Tag Archives: Writing

Rain

I am linking up to two writing challenges this week, one new and one old one I haven’t joined for a while!

I’m joining in The Theme Game from Redpeffer for the second week (ahead of the deadline this time!).

Redpeffer The Theme Game

I’m also back in the game with the 100WCGU over at Julia’s Place. To find out more about 100WCGU and read the other entries from this week, click on the image at the end of this post.

This week’s theme is Water  and the 100WCGU prompt is …tea, coffee, hot chocolate or… so the total number of words allowed is 105.

Rain

It’s raining again.

Water drops

Image credit: Kangshutters @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I had been trying to get some work done but the rhythmic drumming slowed my racing thoughts and I found myself staring out of the window. After a while the intensity lessened but the music played on in my head as I watched they droplets make their way down the window pane. The streetlight caught the static drops, turning them into tiny stars.

“Tea, coffee, hot chocolate, or..?”

“What? I mean, pardon?”

“To drink, Mum? You ok? You were miles away…” She looked at my outstretched arm, frowning.

“I’m fine.” I smiled. Just trying to touch the stars.”

There’ll be puddles tomorrow.

100wcgu

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Jack – 100WCGU #108

It’s been a while since I did a 100 WCGU entry. I felt my creativity needed the exercise this week, hence the two posts in one week (I know, I’m on a roll! For now…) – both posts were inspired by this week’s prompt, which was simply the word Fall. If you’re wondering what 100WCGU is all about, click on the image at the bottom of this post to find out more and read other entries (or even add your own!).

Jack

Jack sat bolt upright and opened his eyes. ‘I don’t want to fall asleep.’
Maria closed her eyes, just for a second, before breathing out slowly.
‘Why not?’ She did her best to smile.
‘I need to speak to her. It doesn’t make sense… I mean, it’s not possible! The coin is too heavy…’ Maria’s face softened. She desperately wanted to reach out and you hold him. Instead, she tried to find the words to bring him back. ‘It’s magic Jackie.’ Jack looked up
‘Magic?’ He’d stopped shaking.
‘Yes… It’s, er… Very scientific.’
She was rewarded with a gap-toothed grin…

 

100wcgu

Tiptoeing around the edge

Once, there was a man who lived right next to a big gaping hole in the earth.

For years, the man cautiously opened his door each morning, tiptoed around the edge of the hole careful not to lose his balance even for a second, and headed off to work. All day at work he thought of the hole and how, if he didn’t keep his mind on it, that day could when he would fall in.

One day, something unexpected happened and the man left work earlier than usual. It was a lovely sunny day and, for a moment, he forgot about the hole and just sat in the sunshine allowing his mind to wander. He followed the dreams in his head and liked what he saw. He stayed until the sun went down, then he headed home. He had not thought about the hole for a whole afternoon.

That evening, as the man walked up his drive lost in thought, he fell into the hole. It was a long way down. When he reached the bottom, he thought to himself ‘that was even deeper than I thought. I knew I shouldn’t have allowed my mind to wander, now look what’s happened!’ He kicked the dirt with his toes and cursed himself for getting carried away by his dreams.

The man stayed in the hole for what felt like a long time. There was hardly any light so it was hard to be sure but it felt like weeks, at least. One day, he woke up with a nagging curiosity that hadn’t been there before. He walked to the edge of the pit and pushed as the wall. It crumbled in, revealing a small, dark tunnel. ‘Well, I’ll be no worse off there than here,’ he thought, and climbed in. It was even darker in the tunnel. It was cold and narrow and there was no light at all but still, he stumbled along in the darkness, refusing, this time, to give in. Eventually he reached another pit like the one he had just come from. This one was even deeper and wider than before. The man’s shoulders slumped. He lay down and went to sleep.

