Category Archives: Be Careful What You Wish For

Life is for Learning

You might think that there’s not much left to learn by the time you reach your 60s. Think again. My last couple of years have probably been the most life-changing of all. I suppose that becoming a Nichirin Buddhist has affected that in many ways but this is not intended to be about the benefits of Buddhism. The Buddhism contributes to the self-awareness and thence to happiness and fulfilment and because of that, this post is about creativity and me.

As you know, I am a writer – well, I write, but I also teach children with special educational needs, and run a Bed and Breakfast business on Airbnb, so my writing time is limited.

Our bed and breakfast guests are diverse. Many are inspiring but some, we are pleased to wave goodbye to, and one or two become friends. More about the friends later.

It was our lodger (call him Roger – of course) who started it. He longs for an idyllic life, running a tea room by the sea and selling his paintings to tourists. He and I talk a lot about painting.

Before he started staying with us, I had suppressed my urge to paint, telling myself I didn’t have time for anything else in my life. With Roger’s presence in the house, I have changed my mind. All that talk of landscape and portrait. When I spotted  and an advert in a local magazine for lessons with the inspirational teacher, Lorna Moore, I decided to sign up. What an amazing decision it turned out to be.

I’m not about to be the next Hockney, but I am improving all the time.

The way I have found the extra opportunity in my day, has been to stop watching television. I have also knocked some minor domestic things on the head. I no longer make our bed in the morning – nobody sees it anyway. I run the dishwasher more often and employed a lad to do some gardening for a while at the beginning of the summer. We also pay a dog walker (runner) once a week.

In December I read an article by Jon Westonberg  encouraging readers to make a life plan – duh. How had it taken me this long to recognise the wisdom of his words. Make a list he suggested, and avoid anything that distracts you from it.

I think Jon may be a little younger than I because his list contains 100 items. I’m not saying I’m old but (call me negative …) I don’t believe I have enough years left for 100 things . Here follows my list. It is pinned on my kitchen wall – well, attached by a magnet to a paella pan as a matter of fact. I reckon I have 20 years if I’m lucky assuming I still have all my marbles, which is in the balance as this blog will testify:

  1. Write 4 novels
  2. Get an Art degree
  3. Read The Iliad and The Odyssey
  4. Volunteer at a homeless shelter
  5. Go to Australia
  6. Go to New Zealand
  7. Go to the Galapagos Islands
  8. Go on safari
  9. Find my inner Buddha
  10. Run 2 miles without getting out of breath
  11. Eat at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at the Savoy (This is a no-no as it has closed.)
  12. Lose 1 stone (chanting to change my eating and drinking karma for these three)
  13. Lose another stone
  14. Lose a third stone
  15. Get an article published in a magazine
  16. Get a story published in a magazine
  17. Run a writing course
  18. Sell my books in hard copy
  19. Visit all the houses I’ve ever lived in
  20. Illustrate my books
  21. Work with words

The list – thanks to Jon, and my positive mental attitude – thanks to Nichirin (and me), are the reason for my life-changing couple of years.

Note on my list points 18 – 20.:

20 is ticked for book 1

18 and 19 are in progress

I have regained control over Be Careful What You Wish For, re-edited the content and painted a new cover, inspired by Lorna Moore. This is now uploaded as an eBook (see picture, above, and the paperback version is at the printer’s. Exciting times.

I have decided to enrol on an art degree in 2020, when Mavis has finished her first year at university. Wait? How sensible of me – a sign I am weening myself off knee-jerk decisions. If I’m honest I’m a bit nervous about uni, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

Notes 12 – 14: I’ve lost lots of weight – and regained it. Hmm, keep chanting Lil.

I am living number eight, vicariously through Horace at the moment, who is honeymooning in South Africa.

Number 17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A full course is planned for the autumn.

So, lookout world, here I come, limping but determined. Ooh, I nearly forgot the obligatory funny story, Well I thought this was funny anyway:

One of our guests (call him Boatman), who has become a friend, was at the breakfast table and I was telling him about Mavis’s wedding, and the fact that over the course of the weekend I had found 2 raffle tickets in the turn-up of my jeans. I had kept them for a while, mistakenly wondering if they were a sign of impending fortune.

