Monday, August 11, 2014

Why people like me sometimes don't leave the house.

I think it must have been the moon or something, but so many people dear to me are having rows at the moment.

I'm feeling very ill mentally. 

I totally get that families and friends fall out. I also think it's healthy to talk to friends and family about it. Better out than in. I think the 'do you think I'm overreacting questions etc' are normal. In my entire life there has only been three people that I have, with great regret, had to step away from. 

Interestingly, on reflection when I look back at the relationships that haven't worked in my life I can see that for the last year or two I wasn't a good friend to them. I started to complain about them behind their back. I became cross and impatient with them. I taught that person that it was okay to treat me badly or use me, because I accepted bad behaviour. I jumped in and did things that I didn't want to do, and then felt resentful about it later.

What I don't understand is the 'I'm not talking to such and such, so I won't be happy until YOU aren't talking to them either. 

It is an horrible situation to be in. When relationships break down, for whatever reasons, step aside, let it go. Don't try and form an army against that person. Even if you are in the right. If you see them in the street, be polite, but move on. Forgive them, untie yourself from that drama.

I can say about the three people I'm no longer connected with, that I wish them well on their life journey. I just don't want to be hurt any more. I remember the musical Fiddler on the Roof. A man asks the rabbi if there is a blessing for the Tsar, a man responsible for forcing the Jews out of their homes.

Young Jewish Man: Rabbi, may I ask you a question?
Rabbi: Certainly, my son.
Young Jewish Man: Is there a proper blessing for the Tsar?
Rabbi: A blessing for the Tsar? Of course! May God bless and keep the Tsar... far away from us!

It sort of sums up my feelings. It takes me a long time to get rid of the anger and forgive. Basically I have two settings, 'off my head' angry and calm. And I have to let it run round my head, bubble up, time and time again.  It's horrible feeling like that, I hate it, and I'm glad when it finally goes. I understand when sometimes like weeds, these feelings pop up years later. But my ultimate goal is to move on and let go.

I'm not claiming to be some sort of saint. I will hold me hand up and admit that when people who have hurt me have in turn been hurt themselves. Yes I've smiled, and felt justice been served - but not by my hand! And it does make a difference.

When my husband and I was running a company a man stole from us. Was I glad when he was caught  with his fingers in the till elsewhere? Yes. I admit it I felt validated. Particularly when those who didn't believe us was forced to realise we were right. I suppose there is a little bit of 'I told you so' in everyone.

Break ups are not an excuse to be rude, not speak to that person or announce loudly. 'I'm not going if they are going?'  Or in this case  'if you like me you wouldn't go either.' Why drag everyone else into and make them pick sides? Or happily announce what has been said behind your back. Because you're hurting you want others feel hurt. It's easily done when we are angry - but surely we should try and take the higher path?

I truly believe that it was holding on to hate and resentment that was responsible for my mothers  constant illness and death. In fact the last three phones calls I have had has made me so tired and drained, I've not left the house this morning.

So dear friends, I'm willing to listen, make tea, eat a cake with you. I really understand being upset about a quarrel and it going round and round in your head so you can't even sleep - honesty I get it. Vent if you need to. But I'm not prepared to go to war. 

If you were in a wheelchair I wouldn't ask you to climb a stair. Please understand that my mental stability boat doesn't take rough seas. So if you want to contact me this week - funny dogs and panda pictures please, no massive dramas. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Sue Hampton Guest Post

Today's guest post is by Sue Hampton about her new book GORILLA DREAMS.

My Ever had GORILLA DREAMS? That’s the title of my twentieth book and it was published this week (as an e-book and paper book RRP £5.99) by PneumaSprings – one of my five publishers, and this book is a slim volume but that’s a very long story! In GORILLA DREAMS Mr Eden tells two stories illustrating two styles and moods, both of which I enjoy as a writer who doesn’t want to be limited to one genre or age group. The first is wacky, cartoony slapstick fun with lots of wild, humorous imagery; the second is deeper, more sensitive and lyrical, with danger and sadness in a context that’s much more real. I value my diversity!

How did I start gorilla dreaming? Well, it’s grown out of my love of dance, is dedicated to Darcey Bussell and has a few Strictly and ballet references. It’s also another way of exploring difference, a theme that in various ways underpins a lot of my work. As soon as I became Ambassador for Alopecia UK I raised over £800 by dancing non-stop for four hours. But perhaps more than anything else this book is about the power of stories – and my husband, with tongue in cheek,calls it post-modern because it has a storyteller who turns out to be a character in his own story. When I was a teacher myself I knew that Story Time was the most precious part of the school day. Subsequently as a writer I’ve seen the impact of fiction on real lives. I was invited to be Alopecia UK’s Ambassador because readers with hair loss, young and old, felt supported by my book THE WATERHOUSE GIRL. Equally movingly, it’s made readers with hair think and feel differently too. One boy wrote, “You made me a better person”. Gulp!That’s the difference stories can make.

The next book will be YA, published by Candy Jar, and then in 2015 I’ll have my first actual adult novel (currently my only adult novel, ARIA, pub. Create,exists only as an e-book and audiobook) and I’m sure this range helps me to keep learning and improving. When I had my chat at Harper Collins they wanted to ‘brand’ me and I was told that my breadth was a problem that worried them! So I’m walking my own path. It’s twisted, bumpy and difficult. It sometimes feels as if it’s looped back rather than forward and I don’t kid myself that I’m heading, albeit slowly, towards J.K.Rowling status. I won’t get there. But the path has its advantages. Teachers, librarians and parents who’ve read my books appreciate the way I write: crediting kids with intelligence, extending their vocabulary, showing them a range of sentence structures and, mostimportantly, exploring timeless themes rather than following fashion. I have devoted young fans whose enjoyment keeps me writing and I love enthusing children in schools. And when I hear horror stories of big publishers trying to bully authors and take control of content, dropping titles close to publication and trying to keep the rights to the story or demand the advance back (!) I value my independence.

