Channeling your inner writer.

A recent Daily Prompt got me thinking. It asked what advice I would give to new bloggers.

The biggest piece of advice I could give is don’t compare yourself to other writers. It’s intimidating when you start writing. It’s tempting to look at other people’s freshly pressed posts which seem to have hundreds of likes and want to give up.

Will I ever have that many followers? Will my posts ever get freshly pressed on WordPress? Will people like my writing? Will my posts ever go viral?

All of these things are natural to wonder. However they are not beneficial. Readers are not looking for a carbon copy of an already established writer. Rather they are looking for something that piques their interest.

When we take our eyes off our own works and compare ourselves to others we will always lose to a certain extent. It’s an indisputable fact that there will always be someone who writes better than you do (in your opinion anyway) but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try.

Ask yourself why you are writing? Are you writing for your own pleasure? To be published? To be the next bestseller?

Whilst it is good to be ambitious that alone will not be enough to sustain you.

You should write simply because you can’t not.

Yes you need a certain amount of talent but mostly you need endurance and perseverance and for want of a better word, stickability!

Make your own writing rules and stick to them. Whether that is writing so many words or pages each day or writing in the morning or evening,  whether it’s writing a daily or weekly blog post whatever it is make sure it is sustainable. I say this because the days you don’t manage to write will invariably leave you disappointed.

I’m probably going to be disagreed with here but I don’t think it’s necessarily bad to not complete a piece of writing. Yes we need to aim to finish but if we become bored and unexcited with a piece of work chances are our readers will also.

Lastly, if at all possible, try and find people who believe in you and your writing gift. It makes so much difference to be encouraged and nurtured. There will always be people who tell you to dream on, that your dreams are too big, that you’ll never amount to anything but rise above it. Often these people had their own dreams quashed and have become embittered by it.

Writing is a hugely competitive field and you may struggle to have your hand seen waving above the parapet but if you really love the art of writing then write.

It really is as simple and as difficult as that!

At night.

At night I lay awake,
A thousand thoughts cross my mind,
Unfiltered, unattractive, fear inducing.

Who am I now? Am I still me? Or is this a new me? Emerging from a chrysalis of sadness.

I want to go back to how things were. I liked my life. It was comfortable. It was mine.

Now the rules are different , now the goal posts have changed.

I don’t like it. It is like a too small garment bought in anticipation of weight loss, it is like a jumper with a scratchy label that irritates you all day.

It is not me. It is not my life. It is not cosy and warm and comfortable. It is not me.

If I wish really hard can I have my old life back?

Suzanne Rollinson (2015)

Bone tired.

Do you ever feel tired? Not just I had a bad night’s sleep tired but bone tired? Limb achingly, bone chillingly weary.

Tired of situations. Tired of every day life. Tired of miscommunications. Tired of even doing the bare minimum.

I do. I am. Tired. There’s a poem that contains the line “If ever I wished I could sleep for a year it is now”. I relate to that. I want to do that. But I can’t. Life hurtles on with demands on my time.

Get up. Make sure the kids are up. Make sure they’ve eaten. Make sure they’re ready for school and done their homework and on and on. Ad infinitum .

And I have a household to help me. Very few of these things I do alone. But still I’m tired. Tired of checking the bank account every single day. Tired of feeling guilty when we treat ourselves to a coffee. Tired of the car not being fixed. Tired of missing church. Tired of not catching up with friends.

And then there’s the guilt. I signed up for 3 online courses I was very interested in but only managed to complete 2. The third got away from me. Tired of missing the gym and eating unhealthily. Tired of feeling crap about myself.

Guilt that I haven’t started my Christmas makes yet. Guilt that I’m supplementing some Christmas gifts with charity shop buys.

I am so fed up of feeling like this. Half the time I live on auto pilot and then I feel guilty for merely playing at life.

It’s a real pickle.

However. I’m old enough to know these feelings don’t last and are more than likely due to a nasty situation coming up next week. The cold weather and the dark rainy nights all add to the gloom.

When you feel like this, give yourself a break, as I am. You’re doing the best you can, even if that’s getting up and surviving your day until bedtime.

And lastly. Remind yourself you have a comforter who sticks closer than a brother.
This is my prayer for myself and for you.


Image taken from Pinterest.

A Salutation.

This morning, on the day allocated, we paid homage to you. It was a beautiful service. Very moving, particularly the bugle sounding out The Last Post.

But when we got to the minutes silence I couldn’t help feeling cheated on your behalf. A minute. One measly minute. 60 seconds. Is that all we can spare for your sacrifice?

It seems unjust. It screams of unfairness. You laid down your lives to protect us and all we spare is a minute to remember you. It is wrong.

