Thursday, 31 January 2013

Friends without benefits

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my relationship with John. 
For those of you not in the know, he’s my ex. We married in 1999, were unhappy from 2001 and divorced in 2005. We should never have married. It was too soon after Gareth's death. 
At the moment John lives about a mile and half from me but spends quite a lot of time at my house. Sometimes he stays overnight in my spare room We go to the shops and to Spice events together. He helps out when I have dogs to stay by taking the big ones for walks or when there’s ice about and I don’t want to risk it. Also I can call him at any time if I need to.
I help him with all kinds of stuff too from sorting out computer gliches to letting him use my washing machine and my garage.
People don’t understand the relationship. They try to make it more than it is, dropping all kinds of hints about romance and still being together because neither of us has ‘moved on’.
It occurred to me only yesterday (OK I might have an IQ of 149 but I can still be thick) that John is actually my best friend BUT there are definitely NONE of those benefits people talk about. I’m here for him and he’s there for me. If either of us found love  we would still be friends but we wouldn’t spend so much time together.
That’s why I’m now considering buying a flat so that I can rent it to him. The place he’s in now is cramped which is why he comes here and I don’t go there. Also, buying property is, IMO, the best thing to do with my money. If I rent to somebody else there are all kinds of hurdles to overcome and no guarantee I’d find a good tenant. John won’t be able to pay as much but at least I’ll know the money’s coming in each month. Plus the flat has a garage so there won’t be any reason for him to call round unless I invite him. Double plus, I’ll be able to go to his place and annoy him for a change.
Anyway, that’s how it is with John and me. He’s my best friend and hopefully will soon be my tenant.
Today I have three things on my list of tasks to do. Obviously there are hundreds more things that need to be done some time or another but I find that if I choose three and concentrate on those first, I achieve so much more. The tasks today are contact my tame builder and ask him to check over the flat (done), get some ideas ready so that I can start February off in a writing frenzy (not done) and clean and tidy the whole house ready for the mortgage people tomorrow (done apart from my office which is a tip!).
Tonight, I might be going to a quiz. John’s daughter is working part time in a pub and he suggested we go along. Much depends on energy levels, the list of tasks and the weather but with any luck, that’s where I’ll be tonight, with my new found best friend.
PS Thank you to those people who suggested I consult a life coach.
I’m hoping that moving house and having fun things to do, like decorating, sorting out the garden and so on, will help me to get motivated and enjoy life more. Once January is gone, that will help too. If that doesn’t happen, I will definitely be seeking more help but right now, I feel quite confident that moving will do the trick.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Wednesday 30th January 2013

This morning was spent at Heydays and it didn’t go well.
The woman who runs the sessions is really bad at keeping control. Today was even worse than usual and most of the time was spent listening to some of the women going on about their family problems. If I’m going to a course, I want to listen to the course leader. I was also getting annoyed that they all behave as everyone’s a – got family – b – they’re retired.
I was delighted when my mobile (which I’d forgotten I had with me I use it so rarely) rang. It was about a quiz show I’ve applied to go on so I was able to leave the room for ten minutes.
I haven’t got much work done recently. I’m waiting until January’s over. Last night, my computer people called to do the service on my machine. The conclusion was that it needs to be put out to grass. Apparently I need 4GB of RAM and I’ve only got one  and my processor is 12 years old which in pc terms is ancient. The man did what he could, but there’s a limit. So now I need to brave again and invest in a new computer. It’s off to PC world on Saturday. At least after talking to my tame computer man I know (more or less) what I need. The plan is to set the new one up in the spare bedroom using a wireless connection. That way, when I move house it should be easier to do the transfer. It’s still a bit scary though. Computers and electricity – two things that scare me rigid, and two things I can’t get by without.  

