Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Read Your Genre

At every single writing conference I've attended, I've been given the same advice.

'Read everything you can in your genre.'

Yet, listening to complaints from an agent, her number one gripe was being sent children's fiction from someone who had obviously not read anything published in the last thirty years. 

I have tried to give the same advice to people coming to my writing group. They quite rightly point out that Beatrice Potter and Enid Blyton are still on the bookshelves. And are selling well. Yes. True.

But they aren't trying to get published now. If someone wants to read an Enid Blyton style book, they will read her books. She wrote 186 novels, 223 character books, 267 education books, 179 reaction books, 153 continuation books and 884 short story series. The publishing industry don't need more 'Famous Five' stories.

I would recommend reading what has been published in the last five years. Due to the recession, fewer books were published, which means we writers gained an even clearer idea of what the industry was looking for.

In my experience poets and children writers are the worse culprits for not reading their genre. We children writers have a blast. Especially since the work that does make the book shops tend to be outstanding!

Here is my heavy reading load for today.

Quick thought:  

'If you're listening to the radio in your car and a song or station comes on that you don't like, you reach over and flip the channel. You don't make yourself sit there and listen, analyzing why, letting it seep in to your life. It's the same thing with your thoughts. Flip the channel and find a good station to listen to!'

Charlotte Siems

Ideas - what do you do with yours?

I felt like a coffee percolator driving home from University last night. So many exciting ideas bubbling up! The one to one session with Sara Grant, and her feedback on my work was amazing. Then I had a teaching session on writing for young readers.  So many thoughts. So many possible best sellers. I could see the book. I could see the cartoon. And I didn't write any of them down. 

Sara recommends that all writers should be making a list of three or four ideas a day. She pops hers down on her phone. She doesn't believe that there is such a thing as a bad idea or a silly idea. She  lists everything.

I don't regularly record every idea I have because I think most of them are stupid. Sometimes I'm excited about an idea for a couple of minutes until I realised that actually the idea has been done before.
I get a great deal of pleasure from letting my ideas play out in my mind. But, and this is a shocking admission for someone who claims to love writing, I'm too lazy to write the story.

The idea of just writing a list of ideas on my phone is quite liberating. Best of all, it sounds easy! Right? 

I woke up at 6:20 this morning. I was pondering the idea of guinea pigs being the intelligence department, I picked up my iPad to write it down, but stopped. I thought about G - Force, a film about guinea pigs spies. I don't want to copy an idea. 

The rot has set in, my next idea was to stupid, my next idea was too weird.

I had fallen back into the trap of self editing before anything even hits the page. 

'Write down every idea' seems to be a lot more difficult than it sounds.

It's hard because once again I'm am trying to get out of a 'want to be a writer' habit and developing a habit that an already successful writer uses. More mental training I think to get to my goals.

Monday, February 24, 2014

A Revamp for The Writers at Lovedean!

Writing is changing.

Most people focus on changes between traditional publishing and self-publishing, but the new advances in technology mean that there are lots of exciting opportunities to show off your creativity in different mediums. I have rediscovered my love of poetry via the work artists display on YouTube.

For the past few years, I have published an anthology for my writing group, The Writers at Lovedean. However, I've been keen to keep up with the changing times. This year I want to do something different.
I tried to get the group into pod casts last year, but the idea collapsed before it even got started. This year I feel a lot more energised and convinced that we should be able to produce a more polished end product.
A few years ago I had an opportunity to work as a scriptwriter for Express FM. Writing for radio left an impression on me. I think that writing outside your natural genre makes you a stronger writer. To be asked to write something that someone would listen to rather than read pushed me to my limit. It was a thrilling experience.

What I want to do is create a mixture of ‘shorts’ which we will upload to YouTube. I think this is going to test the abilities of many of the writers within the group. I believe the work should be short, around three minutes. They need to think about how their work will be received by a listening audience, rather than someone reading their work. AND I want to have visual images. Now I'm not pretending that I am now into the business of making films. But I want the writers to think how they would portray their work with visual images or music.

I often listen to some of the writers work. Especially, a gentleman Mick Cooper. His work is often inspired by real places in Portsmouth. He’s good at reading his work. It will be interesting to see if a slideshow would work.

On television recently was a programme called, ‘Crackanory’ which made me wonder if something similar could be reproduced by a small group of writers. It will be interesting to see if the group fancy the challenge.

We had a little meeting today. And came up with an action plan.
The first thing on the agenda is to make sure that everyone’s bio’s and head shot is up to date. A must for any writer by the way.
Next is getting people to look at their work or write a new piece that they think will lend itself to a visual side.
We will then ask members to read their work and record it.
Then going out with a video camera and tripod to record some images.
Lastly, I’m going to have a go with my editing suite software.

I am not sure what the results will be like. But what I do know is that it will make us all think of our writing in a different way. And that is good.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Walking in someone else's shoes

A fellow Mum came to visit yesterday. She’s got her hands full with four children and has decided that I have the perfect job. I work from home. I sometimes give lessons and performance work. It sounds like fun. She thought freelance writing would be great she could fit it in around the kids.

Surprise number one was that I was tapping away when she came round. 

Surprise number two was the white board, with my list of jobs and deadlines.

‘But you don’t HAVE TO work school holidays do you?’ she asked.
‘Of course not, but I do. In fact, I write every day.’

I actually don't think I am alone in this way of thinking. Can anyone who runs their own business truly switch off when they go on holiday or at weekends; those who do are an exceedingly rare breed. For the majority of individuals who have set up and grown their own business, work and life are joined at the hip, they cannot be separated.

And then surprise number three.

‘So you have to go out and look for work? Can’t you just put a website up, and wait for people to call you?’
Wouldn't that be wonderful?

I have some lovely delicious ideas for books in the 5 to 8 and 9 to 12 year old age bracket. My fingers are just itching to start a new project. And that’s the problem. I love starting a project. But lots of projects on the go may be a fun way to spend my time, but not a profitable one.

Everyday, I write, and I love it. Then I have to edit, which I hate. While I’m on a project, I also have to be pitching for the next piece of work. Today I was posted a list of requested changes to an educational resource I finished seven months ago. It’s been out to peer review, and now it’s back to me for changes. I also have preparation for my writing group to do.

It’s a matter of breaking down tasks. Completing tasks you have started pitching for new work and starting on new ideas.
I think the key is when you make the decision to make it your job, put in the hours and make deadlines.
My friend has decided to look for a part time job in a library.

I actually think she would make a great writer. I think she should start writing. But not in the hope for rich rewards. The J K Rowlings of this world make the newspapers because it is very rare to get that level of success. 

I would recommend that before anyone starts on any change of profession you look behind the scenes. Ask people in the know. I dearly hope I didn’t discourage my friend. I am certain that if this was a path she really wanted I would be unable to discourage her. I guess the point I’m trying to make, is the age old saying of walking in someone else’s shoes. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

Building a writing portfolio

How to build a writing portfolio


I don’t write for free.

Yes, we have all heard people say that. And I’m not saying that you should work for free forever. But please be realistic. What did you do when you wanted to get that first job, but you had no experience? You went out and volunteered. And got some experience pretty quickly. 

How to build a writing portfolio?

Start small


Writing is not a get rich quick scheme.


Look for places where you can gain experience. It will help you find out if writing is the right career for you. Do not look down at opportunities to become published. Free online magazines, anthologies and competitions are all starting points. Remember even if you are writing for free, be professional. Complete the work and send it back to a high standard. Be polite. Thank people for the opportunities they have provided and end with a note asking for them to let you know if they have anymore work coming up.


To get clients you need to be able to prove you can produce good work, and to do that you need a writing portfolio.


You’ll soon find you’ve written about all sorts of topics for all sorts of mediums and have a sizeable amount of work for your portfolio to showcase on your website or blog. It helps to have an excellent range of experience. Just as you would do with a CV, you focus on what the client wants. It’s at this stage you delete all traces of yourself from projects that you started on and highlight the ones you are pleased with and think will help you get that paying job.


Have you got a niche?


Do you have specialist knowledge in a certain area, food, dogs, caravans?

I write educational resources, and film reviews. I’m a chatty person who sometimes can get interviews from more successful authors. I have used all these opportunities to get paid writing work. That doesn’t mean that I’m not keeping my eyes open for the next way in.


The best thing about finding a niche is that it cuts down on the feverish pitching new and unique ideas to editors. Once you find an area that you can write in, write lots of articles on that subject. That way they will come to you because of your specialise knowledge.



Twitter, Drabble and Flash Fiction

Do you know the difference?

Twitter Fiction

Twitter fiction is among the most challenging to write because you're limited to 140 characters. That may seem like a lot when you're just mentioning what you are going to have for dinner, but when you're trying to tell a story, it is extremely restrictive. Twitter stories often leave a lot to the reader's imagination. They can also draw on common knowledge such as myths, history, and well-known stories to convey a tale with very few words.

