Friday, 10 February 2017

The Epic Awakes ...

Remember The Epic?  I went on about it for weeks - about how quickly it was growing, how new characters kept introducing themselves, how the story - or rather stories - kept developing themselves.  I think I got to something ridiculous like 50,000 words before I put it on the backburner, where, I am ashamed to admit, it has been ever since.  In fact, it has been there so long it is a wonder it isn't frazzled!  But this morning I reached for the folder again and now I am looking at it as if it may be something akin to Pandora's Box.  So, as I write, let me go through the contents.  Wish me luck, I am reaching for the folder now ...

Hmm - a red Silvine Exercise Book bearing the title "The TRACKLANDS Project". Lots of notes.  A poem - the Tracklands decree that begins If you're mouse, you can't friend cat.  If you're cat you will know that. Chiefs are always there to guide, so always serve the Chiefs with pride ...   A booklet entitled "Green Croydon - Discover Your Local Wildlife". Two A5 notebooks. One containing 16 chapters and several pages of notes.  One containing fifteen chapters and a couple of dozen empty pages.  Character names keep jumping out at me - Tamininka, Red, Speck, Elvira, Mono, Raja ...

All this begs the question - Why?  Or lots of questions - like why did I start it?  Why didn't I finish it? Where was I going with it?  And of course What Am I Going To Do With It Now?  I started this book on 14th May 2013 (I have nearly always recorded a start date on my work - even something as small as haiku) and I know I was in a creative frenzy with it for at least six months so why I came to a screaming halt I have no idea.  Maybe Life just got in the way.  Or maybe I was just busy getting My Writer ready for publication - and building the Young Writer group.  Whatever the reason now seems as good a time as any to see if I can revive it - breathe life back into it.  I know that at least one of the characters has been held in a dark dungeon for almost four years now, so maybe it is time I rescued him?  Anyway we shall see...

Slight change of subject, I am doing a talk this afternoon at the Chatterbooks group at Ashburton Library.  I was invited to be a guest speaker by the group leader some months ago so one thing I do need to do this morning is come up with a leaflet I can hand out about  Addiscombe Young Writers. Chatterbooks is a club for similarly aged children with an interest in books and I am actually quite chuffed I have been asked!  I have already devised a work sheet and sent it over so it will be interesting to see if I can tempt anymore AYW members!

What else have I been doing?  I am considering trying my hand at Copywriting.  This is something I have been thinking about for ages and in fact realised today that I have actually done it previously without even realising I was doing it, so I think it is definitely worth a try.  And I am still looking for a part time job that will bring in a regular income.  Mostly I am just so happy to be at home. spending quality time with Steve, getting lots of writing done .... It is after all what I was born to do!

Thursday, 2 February 2017

I Have A Dream ....

I decided yesterday that now was the right time to register at the Jobcentre.  I haven't had to do this in a decade but in that short time, the whole thing has changed!  Then I remember walking into the Jobcentre, finding it a hive of activity, having a look at the vacancies on display, talking to an advisor (then finding a job without her help a week or two later).  The Jobcentre now looks more like an internet cafe.  There are computers and a few staff.  But no job-boards, no vacancies on display. Fortunately I had signed up to their online jobsite a few days earlier so I am checking that at least three times a day - but no nibbles yet.  In a way, I think this is a better system.  In the old days it was an altogether humiliating experience with mainly illiterate staff who thought you owed them a living and treated you with complete disdain.  In fact I once pulled one Jobcentre up about the spelling and grammatical errors appearing with such regularity on their vacancies board, even offering to proofread them - but they wouldn't have it!  The guy I spoke to yesterday was really nice, very helpful and he actually made me feel important, so all credit to the new style Jobcentre and their attitude.

