#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘The Question is Who, and the answer is…’ #SaturdayThoughts #Tanka

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

 This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has asked us to begin a post starting with the word ‘who’. Join in and have fun!

This morning, as I do most mornings, as part of my morning routine, I wrote my morning pages. There are many ways to write your morning pages, more in tomorrow’s post, but for me it’s just one page of free writing which takes about ten minutes to write in my journal. This morning I responded to Linda’s prompt and started with the word ‘who’. Here’s what I wrote.

****

The Question is ‘Who’, and the Answer is….

Who said life would be easy, or fun, or even interesting?

Who told you all your dreams would come true?

Who predicted true love and happiness were in your path?

Perhaps it was your parents, or a TV ad or programme, or a grandparent, friend, teacher, or even a therapist?

Or maybe You decided that You were worth it, that You were enough, that it was You who foretold and visualised your future and then made it come true by turning wishes into goals with careful planning, perseverance, hard work, motivation and determination? And why not? A little help along the way.

It was You who made the promises, and it is You who can make them come true.

Who said it was possible, valuable and deserved? You

Who said it was impossible, worthless or undeserved? You

Who is right either way? You

It is always You. So, believe in yourself, work on yourself, plan to make your dreams become goals and make them come true, because your life is a gift, and You have the power; it’s in your hands.

The question is WHO, and the answer is YOU.

Writing this post has reminded me of the poem Invictus by William Ernest Henley.

Here’s the last stanza:

It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

I Hope you’re having a wonderful Saturday! Take care and stay safe.

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Stay Calm’ #SaturdayThoughts

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has asked us to use a word starting with the letters “cal” as our prompt word. Join in and have fun!

****

Stay Calm

Calm is a word which has become one of my favourites. Every day is full of tiny problems which give could lead to disaster if I don’t find a solution. A broken washing machine, losing my car keys, forgetting my best friend’s birthday, a toothache, a traffic jam which makes me late to an important appointment, a bad hair day…

On any day, so many little things can go wrong and cause havoc, but if I react by losing my nerves, which I sometimes do, it only makes matters worse. On the other hand, I can usually find simple solutions to most small, daily problems if I react calmly.

Machines can be repaired, if it’s urgent I can access a dry cleaners or laundromats, hairdresser’s, dentists, or an Uber. If I calm down, I can find most misplaced objects (once I put the keys in the freezer and found them retracing my steps!). A heartfelt apology or an honest excuse will often work wonders when I’ve made a mistake. Responding to a rude client (in my case student) with more rudeness or anger will only increase the problem, calm them down or ask them to leave. But if I’m worked up, the solution to even the simplest problem becomes impossible.

So how do I calm down when I’m feeling hysterical? The following simple activities take between 2 and 10 minutes and I find they usually help me relax.

1- Controlling my breathing does wonders, I love the breathing technique recommended by Dr Chatterjee; three in, hold for four and breathe out in five, then repeat until I feel calmer.

2- If I can, I find a quiet spot and close my eyes, and breathe slowly and visualise the problem and think of a solution.

3- I’m a great believer in the power of writing lists, so just sitting down for a few minutes and writing a list of possible solutions, also helps.

4- Asking for help. If I can’t solve it myself, I think about who I could phone and ask for help.

How do you keep calm? 

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘March 2020-March 2021: A Year to Remember’ #SaturdayThoughts

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday Linda has asked us to write about this past year to share our common experiences as a way to connect, to feel a little less alone, perhaps. 

****

March 2020- March 2021: A Year to Remember

I’d use four words to describe how I’ve felt over the last year: Connectedness, Silence, Introspection, and Renewal.

Connectedness

Perhaps ironically, from March 2020 to March 2021 is the year I have felt less alone in the world in my life!

I feel connected to everyone in the world, because we’ve all had to cope with the same fears, restrictions, economic crisis, and illness this pandemic has brought.

The very existence of this pandemic, which originated in a market in a town in china and reached every corner of the world in a few weeks, just goes to show how interconnected we are.

We all breathe the same air, are warmed by the same sun, and our tides are governed by the same moon. We are all unique, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t connected to everything else on our planet and universe.

Silence

At first, during lockdown the silence, especially at night when the curfew meant we were all at home early, was terrifying.

I love silence. In fact, when I write, I often I use my headphones on mute to block everything out and write, but that’s my choice, for a few hours. This silence was different, it was empty; life was missing. And it was distressing, because it wasn’t normal. It was the silence of absence; as if the world had stopped breathing, and it led to a distressing feeling; as something was missing and there was a hole in the world.