When he woke up, something had changed. He opened his eyes and found himself blinking against a brightness he has become unaccustomed to. His first thought was to close them and go back to sleep but something made him stand up and think again. In the light, the man could see footholds on the wall opposite. He could also hear a voice somewhere in the distance. “Start climbing.” It said. It wasn’t a request. Trembling slightly, the man began to climb. He was tired and hungry but he’d had enough of the hole and if this was a way out, he would put every last bit of energy into reaching the light.

As he neared the top of the hole, he hesitated. “Come on!” The voice sounded impatient. ‘What if it’s a trick?’ he thought, and considered going back where he’d come from. At least there, he knew what to expect. He stayed at the step near the top, clinging on by just his fingernails for almost a whole day before deciding to continue.

When the man reached the edge of the hole and threw himself over, a hand reached out to help him. It was a woman he knew, but he couldn’t think where from. “You don’t recognise me do you? I’m your neighbour! I’ve lived next door to you for years.” He tilted his head to the side. “You mean on the other side of the hole?” He asked. Her brow furrowed. “Hole? What hole? You’ve had a bit of a time of it haven’t you?” She laughed and touched his cheek with her hand so briefly he wondered if it really happened. He looked back behind him and she was right. There was no hole, just the greenest, smoothest lawn he’d ever seen and a patch of beautiful burnt orange roses. He hadn’t even realised there were flowers in his garden. he shook his head and smiled at the woman.

“Thank you.”
“Nonsense. I was just being neighbourly. Come on, I’ve just baked a pie. Pop round when you’ve had a chance to recover – I bet you’re starving.”

Feeling the Fear

This post has taken me ages to write… I wrote it and deleted it twice before decided just to publish it as it is… I don’t know why I felt the need to start by saying this, but I did. So…

Why write this post?

Well, If you follow me on twitter, you’ll have seen these tweets this morning:

Tweets

I said I would explain more so here it is. I struggled with where to start at first, because I want to write a good blog post. Equally, I want to be totally honest about things. So, I’ve decided to start with the Fear. Hence the title.

The Fear

The Fear is the name I used to give to that terrible feeling of dread the morning after a heavy night when I’d wonder ‘did I do something wrong? Say something to upset someone? Reveal a secret I shouldn’t have?’ I’d call a friend in the morning who would usually reassure me that I’d been just fine and had nothing to worry about.  I don’t really drink these days – certainly not enough to wake up with such a heavy head – so I don’t have that hangover induced anxiety any more but lately, I’ve still been feeling the Fear.

It built up slowly over the past few months. I’m not sure what started it but it reached a peak last week and I really had to take a step back to try and deal with it. I’m feeling much better about things now but I thought perhaps if I shared my story, then I might find I’m not the only one.

Feeling like a fraud

Now, I know I’m not the only one to have this feeling… It comes from not being totally confident in something, or feeling that everyone else is better so why should anyone listen to me? Of course, this has impacted on my writing. I’ve stuck to writing things I am confident about and studiously avoided mentioning anything that might ‘expose’ me. For example, I have written more of my novel. I have also deleted a lot of what I’ve written because I wasn’t happy with it. This means my word count is not much more than it was even though I have written more. I haven’t shared my word count for a while because this would ‘expose’ me. It’s around 14,000 in case you’re wondering. No idea how many words I’ve deleted. I do feel slightly exposed now but it’s not as bad as I thought it would feel for putting it out there.

If you also follow me on twitter as @mushroomsmum, you may remember that a couple of months ago I mentioned that I would soon be launching an e-coaching package. I said to look out for more information in July. Then nothing. Well, this comes back to the whole feeling like a fraud thing. I am still working with existing clients and have been putting together a package for e-coaching but something was holding me back. The Fear, again. Despite feedback from mini trials and existing and previous clients, I was afraid that I would fail. I’ve not coached by email before, what if it doesn’t work? What if the package isn’t good enough? What if…? I hadn’t even stopped to think about the positive ‘what ifs?’ (What if it’s just what someone needs? What if it works really well?). I just wanted to run an hide from it and I felt that if I couldn’t get myself out of this funk, how could I say I was any good at helping anyone else?

