Making Things Happen

Bluebells in the grounds of Chatsworth, Derbyshire - Maria A Smith

Nearly two months ago I made this list of goals - See how I've got on.
  • Continue to re-write my novel in first person - I've done some.  
  • Enter two competitions - Not yet.
  • Join in with #Writingchat (Twitter  - Wednesdays 8pm-9pm UK time) when I can  - I have done. 
  • Have a writerly day out  - Fabulous adventure to Soundhouse Studios in London and an Urban Writing Retreat in Nottingham, as well as a night out in Leicester. 
  • Start going for walks again  - I've started! I've stopped! And I've restarted. 
  • Get out and about with my camera - Sort of...yes, I've been snapping away. 
  • Change my look - Oh yes, I'm looking different, and I have plans. 

I've managed to pack a lot into the last few months, and I've made a good start on other stuff too.

Getting back into a regular routine on my novel has been more difficult than I imagined it would be. I've had some really early starts for work, which interferes with my daily words, I like to get them done as soon as I get up, otherwise I lose track of time due to other commitments during the day, and I'm too tired by early evening. It's tricky if you hit the road before 6am, so I've ended up writing  at all sorts of different times of the day or night, which is messy and not ideal.

Competitions - Nothing entered yet, I've read Writing Magazine and looked around on the blogosphere for details of what's running. I've made a list of where I can send things already written, and there are one or two competitions where I'm tempted to write something fresh although this will be another sap on my time, so I really need to put the brakes on that idea!

I've missed a few #writingchat sessions on Wednesday evenings again work commitments have made it difficult, and I've had to switch other obligations around.

I've had two writerly days out though  - I've been to London to Sound House Studios to see my friend's radio play recorded, which was interesting, and insightful. I now know how much work goes on behind the scenes. The actors and sound engineer did a fabulous job. Afterwards, a few of us went on to sample London on a Friday evening, which involved drinks and a fantastic meal out followed by an interesting train journey home, where I set about writing some six word stories in preparation for my writing group the next day.

I've learnt that the late train from St Pancras to Leicester is known as the 'party' train, and it was like something out of a comedy script! Or perhaps everything appears funnier after a few gin and tonics.  Seriously, it was so good to have a laugh and engage with people.

The other writerly jaunt was an Urban Writing Retreat at the Nottingham Writers Studio, again very different, I went along on a Sunday and from 10am until 4pm I dug in and worked on a script I'm jointly doing with another writer. There were sixteen of us and there was professional help on hand for anyone stuck with any aspect of their writing. We had a couple of word sprints throughout the day, and generally got a lot of writing done. It was fun!

I've been taking pictures, as you can see in this post. I'm getting used to my new camera, and I'm also using my phone too. It's surprising how creative you can be with your mobile.
Taking a Break - Maria A Smith

I had a sort of a writerly night out too. By chance I'd heard on the radio about a play being performed in Leicester called Chip Shop Chips, it's currently touring the UK, and quite unique. We went into the theatre, and it had been set up like a chip shop restaurant, and once we were all seated, we were all given fish and chips! Delicious they were too. Fabulous way to get people chatting to each other.

The background music was great, all sixties stuff, and the acting was done in amongst the audience which added to the atmosphere. The storyline was a nostalgic trip back in time, as well as being bang up to date too, it followed the stories of two couples. One from each era.

There was a quiz, and a crazy hat making competition, not to mention a sharing of our memories of chips shops and the stories that surround them. Definitely, an audience participation event. It was completely sold out, and they were turning people away on the door! A real 'take you away from it all' evening. And of course I now have lots of ideas if I ever want to put on a production.

New hairstyle and colour all done too. I decided a change was in order, I've gone from long blonde to short red! Although it has faded a little now. Why? It's time to re-invent myself. New beginnings and all that...Us girls all know that having our hair done makes us feel good, as does a new outfit, but I didn't get one of those. Although that is on my list.

New Me! - Maria A Smith

I'm refusing to let my ongoing back issue get me down. Instead I'm sticking two fingers up at it and saying, 'Yea, so you've been hanging around since October, but I'm carrying on with my life!' And that's why I decided to have a change really.

Some days are better than others, as anyone who's experienced pain will know. I'm awaiting my MRI scan results, so soon enough I'll know what the issue is, although I suspect it's a flare up of my 2014/2015 issue, the prolapsed disks. Back pain has a huge impact on doing daily tasks, and makes going to work everyday quite difficult. It's hard to find any mirth in it when you can't put your own socks on! Thank goodness the weather is warming up. 

Healthy Breakfast!  - Maria A Smith 
Getting out for a walk has been problematic - the weather was wet around these parts for the whole of April, but I got out and embraced the challenge. I have to grit my teeth through the pain, but it's worth it, along with my other regular pool wading exercise, I feel I'm trying, and the pain has lessoned. I did need a new rain mac though as mine is worn out and has disintegrated at the seams!

May has been for the most fabulous, so like many I've made the most of it and been here, there and everywhere.

I'm battling on with healthy eating and trying to lose weight. Yes, I know, it's easy isn't it? - Just put less in your mouth! And exercise more.

