Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Six Questions, Six Answers

Just for fun, six questions, and six answers.

1. What can you see out of the window? My pear tree, we inherited the tree when we moved into the house thirteen years ago, and so far it has given us fruit every year in September. The bounty varies from year to year, but there is always enough to share with the neighbours.

2. Choose five words to describe yesterday.  Writing, rain, friends, pilates, relax.

3. What was the last conversation you had? I spoke to my daughter, she's been home from University for the summer, and working every spare minute she can, so we haven't had much time to catch up, and it's almost time she went back again.

4.  What are you wearing? Yoga pants and a long sleeved Nike top.

5.   Has anyone inspired you in the last week? Anne Rainbow has, by publishing her book! The RedPen Way is on Amazon and today it's FREE to download  so go quickly, because it's a great book for writers. Showing you a simple and systematic way to edit your words.

6.  What have I been grateful for in the last week? 

Time spent at the swimming pool.
Music - Rediscovering Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd
Feeling better physically than I have for months.
Breathing fresh unpolluted air.
Spending time with people that make me happy.
The rain! For making it easy to pull out the weeds.
Comfy pyjamas.

It's good to be grateful, and keeps you interested in life.

Plans for the week ahead

Due to a heavy workload from my day job, early starts and changed arrangements. I'll be happy if I get to write for two hours this week. I already know it will be time snatched early in the mornings, or very late at night. Something is better than nothing though...

I'm ploughing on with the exercise, pool work, pilates and generally trying to keep fit. I've made an appointment to discuss a gym programme later in the month. Don't panic, I said I've made an appointment, not joined the triathlon team. I have somehow got to shoe horn my busy life into something more efficient and manageable.                                                                                                                                                          

Anyway, have a good week all, catch up wth you soon

Sunday, 28 August 2016

Write Away

Write Away

How many of you write away from home? Perhaps you always write away from home due to distractions, or lack of space. Do you go somewhere before or after work? Are your weekends an escape route to writing?

If you haven't tried writing away from home before, maybe it's time to try it. Personally, I find it energising to have a change now and again.

Here are a few ideas.

Libraries - Most libraries have had to face severe cuts over the last few years, however there are some that have a late evening or two, and most have an area where you can set up with a note book and pen, or even your tablet or laptop in some cases.

Coffee Bars  - These can be hectic, but maybe you're one of those people who can filter out background noise, or perhaps you welcome it. Most cafes have no objection to you setting up and working as long as you buy a drink every now and again.

Public Transport - Trains and buses are good for this, especially the train if you can get a table seat. Go with your notebook on the bus, or try writing on your mobile phone. It's amazing what can be achieved in even the shortest journey.

Waiting Rooms - Be it the doctor, dentist or solicitors. It's possible to get a few snatched words down before your name gets called, and you don't even notice the wait.

Cars - Writing in your car, whether that be on the carpark at work during your lunch break, or a place you've driven to especially.

Motorway Service Stations - Don't rule these places out. It's possible to find a good spot to sit and watch the world go by, and also pen a few chapters of your novel. Or glean ideas for that short story.

Motorhomes & Caravans - Very doable, and with a view that keeps changing.

Outdoor Spaces - Okay, so this one is obviously weather dependent, but worth trying. Perhaps a bench in the park. Or your own personal retreat at the bottom of your garden. I've heard all about sheds that have been converted into writing dens. Or maybe you have an allotment shed? Or a beach hut?

Hotels - It's usual to see people working in hotel foyers, or lounges these days, and again as long as you order a drink or two, you'll find no one really bothers you. Your entire novel could be penned at the Hilton, or at a Premier Inn.

Other People's Homes  - This can work very well, especially if they are writers too. The added bonus here, is you usually stop and have  a writerly natter too. If they aren't writers, then perhaps if you're babysitting, or looking after their home for a week whilst they are away on holiday you can type away for an hour or so.  Be sure to get their permission on that last idea.

Trying out a variety of venues can be fun. Some will work well, and others won't work so well, but all will be a change. Don't assume where you write now is the best environment. Take you writing out on tour, and experience a different setting, different noises, smells and scenery. A writer on the move needs very little these days. Have a bag ready. Laptop, notebook, pens etc Go on, try it this week!

Let me know where you write? And any unusual places you've tried.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Bringing Order to Chaos


Hello, it's me again. I know, its been a while, and I'm sorry about that. So what happened? Truthfully, I went on holiday back at the end of June, had a lovely relaxing break, and just couldn't get going again. I've struggled with a lot of other things too, apart from the blog.

