Mini Adventure

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Today I am on a mini adventure.

I have left the family in the capable hands of my husband and travelled to Brighton. The lovely Paula Harward has invited me to the launch of her memoir, My Life in Colour, which I was lucky enough to help edit.

So exciting.

I have to admit, though, that the most exciting/scary part is being away from home alone for the first time in eight years.

It’s fascinating how nervous I was about travelling down by train. Nine years ago I was wandering around Kuala Lumpur on my own (having tagged along on hubbie’s business trip) and yet I left John Lewis in a frazzle last week because two strangers were having a row.

When did I grow so timid?

Actually, travelling has never been without stress, mostly in the planning. I hate to be late, and it terrifies me that I’ll miss my train or get on the wrong one (and I’ve done both).

It is weird being away from home too. I feel sort of guilty and disconnected. I had to go buy headphones and a book, having forgotten both, and picked up a Holly Webb that I haven’t read. (It matches the B&B bedding, so lovely!) In it, a girl talks of being connected to her absent mother by a golden thread. Being away feels like that. Except it’s a white smartphone rather than a golden thread.

IMG_7145These days we’re never far from home. My daughter just texted me a love heart she drew and I could video call if I wanted. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. As a parent it’s comforting – I don’t know how my parents coped when I travelled around New Zealand, with only the occasional text message or sporadic email from a grotty internet cafe to let them know where I was and if I was okay.

IMG_7146At the same time there is a sense of never being free, of never getting lost (I used Google Maps to find the B&B), of always being tethered. Of being reachable, connected. Being able to receive messages from my son that are full of poop emojis!

IMG_7084I took the dog on a different walk last week, and it was exciting to meander without timetable or anyone knowing where I was. It shows you don’t actually have to travel to feel free, or always feel free when you travel.

(As an aside, I was actually glad of my phone. Last time I did that walk I got hopelessly lost, had no internet on my phone, called husband for help which he was unable to provide, and ended up walking through an off-road Landrover course and across two sheep fields, eventually having to heave our 28kg dog over a 5ft barbed wire fence. Got lost again this time and Google Maps rescued me in five mins! Haha)

Whether I’m free or not, connected or not, scared or content, it’s definitely an experience. I can hear seagulls outside my window and the sea is a five minute walk from here. In a couple of hours I get to meet the two people who set me on my path as an editor and see a paper copy of the first book I edited that wasn’t mine.

I’d call that an adventure.

 

Happy 5th Anniversary to Me!

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Image from Pixabay

Goodness me, apparently WriterMummy is five years old today. How time flies when you’re a manic Mum, eh?

These anniversaries keep popping up on me – notes on Facebook about releasing Baby Blues & Wedding Shoes, or it reaching some milestone during a free giveaway, or sending off Dragon Wraiths to a competition, full of naive hope.

In some ways it’s nice, because I feel like I’ve been writing long enough to have learnt and grown. But in other ways it makes me feel a bit of a failure, because I haven’t achieved more in that time. I haven’t found an agent, or won a writing competition, or even got much higher than 500 followers for my blog.

I get frustrated at myself because I know I could/should have tried harder. My blog is the first thing to wane when I’m busy, and I don’t visit and read and comment on enough other blogs to increase my followers. At the same time, at least I don’t feel as if I’m disappointing thousands of fans when I don’t write anything for a month!

The same goes for book promotion. I should have done more on Kindle, promoted the books more. Worked harder to get reviews. Sent more manuscripts to more agents. Engaged with people on Goodreads, sought out guest blogs and newspaper articles. I watch how one of the authors whose book I edited is promoting her memoir and she deserves all her amazing success.Blogging5yr

I’ve never got behind just one book and really sold it. But if I had, I would probably have driven myself bananas, and possibly have given up in disgust after the first dozen rejections. I would also have certainly written a lot fewer books. I’m much happier since I stopped checking for book sales every day. Now a royalty cheque is a pleasant surprise and a guilt-free cup of coffee.

And I have to celebrate the successes too. I’ve written over 700 blog posts, had nearly 40,000 views and 22,000 visitors. I’ve published 8 children’s books, three women’s fiction novels and one young adult book (which was also long-listed for an award). I’m having one of my books illustrated by a very talented illustrator and am super excited about it.

The most amazing thing is I’m still going. Five years is longer than any job I’ve ever had, and I don’t feel like quitting yet. So you’re stuck with me for a bit longer.

Here’s to the next five years, the next milestone, the next novel to be finished (Hope Glimmers, with any luck, a sequel to Moon Pony), the next happy post from Facebook to mark the passing of time.

Have some virtual cake on me.

