Thursday, 30 August 2012

Putting on an act

I do NOT feel like going to NAWG, so I need to do something about that.
What I’ve decided is simple – I’m going to behave as though I’m happy, successful and  contented, that the house in Devon has been sold and I have thousands in the bank. If I can make thing sup for stories, I can do it in real life.
The face people present to the world isn’t always how they feel (think of Eleanor Rigby) so if you see me in Nottingham, remember this, it’s just an act. The real me is  locked away in another jar.
The worst thing for me right now is the feeling of not being in control.  Ideally I would have liked to have gone to Exeter this week but rushing back in time for the festival would NOT have been a good idea. I’ve been thinking of very little else except the trip to Exeter, trying to plan for every eventuality, which, of course, is impossible. I have to clear the house so that it’s ‘not habitable’ or Exeter City Council will charge me Council Tax which means having it cleared. Complication, John wants to stay there an extra few days so he can swan about, seeing his family, going to auctions et al so I suggest taking an inflatable bed. No, he doesn’t want to do that. He wants the house to be cleared at his convenience just before he leaves.  Well that’s not going to happen. Any furniture that IS left behind, he will have to clear himself.
I do not need a battle. I need to feel in control of as many bits of the puzzle as I can be. What I really really want right now is somebody I can lean on, who has empathy, who doesn’t argue, who can see somebody else’s point of view, who knows when I’m stressed or on edge and treats me kindly.
Sadly all I have is John.
I have just put the phone down on him. I’m seriously wondering if I would have been better off going by train. Obviously that would mean not being able to bring anything very much back with me, but that would be a small price to pay for a sense of peace.
Let’s hope the weather cheers up a bit, the first night at NAWG is a BBQ!
That’s it until I get back from Devon. Wish me luck! 

I had a comment regarding this post. All I want to say is this -only I know what it’s been like living with John. He could also say a few things about me if he wanted. 
As they say, walk a mile in somebody’s shoes before you judge why they are limping.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Taking a break

I’m not going to be blogging much for a while.
This weekend I’m at NAWG in Nottingham running a short story class, then it’s off to Devon to sort out and clear the house. I’m really NOT looking forward to it, but it has to be done. I keep wishing I could fast forward to a time when the house is sold and I didn’t have to think about Exeter, ever again.
I’m not sure how long I’ll be away. If I hate it there, it could be a couple of days, or I might add a day or two and turn it into a break. I have no idea and will have to wait and see.
I viewed a house yesterday that was really really nice. The question is, how large a garden do I actually want? The one I have is far too big but I’m not sure if the one at this other house is too small. I’m not planning to see any more properties until the Exeter house attracts interest (unless I change my mind as looking at other people’s houses is great fun!).
Today I want to recirculate some stories to magazines. I’ve been so out of it recently, I haven’t been doing that. I tell people that when a story is sent back to try and send it somewhere else inside 48 hours. I have been ignoring my own good advice which means that I have several stories that I need to look at, rewrite, edit, whatever. I don’t enjoy this part of writing as it’s far from creative which is why I aim to work on stories AS they come back not wait until I have a pile. It just goes to show how deep and dark the depression has been and how much I want to avoid another bout.
I just want to quickly mention all the lovely people who sent messages, hugs and card when I was down. You really did help me get through. I’m sorry if I haven’t been in touch. I’ve been very bad at making notes and know that I’ve neglected people by not following blogs, sending emails, Facebook etc etc . If this is you, I’m really sorry. Please get in touch so that I can make amends.

Monday, 27 August 2012

A wet Bank Holiday - how unusual!

