All Zoomed Out

Does anyone else have a recurring nightmare? (Apart from being stuck in an everlasting Zoom meeting?)

Here’s mine: I’m packing to go somewhere (that has to be a dream, at the moment, right?) and I’m late and in a mad rush and I’m throwing things into the suitcase but it’s still not fast enough.

I’m going to miss the plane or the train or the bus and someone’s waiting for me (sometimes the mysterious ‘someone’ is tapping their foot, looking at their watch, saying, “Come on, come on!”)

Eek, my chest’s going tight just thinking about it.

You don’t have to be a genius to work out that’s a stress dream. Even when I don’t feel stressed, I sometimes have the same dream.

Now, I’m lucky: I really don’t have much to get stressed about but ‘time management’ has always been a thing for me and just lately, Zoom has taken over my life. Last week, for example, I had 10 Zoom meetings/events/classes. Yep, two a day. Something of a record, even for me.

Out of interest, I consulted Aunty Flo’s Dream Dictionary (‘What does it mean when you don’t have time to pack?’) and it said, “This is an anxiety dream. Dreams of not having enough time to pack can illustrate the stress you feel. Often these types of dreams occur [when] we simply do not have time and we have so much to do.’

Ha, yes, Aunty Flo is right on the money! (I’ll warn you, the dream dictionary is something of a rabbit hole. Once you start looking, you won’t be able to stop. Don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Novel Progress

One of my Zoom meetings was an hour long chat with my agent on Tuesday about the draft that I sent him a few weeks ago.

There are more changes to make to the manuscript. For example, all the action and resolution is still too bunched up, at the end. I’ve got to spread it out more and move things around.

There are also some significant things to ponder, such as, should I kill off character X or let him/her live? (Killing him/her off is ‘the nuclear option’).

But it’s nearly there. And once I’ve worked on it (from now until the end of April), it will be DONE, all being well.

Someone (well meaning!) in one of my classes asked me, in all seriousness, whether she could buy my book yet and I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry.

No. No is the answer.

I will let you know if that situation ever changes. Believe me, I will let you know.


The annual Women’s Prize/Grazia First Chapter competition is now open for entries (from UK residents and women only) and the closing date is 6pm on April 20th 2021. Read the rules carefully if you’re going to enter.

Novelist Dorothy Koomson has written an opening scene and you have to continue the story in 800 – 1000 words.

There’s no cash prize but there’s enough to make it worthwhile winning, I would say – not least, mentoring from Dorothy Koomson herself (who’s just published her 16th novel and who, for some reason, I thought was American but she’s not, she’s British).

There’s also an invite to receive your prize at the Women’s Prize award ceremony in London in July (fingers crossed and all that) too, including hotel and travel. That would be quite an experience and who knows who you might meet? (Famous writers, other writers, an agent or two…?).

The application form asks for your date of birth and, I know what you’re thinking: why, why, why? Do they want to choose a winner that fits the Grazia magazine demographic of ’25-45 year-old women’ (just looked that up)? You would hope that is NOT the case and they will choose the best writing but there’s no way of telling.

They ask for your ‘occupation’ too and that makes me wonder whether they’re looking to reward a ‘key worker’?! (Oh, I’m cynical). BUT, there are so many ‘unknowables’ when you enter a competition, I’d say, just go for it and once you’ve sent in your entry, forget it and move onto something else!

Coventry: UK City of Culture 2021

If you live or work in Coventry and are interested in play writing you may be interested in this opportunity.

The Belgrade Theatre in Coventry has teamed up with Paines Plough, as part of Coventry City of Culture 2021 and is inviting applications for a free ‘10-week programme of workshops aimed at supporting storytellers and aspiring writers to write and perform their own 10 minute play.’

It starts in May and applications close on 19th April.

Details are here.

Don’t forget to put your clocks forward 1 hour!

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6 Responses to All Zoomed Out

  1. Fran Hill says:

    Thanks for the link to the Grazia competition, Helen. I didn’t know about that. Good luck with the editing!

    • Glad it was useful, Fran and good luck if you decide to have a go! Great prize, I think. (But I don’t think it’s an easy task, to continue that piece that Dorothy Koomson’s started!)

      • Fran Hill says:

        No, it doesn’t look easy and I’m not a romance writer (and I’m old) so maybe it’s not the comp for me! As for dreams, with me it’s a telephone that refuses to work when I have an emergency. Strangely, it’s often the old kind of phone – the one with a dial!

      • I’ve never read any Dorothy Koomson but looking at the books on her website, they do seem to be crime-related so perhaps you could go down that route rather than strictly romance? Just a thought!

  2. Sue Cook says:

    So what does your dream book say about being in bed with Donald Trump beside you and his arm snakes over you so you bite his thumb as a warning, but he takes no notice so you bite harder then realise it isn’t his thumb? Oh, and it’s all in turquoise???

    • Funnily enough, Sue (I did look!!) it doesn’t say anything about Donald Trump, or biting! That is a worrying dream (no, not a dream, a nightmare!!) But although it doesn’t specifically mention turquoise, it does ‘explain’ what it means if you dream in blue – ! Hope you don’t have any more Trump-y dreams! (I’d have thought you should have dreamed in orange if he was in it)

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