“Respect the Water”

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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.

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

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.

Being Someone Else

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This week I’ve had a series of dates, dancing till dawn with Insomnia, Lady of the long, long night, followed by early morning travels through the Cheltenham Races traffic, and fog as thick as snot.  I have been constantly driving into an abyss.  A white wall and them I’m in it; a white wall and then I’m in it.  Perhaps, it’s a metaphor for raising teenagers.  After an hour or so, there was something akin to snow blindness – fog myopia, maybe. At one point, I saw a woolly mammoth before it morphed into a cluster of trees. Of course, trees. Why would a mammoth be roaming rural Gloucestershire in 2014? Fog steals time, though, and sound, and place. I could have been anywhere, could have fallen through to somewhere else. Been someone else.

I’m thinking about this at the moment, being someone else. I began this blog as the Great Procrastinator. It was a persona, something for me to hide behind because this modern need to put everything out there repulsed and terrified me. It hasn’t worked. Sometimes I don’t like the Great Procrastinator’s tone, or the fact that she’s talking about domestic minutiae when there is a world of trouble going on out there, and mainly because I have put my insecurity and vulnerability out there anyway, albeit predominantly to purveyors of dubious pharmaceuticals and faux designer baggage.

I’m not sure what the point of this rambling is. Just tired, I think.  Insomnia is a demanding mistress.

Today, while fog still hung about in vast drifts, the sun came out; a disc, whiter somehow than the white sky; more perfectly round than the moon; a colossal sequin behind the mists, waste product of a giant’s craft project.