Happy New Year… But Spare Me the New Year Target-Setting

I don’t do New Year resolutions.  I have had enough of target-setting at work.

So don’t expect me, today, on New Year’s Eve, when I’m full of mince pies and Christmas cake and busy with family and social activities, to vow to eat less/ do a dry January/ join a gym/ read more/ do more in the garden/ spend more time with the cat… or even to do more writing.

Most targets at work are just bits of paper for your manager to wave in front of his/her manager.  So are too many New Year Resolutions.  Most New Year resolutions would dissolve in the fountain in Trafalgar Square (if we could muster the energy to get off our sofas, take a train to London and jump in).  Come the second week of January, we’ve forgotten about them (unless anyone’s joined a gym, in which case he/she will get an unpleasant reminder every time  receive his/her monthly bank statement).

What’s special about a new year?  If we’re serious about what we do, we consider what we want to achieve carefully and over a longish period of time.  We set our proper goals whenever, in any month, any week.  Most importantly, we give ourselves the necessary tools, because our goals are real and we believe in them.

Cartoon writerI am definitely not doing enough writing.  I’ve posted on ‘From Story Idea to Reader’ Facebook group that I want to finish editing The Novel. Also,  I know I should also be submitting short stories to likely markets.  But, as you know, Dear Reader, I’m visiting The Novel every Thursday (in term-time, anyway) and not submitting any short stories at all.  The tool I need is time.  So… I have got to think about ways to make more time to write.  This is not easy to get my head around and will not come quickly, seeing as a girl has to live as well.   And I want to do my stuff for church and the Association of Christian Writers.  I’m accepting entries for the ACW Historical Fiction competition at the moment, but I’m not promoting it in this post as the deadline is midnight tomorrow.

No quick New Year fix, I’m afraid.  …Maybe I should give up blogging.  It is very time consuming.

When my husband worked in the City, he used to buy the Private Eye annual every year and get it signed by Ian Hislop, in Waterstones.  Says my husband, “Well, Ian, another year.”

“Yes,” replies Ian Hislop.  “Another year, another pair of underpants.”

(And that’s a true story.)


Help Me Raise £250 For The Dogs Trust By Leaving Me A Link To Your Blog

Even this cat-lover says… The Dog’s Trust is a good cause.

Hugh's Views & News  

The Christmas tree is up, but something is missing. There are no gifts under it, and I need your help to put that right.

#charity #appeal #christmastree #christmas

For this year’s Christmas charity appeal, I’m asking you to help me raise up to £365 for The Dogs Trust.

The Dogs Trust, formerly known as the National Canine Defence League, is an animal welfare charity and humane society in the United Kingdom which specialises in the well-being of dogs. Click here to go to their website.

Want to get involved? Here’s what you need to do.

  1. In the comments section of this post, leave the name of your blog and a link to it. This can be a link to your ‘about me’ page, a favourite blog post you’ve published, or the home page of your blog.
  2. If you’re an author, you’re also welcome to leave me a link to any books you have published. So, for…

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Writing Over Christmas

Take a break from writing to spend time with family, meet friends and celebrate.  That’s what romantic novelist and womag writer, Patsy Collins, is recommending in the From Story Idea to Reader Facebook group.  Too late, Patsy, I’ve already started.

My third favourite occupation (after writing and reading) is cooking.  Below is some of the food no family can do without over Christmas.

Christmas pudding
Christmas pudding
Christmas cake
Christmas Cake, iced my son-in-law.
Home made mincepies, using my friend, Julie's, mincemeat
Mince pies using my friend’s mincemeat.






Stocking your blogger made for her granddaughter.
Granddaughter’s stocking.

Last week, I relearned all my needlework skills (from over twenty-five years ago) and made my granddaughter’s stocking.   By the way, ‘relearning my needlework skills’ included remembering how to re-thread my sewing machine.

Photo of your blogger.
Me, in author pose.

Two weeks ago I had to submit a modern author photo to accompany my article in Together  (trade magazine for Christian publishers). Presentation is everything these days.  Sitting at home in my own living room one evening, I took about ten selfies on my iPhone.  I always look terrible in photos.  I really am not America’s Next Best Model as I can’t smile to order.  I eventually chose this one.

Lesson plan for maths class
My lesson plan for my maths class.