I haven’t done much today apart from tidy up an article and reply to lots of emails.
The rest of my energy has gone on thinking about my back to bck trips. Next weekend I’m in Nottingham teaching a short story course for NAWG. I get back Sunday evening then it’s off to Exeter bright and early Monday morning. It’s not idea but the sooner I get there, the sooner I can come home again. The  problem is knowing what to take to Devon as I have zero idea what Denis took from the house. The estate agent is due to go round there tomorrow  to tell me vaguely what’s what. The most important thing is the bed situation. There’s no way I want to sleep in my mother’s room and if he did take a bed, it’s likely to be the one from the front bedroom. Anyway, I should know more tomorrow.
Tomorrow I also have to go to the solicitor again to sign my new will. I’m going to ask him if he can handle the conveyancing for the Exeter house as I’d rather have somebody close by who inspires confidence rather than take pot luck.
John is taking me down in the car, then staying on for a  while to visit his family while I come home by train so I’ll get a rest from him which is great as his selfishness and lack of thought for anyone but himself is driving me mad, and yes, he does read this blog sometimes but as he never listens to a word I say, he might as well read it instead.You know, I feel much better for writing that!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Three years ago today

Not much to say as I’ve had some champagne and my typing’s even worse than usual. I treated my ex to a home cooked meal (it mostly came from Marks and Spencers) as today is not only his birthday, it’s also the third anniversary of our move to Leeds. Sadly Louis’s  owners came and collected him/ Otherwise, it would be pretty much a perfect day. I’ll miss having to get up at dawn!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

bank Holiday Saturday

As the lovely Louis is only here until tomorrow evening, I’m making the most of it, sharing hugs, playing, and generally unwinding my wound up springs.
This isn’t what I imagined happening once Denis left, but in a way I suppose it’s good. Instead of rushing down to Devon and having to race back in time to go to NAWG next Friday, I’ve been more or less forced to wait until September. That gives me time to plan what I need to do and not end up in a tizzy. It also means I can spend as long in Exeter as I need to. I might even stay an extra day or two  just for a break, I’ll have to wait and see. Right now, I’ve done a couple of hours work so as it’s Bank Holiday Saturday and tomorrow is the third anniversary of my move to Yorkshire, it’s time to turn off and keep chilling out.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Still waiting

This morning, first thing, was a bit chaotic. I had to get up early, take Raffy for a walk, then wait for somebody to come and pick him up, hopefully before Louis the Labrador arrived. Raffy left at 9.12 a.m. and Louis arrived at quarter past so it was tight.
Regular readers will know that Louis is one of my favourite boarders. He’s just a sweetie, built like a prize fighter but with the good nature of a lamb.
At half eleven, I had an appointment with a solicitor because I needed to write a new will. I shredded the previous one when Denis (Mum’s ‘carer’) lied to my face. Sound of fanfare, I think I’ve actually found a solicitor I can relate to, maybe even trust, which is great as I plan to move house once the Exeter property is solved and would like somebody with some commonsense to do the conveyancing.
After that, I had lunch in the shopping centre, then went to crossword class where I had a lovely long chat with Fella (she’s a lady, no idea where the name comes from) about dogs, which was lovely. The rest of the day has pretty much disappeared. My excuse is I’m still waiting for the final call to say Denis has finally left the house. I KNOW he’s going, I had another call from the housing people today to say he’ll be clear tomorrow, but I told myself I wouldn’t celebrate until he was out and the keys were with Fulfords. So now it seems it will be tomorrow when I get that long awaited call. Of course as luck would have it, tomorrow is one of my fast days (I restrict my calorific intake to 500 at least once a week to reduce stress, blood pressure etc) so cracking open the champagne is a no no. Fortunately Sunday is the 3rd anniversary of moving to Leeds so I plan to make it a double celebration then, so that’s two bottles of bubbly…
Actually it’s also my ex’s birthday so he might get a glass or two as I’ve nobody else in my life right now – cue for a big Ahhhhhhh, shame.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Louis arrives tomorrow!

