Let me introduce myself….

Well hello there.  Second challenge of writing 101 is to introduce myself. It’s proving trickier than I thought it might be.  Introducing myself.  Should be dead easy.  Do I want people to actually know who I am though? Is it enough to know I live in Nottinghamshire, England, and that age-wise I’m no spring chicken, but have actually never quite grown up? That as well as writing, I like music, travel, eating, wine, gadgets,yoga, flowers, fish, dogs, walking, reading, photography, watching movies, sleeping, …..(I could go on…) and that my family mean more than the world to me?

Do I want to write down on paper (well not paper exactly) what my blog is about?  Do I know the answer to that?

Well not really.  I started my blog a couple of years ago when I left my job.  I’d already been writing bits and bobs for a good long while, and had completed a creative writing course with the Open University.  I’d enjoyed it, and wanted to write more, maybe even publish stuff.  Anyhoo, started the blog to get me writing, concentrate the mind a bit.  And, to a point, it has.

I haven’t published any of my stories on the blog (I use it more for venting my spleen), but recently took the brave step (for me ‘cos frankly I’m more Pam Ayres than Betjeman) of posting some of my poems that had already been well received in the PoetrySoup community.  Also, almost due to pure laziness, I have started posting some of my photographs.  It’s quicker and easier than having to think of something to write especially when time is tight.  Besides, I’m rather proud of some of them.

So, whilst I try to post regularly, I can’t honestly say I have any particular purpose or theme.  I hope what I write is vaguely entertaining, and people can identify with at least some of it, but I realise that my writing needs to be brought back into focus, and with any luck writing 101 might help me achieve that.

Oh yes, and I want followers, lots more followers.  And people to comment.  It can get a bit lonely posting all this stuff and still not being noticed. Anyway, it’s amazing to know that my words are out there potentially reaching people from all over the world. I’m going in the right direction, let’s hope this new set of challenges will prove even more successful.

Freewriting for writing 101

Ok, this may not make much sense. It’s a bit of freewriting I’ve done as the first exercise in writing 101. See what you think!
‘Twenty minutes seems like a bloomin’ long time to freewrite. I used to do a lot of it during my creative writing course and found it really helpful. I remember they told you not to use punctuation..hmmm gone wrong with that already here, and to just type a stream of consciousness. Dreams seem to be a stream of unconsciousness the mind just travels randomly and weirdly to where it wants without any input from me. Often scary dreams, uncomfortable dreams that live on with me throughout my day. They also said don’t correct mistakes..gone wrong with that too. I’ve made a few mistakes as I’ve been typing, but not many. I’m good and fast at typing. Did it a lot when I was working, in fact I learnt to touch type at school and its been a useful skill since the explosion of pcs. Mind you, when I learnt it was all big ‘ol typewriters, not even electric, that you used to have to thump the keys hard to get a dodgy smudgy letter from. Sometimes letters arrive at my house that are smudgy from the rain. It rains a lot here. Not raining now though. In fact theres not a lot of weather this morning just dull greyness, it’s not even that cold. Autumn approaches. Did you know there’s Christmassy things already in the shops here. September. September in the rain. That’s a song I remember from years back. I like music. I downloaded George Ezra’s new album on Saturday. My dad was a big fan of music. He used to stand in front of our fireplace conducting orchestra’s on the radio. He was a bit barmy. We didn’t get on all that famously I’m afraid to say. Bit of a temper on him, though never violent with me or mum, but hit the wall a few times and his verbal tirades where something to behold. Not sure whether they’ve scarred me for life I think I remember him being more arty than cross generally speaking. Gosh this is turning into a bloody counselling session. I certainly didn’t want that to happen I wanted to write of wine and roses and pretty things. Sunshine and laughter and nice people singing. My writing is never like that though. Always turns out dark and dismal. Usually violence and murders in my stories. People who are nice on the surface but turn out to be psychos. Hmm wonder where that came from? Hehee… this is a counselling session. I wonder how much longer I’ve got left. I type fast so it could be another ten/fifteen minutes yet…who knows..doesn’t time fly when your enjoying yourself. Time is relative its so much slower when you’re waiting for the clock hands to click on to five so you can go home after a busy day, than it is when your playing games with your children. Watching tv shows can either slow or speed up time too depending on whether you are enjoying them or not. We watched a lengthy Chinese film on Saturday evening, can’t remember the title, but there was a lot, a lot, of fighting, and I couldn’t tell who was who it was just one grey blur of people with swords, it seemed to go on forever, and yet the programme I chose to watch, which made me laugh, was over in a flash. I guess that could be that the film was three hours long and my programme was just half hour, but you know what I mean. Journeys out to holidays, even long haul ones, go a lot quicker than coming home. Goodness me how long journeys can drag. It takes just and hour and fifty minutes to get to London by train from my house, but oh’ that journey can feel like a lifetime when you are on a smelly, overcrowded train sitting next to someone who had their music playing just loud enough to you cant actually hear what it is but you can hear that thrumming beat. Enough to be really annoying, but not bad enough for you to actually complain. Or the people who are sitting getting really drunk around the same table as you. I hate sitting round those tables. Often four people forced to look in every direction but each other for the entirety of the journey, or as I once was, stuck with three others who were sharing a bottle of champagne. They could have offered me some couldn’t they. Although champagne on a train could be a little sickmaking I would think. I don’t usually eat or drink if I can help it. Apart from anything, if you drink too much you are forced to use the revolting loos. I used a loo on a train in India. It was a squat one. That was a challenge I can tell you, but at least you don’t have to touch anything. I could write a book on loos around the world, have been in all sorts. Good and bad, very very bad. Also sad. Some of the loos in China were pretty horrid, but I tell myself I only had to use them the once, some of the villagers (in a particular place) had to use it the whole time. That’s one thing travelling helps with, finding your place in the world, alerting you to other people’s circumstances, reminding you that you are one of the fortunate ones. In fact, I view travel as an education. We took our daughters to India when they were about thirteen. They learned much about different cultures….’

