Tag Archives: Education

Music & Art October 2016

I cannot work in silence when I am writing; I need music all the time.  For me, silence can be painful and headache inducing, as much as having television on in the background is also another disturbance and headache waiting to happen.

There are only two times when silence suits me without invoking a headache; when I am walking in nature, woodlands, pathways next to canals and fields etc., or being driven somewhere by car.  I dislike conversations in cars, I don’t like talking, and I like to zone out and forget I am in the car because I tend to feel sick when I acknowledge I am in a car.  I can imagine other places quite easily when I am not spoken to and in a car, this therefore makes it difficult for my body to realise it should be sick.  I also cannot read in a moving car, but I am perfectly relaxed at reading on trains and in busy cafes.

Travelling on buses and in cars makes me tired as well as daydreamy and any more than an hour in either and I am asleep, unless I am very tired or woke up early on the day, I tend not to sleep on trains, I love trains, I have a passion for them which has certainly rubbed off on my son Henry.

We take regular trips on trains just because; we are trying to get into a habit of going on the Severn Trent valley steam railway every couple of months.  I like to look at the scenery around there, the river Severn is the most beautiful river I’ve ever seen, which doesn’t say much because I’ve only ever seen three rivers personally up close.

Music therefore is a very important tool for my writing.  I like listening to instrumental music mostly, such as that found from Nox Arcana, Apocalyptica, classical music, but sometimes I will listen to lyrical music from all styles and eras, such as Patsy Cline’s Honky Tonk Merry-Go-Round, Movie Soundtracks, Kesha and many others. 

If it weren’t for music I don’t think I could be as emotional in my writing as I am with it. 

When I was little I had no imagination, seriously.  I didn’t find my imagination until I was around 9yrs old, I remember teachers from the couple of schools I was allowed to go to complaining that my stories were too realistic and that I lacked imagination.  I was browbeaten by them to develop an imagination and my mum helped with that – by the time she was finished with me my life was destined to be a writer from the age of 11.  It was decided for me and I have to admit I fell into it.

I am not saying for one moment that I don’t enjoy writing, I do.  But a writer’s life was chosen for me, not something I found I wanted, it was literally thrusted upon me.

When I look back through my therapy and my creative recoveries, I have noticed that when I was a child I had planned to be a mother or a teacher and that I had a huge interest in art and fashion.  I had quite vain thoughts as a child, but all of this was discouraged out of me and by the time I was 16 I had forgotten the art life I had wanted for myself and writing took its place.  I know writing is an art form in itself, but I meant painting, sculpture etc., all those other art forms were discouraged simply because my talent lies in writing, not drawing my mum often told me.

I was thrilled when my cousin Shane bought me oil paints for Christmas one year, my mum dreaded it and didn’t encourage me to continue, despite the good painting I did of some obscure Aztec ancient god.  My dad was proud of it, but she looked at it as an expensive past time that she wasn’t looking forward to smelling.

Since living with Paul, he believes I have talents in both but my main skill is writing simply because I don’t practise art enough.  In fact he is right, because I practise less than two hours a time approximately once every couple of months.  Whereas writing, I am practising almost every day for over an hour.

A lot of the time I just draw with pencils or a biro and never colour it in.  When I do really good drawings I am scared to paint them, because I tend to ruin good sketches with painting them wrong.  I have done excellent work that was ruined by paint.  A large African elephant in the Sahara, when painted, all the excellent detail was destroyed and it became cartoonlike, yet it was coloured in with watercolours, watercolour is my main medium. 

I do chalk pastel art too, but again, I am frightened to preserve it, as I tend to over spray and my work is literally washed away.

I am self-taught in both art and writing. 

Music is vital for me to work, this is the primary reason why I can’t work when my son is awake or at home, his noises drown out my music a lot.  He also wants the TV on all the time and that drowns out the music too.  Unlike most writers and artists I don’t like isolating myself in a room alone, I like to be around people, particularly people who respect music and respect the fact that I am working – a child can never do those things, they don’t understand; So, reluctantly I have to work around him and this is something I am dreading when I become professionally published – my time then has to work around the editors I am appeasing and for me, that’s going to be a nightmare.

 

 

 

 

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Punctuation and grammar pedants

I have not socialised with other writer’s offline and not too much with them online either; the reason for this is unclear, I do try hard to socialise particularly in the Facebook writer’s clubs but they seldom reply to me direct unless offering criticism to my lack of punctuation or grammar.

