Monday, 30 July 2012

Writers on the Block

I was on a writing course last week. Armed with pen and paper, I entered the small classroom. My anal retentiveness had kicked in and I realized I was twenty minutes early. But no worry, the teacher was already there and I'm the queen of useless chit-chat so the time went by quickly.

For a course that ran from ten to one each day, I expected a few older women - perhaps a couple of yummy-mummies. Nope, I was the youngest one there. The women's ages ranged from late forties to mid seventies. I suddenly felt inadequate and then a little down, I'm not far off from my forties so there wasn't that much of an age difference after all!

Expecting a room of budding or published novelists, I was surprised to hear that a couple were writing memoirs, many had an idea but not sure where to start and some just had chapters floating around, but nothing connecting them. An air of slight smugness surrounded me. I had written a few short stories and finished my first novel in draft, currently halfway through the second. Yet I haven't had the courage to get an editor to look at it. Maybe spending the week with these experienced women may help.

As the week progressed, the lecturer Jane Katims gave us exercises and prompts to get our creative juices flowing. And wow did they help. I knew my first novel needed some improvement but wasn't sure where to go. After day three of the course, I saw a myriad of ways to add some 'oompf' to the story. Thursday night was student reading night and I read a short piece entitled 'Home Depot' - all about a couple having an argument in a truck. Compliments from my fellow classmates and peers flew and I became cocooned in a world where people actually liked what I wrote.

I awoke on the Friday to find three presents waiting for me. My constant support, Hubby, gave me three notepads, a box of pens and the Chicago Manual of Style. I felt even more energized to write and get published - there's nothing like writing on the first page of a new notebook.

By the time the week ended I had met a wonderful set of writers; the woman whose memoirs focused on her mother's mental illness, another with a charismatic character called Harry and one whose young pianist Eva, admired a music teacher who was a holocaust survivor. I sincerely hope they find the courage to finish and publish; for they certainly have given that to me.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Another Year Granted

I been a bit lackadaisical with my posts, it's amazing how much time reading takes up. But moving on...some good news that I should have shared a while back - Hubby and I have been granted a year's extension on our visa - hooray. And it was appropriate/ironic timing that we found out/got it confirmed a couple of weeks before July 4th

Let me tell you it was a dire few months until we got the confirmation. We spoke to HR...okay Hubby spoke to HR and found out that the head honcho left, leaving little notes (ain't that always the case?!) and the new HR lady was wondering why the company paid for me. Cue soapbox...Why pay for me? Er maybe because I'm the wife...?! As much as Hubby would relish the odd days just to lounge around play Gears and eat pizza all day...he'd miss me! (Wouldn't he?) Do they not know I'm the epitome of a 1950s housewife - who will do his laundry? make his beloved lasagna? Okay, I know Hubby can manage a lot of things on his own...and heck why am I justifying myself? I'm his wife, reason enough.

Stepping off the soapbox, they eventually said 'yeah go on then,' and we're happy.

We like it out here and although next year we have to move from Cambridge (we're after a two bed apartment) I'm looking forward to another twelve months of the constant yet changing, sometimes extreme weather, interrupted sleep by the street cleaning crew, moving out the way of people who don't say thank you (for doing so), Starbucks - the place where everyone knows your name...

And for all my American family and friends there's only one thing to say - 'the British are coming, the British are coming'...