New Year’s Resolutions

Well January is almost over so I thought, in the interests of full disclosure, I would let you all know exactly how I’m getting on with those all-important resolutions I made.

1. To write one word every day—well I was doing really well until last Monday when I had a funeral to go to and a kind of benevolent excuses regime seemed to come into force. You know the kind of thing, “Oh I can let myself off today because it’s the funeral.” followed by, “Yesterday was pretty tough, I’m just going to be nice to myself today, I’ll get back to it tomorrow.” then the ever popular, “I’m in a period of understandable mourning, I need to be good to myself.” opps, don’t appear to have written anything for almost a week. Well, enough is enough, today, not tomorrow, I am getting back on the wagon. One word a day, every day, no excuses!

2. I will exercise for 30 minutes a day—almost complete success. I had one day off and that’s it. Before you get too impressed I do have to confess that my starting point was complete stagnation and my 30 minutes can either be playing on the Wii fit or walking, I’m hardly training for a marathon. Nevertheless I have managed to keep to it so I’m feeling pretty pleased with myself. I didn’t bother with the dieting resolution. I am happy in my skin and I like cakes so there’s no point setting myself up to fail – I don’t want to diet, so there!

3. I will blog once a week—by the very skin of my teeth a success! Quite pleased about that and find I am loving getting comments from people I don’t know and, therefore, haven’t paid to say nice things to me so, if that’s you, keep them coming please.

4. This year I will finally sort the flat out—it has been three years since we moved into our flat and we still have a loft full of boxes I haven’t sorted through and nothing has its own place. This drives me a little crazy and I have determined this year will be the year everything finally gets sorted, I will get rid of my toot (rhymes with soot) and find a place for everything and keep it there too. I will empty the loft, which is actually a lovely little room, then I can set up the telescope I am going to get for Christmas (hint, hint husband) and live in peace and tranquillity with my surroundings. What’s that I hear you say, how far have I got? Well I have a plan and it is still only January after all, I have eleven months until I have to admit I’ve failed.

So that’s how I’m doing, how about you? You know I’d love to hear.

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Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…please.

I think I am a pretty unusual adult in that I love snow. Any snow, at any time. I particularly like heavy winter downpours that cripple the transport systems. I’m not being sarcastic, honestly, I really do love the snow and I’ll tell you for why.

Quite apart from the fact that everything, even my overcrowded, rubbish strewn, urban roads looks beautiful, clean and fresh, I love that everyone has to slow down. Schools and work places, if not shut, are understanding of those who can’t get there and so you get to spend special, extra time with those closest to you, without the stress of ‘fitting them in’ before the next thing.

If you want to go out, you are probably going to have to wrap up very warm and walk and that has a fun all of its own. People wear all kinds of funny clothes combinations, fashion, and the judgement it brings, goes out of the window and, because everyone is battling against the same element, people smile and chat to each other and even look out for one another. It reminds me that 99.99999% of people in the world are lovely because the snow gives them the time to show it.

So what prompted me to write this ode to snow? Well all this week I have been promised copious amounts of the wonderful white stuff and, this morning, twitter and Facebook are full of posts about how much snow different friends have or how difficult the snow has made their journey to work etc while we have nothing! The odd lonely little flake is blowing around in the biting, arctic wind but there is nothing on the ground. It’s a little bit like waking up Christmas morning and discovering Santa forgot to come. Just one more reason to move to Scotland I figure, I’m certainly adding it to my list.

So enjoy the snow, if you are lucky enough to have some, and spare a thought for us who missed out this time.

Well I Never!

For those of you who don’t know, about a year ago I gave up a job I was really enjoying to concentrate on writing and in October this year published my first book. I didn’t leave work thinking I would make loads of money, I am neither a J K Rowling or an E L James, I just really enjoy writing, I’d got my teeth into a story and wanted to concentrate on that for a while. I have a wonderful other half who is really supportive of my many, many mad ideas and we agreed I could take a couple of years out to fulfil a life time’s ambition and write a book. As it happens, I actually wrote two, one already published and one due out in January and had a story published in an anthology too, so all in all I am feeling pretty pleased with myself.

However, along with all the fun of writing, come the boring bits too. For example I really dislike the very, very necessary process of editing, going over and over and over the story with a fine tooth comb trying to find all the mistakes I made in my rush to get my ideas down on the paper. I’m not overly keen on the publicity stuff either, it means I have to tell other people how clever I am, and they might figure out I’m wrong, but the thing I have really been dreading and, quite frankly, putting off, is telling the tax people about my status as a writer. After al,l the average author earns around £500 per book so I’m hardly going to heal the economy am I? But today I bit the bullet, I called the tax office. I even had my NI number ready and everything. I explained, in that rather embarrassed way the British have, that I was not earning any other income, I wasn’t claiming any benefits but I was writing and publishing and therefore, theoretically, I might actually earn some money which they might want to tax. The lady on the other end was lovely, she didn’t laugh at my garbled explanation of my situation or the deluded manner in which I choose to earn my living, she simply told me they didn’t need to know about my earnings until they reached £2.5k, a situation which, I assured her, is a long way off. Phew!

What has this all taught me? Well sometimes the fear of doing something is actually worse than the reality, but, to be honest, I already knew that. I hope this will make me a little less likely to put off dealing with official things in future, although I know myself well enough to admit it probably won’t, but one thing I did learn, and thought I had better share, the Tax Office are nice!

Well I never!

Space, The Final Frontier…

Or should that be barrier? To work, that is.

Today I went to my friend’s house, as I do every Wednesday, specifically to write. It is an arrangement that usually works really well. She works from home and is very diligent so we sit side by side on our computers, ignoring each other (except at 11am when we stop for cake, I like 11am!) and I have no distracting house-work so I usually write. Not today though. Today I have found a new and very dangerous form of distraction. Space!

I have always been fascinated by space, I blame my Dad who kept me up, aged 18 months, to see the moon landings then encouraged me as I spent freezing nights laying on lawn chairs looking up, counting shooting stars and learning to identify planets, constellations and galaxies. I’ve even done an Open University course on planets, for fun.

Last night I watched Stargazing live, for the science honest, not that nice Dr Cox, honest-hehe I’ve just realised he has the same name as Perry from Scrubs-that’s cool because they are so alike. Anyway last night they told the country about a website called Planet Four where you can go and help identify features on the Martian surface.

This is where my inner Geek comes into her own, about 10 years ago I was involved with a public project NASA did identifying craters on Mars, it involved looking at photos no-one else had seen and making four clicks around the edge of any craters you found. It wasn’t hard but it was strangely addictive and satisfying and I whiled away many hours. So this morning, when I should have been writing, I logged onto Planet Four, took the tutorial and spent the next hour identifying fans and splodges on the surface of a rusty, dusty planet I will never visit. It was brilliant! Have a look here http://planetfour.org/ if you want to see what I mean. It gets worse though, Planet Four not only needs help looking at the surface of Mars they have lots of other projects you can get involved with too-all from the comfort of your laptop. I may never write again, which some may say is a good thing!

All this time I thought it was Facebook that was writing’s biggest enemy when really I should have been looking out for that sneaky duo, Dara and Brian!