Back to Me

Blog posts are like buses in rural Gloucestershire.  Nothing for a month, then two come along on the same day and, meandering around several tiny hamlets on the way to the final destination, take three hours longer than necessary to get there.

I’m getting worried about spam.  It used to be that it offered medication for body parts I don’t have and technical advice I don’t understand, so it didn’t bother me much. However, it seems that they’re on to the real me as I am now receiving how-to-get-a-flat-belly spam. Depressing.  Like someone sits inside my computer screen and sees the ring doughnut round my middle.

Writing news.  My aforementioned first-placed ghost story Playing Out is now available to read for free at writersonline.

And that thing I’d been working towards for a long time?  Very excited – I have been offered a place on the MA in Writing for Young People at Bath Spa Uni.  Looking forward to September and spending time at the stunning Corsham Court where the course is based. I thought I’d taken a photo of the amazing architecture or gorgeous grounds or perhaps one of the peacocks that wander freely there.  But, no.  Turns out the only thing I photographed was the loo.

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Still, toilet humour and writing for children, goes hand in sticky little hand, surely?

Bath Short Story Award 2014

The Bath Short Story Awards results are out.  Have been for a couple of weeks.  You know how it takes me a while to get round to things.

I entered the competition myself and, although my story didn’t get anywhere, I am thrilled that first prize went to Eleanor Nash for Ghost Boy . Click the link to read this amazing story.

I met Eleanor at the Writing Events Bath Workshops.  She has a YA novel under her belt and is also a talented artist.  You can follow her writing life at Writinglark and her artwork at elenash.

 

 

 

Happy Five Year Anniversary Inktears

Inktears, who have previously published a short story and a flash fiction of mine, are celebrating five years of “helping people enjoy a little bit of fiction in a frantic world.”

To mark the occasion, they are re-issuing the flash fiction stories placed in last year’s competition. You can read them here and here.  Mine is in the latter – The List by Kathryn Clark.

 

Days of Whines and Rosé

Whines

  • Less a whine, more a howl. Stolen girls, stolen lives, stolen education. Bring Back our Girls. No other words.
  • I’m disappointed, ashamed, by my inability to cast a vote. A century has not yet passed since people like me got the right to vote.  Elsewhere in the world, girls can’t even go to school. People are fighting for their right to vote and for free and fair elections, but here democracy seems to have dwindled to taking your pick from posh boys in all their bland similarity; fine heads of hair and strangely wrinkle-free foreheads.  They spin us spineless lines. Taunting one another with rhetoric worthy of the playground, they offer us nothing of substance. I still want Jed Bartlett to rule the world.
  • I know it’s natural for cats to kill, but it is heartbreaking when they take down a butterfly. 

Rosé

  • May’s amazing.  Yesterday, everything was promise, and now it’s here -buzzing, vibrating, green, overwhelming life
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  • Drinking Rosé with old friends, met when our first children started primary school. Joined together at that moment of severance. Now, we are mellower, wiser. We’ve left the playground.
  • Despite a disappointing showing in recent competitions, I am writing lots (so piss off internal critic).  This, courtesy of another series of inspirational Writing Events Bath Workshops. Meeting some interesting folk too, including the curator of Still Points Moving World which is part of the Bath Fringe Festival.

Diversions

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Everywhere I try to go at the moment, I meet a sign.  The road is closed.  There is a diversion.  Sometimes I disregard the signs and go along anyway, only to find myself executing a fifty eight point turn between someone’s garden wall and a series of strategically placed plastic barriers. Is this a metaphor?

There is something important I’m supposed to be doing.  I was all set to get on with it, key objectives in place, planning to commence after the Easter holidays.  On the first day of term, driving back from delivering one offspring to school, six hours ahead of me, vibrant with potential achievement, my mobile rang.  It was the school of offspring 2, to say she was ill – half an hour into the school term.

I collected her and took her home via the doctor’s surgery. With her pain and my anxiety levels escalating, I spoke to the doctor again over the phone, returned with her to the surgery, and then onto hospital….suspected appendicitis.

Thankfully it wasn’t, but if it had been, I would almost have been grateful.  Twenty four hours on a children’s ward makes you appreciate what you’ve got, I can tell you.

Meanwhile, the thing I had to get on with, something writing-wise I’ve been building up to for a number of years, didn’t get done.  There are times when these things are out of your hands.

