Monday, 20 May 2013

More writing fun for you...

On Saturday, I was back in London, this time with a lovely bunch from the Norwich Writers Centre book club. We had been invited to attend the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize Readers Day, being hosted by the Free Word Centre, and it was an enlightening and enjoyable day to say the least.

I really wanted to share with you an exercise we were encouraged (playfully forced) to take part in, as part of a work shop by English Pen; an organisation that promotes the freedom to write, and the freedom to read.

Well you know how excited I got with Hotpenning, and how that spiralled into the Inspired Line project (which is still going on, so do jot down a sentence if you want a short story written and dedicated to you!). I'm hopeful these two little exercises will similarly inspire some creative writing from you :-)

Exercise 1 - Five little things

  1. Write 5 things that are blue
  2. Write 5 happy words
  3. Write 5 celestial words
  4. Write 5 verbs

You should end up with a list something like this:

Sky, my bag, flower, jeans, sea

Smile, jolly, beam, sunny, cheery

Red dwarf, solar, sun, twinkle, galaxy (whoops I wrote 6 words!)

Laughing, skipping, eating, munching, bouncing

5. Looking through the list, circle 1 word. Which ever jumps out at you and says circle me

6. Write a short letter to that word, its needn't take too long, perhaps 5 minutes.

Here's what I came up with:

Dear Beam,

How are you? You usual happy self, I hope. I've been stuck with sulk all day. God he does get you down. What have you been up to? Your usual madcap adventures, full of mischief?

Keep smiling, and come back soon

Lots of love

Face xxx

Well no, its certainly not literary genius, but its a good bit of fun, and it gets your pen moving, especially in times of dreaded writers block.

Exercise 2 - Poem Snippet

  1. Find a poem, any poem
  2. Pick 1 line from the poem, and write it down
  3. Write 2 further lines under it, to create a new mini poem!
I've chosen to promote a lovely little poem, by a local champion of poetry Julia Webb


Winter comes with the half-remembrance of rain
and the sudden opening out of the city
into wide white vistas of snow.
A trail of footprints through unsullied whiteness,
brings a memory of shuffling home frozen-footed
where orange street light
created pools and shallows in icy gardens
and birds had left their twiggy signatures on the tops of cars.
Tonight will freeze the city beneath a brittle crust,
skid the cars onto frozen pavements,
wind the city down to slow:
as if it’s had its mouth stuffed full of snow
or the night raised a finger to hush us,
as if the sky whispered no.

I will now proceed to write an awful little poem, just to demonstrate how not to write poetry. Sorry Julia! 

As if the sky whispered no,
I hesitated, stalled and stood
But why should my heart say go?

I hope you have fun trying them, and do let me know the results.  I'm always keen to find and encourage writing.

Good luck! X

Friday, 10 May 2013

Day 26 - The big life plan decided!

Today I decided mostly to laze about in the sun, especially given I am going home in a few days and still have lilly white legs, well that's not quite true, I have lilly white legs with gigantic swollen mozzie bites. Hmm pretty!

My mind is definitely in going home soon mode, and I've folded my clothes, done a deep clean of the studio, tidied the garden,  limited my food buying and so it all looks spic and span and ready for me to mess it up, re tidy it and leave.

And so what am I going to do when I get back? I hopefully have a little work with elements of health but not enough to live on, and of course my stall to organise and prepare for, but can I really expect bumper sales from my first ever stall? I will certainly be trying to sell all I can, but again its not going to be enough to live off.

Actually a more important question, with what purpose am I going to live my life? After all this thinking and time away have I actually thought of what it is I should do with my life? Well oddly, or not for those that know me, some of the top things that came up in my 108 things include

  • Own a Cow
  • Run a dog rescue centre (wrote it twice)
  • Own land
  • Have a little shack
  • Be self sufficient
These are all on my page of require a lot of time and effort, and so it got me thinking. If this is what I want, how can I go about getting it and to what purpose?

I have always wanted to be my own person and so it is no surprise to me, that I want to run my own business and own land. In the case of land there is just something wonderful about the thought of walking across your own land, owning the soil beneath your feet, or just sitting in the middle of a field and knowing that every blade of grass you can see is yours, and yours to protect. When I was young I used to dream about running through meadows, long grass, in MY Field, no one else there.

I met an uncle once, a distant one on my dads side of the family. He had a small farm, my aunt had homemade fruit cake in a tin, and they had a small veggie patch with rows of strawberry plants and a pen for the geese, and these fields. Rolling land, really steep, not overly practical but there's. I only met them once, but that memory is so vivid, even with my sieve like brain. When I heard they had sold it I was sad, they seemed to have everything. It was small but perfectly formed. My greatest aspiration.

