Tuesday, 27 May 2014

F1 a tough challenge for one man

For those of you that know me here...I love Formula 1 and this year formula one rules have dramatically changed.

There have been many mechanical changes that have resulted in Vettel, a four times world champion struggling to compete.

How is that possible?

He can't simply forget how to drive as Vettel is an expert formula one driver. Yes, he can be arrogant and last year was a much disliked driver but that doesn't explain his loss of position.

When we write our characters we have to get inside their minds. Think as they do… so what’s happening in Vettel's head?

Mark Webber was replaced this season by Daniel Ricardo. Did Vettel believe this would give him the upper hand again over the new boy, a younger Australian with a happy disposition and apparently relaxed manner.

Schumacher is Vettel’s fellow countryman and an absent race driver, who is still in intensive care in a coma, could this be troubling our out-of-sorts-champion?

Red Bull should be running two identical or at least incredibly similar cars, set to each drivers preferences, so why does Ricardo’s car run visibly better than his team mates? I for one don’t have this answer.

What has happened in Vettel's head.

For a head strong arrogant man he appears frustrated, bowed and lost. Can he cope with the changes that have occurred? Could it be that changing his driving style is too tough for him?

His frustration is tangible as each race goes wrong.

And then this year each driver chose a number, their personal driving number which they will keep for their driving life. Hamilton chose 77

Vettel chose number 5 but drives with No 1 on the hood of his race car because he's the champion.

So I wonder does this irony get lost on our no 1 champ as he falls further and further behind with each race. This weekend he did not even complete at Monaco. His season is almost over. There is no way he can fight his way back to the top of the leader board despite his remarkable ability.

Truthfully I've can’t say that I like Vettel but I do have a huge respect for his driving skill set and yes he has my sympathy, nothing is going right for the blue eyed, blond haired hero and he must be wondering what he can do to regain his prowess.

Vettel has a tough challenge ahead of him.

Sundays Sound bites

I sit on the bleached wooden bench and close my eyes and tilt my face towards the sun, its rays warm my face as I begin to relax and unwind, the tension in my shoulders eases.

I love sitting here, alongside ‘African Queen.’ a glorious decadent boat with a fine navy blue livery and bleached blond wood deck. She attracts lots of attention from promenaders who wander along the quayside.

'Granny says you could fit two families in that boat but I want it all to myself.'

‘Astrid come here ... Astrid.’

The gentle drub overhead of a light air craft travelling from east to west, is drowned out by an overly large man. ‘You can only be a master if you sail a merchant boat.’

The long stride of a heavy foot fall accompanied by the soft pad followed on by a swift scratch of nails, broken by a regular pant. Its name tag jangles as dog and owner pass by at a brisk pace in a wordless conversation.

‘They've asked for money for bricks at Jill's wedding.’
‘What a good idea.’

A soft spoken woman, a foreign language I can't recognize passes, who comes across as discreet, she walks close to her partner, intimately exchanging news.

The flip flops flap with a regular clip, clap.

‘She should've left Carl, because if she doesn' know what…’ however I’m not privy to the exchange of glances that took place.

‘They cost £45 and how often do you wear them? Dresses...I'd rather go to primar...’

‘How do boats get here?’
His voice escalates several octaves; ‘by sea,’ He stands, turns forty five degrees, squares up with hands on hips, ‘how do you think they get here?’
‘On a lorry.’ She sounds certain, not foolish.
He walks off, in an exasperated tone, ‘don't be daft.’

Another young couple saunter by... ‘I like that speed boat.’
‘What the boat with that bloody big sail… how can it be a speed boat?’
‘Oh... I didn't see the sail,’ she shakes her head as muffled giggles escape.

A gaggle of students, young, boisterous, all vie to heard simultaneously in a foreign tongue, probably Italian.

I open my eyes: ‘beautiful sunshine, you enjoying it?’ She brushes past briskly, her cheerful comment directed at me. Yes I reply to the cheery woman I don’t know, who notices me sunning myself, ‘glorious isn't it’ and she keeps walking, and then she's gone.

Two, couples stop and drop on to the benches alongside me. ‘Take a picture of Princess. I think we should buy one each, we'll have the white one and you two can have the blue one.’
‘There's too much glare from this angle.’

A handsome young man walks in bare feet; his soles do not react to the rough screed surface of this concrete path. Behind me in the flowerbed a gull screeches, another gull stops, sits atop the other gull, dominant and frustrated.

‘Send the picture to Lauren.’

Wearing an I'm-going-to-enjoy-this-Sunday-stroll-smile, a father walks holding his little girls’ hand. A hand he finds comforting and knows will not be withdrawn or rebuffed. His wife appears to ignore them, trailing several steps behind and traipsing even slower than them, a young boy who appears to wish he could be somewhere else, anywhere but here. His sullen face ready to burst. They look disconnected, out of sorts yet strung together by tense invisible threads of varying degrees of annoyance. This unspoken message is loud and clear, sitting here.

‘They haven't heard for him, they've tried to contact him, rung, written, but there's been no response, so they've had to take control. It's all very distressing.’

I eavesdropped on many people's conversations and each brief discussion holds its own fascination. The endless supply of possible starts for a stream of short stories from the lives of ordinary folk filling a Sunday afternoon with parley walks.

Where do you eavesdrop for writing inspiration?

Friday, 23 May 2014

Where my inspiration comes from?

My mum is one of life’s grafters. She grew up in a different era when people did the best they could with what they had, as rationing formed a dominant part of her formative years. My mum cares for each and every member of her family by ‘doing.’However, I grew up in a large family, in a time of plenty.

