Friday, 29 January 2016

Word of the Week - Courage

Now courage and me don't go hand in hand - I'm the girl who gets nauseous watching a filmed roller coaster ride! But this week I did something which, for me, was courageous.

I've long harboured dreams of calling myself a writer. Not just someone who scribbles in a variety of notebooks, taps away at a keyboard but never showing what I write to the world. This is huge, I know that but some dreams are, aren't they? I'm rather reticent to share my writing for a couple of reasons. This 'being a writer' lark is for other people, not people like me; ordinary, run-of-the-mill people, nothing special etc. etc. Also I worry that I'm not actually any good at writing, that I've been kidding myself all these years that there was a spark of talent hidden away just waiting to explode from the page.

A few weeks ago I set myself some writing challenges, one of which was to get my writing out there more. I enjoy sharing a little of what I write through linkies and it's nice to have some feedback on my work. Yet I'm still reluctant to share.

So this week I decided to bite the bullet and sent an entry to a writing competition! Gulp!

Now I don't think I'm going to win it but just sending my writing in was a victory for me. I'm now looking for other opportunities to submit work and trying to keep a handle on my growing excitement at having taken the plunge. So here's to being courageous, even if it goes against my natural inclinations!

Thursday, 28 January 2016

What's a Fetty Wap? - Prose For Thought

What's a Fetty Wap?
Fetty Wap is trending. I have no idea what Fetty Wap is but I let my imagination run free and here's what I came up with.
I looked up as the rain began to patter on the train window. Typical, the one day I left my umbrella at home too. Well, there was nothing for it, I'd have to get a taxi at the other end if the rain continued. This suit was far too expensive to get wet on it's first outing.
The train began slowing. We were a while away from arriving at Stoke so I assumed we'd got held up by signals again. This was the slowest train I'd ever been on, stopping every few minutes to idle, creak and rattle for little discernible reason. We slowed right down and then a station appeared.
The platform was overgrown with buddleia and a variety of weeds. Small trees loomed over the walls, their branches sweeping across the brickwork in the breeze. The edge of the platform was broken and crumbling, the windows of the waiting room were either broken or covered with a film of dirt and cobwebs. The whole place was run down and abandoned, there seemed no point in stopping here the place had obviously been abandoned some time in the 1940s. Yet here we were, waiting for imagined or ghostly passengers to board our train.
A conductor was walking down the aisle checking tickets. As he drew parallel to my seat I caught his eye.
'Excuse me? Can you tell me why we're stopping here? This looks like a deserted station, nobody's ever going to catch a train from here.'
'Not a local are you, miss? This is Fetty Wap. You must know the story of Fetty Wap and why the train still serves the station here.'
I slowly shook my head and confessed that I hadn't.
'Well,' said an elderly man sitting opposite me, 'you've got a treat in store. Allow me to tell you all about Fetty Wap Halt and the extraordinary events that took place here during the war.'    



Tuesday, 26 January 2016

What I'm Writing - How did that happen then?

I'm a great one for hiding my light under a bushel and this is especially true when it comes to my writing. I get involved with a few linkies but apart from that I hardly share what I write with anyone.

I set out some writing goals and one of them was to get my writing out there a bit more. So ... I entered a competition! Squeal!

I had a silly little thing on the hard drive that fitted the criteria of the Just Write Monthly Masterpiece competition so I tweaked it and made some adjustments to the word count and hey presto! Away into the big bad world went my writing, all alone and naked. So that's that, I've taken the first leap and I'm not sure how to feel about it.

Now I suppose I need to get cracking on some serious writing - there are other bits on the hard drive that may have potential ...

Writing Bubble

Friday, 22 January 2016

Word Of The Week - Catamaran

Well, that's a strange word! Bear with me, it'll all become clear...

This week I went to the Isle of Wight to visit my mother-in-law, a journey I've taken many times before in the 8 years since she moved there. But usually I go with my OH and we take the car ferry. This time I was going under my own steam so I went on the Red Jet fast catamaran.

