Sunday, 28 October 2012

Is it Fate ?

Well, is it? Fate?

I'd decided that it was time to concentrate fully on my new 'day job' - which is actually 18/7 - and I'm pretty serious too! And as Hilary Devey on Dragons Den said, 'It's what we do dear' to one of the young female entrepreneurs who seemed to thing starting up your own business would be 9 - 5.

I'm used to long hours so that doesn't phase me - but over the past few months, so many 'things' have been falling into place that I'm beginning to wonder why? how-come?

Some years ago, I fell into a 'return to study' situation that I'd not expected. I'd been trying to sign up for a popular computer course which was full. I bumped into an acquaintance who was signing up for Law GSE 'O' Level. 'Come with me' she said. So I did. I wasn't giving up at the first hurdle - and didn't stop until I'd received my English Literature, Linguistics, Creative Writing and Masters Degree in Lancaster a few years ago ... and I'm not quite sure I'm stopping there !

It's true, I've spent years studying and researching Power and Language - Speech and Thought - Memory - Educational Studies, joining writing groups, practising my craft - and now - everything seems to be coming together at last.

So, I could say it's FATE ...
Was it FATE that the computer course was full? - or I could say that ...

Since my degrees, I'd written a number of projects which I was interested in pursuing. But which?
So, taking a deep breath, I decided to flaunt my ideas - and see which project made the most noise.

Right - so - er - what now - er - Unless I started networking, facing people with my ideas, no-one would know about the various writing projects juggling for pole position Disney-esque style on the book-shelves in my study.

Actively networking changed everything - or was it FATE that I bumped into certain people at a particular time in my life - who unknowingly changed the direction of my writing?

Even though I'm quite out-going, inside, I'm shy - but I had to make sure people knew I was out there and available for business - writing projects, charity work ...

At one meeting, I found myself sitting next to a newspaper editor. At another, a Care Home Owner. At family celebration, a Senior School Headmaster. On the train, I met a Psychologist, another time, a  Business Mentor ... the list goes on. I must admit, the timing of everything / everybody in relation to the stage of my writing project was occasionally 'weirding me out.'

From the networking came a request to edit some work for a children's cancer charity. Sad work you might think, but I was honoured to be able to help in some way - and especially lucky to be doing it in a way which I enjoyed.  However, volunteering my work created a profound opportunity ...

At the very first editing meeting, someone - someone who happened to be the CEO of a reputable company [more later],  noticed my images and text from Creative Writing Workshops that I'd run ~ Interactive Pages to help people express feelings. Less than five minutes after the end of the meeting, I'd been commissioned to write for the CEO's company. So was that FATE - that this person just happened to be at the meeting?

Or was it because this person was at the first networking meeting I'd attended and she'd heard me flaunting my ideas?

For the first time, I began to work on one writing project only - and it felt good. I took all the other half-finished projects off the shelf [Disney orchestra is now backing a tune played by the smallest violin in the world], stored them carefully in the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet - and moved on.

Whilst writing my commission, ideas were continually flooding into my head at a terrific speed and I realised two things - 1] how my work, edited into different styles and topics could be beneficial to all Care Service or School Support Workers when identifying needs of young people and adults experiencing difficulties in life - I recognised that even more research was required -   2] how I needed to totally immerse myself in art, music, language ...

Timing was perfect - It was September - college enrolment time - [Was that FATE?] so I signed up for two Art Classes - which did wonders for my creative confidence. Thanks to Gareth Malone, choirs were popping up all over the country - including the town where I live. Another example of brilliant timing - I became a choir member [I didn't just join to network ! I do enjoy singing by the way - and would personally recommend it for its possibilities as a stress-buster, relaxation or uplifting experience] It turns out that many of the wonderful choir members are involved in Care Service or Teaching professions. [Dare I say it ... FATE?]  Joining a national and professional society - Children's Book Writers and Illustrators [SCBWI] provided inspiring events, networking opportunities and a marvellous member/writer support system.

Keeping my eyes and ears on local writerly events, I became involved with Blackpool's Literature Festival 'Wordpool' [Oct 31st - Nov 16th]. Meeting up with like-minded people saw the beginning of Mastermind; a group which discusses - and continues to discuss routes to publishing [doesn't every writer?]. And so, it was here that I learned that I wasn't a novelist ! Screams and shouts were thankfully using their indoor voices inside my head whilst I understood this new information. But then it all made sense - Using art with text was a much more suitable style for me, especially when I could draw on my studies and research. If I hadn't met these people, I would still be banging my head against a wall, trying to complete 'that novel.'  So, was it FATE that I met those people who modified my writing plans?

Successful meetings with the Headmaster from the family celebration; another acquaintance who leads a Senior School Student Support Centre and the Business Mentor I'd met on the train, contributed to successful outcomes which lead to new and improved plans. I signed up to Linkedin, attended SEO seminars, tax seminars and start-up business talks from banks who wanted to sign everyone up to their business advice programme - basically so they could £ charge you to write a business proposal in order to be able to ask them to lend you money ... argh! Watch out for that everyone ! Fortunately, I didn't need the loan but might require a business bank account - who knows, one day I might be employing staff, paying printers, wages, tax bills ...