I have often reminded members of these clubs that I have had very little education, due to being home-schooled and I have never gone into higher education and that most of what I know is self-taught; it is for these reasons that I lack confidence in creative writing, particularly when it comes to publishing anything on my blog. I have been told by many people that publishing things on my blog can be detrimental to my future of becoming a published writer because blogs are often considered too personalised and once published in an online media, it is considered published anyway.

When I have been active on these groups, I have never actively criticised another person’s work unless to praise their efforts, I seldom post any of my own work because of fear of plagiarism and it being noted as being published online. Perhaps this is the reason behind having so few writing friends?

Because the majority of those who talk to me about my writing concentrate a lot on my grammar and punctuation, I have become self-conscious of my writing, enough to start reading books such as “Eats, shoots and leaves” by Lynne Truss, “Improve your punctuation and grammar” by Marion Field and to try online punctuation and grammar games. I have been so affected by the criticism of the polishing of my work that I have even considered spending out more than I can afford for software called Grammarly, which I may have to put on hold for a while.

Despite trying to educate myself more on writing professionally I really don’t think it’s sinking in. I know I shouldn’t worry too much about it because if I was to approach a publisher they’ll have editors to help me in this matter, but for some reason or another it is a big issue for people within the writing communities online.

A friend of mine (who is a lecturer for Leeds University) feels that there isn’t too much of a problem with my punctuation, though some of it does need brushing up – but they feel that my critics are pedantic beyond need, as writers groups are generally there for socialising and for fun, not shooting down other members lack of abilities.

My blog may become quieter for a short phase because I am trying to brush up on these inconsistencies.

 

 

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Erin Cooper, Artist and Friend.

The below links will take you to the work of a wonderful fantasy artist friend of mine, Erin Cooper from Fort Wayne, Indiana, USA.

https://www.etsy.com/shop/ShadoWind?ref=pr_shop_more

http://www.zazzle.com/shadowind_erincooper

http://shadowind.deviantart.com/gallery/

She is the artist behind this websites banner and as you can see her skills in fantasy art are extensive, beautiful and an inspiration.

Erin is able to captivate any image I request of her for my work in more ways than one. In future, I hope that she would be considered as my illustrator for books I might have published – though I am an artist myself, Erin’s skills far outweigh my own.

I first found Erin online in a spiritual forum back in 2005 and we bonded almost instantly on so many levels, spiritually and artistically as well as forming a long-distance sisterly relationship that still goes on to this day.

We are each other’s rock and we have both been through so much together.

A lot of my writing and art wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for Erin, purely because Erin is the first proper artist I’ve ever known (proper as in, have actually sold art). I say that a lot of my writing wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for her, because we talk online a lot about my stories – we talk like we are the characters to one and other and she helps feed me another point of view. This is something we have never tired of, to us, in our conversations, if we were ever overheard or read, people would think that the things we talk about are real and would probably have the both of us locked up.

It is hard to find someone like Erin who actually talks like this long-term with me. My husband Paul does this with me a lot too, and I used to have four other friends who would do this, but they got tired of it after so many years. Erin however, has made it her mission for my written worlds to be as real as the real world to her and this I thank her for.

Erin has helped me grow in confidence that I am capable of producing my own artwork, she has given me hints and tips and videos of how to sketch and paint effectively and even how to market my work on zazzle and etsy.

I highly recommend you contact Erin for commissions; she is very dedicated to her work and will work tirelessly to produce whatever work you desire from her, outside of her livery duties.

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art, feminism and technology

Yesterday I decided to paint something that was emotionally lead and unplanned; the result was a horrible mess of gloomy colors around a shadow person bleeding from the upper thighs. When done, I reflected on my emotions and they took me to a place I wasn’t sure was a factor mentally. A place where I am screaming about feminism going too far, a place where I see lackluster mothers at the school gates waiting for their children to come out, only for them to act like they’re not home when they go, ignoring their children’s existence and having one child after another.

I was feeling strongly about this because I am a mother, I have a five year old little boy and I wanted so much to give him siblings, but due to ill health I was and still am unable to fulfil that. I come from a family where having lots of children is expected by and large (particularly on my father’s side), but also a family where fertility doesn’t last past 35 (on my mother’s side) and I am 32 right now and so far, I seem to have all the health problems of my maternal side of the family.

