Thing a Day February

Several years ago – searching on my blog suggests longer ago than I thought – there was a non-defunct website that ran a “Thing a day” challenge in February.

The idea was to make something – from scratch – every day in the month of February. I tried it in two years at least. And I didn’t manage to do everyday either year. But I remember enjoying it. Then the website changed and it got harder to participate and eventually it disappeared.

As all things do it slipped my mind. Then for some reason as I wandered the scenic route home from podiatry this lunchtime, trying to avoid the dug up path, muddy mess of roadwork hell, it popped back into it.

I googled it and there is a facebook group devoted to the challenge. I’ve requested to join and think I might attempt the challenge again this year. The group description suggests “Aim low. Fold your napkin into a shape, draw a face on your thumb, doodle on a post it note. Or aim high: make time to decorate a household object, pursue your art, cook a masterpiece, do an art journal page. Just do it! “

I doubt I’ll manage to make 28 separate things but it’s not impossible. Certainly the smaller, simpler crochet squares I sometimes make for charity are usually a one day project for me. And I was thinking of widening it out/changing it to “do something creative” so writing counts. I always thought it did but reading the facebook description, maybe not. Still sometimes it’s worth being a rebel.

I mean I would like to end the month with something more than a pile of granny squares and a folder full of new flash fiction. But if that’s all I came up with it would still be a useful experience.

Yet another thing I failed at

I am very good at saying I’m going to do stuff. I’m good at the planning. I’m very bad at actually following through and doing what I set out to.

Particularly when it comes to writing.

Every new year since probably 2014 I’ve declared that this is going to be the year that ends with me having written a first draft of a novel. And every year has ended with me declaring that actually, no, I’m going to achieve it next year.

I haven’t written any of a novel this year. I said I was going to, but I haven’t yet. But I am planning to take part in NaNoWriMo this year. I’m revising my goal though. I don’t think a complete first draft is achieveable. I do think a decent plan for a novel and a sizeable chunk of it written is (if I achieve the 50K word goal it would be between half and three quarters of the usual word count for the genre I want to write).

I have however been writing much more regularly than in previous years. And I achieved the two main writing goals I’ve set myself this year. Including one (start writing fanfic again) I’d wanted to for years. I’m hoping this attempt at NaNo and a novel will make it three for three.

But if I’m completely honest, I most got those done because I’d told people I was going to do them and I didn’t want to add to my list of things I’d said I was going to do but failed to.

And that’s mostly why I’m writing this blog. Because if I post about it the fear of it being yet another failure might make me do it. Perhaps that’s a pathetic motivator but it’s working for me so far this year.

Instructions for a Wedding Speech

This was supposed to be my entry for the Didcot Writers monthly competition back in June but I forgot to submit it. The theme was ‘toast’

Instructions for a Wedding Speech

Rather than have a best man panicking

About having to make a toast

I thought I’d offer instructions

Speaking in front of a crowd is scary

Even when you do it all the time

You should

Open with a joke

Understand your audience

Regale with tales of years gone by.

Give them a toast to remember

Let the couple know you care

A hope, dream or wish

Should be shared

Speak from the heart

Eloquence is required

Some gentle teasing is allowed

Permit me to offer another tip:

Last of all

End on a high

And remember to

Say the immortal

Ending line

(for further instructions, read down the side)

Random Bullet Points of Life

For the little things in life worth recording but possibly not worth a full entry

  • I usually tell people that if an entry appears on my blog before about 9:30 it’s because I wrote it in advance and scheduled it.  But it’s 08:42 and I’m actually writing this live so to say.  I’m waiting for carer, it’s been put back to just after 9 today.
  • Lately I have not been reading.  I did just start an audiobook which I like (Where Love Lies by Julie Cohen which I got from the e-library). And I must finish my library ebook this morning as the time on it runs out just after lunch.  It’s good I just had no motivation to read for a few weeks so abandoned it with less than 100 pages to go (that’s Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon)
  • I’ve been working on crochet squares for Woolly Hugs and sent a pile of 10 12 inch squares off to them last week – I’d been working on them on and off since January.  At the moment I keep starting new things and abandoning them.
  • I can’t help feeling I’ve shared the above point before but that might have been on facebook
  • My next craft maybe some decopatch though – my carers keep commenting on my decopatch “Love Books” on my book cases so I’ve told several about it.  One came in a couple of days ago and said she’d had a go and is clearly now hooked. And it’s got me wanting to do some too!
  • Writing is going well.  I’m doing Camp NaNoWriMo with an hours goal (and I definitely blogged about that before) but am really beginning to wish I’d stuck with my word count goal as it feels more achieveable. Next time!
  • Isn’t the weather lovely?
  • I’m going to see my favourite musical next week!
  • The Citizens Advice office I volunteer for is taking part in #CABLive over on twitter for the first time this week. I set it up (for us to take part) and I’m enjoying see it run.