Try a search on Terse Tales


A drabble is a story exactly 100 words long. Writing to a precise word length is difficult and makes you really weigh every word. (The big question to consider is do you count the title when doing a word count, I don't, although other writers may feel differently. The online magazine 100 Word Story publishes drabbles (and they don't include the title as part of the count.)

Flash Fiction is a style of fictional literature or fiction of extreme brevity. There is no widely accepted definition of the length of the category. Some self-described markets for flash fiction impose caps as low as six words, while others consider stories as long as a thousand words to be flash fiction.

Check out the free online magazines 100 Word Story, Metazen1000 Words and Vestal Review.

If you are interested in writing flash fiction why not get involved in National Flash Fiction Day? A new 

Micro–Fiction competition is open for entries at;


Kinesthetic and Organic Senses in Writing

On Sunday, I was invited to my friend’s cottage for a writing day. It was lovely.  My friend had gone to a great deal of thought and preparation. She had prepared some lovely writing exercises. Some of which sparked five, yes FIVE flash fiction ideas.

It’s gratifying to spend time who like the same interests as you.

I have often brought objects into my writers group to provide inspiration, but it is strange and fun when someone else does the exercise. They pick things that wouldn’t necessary catchyou eye at first glance. I’ve always loved object writing.

It’s a simple and method of finding inspiration. You pick anobject at random, or in this case someone else provides aselection and focus your senses on it. All your senses. Spend a little time on each sense. Don’t make the mistake of focusingpurely on sight, smell and touchSay you are looking at an old coin or shell, what would it taste like? It may sound stupid but incorporating senses into yourwriting makes it better.

Humans have different senses. Most people have experienced knowing whos on the other end of the phone when it rings.They recognise the feeling that something has walked over their grave.

Think about your organic senses. Does your heart beat when you are asked to stroke a snake or hold a spider? Does any smells give you a head ache or make your mouth water?

Kinesthetic sense is fundamentally your relation to the world around you. Do you remember when you were a child, andyou would spin in circles? Think about feelings ofseasickness, blurred vision or being drunk.

Does the object stimulate any memories of organic orkinesthetic senses?

Object writing is best done is small bursts of five or ten minutes. See it as a starting point. You don’t have to be loyal to the object. Don’t feel as if you have to write your story or poem about the object, it was merely a way to open up the flood gates and get you into the zone.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Feeling grateful

I have so much to be grateful for in my life. Top of my list are my two miracle babies.

My beautiful baby girl was twelve yesterday. I remember when she was born. She was alert, eyes open and skin so soft. Her little fingers spread out like star fish. 

I remember all those magical lazy mornings with the whole family snuggled in bed. She was a reflux baby which isn't fun and provided buckets full of washing. Before the end of her first year we found out she was a climber. That statement won't mean much to most. For those who had a toddler who liked to climb they will no doubt recal all those heart stopping moments when you find a child wobbling uncertainly from some dangerous high position.

My husband couldn't be with our daughter on her birthday, he phoned several times yesterday. He is missing so much living in Stevenage. I feel so sorry for him when he isn't here for these mile stones, and I appreciate the fact that I don't often miss these special moments. 

Every so often you see a glimpse of the young woman my daughter will become. It is difficult to describe these strange magical moments. It is like eating a strange combination of food, both sweet and sour at the same time.

I desperately tried to finish my work before my daughter came home, but I still needed another three to four hours to complete it. I rarely fall behind deadlines, but things have slipped over the last few weeks. Bills have to be paid.  My oldest daughter stepped in and came to the rescue, she made the birthday tea. It was very kind of her. She was tired because she stayed late after school for a rehearsal. She'd also pulled a tendon in her foot, and is in a lot of pain at the moment. Nevertheless, while I was making changes to a manuscript, she peeled potatoes. It does get easier as the children grow older. 

Tea was a quiet affair, just the three of us. I was hoping that once I sent out my latest edit to my editor we could snuggle up and watch a film or maybe play a game. Now it was my youngest daughter turn to be busy. She wanted to practise on her new keyboard and play a few computer games.

How many times do we say to our children, 'not now I'm busy?' It doesn't take long before they are saying that to us.

I have finished one massive task this week, but I'm still so behind. I will be juggling today. I need to get more work out, put the church magazine together AND bake a birthday cake. I will also have to pick my oldest girl up from school because she is auditioning for the school production of 'The Wizard of Oz.' Plus it is the dreaded a Guides night, pick up and drop off via the diversion around the flood. 

