Sunday, 29 January 2012

Creative Round-Up

I’ve had this past week off from work, and I’m pleased to say it has been a very creative holiday – and I thought I’d share with you how:

1.      A week ago yesterday, I saw Sister Act at the Hippodrome – this has always been a favourite film of mine, and, while different, the stage show was no disappointment.  A fab, fun time – and a reminder of the adrenaline that the audience feels when an art production is executed well.

2.      Working on the notes for and writing two different poems (though both in my early-writing-influences sequence) – and bringing both to the Second Draft stage.  Time and distance is now needed for a fresh perspective to take each to the next level.

3.      Keeping up with the interesting (hopefully!) blog posts – I’ve written a couple in reserve, ready for the not-so-creative moments in the week ahead!

4.      Receiving two lovely and imaginative letters from my good friend Charlotte – she’s a English teacher living in Vienna, and she’s a writer too; it’s been great timing this week to be able to share and respond to her creative playfulness, so thank you, Charlotte!

So while I didn’t end up on a Girl’s Night Out with my main characters from Novel Number Two, I didn’t anticipate accomplishing two poems – and, besides, there’s a Friday night in every week, so I’ll be joining my girls for a gossipy, giggly time very soon!

Friday, 27 January 2012

Things That Catch My Eye II

Continuing with the odd-things-that-spark-my-creativity list, here are two more areas of life which catch my eye:

I love trees.  Really, I do.  There’s the visual angle – the colours of bark and leaves, the shape and size, the height and breadth.  The texture of trees is also important to me – rub your hand across that bark and imagine the splinters of story you’ll get... 

The angle which most influences me (but this could become a Deb-cliché in my work if I’m not careful) is the wonder, the mystery, the sense of something’s-about-to-happen that I get when I peer into a wood, when I question where that path leads and why the trees don’t look like trees anymore... 

This photo is of a tree along the Newton Park campus drive to Bath Spa University, and every day, while driving into uni, that I passed it, I thought about whose face that was and why they were trapped in a tree. I have that story in my mind yet I've never written it down beyond some old, scribbled notes - perhaps now I should!

I’m fascinated, too, by the timelessness of trees, the fact that the ancient ones have been on this earth for hundreds, even thousands of years – and this immortality and power is, to me, a little like the magic of words in books...  All this and we haven’t even got onto the scientific-photosynthesis-essential-for-living stuff yet...!


There’s something captivating about my Nan’s button box...  It’s intriguing and interesting, absorbing and surprising. 

Picking out the odd button here and the odd button there, I imagine the type of garment it adorned; how the wearer felt wearing it; and how the button came off...  I wonder about the choices the designer made; if other buttons were considered first but unavailable; and whether it was handstitched or machine-sewn on.  I question the texture and colour; the ease of buttoning and whether it stretched or frayed the buttonhole; and what it might say if only it could speak...

For Novel Number Two which features fashion and fun, I’ve selected buttons and rings, necklaces and charms that seem to speak to me, and placed them inside a Chinese-style handbag (which is also inspiring, all on its own-some!). 

Who knows what characters and events they’ll help me create, but there’ll be something, I’m sure...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Things That Catch My Eye I

Having always been a creative, eccentric type, I tend to find creativity and inspiration in the oddest of places...  The usual and regular places include, of course, books, word-lists, films/TV and their characters, and art – all of which could have a (very long!) post of their own.  But the unusual, maybe-it’s-just-me stuff yields interesting thoughts and triggers.

Here are a couple of things that catch my eye – have a read and a think, and maybe you’ll discover some creativity sparking inside you which you didn’t expect to find...

Greetings Cards

Two things about greetings cards inspire me:

1)      When giving me a card, my dad will spend ages (and I mean ages) looking for the right wording.  Usually pink or red and with some kind of handbag/shoe/fashion motif (predictable, moi?!), the card he picks will have a message that touches my heart; even more so, because my dad is not like me – he’s not a reader, a word-lover or a writer.  But the fact that, on my birthday and at Christmas, he will wade through huge selections of words till he finds the right message...that means a lot.  Inspires a lot, too, when I think about it: love; loyalty; dedication; making the right choice; finding an apt fit; wanting to please someone; respect – all of these are great themes or characteristics to be used in creative work.

