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Seeking solace

We’re in the midst of another turbulent time at work, in which the library may – I must stress may – face closure in the near future, in which I may – again may – lose my job. What’s more, there is really not much I can do, it is basically out of my hands. All I can do – and will do – is campaign to keep the library open.

For me this next month may be much more stressful if I didn’t have my writing. I can burn the stress away in the gym, but it still lingers so it’s great that I have a outlet – a creative outlet – in my writing.

I can set my mind upon the writing in front of me and let go of the worry.


Writing has for me meant that I can manage the stress easier.

It does help that I enjoy it in the first place.

But I think that writing this month (and possibly the following months) will prevent me from thinking about this situation that I just can’t change. I’m not hiding my head in the sand, but when I’m not at work, thinking about it or talking about it, it’s nice that I have this escape.

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I don’t like cookies….

Not the delicious, chewy, often chocolatey variety – those I love.I’m talking about those pesky internet cookies that remember what you’ve been looking at on the internet and advertise those products on different websites.


I’m still not used to it – looking at a different website and saying ‘hey I looked at that hotel/handbag/book/whatever yesterday…’

I’m sure they are useful to some people, but I just don’t like them. i just find it somewhat disturbing and it’s just another example of everything you look at on the internet being recorded, quantified, and assessed.

[I know you can use the incognito tab for chrome but you shouldn’t have to and I also know that you can change your cookie settings and delete them on a regular basis – so I know there is a way around them but I’m still against the principle of them.]

It’s a small irrational dislike maybe – but it’s either something I still haven’t got used to or more likely something I never will.

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Punctuation is so crucial to understanding sentences. It is always crucial to understanding how you are saying something through writing.

can you just imagine how on earth is looks when you don’t add or even insert incorrect punctuation to a sentence or paragraph its awkward to read and you can’t always tell what context you’re saying it in

Here’s an excerpt from a book just to show you of which I’ve removed all the punctuation from it:

it  was a bright cold day in April and the clocks were striking thirteen Winston Smith his chin nuzzled into his breast in an effort to escape the vile wind slipped quickly through the glass doors of Victory Mansions though not quickly enough to prevent a swirl of gritty dust from entering along with him

the hallway smelt of boiled cabbage and old rag mats at one end of it a coloured poster too large for indoor display had been tacked to the wall it depicted simply an enormous face more than a metre wide the face of a man of about forty five with a heavy black moustache and ruggedly handsome features Winston made for the stairs it was no use trying the lift even at the best of times it was seldom working and at present the electric current was cut off during daylight hours it was part of the economy drive in preparation for Hate Week the flat was seven flights up and Winston who was thirty nine and had a varicose ulcer above his right ankle went slowly resting several times on the way on each landing opposite the lift shaft the post with the enormous face gazed from the wall it was one of those pictures which are so contrived that the eyes follow you about when you move BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU the caption beneath it ran

You can read it, and you can naturally assume where the punctuation goes but it is more of an effort. So you can imagine why I get a bit narked when I see media posts like on Facebook and via text messages with no punctuation, no sentence breaks, nothing, but a steady stream of words. And why arguments and upsets can ensue when you’ve read a text message for instance and read it in a completely different way then it was intended just because there was no punctuation or it was used incorrectly. (I know most, if not all of my readers, followers, and those I follow, will use them but I want to shake those who don’t by the shoulders and say ‘Please use punctuation! And use it correctly! Please!’)

Never underestimate the benefits of the simple, humble punctuation mark!(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

[Of course, there are, those, who use, punctuation marks, much, much, too, often. aren’t there????!!!!]


When is a writer a writer?

When is a writer a writer? This is not some strange riddle like ‘Why is a raven like a writing desk?’, it is a simple question with a very complex answer.

The answer is different for nearly everyone.

Are you a writer when you start to write something, or when you make money from it? But then again would you just call yourself an ‘out-of-work writer’ if you haven’t?

Many writers like artists find fame after they are gone. But artists still call them selves artists.

I think the problem with calling yourself a writer, whether you’re published or not, is other people’s perceptions. And when you call yourself a writer, the response can be a raised eyebrow, and a quick fire question asking if you’ve published anything.

I think the thing is, if you say you are a nurse, a teacher, a fireman, a librarian, an engineer, whatever, people usually expect you to actually work in these roles, but with writing it’s different. It’s art, and a lot of hard work. But even with jobs like these, you generally need some qualifications or experience, you cannot say you are a nurse just because you want to be, but with writing you don’t necessarily need qualifications – although you can get them (creative writing courses for instance), and this seems like an easy way out of hard work – but it’s not.

For me, I think you can call yourself a writer when two things happen; 1. You write (a no-brainer there) and 2. When you realise that writing is hard work, it takes a lot of hard work, time and graft to write something, it’s not all the glamorous life you see when characters in TV and film claiming they are writers. For me, you are a writer when you realise this, but still want to and still do, write.

But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours: when is a writer a writer?

writer quote


I’m nearly there

I’ve so very nearly finished the final first draft of my current non-fiction project, just a couple of sections left to finished but I hoping they will be all complete by the end of next week – so I can start the task of editing. Normally I’m not exactly thrilled with the prospect of editing, but I’m actually looking forward to it – I’m looking forward to ironing out my work, line by line and paragraph by paragraph until it’s as polished as I can make it.


All I have to do is tell my writer’s brain to be quiet for a while as it wants even now to start planning for my next novel. My writer’s brain is itching to start writing again and writing fiction again. Not that I haven’t enjoyed writing non-fiction, I love it just as much and I’m planning on writing more non-fiction history in the future. But for now as soon as my task is complete, the next stage is…editing.

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Taking the Opportunity to Write

Some writers have to write when they can. I have one full day a week and manage to squeeze in a couple of hours before and after work; but that one full day is also the day for most of my housework and other appointments that need to be taken care of.


But this week, while I am still at work etc, my partner is at a conference all week so I’m home alone. As a result I’m going to use this opportunity to write (or work on my writing as I’m at the very end of the ‘writing’ of the project and at the beginning of the editing process), when normally we’ll be spending time together on an evening. I’m hoping to turn those couple of hours into a good few hours and hopefully be a large step closer to finishing the final first draft so I will be able to concentrate 100% on editing.

Basically what I’m saying is that, as writers, we all have to find the opportunities to write and exploit the hell out of them whenever they arise. And this week, that is just what I intend to do.

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My New Project


Well, it’s not really new (for me) but I guess it will be for you. I have mostly finished writing the first draft of my new project – there’s just a couple of things that need ironing out – and I’ve almost finished the very first and very general edit of it too.

After writing a novel I wanted to try something a little different. And in the long run I want to write both novels and non-fiction history – and this is what this new project is. [Both of which will concern the same over-arching subject of the history of the British Empire.]

I have a working title of A Show Called Empire which examines the way that the British Empire is represented in historical movies. A lot of people’s knowledge of history, rightly or wrongly, is gleaned from historical films and while we know they cannot be wholly trusted to be true to history, it is interesting to see how the British Empire and its players come across, and the over-riding impressions that audiences are left with, and how this has changed over time in the post-imperial era. So I have examined and researched a number of historical movies for this book – and some not-quite historical movies too like Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.

As I said I’m basically at the very start of the editing process – so it may be a while yet before everything is ready to share but I’ll keep you up-to-date with my progress.


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