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Category Archives: Struggling Writers

I’m Not OK

My niece, Medusa, turned fifteen at the beginning of this month. She is a big fan of the, now defunct, band My Chemical Romance – or My Chem to those of us in the know – and one of her presents was a t-shirt bearing the above legend. It seems apposite to borrow it for the title of this post.

It’s been very quiet on Shedward lately, hasn’t it? In fact there’s only really been a drip feed of posts from me for the longest time.

For the past 18 months I have been unable to work. I tell people it’s because I fell and tore a tendon in my arm in February last year. This is true, I did fall, I did tear a tendon and despite various treatments, it’s getting more painful and debilitating but … The real reason I’m not sailing the ocean blue or trying to operate a cashdesk in the supermarket is because I am suffering from…

wait for it …

Post

Traumatic

Stress

Disorder.

(There, you said it. It wasn’t that difficult was it Lorraine?)

To me, PTSD is what the troops returning from war zones have to deal with, not middle-aged women buried in the English countryside but there you go. You live and learn. I won’t bore you with the causes or symptoms, I mention it by way of explanation for my dilatory blogging. I have got terrible writer’s block and I am now too poor to top up the data allowance on my internet dongle – hence the silence. Sorry about that. St F and I are struggling. Even food shopping is a stretch so internet time is a long way down the list. I’m only online now because I rebelled and decided I really did need to check my emails and internet banking etc. And to come here to make my excuses.

So there you have it. Writer’s are famously supposed to be tortured souls. I can vouch for the tortured bit but as to whether I’m still a writer, my jury’s out.

 

 
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Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Struggling Writers

 

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Writing at last – sort of

Just a quickie. Yes I know, you wait weeks for a post then two come along at once. Maybe I’ve had too much caffeine.

Anyway, today I handed over a book I’ve written!

A dear chap called Robbie celebrated his second birthday on Sunday but we didn’t get to see him until today when we presented him with his very own story book, written about him. I printed it off and hand-stitched it into a cardboard cover adorned with photos of our hero. He seemed pleased but was rather more taken with the chocolate buttons wrapped up with it.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in Struggling Writers

 

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Silence is Not Golden – Well Not in This Case

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s been awful quiet around here lately. I know, I know. But don’t think I’m lazy or giving up on Shedward. It’s just that (sob) my laptop is dying. Eight years we’ve been together. I’ve boosted his memory, updated his software, had him tuned up but it’s time to face facts. He’s not well at all.

My niece got a brand new, sexy purple laptop for Christmas (and her mother will be paying for it until next Christmas). It’s got Windows 8 and all sorts on it. And boy, it’s fast. I know because I’ve looked over her shoulder when she’s using it. She won’t let me borrow it. I can’t prise her sweaty palms off the damn thing. It’s not fair.

When I’m working, it would take me less than a week to earn the money for a new one but, the trouble is, I’m not working and haven’t been for a year because of a torn tendon in my arm. So I’m poor. Very bloody poor. Too poor to even think about a speedy new laptop with a webcam and a billion gigs of memory. Sigh.

Imagine a laptop that doesn’t take a day and a half to get online. Imagine a laptop that takes less than a week to boot up. Cor!

So, I just thought I’d let you know that I’m still here and I will post properly when I can get the mice inside my elderly computer to run fast enough on the wheel to power it up.

In the meantime, if anyone finds a genie, make a wish for me. I want a red one with lots of memory – touch screen optional …

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Family Life, Struggling Writers

 

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Shhhh, I Think I Can Hear My Muse.

Where the hell has he/she been?

I don’t want to raise false hope but I found the last issue of Mslexia hidden in a cupboard. I hadn’t read all of it so I settled down with a mug of coffee and my feet propped up on the dog to enjoy being inspired (or rather, desperately hoping for inspiration) and guess what? I am inspired – well, nearly. Submissions for the next issue will be set in exotic places and this reminded me of a short story I wrote a few years ago that’s set in West Africa. Mm. It’s unlikely I’ll rework it time to submit it but it got me thinking. I’m very fond of that story and I know it needs work so … I’m going to work on it! Ta Da!

Could this be the moment when Lorraine gets back to her keyboard and makes her MA worthwhile? I do hope so. Watch this space – but don’t hold your breath as you might go blue.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2013 in Struggling Writers

 

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You Just Had To Be There

You got a bit of cabin fever, I expect.’ ‘Yes, I suppose you could say that. I had the 4 – 8 watch and I found it hard going.’ ‘Did you see dolphins though?’ ‘Oh yes, there were lots and lots of dolphins.’ ‘And phosphorescence? Did you see that?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Did you see dolphins in the phosphorescence?’ ‘I did.’ ‘It’s amazing isn’t it?’ ‘It’s fantastic, they look like torpedoes and … wait a minute. How do you know all this?’ My sister, St Francis, was chatting with an acquaintance this morning. Having very recently returned from a sailing trip to Bermuda he has an evangelistic need to share his experience that all first-timers get. His wife, who didn’t go on the trip and who hasn’t been sailing in tropical waters is already full to the brim with his stories. In St Francis he sensed a kindred spirit. ‘We sailed boats down to West Africa when I was a kid,’ she answered his question. ‘Did you?’ ‘Yes. And I was in the Merchant Navy.’ ‘Were you?’ He’s only known St Francis for ten years. No reason he should have picked up such details in that short time.  

