Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Spring & Summer Manifesto 2018

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this spring and summer, i will:

make plans for the garden 
visit stourhead with the family 

finish call me by your name
...and start many other books 

add more plants to my home 
work with at least one more new client 

book the family holiday for somewhere in the uk
and maybe even go on it 

go for the first picnic of the year 
sell my wares at the boot sale 

finish off little painting jobs 
be reminded of how much i adore the smell of suncream 

celebrate my birthday, somehow
use up my disposable cameras 

try some fish on the bbq 
buy summer clothes 

put art up on the bedroom wall 
start writing a creative course?! 

lose afternoons to beer gardens
share more adventures 

eat pizza with lyzi 
continue to push myself out of my comfort zone 

find some new-to-me places to visit 
and spend much more time outdoors

Remind yourself of last year's Spring & Summer manifesto, or, alternatively, why not send me your own? 

Scroll through all my other lists over the years if you'd like to.


Saturday, 17 March 2018

Favourite Bookish Feelings

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Reading can be euphoric. Books can fill you with pangs of nostalgia, can tear you down in the space of two words, and can even change the direction you're heading in. 

With those profound realizations in mind, here's a selection of my favourite bookish feelings.


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 one page down, you can see yourself returning to that very page at various stages of your life 

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 I can actually remember most plot points post-read! 

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• someone reads, and subsequently loves, a book on my recommendation 

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• you re-read a favourite and find new things to love about it and it shows you all of its subtleties 

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• I find a book I've been looking for on the busy shelves of a secondhand bookshop 

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• an author finds a new way of saying something and it effectively punches me in the gut 

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• I find a reference to the title in the text 

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• you sit pawing at the annotated pages, fingers set in the grooves, as if you were looking for a hidden story 

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• you close the last page of a book you didn't want to end and you feel your heart fill with love and gratitude 

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• you forget where you are, or who you are, outside of the pages in front of you 

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• you fall for a book unexpectedly 

Have you got any other favourite book-related feelings?

If this ain't your kind of thing, you could always have a flip through my adventures or my creative posts instead. 


Saturday, 10 March 2018

Most Nights

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impatient paws on the windowsill waiting for papa to come home. big light off, lamp on. stove top messy with rogue pasta. an episode of always sunny with dinner. pjs on hours before bed, just because. sandwich-making hands pulling meats and cheeses and salad together, amongst the dinner dishes. futile netflix scrolling before we go back to a trusty favourite. rounds of 'hoop' with poppy, before we get bored. hands wrapped around big mugs of tea, once, twice, maybe a third time if hot chocolate isn't in the running.

sneaked taste tests before food hits the dinner table. 'just one more episode' of the office before sleep. scraps of whatsapp conversations with friends, in between doing several things all at once. a mess of marking on the table, luke hunched over workbooks. hastily tapped to do lists, being made in the dark, underneath the canopy of a jedi dressing gown.

This is what most nights look like around here.

(inspired by)

I like the quiet moments, the bits of life in between chaos, so please feel free to share your own nightly portraits in the comments.



Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Things That Make Me Happy 80

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browsing rightmove for houses I'll never afford 
'hellos' with passing strangers 
mindless marathons through my youtube 'watch later' list
trips to the vets, weirdly 

I have been sharing things that make me happy lists for years. If you'd like to read some more, you can scroll through the archive.


Sunday, 4 March 2018

How To Overcome The Fear of Sharing Your Creative Work

Oh, the hours I have wasted feeling anxious over sharing creative work.

I would sit in my university workshops, clammy hands holding onto my latest piece for dear life, petrified that a peer would read my work that week and wonder how I got on the course in the first place. In reality, we would all share our pieces, give pointers, sure, but mostly just pat one another on the back for trying something new. No one cracked out their magnum opus at 9am on a Monday morning, no one, but they sure-as-shit were bound to in my anxious mind! I often wonder how different my university experience would have been if I didn't feel like throwing up every time I had to allow a second pair of eyes to read my writing but that's a different post for a different day. 

Sharing your creative work is part of the process, it's what makes it more performative than personal, and by doing so you can often reap many rewards. During my 8 years of creative blogging, however, I've had a ton of messages from readers saying that they would love to be able to share their work but they're too scared to for XYZ reasons. They're afraid of rejection. They don't think they're legit enough. They think they have nothing of note to offer. Other people already do what they do at a high(er) level so why bother?! And, pals,  that's kind of devastating when you think about it. 

And so, here are my tips for how to overcome the fear of sharing your creative work. 

