Monthly Archives: December 2010

Happy New Year!

It’s the end of another year already. 2010 seems to have just flown by, and yet so much has happened!

If you have been reading my blog since I started (if you have, do let me know – I’d be impressed and extremely flattered!), you may remember my post ‘End of the Noughties from December 2009. In it I mentioned that instead of writing a long post about the past year, I had been over to Meg Pickard’s blog and taken part in her post about the Mayfly project.

Every year from 2000 to 2009 Meg asked her readers to look back over the previous year, and then sum it up. In 24 words. I looked for Meg’s Mayfly project this year but couldn’t find it (if anyone else has come across it, please let me know so that I can post over there again!) but I loved the idea of summing up the year in 24 words so here goes:

Wedding. Malaysia. Marriage. Completing a poetry collection. Career shift towards writing and coaching. Morning sickness. Baby bump. Learning to drive (finally). Believing. Doing. Being.

As I said, so much has happened for me this year! If you are interested in reading my poetry collection, I will be offering this as a free download from my blog next week so look out for it.

So – How was 2010 for you..? If you think you can sum it up in 24 words, do give it a go! If you find that word count a bit restrictive (it is a good way to focus on what was most important for you but it’s not easy!), please feel free to comment below in as many of as few words as you’d like to use.

Finally, whatever you are doing tonight, I hope that your 2011 is everything you hope for!

Happy Holidays!

As Christmas draws closer and most of the UK shuts down for at least a day (I still remember when it was more like a week!), I will be spending time with loved ones and taking the time to reflect on the past year and look forward to what is yet to come. What are you up to?

However you will be celebrating, I would like to wish you all the best for the holiday season. Xx

Ordinary People – Interview with Alice Fenner

This week I interviewed another ‘ordinary person,’ Alice Fenner. Alice would say she’s perfectly ordinary, but I beg to differ. I have known Alice for many years and the first time I became aware of her creative genius was on reading a story she wrote for the school magazine – a dark fairy tale with shades of Tim Burton (I would love to read it again Alice, if you still have it!). Since then I have heard compositions that reduced me to tears and read poems that made me re-think the way I look at the world.

Over the years I lost touch with Alice, as relationships change over time, so I was very glad to find her again online and to see that she had continued to write. On top of this, Alice is also an all round supermum to her son, Stanley, and she still found the time to answer my questions (below).

I already know that you’re an extremely talented writer, as the stories and poems on your blog show… Are there any other ways you like to create?

Well, I like painting with my son! Mainly we paint suns, cars and fish. I used to write music a lot but after a while I found it difficult and frustrating and I ran out of ideas. It needed an attention to detail that made my head hurt. And a lot of what I wrote was terrible.

What’s your preferred creative channel?

Poetry, definitely.

What is it about poetry that you enjoy?

I like how poetry lets you invent characters and tell a bit of a story but in quite a free sort of way. You can just go straight into a situation, and straight out again. It’s a great way of talking very personally. I enjoy prose poetry particularly. There’s something about the rhythm of a sentence that I really like. I’m quite interested in trying to write poems that are written in a way that’s similar to how someone might talk, using a lot of normal everyday language but with extra poetry bits. That way it feels like someone is just chatting with you, like you are sat at a bus stop or something, but the poetic bits make it unreal at the same time. I like that mix of normal and not quite so normal.

What or who inspires you to create?

I often get inspired by reading a few words which I think are really amazing. Sometimes they come from a poem but, most often, I find it’s a line in a pop song that gets me going. I always listen to music when I’m trying to write, usually the same song over and over, and often the poem gets based on the feelings and images I associate with that song.  I also get inspired by people who find time to be creative outside of work and other commitments. I find it inspiring that so many people do creative things and have the courage to share their work.

Tell us a bit about your son, Stanley

Stanley is 3. He’s very funny. He loves running, trains and Postman Pat. He has a genetic condition called Opitz G Syndrome. It’s a rare disorder which causes quite complex problems. Stanley had a tracheostomy until earlier this year. He is still fed via a tube and has some more surgery ahead. He’s doing very well though and has come an incredibly long way. He’s lovely.

Finally, what would you say your values are?

That’s a difficult question! I think my values are probably mainly to do with trying not to make too much of a mess of anything…

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions Alice. I think you do very well of not ‘making too much of a mess’ of anything, in fact, I’d say you manage quite the opposite!  I hope you found answering these questions as interesting as I found your answers.

