Why Do We Write? (999th Post on This Subject – Possibly)

It’s the mention we want, I think.

One of my nicer tasks as Competitions Manager for the Association of Christian Writers is to inform winners that they have won in our competitions.  First-place is awarded a book-token prize, and his/her story is published in Christian Writer, which is circulated to the ACW’s seven hundred members.  Second-place also receives a (smaller) book token, although third-place doesn’t, and the names of first-, second- and third-place are published in Christian Writer as winners.  What I find is, over and over again, that the most important thing to the winner is his/her story appearing in Christian Writer, not the book token, and, to the second and third-placed winners, seeing their name on the printed page.

This reflects the fact that very few of us can afford to write for a living.  Most of us have day-jobs or are retired,and this affects the amount of time, energy and head-space we can devote to writing.  Not a good thing.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to get some sort of grant to write?  Take a look at the Deborah Rogers Foundation Writer’s Award, worth £10,000, for an unpublished writer.  You have until 13 December to apply.  (Thanks to Patsy Collins for this one.)

By the way – I have to slip this in – we have another competition, for historical fiction, this time.   All you need to do is to write a short story, where action takes place in nineteen seventy or earlier, and with a Christian element (perhaps a major character who is a Christian or a Christian setting, such as a church).  1200 words, please, and the deadline is New Years Eve.  Free to ACW (Association of Christian Writers) members and, for everybody else, £3 for first entry and £2 for second entry.  More information on the ACW site.  The prizes are £25 book token (first-place) and £10 (second-place).  And the winner will be published in Christian Writer.

Can’t think of any suitable pics for this post, so I’ve included some random flowers.  At least they’re pretty and autumnal/wintry.



Where to start…

  • A dodgy printer which won’t print black from my computer, but will from my husband’s machine.  From whatever source its print commands, there is a delay of about half an hour between each document, until the thing has generated an error message saying it can’t print the previous one, even though it has printed it… You are following this, aren’t you?
  • Half our long thin house being dead to wifi because it’s out of range of the router.

So we order a new laser printer (more expensive than we’d intended – as always) and a repeater.  On Wednesday, the repeater arrived in a neat box.  The printer didn’t… although I did receive a text message from the courier driver, stating he’d been unable to make a delivery because no one was in to sign for it.  He kindly provided a photo…. of a house 500 yards from ours.

Meanwhile I attempt to install the repeater.  I try the simple option, the one they wrote about in the reviews, involving a button on the router, but that didn’t work.  I try Option 1, Option 2, not the next option, because it requires an ethernet cable, which I don’t possess.  I have lunch.  Then I try to sort out the courier.  Ooh…  and I have to put my iPhone and iPad back on wifi, and my husband’s, as they’d all fallen off.

.On Thursday, I realise my iPhone isn’t receiving emails, and refusing to install an update.  Also all our Apple devices are still dropping off the wifi.  I’m on the Apple helpline, in Ireland, for most of the day, but,  by early evening, Michael and I have managed to sort it out.  Meanwhile, the courier sends me another text to say they’ve attempted a second delivery 500 yards up the road.

This morning, a third courier appears – wait for it – at OUR front door – AND – beside him is a box which… might… just contain a printer.  He has a special app, he says, http://www.essexhighways.org which can locate any house in Essex.   Phew!

And again, phew!

After he’s gone, my husband fingers the repeater.  He wants me to send it back where it came from.  I text my son to ask him if he’s got the ethernet cable.  He has, in his flat in London, and, although he was coming to visit us this weekend, for reasons nothing to do with computer-gate, he’s not now.  In the afternoon, I ring the the helpline.  Within seconds I’m redirected to an American single dialling tone.  “Hi,” says Lee.  “How can I help you today?”  He leads me through resetting the repeater – using my iPhone.  There I am squinting at the tiny iPhone screen with Lee telling me to type in dee passworrrd.  Now which password do you mean, Lee?  Do you mean the WPA.  The router password?  The row-der?  The repeater?  The extender?  No, no, dee passworrrd.  When we got to the point where the lights on the repeater/extender were all on, he was desperate to get off the line.  Good thing I kept him on, though, because the last bit of the installation wasn’t anything like the instructions.  But we got there.  I even got a signal in the kitchen.  I suppose I should really say thank you, Lee.