I feel as though I’m running to catch up at the moment. In the back of my mind, I keep thinking about Exeter. I’m still waiting for confirmation that he’s left the house.  Once that happens, I can start planning my trip to Devon.
Sorry about last night’s typo. Sadly it was a Dinner Shuffle at Del Verde, Leeds, not a Sinners Shuffle. The food was excellent and I had a thoroughly good time, managing to talk to lots of people instead of my usual trick of sitting back and taking little part.
I’m having trouble sleeping again which is VERY annoying.. Luckily it’s only ever other night so, hopefully, I’ll be OK tonight. I’m not going to get much sleep once Louis the Labrador arrives. He does  like to hog most of the bed AND he has to get up in the night (I do love him though so I don’t mind too much). I’m still working on my Swanwick write up. At the moment I’m still short of photos of me that are useable but I’m sure Lois will come up with something. I’ve just printed out what I’ve written so far so that I can sit down with Raffy and work on it longhand.
I’ve also been working for the Writers Bureau with my shiny new tutors hat on. I’m still finding it hard work but at least it’s teaching, even if I never get to meet any of the students.
Finally I made an abortive trip to make a new will, finding that the solicitor I’d arranged to see wasn’t situated where I thought they were, so I had to make ANOTHER appointment with somebody else tomorrow. Never mind. I’ll get there somehow.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Raffy's here

I’m looking after Raffy until Thursday morning as his owners wanted to go visit their baby granddaughter. He’s a young border terrier. He’s still a bit unsettled and veers between playfulness and looking forlorn.
I was playing with him as I went up the stairs. Unfortunately, that put him at face level so when he jumped up to play, I ended up with 2 red welts on my face. I wouldn’t mind but it’s a Spice sinner shuffle tonight!
I went to see Julia at Relate this morning, hopefully for the last time a I’m feeling a lot better.
I’m going to try and mix my week up a bit by having defined work days. I’m going to try a number of different patterns and see which works – one day on, one day off, two on, one off, three on, two off and so on, MAYBE that will allow me to indulge in some painting or actually listening to  my glorious new music system. AT the moment, every day is a work day so when I do something different, I feel I should be working. 
As you may have guessed, today is a not working day, so now I’m off to play with Raffy, then I need to par boil and freeze some veg from the garden, then it’s off to that dinner shuffle, red welts and all.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Working on my next short story course for NAWG

Whose brilliant idea was it to hold the NAWG festival of writing and Swanwick so close together? It would be fine if I didn’t have to teach at both events. I’ve been working on my short story course for NAWG for much of today. It’s more or less done now thahnk goodness. There will only be between 6 and 10 in each class so that should make it more manageable than Swanwick. This year the NAWG Festival is in Nottingham. There are still places if you want to join us.
I’m feeling totally worn out with not enough energy to even weed the garden. Raffy the cute terrier is coming to stay for a couple of days so I’ll have to get up early tomorrow so I’m ready. Hopefully his playfulness will be catching and I can manage to pull myself out of my chair.
I had lots of calls today but not from the people who were meant to come and fix my leaking pond.
The most interesting call was from the Attendance Allowance people who confirm that Mum was receiving it and that it had been paid with her pension so I know where THAT money went. The good news is that they stopped paying AA from end August as they weren’t sure if Mum was paying her own fees. As she definitely was, they will pay what she should have received,  i.e. from end August until when she died, directly to me once they’ve sorted out the paperwork so that’s some more good news. Of course the other phone call I’m waiting for will come from Exeter to say that Denis has gone, but that might be another day or two yet.
As they say, watch this space.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Busy busy busy

I’ve had a busy day writing up the course notes and handouts for my Swanwick short story course. After a couple of weeks, they are posted on the Swanwick web site and anyone who attended can download them. It doesn’t matter whether they went to the course or not. It’s a great way to add value to the summer school but it does mean quite a lot of extra work. Still, it’s done now.
I also had a letter from The People’s Friend asking if I could lengthen a story as they then might be able to take it. Whenever I get asked for something like this, I do it straightaway, to show willing.
Tomorrow, I need to work on the write up for Writers Forum. I offered them a day by day account of Swanwick from a tutor’s point of view so I’d like to get that fisnihed soonest. I’m hoping to get a decent photo of me from some of the ones Lois, the Swanwick book room lady who is also the organiser of the courses planned later in Leeds. Cameras don’t like me very much, but I need to send at least one of me with the article so fingers crossed she’s done a good job.
Right now, I’m working on a check list to send to Denis in Exeter asking for meter readings, and for details of gas and electricity suppliers. If he completes it and leaves it at the house, it will save me a lot of trouble. Fingers crossed!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Home from Sawnwick (with news!)

