Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Love hurts

I said when I started blogging again that I was going to avoid personal stuff, well, like any rule there are times when they get broken.
Something happened to me recently that I feel the need to share.  I began a relationship with a much younger man, somebody I’d known for a few years. I fell hook line and sinker and found it very  hard to handle the emotions I was feeling. I spent most of my life emotionally turned off. I'll give you an  example. I never lost my temper, not once, not even as a teenager, until I reached the age of 48. When I DID lose it, it was like being blown apart by a volcano. That’s exactly how I felt when I fell for this young man - out of control.
Now it’s over. He didn’t want a relationship, which meant he didn’t want to go anywhere with me, and I didn’t want to feel like a guilty secret. The plan now is to go back to just being friends.
Why am I telling you this? Because I had to make a choice. I could have vowed never to see him ever again. I could have said bad things, made accusations, and told myself I hated him. I could have vowed never to risk falling for anyone again because of the pain and distress this dalliance has caused me but I’m not going to do that. Instead I’m going to look for the positives. 
A tall, VERY good looking man,  found me attractive even though I’m 21 years older than he is.  
 It had been a LONG time since I’d been physically close to anyone which was very scary. I know now I can cope. 
He brought the music back into my life as well as introducing me to guitar hero on PS3!
Being unable to eat meant I also lost a lot of weight. As a result, I’m within two pounds of the weight I was when I was in my thirties.
In short, spending time with him has made me feel so much more confident and attractive. With any luck that will help me to meet somebody else.
The other upside of the pain and the tears has been having my ex to lean on. Over the past few days while I’ve been bawling my eyes out, he’s spent time with me, even staying in my spare room for two nights. I don’t know how I would have coped without him so I wanted to acknowledge that publicly.
Love hurts. It can make you bitter. It can put you off getting involved again. I’m not going to let that happen to me. I learned a three word mantra a while ago. It goes like this – risk, share, trust, and that’s what I intend to keep doing.
I apologise for sharing this and will get back to talking about writing soon.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

I'm not in the mood for fiction

Since coming home from Swanwick I’ve been struggling to get back into writing short stories.  My mood affects my writing. Unless I’m feeling sufficiently upbeat and positive, my stories can come out flat and dull.
So, instead of stories, I’ve been working on a short panto for a local  charity. They work with older people and plan to start a performance group in September, hence the panto. It's a 21st Century take on Cinderella and runs for less than half an hour.
Writing it was a challenge but it was also fun because it was something completely different.  I find I can write non fiction whatever my mood, it’s just stories I need to be in the right place for.
It’s the start of the Bank Holiday weekend and at the moment I have no plans apart from getting some work done. Now all I have to do is work on my mood, so time to put on some happy music and play with some ideas. Hopefully one of those ideas will inspire me enough to get the pen moving.

Friday, 22 August 2014

FRIDAY 15th August 2014 at Swanwick

The summer school has gone by in a flash. Now comes the time to say goodbye to friends, old and new. 
After an early breakfast, the coach arrives at 8.20 to take people to the railway station. It’s become a tradition for everyone to gather outside to wave goodbye to the coach. Everywhere you look there are people hugging each other. It’s an emotional time. We know that in just under a year, many of us will meet again but right now, that feels like an awful long way off.
The Writers’ Summer School is a big part of my life. As soon as I get there, it’s as though I’m coming home. I guess that’s the magic of Swanwick. 
If you want to join the community, there's no need to wait until 2015 - join the Facebook page now instead.   

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Thursday 14th August at Swanwick

Not my favourite day as there’s always a definite sense of ending looming on the horizon.
I’m always struck by how many of the 200+ plus people I haven’t managed to engage with at all, and frustration at not being able to spend enough time with others. At Swanwick, six days feels like both a lifetime and a moment in time. 
The next  photo shows my friend John, from Watford Writers. 

The day began with yet another difficult choice. Did I go to Steve Hartley’s course on writing for young people or Simon Hall’s one on crime writing. As I’m supposed to be working on a novel for teenagers (!) I opted for Steve then wished I hadn’t. Steve is amazing. His insights into character and what makes people tick are invaluable but this time his audience worked against him. His subject of choice was bullying and everyone wanted to share their own experiences rather than listen to the theory. I decided to switch over for the next session as I could always down load Steve’s notes from the web site at a later date.
Meanwhile, it was time for the last session of Xanthe Wells’ glorious novel course.  It began with how creativity makes you feel and comparing that with how it feels when you’re not being creative.  For me the difference is stark. When I’m being creative I feel full of ideas, enthusiasm and energy. When  I’m not being creative, I feel listless, tired, fed up and half alive. Pretty good reasons for getting on with some writing I’d say.
A final thought from the course as a whole – Dumbo didn’t need the feather, the magic was in him already.
After lunch, I headed to the second part of Simon Hall’s crime writing course. As always, he was brilliant and I’m not just saying that because I like him. He knows how to hold an audience. There’s never a dull moment because you simply don’t know what he’ll do next. Sadly, he kept his clothes on this time, but then you can’t have everything can you?
The main work of the summer school was over. Time for the big wind down to begin.  I’m not going to go into too much detail here. If you were there, you know all about it, if you weren’t, then maybe you should have been. First came the AGM which was efficiently run and not at all boring and which left us with a man at the helm (Michael O’Byrne). The raffle was also drawn and the prize of a free week at next year’s school went to Julia, a very popular lady, which was great to see.
After that it was the famous dregs party where everyone puts their left overs (mainly booze) on a long table and everyone tucks in. Some people dress up for the occasion too. That was when I finally got to spend more than a couple of seconds with the delightful Helen Yendall, a lady I'd long wanted to meet. 

