Giving Thanks for the Good Days

Digital image of snowdropsIt’s easy to let the doubts, the dark days and anxieties live in the front of your head.  Some days they seem so much stronger than the positive things in our lives.  The last three days have been really good and I’ve decided to celebrate them; to actively appreciate them in the hope that, by doing so, I will remember this feeling when the grim comes knocking again.

On Friday I worked two different jobs.  In the morning I led a workshop at a large local library.  The session was entitled Kickstart Your Creative Writing and I had a lovely group of seven learners.  It’s not intended to be a ‘how to’ course, more an opportunity to try different types of writing prompts and talk about creative writing as a process.  To share ideas, get a little inspiration and have fun with writing – something that so many people have had beaten out of them through their work or school lives.  The feedback at the end of the session as very positive and I felt that the learners enjoyed themselves as much as I did.  For me, though, there was an added bonus.  I realised that I actually know a lot about writing.

Now, maybe that shouldn’t have come as a surprise.  In the four or five years since I started to take my writing seriously I have undertaken a masters course in writing for children, attended dozens of talks by authors, illustrators, publishers, editors and agents, been part of several writing and critique groups and been involved with several writers festivals.  However, I still think of myself as someone who is a beginner on their writing journey – an enthusiastic amateur rather than a professional.  That changed on Friday morning.  Here were people who were at an earlier stage in their writing – most of them didn’t even know what sort of writing the were hoping to do – and they were asking me questions.  They trusted that not only would I give them answers and suggestions, but that they would be good and accurate.  And, for the most part, I found I could do that.  When I didn’t know for sure I was still able to signpost them to organisations, books, magazines and web sites where they could get the help the wanted.

Friday afternoon was the same – but very different.  This time I was working as a library assistant at a smaller library that plays an active role in the life of the local community.  They have run a Chatterbooks club for some time and, when children grew too old for that group, set up something similar for teenage readers.  I spent a very happy hour with some lively children; we talked about books for children and teenagers; I listened to them talk about the idiocy of some of the grownups in their lives; I lead them on some writing adventures using story dice.  In this group I was acknowledged (and tested) as the grownup in charge, but also welcomed as an equal when it came to creating stories and sharing book recommendations.  The time flew by and I can’t wait to work with them again next month.

Saturday was glorious for totally different reasons.  For a start, I woke early.  At the weekend this would normally mean a groggy trip to the loo before either going back to sleep or snuggling down under the duvet with my storybook of the moment.  Yesterday, however, I was wide awake and full of fizz.  The dogs were startled to find themselves in the park before 7:00 am, watching a scarlet sun rise above the trees and smelling the multitude of scents rising into the air as the frosty ground steamed in the early morning light.  We walked for over an hour then came home for our breakfasts.  The dogs and cats ate in the kitchen, but I brought my coffee and marmalade sandwich straight upstairs to the computer and got on with editing my current WIP.  By the time my OH was up I had polished and printed nine chapters and was ready for elevenses.  Having accomplished so much so early I felt justified in idling away the rest of the day, snuggling on the sofa with my family.  A sense of achievement and of contentment should never be underestimated.

The Song from Somewhere Else, Paperback BookSo now you are nearly up to date with my positive few days.  This morning has been just as good.  It started with three out of the four furry family cosying on the bed while I read a few pages of The Song From Somewhere Else by A F Harrold and stunningly illustrated by Levi Pinfold (I’ve not finished it yet, but so far can heartily recommend it).  Then another long, frosty walk with the dogs and straight to the computer on our return.  I have been falling behind my self-imposed writing/task schedule recently.  Today I have done enough to bring me almost up to date.  Just one task to do before I can get back to my WIP.

I have had a happy grin on my face for the past few days and can recommend a cheerful and positive outlook for promoting productivity and a sense of inner peace.  Grasp the good days and hug them close.  The light CAN drive the darkness away.


Sunday Snapshot on a Monday

Oops – Sunday has been and gone without me posting.  That’s what happens when you’ve been out having a nice time.  Sorry if you missed me.

Four book coversIt’s been another busy reading week.  In the car I’ve listened to Flood and Fang, the first book in The Raven series by Marcus Sedgwick.  It is superbly performed by Martin Jarvis and made a journey both ways around the M25 more than bearable.  I’m all set to start listening to the second in the series (narrated by our hero – Edgar the Raven) and have the third in hard copy waiting to be read.

A Song for Ella Grey by David Almond is a strange, wild, beautifully written book about being young and full of life; about love and music and death.  Set in the North East of England it uses the language and the landscape to illustrate a version of the Orpheus story.  It’s one of those stories that makes you sit and think about it after you’ve finished.

There aren’t very many books for teenagers that cover transgender issues.  The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson introduces the reader to David Piper, a boy who, for as long as he can remember, has wanted to be a girl – a girl who likes boys.  His parents think he is gay.  People at school think he’s a freak.  Only his two best friends know the truth.  It is a touching story with some unexpected twists although, at times, these feel a little too convenient.  When I picked it up I was expecting to read a book set in the USA, so it was very pleasing to find it set in the UK.

The fourth book in this picture, Trouble by Non Pratt, was our SCBWI book group read for this month.  It is well written and a very believable story, but it made me very sad.  I know there are 15-year-old children who use sex to define their position in the social structure.  Reading about it was uncomfortable and depressing.  The story, however, was very strong and handled the two main story lines in a sensitive and realistic manner.

Three book coversFor work I have been reading more books to include in the When a Book Might Help (WABMH) segment of the Hampshire Libraries blog.  Football Academy: Reading the Game by Tom Palmer is about a boy juggling the demands of school and football whilst struggling to read.  His inability to read creates more and more problems, until eventually he realises he needs to ask for, and accept, help to improve the situation.  This will go onto the Dyslexia book list.

We will be including a section in WABMH simply called Medical Conditions.  This will include stories about conditions which are seldom seen in children’s books.  Pea’s Book of Holidays by Susie Day will be going on this list as one of the characters has condition called Hemiplegia.  The story is not about a disabled boy, however, but about a girl trying to support all her family.  It is fun and funny and part of a series about Pea and her sisters.

The last book this week is an Early Reader written by Jacqueline Wilson and illustrated by Stephen Lewis.  Monster Eyeballs shows how Kate deals with the class bully, Mark.  The clue is in the title of the story, but I won’t spoil the fun for you.