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Do you want to share it?  
Are you stalling because it isn't actually something you want to share with the world? In the age of social media and personal blogs, we are all used to sharing our ideas and creating with shareable content in mind, but let's not forget that it's also a-okay to create just for you. Write in a journal to be read by your eyes only, create a photoset to hang on your bedroom wall and nowhere else, design something meaningful to you. There's no pressure to share your creations with anyone if you don't want to. Creativity is just as valid and important behind closed doors. 

Reframe your fear. 
I put the question of creative anxiety to my readers, because you're a wise bunch, and Victoria brought up an interesting point about delving beneath the fear. She suggests that fellow creatives 'figure out the root cause' of fear because that way you can work on those feelings and reframe them. Of her own experience she says, 'In my case, fear stems from rejection and a lack of recognition. The fear of people having a negative view of me because of my art or believing it to be worthless and not liking it. It stops me posting altogether. Since acknowledging this as my main concern, I try to create and share without expecting anything in return. Just simply sharing my art for myself. And I find that it has helped immensely'. 

Accept that not everyone will love your work. 
When I was just starting out as a creative, there were many times where I refused to share my creative work because I was scared that people wouldn't like it or wouldn't understand it. I now share some of my work and grin and bear it when my family think that the poem that I've written about heady summer love is actually about boning. You can read melt for yourself, if you'd like.

Over the years, I've come to realise that not everyone is going to be your biggest fan. There are countless creatives who produce work that I don't necessarily connect with. Does that mean they should stop creating altogether? No. Are there still plenty of people that do enjoy what they do? Of course! 

Creative art forms are incredibly subjective. You don't need to please everyone. You certainly aren't making it for everyone. You're going to feel the most fulfilled if you enjoy what you've created, regardless of how people respond to it. 

You're probably your harshest critic. 
No one cares about your work as much as you do. They just don't. You're your own biggest fan and your harshest critic, so cut yourself some slack. Give yourself some credit! 

There's a place for you and the things you create. It doesn't matter how many people have come before you. 

Start a group with like-minded people. Or, share with people that you trust.
If you have other creative people in your circles, consider setting up a group, be it virtually or in real life, where you can discuss your latest projects and get some feedback. You could also put a shout out online for like-minded people to join you. Otherwise, you could start by sharing your work with people that you trust.

I would send my poems to close friends so by the time they found their way elsewhere I felt confident in them and had already exposed myself to the vulnerability of sharing. 

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Celebrate workshopping as part of the creative process.
Workshopping is such an important part of my creative process and yet it's so easy to bin it because it can feel uncomfortable at first.  No one, in a workshop setting, is going to say 'this piece is worthless and you should give up'. They're, most likely, going to tell you what they appreciate about it, asking questions to further understand its context, before communicating ways in which they feel it could be worked on in order for it to be more well-rounded. Workshopping is often a key tool in shaping and improving creative work going forward and it can help you see your work in an entirely new light.

If welcoming comments, praise, and constructive criticism is part of your process, you'll soon grow less fearful of it. 

Take a class or attend an 'open mic'.
If you're lacking confidence with regards to your abilities, attending a class may be what you need. Look for local courses or, alternatively, head to skill-sharing sites for online guidance. 

If you're confident in your abilities but not confident in sharing them, go to the equivalent of an open mic night for your particular area of creativity. Perform at a local gig, take your wares to a craft fair, showcase a painting at an exhibition, etc. Sharing work outside of your immediate circle may actually be easier for you to do. 

Consider the worst case scenario.
When it comes down to it, I think it's sometimes best to address your fear head on because, within this context, the worst case scenario is usually a little bit ridiculous. What would the worst case scenario of sharing your work mean? 

A stranger may communicate that they didn't like one piece of your work? And?

Granted, for some people, particularly those from groups that experience regular oppression, sharing creative work can often mean opening themselves up to unwarranted confrontation or commentary, and that's a worst case scenario that should be taken much more seriously. 

Think about your wider goals.
What do you want from sharing your creative work? 

A book deal? A brick-and-mortar or online shop? A stint in a gallery? Sharing could be a means to an end and a way to achieve your wider life goals. It's, therefore, most likely worth it.

Go for it! 
It's very easy to overthink the creative process so, in some cases, the easiest and most productive thing to do is to bite the bullet and see where it takes you. 

Share it with one person, share it with a select handful, or share it with the world. Once you've done it once, do it again, and again, and build up your confidence. The more you do something, the more natural it may begin to feel. Take off the training reigns and pad about the place!