Still, once everything was resolved, everyone healthy, did I get on with it? Nope. Doubt danced in, hand in hand with the internal critic, diverting me from the righteous path. Watching me flounder and generally give in to the vagaries of life, the IT Director set me a deadline for the important thing.  That’s what I need, a deadline setter.  It works.  I have made significant progress with three days still to go, and that is saying a lot when you see who has moved in:

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How (not) to blog

blue flowerBeen reading a lot of articles in writing magazines about blogging recently and turns out I am doing it all wrong. Key points seem to be:

Do not write about yourself

Do not write about writing

Do not write about writer’s block etc

Good job this is just my practice blog, then. You know, the one before I am a famous author. Ha ha.

Even my spammers are telling me what I am doing wrong in terms of SEO optimisation. At least I think they are, they write a different language these techie folk.  I understand it about as much as the ‘comments’ received in Cyrillic script.  Although if the Russian feedback is anything like the rest of the stuff I get, I’m glad really. (See Being Someone Else.)

Plus, someone recently reminded me that whatever you put out there is there forever. That’s a scary thought. All those anxieties and little foibles on display for eternity.

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Perhaps I should follow the wise words in Mslexia, issue 61. In Digidoings – Plan B, Katy Evans-Bush suggests inviting guest bloggers to write for your blog and hoping that you will be asked to return the favour. Wendy Clarke in “Be a Good Blog Host” (Writing Magazine March 2014) advises on the etiquette of approaching and hosting guest bloggers. Writers’ Forum issue 149 has an article “Make Money From Your Blog.”  That would be nice. Time to set myself some new objectives and get serious about this bloggin’ lark.

Of course, that will be a distraction from the other thing…

blossom

By the way, the photos are nothing to do with the post, just that it is spring and actually springlike. What a difference a month makes. The offspring got hold of my phone and took these splendid shots at Westonbirt Arboretum.

Courses and Kazoos

Wading through life a bit at the moment what with one thing and another. Your basic shit happens type stuff.  So, not quite as prolific as I would like to be.  However, a few things are keeping me going.

I’ve been doing an online course: Writing for Children with Creative Writing Ink.  It’s led by Oisin McGann, children’s author.  I’ve found it to be very clear and to the point. A lot of writing books and courses go into such depth about the craft of writing that I find myself in anxious over-analysis mode.  I’m then thinking about writing rather than doing it and, as you know by now, I spend enough time avoiding writing as it is.  The course covers writing for different age groups/reading levels, sets exercises and gives constructive feedback, as well as offering practical advice about the publishing process and marketing oneself.

Talking of marketing oneself (what a smooth link) it’s time to blow my own – I was going to say trumpet, but, a) it’s a cliché, and a workshop I recently attended with Writing Events Bath was all about avoiding the cliché, and, b) it sounds a bit arrogant. So, I’m going to go with blow my own kazoo – (or does that sound rude?)

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Anyway – waffle be gone.

I won first prize in Writing Magazine’s Ghost Story Competition at the end of last year.  It is to be published in the March issue.

Writers Joint - March 2014

Objective for next time: Write a whole post without any brackets.

On Mondays I park on Friday Street

IMG_1892I said that to my friend once.  It was a factual statement as I attended an exercise class each Monday and I parked in the car park on Friday Street.  However, she laughed because it seemed to sum up my personality – being something of a Friday person and parking up on a Monday to wait until Friday came.  She sees herself in the same way. In fact, we first fell into friendship when confessing, while walking back from dropping off small children at school, that beneath our coats we were both still wearing what we’d slept in, and not only that, she was on the way to the corner shop as she’d had no bread to make the packed lunches.

There are plenty of things out there in the world about all that slummy/yummy mummy stuff, and I so don’t want to get involved in all that.  It bores the pyjamas off me.  My point is we both view ourselves as the sort who muddle through the week until Friday finally comes, but actually we spend a huge percentage of our time being completely capable and organised, solving problems and getting things done – it’s just they all seem to be things for other people.

I’d already started writing this post earlier today and then, this evening, the IT Director said there’d been a “story” on the news saying that women spent a whole year of their lives shopping.

Had they also done research, I asked, on how much time women spend doing things for other people?

Procrastinating, you mean? he said.

Hmm – maybe it is a form of procrastination.

 

Is it still January?

How long is this month?

I have discovered that the very day I last posted on here is described as ‘Blue Monday’ due to Christmas-heavy credit card bills arriving and the firmness of New Year’s resolutions wilting.

Unable to do what those well-to-do teenagers did – run off to a Caribbean 5 star Paradise – I have leapt (crawled) into action (slow motion movement) since then.  I’ve signed up for an online writing course (Children and YA) to motivate myself, and have sent off a couple of small pieces of writing.

Am now over thinking and under writing, but as they say, things can only get better…the only way is up …anything is possible.

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