2)      My very good (and very craft-y) friend Zoe makes her own cards (and general papercraft) – and her creations are like art.  Seriously.  She started off a few years ago and when she looks at her early work, she sees all the things she could improve – yet doesn’t see the fledging art in them that I see (so I remind her, of course!).  She’s gone strength to strength with her card-making, which is both bespoke and BRILLIANT – now, I know I’ve said this before, but do have a look at her blog and you'll see for yourself!  I’ve got a few of her cards on my wall, not to mention her recent prize-winning canvas, and they’re so inspiring to me.  When I look at them I see vintage style, whimsy and wit, and complementary colour palettes; I see the mood and tone of a story waiting to be told.


Alongside Zoe’s work, I know someone else who creates canvases from hundreds of buttons – and their work inspired me to craft something of my own.  I was nervous of card-making as I can be clumsy and butter-fingered, and papercraft does need dexterity and patience (another thing which I haven’t got much of, I’m afraid!) – but one day at work, I noticed a t-shirt that had an interesting picture on the front; a picture which spoke its story to me, and I had to tell it to the next listener... 

Cutting out the motif, I handstitched it onto denim, added on a few buttons (echoing each other’s symmetry at the top and bottom to create a pleasing frame) and some charms, and glued it onto a canvas – et voila!  My very first piece of craft – and it was humbling and fulfilling to discover that creativity comes in all guises, not just words. 

A second canvas awaits me and my craft creativity – I want to use my Paris trip to inspire this one, using shapes and colours and motifs that I saw and imbibed.  Now all I’ve got to do is dig out the fabric, needles and thread and get sewing...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

A Friend Indeed

A two-parted ‘thank you’ must be said to my good friend Zoe, who is always a friend indeed when I am in need!

The first part is a few days late, as I’ve been resting on my holiday and not been blogging – but here it is: Thank you Zoe for awarding me the Liebster Blog Award.

The idea of the Liebster Blog Award is to spread the love from one small blog (under 200 followers) to other small blogs. This helps to spread knowledge and readership.

"Liebster" in German means "dearest", so as part of the Liebster award tradition, I am going to pass this award to 5 blogs that I value, and that have both inspired and motivated me.

To accept the award, you must:

1) Link back to the person who gave it and thank them for thinking of you.
2) Post the award to your blog.
3) Give the award to 5 bloggers (with less than 200 followers) that you appreciate and value.
4) Leave a comment on the blogs of the five people you have chosen to let them know.

As I am a definite blog-newbie, I am touched that Zoe thought to spread my news, and so...

1.      ...has to be a pass-back to Zoe and her craft-inspired blog,  Please do have a look, as her craft creations are amazing, and you'll be wanting one for yourself - I’m lucky enough to have her prize-winning original canvas on my wall (’cause it was my Christmas present!), not that I'm bragging, mind!

2.      Goes to Susie and her blog , which showcases the experiences and emotions of someone who suffers depression (a.k.a. black dog).  Though nothing is sugar-coated, Susie’s open, honest and courageous struggle will inform and inspire you.

3.      Um...err... Well...  Number 3 is...  I don’t actually know!  Being new to blog-land, I’ve not found that many blogs to read – and those I do tend to be bigger than the Liebster’s cap of 200 followers.  So, Numbers 3, 4 and 5 are over to you: if you read or write a blog (or blogs) that you think will take my fancy, I’d love to know about them!  Please leave a comment on here or over on Facebook and I’ll be glad to have a read of what’s out there.

Getting back to my ‘thank you’, the second part is a technical one: thank you, Zoe, for being the best technical-archaeologist I know and trying for ages today to resurrect my archaic printer – only to discover that it is, indeed, a relic of the technological age!  Driver updates (Pardon?  I know, I don’t have a clue either!) for it are no longer archived online, let alone available, and so the only path forward is to buy a brand-spanking new one!  With Zoe’s guidance, I now know what I’m looking for and will pur-chase forth-with this week...oh, and Zoe?  Please can you be on standby in case I can’t get the damn thing working?!  Ta muchly, hon :0)

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Putting it About (that's my writing, not myself!)

After a lengthy recovery from stocktake yesterday (= I’ve had a very lazy morning!), I responded to Zoe’s reading of Arson and declared it ‘finished.’  I struggled with the printer (why oh why does it freeze the print queue and refuse to work without wrangling, just when I’m trying to put my work out there?!), but eventually printed out the poem, filled in the entry slip and sealed it in the envelope.  Now all I’ve got to do is post it...

It probably won’t surprise you that I prefer to send a paper, hard copy entry rather than copy-and-paste into an online entry field...but the second competition I entered today wouldn’t let me; the only entry was online and so I submitted to it.  Biting the bullet, I’ve entered my poem Resuscitation into the medical-themed competition, which I found out about from the latest issue of Writing Magazine.

Who knows whether either poem will be successful?  Fingers crossed...

I do know, though, that by reworking Arson to fit the competition criteria, I improved the poem.  Before, it was more succinct and staccato, and perhaps lacked clarity as to what exactly was being burned.  Now, I believe that the crux of the poem (that the ‘I’ had written words inspired by her lover and now burns them in anger) hits harder, and the theme is taken more into ‘writing’ than just ‘burning’.

So, here we are, 17 days into January and I can tick off 2/12ths of one of my Resolutions!  Just 10 more competitions to go...  Resolution-wise, I’m also pleased that I’ve blog-posted more regularly, and aim to continue doing so; and after dinner tonight, I’m looking at notes on my last sequence poem to begin working on it once again.  My week off from work is beckoning (just 2 more shifts to go...), and so is my creativity...yay!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Stocktake of a Scribe

It is stocktake time at work and all hands are to the deck.  The day of reckoning is tomorrow, and it’s going to be a long, long day for us all – but at least it only comes once a year!  All this sorting, tidying and counting got me thinking about taking stock of my writing.

Now, don’t worry, I’m not going to give you eye-ache reading an enormous list of everything I’ve ever penned – that would be too much of a migraine-inducing task for me, let alone you!  I’ve always jotted down bits here and bobs there; recorded conversations, both real and made up; and listed interesting-sounding names for characters or places – all constituting an oil-well worth of ink spilled across many pages, and certainly too much to stocktake (especially as some could argue that it’s of little value unless it’s actually used; but that’s the life of a writer!).

After finishing Novel Number One in January 2010 (ouch, that’s a long time ago – have I really been bumbling along since then?!), I lost all confidence in my writing.  Having spent 4 years thinking about and then 1 year writing Novel Number One, and being so consumed by that one project that I didn’t write anything else alongside it, I couldn’t get going again.  Worried that I couldn’t tell a different story in a different voice ever again, I.  Just.  Stopped.  Told anyone who asked, of course, that I was working on writing exercises, trying new things out, and all was well.  But I was.  Miserable.  Really miserable.  And so very lost, too, without writing.

But one day I woke up and realised that I was, am, and have always been a Writer.  Though I wasn’t writing right then, I had been writing before Novel Number One...and so I dug out the work and had a good look.  Prose from before my English Literature with Creative Writing degree (from Bath Spa University – they rock!) was rather dodgy (rambling, in places, actually; and almost all had trailed off, losing their way while I lost my enthusiasm), though a few poems had promise.  The idea of Novel Number One and the early work upon it was conceived during my second year at university, and since graduating I hadn’t written anything fresh, just concentrated on the novel.  But I had written other things in different modules on my degree, and it was this that formed the basis of my stocktake – which then became my portfolio.

I decided to collect together the good pieces and keep them in a portfolio of my best work, so that I could reread and bolster my confidence; and also to have an efficient repository of work to send out to competitions (oops – I only did this twice!).  Divided into Prose and Poetry, only work that I deem ‘finished’ goes in (and the writers – or perfectionists! – among you will know it takes a great many drafts to get to this stage...and even then, tweaks may still need to be made to suit various publications).  Novel Number One doesn’t make it in – not because sections of it aren’t good enough, but because it would be too cumbersome to extract, and too complicated to contextualise, for it to be included.

