Taking Responsibility

Suede

I missed my hair appointment. It wasn’t my fault. The traffic was bad, and there were no parking spaces in the tiny car park.

The fact that you knew that the traffic would be bad at that time of day doesn’t matter. Why should you have to leave earlier? Especially when the hairdressers is only ten minutes down the road.

It doesn’t matter, too, that the tiny car park is always full whenever you pass it. Why should you have to spend your time finding an alternative space? The hairdressers should provide enough parking spaces for their clients.

He doesn’t find me attractive anymore. All I’ve done is love and care for him, his children, and now he isn’t interested.

It doesn’t matter that your unkempt locks haven’t been near a straightener for the last few years. A slight brush will do the trick.

And he says you dress dowdy? Well, what a cheek! Wouldn’t he dress dowdy if he had to spend large parts of his day hurrying after the little ones? It’s not as if you can wear a halter neck dress whilst cleaning the cooker, can you?

And make-up? It takes time to put on make-up really well? And if you had the time, you’d be the spitting image of Audrey Hepburn, wouldn’t you?

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I can’t finish writing this novel. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

It doesn’t matter that when you sit down to write you are distracted by a million other things. Of course, you must send that email right away. If you don’t your boss will be mad.

And then there’s the new phone you need to order. It’s not as if you have loads of time to browse for one. You know, with work and looking after the children. This could be the only time you’ll have to browse for one.

And then there’s Tabitha; she needs her pink frilly dress ironed for her party. It’s this afternoon. Yes, you should have done it yesterday, but you had a long day and… There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Work’s getting me down. Everyone is so catty and cliquey.

You don’t fit in at work, although you’ve tried your best to be ever so amicable. These people have been friends for ages; they’re not going to let an upstart like you into their circle. They’re jealous. Scared that you’re going to take their positions away from them, and, well, you don’t like to boast, but you could do their jobs whilst sleeping. Six months into the job and you already know as much as they do about it. Probably even more.

And they’re so bitchy! Backstabbing is a daily thing, especially about so-called friends and allies. What happened to the sisterhood?! Sisters are certainly doing it for themselves here.

And you hate that you’ve been dragged into it. You and the other new chick. You’ve been forced into making your own team. And yes you might spend most of your time together talking about those who have wronged you, but that isn’t your fault, is it? It’s the culture that’s pushed you into it.

I don’t have anyone. Nobody gets me.

The fact that you spend most evenings, if not all, indoors is immaterial. You’ve tried going out in the past. You speak to people, but no-one gives you the time of day.

And what about the connection? You can’t be expected to talk to any old person. You’re different. You’re unique. People just don’t see things the way you do. That’s why it’s so hard to find anyone.

People call you stuck up and self-important, but that isn’t true. They simply don’t understand you. Nobody understands you.

Poor soul. It’s hard to be so misunderstood.

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Too Many Options?

Opt

The world is your oyster…

I want to train to be a doctor.
Or a dentist.
A vet.
(Maybe I’ll do all three, but which one should I do first?)

I want to get married.
But I hear single life is better.
Can’t I do both?
That’s called cheating…

I want to have lots of children.
Actually, I only want one child.
Better yet, I’ll have no children. You can’t rule the world with children clinging to your apron strings.

Maybe I won’t rule the world, and I’ll have those children, after all.
I’ll have my first child once my career has got going.
Or maybe it’s best to have them before I start my career.
I don’t want a career. I’ll stay at home with the children.
I want to get a job. Get away from the children or I’ll drive myself insane.

I’ll go to university and get a first in English.
I’ll travel first, though. For one year, or perhaps three.
I don’t want to work for more than four hours a week.
I want to be rich.
I’m going to be the greatest entrepreneur you’ll ever want to meet. Or be.

I don’t want to go out.
I don’t want to stay in.
I want to go out and stay in at the same time. Is that possible?

Don’t you long for the days when some of these things weren’t an option? When the choice was not yours to be made?

