Thursday, 29 November 2012

Is this it? Teaching?

Eventually, I will stop floundering and fix on the thing that I'm going to be doing for the next twenty years or so!

I think I might have found it.  I've been saying that I don't want to teach, based on other people telling me that I don't want to teach.  And I know that teaching is stressful, and that it can be thankless.  But, really, why am I running away from it, when I've got a pretty good idea that it's something I'll be good at.  I've noticed that when I do work in schools (I'm volunteering in my kids' school now), I do find it easy to engage with the children, and find it very rewarding.  And, for some strange reason, children seem to like me!  I'm horrible to my own kids, but don't have that shoutiness when it comes to the children in school - I have more patience.  And I enjoy it.  Listening to little Year 1 girls and boys read, whilst repetitive and not very demanding, is quite a highlight of my week.  It's wonderful, after watching them struggle, to see them learn something under your guidance.  I didn't think I would like it as much as I do, but I actually love it.  And when a wee person rushes up and gives you a big hug for no reason, that's got to tell you that you're doing something right.

So I'm going to have a chat with a nice lady this morning, about doing an Access to Teaching Diploma.  That would get me on to a PGCE - if I do well, of course!  I need to know more about the course, what it qualifies me to do, what I'll be able to teach, how I will manage financially - I might need some funding, because I'll still need to pay my bills and feed my own children.  And I would like to teach Secondary level, not Primary.  The little kids are gorgeous, and lovely, but I think that after a while I would start to get bored.  I think I would prefer the challenge of teaching Secondary, perhaps get more out of it myself, and learn more from the kids.

I really hope I'm able to do this - I hope financial constraints don't prevent me.  My only other option, if I can't afford the Access course, is to study, self-funded, with the Open University, to complete a BA in English (that would take six years), then do the PGCE.  It would take me until I'm 42 to be qualified.  I don't want to be waiting that long, if I can help it.  If I can do the Access course, I could be a qualified teacher by the time I'm 38.  That sounds better.

Once again, I am in limbo, waiting to find out if I can do this.  I always seem to be in limbo, waiting to find out something.  I think I'm going to have to go to meditation classes, to learn to deal with anxiety!  I can cope well with depression, but anxiety is a whole different thing.

I think I suit a sewing machine.  It's about time I did some of that again as well.  I've got a dress to make up.  Although it's possible I might not be invited to go to the festival it's intended for next year!  Life's a bit strange when your mum has cut you out of hers.  Mental illness really sucks, I can tell you that.

But life goes on ... well mine certainly goes.


Tuesday, 6 November 2012

I am NOT doing that again!

Well, I never thought it would happen to me, because I have an unshakeable core of happiness and joy, but I've just spent a couple of weeks being depressed.  I didn't like Depression, so I decided not to stay.

I shan't go into the details of what made me depressed, because it's all rather personal, and if it's all the same to you I'd rather save it for my diary :)

But two things I've learned about myself from this short period of downness:
1)  It's possible for me to be low, emotionally speaking;
2)  I can recognise that I'm not feeling tip top, and can take steps to fix my brain, which makes me very proud of myself :)  (That's not to say anything disparaging about anyone who suffers really serious depression - their depression is their business, and mine is mine.)

So I've put all the negativity behind me now.   I did it this morning, and decided that I'd like to get back to being myself.  It's quite amazing that it's possible to just flick a switch and feel one's mojo return.  Mmm.  Good.

Suddenly, heaps of motivation, skiploads of ideas, bucketfuls of energy, none of which did I have yesterday.  The first thing to do though, is get an early night, and approach tomorrow completely fresh and eager.  There's a whole morning to fill with job searching and writing (I'm a single parent now, and have to find a job as quickly as possible), before an afternoon of Key Stage 2 maths (for helping my children with their homework - but I think I might sign up to do a GCSE in maths next September, just because).  I think I will update blogs tomorrow morning, and take a look at one of my novels and decide which one to work on again (anything familiar here?!).

I'm volunteering at the boys' school a couple of afternoons a week now, and I kind of wish I wasn't.  It's nice and all, but it's really going to eat into my week.  The days pass so quickly anyway, but having to break off from productive stuff is a pain.  Mind you, if I start to get proofreading work again I'll have to give up the volunteering - I suppose I could make use of the CRB check that school paid for by offering my services for a story club or something.  I wonder if they'd let me do that.  It could be for years 4 and 5 perhaps, the kids who can actually write properly so that we'd get some good stories out of them.  I could teach them how to write a proper story over a term.  Or maybe over a half-term.  And then they could read them out at the end of term.  Maybe they could read extracts from them in assembly.  I think I'll do my volunteering for a while longer, and then perhaps put the idea to the head.  I think I should get paid for that though!