Now, after a year we are still on partial lockdown, but the vaccine is being administered and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The Silence is no longer frightening, it’s just silence, a friendly, quiet silence. A silence waiting for the storm to pass.

Introversion 

Apart from the pandemic, between March and September 2020, I’ve had challenging months, not related to the pandemic, but worsened by occurring at the same time. I was forced to travel, visit several hospitals, and take care of administrative and household matters in hospitals, shops and government offices, when all I wanted to do was hide at home and wait for the storm to pass.

I wrote little during this time, except some notes and poems, and a few blog posts, but I didn’t have the routines or mindset to revise or continue writing my novels.

However, I did read a lot, especially personal growth and self-help books that have helped me immensely to understand myself and cope with stressful situations. I’m still reading these wonderful books and posting reviews and opinions about them on my blog every Monday on a weekly post called #MondayMotivation. 

Renewal

Fortunately, October brought a relative peace back into my life and I was able to devote my time to my literary pursuits with renewed strength and enthusiasm.

And now that winter is coming to a close, the vaccine is being administered, and the world seems a safer place, we are all longing to get back to our lives, but our ‘new lives’ because at least I am not the same person I was last March. I want more freedom to hug my friends and family and to travel, but I also appreciate everything I have and everyone I love, much more.

I value and feel grateful for my comfortable home, my internet connection for social media, work and enjoyment, the food in my fridge, the clothes I choose to wear, the friends I speak to on the phone every day and the air I breathe.

What are your reflections on this last year?

Carrot Ranch #FlashFiction Challenge #99Words ‘Return to Alaska’

This 99-word flash fiction piece was written in response to Charli Mills’ weekly challenge at Carrot Ranch. Thanks Charli for the prompt!

February 25, 2021, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less), write a story using the word frozen. It can be descriptive, character focused, action driven. Go out onto the ice and find a frozen story. Go where the prompt leads! Respond by March 2, 2021. Rules & Guidelines.

Return to Alaska

“Hi, my name’s Suzie. I’ll be looking after you this morning.” I smiled at the pretty hostess.  

She showed me some images on her screen. “Where would you like to go today, Maggie?”

I needed to return to the cabin where I had left my unfinished manuscript.

“A beach, the mountains, a lake, or…”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

Suzie pushed my wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on Alaska’s frozen landscape?”

“I have to finish my novel.”

Suzie squeezed my limp hand and slid on the 3D glasses. “Alaska it is.”

  *****

I wrote a stream of consciousness post inspired by the word ‘Frosty’ on Saturday, The post included a short story, improvised in two parts, on Friday night before going to bed I wrote the beginning and on Saturday morning I wrote the end of the story. No editing, no thinking, just improvised writing. Here is the post.

I usually take hours to write my posts, but stream-of-consciousness frees me from the constraints of a ‘well-crafted’ text. I literally wrote it in less than half an hour and amazingly, it is the post with the most likes in all February!

What does that tell me? Perhaps I spend too much time on my other posts and make them worse with so much preparation and editing?

Anyway, as this week’s Carrot Ranch prompt was ‘frozen’, which is pretty similar to ‘frosty’, I decided to use the same basic story idea and rewrite it with more careful editing and reducing it to 99 words.

Here’s the original stream-of-consciousness story with no editing: (Except ProWritingAid, which does the spelling and punctuation automatically as I write, which is a lifesaver!)

Frosty

I would love to stay at a log cabin, like the ones you see in films, in distant places like Canada and Alaska, sit by the window and write whatever comes to mind, drinking cups of tea and hot chocolate, by the fireplace, and eating hot soup with crusty bread (maybe I am hungry?).

I’d write a story about a writer who was in search of inspiration. She rented a cabin in the snowy countryside in the Alaskan wild, where she found a diary in the bedside table drawer, left behind by a previous occupant who had also come to write a book.

She opened the first page and read:

Once upon a time a writer needed solitude to write her novel, so she rented a cabin and found a diary written by a previous occupant. It started with Once upon a time…

She wrote the first chapter, and then she left.

She returned every year to find her diary in the same place. She wrote a new chapter each year.

(And now I’m going to bed, because it’s one o’clock in the morning. Tomorrow morning I’ll reread my post and write the end of the story.

Hi! I’m Back. Here’s Part II).

“Good morning, Maggie.”

Maggie turned to the pretty young girl and smiled.

“Where would you like to go today?” the nice girl said, showing her images on a screen. “There’s a beach, the mountains, a thick wood, or…”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

“If you’re sure?” Maggie nodded enthusiastically.

The girl pushed Maggie’s wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on frosty Alaska?”

Maggie’s eyes shone. “I have to finish my novel.”

