Thursday, 10 October 2013
This blog has run its course. The time has come to call it a day.
Writing this blog has been enormously helpful to me. It’s kept me in touch with the world at times when I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. Time and again, I’ve been struck by the kindness of strangers. People’s comments and advice have been truly invaluable and I would like to thank everyone who has sent me messages, left comments, or posted a card. In a way this decision has been triggered by a comment left after yesterdays' post in which I was told, basically, to shut up and get back to work. That was good advice, so thank you.
I started writing this blog in February 2011; a time when my mother, who was suffering from dementia, was calling me, sometimes dozens of times a day. It’s seen me through the very bad times connected with her care and the legal profession and was there to keep me going when she died and the whole can of worms erupted.
Since then, it’s kept me on the right track, again thanks to the people out there, mostly people I’ve never met who’ve shown me that there is hope and love and consideration and sympathy in the world at a time when I couldn’t have seen that even if it had bitten me on the backside. It’s taken me a lot longer to get over my mother’s death than I ever expected and I’m not completely there yet, but I’m on the way. Now it’s time to clear the decks. Rather than writing thousands of words for the Writers Bureau or this blog, I want to write thousands of words of other stuff – not sure exactly what yet but it’s early days.
One thing I will be doing, asap, is updating my woefully neglected web site (www.akacatherinehoward.weebly.com). At the moment, it’s so out of date, it doesn’t even have details of my latest writers guide – 100 GREAT FIRST LINES so if you’re interested in details, or want to buy a copy, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a cheque to Linda Lewis care of 71 Manston Gardens, Leeds, LS15 8HA. You can have a look at the ebook on Amazon where it’s listed as 100 FIRST LINES THAT WORK
I can still be followed on twitter @writingiseasy .
Writing this last post is both exciting and scary. Cutting myself off from the Writers Bureau was scary too but sometimes in life you have to take a risk or suffer the consequences. Stuck to my office wall, I have these quotes from HEYFRANCIS.TUMBLER.COM
‘If you do not go after what you want, you’ll never have it.
If you do not ask, the answer will always be no.
If you do not step forward, you will always be in the same place. ‘
Another poster reads – Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.
And finally, from Charlotte Joko Beck -
‘Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment, that includes every mosquito, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath.
Every moment is the guru.’
As far as I’m concerned that’s pretty much bang on and a great advertisement for mindfulness.
I don’t know what my next steps will be, but what I do know is this – I want things to be different. For that to happen, I have to make room in my life for new people and new activities.
So that’s about it. The last post has sounded and it’s time to, finally, call it a day.
Once again, thanks everyone! I couldn’t have made it without you.
Wednesday, 9 October 2013
I’m finding it very hard to focus at the moment. I could name all kinds of reasons – a lingering head cold, Louis who keeps demanding my attention, but this goes deeper than that. I’m worried because a man has shown an interest in me. How crazy is that? The problem is he’s pretty awesome. I can almost feel his intellect and it scares me. I’ve always avoided overly intelligent men, not because I can’t keep up with them, intellectually, because I can, but because I’ve always had this huge feeling of unworthiness. When I was young, I met all kinds of people – low lifes all the way through to professional people. Which ones did I date/marry/etc? Well let’s just say NOT the professionals.
I remember one time I went to Sandown racecourse with a lovely man called Richard. He was an all-round nice man with a great job and a family who were very well off. We had great day, helped by the fact that I kept backing winners, but did I see him again? Of course not. He was much too good for me. Whatever would his parents have thought if they ever met me? I wore clothes that came from jumble sales. My father worked for the Guinness brewery in London, cleaning tanks.
Now another intelligent man, with a great sense of humour and who shares many of my interests is in the wings and it’s a struggle not to scupper it before it’s even started. I’m going to try not to do that. I feel as though this is a test of my mettle. A way to see whether or not I’m ready to take some leaps of faith and start a new life. After all, that’s why I’ve been clearing the decks.
I’ve often felt as though I’m actually two people. One of them is a pain in the ***, always putting me down, pointing out all my imperfections and all the things that can go wrong. The other person has a hard time being heard. She wants to enjoy life, have fun. She thinks she’s OK and that she doesn’t have to be perfect providing she has a go, or does her best. I know which one of those two people I want to be but that doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve been listening to the bitchy critical negative voice for so long it’s going to take some serious will power to shut her up, but I’m going to give it a go.
So, Woman’s Weekly, People’s Friend and Fiction Feast, how about buying some of my stories? That might just motivate me to write some more, then, who knows what might happen.
My new life starts here.
Tuesday, 8 October 2013
I went to see my homeopath yesterday and really enjoyed it. That probably sounds weird, but the fact is she’s such an upbeat lovely person, just talking to her, I felt better. She seems to think that this cold (yes, I still have it) is a good sign – marks the changes to a new season, etc etc but I still wish it would hurry up and go. My voice has dropped an octave which, as it’s already quite deep, isn’t exactly feminine.
Regarding life in general, I feel as though I’m ready for a new start. More than ready. I’ve just had a call from the Writers Bureau so I can now officially reveal that I won’t be tutoring for them after the 31st of this month. I’d sent a letter in a blue bag in September, giving notice but nothing was said which seemed odd, so I sent another note. Apparently, the original letter somehow got left inside the bag (!) so they’ve only just found out. Anyway, the lovely lady who runs the bureau has just called and we had a nice chat. She understands why I need to stop but better still she also said that if I want to go back at any time, to let her know, so the door isn’t closed, it’s still ajar.
