Interlude: freedom for whom?

There have been changes in my little household, subtle shifts that affect us all. I suspect that the rest of my family do not recognise the impact that these have on me. Where they see a chance for freedom and expect to be accommodated as they enjoy this interlude in their lives, I find that my quiet days are now constantly interrupted. I have lost my privacy and ability to structure my days.

It was a relief for all when exam season finally came to an end last week. Although my boys still have their music practicals in mid July, the importance of these is not so great that they need cause undue stress. I am enjoying listening to them practice, live music in the house is always welcome.

Daughter was away for five days, on a science field trip with school, returning last night to clean up and sleep before leaving early this morning for a university open day. She has two more of these planned, a chance for her to glimpse her future. She has a busy month ahead with work experience at a hospital followed by a holiday with her writer friends. She sways between wanting me to leave her in peace and needing me to sort so much out for her.

Elder son is now at home much of the time, sleeping through the mornings and then staying up into the wee small hours. I try not to interfere. At sixteen he needs to find his own space and I am grateful that he is home rather than out who knows where. He does not understand my life and often gives me a hard time over my choices. I can only hope that this is a phase he will grow out of, that empathy will return.

Younger son still has school, the only one of us who has not seen a shift in the everyday. I try to engage with him, but he wishes to spend his time on line with his friends. I am assured by other parents that his behaviour is normal. Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of parenting teens is going with the flow, allowing these emerging young adults to be.

Yesterday husband finished his contract with work, he is looking for another but we cannot know how long that will take. Thus he too will now be home, wanting to make use of his time. He has tasks lined up that need doing around the house and garden, but I am wary of what he will expect from me. I feel a need to guard my space, to ensure that I do not allow my hard won if still fragile status as a writer to be swept away.

I have found myself in a place that I am enjoying immensely: reading books; writing reviews; creating stories. The interactions with authors and publishers on line is fascinating, a world I aspire to get to know better. The books I am given to read feed me with thought provoking new experiences, offer me challenges as I tease out the reviews from the swirling emotions evoked by the writing. I like it here, I like to immerse myself in these worlds.

Yet how can I resent when a loved one asks for a meal, a cup of tea, a chance to chat? When my company is sought I have no wish to decline. They will each move on in time as work is found, school resumes. I wish to appreciate the time they spend with me without losing the inroads I have made into carving out a space for myself where I feel fulfilled, accepted, even valued from time to time.

Of course my family will always come first, but I fear losing the sense of self that I have finally gained. I find it hard that some cannot see value in what I do because it is unpaid, I am still reliant on my husband to support me. I recognise that privilege and am grateful for it, hoping that I can be a better family member by being happier in this life that I am leading.

Finding balance is always a challenge, giving time and attention to those who matter whilst not giving away what I am, what I wish to become. I value this space with my books and my writing. I wonder can I find a way to share it.

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Friendship in a virtual world

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I have a presence on a large number of social media sites. My use of them depends largely on who I know on each one, my interactions and relationships with followers. The majority of my socialising happens on line and I employ few filters. Where others fear for their privacy I see little of interest in my life to hide. I feel no need to present the world with anything other than what I am.

As a teenager I was an avid letter writer, and when electronic communication became possible I embraced it. From packaged messages sent across linked mainframes, through to email and instant text messaging, I welcomed the opportunity to contact distant friends without having to pick up a phone. I have always felt more comfortable with written rather than spoken words.

I joined Friends Reunited and then Facebook. I reconnected with friends I had not been in regular touch with for over twenty years, able once again to keep up with the aspects of their everyday lives that they were willing to share. More local friends were putting details of their social lives on line and I felt better acquainted with them than I had previously managed through our occasional, passing conversations. I could only see what they chose to post, but such filters exist in any social space.

I use Pinterest as a type of openly available filing cabinet for my thoughts on books and films; Goodreads allows me to connect with other readers and share detailed book reviews and recommendations; Tumblr I browse more than I post, using it for entertainment rather than for any personal connection; Google+ I am still getting to grips with. I use each of these sites irregularly, for specific purposes that I have tailored to suit me.