Ha!  See?  No depression here now :)  Motivated.

Ooh, ooh: I'm also supposed to be thinking about writing a script, after the inspiring BBC Writersroom workshop I went to at the Duke's.  Yep, yep, I need to do that too.

And a short story.  They're expensive though, on account of there being an entrance fee for most competitions.

Going to watch the end of A Time to Kill before I go to sleep.  Nanight.

Oh no, before I go, here's a picture of me with Adrian Lukis (Mr Wickham from the 1995 BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice), which was taken by my mum in the Assembly Rooms in Bath :)

And me with Caroline Langrishe :)

I look like a moron in both photos, but at least you can see one of my dresses.  There were five more.  I'll show you those another time.


Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Lilac Stripe Dress

Today, I have this to show you:

What do you think?  This is the Lilac Stripe.  Isn't she pretty?  You can't see her whole form at the moment, because she's rather creased and needs a good press.  However, I did a little work on the ribbon detail last night and was rather pleased with it.  Obviously, hand sewing, I couldn't get the zigzags completely uniform, but I am rather chuffed with how even the stitching is.  I was going to machine sew the ribbon on, but thought it would actually be more fiddly to try and keep the dress out of the way of the needle.  She's not finished yet - I've just got the second piece of ribbon to sew on, and the bottom hem to finish, and she's ready for me to wear to a fancy dress party on Saturday :)

Sadly, Miss Lilac Stripe and Miss Black Stripe are a little short, as I didn't buy enough material :(  And all of the dresses are rather tight in the bodice, because the pattern we used is a small fit.  We expected size 14 (UK) to be just fine, but it looks like we needed just a cm or so extra.  Not to worry - learning curve!  Next year's dresses will be perfect fits.  Mind you, I'll have been cycling all year, so I'll probably be smaller anyway.

I've also got this to show you:

This is Miss Blue Beaded Bracelet.  She's almost finished.  I might finish her in the next few minutes, since I'm simultaneously blogging and beading.  I keep having to rest my fingers, because I'm making my own jump rings out of head pins, because there were no head pins left in the right colour.  It's quite painful on the fingertips, making jump rings.  Homemade jump rings are not as neat as ready-made ones, but I think they kind of look nicer; and of course, they're more satisfying to look at on a finished piece, because one has the smugness of knowing that the bracelet was more difficult to make.  I have six links left to fill with beads, and then I'm done and I can wear the bracelet today :)  Bear with me a minute; I'll try to finish it quickly now...

Nearly done ...

Here she is:

Ah.  Sorry, that is not the best picture in the world - my camera is on the verge of breaking and I get only a second to take a picture before the camera switches itself off.  But you get an idea of what Miss Blue Beaded Bracelet looks like.  I must save up for a new camera though.

Nice to blog again :)

Monday, 6 August 2012


Only about six weeks to go until the Jane Austen festival in Bath, and I've only got one dress done.  Cripes, eh?  Every time I make a start on an evening of sewing something goes a bit wrong (my thread gets all tangled in the machine, and I cannot fathom what I have done wrong) and it takes me much longer to finish bits than I would like.  I've still got four dresses to make, with linings and handmade button holes, and lace and ribbon trimmings.  I've also got to make a couple of hats, a spencer (jacket) and a couple of reticules (bags).  I think that's all.  I've just ordered boots and white tights.  I've also got to try out some ways of doing my hair - it's a bit short so it'll be tricky to make it nice.  I've left it a bit late really.  But I am in the mood to sew, so perhaps in the next couple of weeks I'll make some headway!  My mum has finished her six dresses - she's much faster than me, obviously.  She's also sewn up two of my jackets, as well as finishing two hats of her own and a spencer and a couple of reticules.  I wanted to do everything myself, but time was getting rather short!

I've only got one photo at the moment - this is of the Green Dress.  You can't tell from this picture, but it's covered in a print of tiny green flowers and leaves.  Can you see my trainer poking out at the bottom?!  I didn't have the right shoes when we made this dress.

