Things I Learnt Last Week

Maria A Smith
Last week was busy, chocked full of good and bad things.

# I'm beginning to enjoy Pilates - It's taken me a while to feel confident in what I'm doing, and I've had several one to one sessions, on top of weekly pilates classes. I'm really impressed with how much more I'm getting out of this mind-body exercise. It's a safe sensible exercise, and I've become more body aware since starting it.  What I really like is that, no matter what your age, or condition, you can get something out of pilates.

# Bad stuff happens  - Unfortunately, I stumbled and sprained my ankle on Friday. It wasn't pretty, made worse by the fact that I was on my own in London at an event. It happened as I arrived. Fortunately I managed to conduct my business, but when I stood up to leave, four hours later and could barely walk! I realised I had to get across London in rush hour traffic late on a Friday afternoon to catch my train back to the Midlands, and then drive my car the short distance home.

The pain was excruciating! I had no chance of hailing a taxi, and I thought, 'please don't let this impact on my back' those who know me, through the pages of this blog, will remember I fell in 2014, sprained my left ankle badly, and although I didn't know it then, I'd put my back out. I was on crutches for two months, and had severe pain which eventually subsided. However, I was left with a niggling ache in my lower back which just got worse and worse as the year progressed. This led to me being incapacitated for the first four months of 2015. Hell! I was scared! And yes I'm using too many exclamation marks in this post.

I limped down Park Lane to Marble Arch tube station, took a deep breath and told myself I could do this. I had lots of time.

Oddly, on my journey to the venue, I'd thought how anonymous you are in London. How you could go about your business all day without speaking to another soul. No one smiles. Everyone scurries around under ground or through the packed streets. Eyes are averted everywhere. It's what it is.

I was glad to reach St Pancras International, although you are just as anonymous there too, but at least I felt that if I fell over, there would be some first aid available somewhere nearby. Everywhere was heaving with people all trying to get to their destinations. I managed to get a seat and spent an hour people watching whilst the throbbing continued in my right ankle.

I made it home, dosed up with pain killers and put my jumbo foot up to relieve the pressure.

#RNA Chapter Birmingham - My motto in life, is NEVER, NEVER, GIVE UP! I was up early on Saturday morning, it was the day of the RNA workshop. Should I go? Could I make it? I'd got home from London hadn't I?

Mind over matter. If you think you can, you will, same as if you think you can't you probably can't.
I decided I was going to Birmingham.

Back on the trains, I made it to the second biggest city in England, having spent the previous day in largest, I reckoned if I managed London, I should be able to get to my writing day, and as I'd be sitting down all day, I knew I could rest my foot up for hours before I needed to get back home again.

It helped that the venue, the Radison Blu hotel was just three minutes from the station. It took me ten minutes, but I got there in good time and was made welcome immediately by Marilyn Rodwell who runs the Birmingham chapter.

After tea, pastries and some introductions our day was split into five specific sessions.

The first, a workshop on how to plan your novel, led by Bella Osborne  an expert in project management, showed us how to arrange a plan using post-it notes, and I have to say, I was impressed. Now remember, I'm a complete panster! But, I could see sense in her charts, and methods.

The second workshop led by Indie author Lizzie Lamb  told us about her journey to publishing her first novel, and subsequent ones, and how she markets herself. Her brand, and her books. It was a talk packed with tips and tricks Lizzie has learnt on the journey. It was interesting to listen to what worked and what didn't, and how everything is a gamble.

Lunch was good. There was plenty of time to mingle and chat with other writers. There were people there from three chapters. Birmingham, The Marchers and Leicester. You can read more about the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA)  here.

The afternoon began with Editing Your Novel with Alison May which I'd been looking forward to as I've signed onto one of her novel workshops later in the year - I wasn't disappointed. Alison showed us how she tackles editing, and demonstrated some savvy ideas on how to drag your way out of the treacle when you're stuck fast.

Sally Jenkins followed Alison with an interesting session on Writing for the Weekly News, and discussed writing twist in the tale stories. We were put to work, and had to come up with our own twist in the tale scenario which was quite challenging.
I've known Sally for a while through her blog and on Twitter, so it was great to get to meet her on Saturday.

Our last session was with Helen Barrell who advised us on all the different social media options available to authors, and the differences between them. It was insightful, I never realised we had so many options.

The writers day ended with an opportunity to buy books written by those present. It had been an enjoyable day, and as I hobbled out of the venue and around the corner to the train station, I was glad I'd gone along.

The week ahead... 

Honestly, I'm unsure. I need to take it easy. I'll let you know how it pans out. Have a good productive week.


  1. Wow! That was dedication to your art, Maria. Pushing through in a crisis... so impressed. The Birmingham chapter event sounds marvellous and I can see why you didn't want to miss it.

  2. Well done for going!! It is so easy sometimes to talk ourselves out of doing things. I reckon we writers are the best at coming up with excuses :) I know I am :) It sounds like you had a great time and attended some worth while sessions. Have a great week and I hope your ankle is feeling better.

    1. It's healing now thank you Nicola. Very stiff, and still swollen, but I can stand on it a lot better now.

  3. Love Pilates for both body and mind. I always feel relaxed, invigorated and hungry after a session!
    Hope your ankle is fully healed.

    1. Not yet, which means I'll have to skip the pilates class, but I'm going to do some mat work here at home this week.

  4. Your week has certainly been eventful. Well done for carrying on regardless. Bet you were glad that you made the effort to go to Birmingham. It sounds fascinating.

    1. Yes, very much so.
      By the way Maggie, I can't find your blog address it seems to have vanished. If you could leave it in a comment for me, I'll bookmark it properly this time.

    2. Thanks Maria. You should find me at:

  5. Hope the ankle's improving, Maria and, I agree, it was a great day on Saturday wasn't it?

    1. Hi Sally, very enjoyable. Shame I didn't get to circulate much as I would of liked to have chatted to everyone.

  6. Wow, that's quite a week! So sorry about your ankle, I'm so impressed that you kept going. I fell over yesterday running home from football to get a pair of football boots for one of the boys. Tripped over the fence and went splat in the car park onto both knees. Kept running through the pain, half a mile home, then back. Got back sweating, bleeding, stumbling with exhaustion. He said something like "They'll be much too big." I explained that wasn't quite the response I was looking for... I really hope you manage to put your foot up for a few days now (whilst writing of course) and that it's all better very soon. CJ xx

    1. Oh that's not nice, so you've got two scraped knees?
      I've had the foot up for a couple of days now and the swelling is subsiding, and it's less stiff.

  7. Hi Maria - it sounds like you've achieved a great deal .. despite all things. So pleased you made the effort to the RNA ... sounds interesting and stimulating.

    Rest and take time to heal .. cheers Hilary

  8. Thinks are looking up Hilary, swelling continues to subside. I need to refocus on things, but I also do need a bit of chill out time too I think, so will be taking it easy.

  9. Sounds like a really interesting day.

    Hope the ankle is less painful now.


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