What does a Writer really Think? #amwriting #inspiration

The sun was setting on a late June day in the North of England. I had gone upstairs to get ready for bed, and as I was closing my bedroom curtains, I paused and stared thoughtfully ahead. My bedroom looks out over the quiet street that is our cul-de-sac, bordered by a freight railway line. Across the road there is a row of semi detached bungalows. Behind them to my right I can see the roofs of the row of Victorian terraced houses on our neighbouring street. To my left I can see a new housing estate, consisting of several blocks of flats. This is where my attention was drawn that night.

I saw a man on the balcony of a top floor apartment. He was far enough away that I could not see his features clearly, only that he is white, of average build, with dark hair. He might be a similar age to me, early to mid-thirties. He was bathed in the orange glow of electric light from the room behind, and he was talking to someone on his mobile phone. Nothing special there, you might think. But for some reason, I stopped and watched him, partially concealed behind my black curtains with silver foil print gargoyles. This man fascinated me. I could make use of him… why was he on the phone? Who was he speaking to? Was there a specific reason for a phone call at this hour of the night, almost 10 o’clock, middle of the working week?

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In my mind he became a creature of the night. Perhaps he is a were-animal, and this suburban apartment is his link to the human world. Maybe he was dealing with pack business, and when darkness fell, he disappeared into the night, intent on resolving the issues or patrolling his territory. Ah, yes, he could be a very convincing black leopard, perhaps. Or maybe he is a vampire, and he was making arrangements to meet friends or ambush a known vampire hunter in the area, thus protecting himself and his kind. Or, he could be a witch, planning a coven meeting, or preparing for the summer harvest celebrations… the possibilities are endless.

All this flashed through my mind in the space of about 3 minutes, as I watched my unsuspecting character going about his innocent (I hope!) human business. He never saw me. I am adept at concealing myself when I want to people watch. I think this is the trait of a writer. We are always working, whether that work translates onto paper or computer, or not. We observe, we gather stories, we embellish. We are always creating.

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Why I love to read?

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I have to share this one, because it resonates. I can name books for every important development stage in my life, and just recently I revived fond memories of reading ‘Anne of Green Gables’ as a child… my life is pretty much defined by books and reading, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Originally posted on Words, Words, Words:

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When I was I bored, I read Junie B. Jones and laughed at her antics.

When my sister was sick and away in the hospital, I could pretend she was staying with Amelia Bedelia and would be coming home soon.

When my parents were divorcing, I realized it wasn’t as scary as the Goosebumps books stuffed beneath my bed.

When I was angry, I could calm down in the arms of my favorite teen heart throbs (Tamani from Wings and Dimitri from Vampire Academy, I’m looking at you).

When I was alone and felt like the world may crumble around me, I could run and run and run forever with the characters in Stephen King’s Cell.

Even today, when I don’t think I’m going to make it, I can pick any book on my shelf and escape for awhile. That’s what books are – glimpses. Glimpses into worlds…

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I Need a Writing Retreat… Hello #CampNaNoWriMo!

My writing has not been forthcoming of late. It is all my own fault. I have allowed myself to stray from the path. I have become too easily distracted by domestic activities, holidays, social events and the like. At the moment the only writing I manage to do on a regular basis is for my blogs, and even that is becoming sketchy during recent weeks. Life is getting in the way, as the old saying goes. I need a break. I need… #CampNaNoWriMo.

My main problem with writing is that I flutter about and do not immerse myself fully in my work at the moment. It was easier when I was writing the first three installments of the Redcliffe novels. Back then I would put my daughter to bed at night and settle down for three-five hours of solid writing. And it was brilliant. I thrived on it. The story burst forth from my mind, the characters leaped onto the page, and my Muse was alive and vibrant. And then something happened. It was around the time I became pregnant with my second child. My Muse went on strike. And she has not yet properly returned.

I have had flashes of inspiration, but nothing that gives me the incentive to sit down at my computer and just write. I have had a couple of evenings where I managed an hour here and there. I have a couple of completed manuscripts that need further editing so that I can send them to publishers. I also have a complete edited novel that has so far not been snapped up by a publisher or agent. I cannot imagine why. Who wouldn’t want to publish a novel called The Vampire of Blackpool?

Anyway, I am fed up with my procrastinating. I need to write. I need to write properly. And for that I need deadlines, encouragement, a sense of purpose. And here comes #CampNaNoWriMo. Perfect! For the whole month of July I can immerse myself in a virtual log cabin in the wilderness of the wild and distant Internet, and I can write my story, whatever that may be. I think this one is about a lone vampire lurking beneath the streets in Manchester. I am not sure. I will ask my Muse for help. Perhaps she will be coaxed out by the promise of a hot chocolate with marshmallows… Who is with me? See you later, campers!

