scribbles tagged ‘writing’

Slowly one spring

Saturday, February 28th, 2015 | tags: , ,  |

I was 18 in 1981

Dry stone wallingI knew I didn’t want to be a wife, a secretary, an accountant, a person doing a job to earn money to live in a home and go on holiday. I tried to find things that I really wanted to do. Travel and see the world? Not really, it may be fabulous but what’s the point in that? It’s just hedonistic, and I didn’t want to do things just to make myself happy. Maybe I should want to be the prime minister? No, I didn’t want to be important.

I would walk out onto the Cotswold hills at night, sit watching the lights flickering over Wales in the distance. Sit in my Paddington bear duffle coat, which I loved, alone on the hillside in the dark thinking that the world was beautiful but there was nothing I wanted from it or could give to it. These thoughts were at once profoundly peaceful and sad. I would cry because there was nothing that I wanted to do or be. I had no vision or desire for a future. These thoughts were mine, I shared them with no one, I did all the things I believed you were supposed to do, ate, slept, went to school, studied, looked at universities to go to. But it all felt like an act for the purpose of fitting in, not worrying anyone with my complete lack of interest in anything.

One March morning I walked out of school and went home. My parents both at work, one brother at Salford University another living in Didcot. Just me at my parents home. Warm, comfortable full of good memories. This was enough, this was all I needed, nothing more.

I collected all the pills I could find in the house. Had a hot bubble bath to clean my body for whoever had to deal with it afterwards. Took off the earings and necklace that I always wore. Carefully, neatly, placed them by my bed. Put on my pyjamas and my favourite hand knitted (by me) aran jumper. Went into the front room and put “Closer” on the hifi at a really high volume. I loved Closer, so beautiful. It took 3 pints of lemon squash to down all those pills. Pills are dry.  Unpleasant to swallow.

I curled up on the sofa and fell asleep. Ian sang “Existence well what does it matter? I exist on the best terms I can.”

I woke up 3 days later in Frenchay Hospital. My first thoughts were “Shit, I’m still here, and now everyone knows I don’t want to be here”. The nurses had no trouble showing their disdain for someone taking up a valuable hospital bed when there are genuinely sick people around. Another girl on the ward had a broken leg and she persuaded me to push her wheelchair as fast as possible up and down the corridors. She was full of life,  positively glowed and kept me away from the hissing nurses.

I was allowed home after a couple of days ‘observations’ and required to have weekly meetings with a psychiatrist as an alternative to being sectioned into an insane asylum. Charming. I’d rather not be in an asylum. Waking up in Frenchay was like being born again. Not in a Christian ‘I’ve seen the light’ way.

A  new beginning nonetheless

Slowly one spring
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on hold

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014 | tags:  |

Some blog posts are easy to think of, difficult to write.

They’ll probably be the better posts, if they get written (and copy edited).

Meanwhile, you’ll have to wait

on hold
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Sunday, April 14th, 2013 | tags: , ,  |

phone batteries dies - had to use paper!My new phone ran out of battery power while I was out. Once the initial impact of the ‘no phone?!’ panic died down I scavenged paper and pen then improvised entertaining myself. Hoorah for remembering old-world, pre-smart-phone skills. My phone doesn’t have to be smart all the time if I can add some smarts to our relationship.

Even with a pinned arm I can write, and miss-spell, on paper. So I produced a draft blog-post.

But what would handwriting experts say about my scrawl? Do their analytical techniques still hold-water for the generations that haven’t really needed to learn to write?

A quick search of the Internet for graphology analysis 101 turned up this PDF.

After a thorough thoughtful application of this information I have analysed myself to be a little bit of everything really.

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Triage: 2 paracetamol and one ibuprofen orally

Monday, August 27th, 2012 | tags: , , , , , , , ,  |

4.30pm 13th August

After two and a half hours waiting – Triage was disappointingly short. The nurse asked exactly the same questions as the paramedic. Both people wrote copious notes on everything I said. This felt reassuring, more scribblers!

2 hours after triage a young female in one of the many hospital uniforms asked me to tell her what had happened. She also took notes and aked familiar questions.