A career was for life. Not for two or three years.
A marriage was for life. (for better or worse…)
Children were expected, if you could have them.
University was for the few and not the many.
If you couldn’t afford to go out, you didn’t go out.

Simple, right?

With freedom comes responsibility…

Don’t we know it…

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Growing Up And I’m Fine…

Growing up and i'm fine.

I am going to be twenty-nine this year.

How do I feel about it?

I don’t know. Some days I’m okay with it. We’re supposed to get older. I know that. But part of me is anxious. I’m worried about getting older.

Why is that?

For one, I don’t feel as though I have accomplished enough in my twenties.

I imagined I’d be in a long term relationship. I’m not in one of those.

I thought I’d be in a job I liked, earning at least the average wage. I’m not doing that either.

I also thought I’d be further along in my writing career. Ummm.

And then there are the regrets…

I regret not going out more. To parties. Clubs. Picnics.

I regret not taking more risks.

Sometimes, I feel as though I have wasted a whole lot of time.

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It’s true. I haven’t achieved everything that I wanted to achieve, but so what? What’s with the arbitrary time scale?

I am not in a long term relationship and that’s fine. It’ll happen if it’ll happen. In the meantime, I have goals that need pursuing…

I’m writing a book, don’t you know.

And those regrets?

Well, in all honesty, I don’t really enjoy going to parties or clubs or picnics.

And the risks?

The writing.

The thing is, I remember feeling old when I was seventeen. I was in my last year at school, and I felt old in comparison to all the younger students.

I felt old at twenty. I was no longer a teenager. I was leaving my childhood behind. Sob. Sob.

Then came twenty-one and twenty-five, and you know the score.

We’re always feeling old. I think it’s just one of those things.

Life’s a gas..

Setting Story Deadlines

Deadlines work

Job application needs to be finished by the 21st February.

Brilliant, I can do that.

Interview in two months.

Perfect, I’ll set aside some time every week to prepare. I’ll be more than ready.

Complete a novel by the end of the year.

Um, nope. Not even close…

Why is that?

I am a writer, don’t you know? And writers suffer from crippling self-doubt. In fact, they can go from feeling stupidly proud of a piece of work to think that the piece of work is the worst thing they’ve ever had the misfortune of laying their pretty green eyes on. This can happen in a single day. Perhaps, even in a single hour.

Writers can spend years and years revising and ‘improving’ a story only for it not to see the light of day.

Writers can spend many years starting and failing to finish anything. It begins well, and then they get bored or frustrated or disillusioned with the project, and they abandon it for something fresh and juicy.

So, what do I do?

Set yourself a deadline.

Another one?

Yes. Deadlines work. If you want to get the novel finished, you’ll need one. And you’ll need to stick to it.

Some tips:

Make sure you set realistic deadlines:

Realistic: Complete first draft within three months.

Unrealistic: Complete first draft within a month.

Set yourself some mini goals to help you achieve your main goals:

Main goal: Complete outline by Saturday, 31st March 2018.

Mini Goal: Complete outline up until the midpoint by the end of Saturday, 10th March 2018.

When you complete these goals, celebrate them.

Pop open the champagne type of celebration? Nope, a bubble bath and a creamy hot chocolate will do. Heavenly…

Once you’ve completed a goal, move onto the next one:

Main goal: Complete first draft by Friday, 18th May, 2018.

Anticipate setbacks and prepare for them:

Editor can’t edit your work? Do you panic? Give up? Change the deadline to the end of next year?

Or do you look at your list of possible editors and get in touch with the second one on your list?

Remember that nobody’s perfect and even if you come back to this novel years later and think that it’s a pile of ugh, then remember, too, that you will not have been the first author to think such a thought, and that you most definitely won’t be the last.

Okay, by the end of December 2018.

What’s going to happen then?

I will have written a novel.

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Can You Be Whatever You Want To Be?

