Category Archives: philosophizing

The Lost Art of Penmanship – Evolution or Regression?

Penmanship

I made a point recently about the lack of ‘actual’ writing I do. You know, with my hand and a real life pen. The post discussed Distributed Cognition, a concept that debates where the boundaries of thought are and one example is the use of a pen. Does the physicality of using a pen change your thought process through the action of writing? Where do your thoughts end, and the pen and ink begin, and what is the reciprocal effect of the thought, hand and pen interacting.

Why am I talking about this again? Well, in my author interviews, I ask a provocative question making a point that the publishing industry is in decline (I don’t actually think it is, but it tends to provoke an interesting answer). That question got me thinking, is penmanship in decline? Continue reading

Secrets of Antiheroes – Master Villains or Master Heroes?

AntiHero

What is it about Anti Heroes that is so damn appealing? I can’t help myself. If the protagonist is an antihero I am like a salivating dog. I cant get enough of whatever it is I am reading or watching. I’m a self-confessed Antihero Addict. I want to explore what it is about them that we all love so much. Continue reading

Nurture Yourself in the Pursuit of Perfection #1000speak

Nurture Yourself in The Pursuit of Perfection #1000speak

There used to be a time when I would accept nothing less than perfection. I still fight the frustration when I’m not completely perfect.

I’ve come to believe perfectionism it’s a disease. An infection that slowly eats away at your skin until it buries itself into your bone and spreads to every corner of your body like an angry cancer. The growing niggle questioning whether perfectionism is something to be strived for, or maybe, abhorred has become a raging monster, and now, a blog post… Continue reading

The Best Kept Secret To Improve Your Writing – Writing Tips 19

The Best Kept Secret To Improve Your Writing You’re a writer, yeah? Well, when was the last time you actually picked up a pen and wrote, you know with your hand? I don’t do it that often any more, and I suspect I’m not the only one. Recently I’ve come across a few writers, who write their entire first drafts by hand. I was slacked jawed when I found out. I wouldn’t dream of writing a novel, a WHOLE 100,000 words by hand, I mean, can you imagine how long that would take? Continue reading

Writespiration #35

Writespiration #35

Every so often, I like to get out of my comfort zone and do something a little different. This is one of  those weeks…. something I hope will be a little uncomfortable, and somewhat thought provoking…

The world, as well as brimming with life, beauty and discovery is also full of disaster and tragedy. I don’t want this to be a negative post, so I will try instead, to be reflective… Continue reading

5 Reasons Bullying Made Me A Better Writer #1000Speak – Building On Bullying

5 Reasons Bullying Made Me a Better Writer

I had to coax myself into posting this. Not because I didn’t want to do a post for #1000Speak, but because bullying is one of those things that everyone has been affected by, and I am no exception. It’s all a little close to the bone. Bullying is one of those universal topics that touches the lives of almost everyone. But I want to focus on the positive. On why being bullied made me a better writer. Without having been bullied I wouldn’t have focused on writing in my youth, and I probably wouldn’t have realised writing was my dream. So am I compassionate with the bullies? No, probably not, I know that’s the point of 1000speak, but, I am grateful for the experience of bullying. Continue reading

Writing Process Meme

My lovely tutor Esther Newton at the Writers Bureau nominated me for the writing process blog meme. Esther is a fab tutor, always giving such thoughtful and comprehensive feedback, and also an extremely talented writer, my favourite story I have read of hers which had me in fits of laughter was a story written through a series of letters from a very angry customer to a rather naughty hotel owner!

I have to answer four questions and nominate three other bloggers to continue the process. I will do my best at answering the questions, but I might have trouble nominating bloggers, as most of the friends I have made through blogging thus far have been fertility friends rather than writing friends, blogging about writing is still new for me. What I will try to do though is nominate people in my writing group- and then consolidate their answers into one post and pop it up here at a later date.

So, here goes:

1. What am I working on at the moment?

So much it hurts!