Children add complications to our lives. It can make finding time to write harder, but I'm ever so grateful to have them. This morning I woke my daughters early and so that we could have a cuddle in my bed. It's certainly easier catching a snuggle from older children when they are still tired, groggy and the music isn't on yet. 

I've decided that I will phone my husband today to see if he would like to go and see Mr Peabody and Sherman.  I want to take the girls to the cinema for a treat and to say thank you, they certainly deserve it. 

What! You too?

“Friendship is born at that moment when one man says to another: "What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . ."” 
― C.S. LewisThe Four Loves

Every so often in life you something happens and you can immediately identify with the other person. 

Way back when I was a teacher, I had a head of the department who would literally make me physically sick with anxiety. She would see me in the corridor just after eight and say,

‘I’m really annoyed and upset with you. Really cross. I can’t talk about it now, but I want you to see me after the school day.’

I would be worried and stressed all day. After three thirty, I would find her and often it was something trivial and easily sorted. For example, when she accused me of taking the key to the DVD player home. Once I brought out the booking forms to prove that I had not signed the DVD player out for months she said simply,

‘You can go.’

I sometimes worry when someone asks to speaks to me. My initial reaction is always that I must have done something wrong.  I feel as if cold water is pouring all over my body, my stomach churns.  I can’t describe the dread I often experience towards a phone call or letter. Sometimes it can be triggered by a simple,

 ‘Can I talk to you for a second?’

 I think it is all mixed up with being a people pleaser and strangely setting high standards. Anyway, the point is I have always felt it was just me.

But no!

Yesterday, while I was making my usual mess at dealing with a difficult conversation, the lovely lady I was talking to became visually concerned. It was resolved in seconds. We weren’t having words or anything like that. However, it was an eye opener for me. Someone else had the same stress reflex. I knew what she was feeling.

Every so often people on Facebook see messages like;

‘Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle’

We share and liked these messages because they contain a simple truth. We don’t know what is going on behind closed doors or inside peoples minds. Appearances are deceptive.

I have a friend who has recently lost a family member. Now she and her family have another family member diagnosed with cancer. We drank coffee. My friend feels guilty because she feels tired.  She wants to walk away. She can’t understand why she sometimes she bursts into tears.

My friend isn’t selfish. My friend is burnt out.

I can remember having similar feelings after the diagnosis of my own parents cancer. The feelings of pain and guilt. The worse emotion is that feeling of helplessness.

The point is that negative emotions have a way of making you feel that you are the only person who has ever felt like that.  It is so easy to think that no one else understands. We can’t know exactly how others feel, but painful moments in our own lives should help us gain greater empathy.

I can’t help wondering why we don’t often deal with these feelings in our writing. Perhaps it’s because use writing to escape from our daily lives? 

If anyone is interested in an example of excellent writing, which deals with strong emotions, I would recommend an outstanding book,  ‘A Monster Calls’ by Patrick Ness.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Polishing your work according to Aristotle

Last night was my last session on picture books with author Andrew Weale. His last piece of advice was polish your work.

Personally, I love the process of writing and creating. The other stuff, polishing your work until it's shines is hard. 

According to Aristotle the parts of language, such as style and characterization, are the easiest for young writers to master, and that only upon maturity do writers demonstrate command of the subtler techniques that lie beneath the surface of the text, such as structure. 

Yet, time and time again we spend hours fixing the obvious mistakes. Most writers begin their editing with spellings, tuning up their phrases, tightening their sentences.  We ignore deep character flaws and plot holes, because deep down we know it means that it may mean going back to the beginning and starting again.

It is strange that it is through picture book writing, with a maximum of 900 words that I finally understand a good edit needs more. To revise successfully, you have to know what you’re writing about, what your story is, your point. You have to know what it is that makes it unique. What's inside the story that moves you?

Monday, February 10, 2014

When the week ahead is full of jobs I hate!

This weeks work board isn't as full as usual - but the jobs listed aren't my favourite ones. I can complete three tasks I like faster than one job I hate.

Any week that contains a lot of editing and making changes to MS are hard. I struggle to find the joy in these tasks. I am much more confident in starting a new project. I usually force myself to do unpleasant chores first. This morning I am questioning if this is a good policy.

The day started with having to write a difficult email. One of the best things about being a sole trader is the lack of office politics. Unfortunately, even if you live in a remote location and work for yourself, every so often you have to deal with other people.

