Writing fiction as a way to move forwards.

Last week I shared a bit about the writing course that led to me writing my short story, Aftershock.

Today I thought I'd share a bit about what it was about, and the process of writing it.

I had planned to write it slowly, leaving myself lots of editing time and really making use of the month or so we were given.

In fact, I wrote most of it in one sitting, on a single afternoon when I most definitely should have been doing other things. The words just kept coming and I didn't want to cut them off.

I based my story on something that had actually happened to me, as one of the things recommended on the course was that it could be easier to get inside a character or situation if it was something you knew and understood.

I share a lot on this blog and I'm incredibly open about my journey with anxiety and depression, but one of the big things I haven't spoken about was something that happened to me in October 2016, when I was living and working in London.

It happened right i…

Hello, May 2018

The last couple of months feel like they've lasted approximately one week each, maximum.

April was absolutely packed, and I'm hoping the pace might slow a little this month in terms of running here, there and everywhere in order to focus on hitting some goals.

I've not yet made any definite action steps towards my goal of getting back on a plane this year, so we need to look at some dates and a plan for that, and the keyboard hasn't exactly been a focus yet, either!

I also had one of my biggest business months yet in April, so have some even bigger goals for May.

We are back into the swing of things at the theatre group, now rehearsing for our July show which is a comedy and the group of young people in it have grasped the concept with both hands and are running with it, it's very encouraging and exciting.

There are some lovely friends coming to visit this month which I'm really looking forward to, and I'm also properly back into the swing of making working…

My short story is in an anthology

In Autumn 2017, I took myself out of my comfort zone and joined a creative writing class.

As a result of that course, I've got a short story printed in a real life book.

How on earth did that happen?

About six months ago I was flicking through the local paper and something drew my eye to the tiniest little article. It was a good few pages in, only a couple of paragraphs long and with no attached image. It said that Cheshire West and Chester Council had received Arts Council Grants for the Arts funding to run four workshops for adults across their libraries.

There was a contact phone number, and one was to take place at Storyhouse (a.k.a. one of my favourite places in Chester).

Usually I'd spot things like this and either ignore them or file them away for later and then be too late or never get around to taking action.

For some reason, this day was different and I just picked up the phone.

A couple of weeks later, I sat at a table with about 15 other people, of all ages and bac…

The Reading List #52

It's time for my next round-up of mini reviews...

This time, a life upgrade, money talk, a trip to Kenya and a twist on a classic fairytale.

Leopard at the Door, Jennifer McVeigh

18 year-old Rachel has returned home to Kenya after six years at an English boarding school. Her father's new lover has moved onto the farm and times are changing. Outside the farm, rumours are growing of violence between Mau Mau freedom fighters and British soldiers.

I absolutely loved this novel. I love using fiction as a way to explore places and situations I know little or nothing about and I felt completely immersed in this world. It was a pleasure to read, with amazing characters and made me gasp out loud in places. The historical note at the end was also well worth a read, and I was shocked at the examples given of the power of the media and media perspective.

Money: Master the Game, Tony Robbins

I'm a huge Tony Robbins fan, and the focus of this book is pretty obvious from the title. It'…

Learning to go with the flow

'Going with the flow' has never been one of my strengths. As I've got older, that talent got even smaller. I like control, I like set timings and I like knowing what's going on.

There's plenty of times where that's an asset. I'm on time for things, I don't miss meetings and appointments and I usually get things done.

However, it can become incredibly restrictive and put a huge amount of pressure both on myself and on those I'm spending my time with.

I'd insist on knowing the exact schedule of a day and then a tiny shift in those plans (whether or not it was controllable or not) would send me into a panic or get me very frustrated.

It's something I've wanted to change for a long time, and recently I've found it's sort of happening by accident. I guess it must be related to me feeling less anxious overall and feeling less uptight about everything.

I'm more comfortable arriving on time, or five minutes early. I'm more confid…

A few days away.

My brain still does some odd things as I approach a trip away. It's one of the leftover things I still need to deal with when it comes to anticipation with my anxiety, and the confusion between excitement and nerves.

Before I go away, such as for the Leeds and York trip a couple of weeks ago, I get so excited but also have a knot of nerves in my stomach.

It used to be that I was nervous about the journey, what I could eat, breaking routine, not knowing where I was... thankfully those things are no longer the primary things playing on my mind.

However, I get this strange sensation of the trip being some kind of deadline.

In the days leading up to leaving, I feel an intense pressure to tick off every single job on my to do list, including the things that are much longer term goals.

There's a sense of 'running out of time', even though a few days later I'll be back to my normal routine and can continue working on the longer term projects.

It's as if a part of me t…

Mixtape, Royal Exchange Theatre's Young Company

It's a return guest visit on the blog today - my dad's been to another amazing show and couldn't resist sharing his review. Read on for the tale of a wonderful night at The Royal Exchange.
Mixtape ‘It’s theatre in the round, Jim, but not as we know it’
I’m a big fan of The Royal Exchange, Manchester and well used to sitting in a circle, with the players directly in front of me. But last night I was encircled by the cast, rather than the other way around. Because last night I went to see Mixtape – a new musical created and performed by the Young Company of this awesome theatre. The Young Company has just won Stage School of the Year 2018 and it’s not hard to see why. It includes a range of young people, from 14 to 25 who all collaborated to produce what was an exceptional show.
I use the word show because the overall experience of last night is quite difficult to define. We entered the arena and it felt like we’d gained admission to a nightclub. Cast members were already in att…