be like a barker in Leeds covered-in market bawling out her wares (much as I admire the brash energy of such an approach). To find the energy to keep putting our venture forward, I have to believe in what I’m doing. It has to be honest.
Partly, I am inspired by the lovely and very astute Deborah Dooley.( If you need a sojourn deep in the heart of the Devon countryside, I particularly recommend her ancient house for its welcoming atmosphere and delectable fire.)
Her approach to advertising Retreats for You is straightforward. She simply communicates what she’s been doing. It’s genuine and engaging and gives you a good sense of what’s she’s about. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – and I hope she won’t mind me doing something similar.
- I will jabber on enthusiastically about what I’m up to
- I will ask questions – repeatedly
- I will value any comments and suggestions from you lovely lot
- PLEASE tell me what you want
I have over the years become conditioned to feel that September, the start of the academic year, is a new beginning. Although now I am a writer not a teacher, I still get a little buzz as Summer segues into Autumn.
This year even more so.
I am starting a whole new writing-related enterprise. We have bought a lovely 1950s house, one road back from the glorious beach here at The Witterings. It’s large and relaxed, and with some adaptation, it will make a superb writers’ retreat.
I believe there is a demand out there for a peaceful place by the sea where you can be spoiled rotten and get on with your writing. A place where you don’t need to worry about meals and laundry and general busy-ness. A place where a refreshing seafront stroll is two minutes away and the loudest thing is the seagull chorus. A place where tea and coffee and cake are always at hand.
And a jolly sight more personal, friendly and cheaper than a hotel.
But I do have a problem.
It doesn’t have a name. Number 34 Marine Drive doesn’t cut it for me. It doesn’t say ‘here is the perfect seaside venue to complete your masterpiece/write your dissertation/compose the best poems ever’. How about you?
So I am offering a two-nights-for-the-price-of-one deal for the person who comes up with the best name – and a 10% discount for everyone who enters a suggestion. We plan to be up and running by Easter 2014 – and the prize/discount will be valid for a poetical year-and-a-day from our official opening.
- DM @lockwoodwriter on twitter – you’ll need to follow me first if you don’t already OR
- visit the K.M.Lockwood page on Facebook and leave a message ( it really needs some friends) OR
- email kmlockwoodAThotmail.co.uk with your suggestions
I am so looking forward to your suggestions – for names or any other comments.
PLEASE NOTE No-one’s email or anything else will be used by anyone other than me.
The competition will close on the 30th September. There may well have to be a vote-off.
When I returned from my wonderfully stimulating and exhausting weekend in Frome at the Golden Egg Academy, I started work immediately – on preparing my house for bed-and-breakfast guests. I had a photo-shoot scheduled for Tuesday morning courtesy of Airbnb.
What, you might well ask, has that got to do with writing?
More than I thought at first.
One task was clearing out the clutter. Getting shot of the bits and bobs that got in the way so that the potential guests could see what they were getting easily. It needed to be clear and clean and suited to the people who liked that sort of thing.
Of course, it was hard to wang stuff out. I am temperamentally averse to disposal. Ideologically too – though handing stuff over to charity shops soothed those qualms. I had to get over some of my sentimentality and clingishness. I can’t say I have entirely triumphed – there are cupboards upstairs bursting with that-which-might-come-in-useful-one-day.
But I had to steel myself, to try and look at my rooms with a dispassionate eye. The tired and the sad had to go – because they got in the way of what I was trying to do. Likewise, I arranged things to make it look good in the photographs. There’s an element of the stage set here, the use of props to suggest the atmosphere I wish to convey – a little cynical, perhaps.
You can see the parallel, I suspect.
The crucial, though not the only, learning point of my time at Imogen Cooper’s lovely house was identifying the core of my novel that would appeal to my intended readership. That is what I have to de-clutter. I need to strip away all the extraneous tat – and even the really lovely writing – that doesn’t make it clear, clean and suited to readers who like that sort of thing. I have to chuck out the verbal chintz.
To use an old Yorkshire expression, my novel needs a ‘good bottoming’ – it needs sorting out – or ‘fettling’ from the bottom up. And it’s no good being half-arsed about it (pun intended). I shall have give it a proper seeing-to.
On with the metaphorical rubber gloves, then.
Today, I went overseas – well, the Isle of Wight, actually. I have an arrangement with my husband when visiting clients in interesting places that I go too. I treat these jollies as kinds of ‘Artist’s Date’ to use Julia Cameron‘s term.
It’s good to have a breather – a change of scene can lead to a different perspective. Followers of this blog will know I’ve been struggling with major revision of my Work in Progress – so when this trip was suggested, I leapt at it. Then I cracked it – I plumped for what I wanted to do and edited merrily away. By today I had a good fifth of the WiP sorted.
So then I had some choosing to do:
- stay at home and edit – and risk annoying very supportive Better Half
- go – and resent the time not spent editing when on a roll
- go – and embrace the little adventure
- the restorative effect of fresh air, sunshine and sea air
- a chance to observe ferry port banter
- some choice turns of phrase
- details of an appealing setting I could use
- intriguing anecdotes which lead to possible story development