Busy being busy

In the meantime, I’ve been busy. I do tend to spread myself a little thin I’m aware of this and it’s something I keep coming back to even though I am much more aware of this tendency now that I used to be. I start out with one project, then have an idea for another, and another. Then I try to start them all at once. I plan what needs to be done and organise my time but then… Well, life ‘gets in the way’ and suddenly I’ve got a few days work to catch up on in one evening.

As well as my work, my charity work, my blogs and other creative projects, I am also taking quite a big (and scary/stressful) step in my personal life at the moment, which is also taking up resources (time, financial and emotional). Then in the background I have been plugging away at the novel bit by bit, as and when I can (I’ve manged to let go of my expectation of writing it every day, it just wasn’t working for me). I do feel a little frustrated that I can’t just sit and write for hours once I get into it but I know that very few people are in a position to do that so I’m sure I’m not alone.

I know that when I am this busy I am rarely at my best. I’m watching the clock all the time and I panic when I don’t finish what I’m doing in the time I’ve allocated for it. This is not conducive to creativity and it feeds the Fear.

The signs

The biggest sign that I needed to do something to improve this situation is a feeling I had that started small and grew bigger. It started just as the feeling that something wasn’t ‘quite right,’ and grew into a heavy weight that kept me down.

The signs telling me what I needed to do were all over the place but I had blinkers on.

Over at Mothering Mushroom, brands were starting to contact me saying they liked what they saw and wanted to work with me. People I had spent a small amount of time working with (not necessarily coaching) told me that they had gone away feeling much better about things. I put a request out for feedback from coaching clients and got some lovely responses back. Still, I felt like I wasn’t good enough. Then, something shifted. I mentioned my feelings to my sister, who said (something like, apologies if I am misquoting you!):

‘This is just a moment in time. Sure, you feel like this now but this time next year you’ll have forgotten all about it. In fact, why not just forget it now?’

And with that, it felt lighter. Perhaps I should have shared the feeling sooner instead of letting it eat me up. Although I had heard these words before, and have even said  similar to clients I work with, I guess hearing it from someone else helped me to see it from their perspective and therefore remove myself from it and understand that this too, would pass… And gradually, I have been putting it behind me.

And then, today, I read some tweets – all were about living your dreams, doing what matters and asking yourself what’s important to help achieve a more balanced life… These sorts of messages often appear in my timeline as it’s a reflection of the people I follow but today I paid closer attention. These were all new followers, and their messages seemed to ‘jump out’ at me. This evening, after my son went to sleep, I sat down and thought about my dreams, what matters to me and what I am good at. I am a good coach. I am also a good writer. I still continue to doubt myself because I know I can always be better. But that’s ok, I feel that’s a good awareness to have so long as I don’t let it consume me. It ensures that I will make an effort to keep learning, and keep getting better. In the meantime, I’m just going to get on with it and hope that I can continue to make a positive difference with my words, which I am reminded, is the whole point of it – the writing,  the coaching… Life: Writing. People. Poetry. For me, this sums up what matters.

So what’s next?

Well, I’ve decided to ‘ feel the Fear and do it anyway’! I am just sorting out the details now and I will be launching my Moving Forwards e-coaching package next month. If you think you’d like to work with me, do get in touch for more information.

If you have done anything that’s big and scary recently, I’d love to hear how your overcame your fear to get on and do it. If you’re thinking of doing something scary, I’d love to hear about that too!

All fur coat and no knickers

As in, ‘Oh, don’t listen to her, she’s All fur coat and no knickers, that one.’

Ocelot fur coat by Kürschner, via Wikimedia CommonsLately, I’ve realised, ‘that one,’ is me. If you’re unfamiliar with this saying, it basically means that someone is all talk and no action. Earlier this year, I talked about Giving more, Doing more, and Being more. I have been quietly giving and doing more but being more – well, as I’ve said before, not so much. I’ve also talked about writing. I’ve not talked about my novel that much, but I have talked about it enough that you’d think I’d have got more done.

