Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Don't Feel Bad When Writer's Block Strikes.

Some years ago I read a rather brilliant book by an American author - I think her name was Natalie Goldberg - and it introduced me to the concept of Morning Pages.  As Natalie quite rightly pointed out, no sports person will enter an event without some kind of warm-up because the consequences could be disasterous.  Similarly, she cleverly pointed out, a writer should also warm up before getting on with their novel, poems, article or whatever writing project they are on.  It doesn't matter what you write in your Morning Pages because the only person ever likely to see it is you.  So I'd often spend a happy half hour or so just letting thoughts of all kind pour forth - the weather, the garden birds, what the cat had been up to, the mood I was in, whether or not I needed to go shopping, or do some housework.  Morning Pages are different from a diary or journal because in a diary or journal, one tends to reflect on one's day.  In Morning Pages, you can't reflect on what has already happened because nine times out of ten you are sitting up in bed writing them before your day has even begun.  And you can't really speculate much either, unless you have plans in place already.  So you just write.
It makes you feel great.  It makes you believe you are that writer you tell everyone you are.  Those moments are you and your pen's alone.

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Goodbye and Thank You!

I started this blog many moons ago and it has seen me through many difficult and magical times.  I have always enjoyed reading any comments and appreciate everything it has done for me.  Now, though, I feel it is time to move on.  I regularly write for Linked In and am about to set up a new blog with Wordpress, but this blog, bless it, is looking old and tired and it - like me - must be allowed to move on.  Or be put out to grass.

Moving house and living by the sea, with five adorable grandchildren just a few streets away,  and two more just a few miles up the road, plus the fact I have the part time job of my dreams as an Activities Co-Ordinator at a local residential home where I share my love of all thing creative, and leaving the Young Writer group almost a year ago ... I don't know...  I just feel on the verge of a new era and unfortunately, this blog will no longer have a part to play in that.

Many thanks to all those that shared and read my incessant meanderings.  This is not farewell forever; I am a writer and I will always find a way to get my thoughts out there.  But it is the setting of the sun on a valuable experience.

Many thanks.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

At Last! My Book!

You may recall a few months ago that I wrote a post on here singing the praises of The Woman In Black by Susan Hill - first the play and then the book.  It brought to mind a supernatural story I have been wrestling with for decades, attempting numerous times to write or at least develop.  It is not your usual kind of supernatural story.  It is set in a new town house in the mid-60s rather than some dark and dingy manor house or abandoned ruin and it sprang from an image that came to my mind out of nowhere many moons ago of a huge protrait of a baby drawn on a wall.  Now I don't know if at some point I actually saw this portrait or if it just came from nowhere, but there was this baby, aged about eleven months, dressed in nothing but an old fashioned nappy (or daiper if you prefer), drawn on the wall so that it looked like it was looking directly at you.  That was it.  No history.  No explanation.  But for years that image stayed with me.  And every time I tried to write the story behind that image, I'd get so far then give up, no matter whose point of view I was writing from.  It never felt quite right.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I suddenly saw a new way to try it and guess what?  I have just completed chapter two!  That is the furthest I have ever got with it, so I am beginning to think that - at last - I may have found the correct formula to take this story all the way.  Not only is it good to be properly writing again, it is great to finally be writing something I can barely wait to get back to.  The last time that happened was when I wrote My Writer, the first draft of which was written in six weeks in something of a fever!  I have been writing the new book - which, curiously is not a children's book - for about a week and so far, so good.  It has pace and some quirks and, already, an unexpected twist or two so if I can keep this up, who knows where it will lead.

After treading water in the proverbial sea of procrastination for so long, it has surprised me just how important to me my writing still is.  Losing my mun, moving house, settling down, Steve retiring, moving house again, getting things straight; all this has had a detrimental affect on my writing, with only the odd article, blog post or poem finding its way through the murk.  It is surprising how much better I feel now that I am back in my proper world, the world of the written word.  Suddenly, I feel completely whole again.  Wish me luck.  I will let you know how I get on.

Friday, 18 January 2019

New Year, New Us ...

