When losers win.

I have always been the girl, who never does anything extraordinary. Never got nominated for anything in school. Never got a part in the school play even though drama is my forte, because I didn’t put myself forward. I didn’t raise my hand to answer questions even though I knew the answer. I didn’t stay for after school clubs in my favourite subjects because I was more interested in smoking weed and playing spin the bottle (that’s a euphemism for whatever the fuck I liked) When I didn’t know the answers I didn’t seek to learn them. I didn’t like rules and I didn’t get the right kind of attention, any attention I did get was for the wrong reasons. My attitude took a long time to change and I’m still learning from the bad decisions I’ve made, and I’ve made plenty.

When my first stint at secondary school didn’t work out and I moved on to the next one I didn’t get praise for good work, I got chastised for bad work.

When I got my one and only A in GSCE I didn’t get told well done. I got told I could of done better in other subjects, if I’d have only worked harder.

When I went to work and had time off sick because my mental health can’t always be relied upon to remain ‘normal’ enough for me to function at full capacity all of the time, I got told I would never excel in my career if I couldn’t show up. I got told to suck it up and do better.

When I got diagnosed with a physical condition I had to take a lesser paid and much lesser privileged job, because I wasn’t deemed reliable enough to do important work. Suffice to say I left that job.

So when I won this award today, it wasn’t a victory because I was awarded winner status. It wasn’t a cash prize or a holiday to the Maldives. It was just a certificate, but it was a certificate rewarding my effort.

It was a victory because I won it doing what I love (writing) and it’s a potential doorway to another realm, one where hope exists and efforts are recognised. One where I’m good enough. It was a small award for a reasonably well read blog, but one day it might be a big award for a bestselling book (never say never) and even if it’s not, it doesn’t matter, because it’s given me the confidence boost needed to pursue a passion. It was a reminder that you can do whatever you want, we have the power to change our futures if we’re willing to give things a try.

Take a chance on yourself, it might not pay off, but it’s a lovely way to learn more about where your strengths are. We can’t all be good at everything but it helps if we like what we are good at.

So my apologies for milking this day to high heaven, but for the first time in my life I feel like a winner. 🥳

Mindfulness

As a rule I’m not very good at mindfulness. I don’t practise it anywhere near as often as I should. I know it’s proven to work for millions of people and I am trying to warm to it, but I’ve always been a bit skeptical assuming it borders on hippyish and that’s just not me.

However I realise now I’m wrong and actually it can be as simple as getting outside for ten minutes a day and taking stock.

Today I sat by the river working on my novel and applying for yet more jobs. Feeling absolutely exhausted with corporate bollocks and rejection. I’ve been attending interviews like it’s my full time job and I’m starting to take the knock backs personally.

If you know me, you’ll know I take everything to heart and have a real complex around rejection. I decided instead to try and be rational. Give myself some time to take in the beauty of today. I know it sounds über cheesy and it’s not what you think. I don’t chant mantras or meditate (not that there’s anything wrong with those things, it’s just not very me) instead I just sat watching the river, listening to the running water of the weir and gave myself a bit of a pep talk. I always try and be thankful for the big and small things in my life. Like I have a roof over my head, a beautiful family, we don’t live on the bread line (even if we are always skint) and it was important for me to remind myself of these things today. I am a professional, I will find a job that suits me soon, it’s just taking longer than I anticipated but that’s ok.

Mindfulness is about being present, focusing on your surroundings and calmly accepting your feelings. So that’s what I did and I felt all the better for it! I was only sat there an hour, it gave me just enough time to write a synopsis and edit my copy to 3000 words. It was also enough time to feel like I’d had a break, got outdoors, took in the fresh air and got a bit of ‘me’ time in. The sunshine helps and maybe I wouldn’t of made the effort to be mindful if I’d been stuck indoors, but I plan to, going forward to get in a few minutes of mindfulness everyday.

Recommended reads #2

My last recommended reads proved popular and useful to some of you, so I thought, hey, I’ll do that again.

