Friday, 26 February 2016

The Prompt - Control

I'm falling, out of control.
There is nothing to catch me, nothing to hold me up. Everything I thought I knew, all the certainties of life are gone. They went when you left.
I'm too old to be an orphan yet that is what I am. The twin anchors of my life have gone. I'm not the first this has happened to, I'm not alone in this but it feels as if I'm totally and utterly alone. Bereft and alone.
The time for tears has passed yet I still feel on the verge of weeping at unexpected moments. A word, a phrase, a memory, all have the power to upset and unnerve.
While you were here with us, you were the control in our lives. We came to you for advice, for support. We came to you to share our joys and happiness. We looked to you for guidance and knew you would exert the control we needed.
Now I am adrift, I'm falling and out of control. How do I manage, how do we manage without you? 

Word of the Week - Professional

Now I know what you're thinking - that's an awfully grown up word for Johanne to choose as her WotW, she's usually a tad frivolous, isn't she?

Well for a change I'm trying to be more professional. I'm trying to approach my writing like it's a proper, mature thing that I'm doing rather than a hobby.  I've long harboured the dream of writing a book, a real book written by a real writer. But I've done nothing serious about writing it. I've thought about it, dreamed about it and even had a few half hearted attempts at writing something of length and substance. But I've always failed, run out of steam before getting to the end (or even the middle if I'm honest).

So I'm changing the way I do things. I have an idea to work with, I'm doing some serious planning so I know exactly where the story is going, I'm not rushing straight into writing without knowing how things are going to turn out. If I'm going to be a writer then I need to approach it seriously, as if it matters to me and is important.

So there we are. I'm trying to be more professional as a writer.  No, strike that. I am being more professional, I am being a professional writer. If I say it often enough I will start to believe it!


Thursday, 25 February 2016

Prose For Thought - That Ooops Moment.

This is something I wrote a while ago and was the germ of a story that never saw the light of day. Now I'm starting to plan a real, proper 'novel' I've been looking at some old ideas and decided that this one could do with some light and air.

Sunlight slanted between the curtains and rested across Ellie’s gently fluttering eyelids. A slight headache and dryness in her mouth reminded her that opening a second bottle of wine was never a good idea. The bedroom was slightly too warm; the air heavy and muggy with the smell of wine, pizza and sex. Ellie made a mental note to air the room later.

She stretched, coaxing some movement into her middle-aged limbs. Mid week drinking was always a mistake; now she’d pay for her moment of fun for the rest of the day. Her right arm brushed lightly across a stubbled chin and she felt warm, sleepy breath on her fingers. Rolling over Ellie snaked her left arm over a taut stomach and a muscular chest. A tiny shiver ran through her body; vague memories of last night rose in her mind and she wanted more of the same.

She felt his breathing quicken and a strong had gripped her upper arm and pulled her closer to him. Nestling into his chest, Ellie breathed in the warm smell of his chest. No matter how many times she’d lay like this with him she still felt the same excitement that she had all those years ago when they’d first met. He had been a shy 22 year old trainee teacher and she was in her last year at University. Saturday night in the Student Union bar and he’d flirted awkwardly with her while his friends egged him on and hers rolled their eyes behind his back.

Ellie stretched up and wrapped her arms around his neck, gently pulling him towards her. Her lips searched for his and soon she lost herself in a sleepy yet passionate kiss. She was shocked by the passion; he normally liked to wait until they’d both brushed their teeth! She remembered teasing him about his border-line obsession with hygiene when they were newly married; now she took it for granted. There was certainly no reluctance this morning - perhaps the wine was still working its magic. She felt his body respond to hers and the intensity of his kiss took Ellie’s breath away. Pulling away from him slightly, Ellie rolled onto her back and opened her eyes. Morning sunlight made her squint. As her eyes adjusted to the light she glanced across the bed. Her eyes widened and an involuntary gasp escaped her. Arms casually thrown above his head, a lopsided grin playing across his lips this wasn’t her husband, Mark. It was Leo, her son’s best friend from University.  

