Thursday, 23 February 2012

A little part of my youth...

I heard some really sad news this week; my school drama teacher and VIth form form-tutor, John (Stephen) Godfrey, died last Friday.  Friday was my birthday, which makes it somehow worse.
I felt a little bit guilty when I heard the news (which I know is many people's immediate reaction to someone dying), not just because I'd been living it up with champagne and presents, but because, to be honest, I'd been badmouthing him just a little bit recently.  Not that he knew, or that it would have made any difference if he had, but anyway...

You see, it's easy to blame others for our failure to write: the kids, the spouse, the postman knocking just as inspiration's about to strike, authors who write better than we think we do, friends and family who don't take us seriously, the dog for needing a walk, the cat who wants to be let in and out so often that there's absolutely NO POINT sitting down at the keyboard... you get the picture. 

When I was 17 or 18 I had a careers interview with Mr G (as we called him).  He was always a humorous, eccentric sort of chap with an alternative take on most things, so I was really shocked when he told me that I couldn't "just be a writer" and that I needed "a real job". 

Fair enough, I can see where he was coming from, but surely there was some better advice he could have given me? (To be fair, he wasn't a careers teacher - cutbacks I suppose, even back then in 1985/86.)  Perhaps he could have suggested a degree in Creative Writing or a journalism course.  I don't know, but I just remember the world crashing around my ears at that moment.  I felt stupid, as though I was kidding myself... and I'm guessing we writers all know that feeling.  I have often thought back to that moment over the years.  It still feels very real.
    There it is, the scene of the crime!  Pic from 1986.

So, off I went, did my A Levels and got a job in an office.  I grew up, I got married, had my children and didn't have time to write for years and years.  Writing never left me, though; it was always there niggling away at the back of my mind and I'd scrawl lines of dialogue, thoughts and descriptions on any piece of paper that came to hand, wherever we were.  It was a waiting game.

Perhaps I could have carried on writing through those years, but the belief that I could had left me.
I did start writing again in about 2004, but it was only after losing my lovely mum in 2006 that I started to take it seriously.  She never saw me published, but I know she'd be so proud of me.

Back to dear Mr G.  He has to carry a little of the can for my stopping writing and getting bogged down in real life, but I can't blame him completely.  Looking back, I don't know what I'd have had to write about at the age of 18, and I know his advice was sensible - it just sent me off in an unimaginative direction.  I have a lot of experience of life under my belt now; I've met so many different types of people, had so many experiences, loved with all my soul, lost loved ones and had my heart broken.  I have so much more to write about than I did then.

My happiest memories of school are all associated with Mr G and his wonderful drama lessons and productions.  I can see his face so clearly.  I definitely had a little crush on him (as did everyone else, probably!) and still find myself dreaming about him occasionally. 

So, although you didn't know Mr G (apart from you, Unmann-Wittering, if you're reading), I'd like to use this post to thank him for being a wonderful teacher and an inspiration to me in many ways.  When I teach drama as part of my job he is never far from my mind.  I took far more from him than he 'took' from me.  In fact, the more I think about it, he didn't really take anything from me.  I didn't have to take his advice, after all!

If you're still reading, thank you so much for indulging me!

Have you had a similar experience with a teacher that resulted in you changing your path?  Or did you have a teacher who was an inspiration to you?  I'd love to know!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Cat and The Dreamer by Annalisa Crawford


One of my writing buddies, Annalisa Crawford, had her novella, Cat and The Dreamer,  published last week.  You can download it here at Vagabondage Press, here at All Romance Books or here on Amazon.
Without wanting to give too much away, Cat and The Dreamer is an absorbing novella, quirky and very readable.  I found myself really feeling for Julia in her struggle to break free of her childhood; the cloying atmosphere at home and her lack of confidence are almost painful.  Will Julia be able to leave her past behind?  It's an unusual and very touching story - definitely one that stays with you after you've finished it.
I have interviewed Annalisa in honour of this occasion (because who doesn't like to celebrate a fellow writer's success?)
What was your inspiration for Cat and The Dreamer?
There were some news stories floating around in the papers about suicide pacts, and I wondered what it would feel like to  survive a pact knowing that your friend had died. Would you feel guilt, relief, would you want to try again?