The young girl caressed Maggie’s wrinkled hand, put on her 3D glasses and said, “Alaska it is.”

****

Well, what do you think?

Have I improved the story with tighter editing, or not?

 

#SoCS Stream of Consciousness Saturday ‘Frosty’ #SaturdayThoughts #FlashFiction

This post was written in response to Linda Hill’s weekly Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt. 

This week’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “-sty.” Find a word that ends in “-sty” or use the word “sty.” Enjoy!

Frosty

A few words have crossed my mind, such as:

Nasty, but I refuse to let any type of unpleasantness into my life.

Dusty, but I’m not in the mood to think about housework or dirt.

Crusty, I was tempted, but it’s way past my bedtime and I’m not hungry.

Hasty, I’m no longer in a hurry. I’ve been there, done all the rushing around, life is slower now.

Misty, this word brings sad memories. It’s the name of our cat who was run over, and I don’t need sad memories right now.

So, I finally settled on Frosty because I live an hour and a half’s drive from the Mediterranean Sea, where the climate is mild, so frost is a pretty, exotic thing I see very little of, and therefore it has no negative connotations for me. On the contrary, I looked through Pixabay and found some lovely pictures of frost, like this one:

I would love to stay at a log cabin, like the ones you see in films, in distant places like Canada and Alaska, sit by the window and write whatever comes to mind, drinking cups of tea and hot chocolate, by the fireplace, and eating hot soup with crusty bread (maybe I am hungry?).

I’d write a story about a writer who was in search of inspiration. She rented a cabin in the snowy countryside in the Alaskan wild where she found a diary in the bedside table drawer, left behind by a previous occupant who had also come to write a book.

She opened the first page and read:

Once upon a time a writer needed solitude to write her novel, so she rented a cabin and found a diary written by a previous occupant. It started with Once upon a time…

She wrote the first chapter, and then she left.

She returned every year to find her diary in the same place. She wrote a new chapter each year.

(And now I’m going to bed, because it’s one o’clock in the morning.

Tomorrow morning I’ll reread my post and write the end of the story.

Hi! I’m Back. Here’s Part II).

“Good morning, Maggie.”

Maggie turned to the pretty young girl and smiled.

“Where would you like to go today?” the nice girl said, showing her images on a screen. “There’s a beach, the mountains, a thick wood, or …”

“I want to go back to Alaska.”

“If you’re sure?” Maggie nodded enthusiastically.

The girl pushed Maggie’s wheelchair into the viewing room. “Why are you always so keen on frosty Alaska?”

Maggie’s eyes shone. “I have to finish my novel.”

The young girl caressed Maggie’s wrinkled hand, put on her 3D glasses and said, “Alaska it is.”

****

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘Blogging Friends’ #bookbloggers #amwriting @SCVincent

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the February 3 posting of the IWSG are Louise – Fundy Blue , Jennifer Lane, Mary Aalgaard, Patsy Collins at Womagwriter, and Nancy Gideon!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

February 3 question – Blogging is often more than just sharing stories. It’s often the start of special friendships and relationships. Have you made any friends through the blogosphere?

When I started blogging in November 2013, I had no idea what I was doing! I had heard of blogs, of course, and I’d probably read some blog posts, but I’d never even thought of starting one.

An online writer friend I met through Goodreads told me every writer should have a blog, so I started looking into what blogs actually were and decided to give it a go, and I’m really glad I did.

Blogging and interacting with other bloggers has helped me improve and develop my writing career by improving my craft through writing blog posts and creative flash fiction, showcasing my writing and sharing opinions and work with other readers and writers. It has given me a window to the world and a direct connection to other readers, writers and bloggers.

I’ve met a lot of bloggers along the way, and there are a few who I consider my ‘blogging friends’. But first I’d like to briefly reflect on the term ‘Blogging friend’. What is a blogging friend?

My blogging friends share many characteristics of the friends I see face to face. They are both supportive and friendly, which means I can ask them for help and advice on the topics that brought us together, in my case, mainly books and writing. We often share other personal opinions and some aspects of our private lives, too. We regularly read and comment on our posts and our projects. I feel as if I know them, so if I ever physically met them, I’m sure we’d chat away about our common passion and everything else we could think of!

The only thing blogging friendships lack is physical interaction and after this epidemic, when 95% of the contact I have with friends and family is online or on my phone, I’d say physical contact is overrated!

Sue Vincent: A Very Special Blogger

Talking about blogging friends, I’d like to introduce you to a very special blogging friend, who she has thousands of followers and blogging friends and is well-loved by many bloggers: Sue Vincent.

I ‘met’ Sue in 2017 when I first took part in her weekly photo prompt challenge on her blog called #Writephoto.