Technophobe

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‘Kenny’

Since my last post I’ve turned 40, finished knitting and sewing up the darn koala for my son, my husband has got to the quarter finals of the World Conker Championships, and I’ve been given a cello and a brand new gorgeous phone for my birthday.

And I’ve managed to accidentally delete everything on my new phone including the back up.

Drama.

I cried. I cried big fat wrenching rib-aching tears.

Then I plugged the phone in and it found a back up from a day ago, meaning I’ve only lost a bit of stuff, mostly photos.

The relief!

But how I hate technology. Particularly the complicated intricacies that are now involved with using an Apple device.

I mean, iMessage, what’s that all about? My husband went to Germany and wasn’t getting my text messages because it turns out I wasn’t sending text messages using a phone signal, I was sending internet messages and he didn’t have internet. That’s safe, right? Because there’s lots of 3G signal on top of a mountain. Or in our village for that matter? Hmmm. And yes, you can disable it, but you probably need a degree in computing.

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King Conker

Worse than that, my son managed to send a message saying ‘dead babby god nit’ to the man I bought a desk off, despite there being no sim card in the old phone. (It is meant to say dear daddy, good night.)

And yes, it’s very clever that you can erase an iPhone from a distance and reset it, for example when your son has disabled it by putting the wrong passcode in lots of times. But that’s not so helpful when you have so many devices linked to iTunes that actually you erase all the data on your new phone, having backed up the near-empty phone first thus wiping off the proper backup.

Did I mention drama? Poor exhausted Daddy had to be fetched because Mummy was scaring the children…

And don’t get me started on the Cloud. It was a lovely idea, with so many devices lurking around, to be able to share stuff. Until we connected an iPad to the TV and there was a picture of the gorgeous bruise on my thigh. Hmmmm. Or when my husband took a picture while out with the kids and it appeared on my phone straight away.

Now, that’s got no potential for chaos has it? Ha. Although it would make a great story line. Like the baby-monitor reveal-method on steroids.

So my son’s phone is still disabled, because I’m too scared to risk wiping the wrong one again. I’ve lost a bunch of photos, but mostly just of Kenny the Koala (and thankfully I’d stuck one on FB), and I feel about ten years older. But I still have my Jurassic World game, and that’s the main thing right?

I’ve had enough of technology for today, I’m off to knit a hat.

June Journals #25 ~ The Day After

EUI don’t really want to talk any more about the EU Referendum, but I’m going to anyway, because I can’t think of anything else.

I feel like I’ve been going through the grief cycle: shock, anger, helplessness, bargaining and acceptance.

I read an article in the Guardian online that helped a tiny bit. It compared the result to a workers’ revolt, following years of austerity and being marginalised and disenfranchised by an uncaring government (I’m paraphrasing).

I can buy that.

I don’t personally think leaving the EU is the right response, but I can understand that those with nothing to lose will fear the consequences less. And I’m enough of a leftie liberal to quite like the idea of shaking up a settled and self-satisfied elite.

I can also understand why people voted who hadn’t voted for twenty years. Because this time their vote mattered. With our system of voting in a new government, it’s hard to make a difference (or can seem that way). But a yes/no vote? Every vote counted.

Anyway. It’s done.

The hardest part is taking the world’s criticism. We’ve always been quick to criticise others. Laughing at Trump supporters and being angry at those who support gun rights.

Now it’s our turn to be the cause of shock and ridicule. And the world hasn’t held its punches.

As someone who connects to people all over the world, through my blog and other social media, I’m seeing some awful things being said.

We deserve all of it.

volkswagen-158463_1280All of us. Not just those who voted to leave, but those who voted in a Tory government, those who didn’t fight harder for an opposition to be proud of, those who thought only of their own and didn’t worry about anyone else. Those who let the poor get poorer and the rich get richer.

We got our just desserts.

The world feels broken and I’m not seeing anyone I trust to fix it. Not here, not across the pond, not in Europe. Not in this generation. Maybe in the next. Millennials, sorry we fucked it up for you, please help us fix it.

I’ve studied history. I know where this goes next. And if we wait long enough, live long enough, survive long enough, perhaps we’ll reach a new swinging sixties of love and peace.

Let’s hope it doesn’t take thirty years. I can’t wait that long.

 

More That Unites

LeaveSo we voted to leave the EU.

To say I’m gutted is an understatement. I don’t like change, and this is one terrifying change.

But what terrifies me the most is the reaction of the Stay crowd. The same people preaching peace and love on my FB feed for months are full of bile and anger at the people who voted leave. Apparently half the country are bigoted, racist twunts (love that word).

I don’t buy it.

I agree that anyone who is racist probably voted leave, but not everyone who voted leave is racist. I know a couple of them, they’re nice people.