In the meantime, I am so enjoying rediscovering the writer within.  I have been invited to do a Creative Writing session next Friday afternoon for a group for 6 - 10 year olds called Chatterbooks which advocates all things literary.  I have also had lots of enquiries about the Young Writer group and one lady who approached me wants to highlight the initiative somehow and draw more attention to it.  So you know what?  I have a dream (as the late great Martin Luther King said). I want to pioneer Young Writer groups all over the country.  I have tried a number of publishers with the idea of a book outlining how to start a group like this, even offering to include the huge number of worksheets and certificates I have produced in the five years the group has been running, but for some reason nobody wants to know.  If their fear is that it is a somewhat limited market then I can reassure them all that it is actually a huge market.  Just think of the schools and childrens' libraries all over the country that could run a Young Writer group!  Not just schools and libraries either but youth centres, churches, after-school clubs ... the list is endless!  What I'd also like to do is set up an official award to be run annually or bi-annually that will give Young Writers everywhere the chance to show what they can do and try to earn a prestigious trophy and/or monetary reward .

Having said all that, and as deliciously heady as I find it,  I do know that things like this don't happen overnight.  I believe in the scheme a hundred and ten per cent.  Convincing other people to share that belief is another matter! So I shall hang on to it, nurture it, love it and believe in it forever.  And in the meantime I will write.  I will Write.  I Will Write ...

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Time To Write ...

I am completely convinced that time moves at a different pace when you are not working.  I don't just mean for people like me who are between money-spinners.  I mean even if you are working but on sick leave - time just has a different quality to it.  Since leaving the Former Day Job, I have stuck pretty much to a routine.  I still get up early so I can have breakfast with Steve when he gets home from work (usually around 5.30 am).  Once he has gone up the Wooden Hill to Dreamland (as we used to say when we were kids), I load up the dishwasher, hang up the washing, sweep the floors, dust and have a general tidy around, just like I used to do when I was working.  I even still meet my coffee shop buddies at least once a week, usually around 7.30 at Nero's.  I try to avoid putting the TV on.  I do not want to become a Couch Potato.  So whilst I am not at a Day job, I go out most mornings looking for a Day job.

Yesterday, for example,  I went to Cheam Village.  Pretty little place; lovely old buildings, a few small independent local shops, nice atmosphere.  Then I went to North Cheam - and we will leave that there.  I looked in both places to see if there were any openings either in a Writing or not-quite-full-time capacity then had a coffee at Costa.  Whilst at Costa I added to a story I started a few days ago and wrote an entirely new story for a little girl who soon celebrates her fourth birthday.  I like doing that and often write personal stories for people I know - that was my second in a week! .  I even read a couple of chapters of the book I'd taken with me.  Then I decided to head home.  I looked at my watch.  It was 11.30 am.  So I had done all that in one morning!!!  That  is what I mean about time outside of the normal 9 - 5 routine being so different!  You can achieve a whole lot more!  You can get back to being yourself again.  You find hidden reserves of creative energy that had been mercilessly suppressed when your life revolved around getting to work on time, hitting targets, squeezing shopping into lunchtimes and generally being an employee.  This is a whole new ball game!

Of course, sitting in coffee shops, writing personalised stories and adding to something else, does not bring in the bacon.  But I have got two articles to write in the next day or two and I need to catch up on Young Writer stuff in time for the session on Saturday week.  I proofread a poem on Tuesday that is being published in an anthology in March.  And my eternal hunt for an agent has begun again in earnest.

This is my time.  I deserve this!

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

It's 2017 !!!!!!!!!!!!

Happy New Year to each and every one of you. I can hardly believe it is 2017 already!  Hope your festive season went well. Ours was brilliant and it was lovely to see people we don't see too often.

Well - it happened.  I am between jobs!  It was all very amicable and will give me some breathing space.  Fortunately several Creative Writing opportunities have come along - talk about perfect timing - which will be very handy as I look for another job.  It did feel a bit weird yesterday not to go back to work like so many others.  This morning I got up at the usual time, had breakfast with Steve before he went to bed after working last night, met my coffee shop buddies as usual and then spent the morning job-hunting.  I know something will turn up - even if its isn't full time.  I have signed up with several on-line recruitment companies. too.

My plan for 2017 - especially now I have a bit of time on my hands - is to write another book for children and to get myself signed up with an agent.  I have tried my entire life to get an agent and I will go through my new W & A Yearbook (courtesy the in-laws) looking for one and for any other new openings.  I deserve it now.  I have been writing for over fifty years!!!  When I think of how much I have had published over the years, plus the fact I have been a member of the Society of Authors for two decades or so, and all the courses and workshops I have run, talks I have done, competitions I have judged and commissions I have been presented with, and the huge success of the Young Writer group, I think now is my time!  Watch this space.

Wasn't it sad to lose Rick Parfitt, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and  Debbie Reynolds all in the space of four days!  What a shock!  We saw Quo at the O2 not four weeks ago - Rick was too ill to perform but Francis Rossi gave it his all.  To then find out we lost Rick on Christmas Eve - how sad is that?  But then, I think, 2016 was a very bad year for celebrity losses.  I seriously cannot think of any other year where we lost so many!

So as I sign off I wish you all the very best for 2017.  Believe in yourself and your dreams will come true!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Merry Christmas to all and to all , a Goodnight ...

So here we are on the very cusp of Christmas and 2017!  What a year it has been!  My Writing in general has suffered quite horribly - but my Poetry has been pretty active, with a couple published and around 200 written - mainly haiku which mainly appears on Twitter.  Well - I did say I wanted 2016 to be my Year of Poetry!

In every other aspect, 2016 has been pretty good.  We moved to our lovely new house with its leaded light windows.  The Young Writer group flourished and thrived and published its second book - which launches this Saturday.  I realised the current Day Job is not the job for me any longer - and I discovered a number of agencies who commission freelance writers so I have signed up with a couple of them in recent weeks and we will see where we go with it.  I will be getting another job, I am in no doubt about that - and the sooner, the better really.  It isn't the People.  The People I work with are the Best.  It is the job - I am bored with it, unchallenged by it and - quite frankly - no good at it (you ask my lovely manager who has done everything she can to support and motivate me as I have struggled with it all this year).  It just means that, for me, the tides are turning - it is time to Move On.

So what are my plans for 2017?  I want to write another book for children.  I am not sure what, how or who it will be about but I do have some ideas dancing around in my head like a neurological Strictly.  And as for the Young Writers - well, I have some new activity ideas for them as well and maybe an Exhibition of Work at the latter end of next year.

For now though, I am just going to dig in my heels, sit back and enjoy the festive season - which is still and will always be - my favourite time of year.  Happy Christmas - and may God bless us every one!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Way To Go Bob ...

I cannot begin to tell you how excited I am about the film "A Street Cat Called Bob"!  I first read James Bowen's brilliant book several years ago and I loved it.  It is truly a story of hope and triumph over adversity and I know from experience just how  a cat can have such a profound effect on one's life!  I have also read "The World According To Bob" and "A Gift From Bob" and every time I pick one of them up, I get a warm fuzzy feeling that reminds me of slippers and hot chocolate!  I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are looking for a warming read this winter!  I knew the film was coming but now it is here, I can hardly wait to see it!

Last weekend, Steve and I celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary!  Unbelievable!  We spent the weekend in London, staying at an hotel in Russell Square.  We went to see "Matilda" at the Cambridge Theatre on the Saturday night.  To me - a massive admirer of Roald Dahl and his work, this was an absolute treat.  To Steve, who has never read one of Dahl's books, it was a journey of discovery - and he absolutely loved it.  The little girl (I believe it was Clara Read at this performance) playing the lead role was an astonishing professional and she delivered a truly stonking performance - especially during the story-telling sequences - becoming more fraught as the tale of the escapologist and the gymnast reached its dramatic climax.  I have only ever seen that level of professionalism in a child-actor on stage before and that was when we saw "Billy Elliot" a few years back.  Watch out for Clara Read in the future - she is going to be a massive star one day!