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Life (death) the universe and everything

I hit a low point a few days back. 
I couldn’t stop thinking about dying. In fact I’d decided if I didn’t feel better by Boxing day 2013, I would kill myself. Sounds extreme but that’s how I was feeling. Then something happened. It felt like a cog falling into place. This is going to sound really really stupid because to anyone else, looking in, it is STUPID. I suddenly realised that now I have a bit of money to my name I could actually spend some of it and have some fun for a change.  
So my new plan is to get moved, then stop doing things I don’t want to do, and start to enjoy myself. If after a few years I end up poor, and still alone, then maybe I can think about ending it all, but until then…..
Why has this been so difficult for me to grasp? I can’t explain, all I know is that it was very very difficult. I can tell you that I’ve never spent real money on myself, that I was never given nice presents  by my parents or spoilt rotten by any of my husbands/boyfriends, and that when one man DID want to buy me something expensive I wouldn’t let him do it.
I’m weird (you guessed that already I hope) in that I can see how to solve other people’s problems very easily but when it comes to sorting myself out, I’m lost. Anyway, that’s where I am at the moment. As soon as I’m moved, I’m taking a holiday. A proper holiday.
I’ve just booked a couple of days in Scarborough in April.  My friend, Shirley, fancied a trip to the theatre so I asked if I could tag along.I was hoping to get there before April but I have to wait for removal dates etc.
Yesterday I took two bookings for Louis the Labrador. One is over my birthday weekend in June which means I won’t be able to go away but having him round the house (the new house!) will be a great pressie. He’s also coming to stay in February. I thought about putting people off until after I’ve moved but as I have no idea when that’s happening, there didn’t seem any point. If need be, John’s always willing to step in.
I’ve been catching up on Writers Bureau work today. Yesterday I finished a story to send to Womans Weekly, but I’m way behind my January target of 4 new stories. I’m not going to beat myself up. It’s been a difficult month plus targets are to aim for, I don’t’ have to reach them every time.
My next task is to type up a poem or two before I lose them. I’m thinking of putting together a small collection, just for the hell of it.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Taking another break

I’m taking a break from the blog.
I don’t know whether it’s S.A.D. or just the weather but I don’t have anything positive to say right now. As you can guess, things didn’t go as well as I’d hoped at the Ball.
I’m doing the best I can but right now, it’s not working. I hate feeling sorry for myself. There must be thousands of people who,  like me, are on their own in the world.
I guess I need more time to get used to it.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Linda is going to the Ball

After last night’s snowfall (six inches, maybe more), I wasn’t sure I would be going out tonight. It’s the Spice New Year Ball and I’m going by myself. Luckily it’s been thawing all day so I’ve decided to risk it. It means having to take a change of shoes, otherwise the snow is so deep, I’ll get there with frozen feet and shoes filled with slush. I’m a bit concerned about what to wear. I have some better clothes now but nothing that you’d call glamorous. Even if I had a suitable long dress I wouldn’t be able to wear it as by the time I’ve walked to the station the hemline would be sodden. I hope the dress code isn’t too strict or they may not let me in.
Today’s been strange. It began with me feeling a tense as a tightly strung drum. John’s been here far too much lately due to dogs/snow/him feeling poorly etc and he’s been getting under my skin. At the same time, telling him to disappear and never darken my door again is far to scary.
He went to see a flat today. When I first suggested it as a possibility he argued, sulked and carried on saying he didn’t want a first floor flat, however nice it was. He conveniently forgets that’s it’s my money and I need the best return I can achieve. I have a budget of £130,000. If I can get away with spending £100,000 the rest is mine to waste on cruises, clothes, holidays and having fun.
Of course now that he’s actually seen the place he’s changed his mind, largely due to the garage and workshop that come with the property and the fact that’s it’s in a good area and close to the shops. I called the agent to make an offer, or rather left a message on the answer phone as nobody answered. Apparently offers have already been made so it’s a case of wait and see what happens. I confess it would be good to get John out of my hair. He’s far less likely to want to spend time here if he’s got a decent place to call his own.
Pip the terrier went home today.
Her owners were meant to come at 4, and they were meant to call beforehand. Instead they arrived just after three when I’d only just stepped out of the shower. That meant dashing about getting everything together while still wearing my dressing gown.
I miss her. When I first took the booking I was dubious, terriers can be a tiny bit tiresome, but she turned out to be a sweetie. It was such fun watching her frolicking in the snow.
This morning I also finished a story which I’ve emailed to Woman’s Weekly. I’m not that sure about it as it’s a bit downbeat but you never know.
Now to decide how much makeup to put on and to try to avoid poking myself in the eye when I apply the mascara. I don’t have much idea about make up as for the last thirty years I haven’t much bothered but if the 2011 Christmas do is anything to go by, the other women there will be dressed to kill and make–upped half to death….