But its not enough to just buy a square of land and plonk a cow on it, it wouldn't work. The cow would get lonely (despite my constant wittering) and how would I cover her food and shelter in winter - build a shack and let her live inside with me? Can't imagine Mark is going to say yes to that, although they did it in the middle ages and still do in Bangladesh and other places. But that's not really the point. I can't just have land, a shack and a cow. There has to be a purpose, otherwise it's just consumption. Having things foe the sake of having them.

So what if it's a rare breed cow, and she has a few rare breed friends? And the shack is used for educating people on sustainable living and saving rare breeds? And it's as self sufficient as it can be.. what then? Does that make it any less a daft idea?  Is this what I should do with my life? It ticks a lot of my boxes, and it really doesn't seem as daft as it should. Now I know Mark is going to be screaming Nooo! And praying no one gives me encouragement,  but its a thought and its nested, and my posters tell me that everything is possible given enough time and enough effort.

So, cows...rare breeds, fields, growing stuff, running a small holding?  I know nothing about any of this, up till now it's always been a dream, I've only ever patted a cow, and received the occasional kiss. Still I have wellies, some local cows, the farmers number, and numerous others I could approach if the first says no. Markles, I'd like to find out if I really could be a farmer. Expect mud, cow tales, early rising, lots of frustration, and a slow grind towards a realisation,  one way or another as to whether this is madness or a creeping sanity finally awoken.

You are no doubt hoping this is just another daft Maria idea, a fly by night. Perhaps it will be, but who know the gestation period of an idea?

I will of course continue my writing as this could equally be a valid purpose, and it too makes me very happy. Just expect a slightly bigger cow focus along with the Erna and Snail stories. Ha, I've got myself a farm right there.

Right onwards with reading...any books you can recommend?  Cow weekly perhaps? 

Oh wait, I still don't know how I'm going to fund all this...erm Sainsburys do you need a shelf stacker?

Thursday, 9 May 2013

One eyebrow or Two for Debbie Reed

Into double figures and I couldn't for the life of me remember your eldests name. So sorry! Do tell me and I can change it :-) Hope you like it.

I'm only wearing one eyebrow today said Debbie, I'm sick of all this yummy mummy stereotyping. Damn it I will prove you can look good regardless!

In an instant it was gone, and in front of the mirror stood a mini Picasso. If symmetry is beauty then Debbie was hell bent on changing that view.

Her eldest son gave her a look of pure horror, 'no mum, seriously no you can't. All my friends are going to be there and they have only just stopped teasing me about your 'hip' one rolled up trouser leg stunt. Can you not just, not embarrass me for one day!"

He stormed off, crashing up the stairs, slamming his door shut, wishing it would for once fall off its hinges. God knows it had been slammed enough.

"It's not all about YOU! " hollered Debbie up the stairs

She had done it on a whim, a spare wax strip, a slightly unpreened eyebrow, and suddenly into her mind had flashed Sheila. Stupid Sheila, all boobs and no brain. She still had her model looks and was easily the best eye candy for every dad at parents evening, the school gates or what ever other reason they could think of to hang about on the off chance of a quick glimpse. Why were men so stupid? Why did they always go after the dumb blond with big boobs?

Looking back in the mirror Debbie flinched. Hmm maybe we have eyebrows for a reason? Maybe it would look better if I got rid of both? Maybe symmetry is better? Still why shouldn't she do these things, push the boundaries, make people think about what true beauty really meant?  If she'd had daughters would they have understood her better?

Probably not. After all they would still have been teenagers.  Surely it's a teenagers job to be mortified by every little thing their mum does or says? And god don't ever try to show them affection in public, their every fibre screams at them to kick you. Only the really good kids resist the temptation.

"O.k. I will do you a deal" her son stood in the doorway hiding something behind his back. "In return for going to that awful ladies lunch thing on Saturday, that you know I would rather be dead than attend, why don't you wear this?"

"A scarf? Yeh fine, its mine, I like it"

"Cool, just say you've got cancer, but not breast cancer, I don't want them talking about your boobs. Say its liver or something."

"What!" Debbie stood jaw gaping "You want me to pretend I've got cancer? What sort of sick person do you think I am?" She was fuming

"I told you, a liver patient..." he was trying to be funny but quickly thought better of it.

