Explaining Michael House in 1200 words.

Explaining Michael House in 1200 words.

I don’t actually live at Michael House, though at times in the last couple of months it has felt and probably looked like it to the residents. I’m a freelance journalist writing an article about the place.

I had a little panic when I received the job, although it had been my idea. So many awards! So many different things going on! It all seemed very complicated. What if I couldn’t distill everything into 1200 words? And what if no one wanted to speak to me?

But eventually, the information fell into place. As for interviews, I couldn’t stop people telling me about their lives. Keeping within word count was a challenge.

There were common themes. Most had become homeless after a relationship breakdown. Everyone was relieved to have a door to lock behind them. And they were all looking forward to their next chapter.

I’m hoping the article will explain why Michael’s is so special. Meanwhile, here are some photos of the garden that the gifted Sarah Cotton took for the magazine:
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Archaeology for journalists: creating an editorial contact book.

Archaeology for journalists: creating an editorial contact book.

I am slowly building up my list of editorial contacts. Slowly.

I don’t like unsolicited emails, so I understand why there’s often a two-tier system for contacting magazines. Those in the know have addresses for specific people. Everyone else has to put their trust in ones beginning with ask@… or helpdesk@…

It takes effort, money or other contacts to find the first-tier kind: sometimes, you can find them on Twitter- if you know what you’re doing; you can pay lots for a media directory or know people who know people. I belong to a great on-line journalist’s group, but I’m sure it’s possible to expend that goodwill, so I don’t ask for addresses as often as I need (every third pitch).

It’s all part of the process. Instead of getting discouraged, I should expect it to take time.

Rant: Brexit is not the people’s fault

“I don’t know why you’re miserable.” My husband has never been comfortable with emotion. His strengths lie elsewhere.

“Brexit,” I said.

“Oh! That’s completely rational. It’s going to be a disaster.”

So far, I’ve not said much about Brexit online because friends I respect voted for it. I disagree with their decision, but I don’t think it was the electorate’s fault. We weren’t given enough information. What we were given was misleading, sometimes downright deceitful.

But I’m horrified by Parliament. We elect MPs to act in our best interests, even if that makes them unpopular. Unlike the rest of us, they’ve been fully briefed on the issues. The majority are convinced we should remain, but yet they’ve pressed on towards a “Hard Brexit”. “The people have spoken!” May says. I bet we’d shout something else now.

There I was, telling myself that now we’d triggered Article 50, it was time to move on, I couldn’t do anything about it, when I heard Nick Clegg saying this:

 

When the washing machine’s a few feet away.

When the washing machine’s a few feet away.

 

I met a deadline yesterday. Relaxing a little today, I had a very pleasant morning and early afternoon with my next one. I’d already done the research and produced a rough draft. Now it’s a matter of making sure it reads well, makes sense and importantly comes in at the right number of words. Hopefully, I’ll manage to send it in a few days early.

This means that tomorrow, I can afford to focus on other things in my life, like catching up with friends. I’m not talking about long lunches, just messaging people to let them know I’m still alive. And laundry. I wish I knew how to drop housework into a writing day, but I don’t really. You’d think it would be easy to put a load of washing on when I’m working in the next room.

If any of you have any tips on the whole freelancing/housework balance thing, I genuinely want to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harriet Tubman

Harriet Tubman

My article about Harriet Tubman is published on the History Extra website today. My US readers may wonder if I really need to explain who she is. They’ve all learnt about Harriet and her achievements in school. Their treasury is planning to put her on the $20 bill- the first woman since Martha Washington.

Believe it or not, few of my friends in Britain have heard of her. So here goes.

She grew up in slavery in Maryland. After her own escape, she repeated the same perilous journey thirteen times to guide around 70 others to freedom. Later, she became the first woman to lead an armed raid in the American Civil War, releasing 756 more. 

Her story is one of the best, inspiring because it’s true. You can read it for free on the link above.

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Blanket forts, flying Santas and parenting special needs

My ten-year old’s used all my useful single sheets, my chairs for the dining room and a broom, but this is a pretty good blanket fort. I made everyone stand up for dinner last night.

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Someday, I’m going to write a piece about den architecture. Meanwhile, my article about Beales’ Christmas marketing campaigns is in December’s Dorset Life. (Father Christmas flew over their Bournemouth store by plane in 1913. Top that Macy’s!)

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And I write about how the church can include children with special needs and their parents in the new Premier Youth and Children’s Work (actual link). I am very grateful to the three friends who allowed me to invade their lives and tell their stories.