Talking to myself

country road sepiaI spend an awful lot of time talking to myself.  It started years ago, when deep in a bout of anxiety, I doubted every single word that came out of my mouth.  Every conversation, however small, was later examined in detail. I’d beat myself up for the idiocy of what I’d said, my self-centredness and my lack of empathy for the person with whom I’d been conversing.  (Jees – self absorbed much? But selfishness, as I’ve mentioned before, is one of the side effects of anxiety.)

I’d resolve not to talk at all, but that didn’t work in the real world, so I started to practice conversations I knew I was going to have. These took place mainly in the car while driving.  I told myself other people would assume I was singing along to the radio or talking on a hands-free phone. It did get me through some necessary conversations, but it also became a habit.

And it’s got worse, because for the last year I’ve had to do a lot of driving. The kind that doesn’t get me anywhere, but is helping someone out. (Or maybe it isn’t, but that’s someone else’s story.) Anyway, I have to do it and so have plenty of time to yak to myself.

Last year, I had my first interview in about 25 years. The build up to this resulted in many, many practice sessions en route to nowhere. As a result of that interview I now, alongside the journeys to nowhere, get to go somewhere: my other world, the lovely Corsham Court, for the MA in Writing for Young People. Of course, this means writing workshops and, in these, I need to talk. It’s essential to discuss books, give feedback to others, comment on feedback given to me, and so, more practising of talking is required.

Once, in full flow while driving to a workshop, I failed to notice that the satnav had overheated and was no longer functioning. Hence, I missed a turning. For a considerable amount of time I was lost in the wilds of Wiltshire.

So, I’m back to Uni after a bit of a break and talking to myself has begun again, not least because our first reading-in-public event approaches. So, if you see a slightly frazzled woman driving though the backwoods of Gloucestershire and Wiltshire in a dirty and battered Volvo, apparently singing along to the radio, you know who it is.

P.S. Coincidentally, I have just read this: ‘my habit of practising even the most mundane conversations repeatedly before I actually have them.’ This by twitter mate: @blondiecamps  on her blog: blondiecamps.

Coming Out of the Closet: the introvert writer

My guest blog for Writers Bureau is out there.

Their next competition is Flash Fiction and closes on 30th November 2014.

Humidity, Humility & Overthinking

lightningIt feels biblical at the moment. Thunder growling in the distance as I write; lightning cracking the sky open, but no rain. Humidity, like we’re in the Deep South of America, not Gloucestershire, England. Where is autumn? It’s September, for goodness’ sake; should be all misty and mellow, but no, it’s heat and sweating and plagues.

Yes, plagues. Flies, dive bombing as we try to sleep; woodlice – dead ones curled and crispy under foot, live ones climbing armchairs, wandering across carpets and dawdling over the kitchen hob; spiders, and worse, their webs silkily crisscrossing every doorway, like a mission impossible style high security system that can only be overcome by performing advanced acrobatics while wearing a morph suit. It’s beyond me. I have a bad back, only ever achieved a forward roll at the height of my flexibility, and my bum would definitely look big in that. The Daddy Long Legs are yet to come.100

There’s another plague upon my house and I’ve only got myself to blame. Twitter. Yes, I knew there would be bad alongside the good. It’s a great aid for the practising procrastinator, that’s for sure. I keep forwarding interesting links to myself to read – I don’t know when. Currently, about 235 such links are sitting in my inbox…not good. Twitter is making me think more, particularly about feminism; diversity in children’s books; mental health issues. These are in no particular order and will be revisited in future posts. Suddenly, after years of denial, lethargy and sitting on the fence, it seems I do have opinions about stuff, after all.

Alongside the good, the noble, the wise; the joy of connecting with writers and other interesting folk; alongside the kind and supportive, there are a few without humility, those who shout ‘oi, buy my book’, only that, over and over, and nothing else; and those with one desire – to claim more followers. Is there something creepily cult-like about having followers? Or am I back to the biblical? I don’t know, perhaps I’m over thinking. I do that, you know.

I’m still learning about twitter but I think it’s mostly positive. I take to heart the wise words of Katy Evans-Bush in Mslexia, issue 63:

“Generosity never goes amiss on social media.” 

 

 

Competition News & Technology Triumphs

Delighted to learn I came second in the Writers Bureau short story competition with The Delivery Man.  You can read it and the other winning stories here. Congratulations to Glenda Cooper, who came first, and also to V Mackenzie and Kim Fleet placed third and fourth respectively.

I had recently failed miserably at an exercise in demonstrating ‘voice’ when I started writing this story.  So I set out to try and get the ‘voice’ right and keep it going for the whole piece. I was thrilled to receive this feedback via twitter:

Thank you, Shirley.

Please note, people, I now have a ‘follow me on twitter button’ here on the blog, and I have miraculously managed to ’embed’ the above tweet into this post. Achievements abound.

Still, enough about me.

I received this email from my mum this week.  Entitled ANTS, this is it, in its entirety:

“Take a look at

Diatomaceous Earth

for getting rid of ants…… and other annoyances! (like constipation!

xxxx”

Made me smile.

Retweet

I’ve just realised that when I changed my profile pic on twitter, it accidentally removed the link from here. Not as cool or clever as I thought.  Please excuse, I’ve been on holiday and therefore not blogging. I have been getting acquainted with twitter, though. Still learning. Have made a couple of errors – one, inexperience, and two, lack of judgement. They’ve been rectified and I have ‘met’ some good and interesting people. I have 126 followers.  It’s amazing. I’d go so far as to say it’s enhanced my life (a bit).

So, this is what I look like on twitter now.

Actually, this is what I look like in the real world, too.  I know, big step. It came about because I need an author photo for a project in the works. More details to follow. It had to be black and white with simple clothes and background. I hate having my picture taken but the offspring were on the case immediately.  In fact, they don’t like this photo because it doesn’t look like me, apparently. Maybe that’s why I do quite like it.

Anyway, this wasn’t the post I was going to write today. That will be coming to you soon. In other news, I have been asked to write my first guest post.  Details to follow…

 

Tweet Tweet

Well over a year ago, I attended a workshop led by the poet and novelist Sarah Salway called ‘Writing for the Social Media Age’ and run by the Bath Lit Festival. Until this point, I had kept myself in what I supposed was a necessary writerly isolation. The workshop was a turning point, tipping me from the pram of social media phobia and helping me take my first baby steps on shaky banana shaped toddler legs. That was when I set up this ‘training’ blog.

At the end of the day, Sarah set us the objective of sending a tweet or three. I had actually already set up a twitter account some time before but, in true introvert fashion, I liked to observe rather than participate.

Today, finally, I came out of the closet and sent that first tweet.  This is what I look like on twitter:

Soon, I will work out how to add a button to this site so that my reader(s?) can follow me on twitter, but for now you can find my one tweet here: @KClarkwriter

More about Sarah can be found at her websites: Sarah Salway and Writer in the Garden. Her latest book is Digging up Paradise: Potatoes, People and Poetry in the Garden of England.

Digging_Front_Cover