Actually, I think my mum sewed most of this one up.  I haven't put sewn a skirt onto a bodice yet - that's what I'm going to try to do tonight.  It's all a bit trial-and-error with me and sewing.  I get there in the end, but I usually get the first attempt wrong and have to unpick the whole lot.  I had to do that last night, when I sewed the lining into my Black Stripe - it was a mess, the material was pulled in all kinds of directions that it shouldn't be pulled in.  But I learn from these mistakes, and I was able to put it right by myself :)  I really enjoy it.  It's very satisfying to take lengths of material and turn them into something you can wear.  And I think I'm quite neat ... in the end.  It's very time-consuming, but there's no need to rush, really - if you're willing and able to take your time over the process and not panic if things go wrong (which they will), it's a gorgeous thing to do.  I am very eager to make more after the festival for next year.

Tonight I will be sewing up the Blue bodice and attaching its skirt, as well as attaching the skirt of the Black Stripe.  I think I can do all of that in one night.  Then I will have four dresses with skirts attached.  The trickiest one is the Black Lace: that has a cream cotton lining, with black lace overlaid, so instead of just sewing together two pieces of fabric, I have to sew together four pieces each time.  Fortunately, I do like tacking pieces into place before sewing them on the machine, and this is what I will need to do in this case.

I'd love to get on and sew right now, but the boys get too curious and want to have a go - of course, they can have a go on the machine, but that doesn't get my dresses done!

Next time I blog about the dresses I'd like to have some finished ones to show you :)  So many things to do - I do so dearly wish I didn't need sleep.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

'The time has come', the Walrus said, 'to talk of ... keeping a blog up to date'.

Well, hello there!  How the bloody hell are you?  Oh, I'm fine, thanks for asking.  A lot going on in my house this year, some of which I'll not go into right now.  But I'm really thinking that it's time to blog again.  I'm actually itching to write at the moment, as is always the case in the summer holidays, when I have very little time to do it; absence makes the heart grow fonder, sort of thing.  I almost wrote 'fronder' then, which would suggest that the heart was becoming ferny, which, of course, is something that the heart might well do if left alone for too long.

Look at that: it's only been two minutes and already I'm off again, talking nonsense.

Linda and Matthew messing about with Photo Booth effects.
So, I am now self-employed, a freelance proofreader, doing work for Full Proof as I've already said.  So far I've had work every month, for four months.  I could not really have hoped for a better start to my new career, as I understand that it can be very disheartening and that jobs are very difficult to come by.  I work for Nick, who owns Full Proof, and he's very nice indeed, a lovely 'boss'.  Of course, I don't have a boss, because I'm self-employed!  And that means I have to do a tax return and pay National Insurance.  I'd better get on with that - no tax yet, as I'm not earning even nearly enough.  But who knows that one day I'll get my dream?  My dream is to pay tax!  It's just so that I can tick that Gift Aid box on forms - I always feel like such a flakey flakester when I have to leave it blank.

Another thing that is quite exciting - if you like words and books - is that my mum made a wonderful discovery the other day: UCLAN (Preston University or the University of Central Lancashire) do an MA in Publishing.  I had been itching to do the MA in English with the Open University, but I was finding it difficult to justify the £6k (not to mention, finding it difficult to find £6k, of course).  But now then, an MA in Publishing I can absolutely justify - perfect!  Still £6k, but I can spread it over two years, and maybe, if we live on beans on toast (or just beans; bread's quite expensive at the moment) for a long while, I think it can be done.  Don't hold your breath over that one - I've enrolled for three MAs in the past two years.  But I do think that this is the one I would really like to strive to do, so I'm going to apply and see if I can at least get a place.  I do think, after doing this little bit of student proofreading, that publishing is where I would like to be.

The most exciting thing, for me, will happen at the end of August.  I'm having a mini-break.  Yes, I am.  Oh my goodness, I can't even put into words how excited I am.  My excitement is on a par with the anticipation I felt on going to Barbados for my brother's wedding, because I was on my own (sans kiddies) then too.  This time I'm going to be away for just three days, two nights that is, and I'll be staying in the UK.  I'm going to Bamburgh, which is just about my favourite place in the world, and one day I think I will live there - if a house ever comes up for sale there, which is doubtful because it's so beautiful that I would imagine that people would be born and live their whole lives there.  Really.  It's that special.  Well, I think it is, anyway.  Bamburgh.  I am to stay in an attic room Bamburgh Hall Farm (it looks rather posh), and my room will overlook the castle - which is all I really wanted from my room; really, it could have been a mattress on a dusty wooden floor, and I wouldn't have minded as long as I could see the castle from the window.  I will just be at peace there, I won't do very much, just some writing, some reading, some walking, some photo-taking, some eating, some sitting-and-listening, some people-watching, and I'm fairly certain that the time will pass quickly and I'll come home exhausted after all of that relaxing.  But I think it's just what I need - I'm going to treat the weekend like a little home-made writing retreat.