I can’t tell you how hard it was to make the decision to stop working for them. Having deadlines and something I HAD to do has been such an enormous help to me while I was down. It gave me something to focus on, in much the same was as looking after the dogs. Now though I want some me time. The plan is to have a year in which I’m not committed to anything so that I can go where the wind takes me. At the end of that year I can then weigh up what it is I want to do and where I want to be. If I then decide to become a recluse with three rescue dogs, that’s fine, but I don’t want that to be a default mode.
I probably shouldn’t say this, but honesty is, and always will be, my ,mantra, but I recently started an email correspondence with a man. It’s been absolutely wonderful in that it’s given me a huge confidence boost. I have no idea what will or won’t happen but the very fact that there are possibilities is great
Louis leaves on Friday morning after which I’m going to Long Eaton for a workshop on finding ideas. I’m hoping that some of the exercises will lead to stores and that my mojo will be waiting for me, ready and eager when I get home again. Of course, the gardeners are due on the Monday so I’ll have to work round them.
The other thing that’s happened in the past couple of days is a whole heap of rejections from Woman’s Weekly which tells me that the stories I’ve written recently haven’t been up to scratch. I think I knew that anyway but it’s still annoying.
I’ve always said that once I’m at 5 on the happiness scale (1 very depressed to 10 very happy)then I can write well enough to sell. I THINK I’m there now but I don’t have the energy or the time to take advantage. OK that’s an excuse, but it’s not a bad one; I DO still have a cold, plus as this is the last time Louis is here, when he wants attention, I’m happy to give it to him (it’s very hard, no impossible, to write when you have a very heavy dog’s head on your lap). I’m almost sure that by the time I’m at Long Eaton, the words will flow. It’s the almost that’s the worry. I REALLY need to start earning some proper money again, and soon. That way I can enjoy spending it so if anyone knows who the god of mojos is, do let me know.
Saturday, 5 October 2013
The sun is shining. The workshop for next Saturday is planned, the handouts printed. I have no Writers Bureau work to do. Time to think about what to enter for Leeds Writers Circle short story competition. I haven’t been writing much new stuff lately. The stories I have attempted haven’t worked, at least not to the standard I’m looking for. Obviously it would be nice to write something new rather then enter a womag story (which is unlikely to come anywhere) but I’m not sure I want to. While I have Louis here, I’d much rather spend time with him. We’ve just had a play fight. Anyone watching who didn’t know him would probably think I was in danger. His bark is fearsome, his growl deep and dark, and his teeth…. I tried to take a photo to show them off but this was the best I could do.
After our fight, I feel a bit battered. He’s one heavy dog and he doesn’t play fair, but it’s a lot of fun, and he really seems to enjoy it so it’s worth the odd bruise.He especially likes it when I put my hand in his mouth (!)
I’m hoping to finally get around to doing his portrait today, in fact, I might have a go now. It’s been a long long long long time since I did any art so the result is likely to be poor but then I don’t have to show anyone do I?
Friday, 4 October 2013
For more than a week, I’ve been fighting a bad cold. It’s so annoying how something so simple and trivial can cause so much annoyance. I guess it will clear up, eventually, but right now, the end is definitely not in sight. The weather’s miserable too which in a way is good as then I can’t be tempted outside.
I’m loving having Louis here. He really is an absolute darling. Of course, I end up with bruises on my bruises – he has no idea how heavy he is – but that’s a small price to pay.
I have the feeling that I need to spend time clearing the decks. I’m finding it hard. I had an email from Swanwick Writers Summer School saying my courses had attracted excellent feedback and they’d like me to teach the main short story course next year. I’d said on the feedback form that I didn’t want to teach in 2014 so that I could enjoy the School as a delegate rather than teacher. The email said they appreciated that, but would I reconsider. The old me would have given in and said yes. I said no. Not only that but I sent a two page reply detailing all the things I feel they need to fix. I love Swanwick. Very much. But. They don’t pay tutors enough and because times are hard, they’re cutting back – less well known speakers and so on. I think this is a BAD idea. People expect writing holidays to be expensive . They also expect to get their money’s worth. Anyway, I got a long reply saying that all my points were being considered and offering more money. I’m still going to say no. I’ve taught at NAWG for the past three years. When I go there, I get the weekend free plus expenses and a decent fee. Now if Swanwick could match that…
Thanks to this cold, I’m merely treading water workwise. Basically all I’ve done is tweak a few stories that Woman’s Weekly rejected so that I could send them elsewhere and kept on top of Writers Bureau work. I’ve started sorting out the details of the workshop I’m running in Long Eaton on the 12th of this month. It’s going to be about various ways of finding ideas for stories, plus some pointers on how to make a story ‘work.’ My plan is to do the exercises too, on the day. My mojo WILL come back soon. I just have to keep tempting it to come out and play.
I see my homeopath again on Monday. I’m supposed to have been keeping an eye on my progress but that’s not easy when you’re think with cold. So how do I feel at the moment? Goodish. Frustrated, because I want to get back to writing GOOD (i.e. saleable) stories and because I have very little energy at the moment.
I’m also feeling cautiously optimistic. I’m going to Wentworth with NAWG in November for a retreat with a few workshops thrown in (see www.nawg.co.uk for details), Christmas is sorted (I’m off to Scarborough – hurray!), plus Strictly’s on. I love that show. Even more, I love Strictly Takes two with Zoe Ball. I record it every day so that I can watch it at my leisure. If you don’t like Strictly, I feel sorry for you. It’s not about learning to dance, it’s about learning to let go, have fun, express yourself. The changes it brings about in people (Matt Dawson springs to mind) are amazing.
Next year at the moment is a blank slate. Apart from a couple of workshop bookings, I have no plans whatsoever. That is both a scary thought and an exciting one. With no dogs to board, no part time job to do, I’ll be able to do what I want for once. I just hope I can take advantage of that.
The photo shows one of my orchids.