Archive | December 2013

New Year Resolutions

I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been very good at keeping New Year Resolutions…

The trouble is, when it comes to dieting, I don’t! Yes, I know that there are bits where they shouldn’t be and no bits where they should be, and I do have my pride – here comes the ‘But’… The problem of course is (yes you’ve guessed it) FOOD: show me roast chicken, creamy pasta, pastries and chocolate and my resolve is as weak as ditch water, although I don’t over-indulge. Ah me….I have no problem with giving up smoking, as I never have (ugh!) and – I must sound like a ‘goody-two-shoes’ – I‘ve never had a drink problem, though I admit to enjoying the odd G & T or cocktail. So, should I give up Men? (whoops, meant to say ‘man’). No, I don’t think so: I’ve got very used to him being around. He’s a bit of ‘alright,’ he’s funny (sometimes on purpose) doesn’t beat me and he COOKS! No, sorry he’s not for hire. Where does that leave my re resolutions then? Well, they might sound a bit pedestrian to a non-writer, but to me they are important. I resolve not to use the following words too many times: AND, BUT, GOT (Yuch), VERY, REALLY, LOVELY and HOWEVER, and avoid clichés whenever possible.

There are, apparently, 1,019,729.6 words in the English language (as at 1st January 2013) with new words being created every 98 minutes…so a huge variety to choose from and consider. Sadly, too many non-serious writers are getting lazier as time passes (what with texting and emails) but us professional writers should strive to use more. I don’t mean peppering your work with archaic or rarely used words which have readers reaching for their dictionaries, or ‘asking Google’, for such ‘over-writing’ can be dry and boring, but I for one intend increasing my vocabulary to, hopefully, make it ‘sing-zing’ more to me; make people shed a tear; laugh more; make them sit up and think…stir my soul, in the hope that it stirs others too. I hope I don’t live to ‘eat my words’… As for my hope for the world’s populace? Apart from peace, I would love to meet and hear of more free-thinkers and less sheep. What a more interesting and stimulating planet it would be!

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Self Expression

It cannot be denied that I can chatter like a magpie to friends and family, BUT – such a ubiquitous, meaningful word – put me in front of a large audience, microphone or camera and I freeze. It is often assumed that age frees one of inhibitions; not always true! I have, briefly, been on TV four times; interviewed and recorded a couple of times too and words – well the ‘right’ words – refused to leave my mouth. However…give me a pen, or a keyboard and I am liberated! For this treasured ability – self expression – I am truly grateful. That’s not to say that my words are all worthy or correct – I am no egotist, BUT (that word again) I am no longer searching, gasping, desperately wishing…for words to express myself. Instead, they eagerly leap onto the page, often joyfully – for I do find writing a joy.

Comfort Zones (And introducing a good friend and fellow writer: Georgia Varjas)

The above words bring me to a recent occasion held this month. Why? I was invited to attend Murcia University to speak to an English Language class, by Georgia Varjas. GULP! I would be outside of my ‘comfort zone…’ How pleased I am that I chose to ignore my annoying doubts. It was revelation! ‘Maria Aliaga’ – who is the organizer and co-ordinator of the class – a warm, effusive woman – welcomed us both with enthusiasm, along with class members – whose ages ranged from teens to seventies! Both sexes too. We were both photographed, interviewed and recorded! ‘Rosa,’ another warm person, assisted Maria with the interview.

After that rambling…I come to the star of the evening: Georgia Varjas. There’s no denying that she’s a woman of passion, who cares deeply about the degradation of women throughout the world. Fortunately, she is blessed with the gifts of expressing herself verbally on the stage, and on paper. She is a natural actress and speaks with integrity – not fearsome of airing unpleasant truths – tempering her rhetoric with humour. Homing in on one story from her book, Divine Damages: ‘Righteous Val,’ Georgia explained that: “Revenge is the spice – the entertainment of the story – with the nutrition found in the content.” She spoke about her book in English and Spanish, and they all loved it!

At the end of the meeting, after I was also asked to speak to a few of the class in English, we were given flowers. Georgia sold several copies of her poetry book: On the Wild Side and her book Divine Damages. I also sold several copies of my Memoir, My Gentle War. I didn’t even say my customary ‘Phew’ when it was over. What was not to like?!

The ramblings of a ‘Sunny-winter-aged’ woman. (Mentally I’m only 37…)

Long gone are the days when I leapt out of bed, washed (who owned a shower?!), put on a modicum of make-up (adding vampire-red lipstick), dressed, pulled a brush through my hair, gulped a cuppa, hastily downed my cereal and ‘dashed’ for my train. Dashes only appear in my writing these days…I rarely walked sedately anywhere and was once called a ‘whirling dervish.’ Thems was the days…

And now? Suffice it to say that a sort of ‘gradual reassembly of bodily components and parts’ might be an apt description. But, hey, I’m retired so, so what…and have the needed time; well mostly! ‘Retirement’ means different things to different people, and hurray for that. For me, it means – once the boring household tasks have been finished (though not always) – getting on that keyboard and trying to put my words in sufficiently intelligent order that they are understood, enjoyed and mean something to someone.

Fortunately – and I know that I am very lucky – my mind is even more fertile (glad something is) at my mature age than it was years ago. That is not an ego statement by the way – fertile doesn’t necessarily mean ’right’ or ‘better’! However, words do fall over each other for recognition in my head, and ‘writer’s block’ is a foreign expression. WHAT to write about is more relevant and will I have enough time! A tip for any young ‘uns – keep moving the age goal posts. It really does help. Worried about being 40/50/60? Pardon the hysterical laughter…I could write reams about ageing (boring) and will resist the temptation. Instead, I’ll write about two ingredients vital for a writer: enthusiasm and curiosity.

First enthusiasm

Strangely, I have more of that valuable ‘trait’ than ever (aware of the ticking clock perhaps?) Life is packed to overflowing with such a huge range of subjects to write about. WHAT? being the teaser. A bit like marriage, when the lustful passion fades (sadly, it does, youngsters) enthusiasm added to ‘fully rounded’ love, keeps it happily afloat.

Curiosity

If a person is only marginally interested in human nature, with all its fascinating quirks and foibles, they won’t prove to be very successful in the craft. What makes us all tick, is an intriguing subject in itself. Memorable characters in literature were often created by a combination of characteristics – often traits taken from one or more people the author may have met or heard about. I can recall a window cleaner: a pleasant enough man, reminding me of a weasel, which was at odds with his demeanor. Then there’s the curiosity of wanting to know what’s over the brow of that green/glowering hill or mountain; around that corner; the inside of that decaying/grand house. Wondering what those suspicious-looking men were doing down that alleyway/thinking about the changing sky and nature/animal behaviour/an overheard snippet of an odd conversation/or why the woman wearing a red dress at the next table, was looking so worried?! The subject is endless; so much material for writing meaningful, rich stories. I, for one, do try – and trying is what it’s all about.