Small pieces

20150528_113414The workmen are long gone and now the exciting part of house renovation begin – decorating and furnishing the interior. This is the fun part. The part where we get to go and choose new furniture, accessories and colour schemes. What would make this part even more fun would be if we could pay for someone to do the decorating for us. Or even find a supposed painter and decorator who would actually like a job instead of shaking his head at my suggestions (which weren’t outlandish by anyone’s standards. I only wanted wallpaper on the walls and cream paint on the woodwork) and trying to force his own suggestions onto me. Needless to say, neither of us parted on friendly terms.

It’s fair to say that both my husband and I hate DIY decorating. Firstly, it’s never straightforward. What you imagine will be a relatively easy job rapidly turns into a massive headache when you discover damp on the stripped walls or half the plaster falls off the wall when you rip off the dated dado rail. And if this wasn’t enough, which frankly it is, decorating is time-consuming and tedious beyond belief. Then there is the added bonus of the fact that I am completely and utterly crap at decorating and find it impossible to do anything without making an almighty mess.

However, even I thought that I could paint the newly plastered walls of our conservatory. Not only were they newly plastered, the room isn’t particularly large and it currently without skirting boards. What could go wrong? Surprisingly enough, nothing. I managed to paint the walls without painting myself or the floors, which is a first. You would probably think I was buoyed up with success and extremely fussy with myself. And, perhaps, I would have been if it hadn’t been so boring.

Three hours I spent painting which wouldn’t have been so bad if I only had to do one coat of paint. But I didn’t. There was also a delineate second and a possible third to contend with. And the other five rooms that needed to be done. All the hours spent and to spend painting spread out in front of my eyes and made me want to throw my paintbrush down (carefully, so as not to make a mess of course) and proclaim that I wanted to live in a dump forever more.

The problem with the bigger picture is that, sometimes, it frightens us into inactivity. The task seems so impossible that there’s no point attempting it in the first place. I find the same thing with writing. I’m comfortable writing short stories and plays. The thought of writing anything longer causes me anxiety. What if I can’t develop a longer plot? What if I can’t write that many words? It worries me that I’ll never finish what I start so what’s the point of starting in the first place?

The answer as I damn well know is to break tasks into manageable small pieces. Today I will paint the walls, tomorrow I will paint them again. Today I will start a longer piece of work, tomorrow I will write another 500 words of it.  And so on and so on until I reach the end goal. Small pieces are what’s needed. It’s a pity that I have to keep reminding myself of it.


Genre, What Genre?

Totally necessary or waste of time?
Totally necessary or waste of time?

I wrote last time about how some people want to pigeon-hole you, or even how you may feel the need to pigeon-hole yourself depending on what you do, wear, watch read and listen to. Unfortunately for writers, there is an added area where some people are not at all happy and comfortable unless they’ve shoved and stuffed you into a pigeon-shaped hole. This particular hole is not only pigeon-shaped but genre-shaped too.

“What genre do you write?” is a question I’ve been asked on more than one occasion. I wish people wouldn’t because I don’t know how to answer them. I am able tell people what I don’t write. I don’t write sci-fi or historical fiction or crime or thrillers or romances. Not that there’s anything wrong with any of these genres. I’ve read countless books in all and enjoyed most of them. It’s just my story telling, and I’m suspecting many other writers’ too, doesn’t fall into an easily pigeon-holed category.

The lack of an answer doesn’t go down well with the person asking the genre question either. They push and probe until, at last, they shake their heads, puff out their cheeks and look at you as if you are some sort of pathological liar who can’t possible have ever written anything in your life if you can’t even identify which genre it fits into.

Funnily enough, it isn’t other writers that want to do this. In fact, other writers have never asked me what genre I write. This could be because they are too busy with their own writing to be interested in what I’m doing. Or, maybe, the don’t see why it matters. Because it doesn’t. You write what you feel and everyone else be damned.


All together now, 'Let it go, let it go...'
All together now, ‘Let it go, let it go…’

I’ve written  before about how I’m perceived by different groups of friends (see Who Am I?). Some see me as quiet and a little reserved. Those who know me better and for longer see me as a bit gobby and as following my own path. I think the reason for this is probably  because I have lots of different interests and, consequently,  lots of different groups of friends. From writing to gardening, from archaeology  to sewing (my latest love), from boozey nights out to alcohol free nights in; my life is busy, varied and certainly not dull.

I’ve always been one to throw myself into new experiences and challenges. I’m a firm believer in that we only get one shot at this thing  called life and I don’t  want to reach the end of mine with a long list of ‘what ifs?’ That’s why, last week I raved it up watching The Prodigy and this weekend I’m off to the theatre to see a Frozen Sing-Along (with my daughters of course). There’s  no  wonder  people see me in different  ways!

So, who is the real me? Am I the dirty, banging baseline loving Old Skool raver or the massive Disney fan? Am I the peace-making diplomat or the ‘you’ve crossed the line so run for the hills’ mouthy woman? C

an I really love baking and sewing and be a feminist? Of course I can. I and we all can all be anyone we want.

