Sunday, 31 May 2015

Silent Sunday #1

Saturday, 30 May 2015

celebrating the simple things: writing

I heard on the news this morning that they've discovered another type of human which was living at the same time as our ancestors and the other species of humans. Sadly, we're the only humans left, and, while it's possible that there was some interbreeding, it is also possible that we killed them off. We can't know for sure, because there wasn't anyone writing it all down.

Humans like us have been around for about 200,000 years.

Throughout our history we have communicated, at first through gestures and sound, but we have evidence that we've been communicating by making marks for 40,000 years (which isn't long compared to how long we've been here, eh?). The first thing that springs to mind is cave painting, but there is also evidence that some marks were made to communicate to others.

However, writing as we think of it, has only been around for about 5,000 years (probably - it might be earlier, but not written on things that lasted - think Betamax).

Times that we can read about seem pretty close to me. Times when we can read the actual words of the people that lived then closer still. Changes in writing and in language can make it harder, but we have written texts that tell us about Egyptian Kings 4,000 years ago, although not in as much depth as we'd like. 

More recently, we know more. 600 years ago, in 1415, Cecily Neville was born on May 3rd. She was the mother of Richard III. Around this time lots of births and important events are registered. We even have some of the books that were produced. 

Lately we've been able to use writing more widely, as it's become a tool of the masses. During the 2nd world war, mass observation studies gave a fascinating glimpse into lots of real people's lives, using diaries that they would keep.

Now we all keep in touch with each other on Facebook, and people like me get to write in fora like this. This is my 400th post! 

I need to write everyday, to get the thoughts out of my head, and to try things out. I am profoundly grateful to all of those who have contributed to the wonder that is writing. 

I do sometimes wonder if I would need to write so much if I could draw. I'm told I could learn, but I don't have time. I'm too busy writing.

I'm also profoundly grateful to all those who use writing to spin tales that catch the imagination. Tanith Lee has died this week, and she is a great loss to the craft. May her stories live on.

Friday, 29 May 2015

reading: five books that are going on my 'to read' list.

I have spoken before about how my list of books to read is huge, and ever growing. This week for Friday's Fabulous Five, I thought I'd share five books which have recently gone on the list. Perhaps I can make your list grow too?!

1. First up is Mrs Miniver by Jan Struther, as recommeded on A Good Read back in March 2015. This is a really old book, but I've not read it yet, even though there was a Virago version and I used to read EVERYTHING from Virago! Have you read it yet?

2 Next up, and I don't know how it got on the list, but it looks good is The Wilder Shores of Love by Lesley Blanch. This is pretty old too, but fascinating, telling tales from Lesley's life. It's reviewed in the Telegraph here. Lesley died in 2007, aged 103, and having packed a lot in. Literally.

3. Also from A Good Read (I should stop listening to that programme) is The Village Against the World by Dan Hancox (they talk about it at about 10 minutes in). This is about Marinaleda in Spain, a village with a charismatic mayor and communist ideals. 

4. I am madly in love with Amanda Palmer, and want to give her money, so I'm planning on buying her book, The Art of Asking. I love this TED talk she did on the topic, and also suffer from the fear of asking, so I reckon I've got a lot to learn.

5. This last one is pesky I'm afraid, because it's not actually finished yet (and it's not George RR Martin, The Winds of Winter will bypass the list). The Alchemist by MK Robinson has been highlighted as 'one to watch' on the Authonomy blog from Harper Collins, and it tells the story of Minnow, for whom things look pretty dreadful. You can read the first four chapters here.

What's gone on your book list lately?

Thursday, 28 May 2015

The Weather Project: Reviewing May

 "You know, I control the weather with my moods. I just can't control my moods is all." - Nick Cave in 20,000 Days on Earth (2014) 

Are you having trouble seeing the difference since
the last dreary week?
Seriously May? Is this the best you can do?

It's chuffing freezing and it's still raining, with no end to this cheerless dreary weather in sight.

