All Time Favourites – The Final Weekly Photo Challenge


It is difficult to choose my all time favourites for the final weekly photo challenge but here are a few of the photos I treasure for various reasons; happy memories, lovely holidays, and just because…   I hope you enjoy them.

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The view from Wiseman’s Bridge towards Saundersfoot, Pembrokeshire, West Wales

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The Azure Window on the island of Gozo, it fell into the sea following a storm last year. Feel privileged to have seen it.

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This is the ship ‘Vasa’ – it sank on it’s maiden voyage in 1628, in  the harbour in Stockholm, it was raised over 330 years later and is now in the Vasa Musuem in Stockholm.

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Peonies, my most favourite flower

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This pearl monument is sited at the entrance to the Dhow Harbour in Doha, Qatar.

Garden in the Bay

These are some of the super ‘trees’ that form part of the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore.

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The ‘why’ is the easy bit, the ‘what’ a little harder to understand


I have been following the recent WordPress challenge ‘Writing 101’ – you note that I say ‘following’ –  it should actually read ‘participating  in’ but I confess I have only added two posts instead of the intended post every day. (Sorry WP staffers, I fell by the wayside).

At the start, I really wanted to take part and answer the prompts with well thought out posts and if I can’t manage to get a post out there every day, what the heck am I doing joining up in the first place? But in my defence I also have a full-time job and the husband you will read about later. So a point for good intentions at least?

This started me thinking about blogging, why I do it and what I am hoping to achieve. The why is easy, I want to write, I have things to say,  having a blog is a way of getting my work and my thoughts out there, the second question I find harder to answer.

I started my blog exactly five years ago this weekend.  I had been thinking about retirement as my husband had taken early retirement and wanted me to do the same.  I had read reports in the press of the increasing numbers of people approaching retirement age, who wanted to carry on working, in some cases they just had to.  I wasn’t ready to retire then and I’m not now, but I thought that I would share my thoughts on my blog.  So my first post went out there ‘Some thoughts on retirement’.

I  thought it was a reasonably interesting subject and looked forward to a response from the blogosphere, but zilch – zero – nought – nix – nothing.

I was disappointed, realising  that I cared more than I thought I would about the fact no-one had read my blog. I thought about this ‘rejection’ for a while, then reasoned that obviously there must be a lot of other bloggers on WordPress discussing more interesting things than retirement. (Yes, I was that naive)

I carried on blogging.  But it wasn’t until towards the end of the year that one kind person clicked the ‘like’ button, and it was well into 2010 before my blog started receiving a few regular visitors. I analysed the posts and found that when I followed a photography challenge for instance, I had lots of visitors, but my normal posts carried on receiving little attention.

Undaunted, I carried on with a mix of photo challenges and ordinary posts.  Late summer of 2012 I was invited to join the Friday Fictioneers group.  I read a few of the posts submitted by some of the other writers and felt very dubious about attempting to join them. Their writing was of a very high standard – in my opinion it still is – and the idea of writing 100 words inspired by a photo prompt was huge a challenge, something I had never attempted before.

I took a deep breath, then submitted my first post ‘Shrouded‘. I was amazed by the almost instant feedback from the group. They were very welcoming, supportive and kind to a newcomer. When I faltered they urged me to continue, their criticism was always constructive and their support invaluable. Nowadays, we still share our stories but consider each other more as friends and the comments certainly reflect that – illnesses, family problems, travel plans have all been mentioned and shared.

Since joining the group two years ago, the visitors to my blog have increased, mainly through the other writers as we comment on each others’ stories, but also from new followers, who have found something they like and have stayed. And I thank them sincerely.

I’m delighted when someone leaves a comment, I enjoy responding and then reading and commenting on their work.  It’s a bit like building a pyramid, thankfully it hasn’t taken as long as the ones at Giza!

When I read the stats in a Daily Post, about the number of bloggers using WordPress – like several million – and the number of posts published each and every day – several more million –  I am doubly grateful that my posts have attracted any readers at all.  I am also pleased that my work is not just disappearing into the ether, nor am I talking to myself.

So, what do I hope to achieve? I think the answer has to be to just enjoy doing what I like doing, not worry too much that it’s not perfect, or going to set the world on fire. After all we can’t all be racehorses, there have to be some plodders farther down the field!

 

 

Writerly Reflections


I realised years ago that I wanted to write.  My first attempts at short stories ran to three handwritten pages or so, and I would make my sister sit and listen, along with an audience of soft toys and dolls. She got quite bored with my tales of princesses lost in woods and toys that would come alive at night when their owners were fast asleep.

I moved on to bigger projects when I was about nine or so.  I announced that I was writing a play entitled “The Little Bull” and would be happy to let my parents read it when it was finished, which I confidently announced would be in a week or so.