  1. I blog, obviously. That’s a constant WIP.
  2. I have written a short story for an adult fairy tale competition, that is sitting on my laptop in desperate need of proof reading so I can submit it by the 14th November. But I’m rubbish at proof reading so I am quietly ignoring it, until I have to submit it. When I will unsurprisingly give it a quick once over, beat myself up AGAIN about being shit at grammar and then submit it anyway, probably full of mistakes. 🙁
  3. My next assignment which is a 4000 word short story about post apocalyptic Earth, due on the 10th December, and thus far I have a title and an idea! and 44.5 thousand words between me and finishing NaNo to have the head space to write it! Gulp.
  4. I run a writing group on Facebook – its a small group of just 16 at the moment, but like anything, if you want it to flourish you have to put the time and effort in, and constantly think of new conversations to generate new writing chat.
  5. My labour of love… The novel I have slaved over, and am writing as part of NaNo. It wasn’t created because of NaNo, I have been working (planning) it for at least a couple of years, although one character and a couple of creatures, have been nuzzled in the corner of my mind since I was 9. I even found the story I wrote about them the other day. This is THE book, the story, that one everyone has in them thats probably rubbish but a complete labour of love. I am in love with my story, I want to live in this world! I know, I probably sound like a complete lunatic!
  6. The second instalment which came to me like an epiphany in a training session, at which point I then scrawled all over my training book with maps, and notes and keys for the story in the tiniest writing you have ever seen so that I didn’t get caught! This is now in the fermenting stage (I’ll explain later)

I think that’s it at the moment.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is the hardest question to answer. Other than the fact I am coming up with new ideas (which I guess is the one thing I do pride myself on, my unique ideas) I am not too sure. I guess everyone has their own writing style so that would be different too. Although I don’t quite know how to describe my writing style, maybe I will ask Esther, or some of my friends who have read my work. I guess the one thing my friends say, is that they can clearly hear my voice in my work, they know it’s me writing, so that I guess makes it separate from other writers work because there is only one me!

Ugh, this is actually really hard! I am a bit stumped, particularly because I am really quite critical of my work, so it’s hard to now think of something good to say! erm… A couple of people have said my dialogue is quite good, I am quite good at making it realistic and believable.

Does that count? I give up!

3. Why do I write what I do?

kidnap

I’m joking, kind of! Writing isn’t a choice though. It’s not a want, a like or a desire. Its an out and out MUST. I HAVE to write, I NEED to do it. Writing quiets my brain from the incessant noise all my characters make in my head. If I don’t write, they scream at me, or prod at what brain cells pregnancy left me with, until I write their stories, and tell their tales.

I mean, of course, like any budding writer, I want to be published. I want to be the next JK Rowling, or Stephen King, or Veronica Roth. But we all know the odds are infinitesimally small. So that doesn’t drive me. An intense need to quiet my characters does!! Ok, a need to tell the stories that fill my head, create the worlds I always wished I could read about. Writing, is a therapy, its cathartic, it allows me to live in another world, where possibilities are limited only by my own mind.

4. How does my writing process work?

HA! 64 million dollar question. Erm. Well, I am a bit of an epiphany kind of girl! I will have a Eureka moment, when something pops into my head, whether it be a character or concept, or plot twist, and then I will spend a lot of time padding it out. I would say that the majority of my writing process is unconscious thought. I need time, not to consciously think about my story, but to let it ferment unconsciously in my head. I just need it to sit there quietly in a corner of my brain whilst I carry on with day to day life. Generally speaking I hate detail, in life, mostly work, I’m awful, I can’t do grammar, I can’t do numbers or spreadsheets. It always surprises me when I can delve into such depth with a character or setting. I spend an awful lot of time noticing little intricacies about people, friends and colleagues. If I meet an interesting person at work, I will scribble notes in my work notebook about that person or character right next to some important work notes! I remember in a meeting once a few years ago, I was so flabbergasted at the sight of a particular person, I was gobsmacked that no one else in the room was as intrigued as me. This gentleman was late 50’s and had skin so deeply grooved and lined he looked like a sculpture, he had a beautiful afro, that reminded me of my grandad, and his big dark eyes made him look ever so slightly like a lion. I had to literally force myself not to stare at him, so instead, I spent most of the meeting snatching glances at him, and unashamedly drawing a picture of his face on a post it… which I still have!