May you've set a low bar for June. 

June I see from the forecast that you're starting the way May left off. Snap out of it.
How's the weather with you?

I haven't done very well at keeping a weather diary this week.

It is so boring. 
Well, it is the way I've been doing. I suspect Nick Cave is more creative.

I thought I'd be a bit more creative too. After all, something saying that I feel happier when it's warm and sunny but other things affect my mood too is hardly worth reading eh?

So, first up, a description: 
The weather this week has been mainly cloudy, with plenty of rain, and some sun. Everything is greening up nicely, although there's quite a lot of brown mud in there too. Some plants in the garden are growing lots (mainly weeds, but the irises are showing promise too, which is incredible given that they're basically in a bog), and some are still suffering from the nasty weather.

The mood? Terrible. Sad. Isolated. Want to eat pizza and wrap up in a blanket and watch Avengers movies with my boy. We have not had a good week in my family (nothing I'm going to talk about), so I couldn't say I feel this way because of the weather.

But it hasn't helped.

As for creativity; I've mainly been cleaning, and catching up on the stuff I wasn't doing while I was working on Chapter five... Any thoughts about writing even a haiku based on the weather resulted in me singing this song.  That did cheer me up though. Result.

Next week will be flaming June (FLAMING JUNE, YOU HEAR ME?), and the temperature might even get above 12C. You never know.

Look! Sunshine, and little fluffy clouds! And yet the tree still has no leaves because it is chuffing baltic.

Friday, 22 May 2015

listening: 5 podcasts/radio programmes worth listening to.

Today I'm sharing 5 podcasts or radio programmes which I've listened to lately, and found interesting. What are your thoughts on them? And what have you been listening to that's worth sharing?

1. First up is Howard Jacobsen on A Point of View (BBC Radio 4) from 3/4/15 talking about George Osborne's 'mankles', which is a ropey topic, I grant you, and yet fascinating.

George Osborne has been getting leaner throughout the lean Tory government, and I wonder if, with no more fat to lose in continuing lean times (thanks for that, Tories), he's now reducing the fabric in his suits.

Fashion historians used to say that women did that, in times of austerity. That hemlines would rise as budgets got tighter. If it was ever true, it has not been in my lifetime, but it's still an idea, and I guess George Osborne might be trying to embody it?

2. Next it's In Our Time on the Lancashire Cotton Famine from Radio 4 on 14/5/15, which I really enjoyed because some of my family came from Lancashire, and my Mum would tell me about the mill workers heading down their cobbled road to go to work in their noisy clogs and waking her up in the morning.

Because of Lancashire's cotton industry, and the tradition of employing women, there never was the idea in Lancashire that women should stay at home (unless they needed to care for children, but childminding was also used), until it was enforced in the last century. This was a really interesting programme.

This is taken from a local Labour website. You'll
find the image, and also Naz's fascinating story
3. Also from 14/5/15 was a fascinating interview on Woman's Hour with the new Bradford MP Naz Shah. Naz has come from an incredibly difficult background to steal George Galloway's seat in Westminster. If that weren't reason enough to love her, then I don't know what is. Listen to hear her story, and also a really interesting piece on Frida Kahlo, plus Auschwitz survivors. You can't beat Woman's Hour.

4. Thinking Allowed is one of those programmes which has me shouting at the radio, there's lots of interesting stuff, but some utter nonsense (imho), and Laurie Taylor's old school laid back style drives me to distraction. This episode from 16/5/15 talks about the brain development of young children and the excuses given for current discourses encouraging working class parents to have their children spend more time in daycare. Pam Lowe, talking on the matter, mentions Baby Mozart, which was popular a few years ago, but has since been shown to have no impact whatsoever. She also talks about ideas that brain architecture is hard wired in the first 1000 days of life.

5. My final pick is from The Life Scientific on 24/3/15, and is a really interesting interview with Sarah-Jayne Blakemore, an expert in the teenage brain. This programme is particularly interesting as a follow on from the previous Thinking Allowed episode, and the teenage brain is a truly fascinating place.

