#Throwback Thursday. Second Tries, or How to make the right decisions the first time?

 

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My brain must be like Emmental cheese these days, soft, spongy and full of holes. I am getting really fed up with trying to think and decide what to do, or even knowing if the final decision is the right one. As they say, if I had half a brain, I would be dangerous!
I can’t decide (or remember) if I have always been like this, or if this state of affairs is yet another symptom of my advancing years.

Time is becoming problematic, far too much of it is spent second-guessing. Wouldn’t life be more efficient if all deliberation could be removed? Easier to pick a winkle out of its shell with a pin, I hear you say. But I am heartily sick of wondering which item to buy, which programme to watch, whether to cut my hair, the list is endless.

Added to my inability to choose anything, is the sure and certain knowledge that whichever one I pick, it will be the wrong one. Always is. I never get anything right on the first try.

Could life be more like plotting a book?

Now, I know that many writers don’t believe in plotting. They believe their characters will do most of the hard work for them, and I have experienced this first hand too. But other writers firmly believe in careful plotting, even using a story board.
All my life, I have been a ‘winger’, hurtling from one idea to the next. Sometimes getting it right, but more often not. Advancing age has changed all that. I no longer have the time for hit and miss. Decisions I make now, have to be right, although how this will happen, remains to be seen.

Now, I am still virtually new to this writing business, and with the idea of getting it right first time (could be a novelty in itself!) I tried plotting. With a lot of practice, I’m getting better. So much so, that the sequel to my fourth book has been thoroughly plotted, storyboard and everything. But this is not something you could really do with your life. Too many decisions, and so many ways of dealing with them.
In addition, other people tend to make your life awkward, sometimes it seems, just to be bloody minded.

Could it be as simple as throwing a dice?

Then I remembered something. (It does still happen sometimes!) I once read about a man who always made every decision with the turn of a dice, and apparently, his life was glorious. Maybe it was worth a try, as my way was getting me nowhere.
On second thoughts though, that sounds worse than ‘winging it’.
But if I were younger…

They say there are ‘two sides to every story’ and ‘everything happens for a reason’, but what if neither of these things is true? What if it is as simple as right or wrong?
Could it be that when life gets too difficult, we are simply trying to force wrong into being right?

Should we blindly follow our instincts?instincts,

Recently, I have been thinking back through my life and all the different choices that I had to make. To that small, persistent voice that nags you, insisting you do this or that. How many times had I ignored it, thinking my own choice was better, usually for all manner of reasons? Would my life have been better if I had obeyed that still, small voice? If I had not always chosen the path of least resistance, the path that always looked inevitable. Maybe the choice that looked the hardest, the most impossible, would have turned out better than what actually happened?

Maybe then, I wouldn’t have so many things to be sorry for, so many people I should apologise to.
If there is such a thing as reincarnation and I get another chance to live a better life, I hope I remember some of the things I have done wrong, all of the people I have hurt, and do it better next time…

God Bless and see you all next week…

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Skating on Thin Ice!

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I have been playing hooky from the housework and my writing, and I don’t feel at all guilty. After the week I’ve just had, I deserve some time out.

How many of you know that the Winter Olympics are going on somewhere in the world? Or that this includes ice skating?

I heard about it last weekend and resolved to try to catch some of it. Not that this easy to do, for they never show enough of it on UK channels. You have to track it down on these weird foreign sports channels and put up with some peculiar screening methods. But for me, a lifelong fan, any inconvenience is worth it for just 30 minutes viewing.

In my youth, I used to skate. First on roller skates and then ice skates. As I watched Yuzuru Hanyu, a brilliant young Japanese skater perform one of the best routines I have ever seen last night, I was transported right back to when I first ventured out onto the ice. I could feel again the distinctive chill that permeates through any amount of your clothing and the sound of the blades as they slice across the ice. Along with the terrifying knowledge that if you fall over, it will hurt.  A lot.

I was never very good at it, but in my heart, I would still like to be. The way I still want to be able to play the piano. These things, these desires have not diminished with age. They live inside me and somewhere in there, it feels as though I can actually do it.

Some professional skaters, in their search for excellence and faultless programmes, end up like robots, devoid of any style and character, and quite boring to watch.

But every now and then, one will rise above them, bringing joy to their devoted followers.

The young Japanese skater I was watching was absolutely brilliant, graceful, elegant, and so exciting to watch. The elation on his face when he came to the end of his programme was clear to see, along with his emotion at knowing he had surpassed everyone’s expectations, including his own.

There were tears in my eyes by then and also in his. It was as though we had shared the moment, and in a way, I suppose we had.

Next week, with a bit of luck, I will be watching the female skaters as they strive for perfection too…

 

You couldn’t Make it Up!

This week is turning out to be a nightmare…

Yesterday, my web browser crashed. For no apparent reason, or not one I was aware of anyway. And usual, the first I wanted to do, was run for the hills. I find it impossible to think straight when something like this happens, so these days I don’t even try. I calmly walked away… and found somewhere quiet to pull my hair out.

All joking aside, I kind of knew I had to find another browser, or revert back to good old Internet Explorer. That, of course, would depend on why the one I have had for years had suddenly given up the ghost. I didn’t really want all the hassle or find out something else was wrong or broken. So I did nothing and sulked for the rest of the evening.

