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I had an email a few days ago asking if I disappeared into the ether and ending with the question, ‘Where have you gone??’ with two question marks. It is that electronic communication that has resulted this blog post. The email in question asked several questions, two of the most pertinent being:
1. Are you still writing for magazines?
2. Have you stopped posting to your Being Britalian blog?
The answer to the first question is simple. I am no longer writing for Italy Magazine, the publication was sold twice during my time there as a feature writer and I chose not to renew my contract with the second owner of the publication. I am still doing a little freelance work but only currently for trade magazines.
The second question is more difficult to reply to. I have stopped contributing to my blog for a few reasons. First my partner fell ill and was taken into the hospital at Lanciano and I was doing the daily visit through mid-November to mid-December; this meant I had no time to write or do anything remotely interesting to report on. We then came to the UK for follow up hospital appointments and to visit family. The hospital appointments dragged on and before we knew it we were making plans to stay longer than originally anticipated.With my partner’s hospital schedules taking longer than anticipated and my own unresolved health issues to deal with, we secured a place to live and I took on an allotment, (Plot 51) to help ease my sanity through the coming months.
Being in my birth-town after seven years away meant developing a new daily routine and I was enjoying revisiting experiences I had growing up. I took walks around parks where memories were hidden, visited old haunts that I’d almost forgotten about. Frosty mornings were a retro experience with the emergence of snowdrops and the plethora of international cuisine meant and extra inch developing on the waistline. The most distressing thing was the passing of my beautiful little dog Olive, who had a long and happy life. I like to remember her coming home covered in grass and sand after adventures in the olive groves.
Things were looking good, we had got into a monthly routine of hospital visits to various different departments and then the corona virus arrived. I won’t dwell upon this and its effects upon the world, suffice to say, Covid-19 has changed so much: The clients looking to buy a holiday home in Abruzzo have seen their plans put on hold. The office staff in Italy are all on lockdown meaning no legal work is being undertaken/completed and the limitations here in the UK means we don’t see ourselves returning to Italy any day soon.
So to reply to the question, where have you gone?? I’m still here, but should there be no reply If you call, I’m maybe working at, Plot 51 and on the subject of writing, I’ve been getting my (typing) finger out – so to speak and I’ll tell you more about that soon.
What a difference such a seemingly small thing makes. I had been ploughing through that mire of despond, which is familiar territory for many writers, namely I felt a total failure, thought my work was rubbish and I might as well give up and devote myself to my garden.
I had, however, resolved to have some new cards done; my old ones were way out of date and there had been one or two occasions when it would have been good to have a card to give out.
The design had taken me a very long time. Years, in fact, and in this case I’m not exaggerating. I wanted a card which represented me and what I did, but I couldn’t find the right image. A couple of weeks ago it occurred to me that if I am a writer then a picture of books would work, and if I…
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how we laughed
Another lovely Spring day and Mr B kindly took me shopping for whitegoods. Thought we were all sorted in one shop – after some prevarication I picked out the right fridge and washer for me and thought “Yaye” at the 50% discount the store had advertised everywhere, only to get to the till and discover that the (very) small print meant my chosen whitegoods would have ended costing way more than I’d budgeted for. Caveat emptor, of course, but as neither of us had clocked the conditions, I said no thanks…getting very flustered and embarrassed in the process, and speaking a kind of awful English with an Italian accent.
A soothing lunch was required, and I was soon revived by pasta with rape (a gorgeous green, a cross between spinach and broccoli), followed by stuffed peppers and cabbage, and then coffee that came close to stopping my heartbeat, with a…
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What do you do when the words won’t come?
I’m several chapters from completing my novel and due to the lack of words appearing on the screen it’s become a chore.
As a writer of non-fiction for the magazine market I’m a planner, so the chapters; all 52 of them were planned at the start, in-fact I’m so good at planning that several chapters that follow the one I need to write have already been written in advance.
At first I tried to convince myself that due to my personal situation I couldn’t get into the zone: You see it’s currently July and the temperature is in the 30’s and I’m in Italy. However my chapter takes place in early January in Stoke on Trent. But then I remind myself that I wrote about costume wearing ponies in Walsall at Christmas time during a summer in Stoke, so I can’t blame this on location or season.
I think it’s partly planning and anticipation that is to blame.
The chapter I am have to write is entitled, the Pregnant Bedlington Terrier and I have been so looking forward to writing this one, I have scribbled lots of funny lines inside my novel planner, I’ve invented the protagonist for the chapter, right down to his trainers and even have mental images of the scene I want to portray.
Maybe I’ve over-planned and now the story is stale and won’t flow. Maybe I’ve spent too long getting to this quirky piece that the fun has been drained from it. Maybe I just need to put it aside and plough on with other chapters that need to be written. Maybe I should just ditch it and come up with another chapter idea.
The problem Is I cannot decide, because not only are the words not coming, the idea of a replacement won’t come either.
So, it’s time away from the story and a trip to the beach.