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!


Made me smile.

“Respect the Water”


I was standing in the sea one day last week. The sky was dull. Low cloud hid the hills beyond the shore. The water was the colour of battleships, and turbulent, too.  Roiling, in fact, was the word that came to me. I stood a while longer pondering if this was in fact a real word or one I had made up combining ‘rough’ and ‘boiling’, both of which applied. Not boiling as in temperature – it was North Devon, after all – but in the way the sea was moving about.

When I came out of this reverie, I found myself deeper in the water than I’d realised and being pulled further out.  It was a struggle to move towards the beach. With horror, I saw that the same thing was happening to my twelve year old. I couldn’t reach her. My husband was struggling, too, but somehow he managed to get to her. They were at least together and had their body boards to keep them afloat.

It was a rip tide and we were thankfully soon out of it, but it was one of those moments where you go from happy family outing – everyone disengaged from the etherworld, detached from devices, engaged with nature, wholesome activity and each other, communicating with smiles rather than eye rolls – to a moment where you see the possibility of life careering off in a very different direction. Such a feeling of powerlessness.

I’m well aware that the two minutes or less of fear felt by my family is but a tiny teardrop in the vast oceans of terror out there at the moment. It seems like the whole world is roiling. Swirling, turbulent. Everywhere there is war, terror, abuse of children; protectors, either not protecting the vulnerable, or knee-jerking into overdrive; politicians, who usually talk a lot, let’s face it, saying very little about anything.

Back home, we researched rip tides and how to do deal with them.  Basically, you need to stay calm and try to swim parallel with the beach until you come out of the rip. Then the waves should bring you in. I fear this advice is not enough to bring humanity safely onto shore.

The experience very much emphasised  for me the RNLI motto:

Respect the Water.

The RNLI is a charity.  You can support them here.