The office dynamics in the story ring very true - have you ever been the odd one out, like Julia?
At school, I felt a little bit on the outside. I had some really good friends, but I also knew I wasn't quite like them. The writing always made me different. When I got to A-Levels, I'd figured out how to make the best of being different, something Julia hasn't quite done.

Are you a daydreamer?
Oh yes. I am the inspiration for Julia, 100%!

What's your most common daydream?
There isn't a common one. I daydream all the time. My internal monologue is bascially a re-telling of the things I'm doing at the time. It's the reason I started writing. When I was little I became very afraid that my daydreams would come true - I thought I had that power, because my mum always said 'Be careful what you wish for'! A lot of my childhood daydreams involved my parents going missing and me ending up in an orphanage.

Would you say your writing falls into a particular genre?
Not at all. Contemporary is the closest I can get to a genre, and that seems like a cop-out. Almost everything I write is completely different from the last. I've often thought about a collection of short stories but none of them are similar enough to fit into the same book.

Can you describe in three words how it feels to have your novella out there in the big, wide world?
Scary, amazing, perfect.

What are you writing now?
I'm finishing off a trilogy of novellas that I'm hoping will be published as a collection. One story needs a lot of work, so I'm having to rewrite. The stories are all set in the same town, which is haunted, and some of the characters overlap a little bit. But the main link are the pub and the bridge. 
I'm really looking forward to reading that!  Thanks, Annalisa! 

Thanks for reading, everyone! ;-)


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Like - or not like?

Before I pose my burning, important and highly-intelligent question, here are some spring-time pictures to make you smile :-)


The sun must be on its way - hang on in there!

Now for the question...

Which do you like better?

I felt like I was walking on air.


I felt as if (as though?) I was walking on air.

My instinct is that the second option flows better (without the bracketed part, obviously - take your pick between if and though).

I'd love to know what you think - even if you think it doesn't make any difference at all! 

Answers on a postcard, please (not really).

Thanks for reading - hope you're all having a good day :-)

Friday, 10 February 2012

I'll Tumble 4 Ya BlogFest!

It's here!  The day of all the GREAT REVELATIONS!  Who did you have a crush on, or should I ask how many crushes you had?

Although my big crush actually started in 1979, I think it still counts as it lasted throughout the 80s and I'm not entirely sure I'm over him yet!  Maybe he's not really your classic pin-up, but I had his poster beside my bed and used to kiss him goodnight for many years...

I'm sorry, but this pic still makes me swoon!
I was definitely attracted to the scruffy bad-boy look and I just LOVE his voice - that gorgeous accent.  I hated Paula Yates, needless to say...
I wish I could get away with putting a poster like this up again, but I don't think my husband would understand :-(  Thank goodness for Google and YouTube!   Gorgeous.  Sigh.

Very much looking forward to seeing who other people have chosen!  Thanks so much to M. Pax at Wistful Nebulae and her fellow bloggers Suze from Analog Breakfast and Nicki Elson from Nicki Elson's Not-So-Deep Thoughts for organising this lovely bit of cockle-warming fun to brighten up a winter's day!

Others taking part are:


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Insecure Writer's Support Group - Oh, Precious Time!

Why am I sitting here on my bum, writing?
Really, my life is already too busy...
I ought to be starting the dinner...
Tidy house, tidy mind... my mind is a bit of a bombsite, don't get me started on the house...
It's compulsive; I tell myself I'll write less and ease the stress, then I go and start again...
Nice beginning, mildly interesting middle, but - sigh - will I ever get to the end? 
Guess I won't know unless I keep at it...

This is a Blog Hop!