I crave to play with my child, go out with my child, have fun with my child, but due to sickness a lot of events I have to miss due to being bed bound. Unfortunately or blessedly in many cases, I have a child that is far too independent for his age, he is strong emotionally, he doesn’t need me as much as most five year olds need their mothers. He is unusually mature and above average intelligence academically. He would rather read quietly alone, listen to Lady Gaga music, play dress up, do painting, all alone. I offer to play with him regularly and his response literally is “No thank you, I want to play alone” or “Not now, I am listening to music”. I can’t even tempt him with treats, because he is unusually moderate for a child. You give him a whole bag of candies and he will never eat more than 12 small ones. Now you’re probably thinking he is a dream child and to many modern mothers he is, but to me, he is a nightmare come true in some respects. I wanted children, because I am a big kid, I am imaginative and naturally playful and I have to admit I am rather crestfallen at how serious my little one is turning out to be.

I see children running around screaming, playing tricks, wanting attention all the time; “mummy play with me”, “mummy hug me”, “mummy, mummy, mummy”. My little boy isn’t like that.

I am surprised he likes being alone at home and playing quietly because he is also naturally gregarious; he will super socialise with everyone outside of the house and will do things in large groups of friends, teachers at his school has said he is unusual for this. He is very caring and sharing, creative and fun with other children and even other adults outside of the house – but inside the house and with other relatives, he acts too adult for me.

I am not sure which personality is his natural one, the one when he is at home or the one when he is at school or going out with me.

I scream at feminism going too far because a lot of women these days are forced to be equal whether they like it or not, to the extent that women’s rights have taken rights away from the traditional women. Women have to work to support the bills even if they are married because of their financial difficulties. Therefore a lot of women have careers and in my opinion, hardly know their children because of it. Feminism and women’s right’s aren’t the only factor here though; the increasing dependence on technology is another problem. Women are known to be very social at the best of times with other women, therefore women are never away from their mobile phones or tablets or social media websites. Women are more dedicated to their relationships with other adults and their gadgets than they are with their children and what is worse, they are encouraging their children to have the same unhealthy relationship of being plugged-in to any type of computing device, just to get them out of mummy’s hair.

Feminism and technology together are slowly killing the mothering instinct. It has been proven through generational breeding various animals that after several generations of having their off-spring cared for by others, the mothering instinct dies and even if forced to rear their young the mothers usually have forgotten how; breastfeeding for example, is a skill lost to a majority of women these days because of the access to formula milk, so much so that breastfeeding has become a taboo in public and a taboo subject to discuss. How ridiculous the world is becoming! I truly believe this is a serious problem and I plan on writing a story about this soon.

Keep in tune.

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Daily update 1

It has been pointed out to me today, by my husband that yesterday’s daily pages post had an error – I do not hate my husband, please read it as HAD; I’ll make amendments later.

Today I found out that Henry will be having a school Valentine’s Day disco on Thursday, he’s looking forward to it. Henry is my 4yr old son and he will no doubt be using this as an opportunity to go on a date with his best friend Alice.

Writing daily pages for the public eye is difficult because a lot of what I say has to be censored because it’s private and I don’t want my dirty laundry passed around the internet, I can understand why Julia Cameron says that you should try to keep them private because you never know where your thoughts will lead you and mine are leading me astray.

I may give up daily pages for daily updates instead, because three pages of just whittling on about my life in general to a bunch of strangers is a little too much, don’t you think?

So therefore instead of 3 pages of daily pages I will do approximately 500 words of a daily update per day so you know what’s going on in my life.

I think I am getting over my pharyngitis today, last antibiotic before bed tonight and I can also finally stop my eardrops too.

I have an appointment with an adviser on Wednesday about work, I wonder if there is anything she can do to help me get funds to start working properly from home, as I am short on a few necessities; I don’t really know what she can do for me, so she might not be able to help.

I also have three GP appointments coming up in the next 2 weeks as well. For different things, doctors don’t like being given too much all at once, so I drip feed them, no pun intended.

Whilst I am jabbering on about my life, I would like some comments on this event of the day…

I know my mum well enough that she would attack me on my views of what just happened with my son Henry.

My son Henry asked for a share of a huge share bag of crisps and he said “Give me lots please”, I said erm no, and I gave him less than I would normally have given him so he could appreciate he got any at all; then he looked at me crestfallen and asked “is that it”? I found that rude and obnoxious and my reply was, “do you want less”? To which he replied “yes”, so I took half of what he was given away from him and put them back into the bag. I told him he should say what he means.

Cruel lesson I know, my mum would have swung at me for it, despite all her bad points, but I am teaching my boy three valuable lessons in life.

