Woo Hoo!!! I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. Amazing!
As you’ve probably noticed by my introductory sentences, I’m absolutely chuffed to bits to be chosen by novelist Sandra Danby. Please click here to learn more about Sandra and about her writing and her novel, Ignoring Gravity. I’ve visited her blog many times, and in my experience, there’s always plenty there to inspire you.
I’m inspired all the time. By the things I see, hear, touch, read in books and magazines, and watch on television. I’m inspired by countryside, and cities, and beaches, and sunsets.
I’m inspired by humour, and bravery, compassion and kindness, by dedication and tenacity, the innocence of youth and the ravages of age, as well as the beautiful and, sometimes awful, random events around us. Inspiration is everywhere, rousing and firing imagination and emotions.
But the thing I find inspires me more than anything is other people’s talent. I’m always astounded by their abilities, what their imagination creates and melds together. It motivates me to do the same. It triggers my memories and spurs my senses. It produces a need to channel those everyday experiences and sensations into something that others can share. You know that feeling when you encounter a piece of art or theatre or writing that moves you, or makes you think about something in a different way? That’s the effect I want my writing to have on others. To produce that ‘Ah yes’ moment. ‘That’s how it is.’
So, it was a real honour to get nominated for this – that somewhere along the way, I may have stimulated or motivated someone else to write, or simply given a person hope or ideas to work with. The most encouraging aspect of creativity is that everyone can have a go, and with time and practise we all get better. There’s nothing more inspirational than that, is there?
Before I divulge any further (more disturbing) information about myself, I’ll list the rules for the award:
As a nominee, you must:
1. Thank and link to the person who nominated you.
2. List the rules and display the award.
3. Share seven facts about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other amazing blogs and comment on their posts to let them know they have been nominated.
5. Optional: follow the blogger who nominated you, if you don’t already do so.
Okay, so here’s seven facts about myself. I hope you find them interesting.
1. Though I never originally had a desire to get married or be a mother, I now have a husband and two daughters (which just goes to show how life can take you on unexpected journeys.)
My daughters were born six years apart, and are very different in personality and outlook, though both are very single-minded. Sometimes being in the house with the two of them can be… er… tempestuous to say the least, but on the whole, I love that their characters and interests are so diverse. The eldest goes off to university in September 2014, the idea of which has left me slightly bereft. Though I have always encouraged her to be independent, I am now considering packing all of us into her suitcase before she goes, and seeing if we can get away with living in her room – in a box under her bed.
2. I grew up desperately in love with musicals and old films, as well as the actors in them.
Doris Day, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Gene Kelly, Marilyn Munroe, Burt Lancaster, Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacClaine, Tony Curtis, James Stewart, Jack Fonda, John Wayne, and so many others (as you can see, it’s a long list). I had childhood crushes on them all. They captured my imagination, enchanted me, and absorbed me in a different – magical – universe. (My love affair with film still exists to this day, and yes, I still get a little obsessed with the likes of James McAvoy, Ryan Reynolds and Ryan Gosling). After I’d finished watching the shows, I’d re-enact them – alone – in the living room, with a burning desire to relive the magic moments over and over. I played out the individual characters, changed the intonations of my voice (in my mind, I could be man, woman or child, though if I’m honest, I was disappointed I didn’t have the gift to change my height, or the colour and style of my hair), stamping around the sofa gesticulating wildly, and using a cushion (cringe) for the more romantic moments. Sometimes I’d record the soundtrack of the movie on my cassette recorder, and woe betide anyone who scraped a chair, opened a door, or coughed while I reproduced the programme in its auditory form. After, I’d lie on my bed, listening intently, reassimilating the experience, allowing my imagination to relive the whole theatre of the thing over and over again. I’m sure it’s this obsession with re-creation that developed my obsession with writing today.
3. I live in Littleborough, which is a Lancashire town on the edge of the Pennines and the border of West Yorkshire.
As far as I am concerned, it is the wettest place in the UK, unless, of course, you decide to relocate to the middle of the North Sea. I have lived here since 2003, which is the longest I have lived in any one town since I was a child, so I can only assume I like being permanently damp. As well as my husband, and two children, I live with a very smelly, drooling and toothless, grey-faced boxer dog, Fudge, and an arrogant tabby cat, Boris, in an old converted wool mill. It is possibly the coldest house known to mankind, and in winter, I live permanently in fleece pyjamas, gillet, dressing gown, thick socks, furry slippers, scarf and hat.
The entire ensemble is finished off with a brown blanket and sometimes a hot-water bottle. The postman is so used to me opening the front door in my eclectic (odd) costume, that he hasn’t blinked an eye in years. In the winter months, getting out of bed and dressing is an interesting experience, and the phrase ‘BRACE YOURSELF’ often comes to mind.
4. I spent two years as a holiday representative for a luxury camping company in France.
Twice a week, I used to stand up in front of twenty families and lead a welcome meeting, and yet, I never got over my fear of public speaking. Later I became a primary school teacher, which bizarrely, is a job that also involves talking in public. In fact, that’s pretty much all you do. In the classroom, I never had a problem with this. However, my view on my sudden abandonment of my glossophobia is that kids don’t judge you in the same way as adults. Plus, they like it if you act like an idiot… and I do that a lot.