Now I don't do water or boats. Anything smaller than the Isle of Wight ferry and I get anxious; after all I'm a land lubber and we don't do sailing! However it made sense to use the fastest method of getting across the Solent so I summoned up all my courage and booked to go by fast cat.

Needless to say I worried about it for a fair while before the journey but I 'manned-up' and got on with it. What a revelation! It was wonderful. So smooth and fast, much better than the old car ferries (much as I love the chance to do some reading on the hour long journey). I loved it! We whizzed across in 25 minutes, no fuss at all.

While waiting for the catamaran I got chatting to a charming gentleman in a wheelchair called Nigel who was heading off to Dublin to stay with his cousin and attend a philosophy conference. We joked about the joys of travelling by wheelchair and the necessity of popping into pubs to dodge the inevitable Irish showers! At Southampton I shared a cab with a lovely lady who was flying off to Vienna to visit friends after we failed to catch the bus into the city. In all my time travelling on the car ferry I've never exchanged a solitary word with another traveller so it was a real joy to chat and have a laugh with my fellow travellers.

So there you are, my Word Of The Week - catamaran; a lovely, civilised way to cross the Solent.    

The Prompt - Paint

A Painted On Smile
As I put on my hat and check my reflection
Inside I feel empty and fragile,
Remembering the past and our history,
Arranging my painted-on smile.
In the car the radio chatters away
But I've not been listening for quite a while.
I'm stuck in the past, reliving good times
As I practice my painted-on smile.
At the church there is a profusion of flowers,
Old friends with whom to reconcile.
I feel lost and detached, a soul wandering alone
Behind my painted-on smile.
The service is lovely, hardly a dry eye,
Rapt faces turned heavenwards for a while,
Hymns sung, wishes for happiness beamed.
Yet I struggle to follow with my painted-on smile.
As the organ begins to swell
And you walk down the aisle
Escorting your beautiful new bride
Cracks appear in my painted-on smile.
The speeches are made, champagne glasses clinked,
Congratulations shouted by all.
But standing apart with a chill in my heart
Is me with my painted-on smile. 

Sunday, 17 January 2016

The Prompt - Go

I'm not ready for you to go. There should be more time, time when I can tell you all the things I've always meant to but thought I'd get round to later.

This morning we had all the time in the world. Life pottered on at a leisurely pace and I gave little thought to the immediate future. Why would I? We were happy, busy, involved in things. So we drifted through the day, enjoying each other's company and not looking to tomorrow.

We woke up early and enjoyed toast, eggs and tea for breakfast. I tried to do the crossword in the paper while you doodled in the margins. Dishwasher loaded we headed into town for some shopping. As usual I forgot my list so we had to go freestyle and you laughed as I dithered about whether we needed milk.

Lunch was eaten in the garden as the sunshine was so warm. We shared pittas, hummus and salad, although you refused to eat any tomatoes and threw them into the flower bed. I spread a blanket on the grass and we spent an hour dozing and spotting animals in the clouds. 

The afternoon was a blur of music, chatting and tea. We enjoyed each other's company and time seemed to whizz by. Chores and housework were forgotten as we just had fun together.

But now I'm faced with the reality that you are going, soon, all too soon. Tomorrow it will just be me, lost and alone, trying to fill the time until I make the long journey down the hill. I'll walk through the churchyard, gazing at the names on the Victorian headstones, my hands drifting through the grasses. I'll walk past the church where we've spent so much time and wander down the lane. Then I'll join the other mums at the school gate, searching for your face among all the others after their first day at school. 

Thursday, 14 January 2016

My Cat Loves A Woolly

As I sit on the sofa, I’d love a kitty cuddle.
But my cats don’t do cuddles.
They treat me with disdain, turn up their little noses,
And refuse to keep me company on the sofa.

 However, if I’m wearing a woolly
The little black cat is in heaven.
She loves a woolly, loves them so hard
She drools, she kneads, she’s in kitty heaven.

As soon as she sees I’m wearing a jumper
Or even a nice knitted cardigan she races, rushes,
Tears across the room and flings herself across my lap.
Then she snuggles down to snooze and dream

Safe and secure on her woolly, her beloved woolly.
If I need to get up from the sofa she clings to the woolly,
Reluctant to leave yet resigned to her fate.
She’s back like a flash as soon as I sit down again!