I came home from Swanwick Writers’ Summer School yesterday and promptly collapsed in a heap with exhaustion.
I had a great time once I relaxed into it. My first two teaching sessions were well received but I was that happy with them. My head felt fuzzy and I felt as though I wasn’t really ‘there’. At one point it was so bad, I wanted to go home. Luckily Tuesday came along just in time. In the morning, I went shopping with Rae, who I met at last year’s Swanwick and although we didn’t buy very much, it made a break. In the afternoon, the sun came out and I spent some time relaxing by the lake. There were dozens of dragonflies and best off all, I saw a grass snake. It swam across the lake, slithered up on to some lily pads, then swam away again. It was less than ten feet away and really made my day.
I haven’t the energy to write about everything that happened at Swanwick as it would take a small book. I think the course went well but it’s not for me to say. I’ll have to wait to see what the feedback is like. Right now I’m not sure if I want to teach next year as I’d rather like to go for a holiday/break instead, but I’ll have to wait and see.
I didn’t get to sing. There wasn’t time, plus it was mainly the same set of people from last year and I wasn’t feeling strong enough to try and storm the group. It will happen one day!
I’m writing a  day by day account (Swanwick from a tutor’s point of view) for Writers’ Forum so that will explain a bit more but right now all I need to say is this – Swanwick really is a magical place. This is only the second time for me but it’s already a ‘must have’ in my calendar. Dates for next year – 10th to 16th August. Keep it free in your diary. It’s expensive but good things often are and people can always earn the money by writing fillers (see my web site books page  or kindle (How to Make £10 in ten minutes) ).

Oh, and the GOOD NEWS! The man in my mother’s house is moving out next week. I’m not sure when exactly but as soon as I’ll know it will be on the blog, if I can tear myself away from the champagne. 

The photos show the lake at Swanwick, just yards from the accommodation, plus part of the gardens. 

Friday, 10 August 2012


I’m as ready as I’m going to get.
Swanwick writers summer school, that long awaited oasis is here. It seems to have snuck up on me. One minute it was months away, the next, it’s here. I had such an amazing time last year that breeds all kinds of expectations and hopes but why shouldn’t it be as good, if not better than last year? It’s certainly possible. At last I’m beginning to realise that I don’t have to be the best teacher there is, that if my classes aren’t the best anyone’s ever been to, I haven’t failed, so long as I do the best I can. I’ve been to lots of writing classes that were, frankly, not very good but people still gained something from them. I’m so delighted that sale to Woman’s Weekly came when it did as that’s really given me a boost.
The big question, or one of them anyway, is whether or not I wil have the courage to sing at the buskers evening. I love to sing but I’ve never had the nerve to sing by myself, it’s always been as part of a large group or a choir. I wanted to have a go last year but bottled out. This time, I’m taking some lyrics with me, just in case.
I actually managed to get some work done today too. I wrote my column for Writers Forum so that was good.
Marg, who’s giving me a lift, has just called to confirm when she was picking me up which was really good as that gave me one less thing to fret about. How I would get there by public transport I have no idea. The case full of books weighs a ton. I hope people buy them then I won’t have to bring them home again.
Tonight the plan is to relax, watch the Olympics, or House on DVD but I’ll probably stil be running round in circles at midnight.
I will be incommunicado while I’m away, unless I can figure out how to blog from the iPod so bye for now and if you can spare any, please send some love and good vibrations my way.Thansk to everyone who's left comments over the past few days. They are very much appreciated. If anyone reading this is going to Swanwick, introduce yourself and I might even buy you a drink.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


