Tag Archives: creative

what I’m writing – week fifteen

typewriter butterflies badgeWelcome to week fifteen of ‘What I’m Writing’- the last of the year! Chrissie and I are taking a couple of weeks off over the festive period but #WhatImWriting will be back on 6th January 2015 ready to hear all about your new year’s resolutions!

Since it’s the last of the year I just want to say – on behalf of Chrissie and myself – a huge thank you to each and every one of you who has linked up and/or commented on the posts in our little linky. When we launched it in September this year we had no idea how it would go and we really have been totally thrilled to see people sharing such a range of fabulous posts every week. You’ve been inspiring and supportive and honest and funny and lovely and it’s been wonderful to get to know you all. Truly. Thank you.

So, enough of the mushy stuff (though I’m a huge softy at heart so don’t be surprised if I write more of that sort of thing in my post to link up this week) – to business! (ie the bit where I cut and paste… ).

If you’re new here you might be wondering what #WhatImWriting is all about. You can find all the details here but the short version is Chrissie and I are both writers who love blogging about our writing processes and reading about those of others. Our linky is for all you fellow writers, poets, bloggers etc. out there to share posts about what you’re writing (and all your hopes and fears, triumphs and tears) with a group of people who understand what you’re going through. September’s and October’s round-up posts (we take turns to write them every month) give you a flavour of the sorts of things we chat about.

We’d love you to join in and there are just a few suggestions (‘rules’ feels too strong a word) for taking part:

  • Link up any post (old or new) that is to do with writing/blogging etc. 
  • Please either use our badge on the post (copy and paste the HTML code below) or link to whichever one of our blogs is hosting that week. We will share your post on Twitter in return.
  • Read and comment on as many other posts in the linky as you can. What I’m Writing has developed a lovely, supportive community and we’d love you to join in :)
  • If you’d like to tweet your post feel free to use the hashtag #WhatImWriting. If you tweet us a link to your post @writingbubble or @rantybeast then we will RT.

Over to you – please link up below! I look forward to reading your posts (I’ll be linking up too of course)!

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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connectivity and creativity

image (36)I’m addicted to my smart phone. I use it all the time to check Twitter, Facebook, emails and texts, to comment on blogs, surf the net and take masses of photos. I even occasionally use it to make a phone call…

But two weeks ago – SHOCK, HORROR – it broke. Just completely, catastrophically died. No hope of resuscitation (or not by me, anyway).

I’ll take it into the phone shop in town, I thought that first day. But I didn’t get round to it – there was too much else going on. It was a bit frustrating but fine. It was only a problem when I was out of the house anyway as I have a laptop at home. It wasn’t like I was cut-off from technology, I just didn’t have it at my fingertips every second of the day.

On the second phone free day I thought, Hmm, shall I make that trip into town? Nah. I couldn’t quite be bothered.

On the third day I realised that the reason I hadn’t been to the phone shop yet was that, actually, I was rather liking not having my phone with me. I felt free. And I also realised (in the way you notice how often you check your watch on the day you forget to put it on and find yourself constantly confronted by a jarringly empty patch of skin) that I check the blasted thing far too often. At the school gate, in the queue at the local shop… even in the car waiting at the traffic lights. So I decided I’d just leave it for a while and see how I got on without it.

What I’ve found is that (surprise, surprise) without my phone I’ve had time to notice other things. As I sat waiting for friends to join us at the park (oh, ok, it was the local ice cream parlour if you must know) instead of continually glancing at a little screen in my hand I just sat and watched what was going on. I watched my sons playing rather than just looking up to check they were ok. I watched other kids rushing around. I watched the sky and the wind in the trees and I noticed the landscape. It felt peaceful.

And I felt like I’d somehow found a bit of creative inspiration I’d previously been lacking. Because actually, all those little periods of time we spend in queues or traffic jams or waiting for kids or friends, are the times when – if we look closely – life is happening. Not the huge, great, exciting, dramatic things, but the tiny, every day pieces of normality. And as a writer those moments are so important: they can spark ideas, help us flesh out characters in stories we’re writing or just suggest little details to add to our work. They are the seemingly insignificant moments that, if captured, give our books a ring of truth.