Bamburgh in 2011 - who wouldn't want to go here for some peace and quiet?

September is not all that far away, and I'm looking forward to it - things change forever from September, when Matthew goes to school, I look for lots of work, and I get my freedom!  Don't get me wrong now, I do love my children, and I will miss having them at home, but it's going to be lovely to only have myself to think about while they're busy at school.  If I can manage to make freelancing work  I'm going to have a pretty near perfect life.  Not perfect to some people, sure, but perfect to me.

And there's my new book.  I wasn't content to be writing three novels, so I decided to add a fourth.  I think this is the one (I know, I sound like a teenager).  I won't say anything about it.  It's good, I think.  I'm going to work on it in Bamburgh, because that's where I'm setting it - although, since I don't really know too much about the people there, I think I might change the name.  I'm not very good at names.  It takes me ages to think of good character names, and place names are even worse.  (I can't even decide on what to call myself - to pseudonym or not to pseudonym?)  But I'm not in a rush, I just want to make it a good book.

I am on the verge of babbling, so I'll leave it there.

OLYMPIC FEVER!  I'm off to watch some more - isn't it good?!  I was never in any doubt that London 2012 would be excellent - ha! to the cynics and grumps!


Friday, 4 May 2012

It's all going on...

Life was already busy, but it's about to get Buuuzzaaaaaay!

Well, when I say 'about to', I mean that it will get busier in September.  But you can't just sit and wait for September, can you?  You've got to start 'doing' whatever it is you have to do before it's time to do it, you know?


Oooh. Always one of my favourite starts, a month of potential and motivation, inspiration and excitement.  But I anticipate even more of these things this year.  Matthew starts school this year, and on that first day I cease to become a full-time parent, a SAHM, a lazy layabout, a kept woman, a lady of leisure.  On that first day we enter a new era.  The era of ... the erm ... the era of the Many-Stringed-Bow!  Yes, we'll call it that.  The era of the Many-Stringed-Bow.  There is much to do.  I'm very excited.  We will really find out how I cope with stress then (albeit quite a relatively small amount of stress compared to millions of people), when I have to juggle several different mes (that says 'mes', meaning 'more than one me', you know?).  I will still be Mum-me, but I will also be Masters-student-me, proofreader-me, author-me (if I pull my finger out), cyclist-me and freelance-writing-tart-me (we'll see about that one - ways to earn money have to be found, and who knows what uses I might find for my wordy skills?).

It's already begun.  I'm proofreading now, for Full Proof.  It's very, very good.  I'm finding it very easy to fit the jobs into my evenings and mornings.  But from September I hope to be able to keep all of my evenings free for writing, and squeeze the money-making activities in between school times.  Of course, I'm pretty certain that it won't stay that way - as I start to add more strings to my bow I will probably find that I have less and less time for writing.  But in a way, that's not so bad - I have so much free time at the moment, and I am still guilty of squandering it.  I find that when I have less free time I am more likely to fill it with something productive, because I'm feel a little starved of productive creativity.  So, I have high hopes for September.  I can organise myself then, and really get stuck in.  I want to concentrate on making that lifestyle affordable, so that I don't have to waste my time in an office job just because it pays well.  Money isn't everything - I know that, because working in an office at the university made me miserable.  It wasn't worth the wages.

I can't believe this time has come, already.  Where have eight years gone?  Well, nine, actually.  I would have expected to feel sad that my time at home with the kids is almost over - but that's the thing: it isn't over, because if I can make freelancing work I will still get to be with them in the holidays.  So there's plenty to motivate me to work hard.

The first thing to do - after this weekend, when we're at a wedding - is to look again at my website, and think of more ideas for it, and start getting it noticed.  I'm not sure how to do all of that, so I need to have a meeting with my mum and Janine.  Janine is an ideas person, and she will know exactly what to do.  My mum has also said that she thinks I should teach creative writing - I have no idea how to do that either, but I'd love to give that a try.  I think I could be good at it.  I might ask my friends to take a trial-class, with me teaching!  That might be far too much of a giggle though!