We should never allow ourselves, or others, to pigeon hole what we are or what we do. If you really  want to do something, then go for it (providing it’s  legal & morally sound obvs). Don’t ever worry about it not being cool or intellectual. There’s no better feeling then seeing the look of  shock on someone’s  face when they thought they had you sussed and then realise they don’t know you at all. Be a chameleon. Chameleons rock!

Lighting Bolt

No longer a blank page
No longer a blank page

Being involved with the running of a theatre company for a year seriously  damaged  my creativity. Just sorting out the day-to-day details left me with very little of my precious free time and my creative juices dried up. When the company ended, I deliberately threw myself into taking a variety of online courses as I didn’t want to get sucked into another theatre venture. Unfortunately,  my creative juices didn’t  return. I seemed to have been sucked dry.

So I went back to some old stuff and worked on that for a while. It was good to go back  and see my work through a fresh pair  of  eyes but it didn’t  trigger anything new.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I was at a local singer/songwriter’s album launch with some friends when something unexpected  happened.  There I was,  minding my  own  business,  when I was hit by a lightening bolt.  A line from one of the songs struck me as being unusual and beautiful at the same time. I couldn’t  get the line out of my head. And the more I thought about it, the more I stopped listening to the music and, suddenly, a story began to appear.

My first instinct was to run out of the gig, go home and write it down before I forgot it. But I took a deep breath and told myself ‘not to be so silly’ and that ‘if it was important, I’d remember it.’ So I stayed till the end and then spent a couple of days running the idea round and round my head before sitting down to write it.

And, so far so good, the story telling  part of my brain is fully functioning again and I’ve written nearly 3000 words (which may not seem a lot to some of you but, believe  me, it is for me).  I guess you can’t  force things and, when you are truly ready, inspiration will strike – probably from the most unlikely situations.

Guest Post: Samantha Braham

An interview I recently did for the lovely Vicky. Check out her blog, What Vicky did next. You’ll love it!

What Vicky Did Next

Thanks to Sam Braham for being the latest UK Krampus Crackers author to guest on this blog, revealing the inspiration behind her flash fiction, what she has in common with Bridget Jones, and her dream of living with the Oompa-Loompas…

You can follow Sam on twitter to find out more about her work. @BrahamSamantha 

DSCN2145Sam at the Krampus Crackers launch event in Leeds.

Describe yourself in 50 words or less:

I’m a writer who doesn’t write as often as I should! I have a busy life so it’s hard to fit everything in. But I’m also a paradox – a busy person who is essentially lazy so any free time is usually spent gazing out the window or eating biscuits.

Why did you become involved in Krampus Crackers and what was the inspiration for your story?

Until about a year ago, I’d never heard of Flash Fiction and then…

View original post 916 more words


Totally necessary or waste of time?
Totally necessary or waste of time?

Conventional wisdom says writers must always carry a notebook & pen at all times so when inspiration strikes, the moment isn’t lost forever. Every writer I know does this &, for a while, so did I. I diligently carried said items around with me in whatever bag I was using. From bag to bag they went until I forgot to transfer the pen & then, finally, the notebook.

Did I miss said items? No, I did not because the truth is I never used them. I thought this was because I am lacking somewhat as a writer. ‘No pen?! Nothing to write with?! And you call yourself a writer?!’ are words I’ve often heard so I’

ve always felt a bit of a fraud for not scribbling feverishly into a notebook I expertly pulled out of my bag the moment the light bulb flicked on.

That was until last week when I went to my local library’s ‘Meet the Author’ event. The evening followed the usual format of the author talking about writing and the book they are trying to flog, reading a passage from the book they are trying to flog & answering Q&As. And, of course, someone asked if they carried a notebook & pen around with them at all time. And, of course,  I was expecting her to answer, ‘Yes, of course! How on earth can you call yourself a writer if you don’t? ‘

Imagine my shock then when she said, ‘No.’  My new best friend then went on to explain that she never had & she didn’t find it necessary because if it was important,  then she would remember it. Hallelujah!  And it’s true. You are not going to forget the moment inspiration hits you as you’ll be too busy thinking about it until your story proper gets underway. So the next time some smart-arse comments on my lack of writing paraphernalia,  I’m going to smile knowingly & say, ‘Don’t need any. If it’s important,  I’ll remember it.’


Doing two courses simultaneously was not the brightest idea I’ve ever had but I got through it and life has returned to normal – well, sort of. While the cerebral part of me is able to concentrate on writing again, my physical environment is not normal.

You see, we are having a lot of work done to the house. This work isn’t out of a need to keep-up with the Joneses but is due to necessity. We have been living in our home for fifteen years and lots of things have come to the end of their life-cycle. The trouble is instead of being small things like a kettle or a toaster, they are big things like windows, an oven and a conservatory. We’ve tried putting these things off as long as possible by adopting ingenious ways of getting old, decrepit  things to work. For instance, we could get the oven going if we used a children’s paintbrush to flick the fan. I wish this was a joke but, unfortunately, it’s not. The main problem, apart from finding the money, is that I don’t like having workmen/women in my home.