A. Say what you mean

B. Appreciate you got anything at all as there are other people in the world who don’t get luxuries like this

C. Manners

Say what you will in comments, I am interested to hear your concepts on this event.

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Watercolor mermaid 1st attempt

1st attempt at watercolor mermaid scene

1st attempt at watercolor mermaid scene

 

For the last 6 months I have attempted to teach myself art, sketching and painting particularly with watercolors.
The image that you see is my first ever attempt at creating a watercolor mermaid under the sea scene and my first ever attempt at under-painting a picture.
This image is unfinished and I am afraid to say it will stay that way because I mixed the shades of colors that are used on the paper and my fiance Paul knocked over the palette when getting it for me and it was all lost and I am very reluctant to attempt to try making more of the same shades of color as I don’t want to completely ruin this picture.
There are some blemishes to the image, for example the mark of yellow on her left inside elbow amongst other things, but I cannot repair these without severely impacting on the color scheme, as I cannot guarantee I can mix the same shades again.
I am a self-taught artist that have only really been practicing twice a month any kind of art-work for about a year now, as I mentioned before my attempt at watercolors started about six months ago.
In my personal opinion, starting to teach yourself artwork, particularly sketching/drawing shouldn’t really start at how-to-draw books, because that never worked for me, instead, trusting my own eye works better and reading books based on painting; that is of course if you eventually want to move onto painting your images.
I have been getting a lot of comments from my immediate family and friends that they believe I have a natural talent for art considering that I spend less than five hours a month practicing; personally I don’t see it, I see too many imperfections in my work and I cheat. For example, I have hidden one of the mermaid’s hands in this picture because I couldn’t make it look as good as her right hand and the paper was thinning with all the erasing I had to do.
I have a gallery at deviantart.com if you wish to see more pictures that I’ve done as well as my budding artist four year old son, Henry, some of his best work are up there, which reminds me that I must add his version of a toucan up later on.
http://ffgallery.deviantart.com/

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Writing style and narratives

Many new writers write in a first person narrative; this is very limiting and produces problems if they want to include other characters opinions and viewpoints.  The main character of a story isn’t psychic, so wouldn’t know the real reasons behind their nemesis or co-inhabitants reactions to various events.

When I first started writing my vampire dark fantasy series, I was also to blame for writing in a first person narrative; this made it very complicated for me to introduce new characters with their personalities effectively.  My aim was to write the series as a series of biographies of individual characters from the same story, but this wouldn’t work well as it had already more or less been done by Anne Rice and I wanted to be different.  I found it much easier moving onto the third person narrative, which is what’s happening in my rewrites.

Writing in a third person narrative gives me more flexibility for my story’s direction.  I can skip viewpoints and characters at will, I can write about how everyone feels simultaneously and without too much effort.  Since writing in this style I have been able to write more words to my story daily, much more than before, alongside another technique I will tell you about shortly.

As a writer you must see yourself as a god, you are creating a world and these are your people; you’ve made them, you control them, you control events; you should be as dedicated to your creations as you are to your own god, you should be motivated by the sheer fact that your characters are waiting in limbo for how you are going to progress their lives.  But gods have two sides to them, good and bad, cruel and kind and so you should not feel too emotional about wrecking their lives, otherwise you’ll have a happy, clappy, crappy story.

Thinking about how I structure my novels, I am not the usual can of beans; I’ll share with you why;  It seems to me that most writers write a book from beginning to end, I’ve noticed I can’t dedicated myself to surprises. 

I write down my ideas in my ideas book, then I put up bullet point of events on my computer that I’d like to see happen in my story; then as scenes come to mind I write them, whilst trying to write from beginning to end, then I sew it altogether and sometimes I revise but mostly I don’t – in fact, everything that’s posted on this blog is never revised, I don’t know why, maybe it’s because I don’t have faith that what I write up here is my best work?

I do have massive flaws grammatically, punctuation wise and possibly prattle on too much needlessly, this is mainly down to the fact that I’ve had limited formal education.  My mother home educated me mostly and had a problem with me studying in college and university so I was put under pressure to become a drop out on seven occasions.

I must remind you too, that my main tutor at home was my mother who is dyslexic; yet I still managed to do a distance learning course when I was nineteen and got my only qualification in the world of a B grade GCSE for English Literature.

So, if I am not fine-tuned or polished, those are my excuses and I learn through tenderness.  This is why I beg for criticism and comments; I need help fine tuning my art of writing.

 

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