Aaaaagggh!   It's noon!  I must get back to my car before I go over my time and have to pay £10!

I'm back on the blog :D  Nice to be back.

Chris Hemsworth as Thor - I find him quite inspiring ... or is that perspiring?

Sunday, 25 March 2012

Spring! Joyness!

A new summer, and a new season of motivation?  Well, we'll see...  How many new beginnings do I have each year?  I'd say at least four.  And that's not counting all the other ones.

Thought I might manage a really good fresh start last night, what with Kev being in Amsterdam on a Stag Do, and the kids being out at my auntie's for a sleepover.  But no, I got sucked into the telly and didn't manage to get out again until midnight (which I think might have been 1am, on account of the clocks changing).  But in my defence, I think I did need a bit of recharging, and I have woken up this morning feeling refreshed and lovely.  I do feel like writing.  I feel that there's something brilliant lurking at the back of my brain.  I just need to find something to tempt it out - I wonder if it would fancy a nice bit of cheese...

So, glorious weather, just right for getting out to the park and such like.  Tiring out the boys is the thing to do, get them to bed early, and then settle down for a write.  The shame of it is that I write much more and much better stuff in the mornings and on sunny afternoons, but I don't get many of those for writing.  I'm supposed to get Matthew's nursery mornings of course, but lately other things have been claiming those.  I must try to claim them back.

I have a Noo Tattoo :)  It's a biggie!  I love it.  It matches perfectly with everything else - a little bit of colour, and a little bit of detail, but still fitting in nicely.  I'm very pleased with it.  Not to everyone's taste of course, but we don't all want to be the same now, do we?  You have your tattoos, and I'll have mine.  I'm telling my own story on my skin - this tattoo represents my late teens, a time when I was blissfully happy and blissfully ignorant and all that mattered were guitars, Jack Daniels, a-pound-a-pint, and my first boyfriend, Andy.  Life was very simple, and a lot of fun.  I could have regrets about some of my choices, but what a waste of time and energy that would be.  So I look back on those few years with tremendous fondness and a big beaming smile, because it was brilliant.  I got to see Guns 'n' Roses before they split up!  For goodness sake!  Do you know how many fans didn't get to see them?  Loads, I reckon...

So I got out my G'n'R CDs yesterday, that I haven't listened to for a very long time.  Couldn't find one of them - think I might have lent it out to someone, so will have to buy that again.  I played some songs to the boys, songs from Appetite for Destruction, and they were very impressed.  In fact they, Thomas and James, both said that Guns 'n' Roses are definitely their new favourite band.  They want to listen to my CDs loud in the car all the time!  And now my work is done - I can give my children no greater gift than Rock 'n' Roll.  Henceforth, the words Slash and Axl will be as familiar to my boys as 3DS and Mario are to other children.  I am proud.

Better go and collect my wonderful boys now then.  But look!  I have blogged :)  And would like to continue to do so.  I wonder if I can manage to keep up a blogging challenge, and post at least every other day from now until the end of the year?  I need some kind of writing challenge to get me going again.  I was thinking of a Hub-a-Day, and am still thinking of that.  Things that get me writing are good, because they usually encourage me to write more of my novel - and I find that the novel somehow magically starts to get written when I'm writing other things to.

Wow!  This blogging has been like a long-awaited meal today.  I feel nourished by it.  How strange.  But it is actually as lovely as eating chocolate after not having eaten chocolate for a long time.  Perhaps I could give up chocolate and sustain myself with writing.

Well, those boys are missing me - they phoned me, with little tears in their voices last night.  Well, Thomas did - James and Matthew were fine, so I told them to look after Thomas and give him hugs and be nice to him.  How funny that, even though I shout at them lots, my kids still love me!

See you anon (what does that mean?)


Friday, 2 March 2012




Having a nice year, so far?

I am.