You aren't owed anything in life new

I want to be a writer, a best-selling writer, to be exact.

Currently, I write six out of seven days a week. For five of those days, I write for an hour before I go to work. For two of those five days, I write for an extra half an hour after work, usually in the late afternoon or the early evening. And during my sixth writing session, I write for two hours, usually late in the morning.

Does this level of dedication mean that I will get what I want?

I’ve read dozens of books on writing and will read many more in the future. I’ve completed many a writing activity, and have taken part in writing courses. I’ve spent hours reading and watching videos on the process of both self-publishing and traditional publishing.

Does that mean I’m on my way to becoming a star?

I’ve spent over five years working on my craft. I’ve never managed to complete a novel, but after every failure, I’ve learned something from the experience and, as a result, my writing chops have improved. I will keep on learning. The writing craft is a lifetime of learning, didn’t you know?

Does that mean I’m on the way to becoming the next JK Rowling?

I’ve written when I haven’t wanted to write. I’ve written when I was feeling angry and afraid, sad and frustrated. I’ve written through migraines and period pains, through writer’s block and writer’s cramp. Well, maybe not cramp, but my hand did hurt after writing. Did I mention that I have Kerataconus? An eye disorder that has eaten away at my eye sight so much so that I have to rely on contact lenses for my vision.

Does it mean that I now deserve success? I’ve proved that I am more than just an amateur. I write when I don’t want to write. Surely, that means I deserve to catch a break, right?

Er. nope. I could write for years upon years, and go from trying experience to trying experience without ever getting a sniff of success. That’s Life.

Can you be whatever you want to be?

You can certainly try your damnedest. But you aren’t owed anything in life.

Success is a possibility. But so is mediocrity.

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Happy New Year

Let's Hope It's A Good One

Let’s hope it’s a good one.

It’s New Year’s Eve, maybe New Year’s Day, and you’re lying in bed, alone, reflecting on the year that is nearly over or that has just recently passed.

Why am I still alone? Why do I still not have more than one person to send New Year’s messages to? Why am I still in a job that I hate?

And then you compare yourself to others.

She’s in Australia now. She has her own business. She’s pregnant and engaged to be married.

He published his third best-selling book last year, and he’s only nineteen. I’m [insert any age over nineteen], and I haven’t even written a full first draft, let alone gotten a book or three published. Published by a real publisher, too. God, that rarely even happens these days!

You might turn over to find your stuffed rabbit tucked away in the corner of your bed. Although he’s been stuffed in that corner all year, today this makes you tearful, and floods of tears stream down your face. You press your hand over your mouth to stifle the sobs even though nobody else will hear you because you are alone in the flat.

You cry for an hour, and then you fall asleep for another. When you wake up, you feel a bit better, and you sit up in bed. It’s hard to move your face because it is rigid from all the crying you’ve done, but you give it a gentle massage, preparing it for round two, which you’re almost certain will come later after you’ve eaten all of the chocolate cake you know you shouldn’t.

But now, you’re okay. You’re ready to give positivity a hearing. You compile a list in your head about all the things you want to achieve this year. This list is remarkably similar to lists made in previous years, but you overlook that for the time being. You’re trying to give positivity a full hearing…

Positive thinking = positive results. Who said that? You don’t remember. Perhaps you even came up with that little gem on your own. You clever thing, you.

You get up and head for your wardrobe. What can I wear that will inspire greatness today? You take out a tight-fitting dress that is completely inappropriate to wear on your own in a flat, but you wear it anyway because you look fabulous in it, darling. Even the shockingly cruel bathroom mirror tells you so.

You put on your favourite song and skip along to it whilst wondering whether you should dig out your black stilettos from under the bed. You give into temptation, and while on your knees, head peering under the bed, your phone rings. You bang your head in your rush to retrieve your phone.

It’s mum.

“Hello, Mum.”

“Hello, darling. Happy New-”

“And you,” you say, cutting her off before she can say it.