"Not on your nelly! I brought you up better than that. We are going to this football match and I'm wearing one eyebrow whether you like it or not. You shouldn't be so precious, they are only silly young boys, probably not half as silly as you can be!". Debbie threw the scarf on the sofa, and grabbed her bag, car keys and water bottle in a single swift movement that only mums truly perfect.

Trudging very slowly after her, Adam grumbled to himself, 'Great, those silly young boys will be kicking the shit out of me later!". Why did he have to have his mum for a mum? None of the other mums were so bloody odd and so purposely trying to ruin their sons life!

As soon as they arrived Adam scarpered as far as possible away from her. His friends had done much the same with their parents and so two distinct groups had inevitably formed. The youngsters on the pitch and the old folk hovering on the side lines.

"Why all the fire engines?"  Said Debbie to Gail, Percy's mum

"Did he not tell you? Its a charity match,  raising money for fire safety or something. Anyway plenty of dishy firemen wandering about. What happened to your eyebrow?"

"Oh god! No, oh...I had an accident..hard to explain." Debbie desperately tugged on her hair. "Is it obvious?"

"Er...not so much..." said Gail, her face betraying her

"Of all the days!" Debbie was cursing Adam, and cursing herself more.

Stuff the moralled principles, even a fool knows two eyebrows are better than one at pulling Firemen!

The End

Day 25- 5 strawberries = become a farmer!

Pebbles pebbles pebbles! I went pebble hunting again and naughty me couldn't resist doing just a few more, this time featuring snail.

Other than that, lots of reading, some work for Elements of Health, laundry, studio cleaning,  a trip to the market (where the ceramicist bowl lady had gorgeous new things and jokingly replied 'no worries we take card' when I said I had no money left) and rather excitingly writing and sending design proofs off for my website. It is coming along a treat!

The only majorly exciting news was that my new strawberry plant, which I planted last week, has 5 baby strawberries on it! This to me is sufficient proof that I can grow things and thus should seriously consider becoming a farmer. What could possibly go wrong?

And so sums up my day, sorry its not more exciting. I will start gallivanting again at the weekend. See what mischief I can get up to.

Bye bye xxx

Writer and Farmer of 5 strawberries

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Day 24 - erm what luggage allowance...

Hmm I know the day is looming when I am going to have to pack my luggage up. Yep only 6 day's I am back in the Sunny UK. Now at the time I was rather chuffed with myself for cramming a months worth of maria life into 1 piece of hand luggage (thus saving me £30 to put a bag in the hold - the same price as my plane ticket!). However typical me has been buying random things including a ropey carrot toy for Jasper (shh don't tell him its a surprise!), two ceramic bowls and a leather jacket. I've also made 28 cards and 50 envelopes,  so you can begin to visualise my looming problem. So what do I decide to do today?

I went pebble fishing. Yep, took a big bag and walked the coastal path looking for small roundish pebbles. I found an isolated tiny bay, almost broke my neck scrabbling down the rocks to get to it, and went paddling sure in the knowledge that the best pebbles would be in the water. Guess what I found? Well yes, lots of pebbles but what else?

A snail diving group! Loads of them out learning, clinging to the rocks, slightly nervous of being so deep (the water was mid calf on me). I got talking to Maurice, he had been in the navy, spent his whole life diving and knew these rocks like the back of his shell. He had set up his own diving school back in 1982, and loved teaching his new recruits the ropes.

"None of that cumbersome diving equipment you see humans using, us snails are naturals, its just a matter of confidence. Knowing we are just as much a part of the water as we are the land".

He was so knowledgeable, and obviously very popular with his newbies. They were soon all happily settling onto the pebble sea bed and enjoying the experience. Maurice pointed out some great pebbles and I carefully navigated the water, being sure to avoid the numerous snails and scary sea weed clumps with my clumsy feet.

Heavy bag in tow I came home and spent the afternoon painting Erna pebbles to sell at the fair. I'm rather pleased with them and have done 28. However that does mean I've got 28 rather heavy pebbles to find a space for. Hmm, looks like I'm going to be wearing all my clothes on the plane home :-)

Oh also I contacted two magazines I subscribe to on the off chance they would be interested in featuring the 'Inspired Line' project. Its a long shot but you never know unless you ask.

Hope you have had a good day. See you soon xxx

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Day 23 - It's like being at school again

It really is like being back at school, today I:
  • Wrote a story for my mum
  • Coloured in 50 envelopes with pretty pictures to match my 28 cards (will make more cards)
  • Went to shop to buy card (failed)
  • Ate pizza for dinner
  • Wrote a letter to my sister
  • Coloured in bits of paper and glued them on to old paper carrier bag to make 3 posters
Yes it does indeed sound like I've reverted back to my 8 year old self :-)

In actual fact it was all very grown up, honest!

