The List Writer

So in a moment of madness, I decided to have a go at Vlogging!

I am a list writer. Over the last few weeks, I’ve received one or two negative comments about my list and actions plans. But I’ve decided that they are part of who I am. Everyone has their own writing process, in fact, I sometimes find that different projects need different approaches. And it’s easy to worry that perhaps you are not using the right approach – but instead I’ve decided to celebrate the way I do things.

Also, I made what I now think may have been a rash decision. I’ve decided to stop using Nutella for emotional support.

On the up side, it was a fun way to connect to my tech fan youngest daughter during the holidays!

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Fat and Running

Fact: I’m fat.
Fact: I run.
I started running not because I wanted to lose weight but help combat the depression. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE)recommends that people with mild to moderate depression take part in about three sessions a week, lasting about 45 minutes to one hour, over 10 to 14 weeks. But if you want to get the chemicals you need to battle the blues, you need to break into a sweat.
Despite all the advertisements claiming that you can go from couch to 5k in 12 weeks, I knew that was an unrealistic goal. So with the help of a trainer called Alec, we set out on a twice-weekly programme. For the first few weeks, we walked a lot and ran a little. It took twelve months, but now I run 5k twice a week. I haven’t lost a lot of weight, but I haven’t dieted.
But my mood has improved. When I do hit a bump in the road, I recover faster. I’m fitter, and a few other health problems have improved.
So here are a few points should you decide to get your trainers on and go for a run.
Start small and make yourself some realistic goals to get back into shape.
If you are a fat woman and running alone there is a chance you may hear, ‘who ate all the pies,’ or ‘fatty.’ Ignore it. If you can look in the car, you may be surprised at how fat the driver is! Don’t pay any attention, if they knew then pain you had to run through they may hesitate. But people who hurl abuse aren’t the sort who can walk a mile in someone else’s trainers.
Which brings me to the point of trainers, you need a decent, but not massively expensive pair. After all, if you keep it up, you’ll have to replace them often.
Fat makes running harder, but not impossible. A good sports bra is an incredible asset.
Over the last few years, I have tried everything to keep the depression in check, and this has hands down been the most successful.

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Photo Phobia

I’ve been working as a professional storyteller in Hampshire since 2008. Over the last few years, I have been getting regular bookings, and I have already a few events booked for September, which gives me a lovely warm and fuzzy feeling. But I’m aware that I have changed my storytelling website for years.

It’s a difficult decision to make when your original system is getting results. But with a sad heart, I’ve decided that my Charlotte Comley Storyteller site news some love, and I’m also aware that I seem to have developed a fault. One minute it’s working and the next time you follow the link you get a message saying the site is under construction, so frustrating!

http://www.charlottecomleystoryteller.co.uk/AboutMe.htm

The only thing I’m nervous about is that it is also time to have a new headshot. It amazes me how some people can just smile at the camera and come away with the perfect shot. And others, well me, feel I need a lot of soft focus.

If I’m honest, the reason while I’ve waited so long in updating the site is the publicity shot.

We hates it.

 

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Five ways to find time to write during school holidays.

IMG_2648It’s the school holidays – yeah!

Love them or hate them, if you have school aged kids you can’t avoid the six-week stretch. I love the kind of parent I am during the holidays. The tension lifts. The constant need to check on homework status, remembering signed forms, and packed lunches disappear.

For the last few years, I have been privileged enough to be able to work from home, which means, that even if I’m juggling and distracted – I am around. Many writers’ friends are stressed at the thought of losing their few precious writing hours when their kids are at home. Now my kids are teens I would say ‘be kind to yourself.’ It’s six weeks, and as children get older, they may learn to understand your need to have a laptop on their knee or pen and paper in their hands and will give you that time. In fact, you may find that they need their own quiet time to work on their projects.

But if you can’t face the summer without a creative fix there are a few things you can do.

  1. Sign your kids up for an activity in a place which as a café. That way while you kids have a go archery, you can write a few words with coffee.
  2. When my kids were younger, I would walk them. In fact, my dear friend Raymond often asked if I had children or dogs. Long walk around the park. Picnic. Another walk around the park. Then home, early bath, pj’s Disney film, and while the kids watch Belle, I enjoyed a bit of novel planning.
  3. Play dates. The theory is that you have a friend’s child round to play at your house, and then they have yours. Watch out, I’ve had my fingers burnt. Lots of friend coming here and no invites back. In fact, my youngest daughter is 14 and on Tuesday she had eight, yes EIGHT, friends round to make a Youtube video. The problem is if you have several children of different ages. Still, I know some who swear by it.
  4. Get the kids writing too! This one was a success for me. For the last few years, each summer has started with the kids starting their novels. Then you can all write together quietly. Top tip, give them your smart phone and get them to ask Siri.
  5. Use this time for plotting. Just jot down your ideas, and don’t worry about getting all the words down.

