Then and Now

I didn’t realise that Monday’s post was my 100th. Have I really done that much burbling? Have I really frittered away my time grinding out the words that hopefully someone will read and
appreciate? Did I keep an anxious vigil watching over the statistics pages? Did I agonise about when I’d be DISCOVERED? Nah, not really or at least only at the very beginning.

When I started off in January it was all deadly serious stuff about the writing process and my book Time for Your Life . Now it’s just random burblings interspersed with snippets from one of the two books I’m currently completing – both of which I’m sad to say have run aground on a sandbank and are sitting there waiting for me to rescue them.

I had no idea what to expect when I started blogging – certainly not to gain a respectable number of followers which I have – although most of them I suspect were just “fishing and farming” and have never been heard of again. I did think at first that they’d just got bored and “unfollowed” but wouldn’t someone have told me…who knows?

Those who have stuck with me I’ve come to regard as virtual and possibly virtuous friends and if I don’t hear from them I worry about them wondering if all is OK or whether I’ve just pissed them off too. I’m humbled (OK not obviously so) by their talent and facility with words.I try to give feedback and comment but I’m not as forthcoming as I should be. I have to be ruthless in allocating time to deal with social media otherwise I’d be lollygagging about all day, still in my PJs and curlers.

In these eight months of blogging so much more has changed than tying myself to my PC to write a blog. I’ve the one book under my belt – not a runaway success but then it was never meant to be. It’s done what I wanted; through licensing it to clients, it’s paved the way for me to spend a lot less time running after the day job and much more time writing. Any sales now are a bonus.

I’ve got back into the swing of writing short articles and features for magazines and I’ve even delved into the world of short stories and competitions although I don’t know the results of that yet. This week I received my first commission (as opposed to sending in a pitch) for an article as a result of someone reading this blog; I’ve broken into the national magazine market for the first time and most exciting of all I’m in discussions about ghost writing an autobiography for…mum’s the word.

I haven’t missed the day job; in fact the few days I do work at it I enjoy much more than I was doing twelve months ago. Its not just work; it’s an opportunity to socialise as well. That is one aspect that I need to add more off to the mix – there are times when I go a whole week without having a conversation with anyone except myself, the birds, the plants in the garden and my characters. It may seem odd for someone who is the author of a book about work-life balance, but then anyone who has read it will know that I put a lot of emphasis on making conscious choices about where and when to put time and effort rather than acting by default. But I do worry sometimes about becoming that batty old bag who waddles around the village muttering to herself so I just phone a friend.

What comes next? You’ll just have to wait and read the next exciting episode of Sheila in Blogoland.

“You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”

Are we at war? Have I done a Rip van Wrinkle (I was going to write “sleeping beauty” but this is not a work of fiction)and just woken up? Actually yes I have but let’s not spoil things.

Why is my inbox loaded with weighty missiles? Some from a group called, as far as I understand it, the Trads and others from a bunch called the Indies. Whoever these people are they are trying to enlist me into their armies and me with flat feet and bottle-bottom glasses. But they’re everywhere sniping at each other across everyman’s (and woman’s) land known as the Blogosphere.

The Trads declare Indies are killing them indiscriminately and without editing aforethought. They rubbish the rubbish that Indies produce crying that it pollutes the totally excellent Trad streams of consciousness. They abominate the horrible cheap prices or worse, the freebies, that a poor ignorant civilian population gobble up because they’ve been brainwashed into thinking that cheap is good and never mind the quality.

Then we have the Indies – the rebels with a cause, crying “freedom and who needs agents and greedy publishers anyway?” They gloat over the effectiveness of their mass writing tactics and the high payoffs. They launch statistics about who bought what from whom and when and where (and probably how and why for all I know). With glee, they parade those (according to Trads) treacherous turncoats who have done a deal with the devil and joined the Indie cause.

All I ever wanted was to write and I have enough self-belief to think that if the Trads don’t want me then in the words of Ol’ Blue Eyes I’ll do it my way.

Now Trads and Indies – play nicely and kiss and make up.

