Monday, 25 August 2014

Writer's Q&A: Last Stop on the Virtual Blog Tour...

Last week I was incredibly flattered to be asked to take part in a Virtual Blog Tour by Mummy Tries. Basically everyone who takes part answers the same questions with regards to their blogging and writing and then they pass the baton onto three other people who do the same a week later. You can read Mummy Tries' post from last week here.

So, to start with, here's my Q&A:

1. What am I working on?
In a professional capacity I'm currently editing a craft book written by a good friend of mine. I regularly edit books for publishers of craft books - knitting, sewing, crochet, you name it! So when a regular client of mine emailed me about editing a book written by one of my old editors I was thrilled - how the tables have turned, haha! Anyway, it's all top secret and hush hush but I am so enjoying working on it because I know that the author is passionate about what she does and wants the book to be as good as it can be, so we're off to a good start!

In terms of personal projects I don't have much on the go at the moment. Finding time to write for myself is a constant battle but I have a list of things as long as my arm which I would like to write, develop and achieve, both for myself, this blog and my business. I have to remember that there isn't a time limit on things and that life is seasonal and I must enjoy the season I am in!

2. How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I'm not even sure what my genre is! My career has been built around craft editing but I would never make it as a craft author - it's not my thing! I swing between parenting, self-employment, current affairs and motivational pieces so it's a bit of a  melting pot of whatever's going on in my life at the point. The dream would be to write opinion pieces for women's lifestyle publications - I'm getting very opinionated in my old age! Once I start doing it, I'll let you know what my USP is!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?
I've always been a bit of a writer or dreamer - I think the two go hand-in-hand! I knew from the age of nine that I wanted to be a journalist (Lois Lane was my hero) and so that's what I worked towards all through school and uni. I was very blessed to end up working in the industry but the crafting side of things was a total accident! I'm glad it happened though.

I write because it gives me an outlet. I think when you become a mum you do slowly lose a sense of your own identity - especially if you give up your career and move to a different place like I did. I never thought I would but as time has gone on and life has become more demanding I am starting to feel a little oout of touch with myself. Writing helps me remember who I am, what I'm good at and helps me to articulate my thoughts before I implode! It's also allowed me to make some really good online friends and given me opportunities I could never dream of.

4. What is your writing process?
I wouldn't necessarily say I have a process. If I'm editing then I book myself blocks of time, get a babysitter and take my laptop to Caffe Nero for a latte. I then work there for a few hours or until the job is done. With personal projects it's entirely different!

I walk everywhere - pushing the buggy into town or to the supermarket or to the shopping centre - walking is what fills my days. And it's normally while I'm walking that an idea drops into my head. I'm normally a bit emotional or melancholic when it happens and then I speed walk to the nearest bench where I stop to write it down. I carry a notebook everywhere. If they're lucky then these scrawlings might then get written up on my laptop and possibly onto the blog. But to find time I have to get up at 5am so it's a bit hit and miss!

***

Now, here's my confession.... I left it a bit late to find some other writerly bloggers to join in. I'm sorry guys, I have broken the chain!

However, I thought it might be useful if I still linked up to some other writerly sites and resources which I've found particularly useful since going freelance. Here goes:

Jeff Goins
I've been reading Jeff's blog for years and his simple message of the Writer's Manifesto and You Are a Writer (so start acting like one) is what allowed me to just jump right in and start 'being' rather than measuring my worth on what I was 'doing' (which at the time, wasn't very much!). He writes about writing, discipline, aiming high, making a difference and being all that you were created to be. Definitely worth a read if you're feeling like you're failing at being a writer!

No Contacts? No Problem!
No Contacts? No Problem! How to pitch and sell a freelance feature by Catherine Quinn was the first book I bought when I finished maternity leave and thought I'd try to make a go of this freelance gig. Granted, I haven't yet actually got into the feature writing game yet (it's on the To Do List), but it did teach me that freelancing is all a numbers game. If you don't ask, you won't get and the more you ask, the more likely you are to be successful. When I do take the leap into freelance feature writing (as time allows), this will be my go-to guide as it's full of practical tips, step-by-step guides and no-nonsense advice.



Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop
If you're stuck for inspiration but want to write something then check out Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop. Every week provides a writing prompt and then, should you choose, you can link up and everyone can read it. If you're partial to a link-up and relish the challenge of leaving your comfort zone then go here, pick a prompt and write a post. Some of my best, most contemplative writing has come from this linky. I haven't joined in for a long time but when I was first starting out and blogging for pleasure (pre-selfemployment!) this was a weekly pleasure for me. Nowadays I worry about whether what I write should be directly linked to my business, or whether it's professional enough, but if you're still in the hazy days of blogging and writing for pleasure with no restrictions then go and join Kat here!

***

Once again, many apologies for letting you all down on the Blog Tour as there is now no one to pick up the baton! If you're a blogger who loves to write and would like to take the format and carry it on then please do - let me know and I'll give you a shout-out on social media and maybe a little blog post to boot!
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Friday, 22 August 2014

Those Were the Days, Our London Days


Those were the days, our London days,

As the river ran endlessly through London town,
We stood proud at the cathedral in our graduation gowns.
The world was our oyster, it was ours to behold,
Nothing could stop us, we'd never grow old.

We walked with such purpose down Tottenham Court Road,
Unlike the tourists, we knew where to go.
Bustling and busy, we had places to be,
Things to do and people to see.