Goodreads says I’m on book 15 of my 50 books this year challenge, but that’s an out and out lie. I just haven’t added them all, think I’m definitely closer to 30. After all, I’ve just finished my second CL Taylor book this week and am about to start my third! She is KILLING IT!

If you haven’t checked her out yet you absolutely need to immediately! I read The Fear last week and loved it. The strong stand against paedophelia and the ever present link between predators and their victims was really brought to life in this book. Definitely not a light ’round the pool’ read, but then I am a thriller lover. Main character Lou is both unhinged and likeable, making it easy to follow and equally captivating.

I’ve since just finished The Missing, much like my own WIP manuscript, this book is set in my (now) home city of Bristol and that only makes it all the more relatable. A tale of a mother’s anguish as her son is missing and their family secrets are revealed. South Bristol vibes throughout, the leading protagonist could easily be your best friend, auntie, mum or neighbour. Honest and gritty, this again, not for you if you don’t like graphic realism. However if you’re a thriller fan and love the psychological pull of drama, get involved. You won’t regret it.

Prior to starting on my CL Taylor binge, and after patiently awaiting its arrival; I read Victoria Selman’s second novel Ziba Mackenzie Book Two: Nothing to Lose. I have to regretfully say it didn’t blow my mind like the first book. As often with sequels characters become predictable and I personally found Ziba particularly annoying in this book. She’s known for her quirkiness and love of abbreviations, but when she abbreviated ‘my house gets cold often’ to MHGCO I almost stopped reading. She also repeats her favourites often like BFO A.k.a Blind fucking obvious. Just a little irritating if I’m giving it an honest critique.

Whilst the storyline still has a perfect thriller ideal, it kind of gets a bit jumbled towards the end, with two huge dramas weakly intertwining. Leaving you, or in my case me (the reader) feeling a bit anti climaxed and frustrated. I think I could be at fault here as a reader too, as I just get irritated by over the top personalities (irony isn’t lost on me) but maybe when book three comes out I’ll give Ziba a final chance. Third time lucky and all that!

Whilst I’m binging books till my literary heart is content, I’ve been neglecting my own work and writer’s block is a concrete embedded chicane in my peripheral vision at the moment. I need to get back in the zone, even the blogs are some how land sliding away from the top of my to do list. So if you’re reading this, please…. send motivation.

A big thanks to one of my besties, sending me a boost this morning and a much needed kick up the ass to carry on. I now have a self imposed January 2020 deadline for finishing Book1. Watch this space.

Recommended reads

So I started a book read challenge this year. It’s to read 50 books during 2019. Considering I’m already on book 10 and it’s only February, I think I’ll be fine. I know what you’re thinking, she has too much time on her hands, right? Well some would argue yes, but I am trying to write my own novel so it’s important I read a lot for ‘research’ I also suffer terrible insomnia so most of my reading is done in the deep dark of the night when I’ve given up on tossing and turning.

Since I announced I’d started my own novel a lot of people message me about books. I’ve even got chatting to established authors and have been given some great advice and book recommendations. I’m going to list my favourites books that I’ve read this year so far and why I love them. My favourite genre is psychological thriller, but that’s not all serial killers and detectives as people very often think. It’s whatever keeps you guessing, on edge, turning pages right to the end. You know that phrase ‘couldn’t put it down’ that’s what I get from thrillers. That need to keep reading even when your eyes are struggling to stay open. The below list is not in order, it would be too difficult for me to decide on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and so I’m just going to list them in no particular order.

  • Little White Lies by Lucy Dawson – This was the first of Lucy’s books I had read and I’d come across great reviews. The reviewers weren’t lying. It was gripping. From start to finish I was constantly questioning the characters and their motives. You read this from a first person protagonist only to then start reading from a different perspective. It’s extremely well written and the storyline is believable and in parts, quite chilling. I would highly recommend!
  • The Daughter by Lucy Dawson – Again this is another great and gripping book by Lucy, written in the first person. The story begins with a mother losing her child and the events that follow are scary and also emotionally traumatic, being a mum myself I could really empathise with the main character. Another 5* ending too and one I didn’t see coming.
  • Bad Blood by Victoria Selman – This is Victoria’s first novel and introduces the larger than life character that is Ziba McKenzie, a detective profiler. Victoria has clearly done her research as throughout the book Ziba’s character was relatable and interesting, again mostly written in first person you really got to know her character right from the first page. It’s the right amount of chilling and graphic. It did keep me up a few night’s and some weird dreams followed. I have recently learned that Victoria is due to release book two in March with Ziba as the protagonist again, I’ve already got it on pre order.
  • You let me in by Lucy Clarke – I am a huge fan of Lucy and have read all of her books to date but this was definitely up there with the favourites. She manages to combine normalcy with spine chilling and this book is no exception. Any Claire McIntosh fans out there definitely need to get behind Lucy Clarke. Picture English seaside meets Bates Motel, quite brilliant in it’s own right.

Well I hope that’s enough for you to be going on with. I am currently reading ‘Behind Closed Doors‘ by Kathryn Croft. I was up until 2am desperate for just one more chapter so I hope for a hell raising conclusion. It’s my first Kathryn Croft book, but if the ending is anything like the beginning it definitely wont be my last.

My experience so far as a SAHM

Really, another mother fuck load of washing? Really? What did we do when I was at work, wear dirty clothes? Looks like we did, because I sure as shit didn’t do this much washing on the 9-5!!

Oh look a sea of crumbs, but I have literally just fucking hoovered damn it. Knock knock, it’s my neighbour at the door, telling me they are about to do some renovation works, should only last three weeks though. So whilst I’m trying to write a fucking book, I can be sure to concentrate at the sound of hammering and drilling, throw in a whiney toddler and we’re away.

Wow those tiles are grubby, no worries I’ll watch a Mrs Hinch video, then get on with it. Oh is that the time? Time to go and pick the little lady up from preschool, better get something for tea on the way home too, oh shit and I need to post that parcel, it’s that dress I paid over the odds for but am selling on eBay for $3, because, well I need a clear out, better than it going to waste….. Get home, cook tea whilst intermittently shouting at toddler, or rather getting shouted at, for not meeting her unreasonable demands. You know, like she wanted a blue cup instead of a pink one!

Fiancé walks in, serve up tea, eat tea, clear up tea, bath toddler, put toddler to bed, and COLLAPSE.

My point is, I used to look at mums that stayed at home and think they had it easy. They don’t. I used to look at their life and imagine Jeremy Kyle on repeat. I used to think they sat around, smoking fags waiting to pick their kids up. Why was I such a judgemental asshole? How did I judge people I knew nothing about? The people that are the adhesive holding their families together. Running around, cooking, cleaning, walking the dog, doing every single errand asked of them, because of course if they didn’t it would look like they really did have too much time on their hands. God forbid they sit down and actually drink a hot coffee. And when they do, on queue comes the question, what have you been doing all day?

Now let us not take away from working mums. They sure as shit have their work cut out too, and this is by NO means whatsoever, trying to belittle what those Boss Mama’s have going on. I just wanted to shout out a little to the ones that stay at home, and basically back track my earlier thoughts of them. I couldn’t of been more wrong!!!

For me, giving up my job was supposed to be a new start on the road to my writing career taking off, whilst giving me time to manage my illness and save on childcare. Of course it has it’s pro’s, I get to spend days with Ciara, and on the days I’m not with her I get to pick her up and hear all about her day first hand. I also get to make sure there aren’t any whites hidden in with the dark wash. It’s like anything, of course, pros and cons. Loads of pros, equally as many cons, but anything a mum does is HARD!! A mum’s job is a hard one. Whether you spend every waking moment with your babies, go to work all day, or sit in your pj’s watching Jeremy Kyle. When you’re doing what’s best for you, you’re doing what’s best for your kids. A happy mum is a happy kid.

What makes a writer, a good one?

What makes someone a good writer?

