Lost, Found, and Rambling On About Nonsense – Just A Normal Day Then

It we were having coffee, well firstly, let me apologise for my absence. As you have probably realised, I’m not great at maintaining a regular blogging schedule so my attendance at the Weekend Coffee Shares has been somewhat spotty over the last few months. *Ahem* Let me change that to non-existent. I’ve decided to stop saying ‘but I’m back and this time it’s going to be different, I’m going to post on a schedule, build up a reserve of posts to use on the days where I don’t want to write.’ I’ve said it before and it’s never worked so instead I’m going to say this.

I’ve been relatively good this week. Let’s wait until Monday to see about next week.

Apart from my lacking of blogging I’ve had a productive start to 2017. Yesterday I got an email confirming that I’d passed my Accountant Technicians Diploma with distinction, Shadow Dawn is at 61,943 words and growing, and I’ve got some plans lined up for April that I’m feeling pretty excited about. What plans you ask?  Well let me tell you.

As some of you will already know, April is host to two massive writing events. NaPoWriMo [National Poetry Writing Month] and Camp NaNoWriMo [Sister to NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month in November]. This year I’m going to do both.

logo-napowrimoCamp-2017-Participant-Twitter-HeaderYes that’s right. I’m insane enough to think I can write 30 poems in 30 days and do Camp NaNoWriMo.

As the plan stands at the moment, I’m hoping to finish the current draft of Shadow Dawn by the end of March so that I can switch my focus from that story to Solitary Creatures instead. The target is 40,000 words for April, spread over three or four separate stories that all take place around Edwin and Sammy. Doing NaPoWriMo at the same time means that I should also have a daily post for all of April without having to use my Solitary Creatures stuff. That will go up in May instead.

See! Planning. It will all go horribly wrong but the effort is there.

On the plus side, unlike NaNoWriMo, I have completed NaPoWriMo before. You can find all my poems from April 2016 right here on Writing and Works in the drop down beneath poetry. Or you can just click… here. The NaPoWriMo site provides a new prompt everyday and they’re a sign up page where you can find all the participating sites.

It’s a really fun project and a really fun month. If you like poetry then I would highly recommend it.

On another note, I’ve started to notice that when I go back through older posts on this site, (and my older I mean three-six months old), I’m finding bits of flash fiction I’d forgotten I’d wrote. I’m trying to work out a way of bringing some of the older stuff back up to the tip without having to re-blog it constantly. However, I think that might be a conundrum for another day.

On a more exciting turn of events, during the time while I was away from my blog, Writing and Works hit a couple of milestones. We hit 50,000 total views and 20,000 total visitors. I know it doesn’t sound like much compared to the bigger blogs, but it made me happy to see those numbers on my insights screen.

Anywho, enough about me. Let me know how your weeks, years have been going so far. Any plans for April or beyond? Let me know in the comments below. I always love hearing from the people reading my blog, which reminds me! Before I go. About June time I’m thinking about starting up another round of Guest Posts, these ones focusing on writing prompts and creative inspiration. If you think this might be something you’re interested in then give me a shout!

Hope you all enjoyed my little ramble, thanks for reading.

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Fake It Till You Make It – Not Letting Nerves Destroy You

When I get nervous I feel physically sick. This weight drops in my stomach, the back of my neck begins to prickle, and I feel like I want to leap out of my own skin. Sometimes I get to the point where I feel like I might start vibrating on the spot there’s so much nervous energy whirling around inside me. That’s how I feel every time I start to think about finishing my book and starting to look for literary agents. When the chance to submit to a poetry competition crosses my desk. When I ask someone to pass an opinion on my writing.

Nerves are just something that I’ve had to learn to live with.

As I’ve got older I’ve managed to reign them in a bit. The first two days of secondary school were hell mostly because of my nerves, and the way that they made me feel like I was about to puke my guts up at any second. These days I’m able to remind myself that it’s okay to be nervous, but it’s not okay to let those things get in the way of what I want to do. It doesn’t always work, but I’m great at pretending I’m confident in situations where I’m actually scared witless. Have you heard of the phrase ‘fake it till you make it?’ Well that is something of a moto for me. Fake like you know it until you do. Fake like you’re a kick-arse, no bullshit taking, cool as chips chick until I am.

