These prompts from Sarah of Everyday Words are so wonderfully thought out and well worth the £1 per day I am spending on them. She has really thought this through. I’ve tried other prompts before but they have seemed dull in comparison.
For one who would have thought of suggesting that one gather all those poems one likes into one special place – making one’s own anthology!!! I always love it when someone suggests something that is so obvious but does it in a way you don’t feel daft for not having thought of it first.
So here is my work from 1st April. It was looking at poem but one of the prompts was to think about the author of this poem which led me to writing about “Anon of Canadian Good Housekeeping” and of what could happen when our false pride gets in the way. “Anon of Canadian Good Housekeeping“
Then Saturday 2nd April’s prompt came from a poem by Clare Best called Drive time for Freddie, about how far the school run with her son was if they just kept going. It caused me to have a couple of days pondering my twice daily dog walks and how far they were in total. I think in lockdown my daughter and I worked out the dog and I dig 1200-1500 miles a year. So that gets us to roughly Australia. Here’s the piece about it – Walk Eat Repeat – not poem, not prose but could almost be described as prose poetry, maybe.
Now to get on and do yesterday’s and today’s. Though as I’ve learned with the 2nd’s prompt, it took time to percolate and see where it was going.
The Bridport Prize newsletter today asks people to send in their thoughts on “what it’s really like to be a writer”. So I thought I would make my thoughts public on here.
I hope that must of us will put down something different. And I think that is when we have achieved what it means to be “a writer”. To stop comparing ourselves with others and be the writer we are meant to be. Also for me to be a writer means so much more than – to be a published writer!
I’ve just read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he says that one has to write 1000 words a day, but I am no Stephen King. My writing day also contains walking the dog, housework, cooking, shopping, supporting friends, looking for freelance work, planning and advertising writing groups. So I have more going on in my day than Stephen King.
I know of some writers who work outside the house full time, have a family and yet still are amazing and complete a book and get published. I am not like that. I get easily distracted by the shiny things – an email to answer, a WhatsApp from my kids or from a friend, a website I want to explore. I think if I’d been at school now they would have labeled me as ADD. I cannot sit and look at the keyboard waiting for a thought to transpire into a word/words/story. I flit off and check out Wordle or Solitaire or emails!
But on a walk, just me and dog, or in my car or led in bed the words come. Most times I cannot write them down, especially not when driving. But I trust that I will remember what I am meant to remember and will find the time to write it down when I do. I know one of the greats, but can’t remember who, said re-waxed the stairs in the huge house he lived in whilst writing one of his best known books. Wish I could remember who that was!
I am part of a group called The Write Place who meet in person in Frome but also meet on Zoom and just write. I knew them when I lived near Frome but not that I am over 250 miles away I connect via Zoom. Just we say a quick hello but then just get on and do the stuff. That does help but my nature is that, once I cannot think of anything to write I still get distracted. So good though it is for me it still cannot keep me staring at the screen waiting for that word to come.
But I love to write. I would say I’ve always written. I’ve always been a writer. I write to explore what I am thinking, to record an event, when something makes me laugh or cry or I feel passionate about. All these blog post are things I want to share with others. For me writing is a way to share my thoughts with others. I feel that if it’s written down then it has been a true thought.
I love to encourage others to write, which is why I run writing groups in my area under the name Barefoot At The Kitchen Table – barefooted so that one is connected with the land and the kitchen table because it is always where the best conversations happen. I could probably do more writing if I didn’t do this but I so love this. And I would say running these groups is also part of what makes me a writer.
So for me “to be a writer” means that I must write. And write I do though do get “confused” between what counts as writing. Take this morning for example – I was up at 6.30, wrote a plan for a short story I’m working for homework for a course I’m on, did 2 pages of “Morning pages“, then got dressed, walked the dog, read emails, had breakfast, wrote up the notes for my story, sorted the website I use for my writing groups and then am writing this. All writing and all part of me exploring me through my words but very little of it will be published but that is ok.
Being a writer means being ok with being me and who I am.
I am trying to sort my social media out and so have taken the Facebook app off my phone. That has been great because it has stopped me checking who’s said what on whatever. But actually, apart from putting pictures of my dog on there and advertising my workshops I don’t use it much.
I have just started a blog with my writing on Medium. Find me on https://medium.com/@barefootatthekitchentable It is a great site with lots of other writers and is easy to do. One of it’s great features, for those who haven’t yet gone on Medium yet, is that there is a button at the side of each post to press for “claps”. A reader can hold down the button and let it run up to 50 claps. This morning I was checking my emails and it gave me my statistics. Please note I have only posted 2 pieces on there and not that many people know as yet! But I got into checking who was following and how many claps I had received. It is also possible to check how many claps each person has given you. I could feel myself hovering over to this place but stopped myself. Would it change what I thought of my followers if I saw that they had only given me one or two claps and not the full 50? What would it make me thinking of the posts I had put up there? Wold I get into condemning my writing?
We seem to live in a world now where we are judged all the time and encouraged to judge each other. Medium does reward those who gain over 1000 claps for a piece which is great, but it can still bring in that insecurity. How often do we look to see who’s “liked” or similar on Facebook posts, on Instagram, on Twitter and more? The media talks of how Facebook and others sites make us insecure about our lifestyles and our looks but I have yet to hear it spoken of about how we feel about the “rewards” we receive.