Anyway, it turns out my phone is beyond all hope so, am I forsaking the concept of a smart phone forever? Skipping into the wild blue yonder with only hope and a messenger pigeon?

Oh, of course not! BUT once I get my shiny, new little technological friend I’m going to be keeping it firmly in my bag when I’m out of the house, only to be used if I really need it. Promise.

How about you? Do you like to be connected to social media constantly? Are you contactable at all times? Could you (do you?) live without a smart phone?
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writing linky!

typewriter butterflies badgeI’m really excited to tell you about a new linky I’m (jointly) starting next week. It’s called ‘What I’m Writing’ and it’s for all you fellow writers, poets and bloggers out there.

Regular readers will know that I love writing. I also love writing about writing and this blog is full of posts about writing challenges I’ve set myself, my aspirations, moments of self-doubt, successes and knock-backs. If it’s about writing and I’m thinking it, then it’s usually here.

I also love reading about other people’s writing, whether it’s to feel inspired by their success or to read about their doubts and moments of writer’s block and think ‘Phew, it’s not just me!’ And I like to be a supportive commenter, in fact that’s one of the most important things about blogging to me – the community.

In all these things I know I am not alone – pondering and procrastinating seems to be part of being a writer!

So with all of this in mind, Chrissie from Muddled Manuscript and I have decided to start our ‘What I’m Writing’ linky to share all these sorts of posts. We hope to grow a community of writers who can support each other, cheer each other on and generally help us all feel we are not alone. So whether you’re a published writer or just nervously putting pen to paper for the first time (or anything in between), and whatever it is you’re working on whether it’s novels, short stories, poetry, scriptwriting or blog posts… we’d love to read about it.

The linky will be every Tuesday and alternate between our two blogs. We’ll be posting a monthly prompt too which we hope will spark discussion and get us all on the same page.

It’s launching on Tuesday 9th September (a week today !) We’d love to see you there!

down at the pool

The Setting:

Friday after school at the local swimming baths. Unisex changing rooms with small cubicles, thronging with tetchy children and exhausted parents. Floor awash with puddles and cluttered with buggies. Damp air infused with the smell of chlorine and toilets. Building reverberates with shrieks of children and muffled expletives of parents.

The Team:

The Mum – harassed mum-of-three. Aims to sail seraphically through the weekly swimming experience. Never does.

Son 1 – at 6 years old, takes his responsibilities as oldest brother very seriously. In fact, is by far the most ‘together’ member of the whole team. Mostly seen sighing with exasperation and telling everyone to ‘hurry up!’

Son 2 – 4 years old. Easily distracted from the task in hand. Whatever the task.  Mostly to be seen leaving his swimming bag on the driveway where he stopped on the way to the car to examine a stone.

The baby – usually laid-back, but this weekly excursion pushes him to the limits of his endurance.

Now over to our commentators Bill and Bob as they talk us through the weekly Swimming Run

Bill: “You join us in the car park outside the pool. It’s 4.28 and the boys’ swimming lessons are due to start any minute. We had expected to have seen our team arrive before now but so far, there’s been no sign. What do you suppose has happened to them Bob?”

Bob: “Well, I’m not entirely sure but, between you and me, the Mum’s time keeping is not exactly great… ”

Bill: “And this week is no exception I see… but wait, here they are now! They’ve finally arrived in the car park, Mum has slammed the car to a halt in the nearest space and has leapt out!”

Bob: “An inauspicious start, Bill – she’s already looking rather frazzled!”

Bill: “Yes, although she’s unloading the buggy out of the car at lightning speed… Oooh, ouch that looks painful! Those buggies can be remarkably heavy when you drop them on your foot, Bob!”swimming things

Bob: “They can indeed, although Mum seems to have barely registered the pain, she’s too busy hauling the baby out of the car and into the buggy while also making sure the other two don’t race across the car park!”

Bill: “They do seem keen, don’t they! I can hear Son 1 shouting ‘Come on, Come on! The lesson’s starting!'”

Bob: “And they’re all off across the car park at a run now!”