I know for a fact if it were my boy, my lad who had been killed in the service of his country I would be bereft. I would be weeping and wailing uncontrollably. To never see his face, see his smile, hear his voice again, I would not want to go on.

And yet that is how thousands of people feel today. Their children, or husbands and wives or other family members went to war. To fight for us, to protect our country. And they never returned.

I cannot imagine that sense of loss. Selfishly I don’t want to.

Whatever you think about war, whether you agree with it in certain cases or are a pacifist, whether you think it is a necessary evil or think there are no winners in wars, or whether you stand somewhere amongst all those options as I do the point is we owe them a debt of gratitude.

A debt of gratitude we can never repay. Because of them we are here today. We have a future. We can try to make the world a better place, without wars. Without suffering. Without displaced peoples and starving refugees.

But until then we remember you. We salute you. Thankyou.

Don’t try this at home!

Many years ago I was a college student. Known for my chattiness, my tendency to stay up late and my proclivity for procrastination. It’s not that I wasn’t capable of working hard or of getting good grades. It was just that other things seemed more appealing.

My inclination to leave my homework to the last minute possible began at the end of high school and it seemed carried on until college.

In short, I lacked discipline.

From what I recall one holiday season we were given a project to do for college and it slipped my mind. I don’t know what else I was doing instead but it wasn’t my project anyway.

About a week into the new term my fellow students began handing in their projects. Not tiny slim files but thick bulky files of what looked like copious pages of work .

My heart sank as the forgotten project came to mind. One of my classmates was kind enough to lend me her project notes as a guide so all I had to do was a similar thing in my own words.

You would have thought this scare would have been enough of a kick up the backside to get going….. But oh no.
Tetris had just come out on gameboy (told you I was old!) so my free time was taken up with that.

The night before the project was due, yes you read that right, I sat down in front of one of the only computers and started typing. I typed and typed and typed. It was a long project. It took me several hours. I think I finished it roughly 7am the next morning. To say I was tired was an understatement.

Of course it was all my own fault. I’d like to say I’ve learnt since then. That is probably the most sticky situation I’ve been in……

The war of the carrots otherwise known as eat that or else!

This week there was a mini war in our house. Diplomatic relations were strained and peace treaties in danger of being dissolved.

It started innocently enough. We were sitting at the table having a family dinner. Roast dinner had been prepared and was being eaten enthusiastically. A dozen different conversations were going on and a minor crisis over cutlery usage had already been averted.

My 10 year old daughter is a definite carnivore. I honestly think she would consume a whole pig or chicken by herself if we let her. So she had eaten the main part of her meal and was left with a few desultory carrots.
Usually I’m fairly relaxed about what the children eat but for some reason when she pushed her plate away with her vegetables unfinished I saw red.

“Eat your carrots “. ” No” came the reply. “Come on sweetie, just eat some of them for Mum”.  Cue lots of head shaking and verbal protestation that somehow resolved itself into me agreeing she could just eat 3 of the leftover carrots.

Picture the scene now. Reluctant child (who it must be said has a little reputation as somewhat of a drama Queen) loads up her fork with one of the carrots, immeasurably slowly lifts it to her mouth, takes a tiny bite and starts to gag on it.

This is where I lose my patience and accuse her of trying it on. Her eyes fill with tears as she attempts to eat the carrot again and dramatically nearly covers the table in vomit.

For some reason, perhaps because my mum is visiting us and I’m trying to demonstrate I’m a good parent, I stick to my guns and refuse to back down. She will eat those 3 carrots or stay there all evening. My mum wisely says nothing.
Now neither of us is getting our way. My husband tries to back me up and reiterates she needs to eat the blooming carrots.

She has now worked herself up into a state and we have reached carrot stalemate. We really need an unbiased delegation or the U. N to sort this one.

In the end I’m so cross I issue an unnecessary ultimatum, she eats the carrots or she goes to bed. She flies up the stairs in tears.

I look ruefully around those left at the table and murmur “well that went well…..”.

Of course like many things in the life of a parent this situation was smoothly and amicably resolved.

A few minutes later I went upstairs, pulled her on my knee, dried her tears and had a proper talk with her wherein she disclosed she doesn’t like carrots. They make her feel sick. I replied I was trying to get her to eat a healthy diet and she needed some vegetables to achieve that and we compromised by her eating a few more potatoes instead.

In hindsight things never needed to have escalated so far. I don’t feel I was wrong in trying to encourage her to eat some healthy food but I was wrong to lose my temper and make such a big deal about it.

But that I think is one of the big things you learn in life as you get older. To pick your battles.
What needs to be a big deal and what doesn’t. And obviously I’m still learning that!