Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Isolated Writer

Writing is a lonely job, or so it is said. I don’t feel lonely when I write. How could I possibly be lonely when there is a gorgeous male character inhabiting my head space? Nope, loneliness does not feature in my (fiction) writing. Finding someone to share the craft with, however, could possibly feel isolating for some writers. The world is full of blocked creatives: people who want to create something but don’t, usually out of fear of rejection or criticism. Such people are dangerous to have around your creative life because their jealousy becomes a dagger of destructive critique based on their own inadequacies. Stay clear of such people, or at least keep them well away from your creative life.

In my life I am blessed with a handful of women with whom I feel safe to share my raw writing work. One, in particular, is a gifted singer-songwriter, and it brings me such joy whendespite us living in different countriesat the click of a button we can share each other’s work: I ping my chapters to her, and she pings me back MP3s of her latest songs. It’s magic! I dance in the composite energy of our creative outpourings.

Regardless of our journey in life, or whether we pursue a creative path or not, we all seek to have someone witness our story, our life, our path. I, for one, am very grateful to have the witnesses that I do. Alone, as a writer, yes. Lonely, no.

Friday, September 27, 2013

The Writing Rhythm

For quite some time, my writing rhythm involved waking up early and having a few hours of writing time before my family woke up. But for the past few weeks, everything has been turned on its head. My formerly home-schooled daughters started school (A levels and GCSEs), and so my mornings haven’t been about writing and watching the sunrise over the fells outside my window: they’ve been about making delicious school lunches, porridge with cinnamon and cranberries, and ironing uniforms.

I have missed my writing enormously, and have to reconsider how I start the school day. Now, it might seem obvious to some: write during the day when they’re at school. The truth is that that isn’t an option for me. Once the rest of the world wakes up, phones start ringing, emails demand answering, and other diversions intrude into the mind of a writer. By day, I’m a magazine editor. My job is looking at other people’s writing, not my own. Nope, there is only one time of the day which truly works for me when writing imagination-based work: pre-sunrise.

The same imagination required to write, now has to be utilised to clear my early mornings and keep them free for my sacred space. Perhaps my 17 and 15-year-old daughters should be making their own breakfast and lunches, and doing their own ironing. The answer was in front of my eyes the whole time! Somehow, though, I can’t see them getting out of bed any earlier to undertake such creative and sacred nurturing tasks.  

Monday, September 02, 2013

Lightning Fingers

My fingers type at the speed of lighting, which is handy. My thoughts are quick, and to be able to get my ideas on paper as quickly as they rush through my head is quite a gift. It hasn’t always been like this. In secondary school, my typing teacher (Mrs Hoffman) used to hit my knuckles with a wooden ruler when she caught me looking at the keys. Cow!

It didn’t stop me, and eventually she put a bib over the keyboard so I could learn to type without looking at the keys. That didn’t work either, so she went back to the wooden ruler. Needless to say, I quit typing class. I valued my knuckles!

Several years later, I began work on my local newspaper as a reporter. Now, here’s the thing. You can not be a two-fingered typist if you want to survive in the world of journalism. Somewhere between day one of phoning the emergency services for news stories and the next Monday when my first story made the front page (whoop whoop!), my typing speed increased enormously.

I watch my husband, a slow, two-fingered typist, and it’s like watching a bull stuck in quick-sand. It’s painful. I feel ill. I’m desperate to help. 

Typing is my friend. As a writer, I'd be lost without it. 

The key to touch typing is to place your little fingers on the a and the colon buttons, ring fingers on s and l, middle fingers on d and k. Those fingers hit those keys AND the ones above and below. The pointer finger is king. He’s in charge of six keys (per finger). He’s The Power.

Left pointer finger is in charge of f, g, r, t, v and b. The right is in charge of j, h, u, y, m and n. 

If you make it a practice to keep your eight fingers sitting on the middle keys, and only use the right fingers on the correct keys, then in no time your typing speed will increase. Don’t be like Mrs Hoffman and get caught into believing you can’t look at the keyboard. In time, you won’t need to look at it because you’ll feel comfortable. Typing will be rote (like driving a car).