Writing still figured high up on my priority list, and over the last few months, I've been doing different stuff. Shorter fiction, which has suited not only my mood, but also the bursts of time I've had available. I wasn't writing daily, and sometimes I missed two or three days. Consequently, not very much got done beyond my shorter pieces of flash fiction and a few short stories.  I did think about things though, because I needed to make sense of what was stopping me.

Trying to fit in a career, family, staying healthy and writing is tough on a good day, and I'm sure some reading this post will know what I mean. Even a couple of things going awry in a busy person's day can be nightmarish. When the to-do list has no end, and we allow busyness to rule us, life feels chaotic! I don't feel guilty for pressing the pause button.

I'm not a full-time writer, and I need to keep in mind that it isn't the thing I do to earn my living. Most writers do not make a living out of writing.  To be a writer you have to write. To be a good writer, you have to write a lot. Okay, I know I'm a writer, I DO write, just not as much and as often as those who choose to make a full-time career out of it. I'm working at getting better, and I know it could be many years before I see any success the way I'm approaching it, but that's okay. I'm going to accept that for now, I'll do what I can, whilst remaining mindful that I'm not in some race, and my livelihood doesn't depend on my writing.

Recently, I've got back on track, on average I'm writing six out of seven days. My target is to do fifteen minutes before the day gets going properly, but it's usually thirty minutes before I stop. At weekends, I do more. My new regime is working for now, I'm moving forward, and have some work, life balance now. Where as before, I felt out of control, and angry that I couldn't devote more time to writing.

Very few of us take enough time out to relax. Yet it's so important to take a break now and again. Try it, if you don't already do it. It's rejuvenating, and need not be months, or even weeks. Just twenty minutes spent sitting quietly will bring a little order to chaos.

I'm back now, and intend to update the blog regularly. Let me know what you've been up to?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Try Something New

Maria A Smith

I got to thinking today, it's high time I tried something new, or did something I haven't done for a while. Like what?

Like going to a movie - Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie opens on July 1st and I really fancy going to see it. Some of you may recall it was an outrageously funny BBC sitcom, about Edina and Patsy, (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) two hard living, should-know-better fashionistas.

Like listening to David Bowie, Micheal Bubble, Annie Lennox and anyone else who inspires and entertains me. And makes me feel happy. Time to tune into You Tube, or search through my old MP3 collection.

Like hanging out wth people who make me laugh!  What was it Lord Byron said? Always laugh when you can - it is cheap medicine! Seriously, hanging out with people who make you happy is food for the soul.

Like challenging myself to take more pictures. It's time to capture some of my life in 2016, the things I see and do. I'll regret it if I don't do this one.

Like learning something new. Not sure what, but a change will do me good.

Other stuff I must address.

Definitely time to give FaceBook a wide birth for a while. I feel very very sad, and sickened at some of the things I've read in the last week. People who were friends two weeks ago, are now pitched against each other because they have a different point of view. Honest decent people being called racists, or thick, and the vile comments about people over the age of 60. I want to scream, BE NICE! For goodness sake, be nice to each other.

Overeating and lack of exercise - Yes, been feeling stressed for a few weeks, and suspect this is why I'm overeating lots of unhealthy stuff. As for the exercise, I need to get with the programme again. What programme? Oh yes, I need to make one.

Writing - I need to allocate more time to write.

So there it is. My thoughts thrown down before you.

Is it time you looked at your life plan for the rest of 2016?

Sunday, 12 June 2016

What was I up to?

Russian Dolls - Maria A Smith

What was I up to this time last year? Or the year before, or the year before that? My memory is so bad these days I can't remember what I was doing last week! Let alone what I was up to last year.

I got to thinking it might be interesting to look at my previous blog posts, and see what life was like a few years ago. Have you ever looked back at your previous blog posts?

One year ago at around this time, the rain lashed down just the same as it has been doing here today. I had a goal list in operation, and by all accounts I was trying to stick to the plan. You can read about it here if you want to...The point is, I had a plan.

Two years ago, in 2014 I wasn't feeling much like blogging because I didn't post at all in June. Life is sometimes so busy, and I've come to realise, I can't do everything I want to do. I did blog in May though, and you can see here, by the tone of my words, it looks like I was very tired.