I started crying.

Are you in pain?

Just normal broken arm pain, I’m crying because I’m upset and don’t know what’s happening.

Do you want some pain killers?

No, I just had some at 4.30pm, thanks, I’d like to know what’s happening (blub)

Everyones’ notes were on paper, on different clip boards. The notes never seemed to get collated, read, or used. I was beginning to get the impression that different specialists weren’t sharing inormation terribly well.

Triage: 2 paracetamol and one ibuprofen orally
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nag a ram

Sunday, August 5th, 2012 | tags: ,  |

anagram search engine suggestionOn the long freaky weather summer evenings a single girl has to find novel ways to entertain herself. One way is to look for anagrams in common names and phrases.

Being a relatively internet savvy single gal I decided to use an online anagram tool to help me out. Googles search suggestion really rather ticked my fancy

nag a ram
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Litter arty

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012 | tags: , , , ,  |

Local interest

Normally I’m not thrilled by large chain bookstores. I prefer to find second hand, or at least independent, book stores. The Reading town Waterstones is changing my impression. Recently it hosted a little soiree in the local interest section for the launch of AFH’s new book. AFH told stories about the mysteries of children and beards, showed us his book, signed copies of the book, and let us eat coloured cakes and ginger beer. All very civilised.

Reading Waterstone's guest authorsThe counter-staff in Reading’s Waterstones are all very personable.  They talk as if you are a friend and seem genuinely interested in doing a good job. One young lad spent nigh-on 15 minutes explaining why his computer system wasn’t working and how unreliable it is – not tolerating typing or spelling errors. As you can imagine, I found this type of conversation totally engaging.

He told me that Michael Palin was only doing one book signing in a Waterstones’ store and he’d chosen the Reading store. Evidently people had phoned the store with book orders from all over the country and would be travelling to get their copy signed by Michael.

We’re expecting more than 200 people! We don’t know where we’ll put them, how it will work

He sounded very excited and happy. I asked why he thought Michael had chosen the Reading store “Probably because of our events organiser, she’s very good, she can persuade anyone to do almost anything” . His proud words about his colleague were envigorating. I liked listening to this young chap chat, much better than a ‘shopping experience‘ more like a ‘shooting the breeze‘ experience.

Meanwhile I purchased a ticket to listen to Jasper Fford talk about his next thursday next book. Oh!

Litter arty
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Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 | tags:  |

WoooOOOOOooo   wooooOOO   ooOOOOOOOOOooooo  WOOOOoooo *

Bathroom door

[*this post was scribbled by Wendy’s ghost writer]
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weekly, on sunday afternoon

Thursday, September 15th, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

In 2004, when I first started blogging, the people I followed (Jenn, Lacroix, Raymond, Jen) posted* between 1 and 3 times a day. Over the years, I’ve seen novice bloggers start with the enthusiasm of daily posting then watched that proliferation fade with one or more of these symptoms:

  • not posting every day, sporadically missing a days
  • posting every other day
  • posting a couple of times a week
  • taking a break from posting for a while – a week, 2 weeks, a month, a season….
  • posting once a week on a pre-arranged day – Darlings I’ll post on Sunday…
  • deleting or ‘hiding’ the blog
  • dropping one blog and moving onto another or rebranding the blog with a new name and theme
  • stop posting altogether

Green post boxRaymond is the only blogger that I followed in 2004 who persistently, reliably, posts once a day. Most bloggers seemed to stop posting within 3 or 4 years of starting.  Sunday afternoon posting won’t be a reality for me while I keep recieving encouraging personal emails

* Posting is not a euphemism for any other activity. No, definitiely not, I can’t protest enough that this post should be read at face value without drawing analogies between posting and any other activities
PS 198 word post before the PS
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finite words allotted per lifetime

Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

I’m rationing myself to scribbling one blog post every-other day in the hope that –

  • I wont run out of words, before I die
  • I’ll get a life, before I die

So far I can’t tell if it’s working or not. I might have to take emergency precautions, like Nurofen, or maybe I tried that already…

PS 55 word post before the PS
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Holy pronoun, I wrote it!