 

I didn’t get much done when my kids were small, and I did find it frustrating. But hang in their writers with young kids, your time will return.

 

 

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A little thought about time.

I never seem to have enough time; I always want to cram more into my day. But my dog, Watson, a rather difficult West Highland Terrier has his personal schedule.

Humans value time about as much as we value money, but rarely stop to think that both of these things only exist because we agree they do. The natural world does not run on my strict schedule, but according to the natural rhythms and cues of the planet. There is no rushing an animal, well Watson, to do anything they aren’t ready to do. Watson will go on a walk when he wants to, come back to me only when he’s finished sniffing the last message and sleeps when he’s tired.

So, if we value time so much why do we waste it, feel guilty about it and expect everything to be done in a shorter time than actually possible?

We think we should get everything the moment we need it. I’m reading Looking for Alaska, and this quote just jumped out at me.

 

“What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”

― John Green, Looking for Alaska

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Writers embrace your jealousy!

So you’re melting in the heat, thinking about your to-do list, and a friend turns up and tells you she’s just signed a three book deal.

How do you feel?  Pleased, yes of course, next a massive wave of jealousy followed by a brief wave of self-doubt. My advice, chocolate! It’s not just good for a dementors attack.

This scenerio not an uncommon phenomenon in my life. In the writing community, I have often been the bridesmaid, but never the bride. I am fond of an American Comedy called The Middle; my favourite character is Sue Heck. She tries and fails, but that doesn’t stop her putting all her effort into every project. If you are a person who gives your best, you understand why jealousy is fleeting. I’ve never regretted putting all my effort into a project, and if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted, you know you gave it a shot. Strangely, I have often found that unexpected opportunities are the reward.

And when confronted with someone else’s success at nine in the morning, when you know you’re doing your best on your projects you discover that jealousy is a GOOD thing. I remember being told jealousy becomes problematic when we act out in jealousy, or we wallow in it. I admitted my feelings, ate some chocolate, had a cup of tea and then pulled out my latest to do list with a critical eye. By 12:30 all negative feelings had gone and like Baldrick ‘I had a plan.’ In fact, I had lots of plans. One of which is to blog more regularly *waves hello*.

Imagine if J.K. Rowling had said to herself, “J.R.R. Tolkien already wrote a whole bunch of wizard-y books, years ago, and he’s a much better writer than me. He already has masses of adoring fans. I have none. Jill Murphy set her school for witches in a boarding school; I’ll better not do the same. 12 publishers have rejected my manuscript for Harry Potter. I’ll just quit now.”

We need to take the fear and negativity out of the word JEALOUSY and focus on the power it has to motivate, inspire and act as a call to action.  There is no faster or clearer tool for showing you exactly what you want. When you feel jealous of someone that is a clear indication that something missing in your life that has yet to be fulfilled.

Take a moment to look at your achievements; you tend to forget your moments of awesomeness when feeling jealous. Already I’m feeling less like a failure.

Next look at any limitations you have, lack of cash, time or energy. Is there any way round these problems?

What is it that I think I’m missing? Write it done and then work on an action plan. Now I’m feeling motivated. So be like a dog, live in the moment!

The people you feel envious of are people who are getting things done and working hard. I dislike the attitude that they have been given something you haven’t. If my mate turned up and told me that someone had given her an enormous wad of cash for doing nothing – I can understand the logic. But all writers know the work that goes into writing the novel. Instead of associating their success with things they’ve been given that you haven’t, associate it with a level of work, drive and talent.  Next, throw yourself into your action plan.

 

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Portsmouth Plugged In

Portsmouth Festivities’ 2016, the theme was Electricity, and for ten days the city celebrated Arts, Culture and Heritage. This year was a special event because my idea was in the programme, Portsmouth Plugged In, a collaboratIMG_3473ion between writers and filmmakers.

It was the first time I have ran a creative project of such size, eleven writers used film footage as a writing prompt and then produced monologues which were performed and filmed. You may want to check some of them out.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aptl2TWtMi8

I thought it would be useful to write list of some of the things I have taken away from working on a project of this size.

