Annoyed Trout (Predictive Text)

Changes

 

“Predictive text you are so clever”

said no one in the world pepper.

You act when there is no seaweed

inserting “penis” instead of “please.”

When inadvertently, I press a key

where are you to rescue me?

If the settings were simple to use,

I would have turned you off Syracuse

but as I’m unable to figure it out,

here you stay to annoy my trout.

frustration

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Open Mic Poetry Night … awaits

I haven’t blogged for ages and for a multitude of reasons, so rather than procrastinate until the cows come home, I’m just going to dive right in to what’s going on in my world, or more specifically my head, right now…

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it’s Open Mic Poetry Night in 16 days…happening on June 13th at 7pm at The Samuel Oldknow Pub in Marple, Cheshire as part of the Marple Book Festival 2018

 

– which is a great thing…. and my poetry group Stockport Write Out Loud are appearing there… which is a fantastic privilege….

but I cannot think of a single thing to write … to read out loud…

only 16 days to go….

where is my muse? Where did you go?????

writers block

 

 

I’m expecting a 3am wake up call with a full verse running through my head any night now….please!

 

 

 

Here’s a list of other events happening during the Book Fair Week… (I’m reading Portia The Pear at the library too – bring your little ones).

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Frazzled – the battle with adrenaline

I’ve been so far out of my comfort zone for so long, I’m not sure I know my way back.

In the last 6 months, I’ve been drawn away from the pleasure of writing, to be called upon for public speaking events. Moving away from the private relationship between writer and page into a pubic life of presenting the published book to unknown audiences. It’s uncomfortable. It sounds ungrateful, and sulky, but for those of you, who long for the label of published, let me give you an insight into what is then expected of you.

The book launch itself was a huge party. Surrounded by friends and family I was supported throughout the whole event and I loved every minute. A lot of hard work studying the craft had paid off, and seeing my name of the front cover of a picture book was a dream come true.

Beyond that, I was asked to travel to the other side of the country to read in a major bookshop in Essex, during the town’s first birthday celebrations. Packed with families with expectant faces, I read my book whilst learning to juggle the page turns and display the fabulous illustrations. It is a children’s picture book after all. From the gesticulating and arm waving of the publisher, at the back of the room, I was encouraged to project my voice more. After 5 hours storytelling, my voice had all but disappeared.

This was the beginning of experiencing the adrenaline roller coaster; the sleepless nights and anxiety before an appearance, the peak and blind spots during the performance and the crash that surely follows once safely home.

The intensity of focus whilst presenting creates a muffled bubble around me. I can’t process information or hear clearly when blood is pounding at a rate of knots in my ears. This leaves me unaware of how the reading actually went. Of course there is the immediate feedback given by those who invited you to attend, but is the praise genuine? I can’t tell.

Quickly after, library invitations were received. Smaller groups of families gathered, waiting to hear a story read to the children. It should have been more relaxed, but all eyes are focused on you, listening to every word – that’s the point obviously – the adrenaline returned.

A book festival held in Cumbria, on a freezing winter’s day saw a 10 hour day travelling, reading, engaging children in creating their own stories, hand shakes with a councillor and journalists. Thankfully, there was an unexpected perk on this trip. A child came over to me and asked if it was okay to give me a hug. “Of course,” I replied, “they are my favourite things”… a line of children formed, each and every one hugging me on their way out of the school library. I’ll never forget that memory. I didn’t need any feedback from adults that day. I floated back to Cheshire.

Carried along on the high, I felt immortal! I decided to take a further leap into the unknown and did something I’d wanted to do for years. I booked a Vision Board Workshop. I booked, planned and presented a 2 hour workshop to teach how to create and use a vision board to focus on your goals and move towards achieving them. 2 hours later, I was losing my voice yet again.

Why would I willingly book the workshop you may ask, if I’m uncomfortable in a public arena? After months of being pushed into the spotlight to promote my book, I wanted to use the experience I had gained for to achieve a personal goal. I believe so firmly in the power of vision boards, it was a message I wanted to share, and as a result I had great fun with the ladies who attended. So much so that the venue manager invited me to attend another public event there; Harry Potter Day.

One tweet about the day said “If you mention the word Harry Potter, you’d better book Wembley Arena”. The crowds who poured into the Art Gallery that day were queued around the building for hours in icy winds and snow. The buzz attracted the BBC film crew. Every child dressed in full Hogwarts attire. After teaching spell writing to 640 children. I ached from head to foot. An occupational therapist friend of mine explained, bending down to speak to a child at their level was the equivalent of “squatting”. I had performed a thousand squats that day and my thighs screamed their resentment to me.

In the last week, I’ve battled the Beast from the East on World Book Day, to get books and equipment to a local school, in time to hold two school assemblies, followed by over seventy book signings engaging each child individually in the process. This time the pain was felt in my swollen hand, signing so many books. I shan’t complain!

As I write, an email has popped up asking how I can be booked for another school event. I shall reply enthusiastically. No matter how uncomfortable, no matter how physically and mentally challenged, no matter how the adrenaline messes with my mind, the children are the stars. One smile from a child is enough reward. The sea of hands thrust into the air eager to answer questions and join in the story making, is enough.