After that it was dinner followed by the last night’s entertainment in the main conference hall. I was a bit wary. In previous years there’s been a big name speaker on the last night but due to economics, a version of I’m Sorry, I haven’t a Clue was staged instead. I need not have worried because it was brilliantly done. My only beef was that I wasn’t invited to take part. It was an evening of silliness and fun complete with audience participation courtesy of dozens of kazoos which were handed out.  The final item on Thursday’s agenda was the traditional Swanwick farewell when everyone links hands and sings Auld Lang Syne, after which I headed for the bar. 
The photo shows the new Vice Chair, and no, she didn't drink ALL that booze. 

Having injured my foot earlier in the week I should NOT have gone to the last night disco but in the end I did. I don’t get many chances to dance and simply couldn’t resist. The upshot was that the next morning, I could barely walk, but it was worth it. Definitely.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

WEDNESDAY 13th August at Swanwick

After a course free day on Tuesday it was back to work with a vengeance on Wednesday. For a change, I decided to try Comedy Sketches, a two part course run by Tony Kirwood. After all, laughter is the best medicine.  There was good news and bad news. Writing sketches for radio is apparently the best way to break in which is great but the sketches I came up with were visual, so there’ snot much I can do with them right now. If anyone reading this wants a couple of very short sketches to film or whatever, get in touch.
From 11.15 to 12.15 it was back to Xanthe’s course on finding inspiration for novels. The focus for this session was learning to trust your instincts plus a guided imagery session where we were asked to meet, and draw, our inner critic.  My inner critic has dogged me all my life, and not just with my writing. It’s been like living with an evil parrot sitting on my shoulder telling me I’m old fat unlovable useless and ugly. Why I’ve never strangled it, I don’t know. If it was a real parrot it would have gone back to the shop decades ago.  Xanthe explained that getting rid of the critic altogether isn’t the best idea.  Instead she gave us a way of managing it instead. When I want to be inspired or creative or to simply get on with writing, or living, I can either sit on the picture of the inner critic or lock it away in the fridge or a drawer. I can’t tell you how brilliant that idea felt. For me, it was worth the entire fee for the school.
I skipped The Write Hour as I felt I’d done enough useful work for one day. The Write Hour ran each day (except Tuesday). People could go to a choice of sessions led y a facilitator (poetry, memoir, storytelling or scriptwriting) and actually get to write something. I only managed one, run by the lovely Marion, and it was great.
That night we had a couple of speakers – David and Hilary Crystal who gave us a quick tour of the UK looking at the way the English language developed. It was a bit dry for me, probably because I’d had such a busy day and wasn’t  in the mood for anything serious but it seemed to go down well with most people.
Then, at 9.30, the highlight of the week, or at least one of them, when the mini plays and sketches were performed. As always most of them were hilarious. My dear friend, Betty Moulder, a white badger this year, threw herself in the deep end with a part as a grieving widow spider. 

The winner was a spoof about a legend surrounding the lake at Swanwick where a bundle of clothes are found and it’s thought a suicide has taken place. For me, the best part was definitely when Simon Hall appeared wearing a guitar and very little else.
Wednesday night is traditionally a time when any members of Leeds Writers Circle, attending Swanwick, share a bottle or two of champagne, courtesy of Dennis Clarkson. Last year, it became something of a battle to see which of us would be the last to give in and go to bed (me). Sadly, this year the party didn’t include me…
Of course, this being Swanwick, the fun wasn’t over. Lesley had organised a session of Scottish dancing. Despite some annoying technical troubles, a good time was had by all.  I didn’t risk dancing. On Tuesday, I’d gone for a hike into town to get some cash for my dear friend Betty who, sensibly, didn’t fancy a long walk. Foolishly I went between classes and didn’t change my shoes. The result, blisters and a damaged foot. 

Sorry about the photo but at least this was taken once it was on the mend!