So, in the spirit of (a fairly succinct!) stocktake, I share my portfolio with you:

1.      Accidents – this is a 750 word Flash Fiction piece, in which an accident may not be a natural one...  Bustling around cleaning, Heather accidentally breaks one of Mrs Winslow’s porcelain dolls – which, to withered old Mrs Winslow, are like daughters.  Heather’s apology seems to be grudgingly accepted, but later an accident befalls Heather, leaving her with the same injuries as Mrs Winslow’s shattered doll...  (Submitted to a competition and rejected).

2.      Sunday Shoes – a 1500 word short, this is narrated by seven year-old Chloe, who spends her Sunday afternoons looking through her mum’s shoe collection.  Saving the best till last, Chloe and her mum pull out the favourite box – and savour the photographs of her dad, who has passed away.  The afternoon tribute ends with Chloe wearing her favourite lemon yellow shoes, the gift her dad gave her just before he passed away, for when she is older.  (Submitted to a children's writing competition and rejected - though I see now that it may not have enough of a arc to make it work as a story).

3.      Dakota – just shy of 1000 words (and so not – yet! – long enough to enter into most competitions), this is a story in the film noir style of the movie ‘Sin City’.  An efficient hit man feels little humanity and no remorse...until he has to kill his daughter...

4.      The Dare – Again just over 900 words, the second person ‘you’ is used to narrate the tale of a brother and sister; the dare they make, running over and over a frozen river; and what happens when the ice cracks and a child falls in...

1.      Healthy – more a prose-poem, this is a rant against our image-obsessed culture and the unhealthy places it takes our personalities too.  For me, this poem is a great success: of a personal and ethical ‘message’; of performance (I read it in front of an audience of 70+ in Chicago while on my university exchange – and 2 different people at 2 different times congratulated me on it!); and of publication, as it is published in the Bath Spa University ‘Open to Interpretation’ anthology (though this unfortunately means that it’s ineligible for competition entry).

2.      Arson

3.      Resuscitation – an ironic poem, showing how dysfunctional love and its metaphorical CPR destroys and not saves a relationship (I may enter this into a medical-themed competition, but I need to look at it again with fresh eyes before committing!).

4.      The Writer’s Toil – my cathartic and long-awaited return to writing after Novel Number One, this poem uses a blacksmith’s imagery to show the physical and psychological toil of writing (this was recently submitted to a magazine and rejected, but I still believe in it as a poem).

5.      When You Go to Bed at Night – this is a poem for children and an attempt at a kind of nursery rhyme (though, typically for me, without the rhyme!).  Different dreams and the freedom they bring is listed with the refrain 'When you go to bed at night...’ between stanzas.  

6.      Memories of My Mother – as the title suggests, this is an entirely personal poem detailing some of my memories of my late mother (I hasten to add that it isn’t too bleak or upsetting, and is mainly included in the portfolio because I achieved and small amount of success with it, as it was published in a - very- small-press poetry anthology, as was the next poem...)

7.      Searching for Affirmation – this is more widely about grief and the affirmation that comes when you’ve accepted the loss of someone you love.

I should probably explain that poetry comes to me mainly when I am in the ‘heat’ of an emotion, and this is why it tends to be angst-y!  The Prose here is outweighed by the Poetry; before university taught me to write short pieces each week, I would spiral off into the exciting reaches of an idea first, then write a bit down here and a bit there...but by the time I came to start on an actual narrative, I’d lost the inclination, enthusiasm or imagination to do the original idea justice.  Therefore, as ambivalent as I’ve felt (and still feel, to be honest) towards Novel Number One, it truly is a success of its own right, for I conceived, edited, drafted and wrote 150, 000 words (and, yes, I know that’s too long for publication!) – and, as you can now see, I’d never written a fraction of that many before (except about 4000 words for a uni essay).

Every now and then, I take the portfolio down off the shelf and remind myself. 

I remind myself that I am a Writer; that I have Written good things; and that as I have done that before...then I Will again.

Friday, 13 January 2012

No one knows...

“No one knows what you can do
until you show them.”
~ Phillipa Morgan, Glamour magazine

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

I'm Upside Down

I first heard the song 'Upside Down' on the music system at work – which can be wince-inducing as it is non-copyrighted music (non-named singers and arrangements are cheaper to license for public broadcasting) and thus songs often sound like cats screeching instead of being sweetly sung – and loved it.  I loved the retro swing-jazz rhythm, the catchy lyrics and finger-clicking beat, and got so used to hearing it by a non-name that when I downloaded it by the actual singer, Paloma Faith, it took a few listens to adjust to the differences.