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They Grow Up Too Fast! #Parenting #Children #Motherhood

Not so long ago I was complaining about always being told to cherish every moment with my children while they are young, because they grow up quickly and soon it will all be gone. Well, now I am feeling that anxiety, that nostalgia, that emotion that I scoffed at before. It is true what they say: you can never understand something other people tell you about, until you experience it for yourself.

My eldest daughter is about to enter the education system. Yes, she is starting at Big School. And that is a Very Big Thing to us emotionally charged mothers. After all, we have spent the past 5 years nurturing these babies (if you include their time in the womb). We fed them, changed their nappies, witnessed their milestone achievements, introduced discipline, routine, playtime and boundaries for safety and morality. And we will continue to do so. It is our job, along with our husbands, partners or the children’s fathers.

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But right now I am focusing on the emotion. As I write this, I contemplate the fact that tomorrow morning I will drop my daughter off at Big School, and leave her there for two whole hours. Now, she has been at pre-school for three days every week for the past two years. You would think I would be used to it. But this is different. This is Big School. This means a new routine for all of us, including me, her younger sister, and our dog. Now we will have to prepare to leave the house earlier and walk to school every day for five days. I will have to prepare her uniform, help with school projects, arrange her attendance in any clubs she might express an interest in. And I might also (gulp) be coerced into joining the PTA… Phew!

So there we are. Tomorrow is the start of a whole new adventure. She will have her first taster of school life. I will have my first trial of the school run (minus the dog, to begin with; he can get a bit over-excited around new people, and I can do without the added stress of wrestling an exuberant Staffie X while trying to keep it all together and not cry in front of the other parents, teachers and children). But I do feel anxious. I am excited. I am…unsure. Please, parents, do share your own feelings about this new adventure. Perhaps you remember how it was for you and your children. Or maybe you are experiencing it right now, just like me… We can do this!

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My Spiritual Journey: The Power of Positive Thinking

I am in the middle of a huge personal change. Outwardly, nothing is different. I am still your average mother and housewife, running around with the children, doing the chores, managing the house, and all the other nuances of a mundane life. But inwardly, well, everything is changing. And the reason for this is that I actively chose to step away from the dark, consuming, terrifying depression that threatened to engulf me, and I chose instead to focus my thoughts and energies on healing and being healed.

Ha, you might scoff, that is not depression. How dare you trivialize such a serious and dangerous illness? Well, I can assure that I am not. True, I have not received an official, medical diagnosis from my local GP. I have visited my doctor’s surgery several times during the past two years, all for stress-related ailments and problems. One time I was referred to another medical unit for assessment. They simply advised me to get external marriage counselling, and they sent me away. My subsequent visits yielded nothing more than a vague suggestion to get some rest and take paracetemol for my aches and pains. Yeah, because I can rest when I am home alone with two small children, all day every day!

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Anyway, the whole situation seemed to engulf me, but it took a while for me to understand. You see, my husband lives with a very severe anxiety disorder, and it manifests in his inability to break away from being in the workplace. I put all of my attention into supporting him, and caring for our children and our home, but I forgot to pay attention to myself. I fell into the classic trap. We care for everyone around us, and we forget that we, as individuals, need care and attention too. And often it all comes to a point where we go beyond coping, we fall apart, and everything is plunged into chaos.

Fortunately for me, I already practise Law of Attraction, the power of positive thinking, mindfulness and meditation. My problem was that I had let my self care program slip while I became absorbed in my family’s needs. I stopped meditating. I stopped studying holistic health. I even slowed right down in my personal interests such as reading books, doing crafts, and socialising with friends. I was too tired. I had given it all up. I had become a machine, and I was all out of gas. And I crashed. I spent all of last week in a haze of misery, self pity, aching and sore, feeling completely exhausted.

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And then, I snapped out of it. Well, sort of, I mean, it’s not that easy, is it? I took some time to think very carefully about my situation, my place in life, and where I was heading. I made a decision. I made several decisions. And then I started meditating again. I performed some proper space clearing rituals in my home, and around my body. I am still doing it now, since this program has to be continuous if it is to be effective. That’s the point, you see. We have to accept ourselves, and care for ourselves, before we can care for those around us. So I am doing just that. I will make arrangements for other people to have my children so that I can have a break. I have already resumed my crafting hobbies, and that alone has really cheered me up. And the rest? Well, we have to take each day as it comes. But the point is, I refuse to sink right into the depression that beckoned so temptingly. No. I remain focused on a higher energy vibration. I am a positive person. I am making positive changes in my life. I am. Are you?