What have you been listening to lately? Anything good?

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

introducing The Weather Project: controlling weather with mood.

 "You know, I control the weather with my moods. I just can't control my moods is all." - Nick Cave in 20,000 Days on Earth (2014)

Nick Cave grew up in Australia, but now lives in Brighton, England. 

Living in Brighton (which is in the South of England and has nothing on other parts of the UK as far as inclement weather goes), Cave became sick of the British weather. He found himself, like so many of us on this island, obsessing over it, so he wrote a diary of it. 

In doing this he found that it was more interesting to write about bad weather, so he started looking forward to it. He also found that the process of writing about it somehow fictionalised it. 

This sounds good to me.

Monday, 18 May 2015

boys with long hair

My boy, and his rather smashing hair. Out clothes
shopping (btw - boys clothes are awfy dull)
While the boy was off school recovering from a minor op, he got a visit at 7.45am from a community nurse, to check on his wound.

As you can imagine, at this time, I was busy getting everyone ready for the day, so the boy had been instructed to let the nurse in and give me a shout. He did, and was very polite to the nurse, and I left the girls to it and went downstairs to supervise.

The nurse was friendly, she greeted me, confirmed why she was there and then turned to my boy:
"Are you the big sister then?"
He looked a little confused at this, and turned to me, quizzically, before explaining to the nurse that his sisters were upstairs, and he was the boy she'd come to see. 

She was obviously surprised, but rather than apologising for her honest and forgiveable mistake, she turned to me and asked:
"Does he choose to have his hair like that?"
I get asked this question on a regular basis, and there's always a part of me that's tempted to say "No, I hold him down and pull it until it grows like that." 

Of course he chooses to have long hair! It's not the most common of boy's hairstyles, but it's not weird either, I mean, hair does grow, and there are plenty of long haired men and boys out there. 

Why does he want it? Partly it's because he likes to be a bit different, but it's also partly about belonging with other long-haired boys, and indeed being a little bit rock. And who wouldn't want to be a little bit rock?

His hair might surprise people at first, but his friends don't have a hangup about it, just like they're not bothered about the lad who likes pink. Also, he is fine with it, so why should it surprise anyone else?

It always makes me wonder what people would say if one of my girls had really short hair. Would they assume she was a boy? Would they ask if she'd chosen to have it? Wouldn't they use other things, like her clothes as indicators of her gender? 

The boy is well practiced in correcting people about his gender, and he doesn't mind much, although it does confuse him. After all, he doesn't dress or act at all girly (and he's got two sisters so he knows what they're like). 

Mostly people just apologise. Sometimes they don't. Sometimes people won't believe him when he says he's a boy. They laugh and tell him about Bill, the tomboy in their family; and they assure me that he'll grow out of it.

My boy is most definitely a boy. It's what he identifies as, whole-heartedly. He's a boy with long hair. There's nowt wrong with that. (and btw, if he'd been born with female gender, and then told me he was a boy, there'd be nowt wrong with that either).

Sunday, 17 May 2015

happy in April

Sorry it's late - it completely slipped my mind to be honest! But here are a few of the photos I took for the #100happydays mission in April. 

Have you done the #100happydays challenge? If so, did you keep on checking to see if you were really still supposed to be doing it, because it does seem to drag on a bit!

However, it's always good to focus on the positive. Stuff like this:

My sister came to visit, and we went up the Lighthouse in Glasgow. That's one awesome view.
The weather got pretty good, and my husband broke out the brazier, which makes him happy.

I rediscovered colouring in because of Valentina Designs fabulous artwork, which I just can't resist.

We went to see The Kelpies, which were awesome.

I went for a walk with a camera and found a heron!

We had a great time visiting my brother in Manchester.

My little boy got sick, but was well cared for and got better again

The weather was sometimes really rather good

We planted up the garden with lots of lovely plants (which don't look half so good following some rubbish weather)

I spent time building lego with my big girl.
What good stuff did you do in April?

