Free Writing

To post for free or not to post for free that is the question I’ve been battling but I’ve decided I’m just going to go for it. Hope you enjoy and share…

‘A Mother’s Gift’

February

6:32pm

‘I’ve told you once and I’ll tell you a thousand times, no daughter of mine is going to be walking down the aisle in a black dress!’, I fumed at her.

‘But mum, you don’t understand!’

‘Oh yes darling, but I do. You are going through this ‘Goth faze’ but trust me, years down the line, when you look back on your wedding photographs you are going to regret it’.

‘I’m sure I won’t’, she argued.

I sighed down the telephone line. We’d had this discussion many times before. There was no getting through to her when she was in this mood. She could be so stubborn. Just like her father.

‘Darling I’ve got to go’, I could hear my oven timer ringing in the kitchen, ‘please just promise me you’ll have a serious think about this before you go out and buy anything?’

‘Bye mum’

‘Bye’

I put down the receiver with a heavy heart. Her wedding was less than six months away now. The time had just flown by. One thing I was grateful for was her gentleman Luke, he’s lovely. I couldn’t ask for a better son in law. He treats her well, understands her and perhaps most important of all: is patient with her. She still has her tantrums, even at twenty-two. I was so much more mature at her age, in fact I’d already had a baby at her age, I’d had her: my little Angel. A name she now looks on with scorn. I hadn’t chosen it though, her father had. I’d been the victim of a car accident when I was small and the doctors had told my mother the injuries I’d sustained would leave me unable to carry a child. That’s why when our daughter was born my husband had chosen the name Angel, as he thought she was a precious gift from God. She is.

March

4:09pm

‘How did it go?’, I asked nervously.

‘I’ve got it!’, she squealed down the line.

‘Oh my gosh darling! What’s it like? It’s not black is it?’

‘Mum!’

‘Well is it?’

‘I’m not telling you, you’ll just have to wait and see’.

My heart sank. I wanted to see my daughter looking like a princess on her special day not the Angel of death. Angel was in her final year at University down in Oxford, reading Philosophy, Politics and Economics, whatever that was. Any time she mentioned her assignments I felt like my brains had turned to scrambled egg. She’s the clever one in the family. The first one to go off to University. Her father would have been so proud of her.

‘I’ve found them sweetheart’, I’d told her, fingering the lace carefully.

‘Oh mum, I’m so glad! I was worried you had thrown them out at a car boot sale or something’

‘Oh no dear, I’ve been holding on to these’

‘When is it you’re coming down?’

‘I can come down next weekend, your Aunt Francis can bring me’

‘I can’t wait mum, I’ve started tidying up already!’

‘Don’t be so silly, you know I don’t come to judge’

She is always wanting my approval asking, ‘Is this okay mum’, ‘is that okay mum?’. And so forth. But lately she had been doing it less and less. I suppose now she’s getting married and graduating she’s starting to know her own mind. But, I can’t help worrying that I’ll no longer be needed. I adore those phone calls, even the ones late in the evening, asking me ‘how do I make cheese sauce again?’, ‘What can I do to thicken this?’,  ‘Is it okay to use this past it’s sell by date’ and so on.

June

11am

‘I’ve decided’, I tell Linda, my best friend of twenty-odd years.

‘Go on, tell me’, she pleaded. We’d been discussing ideas for weeks now.

‘I can’t, I’m not going to tell anyone, it’s going to be a surprise’

‘Has she an idea even?’

‘I don’t think so!’, I could feel my voice starting to do that same squeaking that my daughter’s does when she gets excited.

‘How lovely. Are you still coming to bingo on Friday?’

‘Yes, wouldn’t miss it’

The truth was I had missed a few lately. I’d had so much on my mind. I’d been preparing so much that I had felt like going straight to sleep in the evenings after dinner.

‘It’ll be nice to catch up, the rest of the girls are coming’

‘Lovely’, I replied.

‘I think even Jerry might be coming, Susan bumped into him the other day and he was asking after you’

‘Oh yes?’, I inquired trying to sound interested. Jerry was a nice man, but nothing like Sam (my late husband). In all the years since he’s past I haven’t been able to look at another man. Maybe I should give Jerry a chance?

‘Yes, and he was seen in Marks and Spencer’s buying a meal for one by Denise’

It sounds like my friends had turned into spies in their spare time, I thought.

‘It is sad, isn’t it’, she prompted.

‘I suppose’, I sighed, ‘Look I’ll talk to him Friday if he’s there alright?’

That satisfied her. If it wasn’t Linda trying to set me up with someone it was Angel. I put the handset back in its cradle and made my way to the kitchen to make myself a drink whilst I had a good think about things, and a cheeky biscuit or two.

‘You look beautiful darling’, I said, dabbing tears with my ancient hanky.