Flash Fiction: Friends Request

My writers group have started posting a monthly prompt competition for a piece of no more than 500 words.  I submitted this for the March competition and was unsuccessful so thought I would share it here instead.  It’s the first time I entered – it was given as an exercise at the flash fiction workshop  I went to at the end of February (as the tutor was the one who set that prompt and did this month’s judging) and I wrote it there and then typed it up and tweaked it to submit to the competion.  The prompt was “The Last Request”

Friends Request

Claire smiled when she saw the notification.  She had a friends request from Rebecca.  Years ago they had been best friends before Rebecca moved away and every year or so in a fit of nostalgia she searched Facebook for her.

 

There were lots of people called Rebecca Smith listed.  Dark haired ones like the girl she had known.  Ones with obviously bleached blonde hair.  And ones from all over the world.  Claire always spent far too long browsing the profiles.  Wondering if the girl pulling the silly face was her joker friend, gazing at the one with the shocking pink hair and remembering how Rebecca had always threatened to do that.

 

Her husband still socialised regularly with his school friends and Claire often went with him.  She enjoyed spending time with the other couples.  They were nice people and sometimes they even made her laugh.  But they were very much Steve’s friends not hers.  She wouldn’t get to keep them if she got divorced.

 

Claire had never been quite sure she had found her.  Over the years she had found a few definite maybes and even plucked up the courage to send a few friends requests.  But those had always got a confused message back asking who she was. Or worst still, been completely ignored.  And she was left still lonely and looking for the one who got away.

 

They had promised to be friends forever.  The night before Rebecca had moved away they had sworn in a fit of teenage optimism that the distance wouldn’t matter.  In reality they had lost touch within months and 15 years later Claire regretted that.

Each friends request that was declined she told herself was the last.  But until today it never had been.

As she clicked accepted and scrolled over to open the message that accompanied the request Claire had a big smile on her face knowing that this time it really would be the last request.

 

A Writing Quote

A daily commitment to writing seems to be doing me a lot of good.  I’ve spent almost 5 hours on writing and writing related things (editing mostly but some research) over the last two days.  And maybe something will come of it, maybe it won’t.

I just read an interesting quote about writing from Ray Bradbury and I wanted to share it here so I can remember it and find it again when I want it.

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads. I wish you a wrestling match with your Creative Muse that will last a lifetime. I wish craziness and foolishness and madness upon you. May you live with hysteria, and out of it make fine stories — science fiction or otherwise. Which finally means, may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world.”

A Few Writing Thoughts

Since the end of September I’ve been going to a weekly writers group most weeks. It’s been good for me to have the space each week which is given over to writing and makes me focus on actually writing rather than thinking about it and talking about it.  It’s also very inspiring to hear others talk about what they’re writing.

Sometimes I struggle to find things to fill the time with and others I struggle to concentrate for the whole time (it’s 2 hours split into two 45 minute writing sessions and coffee breaks).  Sometimes I end up googling things I want to know about for my writing and others I open the Kindle app on my iPad and start reading a review book. I just need to write those damn reviews now.

But over the last few weeks I’ve been picking at writing a fanfic. It’s not going as well as I’d like and I’ve convinced myself I’m bad at writing fiction.  That’s not an unusual stage of writing for me and actually when I went back and reread some of what I’d written I did think it was good.  Admittedly I’m writing slower than I could be and not in a cohesive way but in a slow and somewhat painful few minutes at a time if nothing else way I was writing.  I miss the days when I used to sit and type for an hour nonstop without thinking just to get the piece down.

Locally there have been a few writing workshops.  An evening one on plotting which is was very useful and I could definitely do with looking at the pacing of my work based on the tips she gave us.  And two one day ones on flash fiction in February and character in March.  I got a lot out of both of those but enjoyed the one on flash fiction much more than character (possibly because it was a different group and possibly because I was stressed and tired for the character one).  Using the prompts in the session and free writing techniques made me remember that I enjoy writing short pieces like that.  Flash fiction it turns out may be much more my thing than writing a novel. But I still want to write a damn novel.

Going back to the fanfic, there is a deadline for it as I signed up to write it for a fandom big bang. And part of me wishes I hadn’t. I haven’t written in that fandom before or seen the whole series. And I’m not sure when I last wrote fanfic for any fandom.  I did it for my first nano in 2004 and can’t remember doing so since I stopped playing with that piece in 2005 although it would suprise me if that was the last time.  Hang on, as I write this it occurs to me I wrote a very small piece of Chalet School fanfic and posted it on The-CBB when I was first on there which was 2007 ish I think.  One of the problems I’m finding at the moment is I’ve only written for three fandoms before – two of which are set in the UK and the third was a character driven Star Trek piece that had basically nothing of the setting and very little plot in it.  This fandom is an American show and I don’t want to use too many Britishisms as I know I find them glaring when I spot them in fic (Americans calling each other mate is a frequent one I see in others pieces). I’m sure some will slip through but it’s making me think more about my word choices.

I ended up deciding to use the flash fiction principle and dividing my rough storyline into prompts then writing each one as a separate piece. It’s a work in progress but it seems to be going well because the biggest problem was how to transition between the different scenes. I’m still going to have to figure it out later but at least I’ll have the plot down. And as a fair amount of the story takes place in a hospital there’s not a lot of physically moving around to be had.

