Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Who's Reading This ...?

I didn't realise until a few seconds ago that I have been keeping this blog for almost four years!  That is a lot of blogging, a lot of posting and heaps of writing.  I know people do read it.  I don't know how many and I am not particularly bothered - just a little curious.  To me - this blog is a Writing opportunity.  It has seen me through highs and lows, toothache, funerals, rejections and acceptances. It has seen me through good times and bad and once or twice a month it comes back and taps me on the shoulder, saying "Come on Jilly - Time to Blog".

Blogging is truly a 21st century phenomenon!  It gives everyone the chance to find their inner writer - whether they are writing about everyday life, holidays, exciting events, hobbies.  Being able to reach out to people in this way is a wonderful thing and something I am sure hundreds of writers of past eras would have made a lot of use of it also had the facility been there.  I would love to read a blog-post by Charles Dickens, Enid Blyton, Beatrix Potter, Agatha Christie or Charlotte Bronte, wouldn't you?  In order to see their work in print they had to wait months and often pay towards print and paper costs.  Even if only six people read my post today, that is six more people I hadn't reached out to yesterday.

Being a writer is a fickle thing.  Like Amateur Dramatics, it is largely done by people just for the sheer love of it.  Many put in hours and hours of work, reading, re-reading, re-writing what they have produced, showing it to loved ones - or maybe keeping it as their own little secret, rather like a locked diary.  It causes headaches and heartache but oh, that sense of joy and excitement - opening a new notebook and writing the opening words, writing The End and everything that goes in between those two crucial points, there is nothing that compares to that rush (although I guess footballers would say scoring goals does it for them, and actors would say winning a role does it for them) and nobody anywhere can strip you of that achievement.

So tonight I raise a glass to Blogging.  I don't know who is reading this - if you want to say hi, say hi, if not - I love you to bits anyway!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

JILLY GETS A CERTIFICATE!!!!

Did I tell you I had been accepted by the BBC as an official judge for this year's BBC 500 Words competition?  This annual competition invites children to send in a story in 500 words or less and these are then distributed to a team of judges to mark.  I was sent around 14 in the 7 to 11 age group to read and mark and I had the best time doing so.  And then last week, after the competition closed, I received a Certificate from the BBC acknowledging my help.  I am so used to handing certificates out that it was quite a shock to receive one myself and I was really chuffed!  Another string to my bow!

I have - over the last couple of weeks - been on an intense training course with the care company I will be working for.  It has been fun and I have met some lovely people already.  But some of it - particularly the section on policies and legislation were really heavy going.  I have now got one afternoon of training left then I will be able to go out and meet my clients.  I have stipulated I can work all day Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and Friday morning at a push.  And the good thing is that my Mondays and weekends remain completely free.  This is the work/life balance I was looking for and I know it is going to be hugely beneficial to Steve and I because our weekends are so precious.  We are always out somewhere, doing something -on Mothering Sunday we went to Greenwich Market and the weekend just gone saw us exploring Leatherhead, Epsom and Cheam. Some of these areas are so pretty and quaint - and we still have the Downs, Belmont Common, Box Hill, Kingston and who knows where else to visit!

We are away over Easter.  That will be our third Easter running and this year we are heading for Suffolk on Maundy Thursday, getting back on Bank Holiday Monday so really looking forward to that.  

Have a great Easter everyone.  Catch up soon.

Monday, 27 March 2017

SPECIAL APPEAL ...

I am pulling all the stops out for the members of Addiscombe Young Writers.  I can hardly believe that this little group for 6 to 11 year olds who love to write has fared so well in the five years since it began!  But it has and it just seems to get bigger and better.  Last Saturday's session saw twenty youngsters turn up!

I don't know how many people read this blog but I am appealing today for any writers of children's books and poetry to contact me if they are prepared to pen a small message to the Young Writers as we celebrate our fifth birthday.  The children voted for a party which will take place in July and one of the things I want to do, is present them with a folder full of inspirational congrats from successful writers.  I have already had a good response and Writing Magazine kindly published an appeal in their April issue - and I am also going to put something on Linked In.