Promise to get the May one to you a bit quicker!

Friday, 15 May 2015

cinching it in: 5 wide belts I love.

I've been dieting with Slimming World since the beginning of this year, and have finally had to admit I've gone down a dress size.

I'm at that awkward bit of losing weight - I've dropped a size and some of my clothes are too big, but I'm not yet small enough to get into the things in the loft. I must have been this size on the way up, surely? 

Anyway, I don't want to buy lots of new clothes in this size, so I'm making the most of the things I've got, and amending some of them to fit me better, and to suit me better.

With the summer holidays coming up I did buy some new clothes, and I shared a picture on Facebook of some of my new outfit options. I invited opinion from my friends, as I wasn't sure what I should keep.

I got lots of opinion. EVERYONE liked the middle outfit the best.  But here's the thing - the middle one was the most annoying of the three outfits. It was the least comfortable, and required the most underwear. 

My friend Emma said, "Middle give you shape, form and life. Rest are just drapes or sacks. Go wild and give your lovely shape a proper outing."

Comment was also made about my legs.

I pondered this.

I could see what everyone meant, but I was comfy in those sacks!

I came to the conclusion that the answer lay in a wide belt.

With a wide belt (+ a vest and a shrug), I can turn my maxi skirt into a dress short enough to show off my legs on days when it isn't FREEZING.

With a wide belt I can cinch in the waist of a sack-like maxi dress to make it much more flattering, and to break up the pattern a bit.

I can also use it to get more wear out of my too-big clothes (I'm also amending them with scissors and needle).

I suspect I'm going to need more wide belts, so I've been browser window shopping and thought I'd share some of my favourites with you.

Apparently, wide belts work best on tall women. If you're shorter, you might want a narrower belt.

Although I suspect I'd still want a wide belt if I were shorter, because I love the little bit of pirate chic it adds to an outfit.

Here's a new thing I'm doing - on Fridays on the blog I'm sharing 5 good things. 

So, I've had a look for some gorgeous wide belts, and here are my recommendations (you can click on the image to be taken to the store). Prices are correct at the time of writing (15/5/15), and do not include delivery.

This tan cutout PU belt is from Dorothy Perkins. This is currently £12, and I really like the look of the overlaid skinny belt.

I found this belt which is leather and elastic on Amazon. It's currently £7.79.

This PU elasticated belt is from ASOS, and fastens at the back with press-studs. I love it's 80s vibe. The price is currently £10.50
I think that this leather Obi waist belt might be my favourite of the lot. You could go questing in this belt. It's currently £20. 

This belt from Yours is the bargain of the bunch as it's currently been reduced to £2. It is described as 'leather look' so I guess it's PU, with an elasticated section and a narrow bit at the front. I'm not sure how flattering those narrow bits are, but at £2 I'd definitely buy it if I was buying other stuff from Yours. 

Thursday, 14 May 2015

grateful for a welcoming friend

This week on the gratitude challenge I'm talking about those special people who make you feel welcome in a new place.

Making new friends is always hard. You've got to find a place for yourself among groups of people who've sometimes known each other since they were little kids. You don't know the in jokes, you don't know the places to go, and having someone that takes you under their wing is just awesome.

So, today I'd like to give a shout out to:

Chocolatey Clare - who danced with me, when no-one else would at a disco in the Isle of Man, and convinced me that I would be welcome if I moved there. She wasn't right, but she was kind, and I won't forget it.

Clare sadly died in an accident a few short years after this happened, causing me to go back to the island for her funeral, and stay another year. It was her fault islanders! But don't worry, I don't plan on coming back again. 

I will remember her for reaching out to me, and for her infectious giggle, her army surplus shirts, and her constant supply of Marlboro. She was a wonderful, warm person, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who mourns her loss.