  • Procrastination does not work. After assimilating the relevant information, decisions need to be made. Wrong decisions can be salvaged, if discovered early; but right decisions cannot be postponed.
  • When things go wrong, know who you can turn to for help.
  • The success of a project is largely dependent on the skills and strengths of the people involved. Therefore, a project needs to have a dedicated, talented set of individuals working towards a common goal. I was extremely lucky to have a fabulous team around me. http://www.portsmouthpluggedin.uk/our-team/
  • Some people are difficult, but most are fabulous, don’t sit in difficult peoples shadows.
  • Celebrate – things may not have turned out the way I imagined when I put the concept together, but I was extremely proud of the finished project.
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Tessa Ditner Literature’s Marmite

Guest speaker Tessa Ditner, Contributing Editor for Skin Two Magazine, gave a workshop on writing erotic fiction at The Writers at Lovedean on Friday. I’ve never written erotic fiction, in fact, I haven’t even written much in the romance genre, so I was a tad apprehensive.

Tessa handed out some examples of badly written sex scenes.  The range of euphemisms from mangos to red hot lava left the group giggling or cringing. It was a fabulous ice breaker. Once I bravely overcame the giggles, we got down to the real work of the morning. I’m not sure why I was surprised to find that badly written sex scenes are the same as badly written fiction. Common problems include losing the characters voice. If the characters start to use words during a sex scene that they – well, wouldn’t, it jars. Bad dialogue, too many clichés are other common problems.

Next we had an interesting discussion about bad sex compared to badly written sex scenes. I have to say I was unaware of the difference. We looked at some erotic fiction already on the market, a few examples of Skin Two and the latex scene.

This all led up to the moment I was nervous about…writing a sex scene. But, with the help and encouragement from Tessa, I went for it. Alas, I wasn’t brave enough to read mine at the session, but it was extremely empowering to have a go. And I have to say, reading my rushed attempted before blogging, I was not displeased with the result.

Will I rush off and start writing erotic fiction? No.

But I don’t think I will be as apprehensive about having a go in future.

I hope Tessa come to the group again.

IMG_3139

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Literature’s Marmite: Why we all need to master writing erotic scenes.

I’m excited to annouce that Tessa Ditner will be teaching a writing workshop on;

4th March

10 am

The Writers at Lovedean

Lovedean Village Hall
6A Lovedean Lane
Lovedean
WATERLOOVILLE
Hampshire
PO8 9ST

£4.50

http://www.thewriterslovedean.co.uk/

Tessa Ditner spent many years working at Skin Two Magazine, selecting erotic stories and photography, while complementing her knowledge of the literature with Erotic Bookclub readings and discussions.

In this workshop she will introduce you to iconic erotic scenes vs. Bad Sex Award worthy writing. Then we will do erotic writing exercises including: using the everyday vs the outlandish for world building, erotica as a tool for revealing characterisation, and introducing a wild card into your plot.

Your writing from this workshop might slot into a larger body of your writing in any genre, could inspire a non-fiction erotica project, be turned into a short story in its own right, or why not be a belated Valentine gift to a loved one.

Further reading:
No prior knowledge of erotic literature is required, just bring a pen and paper! In case you would like to read some of the books that will be mentioned in the workshop, here are few fun ones:
House of Holes by Nicholas Baker
My Secret Garden by Nancy Friday
Venus in Furs by Sacher-Masoch

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Valentine’s Day Massacre

Valentine’s Day Massacre

Sunday 14th February

The Wave Maiden

36 Osborne Road

Southsea

6pm

£6 pounds entry.

 

It is fast approaching my first spoken word event of the year. I admit I’m nervous. Which some might find surprising, afterall I am a professional storyteller and between Easter and October, I’m usually booked. Except that is mainly children events.

It was only when Will Sutton sent out an email that I realised I will be standing up, performing before or after, some pretty awesome writers. Maggie Sawkins, you know from Zones of Avoidance, you may have read about it in The Guardian? Diana Bretherick, who’s just, finished her second book. Zella Compton children’s author and script writer.

So no pressure.

And I will be standing up with my silly fun piece that I wrote for my hubby in the hopes of making him laugh. He’s currently training hard for a bodybuilding show and occasionally needs a no carb day, which we all understand to be a depressingly difficult thing to do. Especially since my man loves himself a thick slice of bread…

Nerves, and second thoughts don’t you just love them?

But it’s all for a good cause, Portsmouth Bookfest.

http://www.portsmouthbookfest.co.uk/2014-programme/

I do hope that you can come along.

 

 

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