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Feeling fraught

I’m feeling a bit fraught at the moment. No special reason – weather, inability to settle down to anything useful, computer refusing to let me reply to any emails, John….
I had my hair done this morning. It’s the first time I’ve ever had my hair dyed by a professional and I was looking forward to seeing people’s reaction at crossword class, but the class was cancelled due to the white stuff. It’s held at Good Neighbours and they’re always very careful as they don’t want to be blamed if anybody has a fall. 
If I’d known the class was being cancelled, I would have stayed longer in town and not rushed back, but I did manage to find time to buy a dress in Debenhams. I had a £20 voucher from months ago which was due to expire so at least I’ve used that up.
Later on I went to a view a house which I thought would be good as a rental but now I’ve seen it, it feels a bit small, so I’m looking at another one tomorrow. How’s this for great estate agency? There are no interior photos on the web site as, to quote the estate agent, the inside is in rather a mess. What do they want people to do, view it wearing a blindfold? Hopefully it’s just dirty and in need of decoration – find out tomorrow.
Pip the terrier I was so concerned about has turned out to be a sweetie,  and given me no trouble at all which is great.
I’m very aware that yet another day has slipped by without me doing any actual work. I’ve dome some reading and playing with ideas and yesterday I did some Writers Bureau marking but that’s hardly enough. Pip leaves on Saturday, so I should be back to writing by Sunday. I don’t want to fall too far behind schedule.

Monday, 21 January 2013

Trapped by the white stuff

I feel as though I’ve been sent to prison, trapped by the white stuff. 
The great thing about this ghastly weather is that it WILL pass, eventually. I just have to be patient. I have endless patience with other people and with dogs, but when it comes to me, the usual rules don’t apply.  
The layer of snow on the conservatory roof is acting like a blind, making the living room darker than normal. I’m finding it hard to find a suitable place to actually work. I read other writers tweets and they seem to be getting on with it, so why can’t I?
I’ve been doing an awful lot of thinking lately. For the first time in forever, I have choices, real choices. I’m seriously thinking of buying a second, cheaper property, so that I can rent it out. Writing is a precarious business especially when your main income comes from short stories (umpteen magazines have stopped taking fiction since I started out)  and it would be wonderful to have a regular, guaranteed source of income especially when interest rates mean that having money in the bank is not a great idea. 
I’ve found a two bedroomed bungalow (no loft conversion!) which looks to be a bargain – tired decorative order, old fashioned kitchen but otherwise sound. It’s also empty  and at a price I can afford so pending more blizzards, I’m going to take a look tomorrow. 
I had a long talk with John over the weekend and we've reached the conclusion that more distance between us would be best. I know that's right, neither of us will ever proeprly move on with out lives otherwise, but even thinking about is scares me rigid. I'm not sure I would have surved 2012 without his help but I also know that things are getting better for me.
John isn’t affected by the snow, so I got him to deliver the pile of paperwork to the solicitor for me this morning so now it’s fingers crossed there are no hiccoughs.I really can't wait to be moved. For the first time in I can't work out how long I'll have a dedicated office again. I had one when I first moved to Leeds but that was just for the three months I was renting before I bought this place.
I'm not sure what I'm doing now. I might look for some ideas and start some new stories, or I might look at the ones I have at the first draft stage, or sort out another drawer.......One thing I won't be doing is taking poor little Pip for a walk. It's a god job she's only here for 8 days as she's only getting one walk a day (courtesy of John) as I daren't risk a fall. I tell the dog's owners that if it's treacherous out, their dogs won't get walked so that they know, but I still feel guilty. Walking the dogs also gets me out of the house which is why I feel as though I’ve been sent to prison....