Just plodding along, doing the things I love.  Reading, writing, being with my kids.  All good.  Particularly the kids part.  I keep finding that I'm putting them to bed very late, just because I'm enjoying talking to them, and doing homeworky things with them.  Last night I brought them upstairs to get ready for bed at 7pm, but they didn't actually settle down until 9pm because we decided to write in our diaries together, and I spent a good 40 minutes printing photos on my Pogo for us all.  Each boy wanted the same photos as his brothers, so I printed out four copies of each one.  There's nothing much better than sitting on my bed, with three little boys chattering away, asking me how to spell things, and telling me all about absolutely everything.  That is one of my favourite things to do in the world.  *deep sigh of contentment, interrupted by deep rumbling of hungry tummy*

It's lunch time, and I'm about to go and find something to eat, but thought I'd just kill some time before I go to collect young Matthew from playschool.  Perfect opportunity to blog a little.  I'm pleased with myself this morning.  I have been working on a short story.  I typed it up first, to remind myself of all its details, and then I carried on drafting it on the computer - something I never do, I always write by hand and type up when something's finished.  But I decided that it's about time I started typing as I think, because I'm taking too long to get things done.  This story got nicely embiggened by working in this way.    I'm going to finish it!  I know, crazy eh?  Me actually finishing something?  And then, I'm going to enter it into a competition.  It won't win, but that's okay.  The more stories I finish and submit, the more likely I am to win something.  If they're any good, my stories, that is.  If they're not then I could submit a hundred stories a week, and I'd never get anywhere.  And it doesn't really matter anyway.  I'll still keep writing.

Here are Thomas, James and Matthew.  It was World Book Day yesterday, and T and J's costumes were splendid.  I didn't get very good photographs, because the light in our house is atrocious and my phone camera is not very good.  But you can get a rough idea of how good they looked.  Matthew wanted to join in, and was Harry with his Bucketful of Dinosaurs.  Thomas was Peter Pevensie, and James was Edmund Pevensie (whom you will know if you are a fan of Narnia).

Happy days.  

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

The year's going great so far

Now, I do know that I've changed this blog's photo for a new ABSOLUTELY MASSIVE one.  But it's a good picture!  I don't know how to resize it for the blog.  Some people have nice long, narrow photos that fit absolutely perfectly.  They know something about photo-trickery that I don't.  I've not the patience to try and find out, so you're stuck with a massive photo.  Hey, it's it good one though :D

So, as I said, the year's going great so far.  I'm not watching any TV at all really, unless I happen to accidentally go downstairs for something and notice that Kev's watching 'Have I Got News For You' and get sucked into the telly.  But mostly I am sitting in my 'office' and reading and doing a little bit of writing.  I am just enjoying the productive vibe that's going on.  I have lots to do, and not enough time to do it all.  That's okay though, I'm just doing which bits I can.  I've got very lovely business cards now, which I need to distribute properly.  So far I have only sent some to Preston Uni via my friend Sara, and I have posted some on the Whale Tail noticeboard - this is clearly not going to make me rich.  I must do more.  I had intended to go to the Guardian office and give them one of my cards, but I've chickened out so far - this is exactly the wrong thing to do.  See, what I've done there, is I've imagined that I'll make a tit of myself, and I've made the Guardian office a scary place to go.  Now, it's very unlikely that I will actually make a tit of myself, because all I have to do is ask if they have any vacancies for a proofreader.  They will either say no, or they will say maybe.  It's very unlikely that they'll just say yes, and give me a job.  But all I want to do is give them my card and let them see that I'm enterprising.  Then I have to go to the university and distribute some cards there - that's also easy, but I've allowed it to grow into a task of Herculean proportions simply by putting it off.  All I have to do there is go into the library and ask if I can put my card on the noticeboard.  It's not difficult.  I've no need to fear rejection, because I already know what that feels like.

My pretty little business cards.  Apologies if you think they're a bit trite (I said 'trite'), but they're very me,
and I'm not about to pretend to be someone I'm not :)

I'll try to do these things on Friday morning - that is my only window, and I must use it wisely.

I have been writing, as I said.  Writing my mammoth Faerie novel - that is, my novel-of-mammoth-proportions that is entitled 'Faerie', not a novel about mammoth Faeries, or Faerie mammoths.  It was very nice to get back into it, and to move the story along a good bit.  I'm getting right into the action now, and it's starting to become exciting again.  And writing that stuff also inspired some ideas for hubs.  Hubs are great, and I've missed writing them - I did see them as a bit of a procrastination exercise, but actually, they're not, because they keep me writing and keep that creative bit of my brain in shape.  I've neglected the hubs, and probably as a consequence, I've neglected all of my writing for the past few months.  It's refreshing to be writing just anything again.  I hope I don't have another break like that for a very long time.  Writing makes me feel like I'm on holiday.

So, I have much to say, and lots of places and platforms to say it on and in and at.  Wednesday morning feels like just exactly the right morning to make some headway - if I don't get ill again.