If you would like to read some of Alice’s work, head over to her blog, get acquainted with her lovely ‘normal but not quite normal’ poems, and say hello!

Ordinary People – interview with Miriam Drori

As you may know, if you are a regular reader, I am interested in many things – particularly those of a creative nature – and this blog is where I write about writing, people and poetry. So far, you may have read about writing and perhaps you’ve read some poetry, and other random thoughts – some of which you might relate to. For the most part, these thoughts have been about me and/or from my point of view.

I’ve always been interested in people, and what motivates them to do what they do, especially when they do it well. This series of interviews I’ve called Ordinary People, as they are with ‘ordinary’ people I admire for various reasons. For the most part, these people are creative in some way. As I am interested in what motivates them to do what they do and how they do it well, I thought you might be too.

For my first interview, I caught up with Miriam Drori, writer and social anxiety sufferer, as well as the winner of my recent birthday blog competition!

 

 

I already know that you’re a great writer, as your blog and stories show… Are there any other ways in which you like to create?

Ah – no one’s ever called me a great writer before. From now on, you can ask me anything you like….

It’s strange – I never used to think of myself as a creative person. My fiction writing stopped when I didn’t have to write any more essays at school and didn’t start again until I hit upon a story as a way to explain social anxiety. The advantage of fiction, I realised, was that I could attribute feelings to a fictional character that real people wouldn’t admit to. Since then, I have created other stories and discovered that I really do have an imagination.

So, what was your question? Oh yes. I have played the piano and the violin and I have sung in a choir, but I hardly ever do those now and never really thought of them as creative. It wasn’t as if I composed music. I just performed it, not particularly well. I do like to dance and, I suppose, especially when there are no particular steps, that’s creative.

What’s your preferred creative channel?

I love writing and dancing. I also like fried eggs and ice cream. You wouldn’t expect me to choose between them, would you?

What is it about dancing/writing that you enjoy? 

With dancing, I love moving my body to fit the music. I love being watched
doing it, being admired and emulated. I love being relaxed, giving myself up to the music and the dancing, forgetting all the things I usually worry about. With writing, I love forming words to describe a scene or a mood. I love the peacefulness of being alone with my story. I love to concentrate on the story and put all worries aside. Above all, in both cases, I love doing something I know I can do well.

What or who inspires you to create?

For most of my life, I’ve suffered from a disorder I didn’t know about. Discovering the name of it made a huge difference to me. It brought not only ways of dealing with it but also the camaraderie and relief of finding a whole community of others with similar problems, the knowledge that I’m not as weird as I’d thought.

So, what inspired me to begin writing, and also inspires me to continue, is a strong belief that social anxiety must be publicised so that people who suffer from it know about it and so that the rest of the world can have more of an understanding about what it means. I’m also inspired and encouraged by the lovely members of the writing group I attend. And by Gill, whom I wrote about here.

Tell us a bit about living with social anxiety and how this feeds your creativity.

I can answer this question, and all the others, because I can think about them while alone and write down the answers. If you’d asked me this in a face-to-face interview, my mind would have been full of thoughts that would have put me off giving a coherent, sensible answer. Thoughts like; I’m going to make a mess of this, I’m not maintaining eye contact as I should, my mind is blank – I don’t know how to answer, she must think I’m stupid. And so I hum and haw and don’t give a proper answer. Only later, when I’m on my own, when it’s too late, do I think of the answer I should have given. And then I’m cross with myself for not taking the opportunity to explain properly.

That’s a bit about living with social anxiety and also shows why social anxiety is not well known despite being quite common – the very nature of it prevents those who know what it’s like from explaining it.

How does it feed my creativity? As I mentioned before, I began writing in order to explain social anxiety. Also, I write because I’m not good at talking. But I’ve never thought of it in such a positive way before.

Finally, what would you say your values are?

I’ve never had to list them before. So I found a list of 374 values and here are those that I feel apply to me:

Acceptance, Accuracy, Belonging, Confidence, Education, Empathy, Encouragement,Enjoyment, Family, Honesty, Humour, Imagination, Kindness, Making a difference, Peace, Perseverance, Respect, Sympathy and Trust.

Thank you Miriam, for taking the time out to answer my questions! I hope you enjoyed answering them as much as I’ve enjoyed reading them.

Thank you, Rachael, for having me on your blog. I did enjoy answering the questions and discovering something about myself in the process. I look forward to reading the other interviews in the series.

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If you would like to find out more about Miriam, head over to her blog An’ de walls came tumbling down.