Thursday, September 1st, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

A book!

Bound with an ISBN number, available to the public  in a library

My agent:

  • commissioned the book
  • met with me, irregularly, to check progress
  • provided encouragement and suggestions to improve the process and book quality

My publisher:

  • provided strict regulations for binding, cover-cloth, font size and placement
  • specified the primary distribution method – library system
  • specified the minimum number of copies – 3

My printer:

  • a large Xerox machine in a University department
  • me, one copy a night across 3 nights

As author

  • It took 4 years of research and scribbling before I was ready to publish over 300 pages
  • I knew every sentence, every sketch, intimately
  • weeks after I’d deivered it to the publishers I’d rewrite sentences, paragraphs, and themes in my dreams

It was difficult to let go of this growing  intimate part of my life. I wanted to chuck it away and start writing again from scratch, I could do an infitnitely better job with all that I’d learned along the way. But I’d run out of money, I needed a job. The book was ‘good enough’. Good enough. hurumph. I wanted it to be special, unique, exceptional. More than good enough

Even when your book isn’t a PhD thesis, the agent a PhD superviser and the publisher a University, the experience of writing a book has strong similarities

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scribbling for work

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

mobile of deconstructed dictionaryToday an international professional magazine printed an article I submitted under my professional pen-name

Writing the blog has helped improve my professional writing. As you may have guessed, essentially I’m a geeky heavily qualified (PhD) academic working in the business world.  Blogging has helped me learn to express myself in a different voice, less constructed to fit into conceptions of ‘expert’. It was tough trying to write a magazine article engaging an intelligent, novice, audience.  Odd that it should still be so tough, but it was

I’ve had my name on academic and magazine articles before, but other people wrote and coordinated the publication.  Contributing original thought and effort meant that I was one name on a list of authors. I wrote this article myself and dealt directly with the managing editor and sub-editor. They were extremely helpful. Professional editors provide such high quality constructive feedback.  The sub-editor said he generally found the articles he reviewed rather dull but he enjoyed reading my piece. That praise alone made my day!

In the same week an old friend, an academic, explained why he didn’t use his Facebook account:

… one of my nightmare students (had really serious issues) wanted to friend me.  I didn’t feel I could say no (she really had problems) but from that moment on I realised I could never use my account…

Reminiscent of times in my work-life where I’d consulted Personnel, Human Resources, services to advise on dealing with challenging situations, why I use an unprofessional pen-name for my blog

Personnel and Editorial professionals ROCK!

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Amelia pulls it off!

Sunday, April 3rd, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

At the Chipping Sodbury finishing school for young ladies of good stock Mrs Thompkinson-Smythe’s ‘Floral Art and Table decor” course skills had transformed the graduation Marquee into a heavenly garden.  Amelia Penrith-Perkington steps up to the Dahlia festooned podium to recieve the class graduation award for “Lady most likely to Marry an Arabian Prince”. Alemia’s successful final year project in International Etiquette and Arabic stock had given her the edge over Maria Fountaine-Diddly who’s sister had already bagged a Shiek. We see a flash of red from the underside of Amelias 4 inch heals confirming that she has chosen just the right pair for the occassion. Like a lipizzaner she gently swings her mane (24 shades of honey blonde) removing strands from her eyes and the hinges of her Jackie Onassis sunglasses.

Despite being under canvas  Amelia keeps her Jackie O’s balanced pertly on her nose to hide the unexpected bruises from the recent cornea-corrective surgery.  She hopes her fellow students, and tutors, will forgive her for this little faux-pas. Failing to use the Jackie O’s as an alice-band to hold hair away from her face is a level 1 style error. Terribly middle class.  She regrets that the eye-corrective surgery happened so soon before graduation, but it really did have to happen before her coming out party. Relying on an emergency back-up pair of spectacles for  unanticipated contact-lense catastrophes just isn’t acceptable now that she’s nearly 18.