My usual tactic is to try to diffuse things with humour. Alas, this is not always possible. I don't like upsetting other people. But when you run groups or organise events occasionally you are asked to be the  person to stand up to the plate and say 'hey - this behaviour isn't cool - stop it.' 

In every communication situation, there are two elements present: The relationship you have with this person, and the issue you are discussing. An effective communicator knows how to separate the person from the issue, and be soft on the person and firm on the issue. I hope I have managed to get the balance right!

Another obstacle to my work week is that there are quite a lot of difficulties in the home life situation. It never ceases to amaze me the ripples a small problem at home can cause in the work zone.
Number 1. The dog is on anti biotics - we have put the tablets in sausage, cheese, corn beef etc. he can eat around anything and spit out the tablet. Grinding it up and mixing with something else is also not working. Being out witted by a dog on a daily bases can effect your confidence level. 

And he's found my secret stash of creme eggs. I am trying to tell myself they can be replaced, but I feel bereaved. And with the floods it's a fifty minute round trip to the nearest shop.

Number 2. Both girls are in a school production and even though they are in the SAME production - they have rehearsals on different days. The school runs are back.

Number 3. Teenage girls - Valentine's Day, I can't even write about the hassle.

Number 4. And most Mums will offer instant sympathy over this. On Saturday it's  number two daughters birthday party. So of course you wake up at three in the morning thinking must remember bread or vegetarian.

I am proud that I have managed to get in my DBS application, (my CRB check ran out two weeks ago,) that I'm up to date on my training, all my books are done and with the accountant. Plus I have also booked the flights for my writing retreat in May AND I have finally got my daughters passport photograph! Yeah! 

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Could you be a 'groomers' next target?

CRB checks are now being phased out and replaced with DBS. 
On Saturday I updated my training for identifying children and vulnerable adults. I was pleased and surprised that sexual abuse is on the decline. Many of the horrific cases we see in the newspapers are historical incidents. 

Unfortunately, financial and emotional abuse is on the rise.

It's mainly carried out by family, friends and neighbours. It's hard to understand how someone will take months and years grooming a victim. I can only guess at the psychology behind their behaviour, the sheer sense of entitlement they must believe they have to take what isn't theirs. 

was expecting the course to focus on spotting victims - mainly children, and what to do if we see something that concerns us.

I was wrong. Much of the course was about protecting ourselves.

Unfortunately,  it seems a harsh reality that most volunteers because of their usual giving natures, are possible targets.  Listening to some of the stories from the other delegates was certainly an eye opener. 

Groomers, abusers and users don't just target children

Most of the people on the course had some experience of someone trying to take advance and some had some pretty horrendous horror stories. It seems that the majority of people are honest. But, alas, there are some people out there who have their own motives and are determined to get what they want.

After hearing how some mature and sensible people have been 'taken in' I decided to share the information I received, if it helps just one person from being taken advantage off it won't have been wasted.

It is hard to understand that a predator will identify and engage a victim and work to gain the target’s trust, break down defences, and manipulate the victim until they get whatever it is they are after. 

Abusers use shared secrets to bind their victims to them. By degrees, the target is gradually lured in to revealing private information, giving up money,  or permitting /engaging in inappropriate, unsafe, or illegal behaviours.

Who are the victims of grooming? 

Men. Women. Children. Young adults. The middle-aged. The elderly. The lonely and the emotionally compromised. Those whose defences are down. Anyone with soft boundaries. In short: There is no prototypical victim. Almost anyone can be vulnerable to grooming. Predators are practiced, and extremely good at what they do. Those who are not, tend to get caught. Those who get caught, tend to learn from their mistakes, and refine their techniques. You don’t have to be especially gullible to fall victim to grooming, but if you learn the signs, you can successfully identify a potential abuser, and avoid exploitation:

Predators work in the shadows, and have something to hide.
Predators claim to feel a "special connection" with their targets, even if they've only just met.
Predators recruit co-conspirators (forced teaming) to fight their battles and do their bidding.
Predators draw their victims in by sharing private information then swearing them to secrecy.
Predators practice divide and conquer techniques in order to manipulate others.

What NOT to Do:

Don't trust too soon, or share too much with someone you’ve only just met.
Don't fall for false flattery, or verbal seduction.
Don’t compromise your boundaries.
Don't allow yourself to be isolated from others against your own better judgment.
Don't blame yourself for how the other person is behaving.
Don't stay in the room if the situation becomes physically, verbally or emotionally unhealthy.
Don't go it alone or keep what you are experiencing a secret.