Is it the difference between being able to write a poem, or a book? Do you need to be able to do both in order to demonstrate capability? Or is it someone who writes only in the Queen’s English?

The answer to all the above questions are of course no. The definition of a ‘good’ writer has no bounds. It’s not determined by ‘one size fits all’ its versatile.

Much like myself. I like to write both stories, and poetry, and as you know I’m a huge fan of a blog post or 6. I started blogging mainly to document my pregnancy back some three years ago now. I know, another ‘mum’ blog – insert eye roll emoji at your will. But, in my defence I had a pretty interesting story. It wasn’t your bog standard birthing book that’s for sure. Since then, I’ve been reminded of my passion for words and literacy. My abilities aren’t superior, I don’t write in the Queen’s English (although I am a bit of a grammar nerd) but that’s not necessarily what defines my style of writing. Since studying copywriting I’ve learnt nothing, accept how ‘not’ to use her majesty’s Royal ‘we.’ Words aren’t what make a writer. The message is what maketh the writer. If you can connect with your audience, whoever that might be, then you yourself are what I like to call a good writer. Whatever your chosen writing style, and it may change along the way, whatever it is only matters to the person who’s reading it.

So when you’re filling out your CV don’t be bland and boring just because it’s formatted, connect with your reader, explain your skills and what you bring to the table with passion. The ability to sell yourself is something most people assume a writer doesn’t need. WRONG. Even introverted writers, write to connect! The message needs to be powerful, bold and from a place of passion. Whether it’s to sell holidays in the Caribbean or writing the next best seller. Know who’s reading, and talk to them, through the words on your page. I know my linked in profile is professional, but I try to link my personal and professional life in order to make me an honest candidate for any new job application. I know not everyone reading my blogs will relate, nor will they love me for them, but they’ll get to know me, because that’s who I’m selling, and it’s all done with the power of words.

Winging it

When I decided to resign from my job I was excited, full of hope at all the spare time I’d have to write. Truth is I have absolutely no spare time, there’s ALWAYS something to do at home. At work, it’s just your job that needs doing until you get home, at home all day and it’s the dishes, the washing, the dust on the skirting boards, the charity shop clothes bags, the shopping, the planning and prepping dinner from scratch etc.

How did I manage that before you ask? I didn’t.

Before, I didn’t do the shopping, well not physically anyway. Amazon pantry was my bff along with whichever super market had the best BOGOFF deals. Before, I didn’t clean the skirting boards or do the sorting for the charity shops, I just lived in a mess. So why am I doing it now? Because it does need doing, and now I don’t have a hard day’s work an as excuse as to why I’m not getting it done.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not complaining, it’s great that I have time to do all this stuff, but I have found little if no time at all to write, study, or do any of the things I said I was going to do.

When I was working, my mum did the school runs, Shaun did the washing, we ate from jars, and the shopping was delivered at a time of my choosing. But I find, rightly or wrongly, it’s expected of you to get things done if ‘You’re at home all day’ remember though, we’re still doing school run’s or looking after little people, we’re still trying (at least I am) to get some work done.

I can actually take an oath that I haven’t watch a SINGLE episode of Jeremy Kyle since leaving work. I have however, caught up on Lose Women on more than one occasion.

I really miss the social bustle of working for a large organisation and I’ve gone from feeling excited to feeling scared and at times lonely.

I want to be successful in my work, my parenting, my social groups, managing my health. I want people to believe I have it all covered from the every angle, but of course I don’t. I’m 100% winging it, with little guidance accept the online world of other mum’s who’ve followed their passions and my family and friends. The few people in my life that truly have my back, the ones that want to see me succeed are at the forefront of my mind every time I feel like quitting.

I may never succeed in my dream to write a novel, but I sure as shit won’t, if I don’t even try.

So it’s with a slight wobble I’m reminding you (and myself) to keep going. To let your creativity drive you in whatever form you find it. To keep at it because mama’s don’t quit and diva’s don’t lie down.

I will tell myself and you, everyday if I have to, that WE have got this.

And when we don’t got it, there’s always Guinness.