About Writing, Life and Writing About Life

Archive for December, 2012

2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog, and as this is the first year I’ve been posting here I thought I would share it with you.

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Friday Fictioneers – Two Efforts

It’s Friday, everyone else in the house is still abed, yet I have two more days of work before I stop for Christmas. But then a lovely long break to look forward to.
You can blame my busy week if you like, but I’m not especially happy with my efforts for Friday Fictioneers this week – which is why you are getting two of them. (more…)

I wrote this post a couple of years ago on my Cancer Fallout Zone blog, and it came back to me after the terrible events in Conneticut last week. I was going to write about the attitudes to guns in America, but instead I wanted to focus on what it brought home to me – all the families missing loved ones, not any more than they do every day, but made harder by other people preparing to enjoy a family Christmas. I went to my younger son’s last primary school play last night, and feel very much for parents who have not had the opportunity to do that this year. My thoughts are with you

Life in the Cancer Fallout Zone

The first Christmas after losing someone dear to you, is always hard. Those around you are celebrating, spending happy times with family – or moaning about how stressful it all is.
How can you deal with this time of year when there is such a gap in your life? It’s not too late to jump off the merry-go-round if you feel it is all becoming too much for you this year. Here are a few points to consider.

  • Don’t pretend that nothing has changed – it would be false to pretend that there isn’t a gap in your family. Even children want the loss to be recognised.
  • Consider abandoning the traditional celebrations. If you have lost someone dear to you this year, you don’t owe it to anyone to fake cheerfulness if you’re not ready for it. You may get invitations from well-meaning people to spend time with them because…

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Friday Fictioneers – World Building

Posting early again this week – I think it’s getting to be a habit. I found the picture prompt for this week’s Friday Fictioneers a bit challenging, and rejected at least two directions before settling for this. As always, comments or suggestions are welcome. This week’s picture is courtesy of and copyright Doug MacIlroy. Thanks for making me scratch my head, Doug.

To find out more about Friday Fictioneers, visit Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. To read the other stories this week, click on the blue linky-blob and you’ll get the list, which will keep on expaning through the weekend and beyond.

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World Building

When I was a child, my mother called me selfish. Perhaps that is why I now spend time healing or caring for others. She also said I would never amount to anything, and perhaps she was right; unless you can call a happy marriage and raising two kids amounting to something.

In many ways, you could say my mother built my world.

I will not repeat the derision I was subjected to. I am always cheering my children on and celebrating every accomplishment. I wonder what kind of world I am building for them, and if they will appreciate it?

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Thought for the week – Types of Success

I’ve been mulling this post over for a little while. It was prompted by a conversation I had on Facebook with Chris Knight, the founder of Ezine Articles, where he quoted from an article he liked.

The gist of the quote (as I interpreted it through my own prejudices, anyhow) was that unless you are so busy that other people think you are crazy then you are not doing enough to reach your goals, those goals are not important enough or too easy, and to boot that you will never be a success. My objection as a parent is to what impact  a ‘crazy schedule’ could have on family and relationships. Well, it’s wonderful to have a debate on Facebook, but since then I have been mulling over more about what success is so I wanted to expand that here.

Here are a few scenarios I’ve been thinking about.

  1. Is a person who builds a charity which helps millions of people a success? Pretty obviously so, I guess.
  2. What about a person who volunteers at that charity a few hours a month. Without person 2, person 1 is not able to create their success.
  3. Would you consider a teacher who inspired your child at school (or yourself in the past) a success?
  4. How about a nurse who makes a frightening time at the hospital into something more bearable by treating you as an individual and addressing your fears.
  5. Would you say Vincent Van Gogh was a success? During his lifetime he was mentally ill, could barely give his paintings away at times and  is reputed to have killed himself. Yet now we value his work highly.

It seems to me that sucess is hard to measure, and may not even be visible for some time. So I wanted to share some types of success that may not be so obvious as the traditional measures of money or building a business. I think you are a success if you:

  • Are using your creativity in some way and doing what you can to share the results with others.
  • Are giving your time and energy to help other people (for parents of young children this may mean only your own family at this particular time if that is all you can manage).
  • Lead, teach or inspire other people in some way.
  • Are treading a spiritual path, or working on your personal development and growth, as this contributes to improving society.
  • Are building a business or working in a business that makes the world a better place.