I still think this is going to end up a very bad piece of fanfic and I’ll get negative feedback. But I’m really glad to be writing regularly again and especially to be writing fiction again (particularly fanfic).  I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo this month and have set myself a goal of 60 hours spent on writing over the month – it feels like it might be out of reach but I think it should be doable now I’m going.  I’ve done a fair amount of writing today inbetween other things as my powerchair batteries were changed this morning so it’s been charging. As always it’s not as much as I’d like but it’s a start. And I do seem to write more in the evening than other times.  We shall see.

Flash Fiction: The Truth About Penguins

I recently took part in a one day workshop on flash fiction. One of the exercises we did was to write a piece inspired by a picture. The photo I got was of a penguin diving underwater. I’ve typed it up to share in this blog and would welcome feedback. I’ve not edited it beyond breaking it into paragraphs and changing the odd repetitive word.

The Truth About Penguins

 

The penguin took the fish from the trainer. She was giving the talk about “penguin behaviour” yet again. And as always she was getting it wrong. Personally he couldn’t understand how humans could be so stupid. Wasn’t it obvious? Still he played the part of the good little penguin and took his fish then dived into the water and swam away.

 

It was his turn to do the work of real penguins so he swam fo the far side of the pool. He vaguely heard the trainer tell the crowd how all the penguins liked to hide in that corner. It was typical behaviour she claimed.

 

The penguin thought they should let the humans see what they really did when hidden but he was just a child and the elders had forbidden him from sharing. It was “too dangerous” they said. But one day he would be king and his word would be law. Then the humans would allowed to see what was happening and would know just how superior penguins are.

Writing Thoughts

I’ve been writing a few things over the last few weeks but haven’t really written here lately.  And not much is finished.

I’ve come to the conclusion that March is just going to be quiet for blogging and then I’ll be back with a bang in April because it’s the A to Z challenge and I’m looking forward to doing that again this year.  Last year I did the A to Z of Emma.  This year I think I’m going to do an A to Z of books and authors I love.  More details when I’ve figured them out.

Yesterday I finished reading The One We Fell In Love With by Paige Toon which I picked up at the Spring Blogger Evening. I will post a review of that in a day or two. I had planned to read another book cover to cover today but I’m now not sure I will as I have quite the book hangover from it.

I’m currently working on (although not yet writing) a blog about death for the Kicking the Bucket Festival.  That’s part of the journalism course I’m doing and we’re all going to write one.  It’s not a topic I would have thought of writing about but we had a lot of great discussion about it and I think there is potential there for some interesting pieces.  It is tricky though.

Next up has to be fiction.  I’m pretty inspired at the moment but have been finding motivation to actual write tricky.  I had an interesting conversation with one of the publishing people at the Spring Blogger Evening about that and I think it’s helped. Just need to put it into practice!

Safe Space is somewhere where I have finished pieces and I think I have two new ones since I last posted the links here.

Two weeks ago I posted about Feel Good Music.  It was pretty tough to just narrow it down to five songs that make me feel good and I may revisit the subject either here or there relatively soon.  I’m always up for suggestions if people want to give them!

And yesterday I wrote about taking some Me Time.

 

Safe Space

A couple of weeks ago, a new collaborative blog – Safe Space – was launched.

For the past year or so I’ve been unconvinced by the concept of “safe space” on the internet – a space where people can be free to share/be who and what they are completely without fear of abuse, hate, ridicule, triggers or trolling.  It seems like too big a goal both with how massive the internet and it’s trolling problems have become and the fact that for some people what is acceptable and OK can be what’s triggering, abusive or upsetting for others. Online (and in person) safe spaces are a worthwhile goal and one that is needed but the implementation seems problematic to me (especially when some communities like the disability one can’t even agree on what’s the correct language to use)

But I completely agree with the idea of Safe Space, the blog and I’m pleased that I’m going to be part of the team.

Jess, who founded the site wrote:

Here at Safe Space we understand that it’s hard as f**k being a girl. Periods, sexism and trying to put on eyeliner can be all in a days work.

Safe Space is a place where a group of women bring you posts about trying to hold their shit together. Talking honestly about mental health, feminism, sexuality and other important life stuff.

No judgment, no hate, because it’s already tough enough being a girl.

I’m going to be posting there every other Friday.  I had a fair amount of self doubt about doing so but the other writers are a  brilliant, friendly and supportive bunch who have been very encouraging and supporting. And I’m really enjoying the posts that they have shared.

The first week the site launched we each shared – What Makes Me, Me. That was a tough subject to write about as it needed more than a bio. But I think most of us found that.

Mine turned out to be a little different than planned. I had it written and then on my way home the night before I realised I needed to make a small tweak. Then when I logged online I saw an old school friend had died and ended up making more changes than I had planned.

What Makes Me, Me – Emma

My second post went live on the site yesterday morning. I spent most of the day out doing errands then having lunch with a friend in Oxford etc.  I came home to my twitter notifications full of really positive and encouraging feedback.

That post was about self worth and is called Because I’m Worth It.