For quite a while, I’ve been treading water, with no idea what I want to do or where I’m going. I keep thinking about writing stories again, but never quite managing it. Then yesterday, I was talking to John and said that I didn’t always enjoy writing stories as I wasn’t always that proud of them as they were written to sell, not to satisfy, but did like the ones I wrote for Womans Weekly (a market I relegated in favour of Fiction Feast years ago because FF pay more.) Lo and behold, just hours later, I get an email from WW (I’d sent them a Christmas story, not a new one as I haven’t written any, but one FF rejected last year) saying they wanted to buy it. Hopefully that’s a sign  of which way to go.
Last night I made a special effort, doing my hair and putting on a new dress. I felt really good until John came round. He didn’t say a word. There was me, thinking I could completely different, and nothing. Zilch. I know men are thick about this kind of thing but ….. It was really upsetting, so much so that I told him on the way home. Result? He gets cross. It’s all daft I know, but I’m still learning to value my own opinion. For more than fifty years I haven’t bothered what I looked like and starting to take an interest is strange and difficult and new. One thing’s for sure, I’m not going to get any help from John, then I knew that, have known that for more than ten years.
While I’m on the subject and knowing he’ll probably read this but who cares, he finally told me he’d read my novel and basically, he didn’t like it. Great. Thanks. As it was aimed at women, I never expected him to love it. He could have said something neutral, or complimented me on the plot or one of the characters, but no, he exudes this negativity as if it’s the worst book ever written, then he keeps talking about Terry Pratchett and how wonderful he is and that I could write books as good as his. Yes, maybe I could, WITH A BIT OF ENCOURAGEMENT. So, not for the first time, I’m giving up on John. His opinion no longer matters. I’m going to have to learn to praise and encourage myself.
So back to working on the NAWG course.  I have ten days when I get back from Swanwick,  but last year it took me more than  a week to come back down to earth so I decided to get it done early instead. Plus I have Raffa the terrier staying for two days, immediately followed by the lovely Louis and want to be able to spend time with them.
Once NAWG is sorted, it will be time to pack.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Ready for Swanwick, well sort of...

I’m due to see Julia at Relate again tomorrow. She asked me to sort out some family photos to take with me, which I did early this morning. She also suggested I wrote a letter to my mother, expressing my feelings to see if that helps with the grieving process.
I’m not sure it helped, apart from bringing back unhappy memories. That said, it made a change to tell her how I felt about the way she treated me, even though she’s gone and can’t read the letter.
I’m taking the letter with me and might show it to Julia, will have to see.
Once that was out of the way, I carried on planning the Swanwick course. I’ve done that now, no more tweaking. It’s impossible to plan it in any detail because you don’t know who’s going to be there. I’ve tried to make it varied with plenty of interaction so fingers crossed. One thing I know for sure, NEXT year I’m not teaching. A workshop perhaps, but not this much. Next year I want to go to Swanwick to enjoy myself.
Now I need to start thinking about what to take with me. I’ve started replacing my poor quality clothes with decent ones but haven’t got enough for the whole week. I’m holding back on spending too much money until the situation in Devon is resolved. The waiting is getting to me, but I expected that.

Sunday, 5 August 2012


For some reason, yesterday's blog post didn't. No idea why.
This is today's.

This morning, I could, happily, have thrown the computer out the window. All I wanted to do was load the software from the new camera so that I could upload photos. Would it work? It took forever, then Word and Mozilla threw wobblies. I was in a total state of panic in case I’d ruined my PC. After four hours, I finally managed to get things sorted, whether I’ll be able to remember how to do it next time I try is another matter. I’m glad I didn’t wait until I got back from Swanwick though.
Once I’d recovered from the headache the whole farrago had given me, it was time to look at the short stories people had sent to me in preparation fro their sessions with me at Swanwick. Some hadn’t named a target market which always makes my heart sink. If you don’t know who you’re writing for, it’s unlikely you will get anywhere.
Now I want to take a quick look at the tennis then it’s off to ELFM (East Leeds digital radio) for their Word Salad this evening. And BTW, its chucking it down with rain.