#Writephoto is a great challenge because there is no word or genre limit, just a picture prompt to take you wherever your thoughts go!

Sue is a very supportive host who comments on all entries and reblogs as many as she can every week.

She has three Websites where she shares her poems (And I love her #midnighthaiku) flash fiction, short stories, guest posts, poetry, books, etc.:

Daily Echo

France & Vincent

The Silent Eye

Sue is struggling with a serious illness at present read more about that here, so she could do with love and support from the blogging community to which she has contributed so much over the years.

Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch Literary Community, another supportive online writing and blogging community, is organising The Sue Vincent Rodeo Classic, including a Flash Fiction Event to celebrate and support Sue. Read all about it in H. R. R. Gorman’s post on behalf of the Rodeo Organization Team and take part.

Find out more about Sue here

Finally I’d like to share a poem I wrote this morning. Hoping you all have a wonderful Wednesday.

 

#MondayMotivation ‘The Miracle Morning for Writers’ #MondayBlogs #WritingGoals #amwriting

Over the past months, I’ve been reading a great number of motivational and inspiring books on personal growth. I’ve also been listening to podcasts and watching videos on YouTube. This interest has sprung from a combination of factors as I’ve recently reached a few significant milestones in my life; I retired and turned sixty, and I have five grandchildren between the ages of three months and nine years. I am concerned with aging, health, and emotional wellbeing, as well as my children’s and grandchildren’s future challenges. I have more time to reflect and more things to reflect on, so I’ve found these books, podcasts and videos very helpful, especially in these uncertain and volatile times in which we can take nothing for granted. I’ll be sharing my thoughts with you on Mondays.

This Monday I’m featuring The Miracle Morning for Writers, written by Hal Elrod, Steve Scott and Honoree Corder. As many of my readers are writers, like myself, I’m sure you’ll find the key ideas of this book useful.

The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income by [Hal Elrod, Steve Scott, Honoree Corder, S.J. Scott, James Altucher]

Hal Elrod also wrote The Miracle Morning, which I reviewed here, so it’s not surprising that in this book he gives us many examples of successful writers who get up early and do their writing in the morning. The first chapters are all about getting up as early as possible and establishing a morning routine which lasts an hour and comprises the following SAVERS: ‘Silence, Affirmations, Visualisation, Exercise, Reading and Scribbling’.

He also insists that we set realistic goals, including intended word counts, eliminate limiting beliefs and treat writing like a full-time job by scheduling time for writing and finding an ideal place to write.

This book also discusses practical aspects such as ways of being more efficient, outlining, writing numerous drafts, editing, monetising blogs and books, advertising, self and traditional publishing, finding an agent, building a platform and social media presence.

I love his ‘Miracle Equation’. You have to believe in yourself, no matter which obstacles come your way, but that’s not enough. You also have to work as hard as you possibly can to fulfill your dreams.

Finally he tells us that in order to achieve our writing goals, we should become the person who can achieve those goals. In the end, it’s not about publishing a book, it’s about the journey of becoming a writer.

I found The Miracle Morning for Writers useful and motivating. It’s a brilliant book for writers in the first stages of their careers because it has everything a would-be-writer needs from inspiration and writing to publishing and marketing.

The authors touch on all the aspects of being a writer, from mindset and motivation to writing and making a living from your writing. Every author at whichever stage you find yourself in your career will find value in The Miracle Morning for Writers.

Take care and stay safe.

Here’s the link if you’d like to read my other posts on #PersonalGrowth 

Check this post out to find out about my Blogging schedule.

Insecure Writers Support Group #IWSG ‘7 things which stop me from finishing a book’ #amreading

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the January 6 posting of the IWSG are Ronel Janse van Vuuren , J Lenni Dorner, Gwen Gardner Sandra Cox, and Louise – Fundy Blue!

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

January 6 question – Being a writer, when you’re reading someone else’s work, what stops you from finishing a book/throws you out of the story/frustrates you the most about other people’s books?

Life is short, and getting shorter every day, and there are so many books to read that no one can read all the ones they’d like to read, so we have to pick carefully, and even then, if we’re not happy we can stop reading, because we don’t have to finish every book we start. I certainly don’t.

I’ve identified seven issues which could stop me finishing a book.

1- Unmet Expectations.

There are many reasons to read the first line of a new novel. But if it hasn’t been written or recommended by a fellow author or blogger, I decide to download a sample after reading the title and the blurb, although the cover also entices me!

If the book is described as a legal thriller, that is what I expect to read, and if I discover it has a dystopian setting, or it is a romance, I may not continue. On the other hand, I may like the writing style and proceed anyway.