Bill: “… and in through the doors of the pool…”

Bob: “… and out again to get Son 2 who stopped to swing round a bollard.”

Bill: “Phew! They’ve made it to the changing rooms. If they get changed quickly, there’s a chance they’ll only miss the first five minutes of the lesson!”

Bob: “Hmm, although it’s hard to see how they’ll achieve that in here Bill, the place is heaving! Are there any spare cubicles?”

Bill: “Mum’s searching frantically around for a free one… ”

Bob: “… a hard task when you’re pushing a buggy with a flat tyre through a crowd of flapping arms and slamming lockers!”

Bill: “She nearly got whacked in the face with a hair dryer there, Bob!”

Bob: “Ah! But she’s seen a cubicle, and is fighting her way towards it!”

Bill: “Oh no! Another mum just beat her to it!”

Bob: “But wait, don’t worry, she’s seen another – it’s right down next to the showers but she’s squeezed them all into it.”

Bill: “Well, apart from the baby… the buggy wont fit so she’s just wedged him in the open door.”

Bob: “He’s a fan of water is he, Bill? Because he seems to be getting quite sprayed there!”

Bill: “I don’t think mum’s even noticed… she’s trying to help Son 2 out of his trousers…”

Bob: “… which appear to have pockets stuffed with pebbles which are now scattering over the floor!”

Bill: “Meanwhile Son 1 is standing on one leg in a puddle behind the door ripping his clothes off frantically.”

Bob: “That’s it! Son 1 is ready! The strap on his goggles has come undone but Mum is too busy trying to get Son 2 out of his tangled t-shirt to help him.”

Bill: “I guess he’ll just have to get water in his eyes today Bob.”

Bob: “He’s looking resigned to that… he’s made it across to the pool to his lesson though… and Son 2 isn’t far behind!”

Bill: “Result! They’re both in pool!”

Bob: “Rather late Bill… ”

Bill: “True, but something in Mum’s expression tells me she considers anything before 4.45 to be a small victory.”

 ***

Bob: “Mum’s taking a moment now to sort out the chaos of the cubicle… ”

Bill: “And to wipe the baby down where he’s been sprayed by the shower. And, Oh dear, she’s realised that he’s been chewing Son 2’s goggles this whole time. That’s why he’s been so quiet.”

Bob: “Both boys will have to go goggle-less then; Mum’s shaking her head in exasperation!”goggles

Bill: “But good news! – everything’s away in lockers now so mum can go to the spectator area for a well-earned sit down.”

Bob: “If she can find any free seats… or space for the buggy.”

Bill: “Yes, it’s a bit cramped in there isn’t it? And by the looks of everyone in there, it’s boiling hot too!”

Bob: “But look – Mum has managed force her way into the corner and has even found a tiny bit of windowsill to perch on!”

Bill: “Behind a toddler who appears to be in hysterics over a banana.”

Bob: “Yes, it’s not exactly the best seat in the house from that respect… she’ll need to keep an eye out for chunks of flying fruit.”

Bill: “The baby’s getting restless siting in that cramped spot on her lap too… oh, but it’s ok, Mum’s realised that if she bounces him up and down while waving a toy in front of him, singing ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ and pulling funny faces then he doesn’t cry.”

Bob: “Mum looks like she might though – it’s already five ‘o clock and time to go back to the changing rooms to help get the boys dressed!”

 ***

Bill: “Mum’s fighting her way to the showers through hordes of wet swimmers and shampoo-wielding parents… I can see an advantage to having a buggy now Bob, it’s actually quite a useful tool isn’t it? – kind of like a snowplough!”

Bob: “You could say that! She’s made it to her sons and is now squirting shampoo on them… from a distance, mind, as she doesn’t want to get wet herself. Not the easiest task.”

Bill: “No, I can see that – Son 2 has started screaming; he’s got shampoo in his eyes.”

Bob: “And Son 1 has now finished his shower and is shivering violently while Mum tries to pull his towel out of the swimming bag.”

Bill: “While also trying to wipe Son 2’s eyes with… what’s that she’s holding Bob?”

Bob: “I believe it’s a pair or Mr Man pants… it was the first thing that came to hand when she opened her handbag!”