Have a great weekend…and don’t forget to wear your flak jacket.
PS The title quote is from Nietzsche

Best Moment Award – Who Me?

a-great-moment-in-my-life-awardWell, this is a surprise – a Best Moment award. I can’t tell you how encouraging this is. Finally after fumfty some years some cultured soul has seen my talent. There aren’t many on this planet who have done so and lived to tell the tale. But I digress. This wonderful person who has nominated me is none other than WordPress’ own Experienced Tutor. Experienced at what, I know not. I first discovered ET early in my blogging career when a happy turn of phrase – “going at it like a pig at a potato” had me rolling in the aisles way past bedtime. Since I love both pigs and potatoes, I knew this was my blogger mentor to be…I just forgot to tell him.

So Best Moment – I was going to say ask my exes but then I realised it was the Best Moment I had experienced not given. Ah but there are so many like:
taking part in the Pontefract Pianoforte Competition, aged 7 playing Mozart’s Minuet in F. The judge said he’d never heard a performance to compare with mine.
Or perhaps the time I entered the local Dog Show with my dog Grunge – I mean what did the man expect when he said “nice doggie, let me see your teeth.” Anyway it was only a little nip, I mean what’s seven stitches to a grown man? I don’t know what all the fuss was about but you should’ve seen the look on his face.
Then there was the moment when a guy in snug-fit bathing trunks was supposed to teach me how to snorkle without swallowing half the Indian Ocean. Once underwater,the pressure got to him and he came over all romantic instead. Pulling me onto his knee, he tried to show me his corals. I bet Trident never surfaced as fast.

I could go on – I have had so many “moments”. But today’s your day and your turn. I’ve thought long and hard about whose blog should next be graced with this award and I have come up with an idea. There are those of you, out there in Blogland that have demonstrated both intelligence and good taste by following my blog. It is to every single one of my followers that I pass on this award. There is only one rule of Blogclub:
you must entertain Blogland with your acceptance speeches and your Greatest Moments. This may be in video or word format.

There – the judgement of Sheila – eat your heart out Solomon.
Have a great weekend one and all and I’m looking forward to a week’s reading of Best Moments.

Coral Garden & Chromis

Coral Garden & Chromis


And Now For Something Completely Different…

Why is it that when I’m away during the week doing the day job, when I get to the weekend there’s a more than usual number of “must-do” jobs around the house and garden? These “must-dos” are not tasks that I’ve let slip (well not many really) but are things that have cropped up during the days I am away such as a delivery that I’ve planned. I explained to the courier when and where to bring it only to find that he washed up three days too early and seemed to have left my precious parcel with everyone and his dog in the village. By the time I finally tracked it down it was, shall we say, well handled!

And another thing…have you noticed that the whinge factor of my posts is on the rise? No? Well it’s just not fair. Pay attention please. I’ve been blogging since January this year and over the weekend I took a trip down blogging lane to revisit some of them. Over the weeks I noticed how they’re beginning to sound whiney. Too hard, too difficult, too much work, not fair, no-one will buy my wares blah blah blah. It’s a dangerous thing this increasing whinge factor – for one thing it exacerbates my rheumatism – have whinge will twinge sort of thing – but more seriously whinging raises the victim spectre. Poor me; all I ever wanted to do was write but “they” won’t let me. They insist I pay my mortgage; they insist I write something worth publishing; they say that unless…Oh get over yourself woman.

So there’s going to be a few changes around here. This blog is going to be less about writing, the writing process, Kindle and all the other writing/publishing nibbly-pibblies (bring back “Blackadder” please). Instead it will be more as I originally intended – notes from the coast and will probably not even mention the W word, the K word et al.

If this is not to your liking and you follow this blog (what wonderful refined taste you have) I’ll quite understand if my future musings are not your thing and you decide to “unfollow”. However it’s only fair to warn you that I am the neighbourhood witch and I know where you live.

OMG – An Award

Oh my gosh. Oh golly. This is so unexpected. Thank you so much Aspiring Scribbler for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. I’m lost for words.