More recently I have started to use Twitter a great deal, linking up with other writers around the world as well as following those who can keep me abreast of news that is not widely reported in the mainstream media. Twitter has a fast moving news feed that is not always reliable, but is currently one of my favourite sites as it allows comment that has not been filtered as ‘suitable’ for general consumption. In many ways I feel it gives me a window on the world, with the caveat that I can only see it through the eyes of those I choose to connect with.

Facebook is now falling out of favour. I get that it needs to make money to survive, but the personal touch is being drowned out by commercial interests. Whereas I am comfortable sharing, many of my family and friends distrust the way it uses our personal data. If less is shared the site’s purpose and attraction are diminished. As Facebook is my means of linking with people I know personally, those I may still connect with in the outernet, I will not be leaving it any time soon. The pleasure gained from it’s earlier incarnations though has been tarnished.

I do wonder about what I share on the various sites. I put up links to news articles that interest me with no idea if they will be of interest to anyone else. I amuse myself with occasional Buzzfeed type quizzes and share results, aware that some will see this as irritating clutter on their newsfeeds. I promote my writing to an audience that may have no interest whatsoever in the stories that I create.

My on line space is my own and I will use it in a way that suits me. Followers can always unfollow, friends can unfriend or choose to hide what I post. There is though the fear of causing offence by rejection. I feel hugged when I see my stats rise, question the worth of my posts when the numbers fall. Particularly with my writing, the links that I regularly tweet, I worry that my self promotion irritates.

My on line life is time consuming but is now my main link to the world outside my home. Alongside the life I have led and the books that I read, it provides inspiration for my stories. The writers I connect with encourage me to continue, read what I write, and help me gauge what has worked and what has not. I value the feedback I receive from all quarters.

I am not always so good at responses. Particularly on my blogs I am delighted when readers take the time to comment, yet I struggle to talk back to these generous souls. It would seem that conversations on line come no more naturally to me than face to face. I feel awkward and tongue tied, worried that what I write will not be read in the way that I mean.

When I hear social media derided I feel saddened as it has enriched my life despite it’s challenges and limitations. I understand that, particularly amongst young people who may be judged in the future for information they post now, prudence may be wise. For me though it offers a chance to connect on my terms. I can pick up a computer at a time that suits me, set it down if my attention is required elsewhere. Unlike a phone call demanding immediate attention with it’s shrill ringtone, my on line life need not intrude.

Join me then readers, reach out and connect. Within the confines of my sheltered, virtual world, I would very much like to be your friend.

 

 

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.

Another award

Thank you to Gretchen over at Drifting Through My Open Mind for nominating me for the Sisterhood of the World Bloggers Award.

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These awards are a way of showing a little extra love towards other bloggers whose posts we particularly enjoy. 

In choosing to accept the award I need to tell you a few random things about myself, so here goes.

  1. In my youth I learned to play the piano, cornet, oboe and guitar, although the only instrument I took to any standard was the oboe.
  2. I worked as a volunteer on a kibbutz one summer when I was a student.
  3. I attended a U2 concert at a leisure centre in Belfast when I was 18 years old and the band were still relatively unknown. This concert included their first performance of ‘Sunday Bloody Sunday’ in Northern Ireland.
  4. My teenage daughter has had one of her short stories published in a book, something that I can only dream about.
  5. Over the past three years I have lost 40 pounds in weight and put 25 pounds back on. My wardrobe contains very few smart clothes that actually fit.
  6. I have yet to read a book by Margaret Atwood that I have not enjoyed.
  7. I can perform a raggedy three ball juggle but have yet to learn how to ride the unicycle we have in our shed.

I am now supposed to nominate half a dozen or so of the blogs that I enjoy reading for this award. In my opinion, these are all worth checking out.

From Casinos To Castles

Tales from the Motherland

Stay at Home Trauma

Rattle and Pen

Banjos and Bordeaux

Glimpses of Grace

I can now display the award badge on my sidebar, a little reminder that one of my readers was kind enough to send me this virtual hug.

A year of blogging

Today is my blogging anniversary, a year to the day since I pressed publish on my first post. I am still very much a small time blogger. I have never been Freshly Pressed, never had a post published outside of WordPress. I have built up a following of just over 200 people and am grateful to each and every one of my readers for taking the time to peruse what I write. I am particularly grateful to those who like or comment on my posts, but just knowing that I am being read gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. The positive and personal interaction that I have discovered in the blogging community has been a welcome surprise.