Bill: “Interesting. Well, it’s done the trick anyway and she’s also managed to pull out both the towels and even found a spare cubicle for them!”

Bob: “No space for the baby again though – he’s propping the door open again.”

Bill: “Except now he’s started crying and Mum is taking him out of the buggy… is that wise, would you say?”

Bob: “I wouldn’t say so, no – she’s now trying to help the other two get out of sticky, wet costumes and into clothes with him balanced on her hip.”

Bill: “Still screaming… “20140313_080157-1

Bob: “She doesn’t look best pleased by Son 1’s announcement that he’s lost one of his socks. I think it got kicked under the bottom of the cubicle at some point… oh there it is, he’s found it! It’s wringing wet so it looks like he’ll be going home sock-less.”

Bill: “Looks like we’re reaching the final stages though – both sons are now putting their shoes on!”

Bob: “And now they’re all managing to squeeze out of the tiny cubicle… ”

Bill: “And Mum’s strapping the baby into the buggy.”

Bob: “Still screaming… ”

Bill: “And now I suppose they’ll be heading for the hair dry… oh, no Mum’s just shaken her head.”

Bob: “No time for hair drying, clearly… she seems very keen to make it back to the car!”

Bill: “They’re outside!”

Bob: “And back inside to get Son 2 who stopped to look at a poster of a horse…”

Bill: “.. and back outside again… Son 1 has taken over pushing the buggy and Mum is carrying… well, everything else. Were they planning a three-week holiday with all those bags, Bob?”

Bob: “Not this time Bill, although I strongly suspect Mum is thinking about a holiday right now! They’ve nearly made it back to the car though!”

Bill: “And they have! She’s loading them all in, both the boys and the baby.”

Bob: “Still screaming… ”

Bill: “What’s that she’s muttering to herself?”

Bob: “It sounded like ‘Never again!'”

Bill: “Doesn’t she say that every week?”

Bob: “Oh yes Bill, she certainly does. Every. Single. Week.”

 

And then the fun began...
Prose for Thought

limerick challenge #5

An unsuspecting dinosaur

An unsuspecting dinosaur

For this week’s #limerick challenge the boys requested a limerick about a dinosaur. I was struggling with something cumbersome involving a pedantic dinosaur that noticed every ‘minor flaw’ when my husband suggested a meteor. It’s a less exact rhyme but it lead to a more fun (if slightly grisly) limerick:

 

There once was an ill-fated dinosaur

Who was struck in the face by a meteor

It plunged in through his eye

Travelled out through his thigh

And splattered his innards across the floor.

 

As usual the boys illustrated it for me. My six-year-old drew an pre-meteor T-rex then another picture indicating the meteor’s point of entry and exit, complete with blood splatters. My four-year-old drew the third picture of the bloody remains. Sorry if that just put you off your breakfast!

 

Dinosaur mid-meteor strike with flying blood and bone!

Dinosaur mid-meteor strike with flying blood and bone!

 

Post-meteor dino-splat!

 

Mini Creations

limerick challenge #4

anxious whale surveying the ocean

an anxious whale surveying the ocean

For this week’s #limerick challenge the boys wanted me to write about a whale (they’ve actually been asking me to do this for weeks but we got sidetracked by ostriches and crocodiles etc.) Here’s what I came up with:

 

There was an unfortunate whale

Who at the idea of swimming would quail

saying: “Even the notion

Of a dip in the ocean

Makes me sick!” so that whale… learned to sail!

 

As has become the custom, my sons illustrated the limerick with their pictures. My four-year-old drew the anxious whale and my six-year-old the whale in a boat. Hope you like them!

A contented whale sailing.

A contented whale sailing.

limerick challenge #3

An ostrich in his natural habitat (ish)

An ostrich in its natural habitat (I think)

My weekly limerick challenge seems to have grown an extra feature – my sons keep drawing pictures to go with whatever I write a limerick about! This week they chose ‘ostrich’ as a theme. There was much laughter at the final line (small boys are so easy to please!) although I did have to explain the old fashioned meaning of the word ‘drawers’ to them.