What is love?

What is love?
It's a many splendoured thing,
And makes the world go round.
It changes everything,
And it can build a bridge.
It's what we all need,
And is in the air tonight.
It is the answer,
And it is blind.
It is given a bad name,
And you can jump for it.
It can be tender,
And it can be like oxygene.
It can hurt,
And it can be deep and tender.
We can be addicted to it,
And it can be all around.
It can inspire poets,
And it can tear us apart.
It is the foundation of our families,
And the reason we exist.

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

What I'm Writing - Inspiration

I'm trying to be more disciplined and 'professional' about my writing, looking at options for getting my words out into the big, bad world and seeing how they fair. But I'm struggling for inspiration.

I read blog posts and tweets where other writers chat about the progress of their novel; how they're cracking on with the first, second or final edit of their manuscript; how their characters are getting along; how they're struggling with a plot point. How does this make me feel? Well, I'm pleased for those who are muddling through a problem; delighted for those who are heading for the final hurdle; in awe of those who have already published. And I confess to feeling a little jealous of what they have achieved.

I've been keeping the writing muscles moving by using writing prompts but this isn't the same as having an extended piece of writing to get stuck into. I want to have an idea, some characters to wrestle with, a plot idea to flesh out but there's nothing. Nada. Zip.

Where will inspiration come from? I have no idea.
When will inspiration strike? Who can tell.
Will I ever find that idea? I certainly hope so!

Any ideas where I can look for inspiration? Under this cushion maybe ...  

Sunday, 21 February 2016

The Prompt - Grow

When I was small I was always told by well meaning relatives that I'd really grown since they last saw me. I was rather perplexed by this. How was I supposed to not grow? It was something I had no control over, it happened without my knowledge or help. Luckily I managed to avoid growing pains that plagued some of my friends.
'Grow' was such a positive word. I was growing up - not just physically but also in personality, spirit and character. Being grown up was something wonderful, something to be looked forward to. Even being told I would grow into a too large school blazer was positive, looking forward to a time when I was more mature, more grown up.
As an adult grow seemed to have different connotations . I was exhorted not to let the grass grow under my feet, to decide what sort of life o wanted and get on with it - education, career, family; all must be decided upon and acted upon with haste. After all time was marching on, biological clock ticking and all that. I also had to be mindful that money didn't grow on trees and i'd better make provision for the future. Before long I realised that in certain circumstances absence didn't make the heart grow fonder, it merely pointed out that certain people didn't have a place in my life or my heart any longer.
But now that I'm older grow is a scary word. It brings mortality to mind as I grow old gracefully, or try to. Growing old is generally something to fear, a time of endings, a time of loss. Something I have to grow accustomed to I guess. It's also a time when I have to grow a thick skin, learn to take all that age throws at me and live with it.
But I hope there are also things I never grow out of. Things like getting over emotional at books and films; things like getting over excited about kittens and birthdays; things like a childish love of pink and sparkles. I might have no choice about growing older but I certainly have no intention of always acting like a grown up!    

Friday, 19 February 2016

Word of the Week - Beginning

I've found Word of the Week difficult over the last few weeks. Nothing seemed to sum up the week so I reluctantly decided not to take part. But this week I thought there was a word which was suitable so here I am again!

This week I've chosen 'Beginning' as my word. I've written on several occasions about how I struggle to become and stay organised. This lack of organisation has scuppered my attempts to concentrate properly on my writing. No matter how many planners I start, how many notebook I have, I never seemed to get a handle on 'being a writer'. I recognise that it's a fundamental problem of mine - start off with good intentions then the apathy/ennui kicks in and I'm back to square one.