Three good friends helped me settle in in Suffolk: Cate, Angela, and Jo all had sons the same age as mine, and would follow up with daughters. They had a regular rythmn of playdates and toddler groups, plus Thursday morning coffee at Waitrose (how I miss that), which they fit me right in to, helping me to quickly feel at home in glorious sunny Suffolk. Thank you ladies, and let's always keep in touch.

After Suffolk I moved to Moffat, a gorgeous little town surrounded by hills. There I was made welcome by Sheila, who introduced me to everyone she could find, or so it seemed, and always made sure that I, and everyone else at the toddler groups she went to, was not alone. Sheila also organised end of term nights out for Mums. Always a success. Often hilarious. She's an incredible woman. Mother of four, Minister's wife (that's Scottish for Vicar btw - not an MP), brilliant photographer (check out her instagram account), and now also student nurse. Not to mention that she can absolutely rock a denim pencil skirt.

We all need someone to welcome us from time to time, let's try to be the welcoming person, because it makes such a big difference.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

grateful for our health

It can be mawkish at times, this gratitude challenge. I'm supposed to be grateful for our health this week, but I don't think I'm very good at being grateful.

I expect good health. It doesn't always happen, and we get through that, although it can be really hard. Mental health issues are hard because they can be really hard to talk about, but physical health issues can have similar problems.

Also, ill health is just so tiresomely boring. For everyone. It's horrible being the ill one, and it's horrible living with them. Adjusting to the ramifications of the illness can be more horrible still. Read more about my fun experiences with pain here.

So again, I feel I'm not so much grateful for our health when it's good, as relieved. And when someone's health is bad, well that ranges from annoying (why oh why do my children always get sick immediately after holidays?) to chuffing furious, about my brother getting cancer twice, and about the people who have died. I'm grateful that my brother hasn't died; but mostly I'm furious about what he's been through, and terrified lest he, or anyone else important to me (and apologies for the callousness of that), should have to go through that again.

And of course, we will. 

Let us not be grateful for the days it doesn't happen. Let us fight to make more of those days. We are big fans of Orchid  - a charity fighting men's cancers; but there are lots of brilliant organisations out there. I am grateful to them for all the work they do, and to all the doctors and nurses, and related professions who work so hard to make those hard days less hard, and to make serious illness less serious, and less common.

Let's all support them, and support our NHS.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

catching the sun: kids suncatchers and how to make them

Is it just me, or is it still chuffing freezing?

It's Springtime weather gods! Spare us your winter winds and rain (and the hail and snow can stop too).

While we were stuck inside because of torrential rain the other day, we were reminiscing about our holiday to Somerset last year. It's well worth a visit if you haven't been yet. Read more about our visit here.

My son was talking about the stained glass windows in the Lady Chapel at Wells Cathedral. The medieval (C14) glass was broken during the Civil War (C17), and, unable to recreate the previous pattern, the window was rebuilt out of jumbled fragments.

My son loves that, and it did look very impressive, and showed a plucky spirit which I liked.

We decided to make something to remind us of those windows, so I had a look for suncatchers - after all, with the weather like this, we've got to catch as much sun as you can!

The Artful Parent seems to be your place to go for suncatcher ideas. They've got millions. Well, more than 50. Have a look.

We cut frames out of cardboard boxes (cereal boxes/snack bar boxes/chocolate egg boxes are idea), and then taped white baking parchment to them (taping it to the reverse side).

We then cut up a limited palette of tssue paper colours, and mixed them up in a tupperware box, before painting a thin layer of PVA glue onto the baking parchment, and sticking on bits of tissue paper.

Here's the end results.

The top one is by the big girl, and she's got a better finish on her sun catcher, but I think this is especially good for little kids, as you can get something that looks great pretty simply.

And let's hope that next time we catch the sun, we manage to hold on to it!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

getting ready to vote: music to vote by

Don't worry, no blatant electioneering for any party here, just three tracks which are in my mind as we head into the general election tomorrow.

I'd love to hear your suggestions to add to the list.