Though sometimes Paloma Faith herself is a little too kooky in the fashion stakes for my taste, I like her confident, sassy attitude, her individuality and determination to be exactly who she is regardless of what others say – plus, her voice really is good. 

It takes me a while to absorb the meaning of lyrics (I tend to sing along parrot fashion at first, then ages later realise the import of what I’m repeating...), but I wanted to share those of ‘Upside Down’ with you because they say a lot about me and my life, and it’s nice to find some solidarity...

Angels watching over me,
With smiles upon their face,
’Cause I have made it through this far,
In an unforgiving place.

It feels sometimes this hill’s too steep
For a girl like me to climb,
But I must knock those thoughts right down,
I'll do it in my own time.

I don't care,
I'm halfway there,
On a road that leads me straight to who knows where?

I'll tell you what,
What I have found,
That I'm no fool,
I'm just upside down.
Ain't got no cares,
I ain't got no rules,
I think I like living upside down.

Watching people scurry by,
Rushing to and fro,
Oh this world is such a crazy place,
It's all about the go go go.

Sometimes life can taste so sweet,
When you slow it down,
You start to see the world a little differently,
When you turn it upside down.

I don't care,
I'm halfway there,
And I'm just soaking up the magic in the air.

I'll tell you what,
What I have found,
That I'm no fool,
I'm just upside down.
Ain't got no cares,
I ain't got no rules,
I think I like living upside down.

Woa, Woa, Woa
You got to slow it down,
And then you pick it up,
Come on and try a little topsy turvy back to front the right way round.

Take it slow, slow, slow (you gotta pick it up),
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah (let me see you slow it down),
Hey, yo, yo (tell me something something).

I'll tell you what,
What I have found,
That I'm no fool,
I'm just upside down.
Ain't got no cares,
I ain't got no rules,
I think I like living upside down.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Curiosity Killed the...Swordfish

This morning I read an article in the latest issue of Writing Magazine entitled ‘Be Curious!’  For a writer (and anyone who is nosy!), this is such good advice: as writers, we need to ask questions to create intrigue, tension and emotion.  And the place that asking emanates from is curiosity.

Unfortunately, adulthood tends to strip us of the wide-eyed, un-self-conscious and questing view of the world that we had as children, thus making it harder to excavate curiosity in our daily lives – and this is the point that Helen Yendall makes.  I’m a big believer in manners and politeness and so don’t like to overtly pry into someone’s business, or be rude and antagonise them or a situation they’re/we’re in...but I also believe that the daily drudgery of our lives anaesthetises us to what is going on around us.  We forget to really look at people and places, to really wonder and ponder about them.  Instead of asking them questions, we answer with our pre-conceived ideas and often, sadly, our prejudices created in or by our culture/society.  (And I admit that I’m a right one for shouting “Dysfunctional people!” at Jeremy Kyle on the TV without considering just how and why it is that those people don’t have an alternative support system that they can turn to.)

So, taking inspiration from Yendall’s article, I decided to be curious today.  With an afternoon shift at work to come, I knew there would be decent material in the guise of customers, transactions and tasks!  (I work in a clothes shop, for those not in the know.  Believe me, we get all sorts of people and situations, bad and good and sometimes just plain funny!)

Here are my Curious Questions of today:

1.  (After taking in a neighbour’s parcel because she was out when it was delivered)  What has she ordered that is named ‘Swordfish’ on the box?  Is she starting some kind of an aquarium, or even a swish seafood restaurant?  Is she breeding mini Jaws-like hybrids, or does she have a grievance against King Triton and has kidnapped a few of his fish?  The box is heavy, so...

(NB.  This was much more interesting and inspiring before I noticed that ‘Shredder’ was written underneath!  Still, a shredder with mechanical teeth the strength of a swordfish...there could be something there!)