If you were to ask a room full of creatives whether they have ever felt anxious about sharing their work, I'm pretty sure that they would all raise their hand. It is nerve-racking, it does make you feel vulnerable and, for some, it can open up a world of confrontation that they don't deserve or need.

It can, however, be one of the most fulfilling parts of the creative process so, if you've been feeling anxious, I hope this post has gone some way to help you work out how to overcome the fear of sharing your creative work. If you end up sharing something as a result of this post, do send it my way so I can cheer you on from the sidelines! 

p.s You may also be interested in my post on How To Get Rid of Creative Anxiety.


Saturday, 3 March 2018

Apocalypse S-now

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The snow is still kicking about so we found ourselves on another Christmas card looking stroll around the village this morning. I thought I'd ward off the post-lunch slump by sharing some snaps with you. Also, I'm bored and the other only option to alleviate it is to do housework so... 

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We were able to leave the village today, thankfully, to pop to the shop so we're now well-stocked in the food department. The supermarket, however, was free of bread, milk, most meat and vegetables, so our meals for the week sort of read like you've let a child write a meal plan but I'm more than happy with that. We also stocked up on snacks. Thank you for keeping me in your prayers following yesterday's post where I listed my cravings. I'm happy to report I have now sated each one. I'm talking smoked salmon, Phish Food ice cream, apricot pastries, crisps, and maybe a few packets of biscuits...I'm never happier than when I have snacks, that's something you all need to know about me. 

Once the football is over, I'm going to whip up a quick dinner before settling down to a couple of films - if we can decide on some to watch. Anyone else spend more time scrolling through possibilities than actually watching anything?! A millennial malady, I'm sure.

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I've taken a very 2010 approach to blogging the past few days. Three consecutive posts of the same theme?! Chilled out rambles?! It has been utter chaos. I am living for it, pals. 

If you weren't around in the halcyon days of 2010, essentially everyone just posted lengthy life chats, took their photographs on potatoes, and spent their evenings trawling through a ton of comments, finding new-to-them blogs along the way. It was a much simpler time, granted. I feel like we didn't know how lucky we were but isn't that always the case?! 

The snow should melt into slush by morning so I imagine this is the last snowy post you'll see from me for a long while. Snow, you were vaguely interesting but you've over-stayed your welcome.

I'll back back in the next couple of days for a creative advice post but, until then, I'm off to make some tough decisions. Do I go danish pastry or chocolate biscuit?! 

Catch up on some otheadventures, if you have nothing better to do.



Friday, 2 March 2018

Another Day of Snow, in Somerset

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A few days ago, I was sat in a sun-drenched park eating chip shop chips from the bag and now I'm sat by the windowsill watching another flurry of snow bury Luke's ailing Mini Cooper. 

Storm Emma came at us fast and, as a result, Somerset has seen a flurry of snow. 

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I consciously refer to it as a 'flurry' of snow because, coming from Scottish stock, I'm well aware of what genuine heavy snow looks like. 

We decided to take Poppy for a short stroll along the pathways this morning, whilst there was a break in the snowfall, because cabin fever was already kicking in. I cannot even imagine what people did in storms of old, when they couldn't retire to a lively Whatsapp conversation when they were sick of the same four walls. Poor buggers.

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It isn't all bad, though. Luke scaled the ransacked supermarket shelves for some provisions, once school was cancelled and before the roads got too dangerous, so we've got plenty of bread and milk to see us through. We don't, however, have anywhere near enough snacks, in my opinion, so please keep me in your prayers. I've been daydreaming about smoked salmon, apricot pastries, and Phish Food ice cream.

The panic buying at our local supermarket was really quite something, no bread, no milk, no long-life milk, and, for some reason, no nuts whatsoever?! God help us all when the apocalypse rears its ugly head! Maybe I should start prepping.

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Being stuck inside does have its merits, however. Luke managed to sort through his filing system (read: collection of cardboard boxes) which was a novelty and I've been on top of all the laundry. I've also managed to get some work done and have even started reading a new book. The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry, if you're wondering. 

The snow is still falling, albeit I imagine not for long, so I think we're going to stay warm indoors, eat some big plates of pasta, and maybe chuck a film on to pass the time. Even though the snow is a tad annoying, I do enjoy the cosy vibes! 

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A novelty sprinkling of snow to kick-start March. Whilst it may be fun for some, it's a dangerous time for rough sleepers. If you see anyone sleeping rough, please do contact Street Link as they will be able to (hopefully) connect them to local services that can support them. Roll on spring, please! 

Catch up on some other adventures, if you aren't done yet. 


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