And I don’t think I’m the same as her. I've little desire to do ‘tasks or chores’ that don’t directly benefit my welfare.

I would much rather sit down and write, capture the essence of a day, explore the feelings that drive one specific emotion and its resulting actions.

When I observe people I pick up on nuances and comments.

When I overhear a comment, “you mean I've got to make sandwiches every day for your lunch” did trigger a direct response for a short story. I knew immediately who these characters were, ‘new retirees’ and as yet it remains unpublished.

To me a short story should capture a moment in time and not necessarily have a beginning, a middle and an end. Perhaps this view is contentious.

I find newspapers often provide a rich seam for ideas that inspire me to write. A few years ago a man stood accused of poisoning his wife. This article made me think. Why did he want to poison her? I could understand how a woman might poison her partner but this article showed life from a different point of view.

I wanted to get inside ‘his’ head and work out what had pushed him to take such drastic action. It led to a short story called: Poisonous Thoughts. I wrote this story as the reason behind his actions. To this day I still wonder about his wife and daughter because I presume I could taste mercury in my tea… couldn’t I?

Of course there’s two more stories still waiting to be written, one from the wife’s perspective and then the other from their daughter.

Where does you draw inspiration from for your writing?

Thursday, 15 May 2014

12 Spoons

My simplified understanding of how it might feel to live with M.E./(CFS) Myalgic Encephalomyelitis and Chronic Fatigue Immune Dysfunction Syndrome.

Each day without thought I do many things, every day things, nothing special: gardening, shopping, reading, writing alongside going swimming, to the cinema, meal outs and regular daily household chores. I even ride a bicycle sometimes.

Now imagine yourself watching all these people going about their everyday lives, ‘nothing special things’ and being vastly aware that your energy is finite.

Your daily energy allowance is a handful of spoons; let’s use them as tokens of measure. Twelve to be precise.

Put your feet into the shoes of a bright young woman aged 16-20 as her day begins, her morning goes something like this:

Wake up, ‘good, hello kiddo time to get out of bed,’ one spoon used.

Breathe, knees working? Moderate pain but that’s okay, take some medication. It might take the edge off, stop the pain escalating. Get up and go to the loo, another spoon spent.

A shower will make me feel fresh, that’s two more spoons. If I wash and dry my hair that will be another two spoons. (Think I’ll opt for dry shampoo.)

I’m going in to college, I need to get dressed. Another spoon gone.

Make up takes time, valuable time; I can’t go in to college looking wan and lifeless. Too many questions will be asked. An additional spoon is required to make me presentable.

Almost ready to go. Walk down stairs, knees operating at a reasonable level, not too much pain. One more spoon.

Eat breakfast, well prepare it first and while I’m in the kitchen put some lunch in a box for college, a further spoon used. I leave the dishes in the sink.

I want to do my laundry, put last weeks dirty clothes in the machine but that means going back upstairs, rounding up the items, one spoon to go up and one to come back down, should have done this while I was upstairs. Perhaps I can leave it for another day.

I’d love to change my bed linen but that’s a big task and it needs to be on a quite day when I’m good and don’t have much happening. Stripping the bed, one more spoon, remaking the bed with fresh sheets, one further spoon and bringing everything down to the kitchen, an extra spoon. Too expensive today. Perhaps if I ask nicely Mum will sort this?

It’s almost 9.30am, I’m ready to go to college. Time to leave the house. Walk to the train and train journey to the next town, one spoon. Walk to college from the train, up three flights of stairs to the top floor of the science block, carrying a heavy satchel. An extra spoon consumed and my day starts.

I’ve used eight spoons to get here. My day officially begins. Now the hard work commences.

My thanks to: Christine Miserandino
Author of the ‘The Spoon Theory’

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Writers panic…

I woke up in a cold sweat last night and panicked… foolish really as there was little I could do to resolve the problem or change the issue at 2am.

I dreamed I had broken the rules of the writing competition by submitting a piece in the wrong font size!

I crawled back into bed after checking my computer. What an idiot. I have submitted the piece correctly. Phew. It seems I had read the instructions accurately and gone into auto pilot and completed the piece accordingly.

Shame I didn’t remember that in my waking dream.

Do you do this too?

Or are you better prepared than me to be judged?


Friday, 9 May 2014

New writing group

Joining a new writing group can be a curious thing to do.

I joined a new group a little over two weeks ago.

Mostly I’m good at turning off my internal critic when I sit and write my own work as I’ve learned to do this over many years of practice.

However, I find it much harder to switch off the 'internal critic' when I hear other authors read out their work.

I find myself comparing my ability (or rather my perceived lack of it) to their ability to write, what I hear seems so much more eloquent than anything I’ve written, and I find myself asking why didn’t I think of that?

I suppose the truth is what we each see and hear, when the written word is spoken, can be different. What we each choose to hone in on is different too. And how we write is what makes writing so tough to conquer.

I know I’ve always enjoyed hearing how a group of people can write such diverse pieces given the same instructions.

One of the exercises last week was to describe ‘hands.’

I enjoy doing observational pieces and the feedback I get often surprises me. At the time of writing I thought I hadn’t done this exercise well.

But once again I was surprised by the responses from my fellow writers, some of whom are already published authors. I thought my hurriedly written piece was just a list (not what we were asked to do in the exercise.) Apparently not so. My writing was compared to a current author who I now need to find and investigate.

And then my tutor surprised me by suggesting I should put the two pieces I’d written into some flash fiction competitions! You could have knocked me over with a feather duster…

‘What do you get out of your writing group?’

Signing off until next time… when I’ll share one of the writing exercises we did this week in my next blog spot.