The Inspired Line Project reached its 10th story! Yay! Though I only have 2 sentences left now so expect a begging message very soon. The envelope designing for my business venture are a delight to make, especially when sat out in the sun, although I've now ran out of card and can't find any of a high enough quality so will have to wait until I come home. I can't believe there is only 1 week left, wow time has flown!

I had hand written a very personal letter to my sister linked to my '108 things I want to do' list, and was thrilled to get a reply today, even if it did make me blub a little. I'm feeling very close to her now :-)

And the coloured paper and glue? Well do you remember how I had chopped my 108 things into individual slips of paper and then split them into four groups (me, business,  actions and family)? Well today I got my highlighters out. Yes despite only packing hand luggage for a months trip I still managed to pack highlighters, glue and my colouring crayons - I'm an over organised kid really. Anyway I assigned the four groups a colour, coloured them in, and then split all 108 things into 3 categories
  1. Things I can do straight away
  2. Things I could do with a little effort
  3. Things that need a bit more planning
Thus there is a inherent timescale and  effort requirement across the 3 groups. I then glued them on to an old paper carrier bag I had chopped up, with a rough priority I should achieve it. Most important at the top, less urgent at the bottom. The 1 thing that was out of my control I decided to bin, along with 1 duplicate. Thus my motivational posters now say 'everything is possible given enough time and enough effort' :-)

And on that note, sweet dreams and happy living!


Organised people are just to lazy to look for things - for Theresa Price

This my 10th story and I have much been looking forward to writing it. Hope you like it mum!

"Organised people are just to lazy to look for things. Yes of course we would rather have you believe it is because our scrupulous lives are so hectic that we wouldn't possibly waste a second of it 'find things', but actually its just plain laziness".

Theresa was sat, champagne in one hand, gesticulating her thoughts with the other. The other girls sat amused listening to her theories. There was a good mix amongst them. Sarah was the polar opposite to Theresa,  she had a phone, a wallet (no not a purse) and a vague idea that the day would likely involve doing something at some time or other. Maria was more similar, always a pen and paper, lists galore and diaries and calenders for everything, anything to make up for her naturally scatty and forgetful brain. And Bryany, well, she was a healthy balance of all three, not organised to the point of being annul but generally in the right place at the right time.

This was a typical girly lunch, starting with salad, ending with champagne and chocolate cake. Well hell you only live once, the bubbles would persuade them. Today's witterings were focused round Theresa's recent appraisal and unsurprising promotion. Modest as ever she had slipped it quietly into the conversation, and now the bubbles were flowing, she was off and jabbering away to her hearts content.

"I mean, why would you NOT do what ever is possible to secure an extra 5 minutes in bed? Why else do you think I sort my outfit, do the lunches,  check through the diary, and all those little things? It's so Brian can bring me my tea and breakfast in bed and I can have an extra 5 minutes peace and quiet before the madness begins."

"Yeh but you could just go to bed earlier the night before and it wouldn't make much difference would it?"quipped Sarah

"Can't Brain do the lunches?" said Bryany

"Well yes he could but they always end up soggy, god knows what he does to them, and do you know, one day he made me a tomato ketchup sandwich. Nothing else just tomato ketchup! I mean who would even think to do such a thing? Plus mornings are more sacred than evenings, I value them more."

Theresa wasn't backing down. She never did when she knew she was right. Maria just sat nodding, it all made complete sense to her. She ticked them off her daily checklist along with brush teeth and apply night cream, every night without fail.

Sarah shrugged and gulped down her champers. "Just making work for yourself if you ask me".

"Well no, your just a different type of lazy. You're so lazy you don't even think about how you could be more lazy." mocked Theresa

"Ha, well what can I say, I'm a natural born expert", laughed Sarah

The girls giggled. Regardless of wise words and copious champagne,  none of them would change. They were far to set in their ways.

'Ding' went a phone. They all scurried into their handbags, well except Sarah who just glanced at hers on the table.

"Ah mine" said Theresa "must dash, I'm meant to be meeting Brian at 3, no rest for the wicked! "

" Yes, I'm afraid I'm going to have to run too, I'm booked up till 8. Same time next week?" said Maria poised with pencil and diary.

"Yes, my diaries clear" said Theresa scribbling into hers

"Yeh sure" said Bryany, making a mental note

"Hm alright" said Sarah just sitting. Both Theresa and Maria would text her on the day anyway. You see really lazy people just delegate.

The End