“Thank You. Let’s hope it’s a good one…”

***

Hope.

How far does hope get you?

Granted, if you’re in a dire situation and there is nothing else you can do, hope can be something, it can be comforting. But ultimately, I think hope keeps you where you are. 

I hope I have more friends this coming year even though I intend to do exactly what I did last year to get them, which was very little if anything at all.

I hope I can do better this year. 

If you don’t want to be in exactly the same position year in and year out, give hope the boot. Simply hoping things will change is the best way to keep everything exactly the same.

Happy New Year.

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Baby, I Can’t Drive Your Car…

Baby

I have an eye disorder. Keratoconus.

In brief, it is an eye condition in which the normally round, dome-shaped cornea progressively thins, causing a cone-shaped bulge to develop. The change in shape and the thinning of the cornea impairs the eye’s ability to focus properly, causing poor vision. It makes simple tasks difficult, such as watching TV, reading a book, or driving a car.

You can find the full definition here.

Keratoconus & Driving: a match not made in heaven.

A few months after I turned seventeen, I was diagnosed with Keratoconus in my right eye. But as we all know, misery enjoys company, and by the time I’d reached my eighteenth birthday, the keratoconus had progressed to my left eye, too.

Within a year, and without warning, my eyesight had deteriorated so much that I now would have to rely on contact lenses to support my vision.

Happy eighteenth birthday …

… Let’s be merry.

Like many teenagers, I had dreamed of driving my own car.
Driving meant freedom, independence.
It meant not having to rely on my dad to take me to and from places.
It meant not having to sit on slow, smelly buses with rude and impatient bus drivers, listening to the tune of noisy, chattering, crying babies, children, and mothers.

Keratoconus meant that I wouldn’t be able to drive a car.

Bummer.

However, I was not to be deterred, so I booked a driving lesson.
During my first lesson, I was asked to read a car’s number plate from the required distance. I couldn’t do it.
Being a stubborn old thing, it took two further lessons for reality to sink in.
I really wasn’t going to be able to drive.

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It wasn’t fair. What had I done to deserve this? I didn’t drink or take drugs. I didn’t stay out all night. I went to church—admittedly, my attendance was infrequent, but I still went. No other teen I knew was doing that.

What’s a girl to do?

Well, over the last nine or so years, I cried, complained, and cried some more.

I did finally come to a realisation that I couldn’t cry and whine forever. Pity parties get tedious after a while, and it wasn’t as if being miserable was helping my cause, because after all those years of tears and tantrums, I still wasn’t going to be able to drive.

So what’s a slighter older girl to do?

Adapt.

That independence and freedom I thought I’d get from driving, I now got through walking. I know, walking = independence and freedom, an original idea, I’m sure.
I also bought a bicycle, and I did try to use it. I huffed and puffed up those steep pathways, but we’re currently on a trial separation. Who knows whether I’ll return.

I no longer ask my dad to take me from place to place. When I need a lift, I ask my younger sister, or I call for a taxi.
I’ve learned to tolerate my bus journeys. Sometimes, I even enjoy them.
Instead of trying my best to zone out every conversation, I zone in to the more interesting, peculiar ones. Inspiration, if you will, for my stories.
And if I’m upset, I’ll cry along with the babies and the children and the mothers. (Only in my head, of course. I don’t want to give anyone the opportunity to talk to me. I’m an introvert, don’t you know.)

In life, you get all sorts of fun things thrown your way. Not being able to drive is tough. Really tough. I wish I could drive. I probably always will.

But, at the moment—and it’s a long moment—it’s unlikely that I will be able to.
And I have come to accept that there’s nothing I can do to change that. Unpleasant as that may be.
That acceptance has allowed me to move forward. Not in a speeding down a high street kind of way, but slowly and surely, I’ve come to terms with it.

Has life thrown something harsh your way? If so, how have you dealt with it?
Comment, and let me know.