Rebooting my blog

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have noticed a bit of a change to my blog this last week or two. You see, I had a ‘moment’ a couple of weeks ago when I was feeling a bit lonely, a bit unloved and unwanted.  I wasn’t getting many visitors, no comments, no activity.  Apparently not even good enough to include advertising. I felt left out.

Not the first time in my life.  I was always one of those kids.  The left out ones.  The odd-bod, the loner whether I wanted to be or not.  As I got older, I found meetings and conferences uncomfortable, feeling as if I was an imposter, not good enough to hold my own. Not clever enough to hold a conversation with all those important, intelligent folk. And that exactly sums up how I was feeling about blogging. Now, my usual response would be to give up –

‘Face it, you’re not good enough, you’ve given it a shot and failed, might as well find something else to do with your time’

But if being part of this on-line community has taught me anything, its that well, anything goes.  Your blog is your own, who really cares if anyone reads it, as long as you enjoy writing, posting, sharing.  So I decided to pull myself up by my bootstraps, and start shoving things on here pretty much for my own amusement.

My ‘ditties’ for instance (still can’t bring myself to call them poems – seems pretentious).  I’ve been posting them in the ‘poetrysoup’ community for some time, but always blushingly. Posting them on my blog seemed scary, as if I’m inviting criticism and ridicule. However, on one of my braver days I went for it, and hey, d’ya know what…they’ve got likes…lots of likes.  It’s great!

Likewise, with the photos. I’ve got a pretty good camera, and I really love taking photos and have thousands knocking around. Some of them are ropey, some of them seem quite good to me (fair enough, I’ve an untrained eye..) I’d never call myself a photographer, but, you know, we’ve travelled quite a lot and, well, why not share them I thought.  And yes, they’ve got likes too. Gosh, I’m on a roll…

I started my blog pretty much as a journal type thing, a diary documenting what I’ve found to do with my life since retirement, and up until now I felt I should stick to that formula.  But I’ve found diversifying is a real treat, and eye-opener.  I’ve found lots of other poets and poetry blogs that I hadn’t come across before, and some wonderful photography sites that I can learn from. I’m starting to write a bit about each photograph I post – blimey, you never know, maybe it’ll become a travelog!

I can post a picture or poem much quicker than I can write an article, so I’m able to keep the whole thing more active. And, through necessity, I’m learning a lot more about utilising the tools available to make my site look and behave better. Best of all, I’m getting a lot more visitors to my site (still not enough…come on you slackers..) and the number of followers is going up daily (yay! Hellooo and hugs to you all…)

I’ve got lots more ideas, and things to share, and I’m still learning, so over time, I expect the blog to morph some more. It’s all a bit of an adventure then, and thinking of something to post has stopped being a chore and has become exciting and fulfilling again.

The best laid plans

Apologies to my armies of fans who are waiting on tenterhooks for my next words of wisdom.

Ok, though I do like to kid myself occasionally, I know I neither have armies of fans nor words of wisdom to divulge. But I do owe apologies, at the very least to myself, that I’ve been a bit tardy in writing on here lately.

You may remember, that this blog was supposed to be about my life as a newly freed-from-employment lady. When I left my job I had three and a half months of glorious freedom that I could write about, and I promised myself I would post at least once a week.

Then I picked up a couple of little contracts working from home, which have taking over my life a bit recently. Not that I’ve minded. I’ve met some lovely new people, both real, and twitter folk, surprised myself by writing about fashion accessories (like I know…), and had fun building databases, and finding IT solutions for stuff – what can I say, I am a geek.

Now though, it’s all slowing down. My little social media contract has come to an end, and I’m down from three to just one day a week for the other one. Slowly, I’m beginning to get used to having a bit more time again. It’s great. But I have to agree with the old cliche, I don’t know how I had the time to work.

I will never be a fantastic housekeeper, cleaning is soul destroying – you do it and five minutes later the dog has walked across the newly hoovered carpet with paws that have come directly from digging through to Australia (only a little bit of an exaggeration I assure you), but anyhow, my home has never been cleaner. I’m tidying and polishing, chucking stuff away willy nilly, and generally going all housewiferly. Who’da thought?