I don’t know if it always comes across that way, but I try.

Writing is one of the areas in my life where I’ve learnt that they can be no room for my nerves. If they’re the thing holding me back from hitting publish then I should click that little blue button all the harder. If they’re telling me that I might not be good enough to enter that poetry competition then I should be trying to prove them wrong. If they want to freeze up at the idea I might actually finish this novel within the month then open that laptop and get writing!

If my nerves are holding me back then I’ve got to fight all the harder and go for it because I do not want to be kicking myself fifty years down the line wishing I’d taken more risks when I had the chance.

It doesn’t always work. The first time I went to judo a few months ago I froze in the doorway and almost turned around to head back to the car. That sick feeling, the prickles, I had it all and stepping into the room seemed impossible. I made myself though. It was one of the reasons I decided to take judo up. It was something I’d never done and something I knew I’d find hard to get myself to do at first. It involved new people, a new sport, a new environment. Three things that set off every alarm possible in my head. But once the first session was over and I walked out of there, I felt good about myself. I felt proud that the nerves hadn’t conquered me.

That one incident didn’t cure me. The idea of doing a grading is still enough to bring all those lovely symptoms rushing back, but I’m hoping I’ll get there in the end. The people I do judo with are lovely and supportive, and the coach is such a friendly guy that I don’t worry about looking like an idiot in front of him.

My nerves are something I battle on almost a daily basis, but I’m learning ways to push past the fear and do things that I’m finding I love.

It’s not easy. It’s downright difficult and exhausting at time.

But it’s worth it.

So very, very worth it.

 

#IWD – What It Means To Me

Until five minutes ago I had no idea that tomorrow was International Women’s Day. I knew that the day existed, but it has existed on the periphery of my consciousnesses and I haven’t paid it as much attention as I should have done. Especially as being a woman impacts on pretty much everything I do.

Take for instance my ten year plan. Please ignore the tea stains and the ripped edges, this is very much an ‘under construction’ version of plan.


Ten Year Plan – Commencing June 2015 [Graduation]

  1. Get a Job. [Tick! Working as an Accounts Assistant.]
  2. Finish my AAT Level Two Accountancy Qualification. [Tick. I decided to do this to help with my job and to add another string to my bow so to speak.]
  3. Buy a house. [Tick. The boyfriend and I did this last June.]
  4. Finish my book Shadow Dawn. [62,000 words in and going well.]
  5. Get and agent and a publisher. Publish book.
  6. Get married June 23rd 2018. [No. 5 and No. 6 overlap timewise.]
  7. Try to make enough money as a writer to work at that full time.
  8. Maybe do the ACCA qualification to become an fully fledged Accountant.
  9. Have first child by 25/26? [Before I’m 30. Let’s go with that.]

Having children is number nine on my list not because it’s the least important thing for me to do, but because it’s perhaps the most important thing to me. I’ve never had any doubt that I would be a mum at some point, and it’s one of the things that I’ve built my life plan. But equally, I want to be successful in my career to the point where I can say ‘Yeah. I’m awesome at what I do and I’ve achieved my goals.’

Recently there’s been a flurry of articles, videos and stories about empowered women owning the business world and I love seeing that, but I’ve watched my mother proving that women can be formidable in business since I was a child. You just have to watch her battling it out at the side of the auction ring at Leek Market to see that she can stand toe-to-toe with any man when it comes to getting what she wants.

As a result both my sister and I have always tried to take every opportunity we are given and make the absolute most out of it. At the moment my sister is studying Mechanical Engineering at Southampton and is building robots that can follow paths laid out for them and pick up objects. Something that my great gran told her she couldn’t do because only men were engineers. Her goals?


Jo’s Goals

  1. Work for as a mechanical engineer for a Formula One team
  2. Own a Ferrari/really fast sports car that her sister can’t remember the name of
  3. Be awesome. [Already achieving this to a much higher degree than her sister]

 

npg_catharinemacauNo doubt she has loads more on her list, but my point is she aims for the highest point she can see and doesn’t stop working until she makes it happen.