I write notes about my characters and settings and storylines EVERYWHERE. Literally, I have a notebook on me constantly, whether in my work bag, handbag, or on my phone, I have scraps of paper, project files, and document after document clogging up my phone.

I draw them all together and generally speaking put them either into a word document of notes that I develop into  a short story. Or if it’s for my novel into my Scrivener file. Genuinely don’t know where I would be without Scrivener.

I am annoyingly organised. I would say that for novel writing, I drive myself utterly insane with planning and preparation, to the point where, for an entire year, I put off writing my novel because I didn’t feel I had prepared enough. I also have a tendency to hold a lot of information in my head, which usually results in me having mental bandwidth issues, and monging around like a zombie at the end of the day when I physically can’t hold anything else in my head! If it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo, I don’t think I would have ever gotten my novel written.

For short stories, I am much less uptight. I can generally speaking let them evolve naturally, you don’t have time to put all the detail in, it’s short sharp and to the point, I generally take a week to get a story down, then spend a few days editing and re reading it. I have a few friends who tirelessly read the drivel I write, so I often send copies of stuff to them just to have a second third or fourth opinion. My poor wife, usually gets roped in to read them, as does my mum. Both of whom aren’t really readers, and don’t enjoy this part of my writing process! but do it anyway because they love me, and I nag them! haha.

There are two other bits I failed to mention:

1. Pinterest. I am a hugely visual person, and I love a good scrap book / mood board. Pinterest has become the bane and love of my life. I use it constantly drawing boards together for inspiration characters and stories and research.

2. Research, I love research, particularly if there is a theme in my book, in my novel, the different places are based on different themes, so I had to do a lot of research on those topics. But for the 4000 word short story, I am currently doing in-depth research on ‘alternative history’ there is a whole culture out there that believes aliens have visited and our history is not what it seems, so my story is partially inspired by this. I love a conspiracy and anything unusual, so I regularly take snippets of odd things I hear, or strange topics for inspiration.

3. I’m a night owl. Mostly I write at night, after my boy is in bed.

That’s it. Possibly my longest post ever, and a little insight into my strange brain!

Forget terrible twos, why didn't anyone tell me about the terrible ten months?

As I promised, this would be a blog of two halves, partly about my life as a mum, writer, and worker bee, and partly about writing, and my quest to get published.

So, this is a motherhood post.

Everybody knows about the terrible twos, how truly awful they are with screaming tantrums and public paddies.

giphy child

Hideously embarrassing and the phase I suspect most parents dread in young children. BUT SERIOUSLY…. why did no one tell me about the horrific change that happens at ten months? My son is now ten and a half approaching eleven months, and it was like an alien literally took over his body and possessed his previously calm temperament.

Nappy changing is simply an impossibility without an army of spare hands, arms and legs to pin your gremlin of a child in place while you change them. Ok, so distraction occasionally works too, but not as well as it used to! He now likes to pitch an absolute bitch of a screaming fit, when I get him dressed, try and do his teeth, or anything that even remotely changes his current situation.

In spite of the fact I’ve read a million mum blogs, help sites read books and compared notes with a hundred friends, it kind of doesn’t matter what they say or suggest because baby black, is just going to make life difficult his own way! When I find a solution I’ll report back!