Last weekend I was preparing for a learning observation – of a maths class.  Bear it in mind, Dear Reader, that I haven’t taught maths for ten years and only restarted after the October half-term.   I was going out of my mind with nerves.  Then the observation was cancelled due to snow.

So, I will do more writing after Christmas.  Really, honestly.   We all will, won’t we?  In that slack week between Boxing Day and New Year, whilst eating turkey sandwiches and left-over sprouts, you could have a go at the ACW (Association of Christian Writers) Historical Fiction Competition.  (I can’t.  I’m not allowed to because of being ACW Competitions Manager.)   You need to write a short story (word count 1200 words) set in or before 1970.  (This accords with the Historical Fiction Society’s definition of historical being anything fifty years ago or beyond.)  The deadline is 31 December 2017, so you really will have to write during mince pie time.  More information on the ACW website.

Happy Christmas.  I doubt if I will have time to post next week.  I’ll be making the trifle.

Post-Brexit, Let’s Stop Using Euro Language

For some people it’s de rigeur to drop a morceau of francais into their conversazione.  If the plebs they are speaking to is not au fait with le francais,  they enjoy a sense of the old schadenfreude.  After all, we all need a bit of yin and yang, don’t we – if we know what it means.  (Probably not.)

Or maybe they’re into a bit of Latin.  They like ad hoc arrangements or  bore people ad nauseam or even ad referendum, which, despite sounding like Brexit-speak, means to the ‘point of reference’.

Or into Americana.  They go to the bathroom (other than to take a bath).  They own an SUV, which has a hood (and their car (sorry, automobile) would have a trunk if it weren’t an SUV. If someone offered them chips, what would they expect?

The usual reason given for using foreign words is that you achieve a more finely-tuned meaning.  Rubbish!  Put that in your poubelle… or your trash can…schnellpronto.  (Oh… no.  That doesn’t mean promptly, as it sounds, but is colloquial Italian for ‘Hello’.)  I would love to be able to justify my stand by re-stating the common belief that there are more words in English than any other language, but, alas, this is not true.  Whereas the Oxford English Dictionary lists 171,476 English words in common usage, that is nothing to the Koreans’ 1,100,373 words and, in Europe, we’re roundly beaten by the Swedes (600,000) and Lithuanians and Norwegians (500,000 each), even though it was the Danes (well down the list on 200,000 to 300,000)* who invented the word hygge

Hygge means enjoying the simple pleasures in life, and we could all do with enjoying the simple pleasures of our own language, even though I know that all languages are a mishmash of each other.  I’m also aware that languages are living things and develop all the time.  However, there’s a huge difference between using a foreign word for something that English-speaking people don’t encounter, such as tsunami or Perestroika, and substituting where there’s a perfectly adequate English word.

People may use foreign words to show off, like John Cleese’s character in The Dead Parrot sketch.   (‘I wish to complain about this parrot what I purchased not half an hour ago from this very boutique.’**)  Or because they’re embarrassed.  (‘I wish to use the toilette.’)  And there is the danger of misunderstanding your non-English vocabulary and saying something you don’t mean, possibly something offensive.  In all these situations, people end up looking ridiculous.  The Academie Francaise carefully monitors all incursions into the French language.  We should do the same for ours.

* Ad referendum

**Ad referendum

IWSG: Regrets, Completions, What Worked and Didn’t Work

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IWSG badge

This is going to have to be a very short post, given that it’s already eleven pm, and I’m knackered.  I’m writing to the IWSG prompts.

2.  What worked for me this year?  I worked, at the day-job.  Hence, very little writing done.  Today, I discovered I have a learning observation on Monday, so I’ve spent literally all day writing a lesson plan and presentation.

3.  What do I hope to achieve next year, in terms of writing and publishing?  Some more stories placed.  Well, let’s be brutally frank.  Stories can’t be placed unless they’re submitted.  Let’s make that more stories submitted.

4.  Special skills I’m interested in?  Improved social media skills.  I fear my posts are dead boring.  And I really must get into Twitter.  (However many times have I said that to myself?)

Cup of tea
My favourite cup.

5.  Personal life?  Yes, I do have one of those.  I have a lovely family.  I have friends who I love seeing.  I have a church who need my time and attendance too; I’ve just taken up preaching.  I need to strike a balance between all these things.

  1. What do I want to complete?  Some pieces of writing.

…I’m having a cup of tea and a biscuit, then I’m going to bed.