Where have all the helpful geeks gone? And a new reason to judge me on my viewing habits.

Where have all the helpful geeks gone? And a new reason to judge me on my viewing habits.

I don’t understand the choices my computer keeps offering me. The more updates it has, the slower it gets. Surely, they should improve its performance? I still miss being in halls of residence with people who knew about this stuff and importantly, would help me for free.

We started watching Motherland last night on BBC iPlayer. Everything resonated- the spurious temporary traffic lights on the school run; the child throwing up seconds before other children arrive for a party; the phone call about a child’s forgotten swimming things (parent to teacher on phone- “Just a question- did you try my husband?”and eventually,”You and I both know he’s going to end up sitting at the side!”); envying other women with parents round the corner, ever-present husbands and childcare sewn up for all but one Thursday afternoon a month, and so on and so on. (Husband to wife over phone: “remember when you drop one of those balls I’ll be here to pick it up and hand it to you so you can keep juggling!”)

Apologies to the BBC for the paraphrasing, but you have commissioned something brilliant. I wish I’d written it.

Fantasy: (while having perfectly balanced and secure children) to be part of a comedy team that develops fabulous characters and nails a section of life like that.

 

 

 

 

 

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The new organised (and slightly more courageous) me

The new organised (and slightly more courageous) me

This is not saying much, but I have never been as organised as I am now. Not since A level revision anyway.

The obvious reason is the children are now all at school. I have time, not just to go through files and washing but to think what I need to do and how best to do it. I’ve also space for trial and error.

I thought I was keeping records for the tax man. I do have a spreadsheet detailing articles, when and to whom they were pitched, when they were accepted, the fee agreed, when they were published and if I’ve sent an invoice. But not when they were banked- one of the few things HMRC actually want to know. I can look at my statements, but it’s another case of learning as I go along. I dreaded my first tax return as my own boss, but I now have a workable system. I’ve gone retro and have a paper cash book and a pencil case for work receipts inside my handbag.

Perhaps reasonably, given my medical background, I’ve been terrified of making mistakes or courting criticism before. Now, I find that’s how you learn. And as you learn, you gain confidence to try new things and make other errors.

It’s raining heavily outside. I was thinking about going for a run, but…

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The wrong temperature for a reset.

The wrong temperature for a reset.

Am I alone in thinking New Year is a very strange time for a reset? For one thing, I am in a state of over-relaxation, where it’s hard to take sudden school drop-offs and homework seriously. For another, it’s freezing. Like a reptile, I slow down when I’m cold. I’m torn between my need to keep on top of things and a desire to curl up in front of the fire and go to sleep.

But I’m finding end-of-day lists really helpful. They not only provide a “sign off” before I switch back to parent mode for school pick-up, I know where to start the next morning, circumventing the need for decision-making much before lunch.

A couple of journalistic firsts (for me, not mankind) this week:

One of my editors suggested I write under a pseudonym. I had a happy minute or two trying to work out a name that would baffle the authorities before I realised, as I’m not indulging in espionage, my maiden name would suffice.

I saw one of my pieces advertised in the “coming soon” section of a magazine. And that was how I found out it had been accepted.

Happy New Year. Thank you for reading my blog. It justifies my pleasure writing it.

New Year- good or bad timing for a restart?  Anyone else slow down in the cold?

 

 

 

 

 

Season of sharpened pencils and mellow productivity

Season of sharpened pencils and mellow productivity

Decades after leaving school, September is still my favourite time of year. It means crisp air, clean skies, oversized uniform and the intention my homework will always be beautifully presented and handed in on time.

As Tom Hanks says in You’ve Got Mail: “Don’t you just love New York in the fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies.” It’s Autumn in Bournemouth and I want to learn something new.

Last week, I told an editor to say no if I ever offered her any of my own photos. It might be my phone. I suspect it’s me. My pictures seem little better than they were when I was first given a camera at ten. And so I avoid taking them, and the ones I do are impressionistic.

old photographer at work

But yesterday, I downloaded a book on Kindle- Photography for Writers. In an hour, it demystified frightening terms like shutter speed and pixel, and inspired my September challenge – to take a photo a day for a month and see if I improve.

 

 

Geeky, but grateful

Geeky, but grateful

I’m in a grateful mood today. Grateful I could find a parking spot near enough the library, for the sunshine, and for Scrivener. I’ll have lost most people with the last one. It’s writing software worth far more than the £14 I paid for it (half-price).

Today, I found myself in the library, with no internet and an article to shape. Scrivener, which I bought to write my novel, also works brilliantly for articles. Imagine a cork board with index cards that each refer to a paragraph/ scene/  chapter- you decide. The program allows you to move cards and therefore text around, and has many other features that make it invaluable for those like me who can’t hold everything in their head at one time. Of course, I won’t have persuaded you with that. It’s one of those things that people have to try to find out what all the fuss is about.

Anyway, it allowed me to condense all my notes into something approaching the 1,500 word piece needed.

My other breakthrough today was finding a new cafe. Only new to me, as I tend to gravitate towards places with sofas run by giant corporations. It’s been there under the library since we moved here. But I felt rewarded for my fearless exit from my decaffeinated comfort zone with air and space, and some really nice coffee. I think there was a freelancer’s session in one corner, but I was too shy to ask.