It is great as writers that there are so many places we can post but I think we do still need to guard out fragile writers egos.
Being a natural encourager I will always “like”, clap, click the heart, etc because that’s who I am. I know of people who are not like me – and I do struggle with them 🙂 – but their way of supporting and encouraging is hold back, to be more restrained, and that is fine too. What is the point of having to be able to give from 1-50 “claps” if everyone gives every piece the maximum? But it does mean that we all need to be careful that we don’t get too caught up in the rewards and turn ourselves into performing seals.
I love to watch Dragon’s Den and some of what I like is the comments that the ones who don’t obtain a dragon get. These people are often not unkind but they are harsh. They tell people they are unprepared, tell them that they need to do more, have not researched, etc. They cannot take on everyone who comes through the door, cannot give them all the 50 claps. There are people who are not ready.
So I will continue to post on here, on Medium, on my Barefoot writing workshops website because all three take me in different directions. I will also continue to write for myself and for some friends I share with. I will do my best not to worry about what the reaction is but continue to hone my skills and trust to me not the “fish” I get thrown. I am not a performing seal. I am a writer.
In well-being circles and other “self-help” type areas there is often talk about doors and open doors and walking through doors. I love it and have done loads about them. In fact I could do a whole 6 week series of workshops on doors and transitional places. And in fact this is what we were doing last night at the creative writing for well-being workshop I was facilitating. Then on of the participants gave me food for thought. I do love doing this sort of stuff because I only facilitate and encourage others to bring out what is within them and I am always learning too. I do not have it all sorted.
So anyone someone says “behind the door is a blank wall” and that has really stuck with me. I found it not so much encouraging but something to think about. How often do I think of a door having something behind it? Yes I know a wall is a something, but rather something to go into, a new room, space or place. I have never thought of it going no where. So as I pondered this I thought of how I have been feeling that doors have been flying open for me with regard to running various workshops up here. Although actually there is a lot of stuff sitting in the pipeline and not actually having anything concrete on it but that’s ok. But all I have been thinking is “Wow how exciting. Open doors.” and being me I’m happy to rush through them cos that’s what I’m like.
Well I have realised with one situation it may not be a blank wall but it is a small room and actually I would probably be better to come out of that room because it is dark and also not right for me at the moment. So I will step away quietly, close the door and learn from it. What I have learned is that maybe just rushing in is not such a good idea. I probably need to have a look through the door, see what’s there and see if I want to do there. I need to ask more questions, find out clearly what is there, and then decide. Although knowing me I’ll probably still rush in, which I have done many times before, and then have to walk out.
Not every door leads somewhere but we all need to be bold enough to walk out of the confining space and try another door.
So today is start of NaNoWriMo – the write a novel in a month – where one tried to write about 1600-2000 words a day to get that novel done. Great idea! Yes! So why am I on here and not writing that novel? Well I am going to do the 2000 words per day but maybe not toward that novel. I have to keep up with publicity for Barefoot At The Kitchen Table as well as wanting to put some other thoughts on paper/blog/laptop about our time in Iceland which I haven’t had time to do yet.
The problem with the amazing way Barefoot is taking off is that my time to actually write is become more and more limited. And, as any writer knows, one can’t just sit and do it. There is the thinking, pondering time. That time so of letting those word gel and make senses and become something. I’ve joined a writing group that meets once a week at our local library. I can’t keep up with the weekly prompts because I need a day or two to let them percolate then a day or two to write them and then a day or two to edit and get them to become coherent. Ok so I know those who are mathematician, and even those who aren’t would be able to see that actually that is a maximum of 6 days but within those 6 days I’m also planning workshops, connecting, advertising, planning, and then there’s the whole Airbnb cleaning etc.
Talking of Airbnb I made the mistake of checking my stats to see if the bad review had done much damage. No it hadn’t but there were some people (not just the bad review) who had not given me 5 stars for cleanness. Well talk about going into a decline on that. What a fickle creature I am. Note to self – I really do do my best and I think its pretty clean, as do 84% of the people who stay. There’s very much a blog in that about how we look at the 16% rather than the 84!
Hopefully you’re still reading because what I wanted to blog about was what I learned on
Sunday. Sunday I was at Gwrych Castle supporting their open day by doing some story telling. So I had a plan but the best laid plans, etc. So instead of doing 3 x 1 hour story telling and writing workshops I did 3 hours of continuous story telling. It was a learning curve. I realise now that at family events when people see “storytelling” they think children, which is fine. I also realise that children love a good scary tale. The adult bits go over their heads but other bits stay with them. We have all watched kid’s programs with our children because there were bits that hooked us in as adults. I also learned that the story needs some substance with it. So I was using 2 local myths I had found on the internet, one about an incubus and one about fairies, but I just embellished what I’d printed off rather than writing something myself. What I did write was something I had fleshed out of something someone had told me had really happened to her grandmother. That went down best of all. Yes the small children liked the other ones but everyone, young and old, sat in silence as I read the one I had written. I have also learned that I write a good tale and tell it well. So I had a great time and came home exhausted and exhilarated. Some people took my flyers but no one has yet got in touch. But you know that’s ok.
But here also is the biggie I learned and I am going to save it until tomorrow to post because it curves off in a different direction.