Monthly Archives: August 2010

Writing – Am I getting it right?

I read several blogs about writing and blogging, and many of these occasionally include lists of what one should and shouldn’t do. Some days I read these with interest, take on board what I think is useful, and ignore that which is less so.

Other days, I can read just one article, and obsess for hours over something I do regularly, that a writer/blogger supposedly ‘shouldn’t’ do. This says nothing about the blogs I read, but plenty about my state of mind at the time of reading.

Today, I stumbled across an old blog from Fuel Your Writing, about becoming a writer. The message is simple – Don’t complicate things. To be (or become) a writer, all I need to do is write. If I were to have a list of rules for writing, this would certainly be first thing on that list. What else would be on it? Not a lot – it might look something like this:

1. Write

2. Live – do stuff you enjoy, spend time with people you love, maybe take some pictures. Enjoy yourself

3. Write some more

4. Read as much as you can. Work out what you like, and what you like less

5. Write. Read what you’ve written. Maybe get someone else to read it

6. Ignore any rules that let you hold yourself back

7. Write.

Can you see the theme here? If I had a list, it would look a little like this, but who am I to set the rules? I’m just here because I love to write.

How do you feel about your writing? Do you ever wonder whether you’re ‘getting it right’?

Emotional overflow

I was over at Matt Madeiro‘s blog, Three New Leaves, yesterday, reading his recent post ‘Confessions of a Crybaby,’ about how he has come to terms with the fact that he is, to use his word, a ‘cybaby.’ I wouldn’t have used this word myself, for its negative connotations don’t seem to fit with the reasons Matt gives for the fact that tears come easily to him.

Although I can’t possibly know what Matt’s experience of the world is like for him, I can empathise, as tears come easily to me, too. As I commented on Matt’s post, I prefer not to call it crying, though, as this suggests sadness is involved. Although it sometimes is, I find the tears come more readily at other, seemingly everyday moments – I recognise the sense of stillness that touched Matt after his first experience of meditation, and art and music can move me in the same way. My sister is a singer/songwriter, and her words and music often cause this emotional overflow. She once showed concern at my tears, so I tried to explain it to her… and that is how I would like to explain it to you, now. It’s like this:

I ‘fill up’ with emotion and sometimes, some of it leaks… The filling up is a lovely feeling, and if it leaks then it’s just because I forget how much joy I can contain.

Matt comes to the conclusion that his tears are simply a celebration of life, which is nothing to be ashamed of, and I agree. Sure, he might be a sensitive soul, compared to some, and while I think sensitivity can be a strength to be admired, I am aware that many do not feel this way. I congratulate Matt on his honesty, bravery even, for sharing this part of him with the world, another sensitive creative not afraid to be who he is.

‘When a door closes…

‘When a door closes, a window opens.’ So the saying goes. And I agree. It’s fair to say that, in my life at least, as one opportunity is missed another will present itself. I’m down with that and, these days, I waste less time staring at the door that just slammed in my face and more time checking what direction the breeze is coming from to see if I can locate the open window.

Today, as I consider one of these windows, I am starting to realise what a great analogy this saying is…  Think about it, have you ever tried to climb in through an open window? I have. It’s hard work. It takes much longer to get in through the window that it does through an open door. You need to consider the size and shape of the window, your own size and shape, judge whether you will actually fit, hope the neighbours recognise you and know that you forgot your keys and are not trying to break in… take a deep breath, and be prepared to get a few bruises on the way.  Doesn’t sound much like fun, does it?

Well, you'd need a ladder (or at least a leg up) for this one...

But you know what? It kind of is. Negotiating the challenges and overcoming them, to find yourself still in one piece, on the inside, instead of standing outside in the cold, is kind of rewarding. Although walking through the door is preferable (let’s face it, I’ll take the easy option if it’s available), when I’ve climbed in through the window, It’s given me a real sense of achievement and made me really appreciate the kind of things I might otherwise take for granted (like being warm and dry).

When I just walk through the door, it barely registers.

Spring rolls at the Science Museum

Insipred by Gayle Chong Kwan’s Manipulated Memory Tasting Booth at ‘The Science of Food,’ one of the Science Museum’s ‘Lates’ evenings.

Spring rolls at the Science Museum

We sit
Side by side on a bench
At the Science Museum
Eating spring rolls

I recall Chinese takeaways and
Picking the prawns out of my special fried rice
You comment that this will be a new memory, in time
I hadn’t thought of that

The next time
l have a spring roll
I wonder whether I’ll recall
Childhood memories or
Sitting next to you
At the Science Museum
Talking about remembering now.

One space or two?

I don’t really remember learning to type, like many of my generation, I just started typing and became better over time. What I do remember clearly is being told that it’s always two spaces after a full stop, and one after a comma. I never questioned this and, until recently, I would always automatically include two spaces after every full stop. I understand that the reason for the old two space rule is to do with the old typewriter (and early computer) fonts, which are monospaced. Two spaces were needed to improve readability. I don’t know much about typography so please do correct me if you know otherwise.

You may have noticed that my earlier blog posts always followed the two space rule but that, more recently, this has changed. Typing with two spaces after a full stop is automatic for me, and when I edit posts I have to remember to go back and check that I have amended this to one. The reason I started doing this is because I have been hearing that the two space rule has become outdated, and I wanted to see if I could change the way I type so that the new way becomes automatic for me.

Since I have started trying to change my ways, however, I have asked several people what they think about this. Of those I have spoken to, many feel that whether to include one space or two has become more of a personal choice than any hard and fast rule, and I am now wondering whether to just go back to the way I used to type…

What do you think? When writing, do you automatically include one space after a full stop, or two, and why? Do you think having two spaces improves readability? Would you have even noticed the different between this post, and this one, which followed the two space rule? I’d be interested to hear your views, and the reasons behind them, especially if you have a strong opinion either way.