This will be the 266th post that I have published on neverimitate. I have also published 13 short stories on my fiction blog Dreams and Demons, which I created just over a month ago and has a mere 20 followers to date. I tend to pick up more readers for my short stories on ReadWave (zeudytigre) and Wattpad (zeudytigre), which makes me think that keeping my fiction separate to my personal blog was the right thing to do.

When I started blogging I put a link to each post on my personal Facebook page. I have since set up a separate page, Zeudytigre, that anyone interested in reading my posts can like and thereby get the links on their timeline. Although I also put links to posts on my Twitter feed (followthehens) I find self promotion tough. I want to be read but feel awkward putting myself out there.

Over the course of the year my blog has been viewed just short of 10,000 times. The most views I have ever had in a day is 222, normally this figure is a lot lower. My husband laughs at my stats. I point out that whilst it would obviously be pleasing if they were higher, they are not why I write.

My readers have come from 73 different countries and have found me via 63 different referrers, mainly search engines and links on other blogs. The most popular tags and categories have been Home and Family, no surprises there.

The biggest surprise has been how much I have enjoyed this exercise. I have written far more than I expected to and am deriving a great deal of pleasure from the creative process. Although I still tend to write whatever comes into my head on a given day, I have learned that some topics are covered much more succinctly by others. There are some very talented writers out there and I have enjoyed following their trajectory as their skills are recognised and their work published more widely.

From my own little corner of WordPress though, I will continue to write about whatever comes to mind, to join in the Blog Hops and Prompts, and to try to grow as a writer, even if I am still uncomfortable calling myself that.

My main message for today, on my first blogoversary, is thank you for reading.

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“And what, you ask, does writing teach us? First and foremost, it reminds us that we are alive and that it is a gift and a privilege, not a right.”
—Ray Bradbury 

After the building work

When I published my post on Surviving building work earlier today I was asked to provide some ‘after’ photographs of my house. At first I looked back through old photos that showed it as I like it to be. For example, this one makes the most of the fact that the sun is shining and the flowers are blooming. It was taken a couple of summers ago. Little has changed other than the weather.

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Today is a typically dull and damp winter’s day here in southern England. There are no flowers, few leaves and the ground around my house is muddy from the abuse my hens inflict.

Although my children no longer play in their sandpit the hens still enjoy scratching around in it. On a day like today they are not to be seen as they are confined to base until the saturated ground dries out.

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It is hard to believe that in a few months time this soggy area of garden will have returned to it’s more attractive, verdant state.

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For now though, our plot is untidy, scratched up and cratered where the hens have searched out the bugs that keep them happy and made the dust baths that help keep them clean. They love to be let loose in the undergrowth at the bottom of our sloping garden, to scratch amongst the overgrown ivy, cut timber and fallen leaves.

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However, let us get back to the building work that I posted about. This was facilitated by the provision of a single storey extension at the back of the house, shown here.

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Once the outer shell had been built, a number of internal walls were removed and my new kitchen created. I love my kitchen. Eight years after it was built I still would not change a thing about it.

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The idea behind this construction effort was to open up our family living space. We built two new rooms: a laundry room, shown here on the left; and a large family room to the right.

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The family room has lots of windows, including in the roof, and a door to the garden. We also opened up what had been the dining room (seen on the right of this photo) and it has recently been turned into a space for me to read and write in.

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So, there you have it, a short tour of ‘after’ the building work. It may have required six months of disruption but, as far as I am concerned, it was worth the challenge that it took to create.

If you are having building work done then I wish you well; it is not an easy time. Try to be gentle with yourself in other areas if you can and, when it is finished, give yourself space to enjoy what you have achieved. 

Blowing my own trumpet

Last year I completed the NaNoWriMo challenge, an exercise that not only gave me a (very) rough draft of a novel that I was rather pleased with but also gave me more confidence in my ability to write fiction. Despite having spent much of my life making up stories in my head, even going so far as to write a few down, I had never been willing to talk much about my creations, nor to let anyone else read those that I committed to paper or hard drive.