This is not because I have some irrational fear of overalls or a burning hatred of rigger boots but because I can never fully relax when people I don’t know are at my house all day, for days on end. Having workpeople in my house feels me with dread for a number of reasons:

1 – What am I supposed to do with myself? I can’t go for a run or exercise because this would mean I then need to have a shower etc. I can’t do that when people are in my kitchen/bedroom/ garden fitting ovens, windows and doors. It’s just not right, is it? They’d probably think that I’m some mad woman who’s trying to seduce them with my middle-aged body. I wouldn’t be but they wouldn’t know that. OK, so I can’t run but I can write. But how can I when there is banging and crashing going on? I could, shudder, do the housework but there is no point when I’m just going to have to clean-up again at the end of the day. I could go out but that leads me onto problem number 2.

2 – Going out for the day. This seems to inevitably lead to an explanation of where I am going on how long I will be. Why do I do this? It is none of their business nor are they the slightest bit interested in what I’m doing. I blame my overprotective parents who made me account for my every waking moment as a child and teenager. Old habits are hard to break. And where would I go anyway? It’s like being exiled from your own home.

3 – Making cups of tea. I have a real problem with this mainly because I don’t drink tea myself. My husband does but no-one in our house drinks coffee and therein lay my first problem. I presumed builders drank tea. I mean, everyone knows that. But no, apparently twenty-first century builders drink coffee and we didn’t have any so I had to make a mad-dash to the shop to purchase some. The second issue I have with hot drinks is that because I don’t drink them, I don’t know how often I’m supposed to ask the builders if they want a drink. If I don’t make a conscious effort to think about it the whole day could go by with my sipping water and the builders throwing my dirty looks.

4 – Use of the facilities. This is my number one problem with having workpeople in the house. I don’t like them using my toilet because I have to clean it. I don’t mind if they only pee but they don’t and the sometimes leave my toilet in a mess. And I’m the one who cleans it – yuck, yuck, yuck.

So now you understand why I have put this off for so long (my husband couldn’t care less, mainly because he is at work and doesn’t have to deal with these problems). But now I have to face all my fears in one huge massive hoard of builders, window fitters, kitchen fitters, electricians, plasterers and decorators demanding cups of coffee and to use my toilet. Deep breath, I can get through this.




Film Premier

I have been neglecting my blog again. This is because I very ambitiously (or stupidly) signed-up to do two online courses simultaneously.

One course is covering the archaeology of the Roman Port of Portus and is fascinating.  The other course is Exploring Film-making with the National  Film & Television School no less. Now, I don’t have any ambitions to be a film-maker but I love film and thought it would be interesting to find out more about the film-making industry and process. And it has been interesting and I’ve loved participating in the course. That was until today, when I had to make a short 30 second film exploring the use of lighting.

I don’t make films. I’ve never even made one on my phone. I just stick to taking photos. My phone is full of videos though that have been made by my daughters. But these mainly consist of them singing songs from Frozen and I wasn’t sure this was what the NFTS wanted. Added to the pressure was the fact that most of the other course participants seem to be film-makers and were producing amazing 30 seconds shorts. But needs must and all that.

The first problem was getting the lighting right. I was asked to light a room

 with no natural light. It seems a pretty simple thing, put on a few lamps, torches etc and hey presto ready to go! I mean, if you can see it with the naked eye it must show up on video. But it didn’t. Not at all. And although I might have been able to say the pitch black nothingness was a reflection and symbol of modern society’s fragmented relationships, I didn’t think the NFTS would buy this.

Plan B was for my husband to bring in an industrial lamp from the garage, which lit the room alright. It lit it too much and I then had to use masses of baking paper (a tip I picked up from the course (see, I have learnt something)) to reduce the glare. Good job I like baking. It was still not right, but the best I could do with the resources and time I had.

So good to go? Well, no because I had no actors to act or read any snippet of script I’ve written in the past. What I had were  my 7-year-old twin girls who love singing Frozen songs. Well, if it ain’t broke…


Pin it!

20150205_094116Being all buoyed-up by my mini Resolutions, I decided to seek out some inspiring, but easy, recipes to make me a domestic goddess. Now, the last time I did this it involved pouring through Jamie’s & Delia’s books. But it’s the 21st century. I no longer need to damage my knees by resting a heavy, hardback book on them. All I need now is my tab and an internet connection.

The only problem with surfing the net for recipes is that you either have to print them off or fill your bookmarks up with them. But, wait a minute, there is another way. There’s Pinterest. To be honest, I’ve never bothered with Pinterest before. I’ve not felt the need to pin anything but it did seem to make saving recipes easier so I signed-up for it and started pin-ing.

But, hang on, Pinterest isn’t just good for recipes. I can also pin decorating ideas and health tips and this season’s must-have fashion items. In fact, I can spend a good hour or so pin-ing all sorts of things that would make me not just a domestic goddess but also see me have a wardrobe to die for, abs of steels, dewy skin & a house straight out of a magazine.

Ok, so the reality is that I will do nothing with these things as they are too much like hard work and if I really was that person, I would be already. But that doesn’t really matter. What matters is that it is fun pin-ing and I’m hooked.