Wednesday, 28 May 2008

How do you write?

This was a question posed on Purplecoo - the site I belong to (a seriously great place to belong) - by the wonderful and very talented Jackofall.
So how do I write? I used to write poetry as a kid and kept it up until/while I was at college - ghastly stuff full of angst and totally over emotional. I gave it up. There are some things in one's life, that as you get older, you realise are best left behind.
However, I used to read it aloud to check that it flowed. It is something I continue to do to this day. It also helps with the punctuation and where best to put the emphasis or stress points within a sentence.
I write for a living in the business sector and do a lot of research before a single word is put down. I interview about 8-10 people for each article plus gather as many relevant facts and figures from a host of sources. After talking to so many people I have a good idea of the issues and I will try to draw on them as the slant for my article.
Sometimes the slant or point of the article will be given to me by my editor and it is up to me to find the facts to back it up or failing this to persuade the powers that be that the slant I have chosen is the best one.
Then it flows or not. Sometimes an article just writes itself and at other times it is a total nightmare and I have to nurture it, pound it into shape, scream at it, jump up and down and then sullenly get on with it, muttering all the time.
Other times I am just not in the mood. However, bills and a looming deadline are great for concentrating the mind!
I will read and re-read each piece adjusting and trying to correct spelling mistakes etc as I go along. Once finished though I will quickly scan. I can't read it properly, it has to just go. I think that this stems from all the anxiety I had over exams. I once got so wound up that I ripped up the whole exam paper because my answer was not quite right and then did not have enough time to finish. Needless to say I failed the exam and the humiliation of that failure haunts me still as I was meant to be the best in the class on that particular subject.
When it comes to more creative writing I started out with a round robin letter when I first got married in 1999. I was stunned by the reception that first one, and now subsequent ones, garnered. I even have a fan base in Yorkshire among my parents’ friends.
To cut a short story long they kept badgering me to write more and although I think them highly biased in my favour, they were a great influence on me taking up the Country Living challenge in 2007. So I started to blog.
I am not disciplined and so I will just come to the screen when the mood hits me. Although I am now finding that I write loads in my head all day I rarely get it all down. There have been so many things I have wanted to share and so many ways I have wanted to express myself.
I now find that I love writing - just for the sake of it. The process is very therapeutic and I believe it is making me a more accomplished journalist - well, a certainly more confident one. And it has been profitable though only in a small way.
Dear Charlie showed my blog off to a publisher acquaintance of his and I now write a column for him three times a year - I know not much. It is a lighthearted look at the trials and tribulations of sending children into the private school system. Totally fictitious but with plenty of facts/stories to back it all up. Some I witness first hand and others I am handed on a plate, usually round the dinner table. Sounds silly but these three pieces (so far) are my most treasured cuttings. To be paid and acknowledged for your work especially when it is creative is one of the biggest buzzes I have ever had.

Tuesday, 13 May 2008


Harry and Sally sitting in a tree:
First comes love,
comes marriage,
then comes Sally and the baby carriage

Ah yes it was bound to happen sooner or later – for me it was Robin trying to pull up my skirt to see my knickers – the indignity especially as he was younger than me!
However, unlike me, The Boy is the instigator rather than the victim in this little playground scenario.
Strolling into school – early for once – The Boy was accosted by another Mummy.
With mock severity she says:
“What have you been doing to my daughter in the playground? Her Daddy is gonna’ come and get you!”
The Boy just giggles and squirms and I notice for the first time that he really does blush.
Me: “What have you been up to?”
OM: “Hasn’t he told you?”
Me: “No, it seems he’s already keeping secrets from me. What DID you do?”
The Boy answers from the depths of my skirt and I miss the crucial words as he gets an attack of the giggles again egged on by his friends who are all whooping at his embarrassment.
ME; “Spit it out monster.”
The Boy shouts: “Kissin’!”
Me: “Kissing!”
Oh My God we’re at that stage already. Kissing in the playground. Now most people would be fine about it – and I am really - but there is a certain amount of trepidation because you see I was kissed by Dear Charlie when I was only four and a half and look what happened to us!
On my way back home I realise that I could easily be looking at my future daughter-in-law and a little bit of me sinks somewhat. All day I try to put it to the back of my mind but it keeps springing back up.
Returning to school I laugh with the other mothers in the playground about these latest antics and secretly I ponder whether I would want any of them as in-laws for my son. I reason that on the whole I get on with all of them and I actually like most of the girls in The Boy’s class – it could be worse.
As they file out and say their “Good Afternoons” I watch The Boy. He catches my eye and grins and runs off laughing with the others for a few snatched moments before being rounded up by respective mothers to head home for tea.
They’re all in a huddle and suddenly I hear that old chant about K.I.S.S.I.N.G and damn me if it’s not about him with another girl. I have a feeling that my Son might just be a little bit of a tart.
(PS. I am secretly very pleased – he’s obviously quite a catch.)

Monday, 12 May 2008

Shooting Starlings….

I remember when I was young the horror of having starlings suddenly flying down the chimney and into the living room in a 'phut' of grey ash and flickering feathers which would invariably be accompanied by cacophony of squawks and screeches from sundry species.
It would usually end with the poor bird up against the window panting, while we, in the opposite corners, would be doing the same and my father would be surveying grimly the destruction of the best room.
It used to happen on frequent occasions as the poor birds tried and tried again to build their nest at the top of the chimney but it was not until the said nest got stuck and caused a fire that my father decided action had to be taken.
After trying every conceivable way to get rid of the little "S**Ts" as he called them and being driven to distraction he decided it was war and went into commando mode. The Full Monty in the back garden with his tent and camouflage - I believe he even painted himself. I'm afraid the starlings didn't stand a chance. BUT, there is always a but, they did get their own back sort must have been the final days of the siege and Dad shot one. It landed with a plunk on top of the ridge of the barn opposite his bedroom window. It lay there with its feet akimbo a "V" sign, which Dad had to endure for many, many months afterwards....

Go on you know you want to...


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