Then I installed the printer – by myself – following diagrams, and the two chunky manuals delivered with it.  Well, I used the ten or so pages in English, anyway.  One and only husband did the lifting, and made a cup of tea.  Not bad for a little woman, eh?

Now for the serious bit.  The amount, and level, of technical expertise that is expected of home computer owners is just ridiculous.  To the geeky people who build these devices, installation probably does seem very straightforward and that’s how they tell it in the marketing blurb.  PC reviewers are no better.  But it’s not like that for the poor customers.  Some of us muddle through, swearing, getting very stressed and getting their husbands stressed.  Others call in techy friends, taking up hours of their time.  Many older people call in grandchildren who are supposed to be ‘good with computers’; the grandchild will do all sorts of whizzy things to the device, leaving the grandparents not knowing what on earth they’ve done, and unable to use it.

Young people don’t know everything about computers… until they’ve done the appropriate training.   For twenty years, I taught IT to sixteen to nineteen year olds.  By the time, myself and my colleagues had finished with them, they did know about computers.   We home-owners should give those kids some work.  Instead of going through computer-gate hell, we should call in professionals.

NaNoWriMo Week 1- The Writing Brain

i’ve always known that brain exercise is as energetic as sport. Thanks to Cheryl Fasset for this one.

Catching Fireflies

I am sad that life and juggling work projects has interfered with my chasing NaNoWriMo this year. But, I am still here for moral support for all the crazy writers who took the plunge. And for those of you who have never tried it… It is a roller coaster that I cannot recommend highly enough!

This is Your Brain on Writing

Last June, an article with the same title was written by Carl Zimmer and appeared in the NY Times. It started, “A novelist scrawling away in a notebook in seclusion may not seem to have much in common with an NBA player doing a reverse layup on a basketball court before a screaming crowd. But if you could peer inside their heads, you might see some striking similarities in how their brains were churning.” And I was hooked.

I have never been athletic so learning…

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Nano – It’s Good for Insecurity, But I’m not Attempting It

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No, I’m not doing Nano this year.  Don’t even mention Nano to me.  I’m exhausted.  My stomach is out-of-order and has been, on and off, since Sunday.  Then there’s the four-letter word – WORK.  I’ve just got enough time to write my Insecure Writers’ Support Group post.

You see, Ofsted came to my college at the beginning of this week.  (Non-Brits, you’re so lucky not to have Ofsted.)  In the UK, this organisation inspects schools, colleges, childminders and any other place where it can extend its remit.)  Accordingly, last weekend was spent rushing around preparing all the paperwork they were expected to want (and even some teaching materials) in case an inspector came into my classroom, something which – statistically – was unlikely to happen.  Except that it did, on Monday afternoon.  I was one of just three tutors to be visitated in my college site.

Two years ago, when I was in between teaching jobs, I did do Nano and I reached my 50,000 words.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, particularly the camaraderie online and being able to give myself the excuse to prioritise writing over everything else.  Seeing your word total rising and rising every day bolsters your confidence like nothing else, makes you feel like a proper writer, that that publishing contract is a mere detail.

However, although I finished in the Nano sense – and I have a certificate, and I earned a half-price version of Scrivener through it –  I didn’t reach the end of my novel’s storyline.  Also, later, I was told by a commissioning editor that publishers took adult novels in the region of 80,000 words plus.  I did, however, manage to reach the proper ‘end’ of my novel on the morning before I went for my induction at the college where I teach now (yes, the one with unwelcome visitors).

So, sadly, I will not be writing my next opus this month.  I will, however, continue to edit, and re-draft the 2015 novel.  Very best of luck, everybody who’s attempting Nano this year.