Winter seems to be finally coming to an end, so new projects are now in the works. A good friend gave me Scrivener for Christmas, so I'll be using this for new writing work this year.
Happy New Year everyone. Here's a photo of sunrise I took this morning. A new day, a new month and a new year.
Here's to a happy, healthy, fantastic 2013 for us all.
This is one of over a hundred photos recently sent to me by my great-aunt. She was having a clear out and came upon a box of photos that date back to the 1920s. My Dad and I have had a wonderful time looking through them and trying to work out who's who in each image. Now we've got most photos labelled (but not this one; this man is still a mystery to us!) I'm about to start compiling them into a coherent book for members of my family.
It's proving to be an interesting task. Many of the people in the photos are long-gone, and many of them I never knew. Still, looking at photos of my ancestors I can recognise a hint of a facial expression or body language that I know well.
I've never been hugely interested in researching my family tree but exploring this collection of old photos has been intriguing and is proving to be an enjoyable project.
After 18 months of work I am about to embark upon a new phase of my professional life. I'm in the process of setting up a second website and at the moment I'm caught up with the myriad of details needed to put forward a successful brand. I spent much of this morning wrestling with a business card website (although I finally got what I wanted!) and now it's on to website building and paperwork design.
This new venture also marks a return to the old: after countless weeks away from writing I'm finally getting the time back that will allow me to play in new worlds and create once more. Expect news about my Steampunk book very soon.
Being self-employed is a challenge. There's no-one standing over me to tell me what to do; no guaranteed salary at the end of the month; no pile of work landing on my desk. Instead I have to go out and find my own work, my own way. It's hard but I enjoy it and it keeps me developing professionally, mentally and creatively in ways I neever
This is going to be a rant, so please feel free to click away from this page.
OK. You have been warned...here goes.
I think the Olympic Ideal taps into the very best of humanity. The very best athletes from every country on Earth competing, under truce, to aspire to be the very best they can be. The spectacle of the opening and closing ceremonies, where the host country showcases the very best of their culture and welcomes the whole world to watch, participate and enjoy.
I've followed the Olympics ever since I was young, and was really happy to visit Much Wenlock, a small town in the middle of England that was the birthplace of the modern Olympic movement. I've been lucky enough to visit Olympic parks in Canada and Europe and have found them fascinating, wonderful places.
London 2012 seems different. Almost every week I've read a news report about people being bullied in the name of the Olympics; whether by authority, by the myriad of laws rushed in to protect 'the brand' of the Olympics and limit free speech, or directly, under the excuse of 'anti terrorism laws' or 'protecting our corporate sponsors'. Any hopes I had of going into the lottery to buy tickets went out the window as I heard about the anti-aircraft missiles being installed around the park, the airport-style security I'd have to endure to go in, the removal of Mastercard-enabled ATMs in the park (not an official sponsor), the prohibition on food & drink not sold by the official sponsors...the list goes on.
Hubby & I saw the Olympic torch go by today, and for any other Olympics I would have been thrilled to go out and participate in the fun. But, as I said, this Olympics has been different. I've seen independent shop windows swathed in Coca Cola advertisements, promotions for various junk foods tethering themselves to the Olympics to give credibility to their sugary, salt-laden concoctions. And I've just seen the Olympic Torch Jamboree (TM) go by the end of my road (from the comfort of my house). Around a dozen police bikes and huge floats for Coca Cola, Samsung and Lloyds TSB driving along the road to gee up the crowds before the solitary runner carrying the torch goes by.
So far the London Paralympics doesn't seem to have been poisoned in the same way. I think I'll watch that event instead.
There are hundreds of guides to writing online. Every time I log into various sites I'm confronted with lists of '100 ways to make your characters more interesting', '20 ways to move along the action in your story' and so on. There's a bewildering amount of advice out there.
I'm as guilty as anyone of reposting these links, or even of coming up with my own list, but I'm finding myself drawn more and more towards images for inspiration, rather than huge pages of text. Images spark my imagination and the process of unpacking an image can lead my characters and events in ways that I would never have imagined.
My Writing Prompts Of The Day project was the first step on what I am now recognising as being a different journey for my writing, that of interacting with images to spark my creativity. My friend Nancy Norbeck is an advocate for the SoulCollage® process and both of us have found Pinterest to be a useful tool.
Writing rules have their place. 'Show, don't tell' should be written above every writer's desk, but drowning in guidelines for this and rules for that can stifle creativity and trigger the dreaded writer's block.
Try using imagery. It can be really freeing.
This evening I joined Pinterest. It looks like a good way of organising images that inspire me that I discover when surfing around the internet.
For now I have four 'boards': Cool Stuff, Inspiration, Landscapes and Steampunk. Feel free to come over and say hello.
Life is teaching me a lot about perseverence at the moment. I've had some setbacks in several areas of my life and I'm having to loop back to the start on a few projects and take another run at them. This is as frustrating as heck for me, Little-Miss-Gets-Everything-First-Time. It sucks. But I have no choice.
I'm learning that sometimes skills *don't* come easily to me. Sometimes it's more than a case of 'try it, do my best and succeed'. Sometimes it's a case of 'try it, do my best, fail, struggle, practise harder, take another go and I have a *chance* of succeeding'. It's a tough lesson to learn, but I know that it's a valuable one.
It's at times like this that friends and loving family members really become precious. It's all to easy to take your support network for granted, but when life kicks you down, it's those people who help you get back up again. I've been incredibly lucky to have friends both old and new help me in this way, plus, of course, some wonderful family members. Becoming vulnerable is really hard, and letting others see that vulnerability is even harder.
I've been in that position in various arenas of my life recently, and having that help offered has meant everything to me. Accepting the assistance can frustrate me - I want to do it all on my own, dangit - but I know I need to learn the lesson of accepting that help, and, in the long run, I know it will make me stronger.
As for those setbacks? Well, I'm letting my friends and family help me up, I'm dusting myself down and I'm moving forward. I'll surmount those barriers sooner or later. Until it happens, I'll just keep trying...
I've posted a lot of links on my Twitter feed over the last few months and thought it would be handy if I compiled a list of the best writing links here as a resource list.
A huge list of colours at Wikipedia
20 ways to kill writers' block
7 blogging mistakes authors make
131 steps to writing a novel
Creativity prompts and pointers
Write or die
I've been collecting these links for a few months now and thought it would be handy to have them all in one place. I hope people find them useful.
The Society of Indexers
Centrepieces from The Indexer on complex indexing issues
European Commission name check resource
An introduction to embedded indexing
An introduction to CUP-XML
Freelance UK - a freelance resource database
8 things you should include in your terms-of-service agreement as a freelancer
A freelancer's guide to claiming late invoice payments
Bartleby.com - a research resource
Ordinance Survey - guide to UK place names
University of B.C. online indexing resources list
Getty Research Institute language tools
Library of Congress authorities
A writer's perspective on indexing