Hello everyone and a very happy 2019 to you.  I am sorry not to have been back since early November, but moving in and getting the house straight in time for Christmas quickly became a twenty-four hour a day job!  For a few weeks we were kind of stuck in limbo as we waited for a new storage shed to be delivered and erected, thus freeing up the two bedrooms that have now become our studies - I got the big one, but that was Steve's idea.  I must say it is lovely to be back at my desk and my beloved laptop, tapping away and befriending my Inner Writer all over again!  It feels great to have all my books back on their shelves and I have even made a great start of sorting all my writing, updating and listing work that easily filled two dozen box files, which are all smartly re-labled and standing in a neat row along the top of the big bookcase!  It all feels inspiring and incredibly right.  

We have been seeing a lot of our grandchildren which is great!  Three of the boys all had birthdays the first week in January which meant a family tea for the little one and dinner at Pizza Express with the whole family for the older two - and three birthday cakes in as many days.  We took the older boys to a football match and our granddaughter to see a show and this weekend will be the little one's turn, with a trip to the SeaLife Centre which is just half an hour away.  And yesterday we managed our first sea-front stroll since moving in, even though it was bitterly cold, but that takes nothing away from the fact that even a stroll along the high street involves the sight of the sea sparkling at the end of the road!  I can't believe how lucky we are!

I have just starting looking for a part time job again.  None too sure what I actually want to do, though.  I still might go back into a Care setting, but being off work has reintroduced me to the joy of full weekends at home again and I don't really want to lose that, so we shall just have to see.  In the meantime, I am writing - this is my second blog post today and  I published an article on  LinkedIn, earlier so I have been pretty active today!

I will try to get back with a Writing update before long.  I have just introduced one of my books to a potential publisher so watch this space!

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

We Are IN!!! Westcliff is HOME

Here I am, back again after the frenzy of moving house last week.  The Move Out went smoothly on Wednesday. We spent the night at an hotel and then Moved In on Thursday morning with the HUMUNGUS removals van pulling in just half and hour after us.  The rest of that day is a bit of a blur.  It comes back to me as one of those old fashioned cartoons with someone running across the screen in a puff of smoke.  As our three removals guys brought in box after box after box, that is all I can recall; them running up and down the stairs and in and out of the rooms in puffs of smoke as the new house - now Home - got fuller and fuller and fuller.  Eldest daughter Lorraine turned up midday with three year old Oscar in tow and even he seemed somewhat bemused by the all the activity.

By around 4pm, everyone had gone and a while later we popped along to this rather brilliant Fish and Chip retaurant we'd discovered a couple of weeks before, had dinner, went home, unpacked until midnight then fell into bed with every muscle throbbing!  We have now been here for almost a week and it is already starting to look like Home.  The kitchen/diner, living room, bedroom and bathroom are all but finished.  The spare room and the room we have designated the Office will take much longer and could yet be box-bound for several weeks to come.  The good thing is that the place is livable, even if I am writing this post at the table in our gorgeous kitchen diner!

Every day this week, we have been out either shopping for essentials (like bread and milk) or for Useful Household Implements (like mug trees and coat hooks), so we are getting to know the area of Westcliff , Leigh and Prittlewell, which is lovely.  Ironically however, even though we have moved near to the sea, we haven't had time yet to actually take romantic walks along the sea front; never mind, I am sure that will come in time.

All in all it has not been nearly so stressful as we expected (although in all honesty, we have had our moments - mostly brought by exhaustion I suspect) and the really great thing is that we have seen lots of our grandchildren, which was, after all, one of the main reasons we picked the area.

It is a nice place to be.  The neighbours seem very friendly; everyone has time to chat to you in the shops and we feel very comfortable here, so here's to many more days. And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to properly get back to my beloved writing by the next millennium!!!😌

Monday, 15 October 2018


It has been a totally crazy couple of months!  Steve and I went house-hunting in Westcliff on Sea for a whole weekend and the very last house we saw was the one that was right for us.  Having made the decision, there was a couple of weeks to get all the formalities in place and on 1st October we collected the keys.  We move in on 8th November.  We have been "down the house" a few times since to measure up and to freshen and spruce it up a bit (it had been standing empty for over a month) and on Saturday just gone we introduced our youngest daughter and her family to it.   The grandchildren loved it - especially the little one who was asking which room was his within minutes of walking through the front door! 