Perhaps I’m spending too much time talking, and not enough time just getting on with it. So, with this in mind, I have decided to only post one or two blogs each month from now on, so that I can shift my focus to this big project and keep it there. I’m still interested in interviewing more Ordinary People for the series if you’d like to take part/know anyone who would, and I would welcome any guest posts if you’re interested in writing one! I’m especially interested in showcasing guest posts from young writers like Natalie.

Right, now… Please excuse me while I take off this ridiculous fur coat* and get back into my jeans. 😉

* I don’t actually own a fur coat. 

Dear Mr Letters

This post is inspired by last week’s guest blog from young writer Natalie Cherry, who ended with an apology letter to her Year Five Teacher (go and read the post to find out why). This got me thinking about teachers who influenced me during my school years and the first one who came to mind was my English Teacher, Mr Letters. Yes, that really is his name.

Mr Letters was a young teacher (although I didn’t think so at the time), who taught one of my English classes when I was in the second year at school (I think that’s known as year eight now! Showing my age…). With his dark floppy hair and round glasses – slightly too big to be considered ‘hippy’ style but that sort of design, he could have been the subject of many a schoolgirl crush. Perhaps he was. I certainly had a crush of sorts on him but it was more of the ‘wow you’re so clever I wish I was as clever as you’ type crush than the usual infatuation teenage girls (and boys!) tend towards. I saved those crushes for my peers. Anyway, if anyone did have a crush on Mr Letters they would never have admitted it as he was considered too ‘old’ (he was probably about 25!) and too ‘geeky’ to be attractive. So, what was the attraction for me – other than his obvious intelligence? It was passion. So few of my teachers at the time had the same passion for their subject, with two notable exceptions (unfortunately one of these turned out to have a habit of snorting coke between lessons so I’ll leave their names out of this, lest the wrong teacher be accused). They both taught maths though, which was of little interest to me. However, the way Mr Letters wielded his words… It didn’t make me want him, it made me want to be  him.

To be honest, despite this idolisation of my former teacher, I only actually have one memory of him that really stands out for me but perhaps it is this memory* that sums him up.

One afternoon, we all sauntered into his class and sat down, waiting for the lesson to begin. Mr Letters waited until everyone stopped talking (proving, as Natalie recently pointed out, that it’s not necessary to shout to get a class to pay attention) and then, with a flick of his hair and a flourish of his hand, he began to speak:

“`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.”

As he recited the Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, I was entranced.  I had no idea what these nonsense words were supposed to mean but under his command, they came to life. I saw the wabe, with it’s slithy toves gimbling, and felt the outgrabe of the mome raths. I have no idea what the rest of the class thought as they faded into the background. I expect some of them continued to pass notes and poke the girls/boys they fancied with pencils as I lost myself in Mr Letters (well, Lewis Carroll’s) words. I once again entertained by secret dream of being a writer, of creating words like this for another teacher to bring to life. Curious now, with hindsight, that it didn’t make me want to be a teacher… Like Natalie, I guess  I must have known.

I thought of Mr Letters again years later, the first time I stepped on a stage and wielded my own words at a poetry open mic night and wondered whether I would be able to pull the audience in the way he did me. I still think of him now, especially when I hear any kind of nonsense poem. That day, Mr Letters’ homework for the class was simply to memorise the Jabberwocky ahead of the next lesson. I say ‘simply,’ because for me, he had already given the poem meaning so all I did was play a movie of each stanza in my head and I could easily recall the words. I’m lucky to have a pretty good visual memory, I know this method doesn’t work for everyone. I enjoyed this ‘easy’ assignment. I did, however, wonder at the point of the homework. Memorise a poem? For what purpose? Well, I will end with a short letter to Mr Letters, with apologies to Natalie for stealing her style…

Dear Mr Letters,

I get it now. The purpose was for us to give the words meaning, that we would remember them and understand both the power of words, and the importance of their delivery.