Here’s what I came up with:

 

There once was a dextrous young ostrich

who was very proficient at cross-stitch

needle clamped ‘tween her claws

she embroidered some drawers

but sadly the things made her bot itch.

 

This challenge is proving to be quite fun but also quite a brain strain!

 

if you look very carefully you can see his frilly knickers!

If you look very carefully you can see her frilly knickers… round her legs…

Mini Creations

limerick challenge #2

image (6)

a crocodile surveying his freezer-food options

For this week’s limerick challenge my sons wanted me to write about a crocodile. I asked them if they could think up any rhymes and they came up with ‘flopodile’ and ‘pocodile’… so I moved swiftly over to my husband who suggested our croc find himself in the ‘dock on trial’. Although this was quite promising, the boys preferred the idea of the crocodile being in the supermarket. Right then.

After much flinging aside of ridiculous/wonderful rhymes (‘run a mile’, ‘mocking smile’ to name but a couple) we eventually came up with this:

 

There once was a crafty young crocodile

who’d sneak into Asda and wait a while

he’d lurk by the celery

devour people merrily

then, sated, would head to the pudding aisle.

 

Not a single mention of bottoms this week – the boys were a bit disappointed! They did draw me some lovely pictures of crocodiles to add to this post though. And they wrote about it all for our happy memories jar too!

 

a less murderous crocodile pushing his trolley round ASDA

a less murderous croc pushing his trolley round Asda

 

peaceful prose

I’ve been setting myself a few writing challenges recently and linking up with Writing Warriors over at Beautiful Misbehaviour to blog about them. This week, one challenge was to write a short piece of prose. It’s not something I normally do; creative writing for me usually means short stories of at least 1500 words. Flash fiction is outside my comfort zone but I figured, why not try something new?

This is what I came up with (and it’s under 200 words!):

 

She lay submerged, floating peacefully just below the surface. Now and then, fragments of the world beyond drifted down to her; sounds she was dimly aware of but could not respond to. It was so calm down here. She felt suspended in time, her mind free to roam and tumble between realms.

A thought, barely formed, drifted across her consciousness. Was there something she needed to do? She loitered, not wanting to leave this tranquil space. But a sound had begun insistently burrowing its way in to her brain, nearly rousing her to action, but not quite… not quite. Reality could not reach her yet, even as she felt it stretch out its fingers. Let me stay a while longer, she pleaded silently, let me stay.

Attempting oblivion, she dived deep. But it was not enough; a piercing cry twisted and gouged its way through her skull. She was dragged violently upwards and found herself exploding through the surface.

She was fully awake. The baby was screaming. Sighing, she heaved herself from her warm bed and dragged leaden limbs through the darkness, leaving sleep’s soft sunbeams scattering in her wake.

 

As you may have guessed, this is a scenario I am familiar with. I love my sleep and being dragged from it is not something I relish!

I’m linking up with Prose for Thought over at Verily Victoria Vocalises.

 

Prose for Thought

limerick challenge #1

an artist's interpretation of a hippo.

an artist’s (ok, my son’s) interpretation of a hippo.

Last weekend I spent Sunday lunchtime writing limericks with my husband and kids. We had a lot of fun coming up with silly rhymes and the boys enjoyed seeing how many times they could get ‘bum’ and ‘poo’ into any sentence! I posted our favourite ones here.

It was a challenge to come up with limericks based on suggestions from the kids (in fact limericks are quite difficult full stop, I think), so I ended up feeling my brain had been well exercised. I really enjoyed it though – we all did – so I’ve decided to set myself the weekly challenge of writing a limerick on a subject of my kids choosing.

I can’t promise they will all be great… in fact I CAN promise they WON’T be, but I’ll be posting them on a Monday. What better way to start the week than with a chuckle over ridiculous bad rhymes? (and – given I’m writing for my kids – quite possibly bottoms)?

So, without further ado, here is this week’s limerick:

 

There once was a daft hippopotamus

who phoned the police to report a loss

he said: “I appear

to have misplaced my rear,

for when I turn round I seem bottom-less”

 

See, bad rhymes and bottoms… you were warned…