....welcome to my blog on writing, reading and living in London ......

Friday, 18 May 2012

The power of belonging...

Recently I have been thinking about the power of belonging as a means to help us achieve our goals. Writing can be a very solitary occupation, but there are many ways in which to lessen that isolation and increase output. Similarly, other goals we desperately want are helped by belonging to something bigger than ourselves. Like many in sedentary occupations I have wanted to lose weight for some time. Finally, in January I acknowledged I was getting nowhere on my own. So I joined Slimming World which uses a mixture of common sense, NLP and the power of belonging to a group to share experiences, as well as having that all important motivation of someone else checking weekly on your weight and giving you feedback. It's not rocket science but in three and a half months I have lost one stone two pounds - because I have had help with my motivation by belonging. Similarly, I have been battling with the serial I am writing for People's Friend. I find this process difficult! After each instalment I have to wait to find out whether it is suitable, often have suggestions for amendments and cannot write the next instalment until I know the editors are happy. For someone who writes by the seat of their pants this is not my chosen way of working. BUT I have carried on and I know I shall complete the whole eight instalments because there is someone asking about my progress (yes People's Friend do e-mail and gently ask how it's going). I also eventually get the all important, 'yes thanks, we love that instalment' once I've revised it. In the end I know I shall get the ultimate prize of seeing the serial appear in the magazine, beautifully illustrated. I'm on instalment 5 at present and struggling but I will get there. With Slimming World I get silver stickers and certificates along the way and the joy of getting back into much loved clothes that have been languishing at the back of the wardrobe. There are groups for everything so I would advise anyone looking for motivation to go ahead and join, NOW. I belong to a small critiquing group, to the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA) and to a small group who go away to a writing retreat. Every single time I visit these groups I get new motivation, advice and feedback. I would advise anyone to get in there and belong to something if you are struggling with your writing - or from that dreaded spread we call writers' bottom! I'd be fascinated to know which groups you belong to and how they have helped you achieved your goals. This blue dress hadn't seen the light of day in years - here at the RNA Summer Party with lovely authors Liz Fenwick, Carol Christie Sadan, Giselle Green, and Kate Harrison.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Harwich - literary and historical links

Some places such as Oxford have such firm literary and historical links they are constantly busy. Other places though have much to offer the curious but are sorely neglected. One of these is Harwich on the coast in Essex. We've just spent the day there and it was deserted! It's a fascinating place parts of which are in a time warp and all the better for that. Pepys was once MP for Harwich and in her excellent biography, 'The Unequalled Self' Claire Tomalin tells how Pepys used to make his way up the Thames to Harwich from London. Old Harwich is small but is evocative as an idea of how a busy harbour town would have been in the 17th and 18th centuries with narrow cobbled streets and some lovely houses - both the large ones . It has some lovely streets and curios such as this treadwheel crane built in 1667 - a crane powered by humans, men who walked round the treadwheel to power it. Scarily, the crane has no breaking mechanism and one can only imagine the disaster that would have occurred if the weight of the load took command and the men were propelled backwards at speed.
A little more up to date is the wonderfully named Electric Palace. Opened in 1911, it's one of the oldest purpose built cinemas in the UK complete with silent screen and original projection room. It's still going strong with regular screenings and devoted fans who keep it preserved.
Finally, Harwich is home to the Mayflower project http://www.harwichmayflower.com/joomla/index.php to build a seagoing full-size replica of the Pilgrim Fathers vessel. Hopefully this will put it on the map!