The Rules

1. Display Logo
2. Link back to the person who nominated
3.Reveal 7 things about yourself
4. Nominate 15…15!!! other bloggers for the award
5. Notify the nominees

7 Things about Me

1. Several years ago I accidentally walked into the gents toilets in a MacDonalds. I earned 100 quid from the experience. I’ll leave you to work out how.

2. I had aspirations to become an Olympic athlete after I won 1st place in an egg and spoon race.

3. By day, I work as a business and life coach; by night I talk in my sleep – it balances all the listening.

4. I used to have a grand piano – so every house I’ve lived in had to have an oversized lounge.

5. I got bitten by a pig and still have the scar. It throbs every time I eat a bacon buttie.

6. There is an immutable law of the universe that decrees that there’s always more month left at the end of my money.

7. I’ve got acres of wood panelling to paint so I’d better get a move on.

My Nominees

OK, I can count but I’m struggling. Clearly I’m one of the last bloggers every to receive this award. Everyone else has preceded me. I’ll add some more when I’ve had a fossick around.

To-do or not To-do – that is the question

Yesterday I continued my boxroom de-clutter in preparation for the Big Weekend Decorating Push and now the flotsam and jetsam of my life thus far is destined for the tip, the recycling centre and the charity shop.I’m sure I should write something deep and meaningful about that, about the post-apocalyptic symbolism of a broken relationship…but I don’t do deep and meaningful.

However, during this epic struggle with the evil “I might need it some day” Hydra, that kept subverting my good intentions to clear, clear, clear, my faithful vacuum cleaner snorted up one too many doses of dust, plaster and paperclips and is now moribund, only occasionally emitting an asthmatic wheeze.

I administered the last rites, abandoned it on the landing and trotted off to add ‘purchase new hoover-upper” on my to-do list – but said list was missing. I was desolate. One of my greatest pleasures in life is adding and crossing off items on my to-do list. There’s a technique to it, you see. The new items are added neatly, in standard Marian Richardson style handwriting – clear, open letters, no fancy loops or curlicues. The crossing-off items require different styles according to the degree of detestability of the task. So, really hateful or boring items get the slow, tongue-in-mouth-corner heavy scoring through the offending words. The houseworky-type items get a quick devil-may-care slash , preferably with a red pen and the go and buy myself something nice items disappear from the list with a frivolous wiggly-squiggly line. I could go on, but are you still here anyway?

So where was the errant to-do list. I expected it to be on the corner of my desk (my motto is always have a hard one to hand – sorry let me clarify, I mean hard copy) but all I could see was a pile of scrap paper with scribbles all over it. Closer inspection showed it to be the list, that unseen and unsupervised by me, had spawned little illegitimate to-do’s, overnight.

Oh no! This cannot be. I am the author of the best organise your life book ever (so my friends tell me – but then five ever so tipsy ladies do not make even half a rational critic).

The to-do list – I examined it, turning one limp page after another. Clearly said list was exhausted by the weight of tasks bearing down on it. How did these 2-minuter tasks get on it? Whatever happened to dump, defer or delegate? Who put one of my latest life ambitions on it? For in my world the ideal to-do list is short, relates to the present and near future and is specific. What happened?

It’s blogging wot done it.

You see the first half hour of every day used to be dedicated to the maintenance and updating of my to-do list. Now I spend that half hour composing my blog (yes I do put some thought into these blogs – they are not the ravings of a hermit on hash). I am going to have to give serious consideration as to the re-arrangement of my day.

Can I live in the shadow of an over-long, untidy scribble of a to-do list?
It’s touch and go.

You’ll have to hang on to the cliff and wait for the next bulletin.

So What’s Your Excuse? The Results

If you remember I posted on Tuesday (So What’s Your Excuse) about the reasons (or excuses if you like) that I don’t write particularly when I have a deadline to meet. I asked for your contributions to this list and I’m happy to post the results today. The first five are my excuses; those that follow are ones that you all sent it.