 

Why being a lesbian mum is exactly the same and completely different

There are some fundamental things about motherhood that just don’t change. You will change umpteen nappies, and as a result you will get baby poop and other bodily liquids over most of your limbs at one point or another. Generally speaking however you obtain a child (no, not theft, I’m talking adoption, fertility treatment or in a plethora of other ways) it’s come from the same place – a womb. There will be a time – if you have a newborn or very young baby – where you don’t sleep, you will feel like the walking dead and you won’t know who you are; one day you will find you self sat on the sofa in yesterday’s underwear, bloodshot eyes with bags the size of houses, unbrushed teeth that still look clean because you can’t remember the last time you ate, smeared with poop, a few bubbles of sick down one arm, and some crusty snot thrown in for good measure. That happens. To everyone who’s a parent believe me. There’s other things, like the fact that once your a parent there really is no going back – particularly for those that have carried and birthed a child, once you have that baby your life will never be the same again. It takes time to go back to feeling like yourself, but that self is very much a different self. Whoever you were before you had a child is gone, held captive by your long forgotten and never to return youth. Whoever you were is most definitely not returning. But that’s ok. This new you is a better you anyway!

Thats the stuff that’s the same. Seems like everything, right? Wrong. The differences are invariably cultural. Its always cultural. It’s those little things that make our lives that bit harder. The worst bit, is it starts before your child’s even born.

Take your antenatal classes – a class full of straight couples. Where does the non birth mother sit? For the sake of this and any ongoing blogs I post (and my word count!) the non birth mother will be referred to as ‘mama’ and birth mother (mum). Where should the mama sit? It’s not really with the mums – they are all discussing the trials and tribulations of pregnancy and their fears of labour. But it’s also not really with the dads who are more concerned with discussing where the closest dominoes pizza place is to the hospital.

Throughout pregnancy I felt sorry for my wife – she would tell people she’s having a child and within about three seconds a haze of confusion would melt over their face as their eyes would unsubtly drop to her stomach and back to her face a few times. It’s still not ‘normal’ enough for people to just accept that two women can have a baby.

Even after pregnancy and labour it continues – but the problem is – the differences are between your friends and you. I am sure that to a certain extent straight couples who have kids young experience similar things. The friends who begin to slip away because they ‘just don’t get it’. They are incapable of compromising or being understanding to the fact that organising a night out is the equivalent to party planning for the royals. It takes serious time and effort, you can’t just go out at the drop of a hat. And, lets be honest, most of the time you don’t want too either, not because you’re a bore, but because if you do go out – the consequences will reach further than just a saturday morning hangover. You’re going to be tired long into thursday – especially when your child decides to start teething again – at that very moment you went out and let your hair down – commence a week or two of exhaustion. That bit – is probably the same.

But for the LGBT circle, the current generation of young’uns (17-35) we seem to be taking life in the slow lane. The majority of people who are having children in this gayby boom are 35 plus in the LGBT world – obviously I’m not saying everyone, there are also pockets of exceptions – but in my world – most if not all the LGBT parents I have met are 35 plus – in fact thats kind of mimicked with the hetero-parents I’ve met too. The difference this makes is – most of my friends are still in the culture of being concerned with where the next night out is coming from and who’s round is next. most still live at home with mum and dad, and few have careers sorted or any kind of concept of where they want to be when they grow up. Indeed any kind of mention of commitment and you got yourself a full on epi pen needing allergic reaction. Why is our generation of young LGBT so frightened of commitment? few if any of my friends have had relationships longer than a couple of years. It makes me feel like a freakshow – not only am I LGBT and therefore in a minority group as it is – but I’m a minority within a minority – a young LGBT person with a child, who actually had the child in a lesbian relationship and whats more, gave birth.

Other major differences include the ‘questioning’ when you come across a straight couple with a newborn – usual questions include: Oh how adorable – how much did they weigh? How was the birth? Do they sleep?

Now – we tend to get one or two of those normal questions and then you get hit with the- ‘I’m going to look really awkward and shift from foot to foot because I know what I’m about to ask is rude, but I’m going to do it anyway!’ – face and then the barrage of “oh so, er, how did you do it then?” most of the time I feel like responding with an equally stupid answer “do what? get my hair styled this way?, do what look this good on no sleep?” etc etc. Other stupid questions include “do you know the donor?” “are you both called mum”

Seriously, next time a straight couple asks me how I ‘did it’ I’m going to ask them how they got pregnant too, see how they like them apples!