These youngsters have unbelievable depths of talent and enthusiasm, have had their work published and exhibited and won certificates and awards for all their hard work.  Please put the word out to any of your contacts and come back to me, either via this blog, or their blog (addiscombeyoungwriters.blogspot.co.uk) and I will contact you by return and let you know how to send your signed greetings.

I really appreciate your help.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Say Cheese ...

Well you'll be pleased to hear that my mood has lifted.  I am so lucky that I don't get morose very often, but when I do, it feels as if all the strength and every ounce of joy has gone out of me and that is just so exhausting - which does not help at all, of course.  I pinpointed my recovery to the day of the Photo Shoot at my parents-in-law's place down in Kent.  My parents-in-law are completely gorgeous and I have always been so lucky to get on as well with them as I do.  Now in their mid 80's, and very settled in their little bungalow, they have everything they need and buying Christmas Presents for them just gets harder every year, so, for last Christmas, Steve and me, our two girls and our sons-in-law, jointly bought a Family Photo Shoot.  It was just the most fun!  My mother-in-law - bless her - was a bit bemused by it all and my father-in-law found it quite difficult to ensure six over excited 2 to 11 year olds did not wreck the precious ornaments - but the actual photos were a lot of fun.  We had every combination - them with Steve, them with their granddaughters, their grandaughters' husbands, their great grand-chuldren, me and Steve together, each great grandchild alone, together, with them, with their parents....it just went on.  The end results were fabulous - we got our download last week and the family ones especially, with all of us crammed together in their tiny sitting room, are truly a joy to behold.

Things also have improved job-wise for me.  I have been offered a part time position with a home-care company where their carers visit people in their own homes to help out, provide company or chaperone on outings and I think I am going to love it.  It means a major adaptation for Steve and I as my salary won't be what it was.  But on the plus side it means I will be doing something I enjoy and still have time to write!!!!  So what I don't earn in salary, I should be able to make with the writing and any related talks that come along!  It can't get much better than that - at least until the next Great Commission comes in.

And the crowning glory was having our youngest grandson all to ourselves last weekend.  He is an absolute angel - very lively, already developing a sense of humour and furthermore, he loves his Granny and Grandad - what more can one ask?

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

For Want Of A Nail ....

Remember that old adage for want of a nail, a shoe was lost, for want of a shoe a horse was lost, for want of a horse the battle was lost - and all for the want of a horse shoe nail...?  The only reason I ask is because today my life feels a bit like that horse shoe nail.  Maybe I am just out of sorts today? But because I don't know if anyone ever reads this or really gives a damn, I will tell you, in complete honesty, that the old dark shadow depression is back for the first time in ages.  I don't know why I was born or what purpose my life holds - and I question it almost every day. Pathetic isn't it?

I wouldn't mind if I had a reason for feeling like this.  I have a lovely husband, two beautiful girls, two lovely sons-in-law and seven gorgeous grandchildren (Andrew, Harry, Olivia, Jack, Issac, Sophie and Oscar).  I also have five great-nephews (Harry, another Oscar, Joey, Bobby and Freddie) and two great-nieces ( Mila and Ivy) and another great-niece/nephew on the way.  I live in this lovely little house with its latticed windows and am getting more writing done than I have in an age.  So what is the matter with me?  I even just got back from a lovely weekend away with Steve in Weymouth AND we have our lovely joint birthday party coming up in July, with the Venue, DJ and Photographer already booked - as well as a sweet little extra which I will mention again nearer the time.  Plus the Young Writers continue to thrive and grow and I am still being asked to do talks elsewhere.

I don't think it is because I am between jobs.  At least I am getting considered for interviews now which is an improvement on a month ago.  I know I have a great deal to offer and I know the right job will turn up as and when.  In the meantime I should be making the most of these precious moments and most of the time I am.  But Why ?  Who is it for and does it really matter anyway?

When I was young I had this morbid idea that I would die before I reached the aged of 35.  Don't ask me where it came from, it was just something I accepted.  So to be getting to 60 this year is a Massive achievement and I have lived a life well-lived.

But as I wallow in this pathetic, idiotic, self-inflicted mood, the one question I keep asking myself is What's It All For?

Answer on a postcard please ...

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 ...