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Snow white Saturday

I’ve typed up another story which needs to be left for a few days. My next task is to sort through a drawer ful of paperwork to find all the information and bits of paper the solicitor needs to draw up the contracts so that I can sell my house. Not a fun job I can assure you but it has to be done.
Pip has settled in but she didn’t want to sleep in the kitchen and howled and howled until I relented and bought her bed upstairs, and let her sleep in my room NOT on the bed though, that’s reserved for Louis!

Friday, 18 January 2013

A day away from the machine

I had a day away from the computer yesterday. I like to do that every now and then so that I don’t feel tied to it. I put the radiators on  and sat in the conservatory to write a new story. Then after lunch it was crosswords. It was rather a rushed session as Jack wanted everyone to get home early, due to the weather. I didn’t want to get home that soon so I asked Sandra if she wanted to go to the shops for a coffee. We had a good chat. Until then I’d assumed she lived with her husband, I had no idea she lived alone having been divorced for yonks It just goes to show how little we know and how easy it is to make assumptions. I came home to find John was here. I’ve been on at him to only come round when I’m expecting him but he’s still not listening. It throws me when I get home, planning to work, and he’s here.
This morning, my plan was to catch up with Writers Bureau work, type up a story or two, then get ready for the new dog. I just about managed it as another  friend from the crossword group called to talk about problems she’s having with HER mother. We only finished nattering when Pip’s owners turned up.
I’d been worried about having this dog as terriers can be a bit high energy but so far, it’s fine. Within ten minutes of arriving she was on my lap and accepting lots of cuddles. I’ve employed my ex as dog walker while Pip’s here as the last thing I want is a fall in the snow. John has much bigger feet so he’s less likely to fall over (that’s my theory anyway). I mentioned yesterday and he apologised but whether that wil change anything, who’s to say.
I’ve just typed up a story which is about somebody’s mother dying. I’ve used a few things  from my own experience which I NEVER usually do, but this is a time for change so the old rules don’t apply any more.
Talking of change, I’ve got a pile of paperwork to sort through and forms to complete regarding the sale of the house so that will keep me busy over the weekend. I just hope I can find all the bits of paper I need.
Re the comment about the men at Spice. Having watched Gok’s new dating show, I’ve come to the conclusion that men need women to show they are a tiny bit interested before they do anything. As research, I asked my ex  if any of the women had flirted with him. No  was his answer. Maybe that’s what’s going on, everybody’s waiting for a signal, but there are no signals being transmitted. I wil have to ponder that before the Grand Ball on the 26th

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Dogless until Friday

I took a day off from my blog to make sure that when I DID write something, I would be sure it made sense.
As is obvious from recent postings, I’ve been having trouble deciding what to do about the house. Now the decision to move has been made, I feel much happier, I’m even starting to feel a  bit excited about it. I’ve already changed most of the curtains so that I can take the ones I want. Over the next few weeks, I have a chance to go through all my paperwork, clothes, bits and pieces, etc and get rid of anything that’s outgrown its usefulness.
It occurred to me that I’ve been living in fear all my life. Fear made me want to stay here. Fear keeps me in touch with my ex. Change is scary. Change can be hard and it raises various problems, but there are problems anyway. They can’t be avoided just by staying put. It's time I started making deicsions that are not based on  fear.
Leah, the Samoyed, went home yesterday which was, to be honest, a relief. I felt like a bit of a fraud being paid to take care of her when I didn’t really do that much. I prefer dogs that like company whereas she’s happy to spend a lot of time outside or behind the sofa!
Last night was a Spice Diner Shuffle at Raymond Blanc’s Brasserie in the centre of Leeds. The food was good value for the money but not exactly French haute cuisine. I would definitely go there again though!
I am beginning to despair of the men that go to Spice. For much of the time, they seem to prefer to talk to other men rather than the women. I don’t expect them to chat ME up as I’m probably the oldest woman there, but they ignore the rest of the ladies too which is odd as practically all of them are fun, clever, well turned out, genuinely interesting and nice people.
This morning was Heydays at the West Yorkshire Playhouse where I’m attending a course called Mysteries of the Mind. It’s all a bit zen at the moment which I have to say I’m enjoying. Listening to other people’s views and take on life is fascinating.
This afternoon I’ve been catching up on some Writer Bureau work. Later, the plan is to sort out some story outlines so that I can have a go at writing some new fiction tomorrow. I’d hoped to write four new stories in January but what with all the will I move, won’t I move stuff, that hasn’t happened. If I don’t manage to write anything tomorrow, I will have no choice but to book another break in Scarborough soon. It worked before, it can work again AND I’ll get a chance to meet up with Valerie and Shirley again.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Thanks for the advice!