July

2:17pm

‘Thank you’, she twirled. Her beautiful dress was ivory silk and fitted her perfectly. I now realised she wasn’t my little girl anymore, she was a young woman, about to set out on the greatest adventure of her life! I was glad she hadn’t chosen a black dress after all, but she did put a few dark touches to it: a black ribbon circled her delicate waist and a black diamante necklace sparkled against her olive skin.

‘I’m so proud of you sweetheart’

‘And you don’t mind the black bits?’, she giggled, sounding five years old all over again.

‘Of-course not, they are you, and I understand that now, I’m sorry’

‘Don’t be silly mum’, she corrected, holding out a paddle brush.

As I brushed her long thick raven black hair I thought back on the times I’d tied together her blonde wavy locks, always with a black ribbon, and chuckled to myself.

‘What is it?’, she asked.

‘Nothing, just I don’t think we’re that different, you and I’

It was getting close to the time now, the time to give her away. I was so nervous, probably more nervous than Angel. She appeared to be in a state of bliss as she sat at the gilded mirror on a gold and cream upholstered stool.

‘I want to give you your present now, if you don’t mind?’

‘Okay, if you’re sure’

I opened my little black bag, I had to have something black with me today didn’t I? And carefully retrieved two lace gloves. The ones she’d asked for. She must have forgotten about them because she only asked me the once, and hadn’t mentioned them since.

‘I’ve never told you this, but these gloves are very old. They were my great grandmother’s on her wedding day and they are very precious, just like you’

She looked down at the gloves with tears in her eyes.

‘Oh mum, thank you’, she managed, wiping tears away gently.

‘You’ll ruin your makeup’, I quickly put in.

‘It’s meant to look smudged, it’s the smoky eye look’, she replied shaking her head. She held out her arms and I carefully dressed them with the gloves.

A mother’s gift: two ancient lace gloves, worn by four generations, dyed black.

 

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The Importance of a Positive Attitude

Well we all have those moments of self-doubt, it’s a natural response. The question is how do we deal with it and how can we prevent it lurking it’s ugly head again?

I’ll admit that lately I’ve been suffering from a ‘Crisis of Confidence’ As Rich Hall (top Comedian)  would say. This is due to feeling overwhelmed in my new occupation. Even though it’s what I want to be doing, more than anything. I think perhaps I’ve been putting too much pressure on myself. The truth of the matter is this: I need to make it work, because there’s nothing else I want to do.

Dealing with moments of self-doubt: Recognising the emotion, not pushing it to one side, but recognising the feeling and understanding it. Asking what has caused it. An email, a comment from someone, reading something? After a while ask how else you could have seen it/ dealt with it. This should hopefully put a different perspective on it that’s not so negative.

How to stop it lurking it’s ugly head again: Apply the exercise you’ve just done. Instead of immediately reacting, STOP. Think of a different perspective. Some people, as bad as it sounds, are just out there to make us feel bad about ourselves, the trick is not to let them. Instead, re-focus and apply the philosophy: i’ll show them. And this song, which I love, should help. It always makes me feel better about myself: Jessie J ‘Who’s Laughing Now’

And above all don’t let it stop you. Keep going and keep smiling 🙂

On Compromising

When trying to break into the literary sphere where and what should you compromise, if anything?

Well, firstly though it may seem like compromising it may just be becoming more flexible, or branching out. Writing in different genres, perhaps in genres we’re not 100% comfortable with brings it’s challenges, as well as probably, fear. I think the process of writing something new is exciting, it helps us to explore our potential as writers. And the craft of writing poses risks anyway, such as: is this piece going to sell? is it well written? can I improve this before I send it out? I don’t necessarily think it’s a good idea to pigeon hole ourselves to one genre or style of writing, yes we can specialise in a particular area but being open is a trait a writer should really advocate.

Writing for free: good idea or bad idea? Writing for free does have it’s drawback of-course, I’m not denying that. Isn’t it better though, to be published somewhere even if it was for free? Surely it’s better to be published somewhere rather than nowhere? I’ll admit this is a new attitude for me as I know understand it’s necessity. It is a building block. So this is my new plan: to get as much of my writing out there as possible, and see where it takes me.

Out with the old and in with the new

Hello,

Well as the title suggests this blog post is about change. Change is an important aspect of our everyday lives, if we embrace it we can move forward and if we ignore it we face the possibilty of being stuck in a rut, or living in the past. Some changes are easier to embrace than others, but is all change good? We’re told to believe that accepting change is healthy. If this is the case then why do some changes leave us feeling a little worse for the where?