That is what’s International Women’s Day is to me. A reminder that I don’t have to settle and that the only limits on me are the ones I set myself.

During my history degree I loved finding those women that turned their noses up at the assumption that men were the ones in charge and proved themselves just as clever and inventive.

Catherine Macaulay, who I’ve written about on this blog, was one of those women. She carved out a reputation as a respected historian and intellectual, despite living in an age where academic educations were not considered important for women.

Throughout time we can find example of women proving themselves to be fierce, intelligent and powerful. Take for instance the women’s marches that took place recently. Whether you agree with them or not, they reminded me of the same dignity and ferocity that you see when researching the suffragette movements.

There are times when I bemoan my body. I poke at the bits that I don’t like, fall out with the mirror when my skin misbehaves, and sometimes even wish I was someone else. But in truth, I wouldn’t ever want to be anyone else. I love my body, I love me, I love being a woman.

I can have it all if I want. I just need to work hard enough.

 


Thank you for reading. If you have a moment, tell me about your goals? Are there any crazy dreams that you’re chasing despite the odds being against you? I’d love to hear in the comments below. Let me know, what does IWD mean to you?

This post was kicked off by Today’s Daily Prompt: Ruminate

Giggle Fit : End Of Week One – Staying Motivated

I’m starting to remember why I’ve never achieved any sort of peak of physical fitness. This me-gymexercise malarkey is hard! Instead of looking like the beautiful, graceful people in the stock photos, I’m red faced and falling over in my living room. I swear that I used to be able to stand on one leg easy. These days, well let’s just say that my head and the mantelpiece almost made an acquaintance that I’m very glad they avoided.

Yes, that’s me in the photo, looking like all the blood has decided that my face, my entire face, is the place to hang out these

In my defence, tonight was the first night I’ve been back to the gym since October and I managed to run 5k in 37:38. There may have been some patched were I was walking, and my feet now look like a treasure trail of blisters, but this is one of the fastest times that I’ve done 5k in. The fact that I took my inhaler before going to the gym meant that I didn’t dissolve into a wheezing mess six minutes into the run.

Looks like an inhaler won’t solve my red face issue however.

As well as being the first day back at the gym for 2017, today also marked a full week of getting up and doing seven minutes of yoga every morning with the app Asana Rebel. I haven’t met all of my yoga goals. I did want to try and do a little bit each night, but in the end this seems like an unreasonable goal so I’m focusing on five minutes every morning, and seeing what I can manage in the evening.

The app itself is fantastic and I’m in love with the five minute daily goals. These are the ones that I do each morning and I always feel better after I’ve completed them. Granted, this morning I was a little distracted by my own lack of balance for most of the exercises, but I’ve seen a remarkable improvement in that over the last week. Granted. I’m still like Bambi wearing roller-skates on ice, but some of the exercises are getting easier and seeing that so early on is really pushing me to keep going.

The explosion of confetti when you complete the first exercise of the day also helps but that probably says more about me than the app.

I bought the app for £29.99 and that covers the first year. It’s actually on the cheaper end of the fitness app scales as far as I’ve seen and offers just as much as anything else.

You get an email with meal ideas, and asides from the daily goal, there are more intensive programmes which you can follow of the course of 4/8/12 weeks, or one off workouts that you can pick depending on how you feel. ‘Yoga For Runners’, ‘Fatburn Yoga’, ‘Flow Yoga For Relaxation’. They vary in time and intensity, but I haven’t seen one longer than thirty minutes. This means there isn’t anything to stop you picking a few and having a go at them all within an hour and a half.

I’ll admit that I haven’t been as rigorous with my schedule as I planned to be. I decided to avoid is putting to much pressure on myself. I know that if I do that and I fail, I’ll fall into a pit of self-depreciation and will loose all motivation altogether. I’m also aware that I’m just getting back into fitness, and if I try to pile my plate too high at the start, I’ll end up stalling half way through. It’s better to pace myself and build up slowly.

