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.

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

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.

Rag Tugby and Baby Cheese

Why can’t I type the word the without typing teh and having to go back and swap teh letters?  Word auto corrects it and so I have never learnt to type the word properly, it would seem.

It’s not just typing, though.  Speech causes problems, too.

Someone told me, the other day, that she keeps calling the excellent series ‘Breaking Bad’, Baking Bread.

I have an issue with Tag Rugby which becomes Tug Ragby, Rag Tugby, Rug Tagby,by which point the conversational thread is gone and my daughter is despairing of me.  She’s one to talk.

When small, she was given a fancy dress outfit for Christmas.  It was a Barbie ‘Princess and The Pauper’ themed dress (also played a tune – classy stuff).  Anyway, the little one couldn’t say Pauper, so the outfit was known as the Princess Porker dress, ultimately shortened to Princess Pork. Cut to Barbie shuddering in horror.

The same child had a problem with Jesus, too.  He was known for quite some time in our house as the Baby Cheesus, which became, you’ve guessed it, Baby Cheese.

The Great Antiprocrastinator

No, I haven’t gone all anti procrastination.  I vowed this blog would never be about ways to stop procrastinating, mainly because the first point I would make would be to stop reading blogs and get on with something more important.

I’m still on the subject of Rome.  As if the architecture wasn’t enough to make a great procrastinator feel bad, we visited an exhibition of Leonardo Da Vinci’s designs.

072

That man had a finger in many a (pizza) pie – anatomist, artist, scientist, city planner, engineer, weapon designer, architect, musician, sculpter.  Not to mention, vegetarian.

063

How amazing to have such a mind, to be capable of doing so much and seeing so many possibilities.  So many things he had foresight of, that have taken the rest of the world hundreds more years to develop – flying machines and medicine, among others.

design for a tank

design for a tank

I wonder if he ever slept?  He certainly didn’t waste hours wittering about invented problems and insecurities and thinking endlessly about all the stuff he wanted to do but not actually doing it.  I bet he never had a ‘To do’ list.

He is the father of all anti-procrastination and inspires in me both the desire to get on with it and a sad apathy.

It’s much the same when I go into a book shop.  I think: ” Wow! Look at all these books. So many people have managed to write a book (or several) and get them published.  If they can do it, there’s no reason why I can’t.”

The other part of me is thinking: “Oh, no!  Look at all these books.  They’ve used up all the ideas that ever existed.  How am I ever going to come up with something original?  There’s no hope.”

Sadly, the latter usually wins the argument.

 

Waiting for the great procrastinator…

When I log onto this blog it always takes an age to connect through to the page where I write the post.  On the tab, next to the whirling circle that is trying to convince me how very hard the wonderful world of web is working on my behalf, it says: Waiting for the great procrastinator. Never fails to make me laugh.

What doesn’t make me laugh is the experience I’ve had twice this week at 6.30 am. Outside the back door, something has given our rubbish a comprehensive going over during the night. The estate agent’s details, when we were buying the house, described the area outside the back door as “the courtyard”.  I know from that you are envisaging a beautiful tiled area adorned with tubs of vibrant flowers and perhaps an Italianate water feature.  Refer to the photo below to see how wrong you are:IMG_0918

Yes, it is a patchwork of cracked concrete, tiles, mismatched bricks, drains, weeds and dusty old leaves, and we call it “out the back.” It’s not beautiful, I admit, but a liberal layer of mouldering food, bacon fat-coated foil and other items that should really have gone into the recycling bin, does nothing to enhance it.  In these circumstances, the only thing even a  great procrastinator can do, is ferret around for rubber gloves and then get straight out there with a bin bag to clear it up.

A great job with which to greet the day.  Sets you up nicely.

Not sure what is responsible for the mess. Badgers are bothersome round here, and the most likely suspects. However, there have been two malicious looking cats hanging about. The day after the second great trash debacle, we spotted them sitting on the roof above the “courtyard”, looking like a couple of wise guys. I wouldn’t put it past them to have tipped over the bin and wrangled off the sophisticated device we have boncoed together to keep the lid on. (To bonco is the IT Director’s verb meaning to fashion something oneself, instead of just buying the actual item required to do it properly.) Perhaps he will get a word into the dictionary before I come up with anything – see Blogcrastination.

Anyway, whether or not the feline mafia of rural Gloucestershire are tipping over our rubbish bins, I’m pretty sure they are terrorising our sweet ginger moggy.  IMG_0588-001

The IT Director is a total techno geek. Techy gadgets are the only things he will buy immediately, without waiting for a boncoed device to fail first. In response to the trash and the evil cats, he’s ordered a spy cam for the “courtyard” to see what is going on out there at night.

Family Reactions to news of the spy cam:

Offspring 1 – “How much did it cost? You could have paid me that much to watch out the back all night.”

Offspring 2 – “You are sad.”

Me – I was slightly creeped out, to be honest.  It made me think of that Trinny and Susannah programme where they used to restyle women. I remember an episode where the husband of one of the women nominated her secretly. He hid a camera in their bedroom and they filmed her without her knowledge. I always thought that was bit weird. Imagine the production team having a laugh at her dancing round in her knickers, singing The Power of Love by Jennifer Rush into her hairbrush, or whatever.  So, with this in mind, I asked the IT director:

You are just going to be filming outside aren’t you?

“Why? Are you worried I might film you and what you get up to all day?” he asked, with alarming insight.

Err, yes, actually.”

“Well, don’t worry,” he said.  “It’s triggered by activity.  So, you’ll be fine.”

What can I say? My reputation precedes me.

 

Technocrastination

My phone’s broken.  Not so smart now, are you, Mr I. Phone?

I won’t go into it what has gone wrong, mainly because I do not possess the language required to explain and, in any case, I have no idea what happened. I am stretching my technical knowledge just typing this post.  (What is a tag anyway?)

Do you know how long you can spend searching for ways to resurrect phones when they have died on you?  A Very Long Time. Time when you should be doing other more important things, like writing.  Technocrastination.  That’s what I’ve called it. And no I haven’t bothered to google it. (See Blogcrastination for further info.)

My IT Director has taken over dealing with the phone issue following several terse conversations along the lines of:

What is your pass code? err, don’t know.

When did you last do a back up?  You have to back it up?

Etc.

And yes, we are married.

He has whisked the phone off to the Apple store today.  I am hopeful that by this evening I’ll have it back.

On the other hand, I have been most enlightened by my time without a phone.  It doesn’t half take over when it’s here.  I’m always checking for emails, what’s apps and texts.  I have a look at the news apps a few times a day as well.  And, oh, yes, there’s that other app, a silly addictive game that my kids put on there. Honestly, it was them. I do like to keep up with what they’re interested in, but I’m pretty sure I am the only adult woman in the world who has even played on that particular app.  At least it doesn’t keep a record of how many hours you’ve spent playing it, like Boggle does. (That one’s educational, so it doesn’t count.)  I suppose all of that’s technocrastination too.  Can’t win really.

When the phone gets home I’m going to be really strict with it.  Myself, I mean, obviously, because even though it is a bit of a smarty pants, I’m in charge.  Right?