Amelia winces as she recalls how her hair had betrayed her last summer by flicking a contact lense from her left eye while riding in Al-amir Sagria’s Jaguar XKR convertible.  This had not been a problem on the drive to Newquay. Unfortunately, when they arrived at Jamie Oliver’s ‘Fifteen Restaurant’ Amelia had used the wall mounted urinals in the Gentlemans washrooms as a hand basin. Not an ideal way to prepare for the first course of moule mariner. Puking on the champaign ivory leatherette seat covers, just before Honiton, had not made for an idyllic end to the evening. Like silent lightening the Shieks people replaced the car. Amelia released a sigh, without letting her shoulders drop, at the thought that these traumas were now behind her.

As she turned to the podium Amelia caught a glimpse of the Govenor, Mrs Burke-Forster, texting! During the acceptance speech! Luckily, Mrs Burke-Foster finished her message before the applause and wolf whistles from some bizarre local people draped across the school boundary walls outside the Marquee, had stopped.

It gives me great pleasure….

Another writing exercise focusing on using another person’s voices. This time, imitating the style of another writer. I hope people who know the writer I am imitating will recognise the style 🙂
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emergency calligraphy

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

While I’m contemplating learning how to write properly with my new ink pen, I realise that it actually takes a lot of practice and dedication to build that kind of physical skill. Darn. You have to practice and get it wrong and try again and again and again, gradually getting better each time.

Apparantly, writing properly is called calligraphy. Fancy that! I do fancy that! But I suspect I’ll never get around to dedicated practice and improvement. There are possible short-cuts for people who want to have hand crafted beautiful writing without lots of practice. Heres’ one way – Scarlet Blue’s Calligraphy!

Peter Rabbit lives in The hole in Bunny lane!

For all my emergency calligraphy needs I’ll be calling on Scarlet Blue. Is this shameless promotion of a friends business? Yes of course it is! Telling the world about my talented friends is FUN! I’m hoping some talent will rub-off onto me with minimal practice, maybe not…Hahahahaaa!

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five word flash

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011 | tags: , ,  |

Police marksman arrived, we hid

flash fiction inspired by Ernest Hemmingway

While wandering through websites for writers I learned a lot about the writing community and a little about writing. I learned that:

  • when submitting stories to competitions it is considered a courtesy to submit them with 12 point font and double line spacing. No competitions provided guidance on the use of illustrations.
  • A short story is over 1,000 words. I’ve not yet found and upper limit but one site described a 7,000 word story as a short story
  • Flash fiction is normally used to describe stories from 5 to 500 words

Flash fiction is growing in popularity, blogging provides an excellent practice and publishing ground for Flash fiction writers. Several people wrote about how flash fiction is popular with readers because it fits with modern lifestyles. That’s right, blame the reader! We dont have the patience or time to read longer literary formats. Gosh, I hope that’s not happening, but if flash fictions encourages more reading that’s a good thing.

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future perfect tense

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 | tags: , , , , ,  |

Will you have forgotten me? Our first kiss was a surprise, not in the script or rehearsals. You’d planned it without knowing how I would’ve reacted. Your move wasn’t blocked, your instincts were right. A perfect, if tense, moment.

We didn’t know then, that I would’ve stayed with you forever. After you’d left, I expected to find someone else, or that someone else would’ve found me. Decades later, my spontaneous phonecall bought four hours of laughter. Briefly, centre stage again before returning to my place in the wings.

My future will have been littered with walk-on parts, as an optional-extra.

This 100 word post was darned hard to write, more drafts than an Irish castle! I’m normally too lazy to think about using tenses and suspect I’ve used the future perfect, imperfectly. The effort was inspired by the efforts, and an outstanding 100 word post, of Happy Frog and I
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won the fun

Sunday, February 13th, 2011 | tags: ,  |

Working on my new year’s resolution to be more creative, I spent Saturday refining a short story written last weekend. It’s my first Short story since the 1970’s when English literature coursework included the formally named ‘compositions’. As my first short story Iit wont be outstanding. It’s amazing that its even getting written! I’m using the writers and artists short story competition as a motivation, a deadline and a set of rules.