I know how she feels; I too love a woolly.
The comfort, the warmth, the softness,
Makes me feel so secure and happy,
Kitty-secure in my woolly, my kitty-friendly woolly. 

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Where Is My Inspiration Going To Come From?

So I sorted out my writing goals and steeled myself to turn the trashy TV off - ok I had a bit of help from an officious son who confiscated the remote! - and I've sat down to write something for the past two days only for writer's block to strike!

How ironic is that. Time set aside to write, guilt firmly put behind me and nothing pops into my head. Absolutely no inspiration, not even the faintest whiff of an idea. I read through the writing prompts I have stored on the laptop for such an occasion but still nothing came to mind.

The frustration is palpable. I'm so cross I could swear. And yet ...

Surely this is only a minor bump in the road. Finding it hard to write anything for two days isn't the end of the world after all. I'm only just embracing my serious writing mojo so it's only to be expected that the Muse will take some time to arrive - probably caught up in the roadworks on the bypass!

However as soon as I sat down to write this blog post I had an idea for a little throw-away piece of nonsense. Wouldn't you know it? I want to moan about not having any inspiration and then inspiration arrives. 

So I'm now hoping that by not obsessing about not being able to write anything I'll get something done at last. Overthinking - always one of my faults. I can talk myself out of almost anything by overthinking it. So now a cup of tea and the first glimmer of a poem is brewing.

Friday, 8 January 2016

The Prompt - New

The Thrill of the New
New Year, new me,
A bright future planned.
Intentions good, a firm resolve,
The thrill of the new.
New Year, new me,
Goals set, recorded and shared.
Me time planned and scheduled,
The thrill of the new.
New Year, new me,
Positive and focused anew.
A healthy feeling, long in coming,
The thrill of the new.
New Year, new me,
Blossoming confidence to nurture.
Time to achieve, time to evolve,
The thrill of the new. 

Word of the Week - Resolve

Well after the blogging holiday over Christmas and the setting of some writing goals it was inevitable that I would choose a word that consolidated my intentions for the New Year.

I decided against setting resolutions this year. I usually make them with good intentions on January 1st and by February I've forgotten all about them. So this year I decided to just set some rather woolly intentions - being kinder to myself, having a little adventure each month for example - and I hope I'll feel better about myself by the end of the year.

However my writing goals are more rigorous and hence my #WOTD is 'resolve'. In order to succeed with them I need to use all my resolve. I want to get into a more regular writing habit, writing something daily would be ideal. However, in order to do this I have to resolve to stop watching day-time TV. I know, I know - why am I wasting time watching trashy day-time TV? I don't tend to turn the TV off after we've watched the Breakfast TV headlines in the morning and I get sucked into programmes that I don't need to watch (Jeremy Kyle?!?)

So I resolve to turn the TV off each morning and do something more productive instead. If I can't bear the quiet I'll stick on a CD! But I will move away from using the TV as 'chewing gum for the eyes' and use my time better.    

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Setting some Writing Goals for 2016

I'm not very good at setting goals and, more importantly, sticking to them. But it's traditional to do so at this time of year so I've decided to set myself some writing goals for this year. I'm under no illusions that I'll achieve them all but it's something to aim for, isn't it?

1. I want to write regularly. I'm guilty of wasting time and faffing around which gets very little done. This year I'd like to be more disciplined about my writing rather than playing about at it. To make this happen I'm going to schedule some writing time into my day - time to spend with the TV off (my worst distraction!), time when I won't feel guilty about spending time writing (it's not messing about after all).   

2. I'd like to get at least one piece of extended writing done this year. No more bits started and never finished on the laptop, a proper piece of writing that has a beginning, middle and end! I'm not going to put too much pressure on by saying I want to write a novel but I'd like to end the year feeling as if there's a finished 'something' on the laptop.

3. I want to write more poetry. I have tended to move away from poetry recently despite writing a fair bit when I was younger - very pretentious stuff mainly but a few pieces that I still like.