I forgot to say  thank you to the peope who took time to comment on the bungalow and its loft version. I will bear all your advice in mind when I speak to the solicitor tomorrow. It's very kind of you to take the trouble to help me and very much appreciated.
I also wanted to say that before my talk to the North Leeds friendship Group I'd been thinking of not doing any more talks unless they were to writers  groups, but it went so well  (I tried it without reading from notes and actually found that easier) that I have now decided to say yes if anyone else asks me. I figure the more places and groups I get to visit, the more chance of meeting somebody, be that a new female friend, or dare I say it, a man....

Living in fear

It’s been an unsettling weekend. 
Out of the blue (thanks, solicitor) I find there might be a problem with the bungalow I was buying due to the loft conversion, but I can’t find out how serious it is until tomorrow. I’ve been all over the place, going through the various options available to me. Now it basically comes down to seeing what he has to tell me. If there’s any possibility of problems in the future i.e. if I wanted to move again, then I wil have to withdraw.
I spent an hour and a half on the phone with my friend Shirley  as I desperately needed somebody to talk things over with. It was an enormous help as it helped to clear some blockages in my mind.  By the end of the call, I’d told her I would probably just stay put, have a holiday, wait a while, and then consider my options. Of course, I’ve had second thoughts (or rather third, fifth, ninety–seventh thoughts) which has led to a DECISION.
I am going to move! I’m going to say yes to the increased offer. Why this change of mind, again (sorry Shirley). Because I finally realised why I’d been thinking about saying put – fear. Pure and simple – I was scared of the upheaval. Scared to make a mistake, but to move on, you need to take risks and I need to move on.
However much work I put into this house, it will never be right for me. I love growing fruit and veg but I don’t want to spend my whole life doing it. I want to have time for some fun – music, painting, trying new things, and for that, I need to downsize to a smaller garden. All I have to figure out now is where I’m moving to. And I won’t have any idea about that until I’ve spoken to my solicitor tomorrow.
 Regarding writing, I’m back working on the next writers guide. I really need to get it done so that I can send it to Byker books to be made into an ebook. The others are selling well on Amazon and it makes sense to expand the range.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

I have no idea what to do (as usual)

My talk to North Leeds Friendship Centre went very well indeed. I was nervous beforehand (as always) but once I’d started it was fine.
I’d decided to test myself. Instead of the usual comprehensive notes, all I had was a list of headings and some pages of fillers. Doing a talk without notes actually felt easier than WITH notes as I didn’t need to keep checking where I was and could go ‘with the flow’. It’s a greta feeling when an audience responds positively. I had thought about not doing talks anymore but yesterday’s experience has changed my maind. I wont seek them out, but if any opportunities come along, I won’t turn them down.
I came home to a message from the estate agent I’m buying the bungalow through. It was too late to get back to them so  I had to wait until this morning. Apparently, and this is the first I’ve heard of it, there’s a problem with the loft conversion.
The vendor doesn’t know when it was done and doesn’t want to apply to the building regularisation people. Having looked into it on line, I can’t say I blame her.
The problem of course is that, once again, I don’t know what to do.
I’ve just browsed the web and found out that there should be a different type of velux window, one that opens fully, so that people can escape through it in case of fire. The one in the bungalow now only opens part way.
A while ago I’d decided not to move, to buy the bungalow and rent it out, then somebody made an offer to buy my house and I wavered. This morning, brilliant timing as always, they increased the offer.
I’d been talking myself into selling the house saying that due to the size of the garden it would be a hard sell and that I should take an offer if it was high enough, but I bought the house BECAUSE of the garden. It was the depression that made it so much of a burden. So what do I do now? Do I use this problem with the bungalow to withdraw? I can then buy a cheaper place to rent out, and stay here. That will give me time to figure out what the hell I’m doing with my life.
I honestly have no idea what I want. How sad is that? I can’t even talk to John as he’s out on ANOTHER date.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Thank you, Fiction Feast