Having always been financially independant, starting my own business: writing, has left me having to deal with change i’m not all that comfortable with. And that change is money. Why is it that money leaves a lot of people (me included) trapped in a fog of pride and/or resentment. Why is it that money is so important? We are told from a young age that money can’t buy happiness and the best things in life are free. Is this really the case? Ask yourself this: what do I enjoy doing most of all? It may be spending time with family/friends, but is this activity really free? My family don’t live really close by, so everytime I consider seeing them I have to factor in the costs of transport. See what I mean?

Another new challenge i’ve found myself facing is finding motivation. When I  first started writing as a job I was thoroughly enthused, but lately I have found myself lacking motivation, which is terrible. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamt of doing, so why should there be problems?  The answer is this: nothing in life is easy. I have to force myself to be motivated. And my impatience really doesn’t help! 🙂

Where do you find creative inspiration?

Simple answer: Everywhere!

The most useful creative inspiration as awful as it sounds, is through heartache. When people have let me down or hurt me it changes me in such a way that I want to write about it. I will include how I felt in certain circumstances to explore a character’s feelings in another. Having experienced heartache makes us better equipt to write about it. As the old saying goes ‘write what you know’.

Frustration at people, there’s another source of creative inspiration. How people act to really get my back up helps me to create the ‘baddies’ if you will. But of-course in fiction they are taken to the extreme. In situations where I’m frustrated when I look back on it I find myself asking the question ‘What would have happened if? and ‘What has driven this person to act in such a way?’ and then the imagination does the rest.

Another old saying goes ‘happiness writes white’, in other words people generally aren’t interested in reading about people that are happy and have no problems, because, well, to be honest where’s the story? Stories are often centred around a character facing a specific problem.

I’m also certain that there’s some kind of theraputical advantage in doing this too.

Creation, Deletion and Patience

A note on Creation, Deletion and Patience:

Creation ~ Writers create. They create characters, situations and even whole worlds. In the world of fiction the writer has total freedom. This can sometimes be daunting, but it is a beautiful thing. We have the chance to change a character’s life in a positive or negative way. We can help them make mistakes, learn lessons and heal rifts.

One school of thought believes that writing can be cathartic, that it can help us channel emotions and thoughts deep inside us. What can often appear to be total fiction can in fact have a flavour of the writer, it can have elements of a biographical nature. No writing exists in a vacuum. We cannot help but be influenced by the world around us, by people we meet and by situations we find ourselves in. Therefore as a writer it is important to live, to experience new things and interact with new people. But, here comes th irony: a writer’s occupation can often be isolating. You can be sat at a computer desk for hours, alone, with nothing but your own thoughts. Being this introspective can of-course aid your writing as it helps us tap into our subconscious, as we are in more of a relaxed state of mind. Yet, can we really write about people, can we create whole 3-dimensional characters when we are working in this environment? I think, personally, that there needs to be a balance between concentrated ‘alone-time’ if you will, and time outside, getting new ideas and being inspired.

Deletion ~ Also known as editing. But my editing consists mainly of cutting out bits I don’t like, sometimes adding new bits but mainly cutting out. This process of cutting out superfluous or just bad writing helps the piece become more centred. In taking out bits that are superfluous the piece then only concentrates on what’s important. As a writer you have to ask yourself  ‘is this sentence actually necessary?’, ‘does it add anything important?’. Bad writing, writing that’s just been jotted down in idea format is helpful as it focuses on what needs to be there in it’s place, but served the purpose in the draft. It acts as a signposting system for you later.

Patience ~ As a writer you need this in abundance. This is where I struggle, I will be honest. Patience to go through drafts again and again with a fine toothed comb. Patience to write and keep writing without getting frustrated that you can’t write it at this moment in time as well as you want to. When I was at university my creative writer tutor told me to write and keep writing, even if it’s rubbish you have something to work from. These are very wise words and I continue to force my hand to keep writing even when I’m not sure what exactly it is that I’m trying to say or where exactly it’s trying to go.

The Wheel Turns

Greetings!

So, on to the meeting: it went well. My business advisor was very happy with the progress I had made on my business plan, and with my market research. He is trying to get me signed up to an event called ‘Bedroom to Boardroom’ which is all about social media and business which sounds very useful! I’ve also been given some homework: to look into other writing contributions such as article writing and content writing for websites. And to comprise a list of all the costs involved in my business such as: postage, paper, ink etc and most importantly time and how I am going to pay myself.

Happily though I now feel free to write. I’ve written a short story today, in a genre I’m not familiar with to be honest but really enjoyed writing. The genre is fiction but aimed at an older audience, it has to focus on people and be heartwarming, and hopefully I’ve done that.

My plans for tomorrow are to find a publication for the short story I’ve now edited from last week, and see if I can find some others I have too and find publications for those.

It feels lovely to be able to write freely. This is definitely what I want to do and I really hope I can make a success of it. I’ve given myself a target of 6 months to see if the business can support itself.

Onwards and upwards!

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