Despite the fact we began packing months ago, it took on a new urgency once the house was ours and most of it is done, so we are back to being surrounded by boxes!  And even though we moved into this sweet little place with its leaded lites and walk-in larder just over two years ago, it has still been a bit of a shock at how much we have a/ accumilated and b/ have to do; ie booking removals, informing companies of note that we will be moving, arranging to have the gas, electricity, water turned off, setting up and/or cancelling direct debits and standing orders ... the list just goes on and on.

I left my job at the Care Home on 5th October and will not be going back to work until mid - January.  It took the pressure off Steve a bit and doing everything together has brought us closer than ever - if that is even possible.  It has given us a proper chance to sort through all the stuff we had in storage and, I kid you not, at least  two dozen archive boxes of unwanted items have now gone to the BHF charity shop in Sutton, half a dozen went to a local scout group who were collecting for a jumble sale and last Friday morning, a clearance company came in and took away some old furniture and a pile of wood (where that evolved from is anyone's guess).  It feels great to off-load and declutter, especially knowing that most of it has gone to good causes. 

Our house here in Sutton is looking blanker and bearer each day but we can hardly wait to get in to the new place and get sorted.  Our aim is to have the majority of it done by the end of November so that we can enjoy Christmas.  We even know where the tree is going!

It has been a bumpy ride and my writing has suffered intolerably - but I know the muse will come back when we walk the local beaches - which are just fifteen minutes from our door!

I always wanted to live near the sea!!!!

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

A Ghost Story Too Far?

I have had a supernatural story in my head for years and years.  I have tried starting it dozens of times but no matter what I do, or which character I write as, I just cannot get it right.  The story itself is clear as clear can be - and has a great twist in the tail.  It even has a title.  But it just won't let me write it down.  I don't know if it is because I have overworked or underworked the idea or what.  Am I trying too hard to get it too perfect?  Should I let it develop on its own?  If I do that I might end up never writing it!  Besides, everything that does happen is fully mapped out.  Every incident has a reason, all the reasons add up and the story is just screaming to be immortalised in paper.  But it seems to want to be immortalised on its own terms. Curious.

This, I have found, is one of the nicer problems we writers have to face.  I don't know about you but when people find out you are a writer, they seem to expect to see you physically writing every minute of the day.  "Thought you were a writer," they will say.  "Don't see you writing!"  The truth is, as every writer will know, you never stop writing.  Your brain is constantly trying to make sense of your characters, what happens to them, the good and the bad.  I feel really bad if I kill off anyone.  Seriously!  I find it hard to write in a character if I know he or she (or it) is going to meet its doom.  It may be absolutely necessary for the story, but the guilt kicks in and I think that maybe I shouldn't kill them off.  Maybe there is another way.

When Stephen King wrote Pet Sematary, he intimated it almost killed him when little Gage Creed ran into the road and straight under the wheels of a mega-truck.  J K Rowling wept buckets - effectively went into mourning - when Sirius Black was killed in the vaults at the Ministry of Magic.  Clearly our characters are alive in our heads and as real to us as our parents, friends, kids.  Clearly even they have an instinct of survival.  However did Agatha Christie cope with all her murder victims?  Did they go on to haunt her from beyond the page?

Getting back to my supernatural story.  I recently went with Steve to see Susan Hill's The Woman in Black at the Fortune Theatre in London.  It is a brilliant play and I can't recommend it highly enough.  It is so simply done, so beautifully portrayed, with just two male actors slipping very cleverly into all the characters the story needs to move along.  In fact I was so impressed that I tweeted Susan the next day to tell her how much we'd enjoyed it.  I was chuffed when she tweeted back to thank me for being moved enough to write her.  In the programme on sale at the venue, there are a couple of articles about how Susan tackled the story of The Woman in Black.  She wanted to write a gothic ghost story in the same style as stories such as The Turn of the Screw and A Christmas Carol.  How she did it intrigued me enough to go into Waterstones today and actually buy The Woman in Black.  My plan now is to devour it completely.  Where she was inspired by the writings of Henry James and Charles Dickens, I am hoping to be similarly inspired by her.  And maybe then my supernatural story will actually find its voice and let me write it.  Does it have a ghost of a chance, do you think?