What TO Do:

Use caution around someone you may have only just met, who pays you too many compliments, gives you too much attention, demands too much of your time, shares too much information, or tries to swear you to secrecy.
Question motives.
Learn to pay attention to your gut, and trust those feelings to guide you.
Remind yourself you are not to blame for what a predator is attempting to do to you.
Learn to say no, and mean it.

And if you do get taken in?

Don't rack your brain trying to figure out why your "friend" did this to you - he or she did it because that's what predictors and con people do.  Their minds do not operate in the same way yours and mine do.  You can't peek in there and try to make sense of their behavior because you are trying to analyze the behavior of a criminal mind using a sane, moral mind as a base platform.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

At least my nipples were on straight - perspective

Figure drawing is the traditional cornerstone art training. The human figure offers every challenge one could require - line and tone, perspective and composition. It is well over 20 years since I've been to an art class with a live model. 

My natural medium is pen and ink, so I often draw with the kind of pen you can buy in any shop. But I love charcoal. 

Unfortunately, I was sitting next to a nice lady who had all the kit, large board, massive piece of paper, newspaper on the floor, extra chair for numerous bits and bobs. I immediately thought she must be a tutor sitting in.

She asked me if I had been to an art class before and I explained it was a long time ago. She explained I had bought the wrong paper, (I prefer a textured finished.) She advised on charcoal pencils or the more expensive block charcoal rather than my willow sticks. Did I bring a chamois? Did I know never to touch my paper with my greasy, acidic fingertips?

I was beginning to feel overwhelmed and out of my depth. But once the model stepped out the class descended into silence, and I relaxed into peaceful concentration.

At break time I reviewed my work and I was disappointed by my results. I remembered pieces I had produced in my 'A' level art class, when I was drawing everyday. I decided the words, 'use it or lose it were true.' But, with practice perhaps I could get back there? I was so lost in negative thought, that I had forgotten that I had, at least, enjoyed myself when my neighbour spoke.

'How did you do that?' She asked waving a hand around my picture.

I was confused. What could this lady learn from me?

'What do you mean?' I asked looking down at my picture, 'the shading?'

'No,' she replied showing me her work of a Picasso inspired figure, 'how do you get the nipples on straight?'

Needless to say it struck me as very funny.

I was focusing on the parts of my picture where my perspective was off, completely ignoring the good bits.

And the fact that at least my nipples were on straight.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Each and every person that has ever lived had to face obstacles. They are a part of life. We can however choose how we react to them.  Sometimes it helps viewing life as an obstacle course focuses us on finding a way around, over, under or through them.  I sometimes think that a defining  part of a persons character is how they deal with life's ups and downs.

A friend of mine and a beautiful soul recently received some bad news. She will be forced to fight cancer for the third time. It is unfair. And makes even those with faith ask the familiar question, why do people suffer? This wonderful person does not deserve, it is not her fault, it is not a consequence of something she has done. 

Yet she is bravely attempting to deal with news like a lady - with a graceful determination.

You can not hear news like this without asking why?

Obstacles by their very nature change a person, they force you change, grow and adapt. If they stop or delay you on your life's journey slowing down can help you choose the right path. I have to admit that with hindsight some of the difficulties, which were terrible at the time, resulted in something for the best in the long run. And some...well, surviving them made me stronger.

Anyone choosing a career in writing have chosen a path filled obstacles and rejections.

Listen to what Og Mandino says about this very thing in his book, 'The Greatest Salesman in the World':

“First, you must prove to me, and more important to yourself, that you can endure the life of a salesman for it is not an easy lot you have chosen. Truly, many times have you heard me say that the rewards are great if one succeeds but the rewards are great only because so few succeed. Many succumb to despair and fail without realising that they already possess all the tools needed to acquire great wealth. Many others face each obstacle in their path with fear and doubt and consider them as enemies when, in truth, these obstructions are friends and helpers. Obstacles are necessary for success because in selling, as in all careers of importance, victory comes only after many struggles and countless defeats. Yet each struggle, each defeat, sharpens your skills and strengths, your courage and your endurance, your ability and your confidence and thus each obstacle is a comrade-in-arms forcing you to become better… or quit. Each rebuff is an opportunity to move forward; turn away from them, avoid them, and you throw away your future.”

Part of living is being an example and a strength for other people. Your success in overcoming obstacles will be a strength and an encouragement to others.

We’re not all “salesman” but every course of action has its bumps and ruts. We can and should learn from each one. The choice is ours.