I’ve learned a lot in seven years. I’ve become more critical of my own writing and edit much more ruthlessly. I don’t believe promises from anyone in the book world. Book shops and literary festivals rarely ring back. School mail-outs are costly and speculative, and in spite of Michael Morpurgo’s endorsement of my writing and my bargain fee, only one in 200 will book me. Customers at schools, shows or other events who say they’ll put a cheque in the post if I trust them with a signed book very often never pay. The competitions that really count are only open in practice to those with big publishers. And authors like me spend almost as much time on promotional activity as writing. For GORILLA DREAMS I’ll be doing at least twelve school assemblies (free) and running a competition, thankfully supported by the local library with an exhibition and prize-giving, all launched at a (free) show. Heard the phrase ‘death of the author’? The Guardian recently published a piece by the Society of Authors that said publishing is no longer sustainable or equitable for writers – whose median earnings have plummeted while most publishers still make a good profit.

But, to go back to GORILLA DREAMS, I’m a believer in stories, in the power of words and imagination. Children deserve good stories and I’m committed to trying to write them. I love the language and try to use it in ways that are fresh, powerful and exciting. And I’m thrilled to have a new book, beautifully illustrated by a genuine artist, to express my belief in the joy stories can bring.

Sue's links:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lunch with my fellow MA students

A lovely chilled out lunch today with fellow MA students. We discussed the highs and loves of the MA in Creative Writing for Children. We lamented our low word counts, blaming family, friends and jobs for our procastination.

The rising star in our group is Tamsin Goadby (@TamisnGoadby). She completed her MA in one year and is currently being chased by agents while running writing workshops and script writing. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

The Writers at Lovedean and Angel Radio

When you run a writing group you are constantly on the lookout for opportunities for your members. This year I've sorted out a spoken word slot at the Southsea Show. But some of the members didn't feel confident at the thought of standing up in front of a crowd. 

Yesterday, I went to Havant and had a meeting with Tony Smith, the manager and founder of Angel FM. He kindly accepted my offer of some recordings of the groups short stories and poems. But he did more. He gave one of my members Mick Cooper a piece of equipment to improve the recordings. And once our stories are recorded and sent along he will be giving us a regular fifteen minute slot. I'm over the moon. And I hope my members make the most of this fabulous opportunity.










Monday, June 30, 2014

Brick walls

I am so frustrated. It's hard when you're plans hit brick walls.

Plan 1. Create a new website for my writing group. I have done everything. I have put all the correct information in...but I'm stuck on getting one widget to work on the members page. 

Plan 2. Send out picture book manuscript. I've received some excellent feed back from the editor of Little Tiger, but try as I might I'm not sure how to put those changes in.

Plan 3. Self publish my ebook and YA novella. But stuck on creating the cover and I'm not sure I want to invest the time needed on Goodreads, joining groups, reading others work and writing reviews  while I'm studying my MA.

Plan 4. I want to transfer a short story into a YA novel or novella, but I'm aware in the original story there is a change of POV at the end, I'm not sure if this works and can't think of a different ending.

Plan 5. Finalise arrangements for the Southsea Show, but I'm still waiting on writers to get back to me.

So I have decided to spend the day on other tasks that need to be done, and hope the solutions present themselves.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Head Above Water!

I'm starting to feel more in control. It's been a mad couple of weeks of massive amounts of work.

I started an MA in Creative Writing for Children in September. I have completed two modules. The assignments for the both have been sent in, marked and I'm pleased with the results. So far we have covered the picture book, early years and fiction for children - I focused on the 7 to 9 age range. I decided to do more than the assignment. I now have two completed pieces, the picture book and early years series, ready to send out.

My third idea for a series of books for 7 to 9 year old needs more work, but I'm confident I can use the skills I have developed in my first year at university to polish my idea. Plus, I'm hoping the Sarah Lean workshop I am going to at the weekend will provide inspiration for my other work.

This doesn't mean that I will automatically find someone interested in my work, but it's definitely nice to have projects completed. The list makers out there know the importance of a nice big tick in a check box.

Those who read my blog will know I write educational resources. My editor told me a few weeks ago that if I wanted them to continue to sell the books, I would need to rewrite the teacher notes so they are in line with the changes to KS3. That was a challenge for me, and I'm glad I have finished the task.

I've written a few articles. And worked as a host at the Winchester Writers' Festival last weekend, which was really useful for networking. All in all the despair at the workload is starting to lift at last!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A weekend at the Winchester Writers' Festival

I spent the weekend as an host at the Winchester Writers' Festival. For those who don't know, the WWF is three days of inspiration, networking and learning for new and emerging writers working in all genres and for all audiences.  Delegates can choose from a wide range of day-long workshops and short talks.

My job was to bring teas and coffees to a couple of agents, and generally made sure they had everything they needed.

Each year they offer around 800 individual one--to-one appointments available for delegates wanting to speak to literary agents, commissioning editors and award-winning authors.

Last year unpublished writer Jenny McLachlan met literary agent Julia Churchill at the Festival. This year she's returning to launch her first YA novel, Flirty Dancing, published by Bloomsbury.

I've been twice before as a delegate, but this was my first year as a volunteer. It was certainly a useful opportunity to put faces to some of the leading names in the industry. And I met some fellow volunteers who made the whole weekend so much fun.