Well not so easy for me, I struggle on my own so I've rejoined Slimming World. Some folks will scowl and talk down the worth of slimming groups, saying 'what do you need a group for? It's a waste of money!' And in fact that happened to me very recently recently whilst in the company of a 'friend', but for me, I need the support of a group.

Lunch on the go!  - Maria A Smith
Being honest, it isn't easy, but then is anything worth having easy? I have a substantial amount of weight to shift, it's crept on slowly since 1997 when I was last at a healthy weight for my height.
I'm doing it for the sake of my health, and I'm hoping it will help with my back issues. I'm doing it for me, and I'm hoping to have lost a stone by the end of July.

Okay, I'm waffling now, it really isn't that interesting to you good folks out there, and this has turned into a very long post I probably should of split in two.

What have I learnt from the last few months?

# Sometimes, you have to push yourself through physical pain - Life is an hourglass, the sands of time are slipping away. This day, this here and now, isn't coming round again, and you can't get days back. Get out there and make the most of them.

# Sometimes, I have to step back from my writing, to be there for my family, take care of my mum, see friends and attend to 'real' peoples's needs. Sure, I want to write and I'm crawling at a snail's pace but maybe that's how it's supposed to be for me right now.

# Spontaneous decisions can be fun, going to the Chip Shop Chips play suspended my belief for a few hours and took me to another place. As did a random day out in the Cotswolds.

# Be Kind. Be Kind. Be Kind. And that includes being kind to yourself too.

Lastly, I must mention my visit to Liverpool in April  - A friend and I went to see the Terracotta Warriors, it's well worth a visit, it's a really interesting exhibition I'd recommend if you love history.  The sun shone brightly in the afternoon which allowed us to have a leisurely walk down to the Albert Docks area too. I hadn't been before, and again it's worthwhile if you are in the area.

Solid Gold Horse  - Maria A Smith
The Terracotta Warriors in Liverpool April 2018 - Maria A Smith 
Warrior - Maria A Smith

Here's my TO DO list for the next two months - by writing it down, there's half a chance it'll get done!
  • Make the most of getting outside
  • Enjoy downtime - own it! 
  • Have fun!
  • Have a writerly day out, or two, or three.
  • Continue with the novel
  • Have fun!
  • Lose some more weight
  • Get a new outfit
  • Have fun!
  • Eat healthier and drink more water
  • Have fun! 
Yea, that is it folks, so what have you all been doing? And please DO share your goals for the month ahead.


  1. It sounds as if you have done loads! Some of your goals coincide with some of mine (especially the exercise more and eat less!) I like the have fun. That's important and the Chip Shop Chips sounds as if it was! Look forward to chatting on #writingchat soon.

    1. Hi Lindsay, good to see you here.
      Healthy eating has to be worked at doesn't it? Just like writing, I get on better if I make a plan, so I try to make 7 days of main meal menus ahead.
      Like everything, it's a case of FAILING TO PLAN, IS A PLAN TO FAIL.
      Hope to catch up on #writingchat this week

  2. I love your new look. The whole tone of this post is very uplifting. I used to be one of those who talked down slimming clubs, but my son's girlfriend goes to Slimming World and says the support is fantastic. It certainly seems to be working for her. Best of all is that because the focus is on eating real food, my son has become quite the chef! One question for you: what is a word sprint?

    1. Julia, Hello, and thank you.
      A word sprint is where you all start at the same time and write, write write! You stop at the agreed time and then see how many words you've managed to get down. It's popular on Twitter during NaNoWriMo, and is a great way to make friends online or otherwise. It's very motivating too.

    2. That sounds like something I could include in a workshop. Thanks, Maria.

    3. Yes, it would work well in a workshop. I've done one where it's been done for 10 minutes at the beginning of the session. It certainly helped everyone settle down and set the tone that we were there to work!

      Occasionally, you'll get someone who doesn't want to be put on the spot to write, I deal with it by saying, 'just write anything you want' and they usually write themselves into something within half a page.

  3. Well, it sounds as though you've done lots of great things, the days out sound particularly good. I understand what you mean about the weight thing, it's an ongoing thing with me. Sorry about the continuing back pain. If it's any consolation, after decades of pain, my partner's prolapsed discs sorted themselves out as he got older. I'm not sure how exactly, but apparently it's something that happens over time. Your new haircut and colour is lovely, it really suits you. Great to see a post from you, and I love your list of things learned, really positive. CJ xx

  4. Hi Maria. Well done on a productive couple of months - especially battling on through chronic pain and work committments. Inspiring to hear about how you've been filling the creative well, too. I need to do more of that and I feel your pain on the weight loss front! #bellysgonnagetme

    1. Ah, you need to get out there and do it! I feel so much better for doing lots of non writing stuff for a while.

  5. You've managed a lot of activity, and writing events too.

    The new hair colour looks fab.x

  6. What a lot you've achieved, Maria, and I love your new look!

  7. A lovely post, full of goals and optimism! Well done you, Maria!

    1. Thanks Val, I'm achieving several of them.


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