Honestly (just a little moan) - has anyone else been ill for the past month?  This year's coldy-fluey thing is a horrible one, that just doesn't seem to want to eff off.  That's all I'm saying about that - people have worse things than colds!


Addendum 1:  I'm so brainless.  I've already written about some of the things I've just mentioned here.  How is it that I can completely forget that I've written in this blog since New Year?  What is bloody wrong with me?  I think I need to go back to Barbados for a week.

Addendum 2:  I have just been looking at my statistics for this blog, and it hardly gets read at all!  Lots of posts have been read less than once.  Less.  Than.  Once.  Hmph!  But I did notice that posts that were tagged with a famous person, or a topical issue, got a lot more views than other ordinary posts.  So I've tagged this post with a handful of famous people to see what effect that has.  Just a little game, you understand.  No doubt the people who drop by to see what I'm writing about Rhod Gilbert will pop right off again once they realise they've been had.  (I love Rhod Gilbert though - he's a very sexy man.)

Friday, 13 January 2012


It's hard work looking for jobs online, there's so much rubbish.  I have actually got an actual headache, and my eyes hurt, and I think I will have to take something evil to get rid of these little afflictions.

At the beginning of the week I thought I was going to find some jobs by the end of the week.  Now I think I might never find any.  All I need is one person to give me a good break, and then I'll be able to get more jobs.  I've applied for lots, but I'm competing with people who say they have decades of experience - of course, they could be lying; I'm not going to lie.

I've still got to take my business cards to the University and the college though, and to the Guardian office.  But, you never know, the lady that received my CV at the beginning of the week might suddenly come through with a job that I could do.  I might really impress her and she might send me work regularly.  Or the test that I mucked up a couple of weeks ago might not have bothered the person who was doing the hiring, and he might hire me anyway.  (If I hadn't mucked up that test I would probably be up to my neck in jobs by now!  What a golden opportunity to throw away!  Maybe I should write to that bloke and tell him that I've got my final mark back - he might be impressed and give me a chance.)


I just got phoned by a man claiming to be from Facebook.  He wanted me to give him £99 to pay for a month's advertising!  I hung up on him when it became clear that he wasn't going to shut up - god, I'd hate his job.

So, plodding on, plodding on.  Looking for jobs, looking for jobs.  Hope I can find some, hope I can find some.  It's hard to find jobs when you don't know where you're supposed to be looking though.  Maybe I'll just go and work in the Spar.

Or maybe I'll stop moaning, and get on and finish my bestselling novel.  Aha!  That's a good plan.

Oh, that oDesk job did not turn out to be the start of anything amazing.  The jobs on there are all rubbish, and the pay is stupid.  I'm not going to waste my time on it.  That is not the place to find good proofreading jobs.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

oDesk - could this be the start of a bit of cash coming my way, or is it a waste of time?

oDesk.  I've started using this huge virtual office type of network.  People advertise jobs that contractors can do online, or just on their computer; contractors bid for the jobs, and someone gets hired.  Pay ranges from virtually nothing, to quite a decent hourly rate, depending on experience and skills.  I'm a beginner, so the first job I've been hired for pays pretty much nothing.  I'm writing articles - 150-170 words is all - on a topic that this woman sends me.  I'm a BMR writer this week!  I write articles for her, and her ratings are boosted!  Whatever that means.  I don't really want to be doing it, but I discovered that it's actually quite good writing practice - she tells me to write, say ten articles on the same topic, and I have to come up with new ways of writing about the same thing over and over again.  It's sort of boring, but it's sort of interesting at the same time.  The way I seem to be doing this is by hearing different voices, different characters talking about the topic from their point of view; so I'm a lady of 60, new to the internet, finding out that it's not as scary as it seems; I'm a man of 24 who thought he'd decided to do one thing with his life, but has found that he's taken a completely different path; and so on.  It's very bizarre, because I'm essentially writing about absolutely nothing, and yet I have to include very specific keywords.  The keywords have to be in the right sort of place in the text, and the subject of the article has to be loosely related to the keyword.  I don't really understand what it's all about at all, but I can make a miniscule amount of money from it, so it's worth a go.  I suppose I will continue to work with this lady until I find another job on oDesk that pays properly, and that is more interesting.  That could be tomorrow, or it could be next week, I don't really know.  Actually, I don't think I'm allowed to just tell this lady that I've found another job and abandon her - I think I have to do a certain amount of work for her (I think she mentioned a hundred of these little pieces) before I can move on.  That's absolutely fine - it's boring, but at least it's getting my brain to work.  It's actually a lot easier than I thought it would be when I looked at the topics and had an initial panic!  Always pay to have a go, you see.