2.  Why did the pretty girl in her late teens choose to wear a feather in her hair while out shopping?  It was purple, with a burgundy rose nestled in her pinned-up black hair.  Against her porcelain skin, it seemed somehow Charleston-like: daring, witty, energetic.  She was wearing a dark, ordinary-looking coat, so I couldn't see if the rest of her outfit matched - but what if it didn't, I wonder?  Who was she, and where did she develop this hairstyle from?  Do her friends style their hair the same, or is she a maverick?

3.  Looking out of the door at four o'clock, why does the suddenness of the early, dark evenings speak of lost hours and cocooned existence?  Why does it feel as if the world didn’t wake this morning after all, and won’t tomorrow morning?  Indeed, we are up and about it in before it does dawn, the sun struggling through the clouds like an afterthought, so where does the night go when the day takes over? 

4.  How could such dry skin corrupt a lady’s hands? Though older, she was neat and well dressed; yet her hands told of secrets shrivelled underneath her skin, perhaps of endless cleaning, washing, laundering. Or could it be chemicals that stripped away the smoothness of her skin, and how did she come into contact with them? Is she as bothered by this incongruity as much as I?

5.  Who was that knocking on my door just before seven p.m., and why was part of the reason that I didn’t want to answer and find out was that it was dark?  Could they hear me moving around inside?  Could they see my silhouette through the curtains?  It was a slight, hesitant knock so why didn’t I feel that I could put them (and myself) at ease?

Even from these scant observations, questions have sparked; I can see avenues heading into events and situations, genres and characters (and perhaps these are obvious and clichéd as a starting point, but developing an idea takes time and work...and this would be to come if I did decide to pursue one of these).  So, material indeed, just from one afternoon of curiously observing!  For the rest of this week, I want to keep a Curious List and see where it leads me...

Let me challenge you now: be curious tomorrow.  What will you hear, who will you see?  What happenings will you spot, and what will you wonder?  And...

Will you tell me?

Sunday, 8 January 2012

A Tick Almost Scored

After I posted last night, I emailed my friend Zoe and, in the communal spirit of our reading/critiquing of each other's work, asked her to slap my wrists if I didn't do my 15 minutes of creative writing today - and, as her comment on the post below attests, she assured me she would.
But my wrist remains un-slapped and a 1/6th of a tick against Resolution Number 3 is almost scored: for about an hour and a half this afternoon, I have been working on redrafting a poem to send in to a writing magazine competition.  The closing date is the 15th February and the competition has a specified first line: As I gaze at the flames of the fire

Don't worry - I winced, too, when I first read it, as this could easily end up in a cliched or cheesy poem; and, had I not already had something about 'fire' in my folder, I might've brainstormed so that I wouldn't submit anything half-hearted or obvious.  Or I might not have, of course; I've already told you how I've been struggling with motivation.  Anyhoo - thankfully, I'd written a poem ages ago called Arson, about how the 'I'* of the poem burns the words she has written for her lover now that they've broken up.

So out from the folder Arson came, ready to be tweaked and entered.  And, bookmarking the competition pages of the magazine, has simply sat on the side over the last month, waiting for me to do something with...or not.  But, mindful of last night's post, I made myself not log off after checking my emails and surfing for a bit (it's so easy to do when your eyes are sore of the screen, isn't it?!), and write.

I started by rereading, printing and critiquing what I'll call Draft 1 (in all honesty, that was probably Draft 6 or so of the original poem, but hey, who's counting!).  Realising that I wanted to better chart the stages of a fire burning, I scanned my trusty Roget's Thesaurus and jotted down a list of words; I then did the same with words about writing, and came up with some flow-writing**.  From this, I crafted two new stanzas and redrafted four previous ones.

The newly edited, Draft 4 Arson is printed and will cool its heels for a few days - from years of experience of writing (my own apprenticeship if you like), I've learned that distance is most definitely beneficial.  Towards the end of the week, I'll look at again and when I'm happy with it, ask Zoe to read and critique it (she's already read Draft 1 thinking it was finished, so it'll be interesting to see what she thinks of how it's developed!).  From that point, I'll be either ready or almost-ready to enter Arson into the competition, and to score a 1/6th tick off my New Year Writing Resolutions!