Excuse List

1. I haven’t got time
2. I’ve a pain in my brain and it hurts when I think
3. The dog’s just pee’d on the handwritten copy of my manuscript;
4.There’s a pile of ironing I absolutely must do.
5. I’ve got the headache from hell

Ad infinitum

I’m gutted! Clearly I’m in the wrong place and, as I suggested at the end of Tuesday’s post, I was right. I am the only one who, from time to time, suffers from a certain type of brain fungus that snuffs out my flickering creative candle and relegates me to the sofa.

Aha, but do I believe you? Do I believe that, of the groupies who follow this blog, not a single one of you ever comes up with an excuse for not writing? I imagine you all assiduously laying down word after word, like bricks (thanks Stephen King) suffering no interruptions until your busy tap-tapping fingers go into rigor. I feel intimidated by your dedication and suffering.

There again, maybe you just didn’t bother reading the post or thought it was crap.

Either way, I sign off for the weekend with a heavy heart. I know my place. I’m a pygmy blogging among giants.

Enjoy your weekend…if your conscience let’s you

One of those days

It’s been one of those days. The day job needs attention and I have to work away for the next 3 days. So I get up extra early to blog and have an early morning surf. Shit…no phone, no internet. I have some time before I need to leave so I ring the phone company. Eventually I get thro to a charming lady who does her level best to convince me she’s called Martha and lives in the UK when patently she isn’t and doesn’t. Why do Companies do this? It’s so demeaning for the call centre staff and now, no-one is taken in by it. Long and short of it, phone company says it’s not their problem and telephone repair man who looks after the bits from inside the house says it’s not a problem in the house so it’s back to the telcom company. Stalemate and no more time. It’ll have to wait until Saturday,

I’m now sitting in my hotel; haven’t unpacked or even made a cuppa. It’s out with laptop and hook up. Aaaah that’s better. I realise how stressed I’ve been driving. Why? Haven’t had my morning internet fix. It goes something like:
write a blog; read blogs; check emails; check news and weather; check horoscopes to see if its safe to go out and then a quick burst of tetris to get me moving. It’s the only physical exercise I’ll own up to.

So now I’m here, like a dog in a butcher’s shop, surfing, blogging and brushing up my presentation for tomorrow. I’ll probably have a few rounds of solitaire (steady now, nothing too exciting) before catching the internet waves again. I’m happy; carefree; relaxed and full of the joys of spring. All is well with the world. My name is Sheila and I’m an internet addict.

Hearing Voices

One of my favourite pastimes is earriwigging – listening undetected to other folks’ conversations. I’m not a snooper, really I’m not. It’s just that whenever I’m travelling, it’s almost impossible to ignore the conversations going on around me, especially the mobile phone conversations. Some of what I hear is fairly inarticulate:
“like what? Well…you know…ugh, that’s so gross.”
Other snippets are quite intriguing like this one between two girls on a train:
“Yeah, he came to the pet shop. I nearly died when he walked in. Then he said he liked my hamster.”
“Never heard it called that before. Did he buy it?”

Writing a blog has given me yet another opportunity to hear voices – from the writing. I’m a newbie when it comes to blogging and so one of the things that struck me as I started to read blogs was the diversity of voices – not so much in subject matter – I expected that – but in tone and attitude. I hear angry voices, challenging voices, positive and negative voices, hurt voices – all the tones and emotions you can think of. This is rich pickings for a wannabe writer.

The point of all this is that I need to hear voices. As I move from non-fiction writing to fiction, I find it tough to discard my own voice (warm, friendly, non-preachy with just un soupcon of irony when appropriate)and find suitable ones for my characters. Somehow, and I don’t know why it happens, my own voice will insist on breaking through. So just as I approach the most romantic scene where my hero (tall, handsome with aquiline nose, finely chiselled jaw) is determinedly yet sensitively getting round to dating my heroine (beautiful, feisty but vulnerable),instead of persuasive, seductive, beguiling words, the voice in my head butts in and my hero says “get your coat on love, you’ve pulled.”

Should I try another genre do you think?