Thank you for sharing your passion, and igniting mine. I hope you continue to do the same for all the future writers who cross your path.

With respect,
Rachael

How writing crept up on me (A guest post from Natalie Cherry)

This is a guest post from a talented young writer Natalie Cherry, who I recently discovered when she wrote a post over at SJB Teaching on the teacher stereotypes she would like to see less of. I enjoyed her laugh-out-loud descriptions of the PowerPoint addict (I know, they’re everywhere!) and the Shouter,  so I popped over to her blog to read some more of her work and was impressed with what I found. I got in touch and asked her is she would be interested in sharing her thoughts about writing so that you, too, could discover this young talent. I’ll let Natalie take it from here… 

Natalie CherryIt started, unbeknownst to me, in Year Five. In my feverish nine-year-old brain I was convinced that my class teacher hated me. There was no proof, but I just knew it. I saw looks that weren’t really there and heard a distasteful tone of voice that seldom existed and for that whole year I spent day after day playing out a ridiculous battle in my head.

The funny thing is, it turns out that this teacher, my great villain, knew me better than I did. She saw what others didn’t see. She knew that I would write.

It’s strange really, because looking back now I can’t understand how I didn’t realise that’s what I wanted to do. I blundered about for so long, oblivious to all the signs quite plainly telling me that my life was centred around writing. Piles of books and magazines teetered on my bedside table from about eight years old, while reams and reams of list after list scaled the walls and filled up small scribbled notebooks. I wrote a daily diary (and continue to do so), documenting every day down to the most insignificant of details.

Natalie's diaries

Then came the stories – scenarios focused around that year’s crush that played out in my head, written down in the Disney-esque hope that they might spring off the pages and into reality. Needless to say, these have been thoroughly hidden.  I once started to write a film based on a Katy Perry song and I even used to bring writing into my everyday life, using letters to say sorry to my family after big arguments, leaving them outside the door like an overly emotional postman. I always loved English at school too, and every year I started a new project, story or series of books that led me along a long literary trail where anything was possible.

I’ve always read books, often older than my age group, naturally enjoying the way language moves across the page and into my life. My window of education on the world of the teenage girl world came from the Princess Diaries; my understanding of the opposite sex limited to Harry Potter. Most of all, though, I loved to tackle books that I had to really think about when reading – my beach read at fourteen was Barack Obama’s autobiography, and I picked up a battered copy of Little Women at around twelve. The big jump into reality happened when I started reading newspapers, however, and now I access the news obsessively in every available format. Oh, and don’t even get me started on the stacks of travel magazines that sit waiting, calling me to their glossy pages.

My childhood threw just about everything it could at me, and yet I still didn’t know writing was the path I would take until last year. Of course, my Year Five teacher did. Yes, after seven years of believing that she hated me, I have discovered the truth. My mother revealed recently that at parents evening my teacher had told her that she believed I had great talent in literacy and should consider becoming a writer someday. I was shocked. My mighty enemy, my grand opponent, my fictitious foe was really a friend? Excuse me while I look sheepish for a while.

Once over the disbelief, I couldn’t help but think that I may have realised my potential sooner if I had let go of my deluded misgivings. Of course it’s always easy to say that with hindsight, and perhaps I needed to pass through my life completely clueless in order to develop, unaffected by pressure or expectation. Either way, I’ll never know for sure. There is one thing that I do know for sure, however, and that is what I must say now;

Dear [my] Year Five teacher,
Apologies for my dishonourable daydreams – especially the unfriendly ones.
I didn’t know.
Love,
Natalie.

Natalie is 16 and a bit busy working through her A-levels at the moment but she hopes to become a journalist and write everyday. In the meantime, she blogs over at Life as a unicorn. If you enjoyed this post, why not head on over now and hit ‘follow’?