Those were the days, our London days,

When it was the norm to have a coffee order as long as your arm,
Extra wet, hold the foam, double shot charms,
Baristas who knew your name, made your day with a smile,
You've got enough to make it, as you cross the Square Mile.

When every day was different,
Though we did much of the same.
Always running for the bus,
Missing the tube or train.

Ducking and diving, we'd squeeze through the doors.
Eyes down, paper up, could we breathe in any more?
Searching back and forth, we'd spy for a seat,
Smelling old men's armpits, people crushing your feet.

Five thirty rolls around, at last we were free.
Jump back on the bus, to town for a quick tea.
Off out again, there's more we can do.
Pubs, parks, bars, restaurants,
Meeting people too.

Those were the days, our London days,

With tiny, damp flats, and landlords who don't care,
They'll just take your money, not worrying how you'll fare,
It was OK, we were only there to sleep,
Because London sucked you in, back in the early hours we'd creep.

London was the place to be,
Where the whole world comes to you,
Bakers Street currys, China Town for noodles too,
Sushi if you're healthy, fried chicken if you're not,
Street side candy floss if you want your teeth to rot!

Oh the fun we had, some special places we would go,
The South Bank at Christmas, Covent Garden, Millionaire's Row
Southgate to Stratford, and of course Angel Islington,
Politely declining the drug dealers at Kennington.

Those famous coloured lines, now ingrained in our brains,
Tell us where you're headed, we'll tell you the trains,
These days are now gone, London, we are apart.
But know that you will always have, a little place in my heart.

***

London was the city of my twenties. I lived there between 2004 and 2012. I went to Uni there and then built a life there. Now, about six months from my 30th birthday, I do sometimes wonder if I left my heart there! I know that only true Londoners will understand, let me know if that's you!
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Friday, 8 August 2014

Getting Good at this #GetGoodSummer malarkay

If you've been following my #GetGoodSummer journey you'll know that I've been slow to... shall we say... warm up to it.

HOWEVER, despite the distinct lack of goal achievements... and probably the distinct lack of trying... I've still had the most productive six weeks of the year. And I'm starting to get into my stride, so who knows what could happen before September!

Anyway, a quick update on those goals:

1. Blog Three Times a Week
Well, if you include this post, then for the first time in my #GetGoodSummer journey, you can count this done! And the more you write, create and share, the more ideas you get and the more you do it. So look at this as building momentum and hopefully we'll keep this up!

2. Set Up my Home Office
As I said on my last update, this one's waiting for an injection of finances, but I've sent off those invoices so now I just need to wait the term out before I get to go shopping for a new desk and storage pieces. And if you've seen the state of my dining room, you'll know that this is most definitely a priority!

3. Get Published
No movement on this one, however, I've joined a networking group and I did send off a bit of a bold email today and you never know where these things might lead.

4. Finish that Quilt
Nope, it's still in the box. But I did get creative yesterday with some paper so you can look at that as my dose of craft for this week!

5. Invest in My Marriage
This has been happening somewhat unintentionally. We've been busy and the less time you spend together, the more you make the most of the time you have. So we've been watching less trash TV and having mroe conversations. And our weekends are looking freer now so there will be more summer fun for oour little family. This Saturday is our next date day - we're counting pennies at the moment so I don't think we'll be doing anything flash but we will be spending time together. We've just got to hope Hurricane Bertha doesn't spoil the fun!


I'm sure everyone else is getting on far better than me, so if you want to read about some proper #GetGoodSummer achievers then you can do so here.
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Thursday, 7 August 2014

Getting my craft on...

You may not know this but in a past life, I was something of a papercraft celebrity. 

That's right, I had what many craft fans would think was their dream job. I was a member of the papercraft media elite, scouring the industry for the very latest in papercraft trends, attending papercraft conferences and trade shows and schmoozing with papercraft stars. My world was a whirlwind of glitter, embellishments and pretty, oh so pretty, papers.

But it's been a while since I ventured back into the glamorous world of papercraft and this morning I just had the urge to create something with the humble medium that is paper, a little nod, if you like, to the career of my past.


.... and this was the result!

Four squares of parchment (ie. paper), an internet search, a bit of double-sided tape and a few folds later and here we have a lovely floral decoration for your home.

So quick, so simple but a nice flourish of creativity for my morning.

But be warned, it's dangerously addictive!
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Monday, 4 August 2014

A case of mistaken identity

"So, what do you do?"

"Oh, I'm just a mum," I say, "I do a bit of freelancing on the side. I'm quite involved in the leadership of my local church. Life's a juggling act!" I laugh, breezily.

YOU SAID WHAT?!

I'm sorry, I think you've been misled. I think that possibly you might have got caught up in a case of mistaken identity. You're nearly a year down the track at this whole working from home, self-employed business and it's about time you realised something.

You are mother to the most intelligent, beautiful, fun-loving and perceptive 16 month old on the face of the planet.

You are wife to one of the kindest, fun and hard-working men that you have ever met (and he's super cute too!).

You are a self-employed book editor who specialises in the craft industry. You honed your craft in a special interest publishing house, becoming Editor of two national magazines by the age of 25. You are damn good at what you do and you provide a service that people need, because you know what? There's no one out there who does what you do, with your experience, how you do it.

You, along with a team of awesome people, are a pastor of a local church.

Got it?

Good.

Do you down-play your achievements in a fit of self-deprecation? What one sentence can you have on stand-by ready for when people ask you 'what you do'?
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