The main lessons that I learnt from taking part in NaNoWriMo were that I find writing fiction great fun, a welcome escape and a stress release. When I came to the end of my draft novel I wanted to set it aside for a time before I returned for the first rewrite, but I knew for sure that I didn’t want to stop writing. It was at around this time that I came across Tipsy Lit and their Prompted challenges.

Not only does this reader’s and writer’s community publish a wide variety of fiction and non fiction pieces, run an online book club and host discussions on everything from books to booze; it also invites entries for a weekly competition. It was these Prompted challenges that drew me to get involved.

Each Monday a prompt is released and writers are invited to create a work of flash fiction (a story of around 500 words) which they link to a Prompted post on the following Friday. All entries are then included in a poll set up on the following day and readers have 24 hours to vote for their favourite entry. The story that attracts the largest number of votes will be published on the front page of the site on Sunday.

Up until this point the only writing that I had published were the posts on my own blog. I wrote a post inspired by a Tipsy Lit weekly prompt before realising that they were looking for works of fiction (note to self, read the instructions before you start). Undeterred I decided that I would write a short story as well, and what fun I had doing so. I knew that I had discovered a style of writing that I wished to explore further.

Why do people follow blogs? I can see no reason other than they like the writing style and content of what is published. Having gained a following for this blog I did not, therefore, wish to radically change it by starting to include the short works of  fiction that I now wished to offer for others to read. I decided to set up a second blog for my stories, thereby creating Dreams and Demons.

I have yet to win a Prompted challenge, not least because on each week I have entered I have been up against an author named Duncan Swallow from nobodysreadingme (if ever a blog name did not reflect the content then this is it). Week after week he just keeps attracting more votes than anyone else. Read some of his stories to find out why (he also publishes on ReadWave and Wattpad, as do I, but to keep up with his work it is best to follow him on Twitter where his handle is @duncanswallow1).

As well as Duncan though, I have also been up against quite a number of other impressive entries and normally manage to gain a few votes which is pleasing. More importantly, I am offered useful feedback and am enjoying the creative process and practice.

As a result of entering my work I was invited by the welcoming and friendly lady who envisaged and created Tipsy Lit, Ericka Clay, to submit a story that I had not published elsewhere for consideration. I was quite delighted when it was accepted for publication and thus, today, one of my short stories has been published on the Tipsy Lit front page.

Do go across to read Repercussions and let me know what you think. While you are there, check out the rest of the site, there is a lot of good content.

I know that I have a long way to go in my writing adventure so to have someone else believe that I am worth publishing is delightful. I still feel something of an imposter describing myself as a writer. The encouragement that I have received from this inclusive and friendly community gives me hope that, if I keep practising, perhaps one day I will get there.

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Hanging out on line

I have had a Facebook account for several years. Without it I would know a lot less about the lives of many friends I rarely see. Of course I am aware that I am only being offered the briefest of edited snapshots of their lives, but still. Still it is more than I would otherwise be offered; I am grateful for the little that I am given, for the link into a chink of their lives.

I was encouraged to join Facebook by a friend with whom I used to exchange regular emails. Since he and I have been on this supposedly social site we have not been as intimate. Can a largely electronic, text based relationship be described as intimate? I think that it can. I regret our loss of intimacy as I value the friendship and felt that I was giving something back. Inverted selfishness; I valued being able to give, as much because of the benefits to me as for the hoped for value to him.

On Facebook I keep most of my settings private. I try to take care over what I post, particularly photographs. I try to take care over who I will accept as a friend. I realise though that much of this is an illusion. The real reason why my friendship list is so small is because there are few people who seek me out. I have never in my life been one of the popular people.

This year my use of the internet has changed. I started to blog and put out links to my writing on various sites in order to encourage readers to pay me some attention. Having spent years carefully watching and listening, I started to put a chunk of myself online, accessible to all. I started to say what I thought and, more especially, how I felt. I started to befriend the internet in a way that I had never managed with the face to face people I knew.

As well as setting up this WordPress site I made use of Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google+. It took me some time to get into the rhythm of Twitter but, at times, this is my favourite medium for news and expression. It offers soundbite communication and easy sharing of other’s musings in a quickly digestible, largely disposable format. When we attend large gatherings of friends and acquaintances isn’t most conversation like that?