The problem is the hype. The Remain team had two camps they could support – the Tory ‘it’s all about economics’ one and the Labour/Green ‘it’s about workers’ rights and the environment’ camp.

Brexit only had one visible camp: the right-wing, ‘immigration is to blame for everything so let us close the doors’ camp.

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But they’re not the only people who voted leave. They can’t be. I can’t accept that half this country are that awful.

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We gave him a mandate

The scary part, as someone who studied history at university, is the parallel with the 1930s. The division, the blame, the strong leaders who spiel vitriolic nonsense and are given a mandate to rule.

We’ve given Nigel Farage a mandate. Just let that sink in.

That’s why I’m feeling sick today. Regardless of why people voted, we gave the right-wing a mandate, we gave their views permission and authority.

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More that unites us

We need to take it back.

The 15 million people who voted ‘stay’ need to rise above. We need to build bridges and find a way forward.

We preached ‘in it together’ and ‘more that unites us’ about Europe.

We need to find it in us to have the same thoughts at home. We need to be more Jo Cox and less Nigel Farage.

However hard it is, however much it hurts, we must.

I suggested this on my FB feed: it didn’t go down well. Perhaps I’m a peace-maker too far.

It’s an interesting time. A scary one. Perhaps an inevitable one. But how we negotiate the choppy waters ahead is down to all of us.

There has never been a more important time to find out what unites us rather than concentrate on what divides.

That will decide our future, more than any Article 50 decision ever will.

 

Need For Praise

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My Daughter’s Painting

I’ve been in a funk this week. I can’t seem to shift it, I feel shredded and permanently on the verge of tears.

I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s tiredness, illness, depression, or just the slump after a stressful few weeks.

What’s hard is that it becomes horribly self-perpetuating. I snack on chocolate and bleed caffeine and try and sleep all day like a cat. So my body feels sluggish and the family neglected. Then I get grumpy and they get grumpy and I oscillate between anger and self-loathing.

I’ve worked out that part of it is finishing a book. As soon as it’s ‘done’ I want someone to tell me if it’s any good. But I’d say only a third of my books have been read by a person I know (if anyone!)
And it shouldn’t matter, but it does.

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My Painting

I’m horribly praise-driven. Unfortunately that’s probably why no one who knows me feels brave enough to read my books and pass comment. Despite my reassurances that I won’t take their criticism personally, I’m always gutted if the feedback is negative (or worse, silent).

The awful part is that I always tell my daughter not to do things just for praise. It drives me nuts when we’re doing painting together and she spends the first half of the time asking, ‘Do you like it, is it good?’ and the rest of the time crying because my painting is better than hers, even when I try to make it rough and ready, and point out I’ve been doing it much much longer… Turns out the need for praise is genetic!

So once more I’m hiding upstairs, swallowing down tears, feeling like the most terrible wife and mother. There’s no food in the fridge or dinner on the table and I can’t find it in me to do anything about it.

Never mind. Next week I’ll start a new book, numb the fear, feed the kids, get on with life. What other choice is there?

What Happened to April?

Battling Dinosaurs

Battling Dinosaurs

This month seems to have flown by in a gust of Arctic wind and a flurry of chaos.

Our new bathroom is (almost) finished. Ignoring some poorly-laid flooring, terrible sealing, and lethal points on the window sill, it’s done.

We haven’t quite moved in, as it hasn’t quite been signed off, but it’s nice to be clean and not to have to run downstairs in the night for a pee. Plus I’ve had great fun buying matching accessories.

My daughter said this morning (as she was finally ordered into the bath when coaxing wouldn’t work), “Mummy, why have you bought purple towels and white toilet paper?” I had to explain it was like her choosing the right shade of tights to go with her dress. It might be another thirty years before she understands though!

New Bathroom

New Bathroom

The novel I’m writing for my niece is also (almost) finished. I’ve done one edit, and my daughter is currently reading it (and happily pointing out poor word choices and sentence structure. She’s 7.) She asked if she’d get paid for editing it, and I said when I get paid more than a pound for writing it. 🙂

Now I’m torn between doing more editing of previous books (needed), starting work on the Editing course I spent precious money on (probably wise), helping the school fundraise for new equipment when we move sites (mucho kudos), more ironing, house cleaning, and painting (too tiring!), or killing dinosaurs in the Jurassic World game that is the current family Martin addiction.

I have, of course, been doing the latter… Ho hum.

How I Feel!

How I Feel!

That’s when I’m not at my children’s school learning how they teach maths to five-year-olds, taking my son to cricket, daughter to Rainbows, or dog for a walk. Plus we’re off to a festival on Sunday, so that needs planning too.

Ah, now I understand what happened to April. Like every other month it passed in the madness we call life.