The first one is an in-car favourite, which inspired me to write this post. Supremacy by Muse. If I did ever get to have another life, I would like one in which I could sing like Matt Bellamy gets to. Also, I could have done with some of that makeup when I was a teenager, because mine was not waterproof, at all.

This one I'd forgotten about, but it's in Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which is very popular with my son and his cousin. The makeup isn't quite as good, but they're young. My apologies that this isn't a great quality video, but the tune is still good. Galvanise by the Chemical Brothers.

Last up we have this little wonder from 1975 - surely those hips should have been outlawed? Sad to hear of Errol Brown's death today, but hopefully he can inspire you to vote for a miracle.

See, I was good. No electioneering whatever. What are your tunes to inspire on our way into the polling booth?

living in Scotland: 10 reasons why we put up with the weather

This week on the gratitude challenge I'm supposed to be talking about being grateful for the weather.

I've waited all week to be grateful for the weather, and it's still not happened. We've had rain, wind, hail, snow, more rain, and although I can see sun on the hilltops from my window right now, it is merely illuminating a brown soggy mess from all the rain. The sheep have more sense than to be up there right now.

I suggested to my husband that he get a job in France again this morning. He laughed at me and told me it wasn't going to happen. Mainly because he can't speak French, but I must also admit that I like living in Scotland.

So, with all this weather, all at once, why on earth do I think Scotland is a good place to live?

Here, in no particular order, are ten good reasons:

1. Och aye the noo. I love all that tartan and tablet nonsense. Tartan and tweed are brilliant (and practical as well), and easy to wear. Kilts are awesome, and everyone in the world who fancies men, fancies a man in a kilt. Tablet is nice too, and sickly enough that you won't eat it all in one go. Probably. My brother came to visit once and went clay pigeon shooting. He got soaked to the skin and borrowed a dry pair of trousers from a chap called Donald. He was tickled that he had so many opportunities to sing that song.

2. Food. Scotland makes some great stuff (including much of the tartan mentioned above). Vegetarian haggis is delicious (I've not tried the other stuff I'm afraid). Irn Bru makes a smashing float (put ice cream in the top), and Tunnocks tea cakes are yummy, and a shout out to the person who designed the Tunnocks packaging, because it is awesome. Scotland is also pretty awesome at building ships and bridges.

3. Music. There's songs like the delightfully twee(d) Wild Mountain Thyme (Silencer's version below with lots of nice Scottish imagery), musicians like the Red Hot Chilli Pipers (below, covering Avicii), and lots of great bands: the Proclaimers, Glasvegas, Biffy Clyro, Primal Scream, Franz Ferdinand... the list goes on. 

4. Dancing. BC (before children) Kenny and I lived in Edinburgh, close to the Caledonian brewery, where we would go dancing at a ceilidh on a Saturday night. There's a slight risk of getting burled into a pillar, but it's such a laugh. We were lucky enough to have Last Tram Tae Auchenshuggle do the ceilidh at our wedding. Grin.

We had a Scottish wedding. Lots of kilts, lots
of booze, a ceilidh, and hardly any fights.
5. Government. Now the serious stuff. I moved to Scotland to work for the Scottish government. I don't work for them any more, but I do love the way they work. Most politicians seem to want to do their best for the people of Scotland, although they come at it in different ways. The Westminster politicians just seem to want to tell us what their opponents are doing wrong, so I'm glad that most powers are devolved. Our government is more discursive than adversarial, and because of our electoral system, minority parties get some representation which helps to avoid the race to the right we can see in Westminster just now. 

6. Politics. I am told that the idea that Scotland is more liberal than the rest of the UK is a myth. If you ask people across the UK about their views on various topics, we all come out kind of similar. Hmm. Even though I was at the sharp end of a lot of anti-English feeling last September, I'm glad to be in Scotland, where UKIP get booed out of town, and the Green party is taken seriously.  I am proud that Scotland is supportive of immigration, welcoming those who choose to come here. There is also distate here for the concept of the poor being blamed for their predicament. Our Scottish government wants more power over benefits and taxes so that they can do more to help the needy. You don't pay for prescriptions in Scotland, and old people don't pay for the care they need - because you shouldn't have to.The Scottish NHS is recognised for the vital and good work it does helping people stay well, and the hospitals are clean. No system is perfect, but at least you get the impression they're trying here.