I could see how this sort of work could become completely soul destroying if a person did it for too long though.  I wouldn't want to do this for the rest of the year - I'd go mad.   Although, having said that, I suppose if you intersperse it with your own writing it might be more bearable.

So what I did was, I spent an hour on my Faerie book this morning.  I moved the plot along just a nudge and introduced another character, and felt quite good about myself.  Actually, I just generally feel quite good about myself today, because I have successfully ignored the stinking cold I've got :)  It has not prevented me from doing anything - although I think I'm a bit feverish this evening, and might be struck down tomorrow!  But it's just a cold - I know people who have worse things than a cold today :(

So, all in all, a good start to the year.  I may have seriously messed up my chance of getting a lovely little proofreading job, because I'm an idiot and should not have done the test piece when I was tired.  But at least I'm being productive, and at least I haven't curled up in a corner and cried and said something like 'oh nooooooo, I'm so stupid, how could I be so stupid?' and 'I'll never be a proofreader now!'  Because I still will be a proofreader; I just won't have my first job with the very nice and patient Liam Bennett.

Well, and that's all for now.  I'm going to get Lord of the Rings, and I'm going to start reading it, because I need to find out how to write battles - I'll be coming up to a small skirmish in my book soon, and I need some ideas on how to put down the right words for that.

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, as you can see.
Another book with really good battles in it - battles with dragons: stupendous!

Monday, 2 January 2012

New stuff, as per tradition

I suppose it might seem that there are New Year things going on around here, but I do new things all the time, at any time of year, so it's just coincidence.  But, right, there are some new things that I'll just quickly share with you.

I've finished my proofreading course, and I'm looking for jobs *smiley face*!  Fancy me, looking for jobs.  It's very exciting.  I hope I find some - because it might eventually become less exciting if I don't.  To this end I have applied for work with an academic proofreading company, and am waiting to find out if I passed their test.  It was a bit tricky, because it was using Word track changes facility, which I haven't used before.  But once I got into it - i.e. once I'd made roughly ... two corrections - it was easy to use.  I hope I get one of those jobs - the company is looking for a few proofreaders for the coming year - because it seems to be a lovely way of working.  Editing on the efile is very nice; I'm surprised a little, as I thought I would have an aversion to it, having just done my course on hard copies.  But it was great, and I think I could be very good at it.

I've also registered with oDesk, which seems to be a virtual huge office.  There are all kinds of online jobs to apply for there and it seems a very professional place.  I don't know how easy it will be to find jobs without experience, but there are a lot to rake through.  Most of them require more specialist knowledge and experience than I have, but there are plenty of writing jobs to have a look at and apply for.  There are skills tests to take to demonstrate what kind of knowledge you have before you've managed to get any jobs.  Anyway, I'll see what comes of that.  I've applied for one job already, but so have quite a few other people!

Something else is new, but I've temporarily forgotten what it is.  Gah!  My brain just doesn't work properly at the moment, it's very frustrating.  I can't remember what I had for my tea.  But long-forgotten childhood memories are not coming back to me yet, so that's a good sign.

So I might be working soon.  And then all kinds of things might change and be new.  Don't know what, but I think it'll be an exciting year for me *another smiley face*.

I'm doing well to feel positive today, because I have a head full of snot, and there's often a feeling that if we don't start off the very first bit of a new year in a positive and productive way that the rest of the year might be a disaster.  Well, I say that, but I never feel that way!  I'm always excited in January, always looking forward to the spring, and finding out what I'm going to be up to in the next year.  But seriously, I think this will be a good year - it'll have some bad stuff in it, as all years do, but let's not despair, eh?  Let's look at the good stuff a bit more gratefully, eh?  There's a lot more of it about than many people realise.

A picture ... a picture should be inserted here.  But what of?  I've nothing new - I seem to have forgotten that I own a camera this year.  Ooh, ooh, perhaps with my earnings - if I earn enough - I might buy a new camera, a DSLR!

But a picture.  I'll just find one ...

This is my oDesk profile picture; perhaps a tad too informal, but at least it's presentable, and at least my writing is professional. 

Right then, I'll be off to bed.  Got to make sure the kids have uniform ready for Wednesday - I've put away not a single piece of clean laundry over Christmas!  Shock, horror, what a terrible, lazy woman!