Clean feet, interviews and 100 years of the vote.

Clean feet, interviews and 100 years of the vote.

I have different kinds of love for each type of writing I do. Developing a novel is like parenting: you’re bringing something into being that wouldn’t otherwise exist, but there are moments of deep embarrassment and fear it’s going to turn out wrong. Whereas, feature writing offers the steady contentment of happy marriage.

One of the most rewarding parts of it is interviewing people. I’m always nervous beforehand, would always give the job to someone else if I could, but I always come away satisfied, feeling I understand a little more about life.

Today, I interviewed Rosemarie, someone who knows Bournemouth’s homeless better than most people.

She told me of a boy she’d first known when he was sixteen and had left home to get away from an abusive stepfather. He’d ended up a heroin addict, forced into male prostitution to feed his habit, get a shower and a bed for the night. Now twenty-five, he is “going rapidly downhill”, too weak to solicit anyone. “If he’d had access to shelter, he could be living a normal life now,” she said.

But she’s doing something about it. Every Monday night, she turns up to St Peter’s Church with the Sally Army to washes the feet of rough sleepers. This keeps infection at bay, helps people feel more presentable, and gives them a chance to open up.

Different subject, a feature I’ve written on British women’s fight for the vote has just been published in the new 2018 London Guide from BRITAIN magazine.

Whenever there’s an upcoming election, the conversation among my friends is pretty much the same: because of the “first past the post system”, Bournemouth East and West will probably return Conservative MPs; votes for any of the parties are highly unlikely to affect the results; however, we know other women fought tooth and nail for our rights, so we must make a choice and hope we’ve not helped usher in disaster.

Finally,  I understand, people didn’t fight so my candidate won the election, but so that my needs and opinions are considered equal to any man’s by the country’s decision makers. I need to continue voting to maintain that situation.

 

 

 

 

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Professionalising Creativity

Professionalising Creativity

I’ve found this week difficult.

Last week, I created a Scrivener file of ideas for the next month. This was the year when I was going to professionalise my creativity. I was going to find a process. And every day, pitch at least one idea to a magazine.

This week, I suffered pitcher’s cul-de-sac, a variant of writer’s block. Those ideas looked a lot less brilliant in the bleak light of mid-January. I tried to fit them to good magazines, but the most promising angles were going to take far more time to develop. Others had already been covered by the most obvious outlet. One of my stories disintegrated with research. By yesterday, I’d only sent two of the five pitches I’d hoped.

My conclusion? Creativity might respond to regular hours and discipline, but it certainly doesn’t like production targets, even modest ones. It also becomes easily fed up of the same surroundings and inputs. In the end, I took yesterday off, to see people and think about a new sewing project. I started feeling human, and less like a broken machine.

While I was procrastinating on-line, I read a post from the Getting Things Done people about turning your problems into projects and looking for the ‘next action’. This morning, when there was no pressure- it was Saturday and I might have been at parkrun- I knew what I could do. I opened my computer and browsed through potential magazines on the WH Smith website. An hour later, I had plenty of leads to try next week.

 

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.

 

Being nosy over coffee

Being nosy over coffee

I’m writing an article on the Bournemouth Marathon Festival, which involves a few interviews. My husband says I’m just drinking coffee for a living, but he’s forgetting the nosy questions I get to ask.

My first interview was on Thursday, with the festival’s founder. Everyone likes Martin, but still, I was nervous about covering ground, asking the right things in the time we had, and not losing my place.

In the end, it turned out to be far more organic than I was expecting, a conversation rather than a verbal questionnaire. I had time to organise myself beforehand- sort of. He’s given other interviews and written many articles himself, so he knew the kind of information I wanted. As a participant and part of the race crew all three years, I’d thought of myself as a bit of a BMF expert, but many things he said surprised me. For instance, I knew it had a Bronze IAAF award. I didn’t realise only three other UK marathons (including London) share this honour.

And then today, after parkrun, I spoke to friends Steve and Carole, for whom the festival has been a family affair. With one interview down, I was slightly more sure of what I was doing.  They too told me most things unprompted and were far too interesting for my word count. Their personal experience as runners and fundraisers, will really add to the piece, but I had to scribble fast. My writing, never easy to read, has becoming increasingly illegible over the last couple of days. I typed the notes out immediately I arrived home, before I lost the ability to guess what they said.