Later, I googled the problem on my tablet and discovered other people had encountered this before, so I was blameless for once. It seemed the only option was to go with another browser and uninstall the offending article.

First thing this morning I chose Chrome, the Google browser. It made sense, for they run just about everything else on my computer, and within minutes they had taken over all my favourites and their log- in passwords. They automatically gave me my favourite homepage, something I usually have to do myself.  I was impressed by their speed and accuracy, so started the day a very happy bunny!

My subsequent good mood was not to last, however.

Just before lunch, I had cause to print some of my WIP, only to find yawning great gaps in the printing. This meant I had to spend time making the machine clean its own printing heads and nozzles. When I had finished, and successfully printed the material, my mood had jogged off and I didn’t want to do anything else. Just in case something blew up!

I spotted this infographic the other day. It perfectly sums up where I am at today, so thought I would share it with you…

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Brainstorming Sisters!

 

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Have you ever noticed that when something stalls in one area of your life, it affects everything else?

This was what had been happening in our house for over a week, so my sister, Anita decided that we should have one of our brainstorming sessions this morning. Something we do now and then which usually benefits either my book or hers.

Only this time, it was me, the writer, that was being brainstormed because I was on the verge of a major meltdown over my current WIP.

Somehow, the conversation became all about how I write. The genre, the characters and the way I think about everything. She knew I had been having trouble and had some definite ideas about improving it.

Now, although I usually hate my work being criticised, I have to bow to her greater ability as a writer. She never struggles with plots or character problems, just gets on with it. Her characters don’t argue with her either, and I have always considered that a good sign! She can write more in one day than I can in a week.

So I allow her to say what’s on her mind, not that I have ever been able to stop her! But, all joking aside, she has been a great help to me over the years. The reason I can call myself a writer has a lot to do with the example she sets.

I think she is a natural writer. She doesn’t have to think about it or worry constantly about the plot. Whereas I do. I don’t find the writing process easy at all and this morning I may have discovered why.

I hadn’t really thought about my protagonist at all, thinking the antagonist, or serial killer was all important. That somehow everything would simply revolve around him, which I now realise is not the way to go about it.

I had been digging myself into a dark hole, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, so I needed to sort the problem out, and fast!

Brainstorming with Anita can be a dangerous venture, as neither of us accepts criticism well. But when you are wedged between the proverbial rock and a hard place, you have to do something about it…

Sometime later, after harsh words, temper, tears and finally realisation, (all from me, BTW ) it was agreed that I hadn’t lost the magic, it was a temporary lapse, something that could be fixed. Finding another way of approaching the problem may be the way to go, and maybe a rewrite. Or another story all together…

 

If you don’t hear from me again, it means I have walked into the sea…

 

The Final Straw…

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The bay windows in our living room have long been a source of annoyance. Over the years, we have had an assortment of curtains and blinds, but none were good enough to pass muster. Every time we walk into the room, our eyes are drawn to the awfulness of it all and the long-standing conversation argument begins again.

Every now and then, we try something new, desperately hoping that this time we will love the result. Personally, I have long given up hoping for a miracle, but have to at least appear enthusiastic and go along with whatever is suggested. After all, I share this house, so don’t always get what I want, even if this is just the semblance of a quiet life!

The first experiment was Venetian blinds in a lovely turquoise colour. As I seem to be the only one in our house that knows which end of a screwdriver to use, it fell to me to install them. This was reasonably difficult and took a while, but eventually, the blinds were installed and in working order.

Trouble was, no one liked them.

It was discovered that an unpleasant optical effect occurred every time you tried to look through them, this effect caused nausea and giddiness so they had to be removed, and in a hurry!

The next exercise in futility was roller blinds. The windows are an odd shape, so buying ready- made blinds were out of the question, and suitable kits were purchased from Amazon, along with spray stiffener for the fabric. We used an old pair of expensive curtains to create the blinds and eventually, after much swearing by yours truly, we had a set of blinds to install.

They had barely been up to the window when we knew we hated them. Probably because I have a wonky eye and can’t cut straight to save my life!

Our next idea involved installing these curtain poles, so we could have eyelet curtains. These always hang so well, so we thought we were on to a winner this time.

I quite liked the first pair we bought, but Anita didn’t. She complained bitterly about the colour/pattern for weeks until I gave in an ordered another pair. When they arrived they were approved of, but the trouble started when I hung them up. One curtain was several inches longer than the other!

If this wasn’t so funny, I would have screamed.

Not a problem, I said… the shop will change them.

But they were temporarily out of stock. We waited patiently, but they didn’t get any more. We talked about lengthening one and shortening the other. Guess who gets that job!

Then I had an idea. I would look elsewhere. And I did. Found a lovely pair online, had them sanctioned by Anita and sent for.

The day they arrived, I carefully ironed them, ready to hang, confident that we had finally nailed the curtain problem. Seconds later, an ear-piercing shriek rents the air, and Anita pointed at the bottom of the curtain, which was floating a good four inches above the window ledge.

My temper lets go and I wanted to rip them to bits. Why was it so ********* difficult to buy a pair of curtains that actually fit?

To cut a long story short, our money was refunded and we could keep the curtains…

Not sure what they thought we could do with them!

I have a feeling that this story will go on forever, or until I lose my mind or move house…

Only you have no idea how hard THAT is!