I have indulged here in a whine, wallowing in the hardships of public speaking, but I’ve vented, I feel better. Thank-you for listening, and if you do chase the dream of the label “published,” well, you’ve been informed of all it involves; aching feet, stiff back, hoarse voice and all. Now close this blog, ignore all I’ve said and go after that dream. I wish you every success x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From new girl to “writer”

A creative breakthrough at my local writing group; promotion from “new girl” status to “meeting chair” albeit for one session only (for now, but I can dream!)

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Is this validation that my writing and knowledge has reached a point worthy of sharing with other writers? If so, couldn’t be more thrilled!

Last year, I joined a writing group; Stockport Writers, based at the very beautiful Stockport Hatworks Museum. We meet once a month to write with various prompts to help stir the creative juices. 

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One of the charms of this writing group is it’s ever-changing attendee list. Some group members have been attending since the group first formed, others have joined over the past year; some new members are just beginning their writing journey.

Each writer has their own unique skill set, genre, preferred writing style. From the impact of short stories, to the challenge of a novel, everyone has their own path. Whether editor or poet, college student or student of life, who writes purely for the pleasure in doing so, all are welcome. It’s a magical mix.

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Each month, a writer leads the group through the session; from free-writing warm up, to a reading of last month’s homework (or any other piece) through to the use of prompts, followed by more readings, and finally the closing prompt or exercise to close.

When I was asked to step up to the role at next month’s meeting, I was honoured to do so. It’s an absolute privilege.

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Now all I need to do is come up with a plan of what topics we can cover. Errrrmmmmm…

Any ideas from fellow writers? 

Medieval Marginalia

Napowrimo Challenge Day 24

I initially struggled with this prompt, but once I’d found an angle, it became much easier to write.

The Prompt: 

Write a poem of ekphrasis — that is, a poem inspired by a work of art…base your poem on a very particular kind of art – the marginalia of medieval manuscripts. Here you’ll find some characteristic images of rabbits hunting wolves, people sitting on nests of eggs, dogs studiously reading books, and birds wearing snail shells. What can I say? It must have gotten quite boring copying out manuscripts all day, so the monks made their own fun. Hopefully, the detritus of their daydreams will inspire you as well!

My Response:

 

Hollow

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A young boy, bent and twisted

over a dimly lit desk, peers at the page.

The candle flickers.

Stiff with cold, his bones ache

from long diligent hours, transcribing reverent texts.

His repetitive days pass in silent gloom.

His quill scratches hairy parchment with thin ink.

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Original thoughts are not required,

Nor dreams or ambition.

Bound by his vow of celibacy,

he will never know the passion of young love.

Hunger and starvation pains his body, pains his soul.

Neglect and lack of sustenance drive him

to the point of defacing the page

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with subversive medieval marginalia.

Supressed dreams, desires and anger merge

revealing his inner torment.

Offensive images of vulgarity spill out onto the page.

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He longs to run away from the sordid squalor,

from the dark, cold and damp monastery.

To stretch his legs, straighten his back,

feel sun on his face as he runs into the arms

of one who smiles and cares.

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The monastic life drives him away

rather than draws him nearer to God.

 Are the words he pens so hollow?

 

The Book, The Writer

Day 23 Napowrimo Challenge

The Prompt:

Our prompt for Day Twenty-Three comes to us from Gloria Gonsalves, who challenges us to write a double elevenie. What’s that? Well, an elevenie is an eleven-word poem of five lines, with each line performing a specific task in the poem. The first line is one word, a noun. The second line is two words that explain what the noun in the first line does, the third line explains where the noun is in three words, the fourth line provides further explanation in four words, and the fifth line concludes with one word that sums up the feeling or result of the first line’s noun being what it is and where it is. There are some good examples in the link above.

A double elevenie would have two stanzas of five lines each, and twenty-two words in all. It might be fun to try to write your double elevenie based on two nouns that are opposites, like sun and moon, or mountain and sea.

My Response:

The Book

Book

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Almost published

Work in progress

Awaiting illustrations and print

Excited

Writer

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Almost published

Edge of seat

Endlessly pacing the floor

Eager.

The Ham Sandwich Incident

I’m human. I confess. Not only did I miss yesterday’s Napowrimo challenge, but as my response will show, when trying to please everyone, I usually get it all wrong!

Please note, unusually for me, there are religious references, but please don’t misinterpret my jest as an intention to offend anyone… if I do, add it to my list of imperfections and please accept my deepest apologies. I merely make light of today’s struggles to keep the faith (particularly mine).

Please could I also ask anyone reading this who knows me personally, please don’t tell my Mother-In-Law I posted this across the entire world wide web, I’m in trouble enough!

Napowrimo Day 20 

The Prompt:

Write a poem that incorporates the vocabulary and imagery of a specific sport or game.

My Response: (with a very loose reference to a card game)

The Ham Sandwich Incident

It was Jack’s 5th birthday

I had everything;

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Bouncy castle, candles,  

balloons, ribbons and bows. 

Birthday cake and presents,  

a great big gazebo.