Today I went to see a friend who had a part in a recent W Yorkshire playhouse Production (9 people with no experience of drama performed individual pieces written in co–operation with WYP.)  I expected to watch that, have a bite to eat and head home to crossword class. Instead it turned into something more. She wanted to pick my brain about the difference between womag and competition type stories, then we talked about he Writers Circle and what, if anything, can be done to make it less d–u–l–l. 
After that she wanted my advice about the layout of the room she writes in (don’t ask me why as I haven’t a clue). We covered all kinds of other stuff too. It was GREAT to have somebody to talk to other than John!
Last night’s quiz would have been fine IF I ever read a newspaper or watched the news but as I gave up on both of those, years ago (too miserable) I didn’t have much hope of answering questions about events of 2012. My team came 5th out of 9!
My ex’s date must have gone well as he’s making plans to see her again next week, PLUS he’s meeting another woman on Saturday. I hope he finds somebody soon as it would be good for both of us.
After seeing my friend, I was too late to go to crosswords so I spent a bit of time thinking about what I’m going to say tomorrow. 
I’m giving a talk on the life of a writer today. I haven’t been promoting my talks as it’s hard for me to get to places because I don’t drive and haven’t yet learned my way round the bus system. My plan is to work from some very brief notes and see what happens. If it works amazingly well and I get a recommendation to do more talks, then fine but if it doesn’t work well and I never get asked again, that’s fine too. I’d much rather run a workshop or talk to writers groups.
When I switched the machine back on, joy of joys I had another sale – this time to Fiction Feast. It’s a 1500 word story so that will go on at least two pages which means more money for me. 
It’s a ghost story. I write very few of those as I didn’t feel I had the knack, but after attending Stella Whitelaw’s short course at Swanwick in August, I was inspired to give them another go, so thanks, Stella.
My final task was to write a brief outline of the workshops I’m running this year for NAWG (September, at Warwick Uni see I’m doing one on writing for Woman’s Weekly and another on how to increases your chances of winning a prize in a short story competition. The festival is being rejigged and lengthened and I’m already looking forward to it.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Gareth's birthday

For my entire life I’ve had the feeling that I needed to do things right. By ‘right’ I mean pretty much perfect and we all know that’s impossible.
Today, 9th January, would have been my third husband’s 62nd birthday if he hadn’t died aged 46. I always think of him on this date. He was the one who encouraged me to study  with the OU and to start a Writers Bureau course. I could have done either of those before but I needed that little bit of a push, some encouragement if you like, somebody to believe in me.
Now I need to find a way to believe in myself otherwise I’m going to keep spinning round in circles trying to figure out what the right thing to do actually is.
I was moving here, then there, then not moving anywhere at all. Now I’m waiting to hear if the people who made an offer on the house come back with one I can accept.
If they do, then I think I WILL move after all, but don’t count on it, in fact it might be an idea if somebody starts a book and takes bets because right now, I wouldn’t like to call it.
For too many years, my relationship with my ex has been very important to me. I’ve found it hard to let go. Not because I still love him (almost every day I get the urge to throttle him!) but because when you have no family, even a bad relationship can seem attractive. The problem is I don’t know how it would be if I DID let go.
Of course I might not get to decide. He’s out meeting yet another woman from In a funny kind of way I’d love it if he found somebody else and didn’t want to know me any more as then I’d have to find a way to cope on my own.
I have Leah staying with me until next Tuesday. As dogs go, she’s no trouble but she’s not a lot of fun either. She’s not into hugs and cuddles like Lois and Woody are.
I had a chat with my friend Shirley who lives in Scarborough. She probably thinks I’m crazy now as I was trying to decide whether to move or not and making her play devil’s advocate. Talking to her was such a help. It’s just a shame she lives so far away.
Now I need to change my mood. Tonight is quiz night with Spice. The subject is 2012. I’m utterly hopeless at current affairs so whoever gets me on their team is going to be unlucky.