This is why I’m not beating myself up about being a couple of days behind on the thirty day app challenge. Today I was meant to do 45 sit ups, 30 crunches, 30 leg raises and a 35 second plank and the idea of it makes me want to puke right now. I’m already aware that doing 5k straight off the bat was probably pushing myself to far and all I want to do is collapse into bed.

Tomorrow night is the first night back at Judo and Thursday is likely to be another night at the gym. I’m going to aim for three nights a week at the gym and on Thursday I’m planning on cutting the run down to 3k and doing a circuit of the weights to keep things varied.

[I also left the gym tonight thinking about how I basically paid someone to let me run on the spot for half an hour before going home.]

Last week’s posts got some lovely comments from fellow bloggers who offered their advice on staying motivated, so thank you o Cansu Ashley and Where Are We for the lovely tips.

Until next week, happy reading!

 

New Year, New Posts, Same Old Me

If we were having coffee, well firstly I would have to apologise for the mess. We’ve got the builders in downstairs putting a roof on the sun roof [which now has an RSJ in it at last!] and the fiancee is busy ripping up floors and carpets upstairs to try and find the end of a cable so we can plum in new light fittings. It turns out that all the electrics for the sun room ran off a single extension-chord so we’ve got to sort those out as well.

So, as you can guess, the house is a bit upside down. Things are moving fast though. Building work started on Monday, the old roof is that pile of scrap on the decking, the new roof is going on as I type this, and by the end of next week we’re looking at being done.

My house will be functional once again, and more importantly, no part of it will be structurally sound. Cue mini-happy parade.

Aside from the obvious structural improvements to the house, 2017 is already shaping up to be a year for positive changes.

This week I started a new weekly feature for the blog, something a little outside of the normal scope for Writing and Works. The series is called Giggle Fit, which is something of an in joke between my fiancee and I. Part One went up on Tuesday and Part Two goes up next Tuesday.

I’ve decided that I’m going to be better about working out at home. Of course this week has been somewhat off-putting. Nothing like trying to do yoga while all you can think about is the building dust beneath your hands and knees, but I’ve managed a workout each morning since Tuesday so I’m pretty chuffed with myself.

Writing wise, this week has been relatively productive. I haven’t been able to get myself back to Shadow Dawn yet, but I’m hoping that this afternoon will change that. I have four writing goals for today:

  • Write a post for the Weekend Coffee Share
  • Finish Part IV of Solitary Creatures [mostly written just needs tweaking]
  • Complete Chapter Twenty-One of Shadow Dawn
  • Schedule the post for the Poetry Anthologia Part VI.

I’ve got quite a list of writing tasks that need sorting out but those are the three I’m most keen to get sorted today.

While I haven’t worked on Shadow Dawn as much as I would have liked, this last week has produced a lot of poetry, some of it a little more racy than normal. I managed to write a new poem for each weekday, and on Thursday I even wrote two:

Summer Girl and Midnight are the two that ended up being somewhat steamy, Midnight more so than Summer Girl.

Overall I feel like I’ve moving into the new year with a more positive, and motivated outlook. You can change for the better at any time of the year, but 2016 was a year that was tainted with loss for me. With my Great-Grandmother’s death at the close of 2015, and the death of a close friend in August, the year was one of grief. 2017 hasn’t made those emotions vanish, but it does feel like a new chapter has started and I can move forward a little better.

That doesn’t mean 2016 was a complete loss of course. I made great headway on my novel, and I grew as a writer. The end of the year also gave me a chance to look back at my blog and see how things have progressed since I started it. Looking at my posting schedule, [which was non-existent] I can see why my stats suffered. For a few weeks I would post daily and then there would be nothing for two months, and then another flood of work. Therefore a resolution for the new year is to come up with a posting schedule that allows for dips in creativity and protects me from having large gaps between posts.

If you would like to have a look at some of my favourite bits from the last couple of years you can find them on my post Going Through The Highlights.

I’m afraid that’s all I’ve got to say this week. As always I’d love to hear how you lovely readers have been? Did you New Years go well? Did you make any resolutions or do you chose to avoid them?

Let me know in the comments below.

Happy New Year to everyone, and all the best for 2017.

weekendcoffeeshare