Farewell to the Great Procrastinator

Ahem …

I know. It’s been more than two years since I last posted here. But I haven’t been procrastinating. Honest. Quite the opposite.

I’ve been busy doing a lot of stuff including gaining a Masters in Writing for Young People from Bath Spa University. As a result of which I’ve now achieved a long-held great procrastinator’s dream of finishing a novel, as well as meeting a whole group of lovely, amazing, supportive people. Currently we’re working together to produce our anthology Paper Worlds – out in the wilds on 11th April.

https://twitter.com/PaperWorlds24/status/841257593557377024

So, I no longer consider myself the greatest procrastinator of them all.

Except when it comes to cleaning, of course.

And this small distraction who arrived 18 months ago. 

 

 

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.” 

 

 

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

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:

photo barney

photo 1b

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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.

daisy

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.

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?)

kazoo

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.

up

 

 

 

Blank Page

umbrella-001

Oh, January – dry in so many ways.

Blank page. Blank mind.

Google blank page quotes.

“I live for the blank page” – Lisa Unger

“A blank page is no empty space. It is brimming with potential…It is a masterpiece in waiting — yours.”  A.A. Patawaran

Miserabalist me, January me, despairing at this positivity, keeps searching for something more appropriate to the current mood.

Apparently, Hemingway, having been asked about the scariest thing he’d ever come across, responded :“A blank sheet of paper.”  This, courtesy of writer Mary Anne Mohanraj. (I know quite a lot about her now as reading the rest of her website was the natural next step in the process of distraction.)

Oh, for focus’ sake.

All the stuff I should have done a year ago is creeping out from behind the (unfilled, unsanded, unpainted) woodwork.  Today, I transferred the painting and decorating equipment from garage to house.  It will sit there a month or two, no doubt.

I’d like to say it’s the January Blues, but blue is my favourite colour and when I think of it, my head fills with visions of Roman skies and Devon summer seas.  It’s more like the January Beiges or the January Blanks or the January Blands…Oh, for funk’s sake.

I’ll leave with a quote by the well known Anon.

 “A blank page is God’s way of showing you how hard it is to be God.”