‘The strangest thing I found in my turn-up was a fish,’ he said.

‘A fish?’

‘Yes. Years ago I was tottering home from the pub and I had to use some stepping stones to cross a stream. I missed my footing and stepped into the water. When I got home there was a Stickleback in my turn-up.’

I don’t know why, but I found this very funny. It’s so random, and the word Stickleback was perfectly placed in the story. I’m giggling as I write. Hope you giggle, too.

Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.

First novel

I’m an author. Would you like my autograph?

Author's signature

In all this time I have tried not to bore my reader with articles about the writing process, such as:  ‘What not to do’ or ‘How to…’, and so on. Now, however, I have the task of publicising the book, getting people to buy it, read it and review it on Amazon.

The first thing I’d like to say, is that you don’t need a Kindle, to read a Kindle e-book. All you need is the ap., which you can find here. This ap. can be installed on a laptop, desktop, notebook, tablet or smart phone, so get it now, then go here to download my book. Do this now,

buy my book immediately

before you finish reading this article or go to the bathroom or open a bottle of wine or eat a chocolate truffle.

 

Be Careful What You Wish For, crime, divorce, children, men, women

Here it is. If you click on the above picture you will find yourself on the Mardibooks website, where you can also buy it. Then you’ll have two copies!

Anyway, to the nub of the matter, the plot: Three women, unhappy in their marriages, decide to leave their husbands and form a commune, sharing childcare and following their dreams.  Of course life never goes as planned and as we follow the three, and their husbands, all coping with the stress of raising children and forming new relationships, we begin to sense disaster lurking. The women begin to die. Who, we wonder, is responsible. Is something sinister going on, or is it just a terrible coincidence?

I’m trying to think of a funny story that relates to the writing of this novel but I can’t think of anything. The process has been serious, a learning journey, not like me at all!

 

 

 

Writing while living

As I’ve got closer to the completion of my first novel I’ve begun to build up a Twitter presence and to interact on Facebook. This has been mainly to publicise my e-book when it eventually emerges, but actually, I’ve enjoyed getting stuck into social media, Twitter in particular. I’ve found fellow writers, publishers, agents, foodies, painters and illustrators and local friends too.

There’s so much to learn about writing. I’m quite impressed with myself actually, I’ve reached the end of the first draft, a milestone, and I’ve taken it on the chin a couple of times without giving up.

I've taken it on the chin and kept writing my novel
I’ve taken it on the chin

It seems that perhaps I have found another one of my ‘thangs’.

Many novelists, and I can’t count myself among their number – yet, write lengthy pieces on how to write, whether to self publish, how to get yourself noticed and much more. A huge new market is emerging in the wake of simple-ish self publishing.

I can’t possibly read all these pieces of advice, and besides, many of them say the same thing. I don’t intend to fill this blog with more of that. I’m not sure writers are all that interested in reading and I know for sure that my reader won’t want to know about it. My blog is built on the basis of ..a funny thing happened to me on the way to the … and so it will continue.

That’s the reason I haven’t written much lately. Nothing funny has really happened. I’ve had my head buried in my book or some other activity that distracts me from my book, to the detriment of actually going out and inviting amusing incidents.

I’ve called 999 three times in as many weeks, well that isn’t funny at all although I’d like to laud our fantastic ambulance crews. I wouldn’t be surprised if they saved more lives than the rest of the NHS put together.

The dog’s turned into an arse-licker. We don’t do that in our family and we’re thinking of putting him in the dog-house. He also managed to nick three lamb steaks and two sausages destined for the barbecue. Bad dog! I suppose that’s all quite amusing really.

The brakes failed on our newly acquired Volvo. No real harm done but I rolled gently into the back of another car then discovered that the RAC, whose membership I’d paid good money for through my bank account, wouldn’t come out if another car was involved so I joined the AA at the roadside and they were marvellous.

My only consolation about all this is that it will, one day, provide material for a novel.