I’m ranting – but I have a point, we face regular interrogations from joe public, and even from our parents. My own dad commented that he wasn’t really sure how it would ‘be’ raising a male child with two mums. “Where’s the balance” I remember him saying. He ate his own words though when he visited because he then said “I don’t think I’ve met a happier child.”

There are probably a million other differences I could name, but my rant just ran out of steam! For any of you LGBT mummies out there – anyone else able to add irritations to the list?

The insane Asylum – A bizarre dream!

This is for artofstumbling, I love how she writes down her dreams some of them are fascinating, and seeing as I had a particularly bizarre one last night, and I don’t usually remember I thought I would write it down!

I am not quite sure if I was working in, or a patient, but I was in an insane asylum.

The walls were white, and there was a long corridor filled with white doors, at the end of the corridor was a circular room filled with doors, these were the bedrooms, and in the centre was a couple of sofas.

I was in the circular room with all the doors, and there were some doctors in long white coats standing with flip charts discussing patients, I stared at them for some time trying to over here what they were saying, but I couldn’t.

I heard a loud banging as a door ripped off its hinges. I turned round shocked, and the largest man I have ever seen lumbered out of his room. He must of been nearly 8ft tall. His body enormous, and cut with muscles so large he could easily crush my head in his hands. His skin was tanned and sweat was rolling down his biceps. I stepped to the side to allow him to pass, and he looked at me as he walked passed.

I don’t remember his face, just his enormous looming stature towering above me.

I watched him lumber his way down the long white corridor. He stopped turned to face me and nodded. Then disappeared up the corridor.

I could hear screaming and shouting coming from the frantic doctors behind me. I watched their slow motion moves throwing the clip boards in the air papers flying everywhere and running after the huge man.

Before they could run in front of me, I bolted down the corridor and skidded to a stop in front of the door the lumbering man had gone through. It opened into what looked like a big social room that was being turned into a modern church, rows of seats either side, tradesmen hunched over working on something on the floor. The towering man just stepped over their wide eyed stares and continued walking towards the blue door at the back of the room.

He smashed it open, and a wave of warm stuffy air filled the room. Outside was dark, but there were a few twinkling lights. He stepped outside.

I found myself looking back at the blue door from outside, there was a wooden balcony running all the way round the perimeter of the building. It was night, and we were in the desert.

The man ran off.

This part of my dream is hazy, but I know some time passed.

I found him in a seedy american motel, I think he was probably raping and torturing women, thats what it felt like he was doing, although I never caught him at it.

At this point a man, a doctor – the head of the asylum, walked in front of me and headed straight toward the rapist. I flittered between watching the doctor, and being the doctor. His words were my words, but I was watching him say them.

He spoke to the tall man, and calmed him down, convinced him that he needed to come back to the asylum,

“you need to come home son.”

The tall rapist nodded and walked back to the asylum with the doctor. It was daylight now, and I could feel how weary I was getting.

Suddenly, I was in a long narrow garden, with funny stone squares planted in the floor. The long garden was littered with green plants and pebbles. I was a the top of the garden with the doctor and another women, and behind us, was the army or some similar ‘authority’ the soldiers were dressed in army greens and holding shiny black weapons.

Infront of us was a low lying arch, the other end of which was the real world. Inside the arch were a couple of pills, and half a mannequin of the body and breasts of a pregnant women, but no arms or legs.

It was a rebirth canal. The patients who got better has to be reborn into the world to start their new lives.

The army people were questioning the doctor and a box of pills he was holding, they wanted them, wanted his secrets. But the doctor wouldn’t give them to them.

The doctor, now me, was explaining what the pills were, the garden was flooding but the army hadn’t noticed.

I threw the pills into the flooded arch to save them and watched them disappear. Chaos ensued and I woke up…