Time for reflection

I sat down yesterday to write this post and stopped. I needed time to reflect on the myriad of thoughts and feelings that were swirling around inside me. The past few days have been quite different to the life I normally lead. Different in a mostly good way but with a few challenges, my reaction to which I needed time to process. Yesterday I was running on very little sleep and I needed to know that it wasn’t this that was clouding my vision.

I had set myself a number of goals early last week, some of which included submitting a few pieces of writing to various sites. With my other commitments I ended up on Friday needing to either abandon these plans or sit down quietly for several hours to catch up. I chose the latter.

I am not normally so disciplined when writing but I enjoyed the exercise and submitted the pieces as planned. I then had to step away from my computer to rearrange our house for a party my daughter was hosting on Saturday night. She did most of the cleaning and tidying herself but I needed to move some furniture around and get ahead of the family tasks that I would not have the chance to accomplish over the weekend.

Our family room and kitchen provided the main party space.

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Our lounge was turned into a massive bed with mattresses, duvets and blankets covering as much of the floor as we could manage.

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It was a fabulous party. Seventeen teenagers attended meaning that we had twenty in the house. It was loud but happy and all seemed to have a lot of fun. My daughter had billed it an All Night Marvel Movie Marathon and little sleep was had by any of us. Between films (they watched five in total) they played pool, listened to music and had those serious discussions that intelligent teenagers excel at. In the background I was producing as much food as I could get through my oven, plating it and clearing debris.

To protect the innocent I will not be posting any of the during or after photos. Suffice to say there was no damage but a lot of mess to clear up. My husband took over kitchen duties in the morning to produce a late breakfast fry up and by the afternoon we were able to cut the enormous cake that my younger son and I had made the previous day.

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All in all, a successful twenty-four hours and one very happy daughter.

Now, as anyone who follows my blog regularly will know, I have grown very uncomfortable with social situations in the past few years. I was therefore particularly pleased that I got through this weekend without any panic attacks, and I surprised myself by enjoying the whole event. I physically hurt yesterday evening from lack of sleep but it was worth it.

Having delivered the last of the party goers to the train station late afternoon I was glad to put my feet up and see how my submitted stories had been received. I was aware that there was a discussion brewing on one of the sites but had not had time to consider a response to this as carefully as I would have liked. On another site my story was receiving very mixed reviews.

As a writer it is hard for me to critique my own work. In my head I will have all the background to each character along with the reasoning behind their behaviour. Getting this down using only necessary words can be tricky, it is the skill of the trade. Often my reader’s interpretations will be unexpected.

One of the stories I submitted received some very positive feedback. It also bombed in the voting; it was on this site that the discussion brewed. Other writers noted that the number of reads their story clocked up was around a quarter of the total votes cast. Clearly not all voters read every story as instructed. There was speculation that followers voted for those whose writing they knew and liked without reading the other submissions. It was pointed out that the rules were the same for everyone so, whilst this may not be ideal, it was not unfair.

I hope that the increased interest in this weekly challenge does not wane and that the relaxed and friendly atmosphere on the site can be maintained. I understand why the discussion happened. It can be disheartening to submit a story and have it ignored by so many. However, the quality of the writing is high and all feedback is useful. I do wonder about entering each week but I enjoy writing the stories and welcome the readers I get.

On the second site I discovered a different state of affairs. The story I had submitted was receiving lots of views and trending. It was also generating a lot of negative comments. Some readers liked it but quite a few considered it poorly written, sloppily punctuated and one even described it as incoherent.

Naturally I feel happier with positive feedback than negative. However, all feedback is useful and I was grateful that readers had taken the time to explain the aspects of my writing that they felt were weak. I will take all of their comments on board. I smiled wryly to myself though that the apparently badly written story ranked better than the supposedly well written one in the challenges to which they were submitted.

I will never make it as a writer if I allow myself to become too sensitive to criticism. To improve I need to keep practising and to work on the shortcomings highlighted by readers. I will try to produce another couple of stories this week, I will not give up just because I submitted a story that was not well received by all.

As a novice writer it feels as though I have reached another milestone on my journey. Now I need to get my house in order. Fun though the party was, I may take some time to fully recover.

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Hype and choice

What is it that makes something fun? The 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who was much hyped, drawing fans and those with just a passing interest together into anticipation of a big event. Perhaps some had rose coloured, childhood memories of the show; others may have believed that this episode was going to be as truly special as the build up made out. I suspect a fair few will have watched it just so that they didn’t feel they were missing out on something that would subsequently be discussed. The potential for disappointment was high.

And now there are those who are complaining; I do not understand why they feel so hard done by. This is a kids television show. Sure, it has a lot of fans of all ages, but it is still a kids show. Did the kids enjoy it? Mine certainly did, and I thought it was well done.

The true fans will watch it and watch it again and again, seeking out the myriad of potential meanings, the nuances, the references to plot lines from episodes past and potential for future development. They will discuss and dissect on their forums and blogs, exchanging theories and guessing at what may be to come. They will probably enjoy this subsequent activity at least as much as watching the episode itself.

When an event is hyped it can be hard to ignore but we do have that choice. I have no interest in sport so, when the Olympics came to nearby London, I took no notice. I was happy to see friend’s delight as they obtained tickets to even the obscure events just to be a part of it all. They talked of a once in a lifetime opportunity, not to be missed. I chose to miss it because I had no interest; there were some who saw this as a flaw in me, they felt I should be supporting those who had worked so hard to get there.

I can understand the benefits from such events. It is like a huge party, a chance for sharing with strangers as well as friends. It is not obligatory to take part though. I would not wish to rain on anybody’s parade but sometimes I simply do not wish to attend. Those who have worked so hard to get there will have devoted a large chunk of their lives to doing so. I question how worthwhile that is, to devote so much time and effort to a transitory achievement. Of course I can see that it is an achievement. Going for that goal is their choice, just as it is the spectator’s choice to cheer them on, and mine to let it all pass me by.

My daughter went to the cinema with friends last night to watch The Day of the Doctor. It was an excuse for an enjoyable night out. As a family we chose to get involved in the build up, following the many interviews and trailers, watching several of the shows made specially, before the main episode aired. We enjoyed being a part of this. Having such fun is good, however insignificant an event may be in the grand scheme of things.

We are each free to choose which parties we attend. I have no interest in royal weddings, anniversaries or babies. I have no interest in sport, televised competitions or reality shows. I wish the people involved no ill will, but do not wish to join in, even when their celebrations are hyped and prove popular.

When a TV show or a film franchise offers an excuse to create a virtual gathering then I may decide to join that. It is a little bit of light hearted distraction from the routine of life, nothing serious. Whether or not the episode or film itself is any good is almost irrelevant if the build up and taking part is enjoyed.

Events of substance can bring us down. The serious matters to be considered in the world around can exhaust and depress as they are so hard to influence and change. From time to time getting involved in something frivolous can be a good thing, but I will not take these things too seriously. I will not complain of disappointment if a much hyped event that I chose to take notice of does not deliver whatever it was that I expected.

I wonder what the next big thing will be and if it will capture my imagination and draw me in. It can be enjoyable to join in the excitement with those who are like minded. Fun, but not important, not obligatory.

I will not criticise this Doctor or that Doctor for not portraying the character as I may wish. The show works because each reincarnation is different, and each has it’s own loyal following. Some episodes may be stronger than others but the franchise remains popular, there are still plenty who enjoy it. Isn’t that what entertainment is all about?

To those who feel let down that Doctor Who is not as they would wish remember, you can choose not to pay attention.

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