A few weeks later, after losing my way with the plot, I threw away all the pages I had written and started again.  The play would still be about the little bull, an antique milk jug spotted in the window of a little shop in town, but this time I had a definite idea how the play would end. I made the mistake of mentioning the play to my teacher who got very excited and asked me every day how things were going, until I handed in the finished pages.

I must be honest here and say that I did expect some modest praise for my efforts.  My parents told me how good they though the play was and thought perhaps the school may want to put in on at the end of term. My teacher had other ideas.

She gave me what I am sure she thought was a fair critique of my play; at nine years old you are not ready for talks about directions, or voice, or sense of place or even a timeline. She lost me.

I didn’t attempt to write anything for a long time.  Then in the last year in high school, the English teacher mentioned a short story competition and urged as many of us as possible to ‘give it a go’.  I wrote furiously about a girl who finds some letters written to her grandmother years before she was married, obviously from a lover.

It was all going beautifully, until the boy from the local bank asked me out on a date. I had fantasised over him for months …

Over the next few years, I married (not the banker)  – moved to Scotland – moved back – had a child– got divorced and wrote nothing.  Years rolled by and still I wrote nothing, although I was sure that I could write something.  Sometime.  Perhaps.

I read everything I could find about writing and successful writers; about skill with words and plot, about voice, a sense of place and dedication to their craft.  I joined a creative writing class a few years ago, with eight other women and two men.  Towards the end of the first term, Arthur who wanted to write a book about fishing, disappeared.  He never returned to the class.  Tristan our tutor, ‘who had been published’, tried in vain to find out what had happened to him. Tony, now the only male in our class, decided to put this strange happening to good use and wrote a short story about ‘The Disappearance of Arthur.’ It did nothing to shed any light in Arthur’s disappearance.

I stayed the course and received my fair share of honest criticism and some praise too I might add, but found the experience stifling.  Although I enjoyed our discussions about Hemingway, Carter, Chekov et al, and no doubt gained a lot more than I thought I had, when the class decided to move on to studying poetry the following year I decided not to join them. I made some good friends and we keep in touch.  None of them has as yet finished the novel they began in the classroom, but they are all convinced that they will finish them one day.  And I wish them well.

Since starting my blog I have met lots of good writers. I look forward to reading their posts and stories.  I’ve found that a lot are waiting for that phone call or email from an agent telling them The Good News, whilst others are happy just to write when they can and entertain the people who follow them.

I find that life has a habit of interfering with my writing, perhaps that’s as it should be; perhaps all other writers and bloggers experience the same thing and I am not just as organised as they. I would like to write more and do find it frustrating when I can’t. I read most all of the Daily Post hints and tips on blogging, feeling that I am missing that vital key to unlock the blogosphere.

Perhaps I am thinking too much about the why and should just get on and write.  Perhaps as Hemingway put it:

‘We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.’

ERNEST HEMINGWAY, New York Journal-American, Jul. 11, 1961

 

Rewritten for Weekly Writing Challenge: Writerly Reflections.

 

The Best


‘When and where do you do your best thinking? In the bathroom? While running? Just before bed, or first thing in the morning? On the bus? Why do you think that is?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us THE BEST.’

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Be single-minded as you set off on your quest

Ensure you are aware of all the choices

Seek out all the different themes and genres

Then confidently reveal to us your BEST

 

BEST – the most excellent of a particular group; most suitable, advantageous, desirable, attractive etc., the superlative of good – (didn’t know that)

 

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/daily-prompt-best/

 

 

Sharing my writing journey


Last year, at an age when most of my contemporaries were retiring from work or at least thinking about it, I decided to join a creative writing class at a local university. The creative writing modules I enrolled in are part of an MA degree course, I haven’t  decided whether I want a degree, but I do know that I love writing.

I have written lots of things, since my first effort at writing a play when I was seven. The play was entitled “The Little White Bull” and was about a small china bull that a little girl saw in a second-hand shop, whilst out shopping with her grandmother.  She saw the bull “move” and although her grandmother didn’t believe her, she let the child think that she did in order to find out what would happen.

 I wrote until I wasn’t sure where to go next. I knew I should end the play but was unsure how to do that.  I couldn’t ask for help as  I had not told anyone and anyway the play was going to be a Christmas surprise for my teacher, Miss Fawcett. The script was put in a drawer in my dressing table while I thought about an ending, and somehow in all the Christmas excitement, I forgot all about it.  It lay undisturbed until we moved house a few years later and it was then thrown away. I had other interests now!

 

I was apprehensive as I went to my first class. Passing young students on various stairways all laughing and talking together, I became acutely aware that I was old enough to be their grandmother.  What was I doing here? Then one stopped to ask me directions.  He was very polite and friendly and when I had to admit that I too was new here and about to start my first class, he flashed a brilliant smile and said “Good for you, well done.”  I reached my classroom on a cloud of happiness and reassurance. (to be continued on my Writing Page…)