This week someone told me about Patreon. This is a website that matches creative people with patrons, folk who like what is created and donate money each month so the creative person has an extra incentive to create or has the funds that enables them to create. The patrons are offered 'rewards' for their patronage - things like a piece of artwork, mention in a rap lyric, internet contact to answer questions, tutorials. A friend of my son's makes a living doing this - he's not a millionaire but makes enough to keep body and soul together.

I'm seriously considering joining. My thinking is as follows: if I'm lucky enough to attract patrons then the fact that they are paying me to write will concentrate my mind and force me to stop procrastinating about it. It will also make me feel like a 'proper' writer, that my writing is valued and therefore I will want to do more. I often feel that I am wasting time when I'm writing, that I should be doing something else rather than wasting my time indulging my fantasy of being a writer.

So I am looking at a new beginning, a time when I feel like a 'proper' writer, a time when I write for the joy of it without the guilt, a time when I get more of my writing out into the world and find out if I have what it takes to be a writer.

Watch this space!       

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Prose For Thought - Using Writing Prompts

This week I have been using writing prompts from this excellent book, 642 Things To Write About. It has loads of ideas about things to write, all laid out with space to write in the book. I leaf through the book until something catches my eye and then I scribble away. I thought I'd use one of the prompts as my contribution to Prose For Thought this week.

The prompt I used was 'The cleaning lady' and here's what I came up with.

The cleaning lady slowly lifted the sheet and all the colour drained from her face. The blood stained face of her employer stared up at her, his piercing blue eyes coldly looking up at the ceiling. She'd never again crack a joke with him as she tidied the sitting room; she'd never again have to remind him to have a decent meal or he'd fade away; she'd never again blush and stammer as he handed her an extravagant bouquet for her birthday. Hot tears splashed onto the floor as she fumbled for her phone and began to dial 999.

Friday, 12 February 2016

The Prompt - Fun


My stomach lurched and I felt the nausea rising again. A sour tang at the back of my throat, I swallowed and prayed that it would soon be over. Eyes tightly closed I struggled to calm the fear rising in me. This was torture and I wasn’t sure I could bear it for much longer.

My body suddenly swung to the right and I clenched the edge of my seat, my knuckles turning even whiter. Sweat seeped between my fingers and I felt my grip slipping. Terrified of loosing hold of the seat I gripped even tighter and felt a cramp start in my hand.

 A sudden lurch to the left and I felt my stomach tighten again. If this went on for much longer I would be unable to resist the nausea. Swallowing hard again I tried to steady my breathing but it was no good. I was gasping for air and each ragged breath increased the feeling of panic.

Cold wind whipped my hair, chilling the sheen of sweat which had sprung up across my face. Goose bumps appeared on my forearms and I felt chilled to the bone. Another wave of nausea swept over me and a buzzing in my ears heralded an approaching fainting fit. My head felt light, my muscles felt weak and all I wanted to do was lie down and lose consciousness.

Suddenly everything went quiet and still. My nausea died down, I started to feel more in control of my body and ventured to open my eyes. Through the glare of sunlight I caught a glimpse of his smiling face.

‘That was fun, Mum! Can we go on the Pirate Ship now?’      

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Prose 4 Thought - The laptop is broken.

The laptop is broken
What can I do?
No Word Doc for me,
It makes me feel blue.

I'm bursting with ideas,
First time for a while.
But I can't type them in
So they can't become a file.

The laptop is broken
I'm feeling bereft and so sad,
Yet I claim I'm a Luddite,
I'm feeling so bad.

The laptop is mended!
Some tape is all it took.
So why am I sitting
And scribbling in this book?

The laptop is mended
But I'm loving paper and ink,
I'm still a bit Luddite,
Old fashioned, traditional I think.

I'm loving my laptop,
Loving my paper too.
So I'm splitting my loyalties,
Ink black or blue?

My handwriting's still awful
But it's individual and mine.
I feel like a real writer
(But not all the time!)

Hello to handwriting,
Welcome back to my muse.
I'm writing more often,
Isn't that the greatest news?