Most people can achieve all these types of success in their lifetime, but not necessarily all at the same time.
I did stop and think about whether I am doing enough to make progress towards my own goals, and I think it is good to strive towards more of these types of success.  My conclusion is that it is not necessarily about working harder, it’s about working smarter. So I am currently working on getting myself more organised so that I can prioritise with the time I have next year whilst still making time to be with my family and friends.

What do you think? Am I making excuses? How do you measure success, are there kinds I have overlooked? Let’s expand the way we think about the subject.

Friday Fictioneers – Captured

Well, I didn’t miss last week thanks to my lovely hubby Pete who posted my story for me. This week I’m planning ahead and putting my post ready for Friday. For anyone who doesn’t know already, Friday Fictioneers is a blog party started by Madison Woods and now run by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Every Friday stalwart souls around the world post a piece of short fiction of as near to 100 words in length as they can manage, inspired by the photo prompt provided. If you would like to join in please visit Rochelle’s page for this week to find out how it works. This week’s picture is copyright Rich Voza. To see the other stories click on the blue link-monitor below my story.

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Captured

Endless featureless corridors with blinding, mystifying white lights. Some Jerry facility. How did he get here? Must have been brainwashed. Captain warned about that. The drugs make you unsteady on your pins. It was in the briefing.

Voices behind one of the doors; it opens. A man in some strange uniform appears.

“Hello Robert, nice to see you.”

Don’t trust him. The enemy are experts with their mental tricks. Name, rank and serial number. That’s all.

“We’re at Sunnyside, Robert. You’re staying here for now. Let’s get a cup of tea in the dayroom; your son will be here soon.”

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Edit Your Book Pages To The Correct Format – Part Two

Continuing from last week’s post on beginning to edit your book document to a print-ready format, here is the remainder of this section from my self-publishing download (which I will be finishing and posting as a complete document in the New Year).

6. Now you need to decide what will be on your header or footer. Each time your header or footer changes you will need to have a different section in your book. This means that the simplest option is to just have the page number shown, usually at the bottom of the page. If you have decided to have the book and chapter title included as well then you will just have to create more sections.

7. Divide your book into sections. You do this by inserting a section break on the page before the first chapter starts, and optionally at the end of each subsequent chapter. You do this by positioning your cursor on the end page of the section and using Insert>Break>Section Break Continuous.

8. Now set your header or footer. Use View>Header and Footer, which will bring up the boxes for the header and footer for you to put in what you want. It will also bring up the tool bar. You probably already have a footer on your document with the page number as this helps you with the editing up to this point, so now it is just a matter of adding the other information you need and formatting it correctly. Use the Page Setup button on the Header and Footer Toolbar to allow you to set the fine detail of the formatting. You may need to set them to be different on odd and even pages. This allows you to have the page number left justified on a left hand page and right justified on a right hand page, and to have different text (eg the Book Title and Chapter Title) as well. You may also want to have a different first page header/footer, which will allow you to leave them blank on the chapter title page. You will probably want a smaller font size than your standard text, and can use a different font if you like. You can use the Same as Previous button on the Toolbar to copy the header/footer from a previous section if it is the same throughout the book. Play around with your header or footer until you are happy with the result.

9. Now you are ready to generate your Table of Contents. Go to your Table of Contents page, which just has the heading on it. Position your cursor below the heading, then use Insert>Index and Tables and the Table of Contents tab. Specify the number of levels of headings you want to include and press OK. Your table of contents will be generated and shown in the page. Make sure the formatting is ok and fits with the rest of your document.

10. Now print your formatted book and check everything looks right. Particular things to look out for are whether the chapter title pages are all formatted exactly the same; whether the spacing between paragraphs is consistent; any lines where having the text justified leaves a lot of blank space on the line, which can look odd; and any places where single lines or headings are left hanging at the bottom of a page. Correct any remaining formatting problems you see until you are happy with your book’s inside pages.