* People have an instinctive tendency to assume that whenever the narrator of a poem is 'I', it is, in fact, the story of the author; that the author of the poem is talking about themselves.  This is often not true - 'I' is simply the First Person Perspective; it is a direction chosen for the purpose of the piece.  Except here, actually; I don't mind sharing (just this once!) that 'Arson' was written from my experience of a break-up, about a boyfriend who also placed stock in words, who I had written poems about.  While I didn't burn them, I did rip them up...  Relax, dear reader - my anger and hurt is long exorcised, and I actually thank him, for he inspired what I've always believed to be a strong poem (and which achieved a 71 when I submitted it for uni coursework!!).

** This isn't a take-off of my party-piece dance to 'Low' by Flo Rida, as those who work with me will suspect (many a story to be told about Christmas parties there, but that's for another time!) - but is instead my description of writing down whatever flows, without consideration, punctuation or line breaks.  No worrying, no editing, just flow.

You may not - at all! - be interested in reading Arson when it's finished, but just in case you are (well, you never know, and if you don't put yourself out there and pimp for readers, you'll never get anywhere!)... I'm sorry that I can't post it here on the blog (as that would count as 'published' in the competition world and so be ineligible), but if you would like to read it, post a comment on here or message me on Facebook, and I'll be pleased to email you a copy (which instead counts as if reading a borrowed book!).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Resolving to Resolve

The New Year knocked at the door, came in, took its shoes off, and now, 7 days in, 2012 has curled up on the sofa with a cup of tea, as if it was never waiting one whole year to arrive.

I hope you had a merry Christmas and a happy New Year – I did, thank you.  Of course, we all do the same thing at Christmas (eat and drink too much, stress and spend too much, sleep and laze too much) and at New Year (wish we hadn’t done quite so much of the above).  Instead, we all resolve to do these ‘bad’ (but oh so enjoyable) things in moderation; to be healthier, fitter and more social (no more slumping in front of the TV, do you hear?)...and of course, we all often break these resolutions in some way or measure quicker than you can say “Happy New Year.”

Please note I deliberately didn’t say ‘fail’ just then.  Nope, no failing and no guilt at not achieving, not on my watch.  Because if we begin something already thinking we’ve failed and feel guilty about it, where on earth can we go next...and what’s the bloody point, anyway?!

So, now that 2012 isn’t such an odd date to write anymore (’fess up: who’s still scribbling ‘2011’, then?!), I resolve to make resolutions in moderation.  And by moderation, I mean realistic goals that are achievable for me to succeed at (so no losing a million pounds in weight and gaining a million pounds in money, then!).  Writing-wise, the last few months have been both difficult and distractive for me; I’ve been reading a lot, occasionally creatively-thinking, but not writing.  And, really, writing is simple: we all live busy, hectic, draining lives...but all you’ve got to do is pick up a pen/turn on the computer and do it.

But that’s where I often stumble – because life really does get in the way, resulting in me giving in rather than standing up to it – and I’m sure I’m not alone.  So, while reciting the saying Doing gets it Done, and remembering that to be able to tick off these things they must first be realistic to me and my lifestyle, I am making the following Writing Resolutions:

1.      To write for a minimum of 15 minutes every other day (this can be narrative, non-fiction,   poetry, blog postings – anything, so long as it’s creative writing).

2.      To record a Word of the Day on this blog each day of the week (no excuse with this one, seeing as I have the widest vocabulary going, and check my emails daily!).

3.      To enter at least 3 competitions per writing magazine I subscribe to (so a minimum of 6 competitions in 12 months).

4.      To spend my week off at the end of January having a ‘Girl’s Night In’ with the characters of Novel Number Two, to get to know them (so that I can then begin to write Novel Number Two and not just talk about doing it...).

5.      To finish my early-writing-influences poetry sequence by December (eight proposed poems in total: currently four down, four to go!)

See, today I can already tick off Numbers 1 and 2, just by having written this post!  Think I’m getting the hang of this malarky...

What have you resolved to do, and is it realistic?  I hope so, and I wish you luck – I really believe that getting the best out of life is about experiencing events, not merely achieving set standards. 

Here’s to 2012 – may it be a good, fulfilling and pleasing year for us all.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Welcome 2012

Happy New Year!
I wish you all health, hope and happiness in 2012 - and I aim to bag some for myself too!