I set up my Google+ quite some time ago but have only just started to use it in the past few weeks. I am not yet comfortable with the settings which seem tricky to manage compared to Facebook. Last week I commented on a Youtube video that amused me, and was quite shocked to see a link appear on my Google+ feed, shared with my circles, many of whom I know only from the blogosphere. I need to learn how to share more carefully on this medium. I need to decide how I wish to use it.

In general though, my active pursuit of an on line profile has made me less concerned about personal privacy. I question whether I have much to hide. I started to write under the moniker zeudytigre and that has largely stuck, but my Twitter account uses my given name and I now link it to this blog.

I also use my given name on Pinterest where I record my book and film reviews. I am not into cutesy craft, fashion or home improvements. I have managed to make this site work for me, the way I want it to. I may still add a board to link to this blog though; I want people to read me. I feel a sense of embarrassment admitting that.

Of all the sites to which I ascribe, my Tumblr is probably the maverick. I have yet to find a use for it beyond a means to take the pulse of a world of young people who know how to think for themselves. It gives me hope for the future. Whether or not I can harness it for myself remains to be seen; perhaps that will be my next project.

In November I took part in NaNoWriMo, an experience that gave me more confidence as a writer. I decided that I would like to pursue my fictional writing so set up a second WordPress blog as a home for some my short stories (Dreams and Demons). I also joined the writer’s community at Tipsy Lit (link via my sidebar button). I am gaining a lot of pleasure from this new direction and have had some positive feedback from other writers, which is always very satisfying. I still feel somewhat reluctant to describe myself as a writer.

With all of this activity to manage it now feels as though the internet is my hangout. I certainly feel more comfortable here than I ever did at physical gatherings of people. The one thing that I do need to watch is that I do not stop reading the books that do so much to feed my mind, essential if I wish to improve my writing. I can spend far too long on line.

As well as my writer’s pseudonym I continue to use my original avatar rather than a personal photograph on many of the on line sites that I frequent. As a back garden hen keeper, the picture of a mother hen with her three eggs seemed to suit me (I have three children). I feel more comfortable being known by that picture than by my face. Perhaps, in time, I will gain enough confidence to allow my true self to be seen more often.

As my children have grown away from me to pursue their own lives I have felt a need to fill the void that they left. My writing has offered me this possibility. Those who mistrust the internet and wonder at my willingness to open up to on line strangers may well be those who can easily socialise off line. As I am not comfortable in such an environment this space has allowed me to interact with like minded people who I would struggle to meet otherwise. My hope for the coming year is that I may expand my community of acquaintances and continue to find help and inspiration, as well as readers, amongst those I meet.

Finding the readers is a tricky balancing act. I wish to promote what I write but do not wish it to be the only aspect of my conversation. I do not wish to use my social networks purely for self advertising as that alone is bound to put people off linking to me. I am not yet confident that what I write is worth other’s time, that it is good enough to warrant their attention.

If this is where I go to party then I desire conversation more than mass attention. I wish to discuss, dissect and muse over the significant and the inane. I am interested in books, films, current affairs and politics; I am not interested in celebrities, cooking or fashion. I seek out the blogs and the sites managed by those who offer me insight and feedback.

Am I still only using my ‘friends’ for my own means? Perhaps that is all that any of us ever do. Perhaps the best that we can hope for is that we may also give enough back to make the interaction worthwhile for all concerned.

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I’m a Versatile Blogger!

Well now. I woke up this morning to discover that I have been nominated for a bloggy award.

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Thank you so much to Swivel Freely for bestowing this honour on me. It is always lovely when people read my posts and totally delightful when they feed back to say that they have enjoyed what I write. I am feeling quite chuffed about this. I also get to display a little award button on my sidebar, can you see that? Click on the image to find out what this is all about.

