Whether you write fact or fiction, there is invariably some research to do. I find it much too easy to be side-tracked. When researching, there are many alleys to tempt me. Some of them are a complete waste of time – blind alleys – others can lead to new work. In most cases they are interesting.
For example, while delving into facts about a small town in Devon, I came across a list of notable figures who had a connection with the town, however slight.Some were born there, others educated in the town, while some had died there. A link led me to a modern-day author who lives in the town, among other people of interest. That was as far as I went that day.
However, the very next day I was in our local library and my eye was caught by a book which had recently been returned. It was by that very same author, a man I’d not heard of before my interest in the town. Naturally I had to borrow that book. As I’ve only just started reading it, I’ve yet to discover if this will lead me to further points of interest. What I will say though is that, having read only six pages so far, the story opens in an area of Hampshire where I once lived. I just love these coincidences.
As for the original article I’d wanted to write, it has yet to be started. There are just too many alleys to explore.
When we visited Cornwall in April, we had forgotten just how advanced the seasons can be in that part of the West Country. The rhododendrons in full bloom gave us a good reminder. This was taken in the grounds of Trelissick – a National Trust property.
On previous visits, many years ago, the house was not open to the public. Now, however, parts are available to view. There are many repairs needed to the property, but more areas will be opened as and when these are done. The house has a lovely view across to the water.
The above view was taken from just outside the house, looking towards Falmouth.
We were not disappointed with our trip to Cornwall, and hope that it won’t be as long before we visit again.
Hello again. I’ve been away from home for a couple of weeks, following which I have a lot to catch up with. Not only have I not been writing anything, I’ve also not been able to read any blogs; as my mother used to say I’m all behind like a cow’s tail. Anyway, I shall be trying to read all your blogs and also write something myself and post a few photographs.
As if things are not slow enough, I have major problems with my laptop and am just putting off the day when I need to send it in for repair. I’ve tried fixing it myself but it has become too advanced for me now.
These are a few more photos from our visit to Cornwall, all from St Just in Roseland church. Next time there will be more photos from Cornwall.
Portscatho sits gently on top of the South Cornwall coast, with wonderful views in all directions.
It has always been one of our favourite spots to visit when in Cornwall.
There is a memorial there to the men who died in the Burma campaign, not easy to read,but I hope you can make out the words.
The village caters well for holiday-makers and is popular with those walking the South West coastal path.
We stayed at St Mawes; the day before we arrived they had a terrific storm, and we wondered if the weather would be kind. We arrived to find a calm sea, blue skies and only the aftermath of the storm to be seen. Several windows had been broken, and stones were strewn across the road. The men arrived with their JCB to clear it all away.
Nothing can detract from the natural beauty of the area, and we so enjoyed our nostalgic trip.
Sir John Betjeman, who was Poet Laureate in the United Kingdom from 1972 until his death in 1984, considered that St Just in Roseland churchyard was the most beautiful on earth. He certainly had a point; it’s the most beautiful I’ve ever seen for sure. It must be what the Garden of Eden looks like.
The church itself is small and attractive, dating from the 13th century (although it apparently has an older Celtic Heritage). It is its position though, which makes it so special, along with the wonderful plants. Set on the side of the creek with its outstanding beauty, it is surrounded by sub-tropical grounds.
Of course, in that part of Cornwall, sub-tropical gardens are not rare, but there is such an air of peace at St Just and this makes it extra special.
We have made several visits here before. We used to live not too far from the Roseland Peninsula. We were there for about 14 years, and discovered this gem quite early on. Whenever we had visitors staying with us we took them. Without exception, they all found it delightful.
We’d not been back to Cornwall for many years, but we’re now trying to fit short breaks away between our various medical appointments. Earlier this month we had a four-night break at St Mawes, near to St Just. It was a lovely nostalgic trip and we were able to meet up with friends we’d not seen for quite some time. The weather was kind to us for the time of year, so it all looked lush and wonderful.
If you ever have the chance to visit, please do so. It is well worth it.