2- Unlikeable characters

I don’t mean villains. I love villains, especially if they’re complex and part of the main plot, such as unreliable narrators!

An unlikeable character is one I can’t relate to, find irritating, whiney, or unbelievable. If there is only one, that may be ok, but if several characters, especially the main one, fall into this category, I will probably stop reading.

3- Poor editing

Repetition of events, words, phrases, too many adverbs, swear words, clichés etc. can put me off, but not always, because the characters and story can pull me in and persuade me to continue.

4- Trigger topics

We all have topics we do not want to read about explicitly, because they upset us. These topics are often related to sex, violence, drugs, trauma, etc.

I have a few personal ones, which is why the blurb should advise readers if the novel includes any sensitive topics.

5- Pacing

Sometimes I like the writing style and characters, but little seems to actually happen by means of a traditional plot. If I already know this might be the case because it’s what may be referred to as ‘literary fiction’ I may continue reading, anyway. But if I’m expecting a fast-paced thriller, according to the blurb, I would feel deceived and might not read on.

Contemporary readers, unlike Victorian readers who revelled in three-volume novels, are impatient and demanding, so books should respond to their audience’s needs. 

6- Implausible plots

I prefer history and reality to fantasy, so I don’t read a lot of fantasy. I’m not happy when novels take a sudden and implausible supernatural twist and I might not read on, although other factors, such as writing style and characters might keep me reading.

I like plot twists and unexpected turnings, and even open endings, but loopholes in plots or ones that work out because of a sudden implausible event, or novels that drop a plot line or character in the middle are often annoying.

7- Writing style

This is a make or break one for me. I can read about any topic if I like the way it’s written, sci-fi, fantasy, vampires, erotica, westerns, warfare; it doesn’t matter if the writing draws me in.

The problem is, I have no idea how that happens.

I believe it when they say agents read the first line, paragraph or page and decide if they want to read the book, because I do exactly the same. I only carry on regardless if it’s one of my many favourite authors, or if it has been recommended by someone I trust.

So, what’s the secret to drawing the reader in?

I have this quote pinned on the wall in my study and I read it every day, hoping it will inspire me, because it’s the hardest and most important thing to do as a writer.

Not only the opening line of a novel, but I’d apply this proposal to every chapter, because you need to get the reader hooked on the first page and continue reading after the first paragraph of every chapter.

So, what makes you stop reading a novel?

By the way! Happy New Year!

 

#IWSG Why do I write what I write? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs #amwriting

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The awesome co-hosts for the November 4 posting of the IWSG are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

November 4 question – Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

insecure-writers-support-group-badge

This is a question I rarely ask myself explicitly, but I do think about the answer, because so many people ask me, and on this occasion it’s the Insecure Writer’s question for the month, so I’ll do my best to reply.

As I understand it, this question has two parts, a) why I write and b) why I write what I write.

a) Why do I write?

I write because I can’t not write, the same as I can’t not think, or feel, or walk, or talk.

Once I learn to do something which is useful and rewarding, it becomes part of my life and I can’t unlearn it or undo it.

I can’t stop writing a poem when I see a beautiful image, or have an emotional thought, or memory.

I can’t help carrying a notebook and jotting down ideas for poems or scenes for my books, and I’m sure I’ll never stop doing it, in fact I shudder to think I could ever stop the creativity flowing through my mind.

Now to the second part of the question, b) why do I write what I write?

I write about topics which I feel strongly about. This doesn’t mean I’m on a mission to change or improve the world, I would never be so presumptuous, it just means that I write about what is significant for me.

I write poems because I love capturing my emotions with a few symbolic words and giving them an artistic shape and sound, based on syllables and rhythm or rhyme.

I write Victorian novels because I admire Victorian authors who gave me so many hours of joyful reading and inspiration, and in so doing, I offer them my humble tribute.

I write about Jane Eyre, because when I first read it in my early teens, it was the first novel that inspired me to even think about writing myself, and I’ve never been able to get Jane Eyre out of my mind.

I write my blog because I want to reach out to and communicate with other authors and readers. It’s thrilling to know I can ‘meet’ and interact with other people who I’d never be able to reach or talk to or read about in my day-today life, if I wasn’t an active blogger.

I could go on, and if we could sit and chat with a coffee, a tea, a beer or a glass of wine, depending on our mood and the time of day, we’d share more ideas and reasons, because I’d love to know why you write too, and of course, why you write what you write.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or share and/or leave a comment 🙂

Follow Luccia Gray on Social Media:

Twitter

Facebook

Goodreads

Check out Luccia Gray’s Books on Amazon