Great news!  I finally finished compiling the Young Writers' book "Word magic 2"!  It just needs proof-reading then I will whip it over to the printers.  I cannot wait to show my youngsters the dummy copy at tomorrow's AYW session!  It doesn't look half bad actually although, for some reason, it has proved much more of a challenge this time than last time.  Maybe that is because with the first one, I was flying pretty much on a wing and a prayer as I had no idea how to go about it and did so with sheer willpower and an overwhelming sense of urgency for the children's sake.  It couldn't fail so it didn't!  Hopefully the second one won't either!

I can't believe it is Bonfire Night tomorrow.  I can't actually believe how fast this year has flown by, really and that I am sitting here on 4th November, in our lovely little home with its leaded windows, as fireworks snap, crackle and pop.  Yes - even with one day to go, they are alive and well and kicking up a stink outside.  I don't actually mind them - at a distance.  To me they herald the coming of winter - scarves, hats, gloves, and, of course, the fact Christmas (always my favourite time of year; something I never outgrew and never want to) is less than eight weeks away!

I am still no closer to starting a new book and I desperately want to.  There has just been so many distractions this year, so I promised myself today that, come January, I will make 2017 my Writing Year.  2016 has been my Poetry Year.  I have published a few, tweeted a lot and written a ton of them.  And one day, maybe - just maybe - I will do something with them all.  But next year I want to write something I can really sink my teeth into.  The ideas are there - the rest will just have to follow.

So that is it for now, my oh so silent readers.  I promise I will do my best not to leave it another month before I write the next post! Arrivederci!

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Finding My Write....

So much has gone on since my last Post!  The Young Writers got off to a flying start after the summer break with seven turning up for the first session and ten for the second.  Their new book Word Magic 2 is taking shape.  Be interesting to see how  this Saturday's session goes!  The old house was finally sold after several hiccups and the new house is just thriving!  We get on well with our immediate neighbours, the house itself is straight and looking lovely - very comfortable - a proper home!  Such a relief after months and months of boxes!  I think I can honestly say that we are very very happy.  And everyone who has thus far visited The Gallop has fallen in love with it at first sight.  We are very lucky.

The only thing flagging is my Writing.  I don't think it has fully recovered yet from all the disruptions of the past few months.  The ideas are still there and the poems are still coming - but anything beyond that just isn't happening.  I was kind of hoping to get back to The Epic - or to at least have a new children's book underway by now but - nothing, zilch, zero.    I am not worrying too much.  I know it will come back eventually.  But it is a tad frustrating to never leave the starting block as I am sure all fellow writers will completely understand!

So let me tell you about my latest reading matter instead.  It is the first in Jodi Taylor's The Chronicles of St Mary's.  It sounds rather like an Enid Blyton book doesn't it - First Term At Mallory Towers, for example!  But really, you couldn't get further from the truth!  The first volume is entitled Just One Damned Thing After Another and tells the story of the time-hopping historians  at St Mary's Institute of Historical Research - and in particular one Madeleine Maxwell, fondly known as Max. There are three other books so far A Symphony of Echoes, A Second Chance and A Trail Through Time.  Despite the fact this first book has some deeply disturbing moments - horses burning to death on The Somme as The Historians 'observe, take notes and do not get involved', for example, it is mainly incredibly funny stuff and has had me, on occasion,  howling with laughter!  It is one of those lovely simple concepts.  Who amongst us has not found themselves caught up in a fascinating tale on a visit to an historical site somewhere and not  thought I wonder what it was really like?  So I highly recommend Jodi's books, albeit I am only half way through the first one, and would not be the east bit surprised if they pop up on our TVs at some point as a mini-series, they are that good!