The fun, the real reward, is in the process of getting the story from an idea in my head to a worthy of submission to a competition.

So far I have:

Dumped1) Written the story

2) asked an inspirational friend to read it and gathered her feedback. It was so much fun listening to her ask me about the characters, the back story, my intentions and tell me what she saw and imagined

3) drawn sketches to illustrate it – photographs of the sketches shown here

Caught4) subjected the sketches to an Adobe photoshop treatment to enhance the visual impact and hide the sketch quality!

5) updated the text based on the inspirational feedback. It was so much better after the feedback. This made it clear to me how much work I need to do generally!

While it could be so much better with more feedback from more people and with more time to get more detail right. For my first story, I’m ready to say I’ve learned a lot, lets move on.


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replacing the ink cartridge

Monday, January 10th, 2011 | tags: , , ,  |

changing the ink cartridgereplacing the ink cartridge in a fountain pen, not a dot-matrix or jet printer

Do you remember the experience of your pen sporadically supplying ink, tapping the nib on a spare piece of paper to make sure the ink is all at the bottom of the cartridge? That time when you still have ink, but the inconsistent flow makes your writing messy. Unscrewing my pen confirmed that the cartridge was near-as-damn-it empty

The 5 page letter below is to a friend who rarely uses the computer, email, her mobile phone and she definitely doesn’t have a facebook account. Rebel!

Letter writing involved

  • a traditional format – senders address on the top right hand side above the date
  • a traditional opening phrase ‘Dear (name),’
  • the first spelling challenge in the 3rd sentence
  • hastily omited letters retrospectively inserted into words (squishing, writing a letter above the word and placing an arrow below it)
  • smudges,I’m not sure how, they just arrived
  • crossing-out letters that had over-enthusiastically added to words where they did not belong. I round the letter ‘r’ was the biggest offender, wishing to be in every word it can be. Liquid paper (Tippex) might head-off these rogue arse in future letters
  • hand-ache by the 2nd page
  • writing on only one side of the page
  • use of blotting-paper
  • an illustrative sketch per page
  • Regular tea breaks helped prevent my pulling a muscle
  • a pleasing end result that fitted in the envelope and awaits carrying to a letter-box

5 page letterI made the squiggly white lines using ‘Paint‘ to obscure the personal contents.

PS 254 word post before the PS
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batty aunts

Thursday, November 25th, 2010 | tags: , ,  |

Here we see evidence of my attempting to befuddly my niece with battiness. It is my firm belief that aunties were invented to introduce befuddlement into the lives of their relationshions and I’ve never been one to shirk such a valuable social responsibility.

I wonder what a cool 18 yr old will do with such a letter, assuming she can read my rather degraded handwriting. Handwriting was never one of my strengths, Western writing was designed to favour the right-handed.
Basildon Bond At junior school (age 10) I was taught cursive writing using a fountain pen. I’ve never really been motivated to master the rather boring script style taught in school, now I’m thinking of trying to learn Bickham script.  Bickham is more legible than the secretary hand, a script popular in 17th Century Britain, and bears a reasonably strong resemblance to my current scrawl of idiosyncratic and inconsistent style.

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the name’s Bond. Basildon Bond

Wednesday, November 24th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

Basildon BondThe corner shop, the post-office, both still sell writing paper. Lined writing paper. No letter-writting paper. No Basildon Bond. I should not have been suprised, the demand for letter-writting paper must have waned with the growth of the internet as a way to communicate with remote friends. In the 80’s I had a collection of different letter writting papers, varied colours, varied sizes and some with subtle water-colour marks. I didn’t use Basildon bond, it was too boring for the many letters that I wrote. Often I would write four or five letters a day. Not so now.

It was a real treat to buy myself a Parker fountain pen, letter-writting pad and envelopes. Now I just need to find my friends’ physical addresses….

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charming a wendy

Friday, July 30th, 2010 | tags: ,  |

excerpt from an email:

When’s your first novel? Bet you could combine the intellectual challenge of a Will Self novel with the creative wackiness of Terry Prachett!

this qualifies the sender as a friend for life.

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