When I learn of the problems other people have or have had in their lives, I’m humbled. I realise how lucky I am. My worries are as nothing compared to many unfortunates.
Nevertheless, we did not have a good start to 2016, so we’re starting again!
The letter which arrived for me from the hospital at the end of December did make my blood run cold. I have to admit I was scared, more so because it was unexpected. I’d had a CT scan for my ongoing thyroid problems and thought no more of it as I have a follow-up with the consultant in April. The news on that was fairly good, but the scan had shown a change in my pancreas – a lesion. While the doctors thought it may not be significant, I was concerned as a cousin of mine had died from pancreatic cancer when she was younger than I am now. That disease is hard to diagnose too.
Trying to sort this out was impossible until the surgery opened in the New Year, but I have to say our local surgery acted promptly in referring me and taking blood tests. The radiologists had suggested a special scan, an endoscopic ultrasound.
However, the first appointment to see the relevant consultant could not take place until March, so with the help of a mutual society in funding me, I decided to ‘go private’. Even this was not straightforward, as after several false starts, I discovered there is only one consultant in the whole are who can perform this test, whether on the NHS or private.
I managed to have an appointment with him quite quickly and he tried to reassure me that it quite possibly was not cancer, but he couldn’t be sure without the test. I went ahead with the request, but still had to wait several long weeks. If it was necessary and safe to do so, the consultant would perform a fine needle aspiration through the wall of the stomach to the pancreas, a procedure not without a few risks. If it looked like cancer, he would not be able to do it due to the position of the lesion; it could spread cancer cells, so he would not take that risk.
In the event, when I had the test, on the 25th February, he could tell without using the needle test, that in fact there are two cysts on the pancreas, which he believes will not trouble me. No cancer! What a relief, and since then I’m recovering from the stress of the wait. After all, I should realise that I’m no youngster and anything can happen at any age, but I love being here and hope to stay for a few more years yet. My guardian angel has taken care of me once more.
At the end of that week, I had some good fortune with my writing as well, as if to say that life is on the up again. I received a small cheque from the Crystal Magazine as winner of the previous issue. Just what I needed to spur me on to try some more writing.
There’s nothing like a health scare to galvanise one into action. My office (cupboard under the stairs) has never been as clear as it is now. It’s not perfect even now, as I hoard so much, but boxes of magazines, which I had hoped would provide inspiration for writing, have now been thrown out. A lot of unfinished writing has been placed in a pile to be completed; some has been discarded as worthless. I’ve tried to organise my personal affairs so that in any sudden change of circumstances, my dear husband Mike would not have problems. He has several health problems anyway, and he’s not happy dealing with paperwork, so I’ve tried to simplify everything. Not a bad thing to do really and all because of a scare. I intend to continue with the task by clearing out unwanted clothes and other items. We don’t need as much as we seem to accumulate.
Now we’ve had a weekend break away in Exmouth, in sunny Devon, to clear the stress from our bodies, and make a fresh start. Photos are from that area. Happy New Year.
Writers are often urged to write about what they know. On the face of it, that must be good advice, particularly if you want to write non-fiction.
If you have an area of expertise, you are able to write articles and even text-books. If you need further facts there are plenty of ways to research and learn more about your chosen subject.
Even if you think you have insufficient knowledge of any one subject, think again. We all know something, for example about emotions. We’ve all experienced joy, grief, surprise, fear and any other emotion known to man. We can write about any of these, and many writers do in one form or another.
Moving away from the idea of writing about what you know, where would we be without imagination? There would be few novels if we only stuck to our own experiences. We don’t expect that every crime novelist should break the law simply to be able to write their books. A writer of science-fiction has, as far as we know, never met with an alien from another planet. Although their stories must be believable, they are figments of their vivid imaginations.
So, whether you want to write fiction or non-fiction, it’s entirely up to you and your knowledge and creative mind.