4. I would like to feel brave enough to submit some writing for competitions or prizes. Naturally I'll need to have a body of decent work to choose from which means getting 1 and 3 sorted but it would be a real boost to my confidence to do something like that.

5. This would be a good year to release some more of my writing into the wild. I'm very reluctant to share my writing with others as I'm lacking in confidence about what I write. I think I need to engage with more writers and have the confidence to set my writing out for some serious scrutiny. Although it's a bit scary to think about dong it ...

6. This is the 'pie in the sky' one. I'd like to get a piece published somewhere. Nothing like publishing my first novel but maybe a little piece in a local paper or magazine. Small start but you know what they say about acorns!

So those are my writing goals. Here's hoping I revisit them at the end of the year and can report some success! 

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Dreams - What's That About Then?

I dream a lot. By that I mean that I remember my dreams when I wake up more than many people.

Some of my dreams are just plain weird and make me wonder about my sanity; some are so naughty that I wake up blushing; some are really sad and I wake up in tears. I enjoy thinking about my dreams and they have provided some inspiration for writing in the past. But last night I had a dream that really got me thinking.

I was at the top of a tower, something like a lighthouse, with spiral stairs going down. I was in labour and I knew that I had to get to the bottom of the tower before I gave birth to the baby. As I struggled down the steps I passed windows or apertures which looked out over a succession of views - some pastoral scenes with sheep, fields and trees; some industrial scenes with streets, roads and houses in a Victorian era; some coastal scenes with the sea, a beach and cliffs in the distance. There were also doors at intervals and I looked through them into a variety of rooms -  a large Georgian ballroom with dancers swirling around the floor; a spacious barn with straw on the floor and horses in stalls; a dusty garage with tools hanging from the rafters. I only went into one which was a shop with furniture and housewares. I wandered around the shop, stroking the fabrics and peering through the coloured glass vases. There were no other people in the shop and the shop assistants kept their distance so I was alone as I browsed. On a bottom shelf I saw some gloves and picked up a brightly striped pair with open palms like driving gloves. They also had leather finger tips. I tried them on and they felt so wonderful that I bought them. I returned to the stairs and kept going down, still in labour. Each time I looked out of a window I noticed that despite going down I wasn't getting any closer to the bottom of the tower.

I woke up before I got to the bottom or gave birth. So I have no idea if I made it to the bottom before the baby was born which is a bit frustrating but I'm glad I don't have a baby to show for it!

So what is it all about then? It was such a surreal dream compared to the ones I normally have that I think there may be a message in there somewhere. I think my subconscious is trying to tell me something and I'd be a fool not to listen.
" I have spread my dreams under your feet. Tread softly because you tread on my dreams "

Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year!

I've taken a short break from the blog over Christmas but it felt right to pop in and mark the New Year.

I've read several blog posts summing up the old year and looking forward to 2016; I've read several blog posts setting out resolutions for the coming year. But the posts that have resonated most with me have been of a different kind.

Some people are writing about not setting out goals or resolutions this year. Their reasons for doing this are varied but basically they are opting out of the January nonsense of New Year Resolutions.

I've spent far too much time and thought over the years setting resolutions which have been forgotten or broken by the end of January (if they even lasted that long ...) I dabbled with doing Veganuary where you go vegan for the month of January but the idea of a whole month of oat milk in my tea was too much. I nearly went with the age old ones of losing weight and getting fit but I know that these are ones I've failed at far too often.

Last year I resolved to read a book by a new author each month and although I didn't really keep track I'm sure I managed 12 new authors in 2015. But I have no idea what other resolutions I made so the chances are I failed at those.

And therein lies the problem. I'm fed up with failing. I do it all too often and it knocks my confidence every time. It takes so much energy to build myself back up after a knockdown. So I've decided that I won't so that anymore. And I'm not making any resolutions either as they're just another way to set myself up to fail.

So this year I'm resolving to be kinder to myself, to do things that make me happy, to have a little adventure each month, to enjoy the simple things in life. And if I happen to eat a bit healthier and go to the gym more, then so much the better. But if I don't, so what?

Happy New Year everyone!