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!

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Phew ...!

I am writing this at the dining room table of our lovely new home.  We have been here two and a half weeks already and we are surprisingly straight considering it took us three trips in the removals van to get our furniture, clothes and at least three hundred boxes over here!  We have also taken delivery of several items of new furniture but - and here's the really exciting bit - we are already talking about where we can put the Christmas Tree this year!  Now that must surely mean that this was the new home for us!

Another good thing (at least whilst the weather is decent) is that I can actually walk to work from here and I am feeling the benefits of that already.  It is very hilly in these parts but every day those inclines are less and less of an effort!  And if I do decide to bus it - well the bus stop is ten minutes away and a three minute trip on the bus gets me to the office.  It hasn't been quite so easy for Steve, bless him.  Instead of getting home at 5.15 he now gets home at 5.45 - and he leaves for work at 6.45 rather than 7,15 in the evening, so it has actually added half an hour to his journey each way.  But he is getting used to it.  We are very resilient.

I am slowly getting back into the Writing.  Yesterday morning at this time, I updated the Young Writer blog and last night, I was finally able to sit down and start going through the work they have handed in for the new book Word Magic 2.   Over the next couple of weeks I will decide what order to put it all in and then I will start compiling it.  Considering we have had The Move, a Holiday, a Funeral and a Weekend Away to contend with, this book is, so far, still on schedule and I am pretty pleased about that!

It will be interesting, once the Young Writer sessions start up again in three weeks, to see how long I am going to be able to carry on with it.  My plan initially was to give it a year to realistically see if the fact it will now take me an hour rather than five minutes to get to it remains viable.  I think it will be - but only time will tell!  I am not planning to give it up; it is my Creative Writing Baby and next year it will be five years old!!!  Still - we shall see.

Ah well - 7.21 a/m GMT - time to get ready for The Day Job ...

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Almost There ...

Wasn't it Andy Williams who once sang "We're almost there ..."? I can't remember the next line but that first line is pretty apt for our current situation!  We are almost there - in fact we are going to actually be there by close of play on Friday 5th!  Yes our Big Move to our sweet little house is just two days away so it is pretty much action stations.  The packing is as good as done apart from what we need to tide us over to Friday.  I think I have told everyone who needs to know what our new address is - and I am talking mainly utilities here.  I only remembered Thames Water last night and the TV Licence the night before!  Tonight I will sit down at my laptop and do a Change of Address for family and friends then it will be go go go.

The downside to this move is that my writing has taken a terrible blow!  I simply have not had a moment to think of anything except the odd haiku and journal entry - even my two blogs have been sorely neglected of late.  Once we are settled in and the office is all set up and I can access my filing cabinets again, I will start trying to catch up.  Till then, I am afraid, you will all just have to bear with me.

Just wanted to let everyone know I haven't forgotten them - my entire world is completely upside down at the moment.  Hopefully it won't be too long till it's right side up again!