I had buns for hotdogs,  

pizzas and lots of treats,  

when I was reminded;

no-one will eat meat!

“Today is Good Friday,

everyone eats fish!”

“Your buffet looks lovely

but was fish on your list?”

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Fish finger sandwiches!

Yes, they will surely do.

I pre-heated the oven

and hurriedly set to.

I saw her pick the ham

off the pizza that I served.

Ate fish fingers, hungrily.

Was that a tiny burp?

The party in full swing.

The buffet went down well.

Hotdogs and ham sandwiches

devoured without hard sell.

Mum in law picked her food.

No meat touched her hands.

Eyes darted to the buns,

filled with freshly carved ham.

Yet she was adamant;

It was a day of fish!

Nothing would persuade her

to pass meat across her lips.

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At 5pm I walked in,

her mouth full of ham barm!

She hung her head in shame,

asked; would it do her harm?

“It was only one” she said

“I’m sure you’ll be forgiv’n”

I reassured her more,

that God will surely listen.

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The card game that evening;

she couldn’t win a hand.

She was sure of the cause

“Eating that damned ham!”

She was being punished

for lack of discipline.

Bad juju on her game.

She’d never win again.

As I was the tempter,

I suggested we atone.

Back into the kitchen,

Produced the hot x buns.

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This will surely fix it,

cancel wrong with a right?

She agreed and ate it

with one almighty bite.

I’m glad God in Heaven

was pleased with her once more,

but it was a reminder;

He’s always keeping score.

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The Uncomfortable Middle

Again today has been a busy day. More birthday parties and social gatherings. I actually wrote this poem whilst sat beside a bouncy castle and a fully grown Imperial Stormtrooper! It may not be my finest work, but I’m still completing the Napowrimo challenge.

Day 15 of Napowrimo 

The Prompt:

Write a poem that reflects on the nature of being in the middle of something. The poem could be about being on a journey and stopping for a break, or the gap between something half-done and all-done. Half a loaf is supposedly better than none, but what’s the difference between half of a very large loaf and all of a very small one? Let your mind wander into the middle distance, betwixt the beginning of things and the end. Hopefully, you will find some poetry there!

My response:

The Uncomfortable Middle

Too far from the shore to swim back.

Destination still out of reach.                     

The initial energy that pumped

through your veins has faded away.

b;og7Success and glory is yet unknown.

The middle is where we stretch and grow.

Dig deep and persevere.

Cultivate a belief in your abilities,

your unlimited potential.

Aching limbs, heavy muscles, heavy hearts.

Tired, we must pull ourselves up.

Clarity has left us.

Confused, muddled, blurred.

Search your mind. Search your heart.

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Seek out that elusive vision.

In stillness, listen for the quiet,

muffled voice amongst the turmoil

struggling to be heard. A whisper,

buried deep within, pleads “Try again.”

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Find the glowing ember and fan

the flames with courage. Let desire burn.

Allow hope to shine through. Stand tall.

Be heard.

Try, try, try.

Lost socks

A later post than usual; today my son turned 5 years old, so birthday cake, balloons and presents stopped Napowrimo play. Normal service will resume soon. 

It’s Day 13 and the challenging prompt for today was:

The ghazal. The form was originally developed in Arabic and Persian poetry, but has become increasingly used in English, after being popularized by poets including Agha Shahid Ali. A ghazal is formed of couplets, each of which is its own complete statement. Both lined of the first couplet end with the same phrase or end-word, and that end-word is also repeated at the end of each couplet. If you’re really feeling inspired, you can also attempt to incorporate internal rhymes and a reference to your own name in the final couplet.

My response:

Have you seen my socks?

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“Have you seen my socks?

They are not here. I need some clean socks”

“What kind of socks are you looking for;

Sports socks, work socks, “going out” socks?”

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“The black ones!”

“Is that black sports socks, black work socks or black “going out” socks?”

“Damn it woman, I’m going to be late!

The Black work socks! I need the black work socks!”

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“And did you put those lost black work socks in the wash?

Or are they the dirty, black, thrown-on-the-bathroom-floor socks?”

“I put them in the wash basket!

The ones on the bathroom floor are sports socks.”

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“Here they are, in front of your nose;

the lost black work socks that Nic had to wash and put-in-your-drawer socks.”

 

“Next”

Anxiety, fear, uncertainty and the biological response, provided the subject matter for today’s poetic exploration. The techniques investigated were assonance and alliteration. 

The Prompt: Napowrimo Challenge, Day 12: 

Today, I’d like you to write a poem that explicitly incorporates alliteration (the use of repeated consonant sounds) and assonance (the use of repeated vowel sounds). This doesn’t mean necessarily limiting yourself to a few consonants or vowels, although it could. Even relatively restrained alliteration and assonance can help tighten a poem, with the sounds reinforcing the sense.

My response:

“Next”

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Waiting, pacing, anticipating.

Heart pitter patters.

Stomach flutters, stutters, churns, churns.

Nerves tingle, tangle, jangle.

Eyes wide.

Face flushed, cheeks blushed.

Tension taut in throat, choke.

Blood pounds round ears.

Teetering tears.

“Next”

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