Monday, 7 January 2013

First sale of 2013

I’ve decided to go to Leeds Writers Circle tonight as it’s the first meeting of 2013 (Carriageworks, Millennium Square, 7.30)
 I’ll have to leave at half eight as I don’t want to leave Leah for too long. I just took Leah for the world’s shortest walk. She got to the end of the drive and that was as far as she would go. She is eleven so I can’t really blame her for wanting to take it easy.
I put on 3lbs over Xmas, and have lost it already This regime of mini fasts really works. At least it does for me. Whenever I want to lose 1lb I spend a day limiting my intake to 500 calories, and abracadabra, the pound disappears.
I sent my January sub to My Weekly today plus one to The Weekly News (they’re taking forever to turn subs round at the moment)  and rewrote another story which I’m sending back to Fiction Feast.
I also sold my first story of 2013 – to Ireland’s Own. More to follow soon, I hope.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Leah the Samoyed is here

I finished work on a rewrite of a story which I thought I might send to Womans Weekly but now it’s been changed and lost 600 words, I’m going to try sending it back to Fiction Feast. Apart from doing that, I caught up on a few odd jobs today. An ex–pupil who wanted feedback, and a current pupil who had sent me three stories to look at. I also write a short piece about ideas to go in The New Writer’s email monthly news message.
This afternoon, John came round as I needed to go and collect Leah the Samoyed whose owners are off to Egypt ( I don't drive which is one reason I find my ex so useful!). She’s a big ball of white fluffiness with a huge appetite for treats. On the way, we stopped to get more net curtains for bedroom 3 and my office. He’ll probably stay here tonight then he can take down my blinds and put up the nets in my office tomorrow morning.
His diary is getting quite full as he’s about to meet not one but two ladies he found on Hopefully he’ll still have time to help me walking Leah, and then Pip who arrives a few days after Leah goes.
Leah settled in very quickly. Last time it took 36 hours before she was barking at me – her way of asking for treats. Today it took less than 15 minutes.
The next job on my list is to find a story I can send to My Weekly as my once a month (January) submission.
It’s very strange but I’ve been changing little things round the house, nothing major or expensive, but it’s already made a big difference to the way I feel about the place. I’ve been here for three years and have only just removed the remains of the football stickers that were on the door to the small bedroom. I’m finally starting to feel as if this is MY house.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Today was OK.

I had a go at writing while still in bed, but it didn’t quite work out as the story came out a bit gloomy. That said, once it’s been left for a few days, something may come of it.
After that, I went to the shops to order some new curtains for my bedroom and a new bin, plus some new net curtains which I put up this afternoon. Now I’ve seen them up, I plan to buy some more so that I can do all the front windows the same.
I’ve been living with (very unsatisfactory, badly fitted) blinds in my office and will be glad when they’ve gone. Next I tacked some email work for The Writers Bureau, looked at some stories sent to me by one of my writing pupils and a rewrite of another story sent by somebody who entered the NAWG competition.
It was then time to take down the Christmas decs, and………
Move my desk AGAIN.
Move the furniture in the conservatory AGAIN.
I also had an idea for another in my series of writing guides which I’m pencilling down notes for as and when they occur to me and had time for a chat with Valerie, one of my two Scarborough friends.
Tomorrow Leah the Samoyed comes to stay. I’m not looking forward to it as she likes to bark and I can’t always tell what she wants. Also she likes to get up VERY early and in January, that’s not a  lot of fun (actually it’s not a lot of fun any time of the year ). Looking on the bright side though, if I’m up early, I can get more work done.
On a positive note I planted some sweet pea seeds today. It’s the first time I’ve taken an interest in the garden for months so that’s a good sign (I hope).

