Sunday 29 March 2009

A Little Concert

Have I mentioned that I play the flute?
I’m not very good, but sometimes, at lunch, I play with a guy at work called Neil who plays the piano very well.
Anyway his wife plays and teaches the cello and I was invited to play my flute in a little ‘concert’ her mature students were putting on.
I like playing the flute, it always amazes me when I make music that really sounds like music and not just a bunch of squeaks and whistles. But there is a big difference between playing by your self and playing with someone else. There is an even bigger difference between playing in my room at home where only my parents can hear me, and playing deliberately in front of people.
So yesterday I drove over to Neil’s house. I was incredibly nervous. But everyone was so nice it actually turned out to be pretty good fun. There were the four students who all play cello, although one also plays the clarinet, Neil on piano and my self. We all had a little practice with Neil first – he accompanied everyone. And somehow I’d agreed to have a go in a trio at a piece. Remember I’ve only ever played with a piano so playing with a cello and a clarinet was very scary! I soon found out though that this is brilliant as no one can hear my mistakes over a clarinet.
And then while we were waiting I got to listen to the three students and teacher play a piece. It was amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a real life cello never mind four. Even with mistakes you could see how much they enjoyed it.
Playing in front of six really nice people, who have all made mistakes in front of you, makes it a little easier. Yes I was scared and yes I did make mistakes (I played Scarborough Fair and Danny Boy) but that didn’t matter. I did it, and maybe next time it will be a little easier.
They all agreed that I should find some people to play with, and maybe I should. I’m a tad busy right now, me and ‘im outdoors are look for a house/flat, but maybe when we’ve found somewhere I should look into it.

Tuesday 24 March 2009

Racing the Train

The writers group met again today.
The homework was to write about either; How it would feel and what would you do if you won the lottery, or How would it feel and what would you do if you were a rock star. I didn’t feel very inspired with those – everything I wrote seemed pretty standard and not very interesting.
And then as I was driving home from ‘im indoors one night a couple of weeks ago, I saw a train in the dark. Out in the country side with no street lights the train just looked like a row of boxes of light and suddenly I felt a poem coming on. I don’t write poems very often as I don’t like how restrictive they are on words and from, although of course this is a good thing for a writer to practice.
Anyway here’s the poem.

Racing the Train

I slip into fifth and cruise up to seventy in this pitch black,
And suddenly there it is on my left,
A row of rectangles, brightly lit from within.
It must have noticed me as it cruises at my side,
Slowly coming closer,
Until it seems we must collide,
And it dives under the road in front of me.

On the other side it loses interest,
Flying away over the jet black fields.
A string of yellow rectangles in all that dark.
From here they seem quite smooth and steady,
No rattle and bang of carriages.
No noise at all except that coming from my radio,
Which argues with the road below.

We’re racing now,
Me and this snake of light.
Speeding across fields and hills,
Dodging round cows and cars,
Trees try to block our view,
But their thickening tips are not leaves yet,
And always that string of lights is visible.

I did have another verse but everyone agreed that it was very weak and didn’t add anything to it so I’ve taken it off. I think they were right.
Wonder what I’ll come up with for the next meeting?

Thursday 19 March 2009


I’ve just come across a brilliant web site called Those of you who know me will understand that just the name its self is enough to make me think this is a great site.
But the fact that they are a printing company who will actually let you print your photos directly from flickr makes them even better.
I love the fact that I could order 100 double sided business cards from them and have a different photo on every one. I don’t think I’ve even got 100 photos on flickr yet!
They have a great selection of products, from business cards, to greeting cards to postcards and sticker books, all of which can have your own photos on or a design from their very own collection of designers and illustrators.
And as if that’s not enough they have a page of ideas and inspirations too.
And I love their website.
So when I said I’d design and print my own business cards, maybe I’ll just design them and leave the printing to Moo.

Monday 16 March 2009

Adobe InDesign

Yesterday I spent the day at South Hill Park (again). I’m sure you remember that last November I spent every Monday evening there, learning how to use Photoshop properly. It was there that I learnt about Indesign and found a course to go on.
It’s a really great piece of software if you need to put together anything with photos and text. For example business cards, a news letter or maybe a catalog.
But it's not just about the positioning of the text round a photo, I mean you can do that in Word. There are lots of effects that you can use to make your news letter even more exciting. I’d love to show you what I did, but none of it was very good, and I don’t have InDesign on my machine yet (give me time) so can’t even start fresh today. But watch this space. There are many things I want to do (see my 43 things below) which InDesign will make very easy for me.

Tuesday 10 March 2009

World Book Day

Can you believe it – I’ve missed World Book Day. In the UK and Ireland we celebrated it last week on 5th March, while for some reason everyone else celebrates on 23rd April. You can find out more here, although I guess it’s a bit late for anyone in the UK.

I love books and reading. I think it’s much better than TV – you have to use your imagination with a book, while TV does it all for you.
My favourite author is Stephen King. It amazes me how prejudice people are to his works, just because they come under ‘horror’. I don’t think he writes horror, I think he writes about people. I love his stories.
But enough of that, I could go on all day. I’ve many other favourite authors and books, after all I read about one a week if I’m not too busy.
Christopher Brookmyre is great; I love his ‘The Sacred Art of Stealing’ and ‘Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks’ amongst others.
Alexander McCall Smith’s ‘The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency’ series and all this other books are wonderful.
And anyone who hasn’t read Philip Pullman’s ‘His Dark Materials’ really should.
I could spend all day listing books I’ve enjoyed reading, and so many still out there waiting for my time.

What are your favourites? I’m always ready to try new authors.

Wednesday 4 March 2009

Duotrope's Digest

As I’m sure you know I love the writers group. No just because it gives me a good push to write something at least once a month. Or because writing is a lonely thing to do, so it’s great to meet up with other writers and encourage each other. But also because you can get all sorts of helpful hints and tips and information.

At last weeks meeting our leader, Anne, gave us the details of a website which holds details of lots of publications so you can search for the perfect place to send your story or poem or novella.
It’s called Duotrope’s Digest and I’ve only had the smallest of poke abouts, but it seems pretty detailed. I think it’ll be a great place to find places to send the stories I’ve written. After all just because they didn’t win a competition doesn’t mean they are not good stories, just that they were up against better ones. I shall have to have a better look when I’ve more time.