new hair, new shoes, still the same old me inside

Today I went to a new hairdresser. When I got there, I almost turned tail and ran way – it was so big, noisy and full of YOUNG people, but I stayed and I’m glad I did. The hairdresser was 40 and came from London. She was so friendly and warm I felt at ease with her at once. 
After that, I shopped for shoes which sounds very girly but thanks to my wide feet is a trial if I want to find somehing that is both comfortable and doesn’t make me look like an octogenarian. Then I headed to Debenham to see if I could find some more clothes without the help of a personal shopper. It was so overwhelming I hardly knew where to look. Two floors, full of rails of clothes as far as the eye can see. How do people cope with shopping? It wears me out. I came home fit for nothing and I was only out a few hours. I guess it’s because this is all so new to me. Until now, I’ve bought most of my clothes from charity shops for years and the rest from the cheapest shops I could find.
When I got home, my ex was there. Did he say I looked great? No. He asked if I’d had my hair done. There was me thinking I looked totally different and miles better and that was all he good force himself to come up with. Then he told me I looked ill. How I didn’t hit him over the head with a saucepan, I have no idea.

Friday, 3 August 2012

The gas man cometh

My two private (i.e. not Writers Bureau) pupils sent work today so I’ve been working on those. One lady is doing particularly well which is very gratifying. It will be soon be time for her to send a story to a magazine. I had an unexpected email from a magazine I used to write for, back in the 1990s – Aquarium Fish (USA), saying the magazine was no longer being published and that wanted to return some of my slides.
The other excitement came when I booked my annual service for my gas boiler. I have a contract with British Gas and was surprised to find that they could fit me in this afternoon, so at least that’s out of the way.  I also had a call from my friend, Rae, she moved house a few days ago and has only just got a land line. It was nice to have a bit of a chat. I’m still all over the place, hardly knowing what I’m doing as the days count down for Swanwick.
Hopefully I will be together enough to not only teach OK but enjoy myself too. Still no word from deep and darkest Devon. I had a look at the house using maps on the iPod. Creepy.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Can't get on wih anything

OK, so this is the truth. I’m not coping very well. It’s having to wait for things to happen, hundreds of miles away, that I have no control over.  I’m not WORRYING about it, there’s nothing I can do so there’s no point, it’s just that it’s in the back of my mind, all the time. I can’t settle to do anything else.
I keep wondering whether things really will click back into place once it’s all settled or whether I’ll find some other excuse not to get back to writing short stories. I think that’s what I want to do – write stories and do some teaching, but is that what I really want? I haven’t a clue. Until recently, the biggest thing in my life has been emotional pain. Right now, it’s not there, and believe me, I don’t want it back, but at the same time, in a crazy way, I miss it because without it, what else is there? Something will turn up. Give it time. Be patient. That’s what I’d say to anybody else in my position but I’m so fed up with waiting. I want to start living now, before I’m too old to enjoy it. Please, let this all sort itself out soon. Please let me hear good news from Exeter. Please let that be enough to unlock the emotional padlocks I seem to have wrapped myself up in. To quote Queen, I want to break free, and I want it now.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Still tired

Something’s definitely wrong here. It’s after nine and I’ve only just finished working. I lost most of yesterday with all the errands I had to do (some didn’t quite work out but I haven’t the energy to say). Buying the iPod was great but now I need to invest in a one year full tiems tudy course to get to grips with it and I stil haven’t red half the manual that came with the new camera.
I feel worn out, thanks mainly to the shopping I did yesterday. I’m just not used to that kind of thing. That said, the two and a quarter hours spent with the personal shopper FLEW by AND I came away with some clothes I would never have picked out for myself AND they didn’t cost an arm and a leg, only half a hand and an ankle so that was good.
Now I need to crash out somewhere. I was so work out I went to bead at ten last night which isn’t like me at all. The way I feel I might have to do the same today I know, I’m getting too old for all this.
How on earth am  I going to cope at Swanwick!?!?!?!?!?