7. Engineering and design. I love the Scottish government building, which was incredibly controversial, but which sits well in the landscape, and which encourages people to talk; not shout. Scotland is famous for its engineers and designers, which we export all around the world. And the Scottish people are rightly proud of their heritage. That said, the Scottish parliament was designed by a Spanish architect, chosen by the Scottish civil service. It was expensive, and the budget could have been managed better, but as a parliament building it has a lot of important stuff to do. Stuff which hadn't really been worked out when it was started. It is well worth a visit.

8. Education. Scotland has a great education system. Kids start school at about 5 years old, but can defer it if they're not ready. At the other end, they go to university for four years, and don't pay tuition fees. We have some marvellous universities, beca including St Andrew's where Will met Kate.

9. People. People make Scotland. People from lots of backgrounds, and with lots of different things to offer. Scotland believes in people. 16 year olds can vote here, and I've already talked about the attitude to immigration. Scotland may be late to the party sometimes (as we were with gay marriage), but when we get there we know how to party.

10. Scotland is gorgeous. No really, behind those clouds, it's just amazing. There's majestic deer, monsterific lochs, wild mountain thyme and all sorts. It's worth getting out there, just don't forget your waterproof troosers.

So I guess I'm staying, and I can even see some blue sky. What do you like about Scotland?

Saturday, 2 May 2015

writing for free

I'm being sarcastic. I don't love writing for free. I spend time doing research, crafting the right words, and trying to keep people entertained. The fact that I enjoy the work doesn't stop it being work, and does not make it worth less. I've moaned about it before, here.

I do lots of writing that I don't share on the blog,
here's a wee teaser from a recent poem.
I've reintroduced ads on the blog because they seem to have improved since I last had them, and because I am not averse to making money. I also do other writing, which I don't share on here, but do attempt to make money with instead.

I mentioned the other day that I follow the Harper Collins Authonomy blog, the other day this featured a quote from Andrew Solomon (a writer, who also did this lovely TED talk), himself quoting Rainer Maria Rilker (a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist):
Rilke has written, “Search for the cause, find the impetus that bids you write. Put it to this test: Does it stretch out its roots in the deepest place of your heart? Can you avow that you would die if you were forbidden to write? Above all, in the most silent hour of your night, ask yourself this: Must I write? Dig deep into yourself for a true answer. And if it should ring its assent, if you can confidently meet this serious question with a simple, ‘I must,’ then build your life upon it.” That rhetoric of urgency is the credo of most writers: we may be on this path for profit, for fame, for catharsis—but, more fundamentally, we are there because it seems the only possibility.
It's a nice quote. It's a nice way of looking at things. But it doesn't ring true for me. Writing is not the only possibility. I can craft stories and poems, and even blog posts, and get caught up in doing so. But I can do other things as well. Does this mean I'm not a real writer?

I don't think so. In fact, I think that the idea that writers must write, that they might die without it, gives an excuse for not paying people, and not valuing the work. Just as mothers like me, who give up paid work to care for our families, are not valued (except by our families), for the work which we do, which produces amazing results throughout the lives of our children.

Anyhow, that's another matter.

There are lots of writers. There are strange people who sit in metaphorical turrets, scrawling their tales on foolscap paper, or tapping it out in MS DOS. There are writers who write in snatched moments on their mobile phones. Some might say they 'need' to write (and George RR Martin does), but all of us need to eat. 

Also, what would we do if no-one wrote? No novels, no blogs, no newspapers, no TV programmes? How would we learn? How would we fill our time? How would we entice Aidan Turner to take his top off and scythe?

Thank goodness people do. And thank goodness we get paid for it.