Writing Day and some new directions

Last October I attended a Writers’ Day for the first time since I was a student. I mentioned it briefly here.

Another post tells the story of how I felt after a whole weekend in the company of writers.

I recently made a trip to visit relatives and attend the Writers’ Day in London.  One of the speakers was Amy Boucher Pye, who has written Bible Reading notes for New Daylight, which I have been using almost continuously since its inception.  (I have tried other notes as well.)

The other speaker was Andrew Chamberlain of the Creative Writer’s Toolbelt.

It was good to see some familiar faces and to meet some new people.  I found the talks interesting and learned some things about my writing habits in the workshop led by Amy.  The standard of the pieces which participants read out was very high.  I felt like a beginner in their company.

It was also good to hear a presentation from Sophie Neville about the Bible Society.  She was so enthusiastic that if I were happy to drive myself around, I’d be volunteering at once.  (I think I have got over my fear of public speaking.)

I bought some books, which I have read and intend to review in my next post.

I had to leave early to catch a train home, so missed the discussion at the end.

So what are the changes of direction?

My original blog, Sue’s considered trifles, has not had any new material on it for some considerable time.  However, due (I think) to the way WordPress links a user name to the first blog, it is still attracting new followers.  I signed up for a poetry course from WordPress and decided to post my efforts on Sue’s considered trifles, rather than interrupt my weekly posts here.

I also found myself lured into Goodreads.  I was attracted by a giveaway of a sequel to one of the books I bought.

I find the autumn challenging, with the shorter days and lots of pressures on my time.  Hopefully I will be able to find a balance between writing on- and off-line and life in general.  Social media also need to be kept within reasonable limits.


Travelling by train

One of the people I follow on Twitter travels by train and tweets about his fellow passengers, sometimes quoting their seemingly bizarre comments.  He is well-known in the UK as the broadcaster, Ian McMillan (@IMcMillan).  Some of his tweets make me cringe, but he is very popular.

When I travel by train I probably observe as much as he does, but I do not go online from the train.  Instead I allow my observations to settle.  I might tell members of my family or friends about the strange fashions I have noticed or the conversations I have overheard.  I may even blog about them: View from the train, An outing by train, Life, luck and Lent and Another train journey.

I have recently made a series of journeys to visit relatives and attend a writers’ day.  Travel broadens the mind.

I learned about a game some people play on the internet.  They open a random page on Wikipedia and see how many clicks it takes them to reach the page about Hitler.

Why Hitler?

Why not Queen Elizabeth II?  Or one of the saints? Or the pope? Or even Jesus Christ?

I heard a proposal to resell used Kindle books in the way printed books are sold in charity shops.  This raises all kinds of questions.  Charity shops do much good, but authors do not gain anything from their books being resold.  There is a scheme in place for them to receive some payments from library loans.  It would not be practical to have a scheme for the resale of books to be monitored and authors rewarded.  Only the initial purchase of the book is of value to the author (and publisher).  No-one would want to prevent books from being sold to raise money for charities, but perhaps those of us, who sometimes buy books second-hand might help authors by reviewing books on Amazon.

In a way it is a good thing that digital books are not resold.  The issue that gave rise to the idea that they should be, was that digital books have a single owner, who may have built up a sizeable library.  This investment allegedly cannot be passed on to their heirs.

On Saturday at the first station I entered, I was handed a leaflet by a policeman – presumably British Transport Police.  It was about reporting hate crime on the London Transport network. It did not occur to me that later that day, I would see one of their officers at work on a train.

I was impressed by the way that this officer engaged with the people he was trying to keep in order.  It was not particularly late at night, but in rural areas transport is limited, so people, who go out on the town do it earlier in the day.

He was helping keep all the passengers safe on the train.  This is important.  There should not be any no-go areas or services on the transport network.  As a writer I was interested to observe my fellow-passengers.  I even told the officer I was collecting material!

The Writers’ Day will have to wait for a later post.


Going round in small circles

Have you ever heard the expression going round in circles or going round in small circles?  I have even heard going round in ever decreasing circles.  This makes me wonder whether they are concentric or whether a spiral is being described inaccurately.

After that detour into the English language, allow me to lead you to the thoughts I really want to express.

Life is complex in the western world.  Adults have to look after themselves and any dependents, unable to take care of themselves.  Then there are jobs to be done inside or away from the home (assuming they are fortunate enough to have one).  Fitting essential tasks into the time available is a daily challenge for many people, especially those balancing the demands of a busy home and work.

Then there is retirement.  Many people have to manage all their time without any regular appointments for the first time for as long as they can remember.  This may be particularly difficult for those whose jobs involved doing everything to a routine or timetable.  They wake up in the morning and have nowhere they are expected to be at a particular time.  Adjustments are required.

Freedom to do exactly as we like is something that many of us believed as youngsters to be an ideal situation.  In retirement it can be a challenge for some.

Oban with McCaig's Tower

Oban with McCaig’s Tower – a circular structure

So where do the circles I mentioned at the beginning fit in?

I find that there are certain tasks, which have to be done to preserve a level of cleanliness and nutrition.  Then there are pastimes (such as puzzles, which are supposed to help maintain mental capacity) and exercise (in the form of walks in the open air, for example) creative activities (such as knitting, sewing, writing, making music or art) and groups (joined to pursue an interest and for socialising).  At times I feel as though I am repeating the same activities over and over again, while there may be other things, which I should be doing and am neglecting.  It is easy to ignore tasks, which need doing to do something easier or more enjoyable.  Even within an activity it is possible to concentrate on the easy parts and ignore a project or work in progress, which is really more important to us.  So I continue to produce blog posts, which hardly anyone notices, while the book I intend to knock into shape and publish remains half-forgotten.  This is partly because there are aspects of the process, which are difficult and new to me and partly because blogging has become a habit.  I am still interested in it.  To break out of my usual patterns of behaviour and do something new will require some effort and determination.  I need to examine where I am going round in small circles and see how I can change unhelpful patterns of behaviour.

How about you?