There is a picture of St Francis, windswept and tiny, on the deck of our motor boat. In front of her our mother is frozen in the act of slicing the first piece from a birthday cake. St Francis is three and she’s celebrating mid Biscay. She’s already experienced Breton women in traditional dress clucking over her. Later, in La Rochelle, she’ll see her first dead body which will drift across the harbour between us and the toy sailing boat that she got as her present. My father will cast the little yacht adrift when next we put to sea because none of us want to play with it any more.

And so on, Spain, Portugal, Morocco, Western Sahara etc., etc., until, one day, she and I will be standing in the market in Banjul, The Gambia, gazing up at a very well-built pink-eyed albino woman as she sold our mother some fly attracting mutton.

Three years later, we were living in Nigeria and two years after that we sailed another boat down to West Africa. This time via Sweden.

St Francis has had cabin fever. She’s seen flying fish, whales, dolphins, and dolphins gliding through the eerie glow of phosphorescent waters on dark nights when the coast is an unlit shadow on the horizon. She knew exactly where her friend was coming from this morning just as she understood the wide-eyed, inarticulate little girl from across the road when she returned from a trip to Kenya, a few years ago. St Francis hasn’t been to Kenya but she knows the heat, the noise, the smells of Africa. And she knows that, unless you’re talking to someone who has been there, you cannot communicate the experience. No matter how many stories you tell and no matter how many pictures you take.

Which brings me to an awkward thought – I fancy myself as a writer and if I accept the truth of what I have just written in the last paragraph …

 

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When It’s Quiet

Eric the dog was restless tonight. We spent the evening at Little Sis’s and he cavorted all over the place with the other dogs Ernie and Floyd – well Ernie anyway, Floyd isn’t much of a cavorter – but when I got him home, instead of settling down for a snooze, he paced, played and pranced. Finally I asked him if he wanted to go out. From his reaction I guessed that he did.

My back garden has no fence at the end. I can walk up some steps and out into a field where a barn owl glides low over the tussocky grass and pheasants keep a wary eye on the neighbour’s cats. As his homing instinct is unreliable, Eric must be tethered. I made him a nice long lead with my best sailor knots but my garden is small and full of obstacles so I have to hang around and untangle Eric at regular intervals. Tonight, I thought he’d pee and ask to come in again but, no, he went up the steps into the field and stood stock still. Hovering in the pool of light by the back door, I watched him. What could he smell? What could he hear out there in the undergrowth? I held my breath and listened. The air felt fresh after yesterday’s rain and it was warm enough for me to go outside barefoot in t-shirt and jeans. There was no breeze but I did pick up the rustling of small mammals scuttling through the grass. A couple of fields over a sheep bleated and another member of the flock replied.

Eric turned. He came back down into the garden and followed his nose sniffing in all the corners. He spent a while staring through the fence into next door’s garden (hoping for some entertainment from their cats, I imagine) then went back up to the field. I watched. For twenty minutes or so I sniffed the air – just like Eric. And I listened to the night – just like Eric. In the clean, country quiet, the white noise in my head subsided and for the first time in an age the fist of tension inside me eased. I felt calmed. I felt the writer in me take a breath. She’s still alive then. I don’t know if she’s out of her coma yet but those precious minutes in the garden watching my dog brought me into contact with her and I’m thrilled. I hope she wakes up soon and I hope she wakes up hungry.

We came inside shortly after that, Eric and I. Now he’s fast asleep, curled up like a puppy and snoring like a chainsaw but I forgive him. He led me into an oasis of peace out there in the dark so I owe him. Cheers, Eric.

 
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Posted by on April 17, 2013 in Musing, Struggling Writers

 

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On Solid Ground

Yes I am home but not unpacked yet. This means that the bag is sitting spilling its contents across my bedroom floor and my mind is still zipped up tight and not ready to unpack its contents yet.

Floyd is pleased to see me and has lots to tell – not least that he has been joined by a Doberman called Eric – and Rufus is in rude health but Moriarty is less than thrilled with our new lodger who has chased him around the house once or twice. Eric sleeps upstairs (My bedroom doesn’t have a door and this dog is a wanderer that needs to be contained at night.) which leaves my bed clear for Floyd. Moriarty has sussed this out and now likes to sleep across the top of my pillow. Moriarty and Floyd don’t get along either but they have reached an uneasy truce whereby Moriarty will stay calm and not hiss or unsheathe his claws as long as Floyd doesn’t make any moves towards the pillow. Let me just say that its me that’s uneasy. After all, my face is between those two …

I must say a big sorry to anyone waiting for more in the Gijon/Santander/Biscay series but as you will appreciate, it can be difficult to drive a ship and, write about it, then write about a ship you drove back in the mists of time. I will get on with it ASAP I promise.

In the meantime, I will be a good auntie and sister, I will not say Bah Humbug (Where my family can hear me) and I will do some Christmas shopping. Look, I’m smiling – honest I am.

Oh and by the way, how could I forget???? My story Ships That Pass has been published in Mslexia magazine. Mslexia is a quarterly publication that’s available by subscription (both online and in print). If you go to www.mslexia.co.uk and check out New Writing – The Affair, you’ll be able to see what the wonderful guest editor, Sarah Dunant says about my work. You will have to subscribe to read the story though, sorry.

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2012 in Family Life, Musing, Struggling Writers

 

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