A cold December morning in Swanage
The entertainment world has lost a few of its member in recent weeks, including David Bowie and Alan Rickman. It seems to have been a shock to so many. Maybe by today’s standards they were young – I speak as one who is older than they were. The members of the public were not aware of their illnesses. Why should they be?
To me, the outpourings of grief, particularly for David Bowie, have been excessive. His death is sad to those who knew and loved him of course. They will miss his presence in their lives. Fans only knew his public persona, not the real person; to treat him like a God or icon is not, in my opinion, a healthy thing to do. We are all born, we live our lives, and we die. We don’t know in advance when this will be. It’s what happens while we live that makes the difference. David Bowie’s musical talent is undisputed, but as a person we can only know what we read, and not believe everything we read.
By all means feel sad about somebody you admired, but perhaps we should keep things in perspective. We are all mortal.
Snowdrops at Kingston Lacy
Christmas Fireside at Kingston Lacy
The road to publication is paved, not with gold, but with plenty of frustration and even more hard work.
The first magazine article for which I was paid, many years ago, was never actually published. The magazine folded, but paid me anyway. At least the fee was enough to pay my train fare to Germany to visit friends.
Along the road to now there have been some successes, and even more rejections. That’s the way it goes and part of the character we have to develop as writers is a thick skin. Rejection is not personal; what is written is not what the editor needs or wants at that time.
Then there are the editors who never let you know if they want your work. Even if you send the work by post and enclose a stamped, self-addressed envelope, you hear nothing. The only thing to do is to send out more writing, so that you are not constantly watching for the postman. Eventually it may be a suitable period of time has elapsed and you are able to send a query to the first editor, but if you have plenty of submissions out there you won’t feel as anxious. (This would not apply if your submissions are full novel manuscripts, but does for articles, short stories and poems.)
Another frustration is when an editor replies to your submission, saying that he/she wants to retain the piece for further consideration. A year or so later, still nothing from them and you feel unable to send the same piece elsewhere. The only thing you can do with that is rewrite the piece if it’s an article, slanting it in a different manner aimed at another publication.
This last month I have had a poem published in a local publication – The Purbeck Gazette. (http://tinyurl.com/qfkxmvj) Unfortunately frustration has reared its head again as I’ve not seen it in print, only on the web. Normally we receive a copy delivered to our home, as does nearly every household. For the first time, nobody has seen one, and even the local library and tourist information office had so few copies that they were all gone before a lot of people were able to get to them. In the great scheme of things this is miniscule of course.
I have also had a short story published in the Crystal Magazine (www.christinecrystal.blogspot.com for details).
In spite of these frustrations, if we’re writers we carry on. For sure if you don’t write anything to send out, you will fail. Keep at it and your perseverance may pay off. Good luck and Merry Christmas to all. We wish for Peace and Harmony everywhere.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of the Internet, but like most inventions throughout history, it can be used for good or evil. Also, it cannot be ‘uninvented’.
On the good side it provides us with a wonderful means of communication which can be a lifeline for the lonely. Think of all the grandparents whose offspring have emigrated to a far-off country where they are bringing up their own children without proximity to family members still in their original countries. How wonderful social media and programmes such as Skype are to those families and friends.
The knowledge we can gain through the Internet is also so useful, although we do have to be careful not to believe everything we read. Sources have to be reliable.
Now, however, we hear more and more about the ‘Dark Web’, a furtive area where paedophiles, terrorists and other criminals hang out. Most of us wouldn’t have a clue how to access this, nor would we have any desire to do so, but nevertheless it is there. This is the evil side of the Internet.
Recently my own telephone and Internet Service Provider suffered a huge hacking attack. Many personal details have been stolen and it is believed this information is being sold on the Dark Web, leaving customers of the company involved subject to having bank details and personal details used by others. Personally one of my friends has lost money from her bank account. We are all being told to be as vigilant as possible, not only on the web, but also in accepting phone calls which may prove to be scams.
Undoubtedly the criminals are clever; what a pity they can’t use their abilities for the good of mankind rather than their own selfish ends.