New ideas for Pages - social and emotional issues, activities, metaphors, colour schemes, were keeping me awake at night, every night. Once my writing commission was complete, I expanded my work into School Student Support. By chance, a best friend [Lead primary teacher in a US university school] visited me for some time - the timing of her visit was perfect. I was more than pleased at her interest in my work. Her feedback gave me an assurance to continue. [Could the timing of her visit FATE?].

Internet research showed the government's response to the riots in October 2011 - Louise Casey was to write a report based on and around the riots - and later became the head of The Troubled Family Unit. More ideas to help, more issues, more colourful pages ...

Meanwhile, people I've met during my life seem to keep filling gaps in the development of my Happy Days writing project, filling it with promise.

I'm considering a PhD - researching, evaluating and planning creative ideas to assist Early Intervention - identifying young and adult people's needs earlier will hopefully be beneficial to society. Last night, an event which prompted this blog; I sang with the choir at a choir member's birthday bash. I hadn't known before, but this person happens to be a Professor ... there's another connection here but I'll leave that for you to work out ...

So was it FATE that got me to Happy Days Publishing - or was it because I'd made a decision - I'd opened my mind to possibilities? ... I got out there, networked, focussed, took advice, followed my plan and continue to work 18/7 ?

Either way - If I hadn't made the decision to follow my dream - it probably wouldn't be happening right  now. But if I hadn't bumped into those people ... at that time ... who knows?

Next update from Hogwarts,


Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Wordpool ... Blackpool ... Wordpool ... Blackpool

Check out Blackpool Wordpool Festival Oct 31st till Nov16th !!!

Hope You All Enjoy Wordpool ~ Gill

Friday, 12 October 2012

Travelling and Writing ...

Many of us - including me - groan at luggage allowances. I don't need to take a lot with me on holiday - but I'd just like to have enough room for moisturiser, swimwear, hotel slippers [even to a hot place], a few clothes -  and of course - my laptop, books and research materials - which usually take up more than half the weight.

So, being lucky enough to work away in a sunny climate this week ... I formed a 'packing-my-travel- case' strategy in my head. Which books can I possible leave behind ? I'm not talking fiction here or even Kindle ... I'm talking about behavioural info books, A4 notepads with all my notes, diaries, journals and associated books, my thoughts and ideas on scraps of paper, scribblings, sketches ... 

Right. Got. It. All. Sorted. 

Until my husband announced that we could only take hand luggage ! ARRggghhhh What to do?

No hair straighteners - make -up - extra clothes just in case ... but more of a challenge - which books/notes/ideas do I pack - and which do I leave behind?

I have to say, now I'm settled, the whole experience has been refreshing:

I had to focus completely on which topic[s] I was going to write about during the week

Not feeling any urge to make-up my face in the evening [you'll see from the photos that I clearly don't spend a huge amount of time on this pastime] or consider too deeply about what to wear [usually spend some considerable time on this], provided a real sense of freedom.

Apart from my diversion to blogging today - I have remained totally focussed on one area of my work and completed much more than usual.

My advice: Next time you go away - don't give in to the £50 for the privilege of taking a travel case - and waiting an hour or so for it's retrieval at airports - Travel Light - You're Worth It !


Sunday, 7 October 2012

Puppies and PhDs ...

Good Sunday Morning everyone,
It's a gorgeous one here. The sun is blurring onto my south facing front garden, casting leisurely shadows onto a few lazy autumn leaves ... oh sorry ... back to the point of the blog ...

I'm often going on about prioritising, focussing [one c or two?] ... when everything lands on your desk, in your office, on your shop floor, manufacturing bay, at your front door, on your kitchen worktop or in your head - well it's time for me to do some prioritising. Writing my Happy Days Project is beginning to take over my life in a exciting way of course - it's a project which has already and hopefully will benefit more young people and adults who are experiencing difficulties. If the project rolls out successfully, it may help reduce costs and therefore benefit tax payers too ! ... more on Happy Days Blog or Facebook Page].

Oops - there I go procrastinating. The real point to this blog was to post a photo of a puppy and ask about PhD's. This is a place for asking questions isn't it? Well, first, here's the photo of my in-laws puppy - for the lady who was asking - the puppy's fashion breed / brand / label ... is CAVASHON - Charlie is a mixture of Bijon Frise and King Charles Cavalier [Spaniel] - as I understand. He's a super puppy, energetic, bright, loving and barks at the right times.

The other point was to discuss the possibility of doing a research PhD - not on puppies - but on Early Intervention. Childhood is a journey that could shape a child for the rest of his or her life. Identifying difficulties earlier in life could help some young people form a more positive sense of self, outlook and ensure wellbeing. Of course, this would take up a massive 3 years - at the same time, I would be Writing the Happy Days Programme, communicating with my 4 almost adult children and caring for my mum. Prioritise? I think I'll need a Happy Days Page to help me work it all out.

Meanwhile - I am about to prioritise. I'm off to somewhere a little warmer for a few days to finish one of my projects: Happy Days Care Home Activities, Memory Boxes and Personal Joggers.  No phone, limited internet access, plenty of fruit, no chocolate [ it melts anyway ] and no more than one unit of alcohol per day.

See you next week everyone, hope the sun shines.

Friday, 5 October 2012

Perfect Pitch ...

Check out published author, Brian Grove's list of USA childrens' publishers who are accepting manuscripts ...

Thanks Brian.