Three years ago in 2013, I wrote a post all about looking after myself. It makes interesting reading again now. See what I wrote here  - are you taking care of yourself?

Four years ago in 2012 I blogged about this and that, and I had clear goals, and a 'to do' list, and I was getting on with stuff and progressing. All was well.

In 2011 at around this time, I was involved with running a workshop at my writers group, and having fun too.

However,  the year before in 2010, blog posts were very scarce at the First Draft Cafe, in fact there were none between March and September. What was I doing? It's a shame, that I didn't record anything for prosperity.

This blog began in November 2009, hard to believe it's been going for almost seven years, and I love that I can look back and see what I was doing with my time over the years. Or what I wasn't doing.

Back to the present - So what have I been up to in the last seven days?

Writing, yes. Two hours which isn't a huge amount of time, but it's better than not doing anything. Truth is I've been terribly time poor and usually write early in the mornings, but I've had lots of very early starts recently which has prevented me from getting on with my rewrites. I've been getting home late too, feeling too tired to start any major edits.

I had a fun evening yesterday though when I went to see Joe Hill, the American author of horror, fantasy and science fiction. He was on the last night of his UK tour, signing his latest book The Fireman as well as doing a Q & A session too, at the Derby Book Festival. It was lively, interactive and fun! He had us singing, and laughing, and he answered a variety of different questions about his life as a writer.

The week ahead will be about continuing on with the rewrite. I'm planning to get on with it in the early morning, and keep to my plan, but suspect life will get in the way, and I may have to rearrange stuff. That's okay as long as I keep moving towards the target.

Have a good week folks.

P.S. In case you're wondering why I've used an image of Russian Dolls with this post, it's because I captured this image a few years ago, and it was high time I used it. No other reason, and good enough for me.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Where Did May Go?

Seriously, where did May go?

Looking back, life just got crazy for me. Leicester City won the Premier League on 2nd May 2016, 
and the city went bananas!

Seriously, it affected everyone and everything around here. Regardless of whether you're a fan or not, you couldn't help getting caught up in the spirit of it. 
After three weeks of celebrations, I realised I couldn't catch up. It's been fantastic though, very up lifting. 

I've also been doing a fair amount of travelling with the day job, and as anyone who works away from home will know, it's draining, both mentally and physically, and nothing gets done at home while you're away either.

On a positive, I've read a lot, and as all writing folk know, reading is vital. It stokes the fire, lots of reading means good writing. I've had a trip out to Brighton, to see the premier of a short film written by a writer I met earlier this year, and I've attended a few Phoenix Writers sessions too. So not a total wipeout in May. 

Does anyone else feel like time is getting away from them at an alarming rate? I've had a lot of time-suckers this month, and going forward I've got to address things before I go insane. I'm always doing something, but I'm getting nothing done! What's that all about? 

I need a fresh start. But. I can't count today, it's been beautiful, the sun shone brightly, and I've done nothing other than get my hair cut. Afterwards, instead of knuckling down to the housework, and generally catching up with household chores, I spent time outside basking in the beauty of the day. I read my book, sat around, drank tea and ate cake! And, you know what? I feel a lot better for it. 

However, I'm back on it now. There will be writing.

What are you up to this week? 

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Hello May!

And so begins the fifth month of the year.

Did you know that in 1707 on this day the Acts of Union came into force? England and Scotland united to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain. Wales had already been part of England since the 1500's.

Calamity Jane, famous frontier woman was born on this day in 1852, an acquaintance of Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity could shoot like a man and drink like a fish! I imagine she was quite a character in her day. 

In 1953 a film musical was made loosely based on her life. I recall watching it several times during my childhood, and merrily singing along with Doris Day who played the lead role, with Howard Keel cast as Wild Bill Hickok. There were some great songs, including The Deadwood Stage, Secret Love and I Can Do Without You. 

On May 1st 1931, the Empire State Building was officially opened. It stood as the tallest building for almost 40 years. 

Of course May 1st is also May Day, a public holiday in the UK, we celebrate it on the first Monday in May. 

Now onto plans for the week ahead. Although, first I should say that making a plan last week really helped with my productivity, I got loads of stuff done! Every evening, I referred to my 'to do' list and  got on with the business of writing the next morning, steadily working through my list.

This week, I want to continue with my novel in the mornings, work on a new supernatural story, and write a 100 word flash fiction piece. 

Now I'm off to enjoy the first day of the month.

What will you be doing?