*Abstract image courtesy of Powerful Intentions; Louise Hay quote from The World is All Yours

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The Soundtrack to My Life, by Bon Jovi

Today I am feeling very emotionally exhausted. There is a lot of trauma in my life at the moment. None of it is especially dramatic. It is simply life, ebbing and flowing, and at this time in my life, I am drained. I have been consumed by those around me, and now I need to regroup. But where to begin? I am home alone with two young children every day. How do I make time, and space, to replenish those parts of me that are depleted? This morning, in desperation, I called out to the Angels for help. And soon after, I began humming a song that I had not listened to for many years. I realised it was a song from the Bon Jovi album, These Days. I needed to listen to my CD.

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An hour or so later, after the chaos of breakfast, the dash to preschool, and a walk with the dog, I set up my old portable stereo (remember those monstrosities?) in the kitchen, and I popped in These Days. It was brilliant. Every song on that album resonated with my life as it stands. Every song brought back memories of my old life, before children, when I was young and full of hopes and dreams and ideals. And slowly, very slowly, I began to realise that things aren’t that bad after all. Bon Jovi will make it better. Or at least, they offer a temporary fix, a method of release in a confined environment.

After a short tea break with my neighbour, I put my daughter in bed for a nap, and returned to my chores in the kitchen. I decided to listen to another CD, and this time I chose Crush by Bon Jovi. Now this one really does hold precious memories. The album was released when I was a teenager, and it reminds me of love, loss and chaos. It reminds me of the trauma of my parents’ divorce. It reminds me of first love, first kisses, first experiences of adulthood. And the third song on the album, Thank You For Loving Me, reminds me of grief. But I always smile when I listen to this song. You see, the grief I describe is the loss of a beloved family pet, my grandparents’ dog, Lucky. She was our rock, our support, our comfort during the turmoil. And when she died of cancer, it devastated me.

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Today I cried while I listened to her song. Because the memories are precious. And I am glad I have them. In ten years time, I will probably dig out the CD again, or hear the songs somewhere, and once again I will be transported back in time. I will remember fondly all of the pain and heartache that I am currently experiencing. I know that this is all temporary. And I find it cathartic to write out my pain. A weight is lifted. I can shake it off, take a deep breath, and prepare myself for tomorrow. Thank you for listening.

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Never Mind the Terrible Twos; Beware the Fearsome Fours! #Parenting

I remember a long time ago, when I was pregnant with my first child, being warned by all of my parent friends about what was to come. “Enjoy them while they are young,” they would say, “Once they hit the terrible twos, you will know about it!” I nodded and smiled, and made sympathetic noises, but I never really believed any of those horror stories. My baby was going to be a little angel, the darling model child that would charm everybody. And she was. She did everything she was supposed to, at exactly the right times, and with only a few small niggles along the way. Even as a toddler, she was adorable. Most of the time.

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Now, I am well and truly eating humble pie, and boy am I sorry for being such a smug so-and-so around my friends whose children were, shall we say, rather difficult to handle as toddlers! My daughter is four now, and she is a little diva. I don’t know what happened. Her birthday was in January, so her behaviour has taken a while to change. But now she shouts, she stamps her feet, she slams doors, and she even smacks me in sheer frustration and anger when she gets really worked up. I have seen her push her baby sister over, drag her away from toys, snatch things away from her, and as for our dog, well, he can do nothing right when she is in one of her moods.

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I think it must be related to her growing up. We are talking about going to ‘big’ school in September, and only last week did we discover who her new teachers will be, when her dad and I visited the school for our very first parents’ evening (that’s a topic for another post). She is aware that her routine is about to change quite dramatically, and naturally she is a little anxious about it. She is also exerting her independence, and quite frankly, a lot of the time she just does it for attention. The shouting and stamping helps her to release whatever is bothering her emotionally, and afterwards we have kisses and cuddles, and I have my darling child back for a while. Until the process begins again, usually at mealtimes.

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Oh, and the terrible twos? That does happen. It is happening right now, with my younger daughter. Just last week I had to deal with a double meltdown (tantrums, tears and screaming), when we walked through the front door after a day at preschool and dance class. The four year-old was clowning around, fell over and banged her knees hard on the metal door strip as I opened the door. The dog ran away when I unclipped his lead, and he took himself for a walk up the road. Our toddler tried to follow him out of the door, and she screamed when I picked her up and said no. Cue twenty minutes of chaos while I tried to decide which child to comfort first, and whether I should go and retrieve the dog. He came back soon enough. We all calmed down. Life goes on…

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