5. My first language as a child – despite being brought up in the UK – was not English, but Polish. For three years, I’d lived as an only child in a household of Polish speakers, in a wider community of Polish speakers. During this time, not one person thought to mention that we lived in England. Or that in this country, there was another language that everyone else used on a regular basis. They also forgot to mention that I might need it to function when performing ordinary day to day tasks in public. As it happened, I went to my first day at nursery unable to speak a word of the language of the country I was born into. Also, as my mother dropped me off that morning, she forgot to mention this fact to the staff. (To be honest, I don’t think she realised. When you’re bilingual, you slip in and out of languages so easily, you don’t realise you’re doing it. But anyway…) Obviously, when she picked me up later, she was met with consternation, and a genuine fear that I was deaf. Apparently, I hadn’t responded to anything that the assistants or children said to me that day, which was worryingly a sign of hearing impairment, or perhaps a learning difficulty. Yet, surely, this misunderstanding wasn’t the consequence of my mother’s oversight, but rather, a sign of their professional incompetance? I look back now and think: how did they not realise? Surely, in their line of work, an essential quality when working with children (both English speaking and not) is an ability to MIND READ? Pffft. Shocking. You just can’t get the staff.
(By the way, my lingual abilities were with me for life. By my twenties, I’d gone from being a fluent speaker of Polish in my early childhood, to pidgin Polish in my teens, to only being able to count to 20 and say a handful of random phrases in adulthood. Shameful.)
Strangely, on the same theme, some years later – by which time I was, thankfully, a fluent English speaker – there was another concern about my ability to hear; again in an educational establishment. This time I was sent for an auditory analysis because, as was my wont, I wasn’t responding as expected in class. As it turned out, my hearing was impeccable, but my propensity to day-dream meant I faded out the presence of the class teacher on a regular basis – usually for most of the day. What can I say? I was happy in my own world! And you won’t be surprised to hear, I’m still like that now.
6. During my childhood, I believed I had an amazing singing voice, until my parents selfishly ruined it by buying me a cassette recorder for my ninth birthday (please see fact #2). One day, in a bedroom solo-performance extravaganza, I belted out a show tune from Cats – ‘MEMORIES’ – in the style of Barbra Streisand. I could barely contain myself once the song ended – rewinding the tape, smug in the knowledge I was going to wow audiences world wide, unable to wait for my journey of fame to begin – only to play it back and, upon hearing myself, sit there in wide-eyed shock with my mouth open. For the first time since aged three in nursery, I was silent. Let’s just say the whole experience left me mentally traumatised and disappointed. I wasn’t the singing aficionado I thought I was. To this day, though I still dream of being able to perform an aria on stage, with audiences applauding me with endless standing ovations, I would never purposely torture anyone with my singing voice. In private though, it doesn’t stop me belting out a … er… tune. Though, nowadays, I am very careful about the volumes I reach. A few years after my Babs Streisand reality-check, I was singing in the bath when there was a knock on the front door.
I went downstairs in my dressing gown, to answer the door to our neighbour. She asked if my mother was in, to which I answered, ‘No, sorry – she’s out.’ The neighbour looked puzzled. ‘Are you sure she’s not in?’ she said. She peered into the house, looking directly behind me, where there was nothing but an empty room. ‘I could swear I heard you both arguing.’ Arguing? Gah!
7. I’m horrified by my age, and have always believed that I am a female Peter Pan figure. Until recently, I truly believed that middle-age only impacts other people, never me. Even to this day, I don’t feel like a grown-up, but unfortunately, my mirror, and my aches and pains tell a different story. As a result, I feel betrayed by the world, and want to know the way back to Neverland. Anyone got the directions?
Here are my nominated blogs:
I love novellist EL Lindley’s blog. She writes about all things now, with humour, wisdom and insight: men, women, friendships, crushes, education, even Morrissey… Anything you want an opinion on, you’ll find it here: ellindley.weebly.com
Paul writes about his experiences with writing. His writing itself, and his procrastination: http://misterphipps.com
Penny Shutt writes amazing poetry, and blogs about how her experiences with therapeutic writing. http://pennyshutt.weebly.com
On A Woman’s Wisdom, you’ll find reviews of a variety of books. http://awomanswisdom.wordpress.com
Experience Stephen Thom’s speculative and metaphysical fiction here: http://stephenthom.wordpress.com
Sonya reviews books and interviews writers: http://aloverofbooks.wordpress.com
Cheryl writes serialised fiction to which she adds intricately detailed illustrations on: http://cherylmoore.wordpress.com and here is her blog with further writing: http://cherylmoorestoriesandpoems.wordpress.com/about/
I love the humour in this blog – something I keep trying to introduce to my short story writing, but somehow my themes are persistently bleak and SERIOUS. One day I am going to write a character in the Skinny and Single vein: http://skinnyandsingle.wordpress.com