I’ve also got into sewing, not only making cushions, clothes, and tablecloths, but cross-stitching and crocheting too. My tidy home is being taken over by craft paraphanalia. As with all things, I’m a bit rubbish at all those things – far too impatient, but I’m learning and enjoying, and feel as if I’m growing a bit too. And it does tear me away from my beloved laptop, which is probably a good thing, as I could easily spend all day, everyday, sitting tapping away in a little imaginary world of my own, which I realise probably wouldn’t be at all healthy.

Of course that doesn’t mean I’ve given up writing all together, but just been busy doing other stuff lately.

Like volunteering. I applied to the local hospice as soon as I left work, I thought it would get me out of the house, and working in a team, all that sort of stuff, as well as helping me to be a useful member of society. Well, they didn’t have a permanent regular position open, so I’ve been doing odds and ends of admin for them. Now, guess what? I’ve got a project going for them. I’m working from home. Building a database. And a spreadsheet. On my laptop. Hey ho…

p.s. No, I’ve not been gardening. Our lovely patch is awash with weeds as it waits to have its makeover. And that’s another story…!

This post is challenging

Writing a post feels like work today.  I’ve got loads of other things to do.  It’s that time of year.  The time when I should be dashing about shopping, wrapping, writing cards, panicking about who’s doing what.  Instead, I’ve been sitting here for an hour or two, trying desperately to write something vaguely interesting, as well as vaguely entertaining.

Three times I’ve written stuff and deleted it before I’ve got to the end.

I didn’t mean for it to become work.  It was supposed to be fun.  Supposed to get me in writing mode.  But today it’s pressure.  I haven’t posted anything for a few days, I must do it.  Must post.  Must post…

Do other blogger’s feel like this?  I don’t want to lose the (very) small number of readers I’ve got by  abandoning them at the first hurdle.  Regular posting is the way to build followers they say…  Must post something…

The daily prompt wasn’t helpful.  ‘My Hero’.  Hmm. Can’t think of one. I could be cheesy and say someone who’s been battling adversity, some celeb or other, or a superhero (well, those tight outfits they wear can be quite fetching).  What about a sporty type?  Nope, not a big fan.  Besides the only sports I watch (never participate in, please note) are team jobbies – Cricket, Rugby.  Though of course, did watch our Bradley winning the tour. He was a bit of a hero for that, but overall, not really ‘my hero’ material.

What about a band, a musician that’s inspired me?  Some talented bod who’s made a ton of money by doing a bit of singing.  Nope, not exactly hero’s are they?

Explorer’s?  People that battle against tough terrain, freaky weather, fearsome animals to get….somewhere.  Why…?  Nope, don’t get it.  Just sounds reckless, feckless.

Spacemen?  People hurtling into space, thrown around, eating dried food and seeing their pens float away (not to mention pooing in funny toilets).  No, again, don’t get it.  So you see the Earth from a distance?  So what?  (I’ve bought a globe, it’s much easier) Only crazy individuals, not hero’s, would volunteer for that surely?

Bet lot’s of people would say their dad, and all I would say to that is… No, no, and thrice no.

No sorry Daily Prompt people, I failed, miserably, to come up with anyone. Thinking about it, I don’t think I even know what a hero is now.

Well, I’m gonna have to give up now.  Got to get off out there shopping, organising, wrapping, writing. panicking. Only 15 days to go aargghh…

Come to think of it,  you know I was wrong before, writing this post isn’t like work.  Getting ready for Christmas is though.

What’s wrong with a stream of consciousness then?

My husband doesn’t ‘get’ blogging

‘Who has time to read other people’s streams of consciousness?’ he’ll snort.

Well, these days I do.  And I write a stream of consciousness myself.  Oh, I know it should be more than that, and I know most blogs are more wonderful, funny and informative, than mine.   But the thing with streams of consciousness-es is that they show us that, across the world, underneath it all, we all have the same basic irritations, anxieties, and joys in life.

For instance, the great blog that I read by Nathan Badley ‘Dear man in front of me at the gas station’ certainly rang bells (read Nathan’s Blog).

I’m very new to blogging, and new to reading them too, and I’ve been delighted to find so many like-minded people, spending often what little spare time they have, telling me about their lives.  It’s also a delight to read pieces with an oblique slant on things, blogs that make me think. I’ve seen some funny ones written, and sometimes, drawn, by talented and interesting individuals.  I found recipes and advice, and critiques on books I have yet to read.  The blogging world has been a revelation to me.

And what of my own efforts?  Well, I intended to use this blog as merely a tool to encourage me to write most days, and it’s working.  The discipline of thinking up a topic and title is forcing me to expand my thoughts (not far…yet!).  You see, having had a tough time at work for the last year or so, my thoughts have dwelt obsessively and depressingly there.  My mind was shackled to the office, my previously soaring imagination suppressed and unused. However, despite it taking a little time, gradually the grey dullness is receding and being replaced by the rainbow.  I find myself making up verses randomly, as I had done in the past, and potential stories are seen in everyday situations.  People walking along the street are potential characters – murderers??  My writing is beginning to flow again.

So I apologise for the stream of consciousness, the ramblings, and any rantings which may well follow, but it really is helping me reboot!