Friday, 4 January 2013

Normal service will be resumed shortly

Today I’m enjoying an unexpected day with Woody and Snoopy while their owners spend the day in Scarborough. I’d rather cuddle Woody than work especially as I have no idea when they will be coming back.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

What to do next

My decision not to move (at least not for a while) seems pretty much definite now. I usually know when I’ve made a decision I’m happy with as it FEELS right, so that’s one problem dealt with. The next thing I have to tackle is what to do next.
I have a few choices. I could cut back on work and only do enough to cover expenses. I could write a novel, or rather finish the one I started yonks ago, I could just write shrot stories and do a bit of teaching.
The point is I’m not sure what will make me happy.
If I could choose between an amazing book deal, fame and fortune, the works, or having a family and being loved, I know which one I’d take.
Up until now, I’ve always wanted to be the most amazing writer, with millions in the bank, and worldwide fame, but the main reason I wanted that was so that my mother would finally have to say ‘wow, well done.’
When I was writing about fish for magazines al over the world she took no interest. When I was writing stories for popular magazines, ditto. I often called and asked her to have a look at Womans Weekly, My Weekly or whatever, next time she was in Sainsburys. She never did. She’d always say she couldn’t find the magazine but I knew the truth, she hadn’t bothered to look. It was the same when I graduated from the Open University. Most mothers with only one child would order a large copy of the graduation photo. Mine ordered a 10x8 print. She didn’t even get it framed.
Whatever I did it was never enough to get her praise.  She never said she loved me, not once. I spent my hole life trying to get her approval or encouragement, or best of all some sign of affection like a thoughtful gift, or a hug. Now she’s no longer here, I still feel that same sense of inadequacy. I still feel that what ever I do will never be good enough.
Now I’m trying hard to get things straight in my head. Somehow I need to figure out where I want to go, then maybe I can plan a route to get there.
I know what I DO want and that’s to feel content most of the time and happy at least some of the time. Riches, fame success would be nice but without happiness and contentment, they are worthless.
Sorry about that, but sometimes I need to vent steam!
Today, John came round to put up a curtain pole in my bedroom for me. Before he arrived, I worked on a story for a competition. I posted it on my way to crossword classs. 
Working on a competition story  made me start thinking about what the differences are between stories for magazines and those for competitions. It’s quite a big question as much depends on the competition (the higher the prize money, the more literary the story that will win it is a very vague rule of thumb). One way I look at it goes like this – a story for a woman’s magazine is written to please thousands of readers, a story for a competition needs to catch the eye of the judge.
Tomorrow Snoopy and Woody are coming just for the day which is great but annoying as I’m having lunch out with a friend so that means I have to ask John to come round, again. My feelings for John are very mixed. At times I want to kill him and if I never saw him again, I’d be pleased but there are times when I miss having him here.
I know I should break the tie between us but then I would be completely alone. I know I have friends ‘out there’ but it’s not the same as having somebody physically here.
I don’t enjoy programmes like University Challenge when I’m on my own. It’s much more fun with somebody else here.
This is my second fast day (500 calories max) in a row so I’m feeling famished. I need to have something to eat soon so it might as well be now.
If anyone has any thoughts on what the difference is, do get in touch. My email address is

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year

Welcome 2013, I’m so glad you’re here.
I had a great day yesterday. After going to bed before midnight, I got up late on New Years Day and decided to make it another ‘Boxing Day’. I ended up doing a virtual move by which I mean making changes to all the bedrooms  so that it was like  I had actually moved.
I spent some time planning what I need to do to the house to bring it back up to scratch then got in with the ‘move.’
Bedroom 3 is now my art/music room , Bed 2 is the guest room, and Bed 1 now has a large cupboard instead of a bedside cabinet so that my books don’t keep falling off! As always, I ended up moving some pieces of furniture several times before deciding where they were going to finish up. I now have to put things away but that’s not urgent.
After I’d worn myself out, it was time for a soak, then a celebratory meal of turkey. I have a wonderful butcher near me who does the most amazing fresh turkey drumsticks with enough meat on them for three portions (greedy portions at that) which they sell for the wonderful price of £1.50.
Then some wine and some Christmas pudding, followed by my Wasgij and Miranda on TV.
Probably because I was too tired, I didn’t sleep well so at 4a.m. I carried on reading The Life of Pi. That sent me back to sleep and I finished the book when I woke this morning. I know everybody loves this book but it didn’t do a thing for me, possibly because I’m not keen on graphic scenes of animal butchery. I could say more but wouldn’t want to put anyone off reading it. I think it’s very much a matter of taste. I didn’t like it. That’s all I have to say.
Now it’s off to the shops to get paint and a curtain pole so I can start to implement those plans for doing up the house.