Now I get to nominate fifteen blogs or bloggers that I think are excellent. Hold on tight and check these out:

1. Black. Bunched. Mass. Mom.

2. Homesick and Heatstruck.

3. The Waiting.

4. Are You Finished Yet?.

5. Not Taken, Not Available 

6. I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog 

7. Taking Words for a Stroll.

8. Momma Roars 

9. Janet’s Notebook

10. Perfection Pending 

11. The Green Study.

12. Gillybirds

13. Suzanne Askham’s Blog.

14. E.J.Kay’s blog 

15. Vernacularisms

Phew. If I haven’t linked you in up there, please don’t feel sad. There are just so many awesome bloggers to follow that I found it hard to narrow it down to fifteen.

And finally, I get to do my acceptance speech. Actually, I get to tell you seven things about me.

1. I collect teddy bears and always travel with a small bear my husband bought me early in our marriage. You can check out his Facebook page at Edward Gainsborough – Teddy Bear.

2. I have worked: on a checkout at a petrol station; as a waitress in a posh restaurant; as a cleaner at an art gallery; as a computer programmer, designer and tester.

3. I passed my driving test on my first attempt.

4. I suffer from vertigo.

5. My husband and I still live in the same house we moved into when we got married twenty-one years ago.

6. I am a practising Christian but no longer go to church.

7. I have travelled around Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Australia but have yet to visit America.

So now you know. Have an awesome day 🙂

Words

I am thinking about words. Not the fifty thousand or so satisfying words that I poured into my NaNoWriMo file, now floating in the Google cloud awaiting rewrite. Not the thousand or so words that I fill each post on this blog with. I am thinking about the words we speak and, more significantly, the words we cannot speak because they are so hard to find.

On a typical day I do not say very much. Many of the words that I speak could be pre-recorded and played on remote. ‘You need to get yourself ready’; ‘Have you packed your lunch?’; ‘What time will you be home?’; ‘Have a good day’; ‘How was your day?’.

I suspect that the daily repetition is irritating to those around me. The alternative is to say nothing, to stay out of the way, which I sometimes choose to do.

Over dinner in the evening I find that my children now drive the conversation around the table with their happy chat about friends and teachers, television shows and funny happenings. When I try to join in with an anecdote of my own it often falls flat. It is best if I remain largely silent.

My husband rarely makes conversation. We pass each other essential information or significant news. Sometimes we find a topic of mutual interest, an update from someone we have met, a topic from current affairs, but this is a rare treat.

Perhaps this is why I have found my writing to be so therapeutic. All of those words in my head that want to come out, all of those thoughts and events that I want to share but have nobody wishing to listen. I throw them out into the ether and feel pathetically grateful when someone, anyone, responds. It feels like interaction, sometimes even understanding.

Television shows depict friendships where people can share anything and everything with their close friends. In order to draw the viewer in to the plot there is necessary dialogue. Do friendships like this exist in real life? Do people ever share the plot lines of their lives so openly?

I was brought up to adhere to a strict set of rules. There were some things that we should not do, but if we did then it should never be mentioned. There were some things that we should never discuss. If nobody talked of the shameful thing then we could all pretend that it hadn’t happened. It would remain hidden, secret, unspoken, unacknowledged. Eventually it would go away.

Words spoken do not go away. A careless, cruel or unkind word will bury itself deep in the hearer’s psyche where it will fester and grow in proportion, beyond anything intended. It will shape perception of the speaker, creating waves that spread out as a pebble dropped in a pool of still water. Little wonder that many words are better left unsaid.

What to do then with the emotions that are so hard to express but which affect not just the bearer but those around because they cannot be fully contained, they affect the way we live and act? I have tried to explain so much to my nearest and dearest, yet have been unable to find the right words. I encounter blankness, irritation, misunderstanding. Do I keep those words inside and cope as best I can? Do I try to share in the hope that some sense can be made of the way my life is being blighted by these feelings of despair?

Words are powerful and dangerous. A lack of words can be equally hard to bear.

Am I looking for understanding only so that things may go my way? If I cannot make myself understood, the repercussions may cause a reaction that is worse than holding it all inside. How do I find a language deep enough to express such intense emotion in the short time that I can hold a listener’s attention?

My silence is painful but words, once shared, cannot be contained or controlled.

I cannot explain, even to myself, why these emotions exist and affect me so negatively. How am I to find the language that will allow someone else to understand? If I bottle it all up inside, will it explode and cause more damage because the cause was never adequately communicated?

_Emotions 10