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: