My Writing is Powered by Witchcraft and my Garden Speaks to Me

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During the summer, I spent a lot of time researching witchcraft for my latest novel My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister.

Without giving too much away, readers will (I hope) be left wondering what is magic realism and what is the unreliable narrator’s thoughts.

During this time, I have learnt a lot about witchcraft. I also found out (slash am convinced) that when I write a novel, I am powered by an unworldly force (such as witchcraft).

I wrote My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister in less than four months (from the end of June to the end of September).

This kind of writing speed earned a gasp in the audience at Todmorden Book Festival when Joanne Harris revealed she wrote Chocolat in four months.

(I don’t have a young child or a full time job though).

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I have spoken before about my weird reversed writer’s block (I’ve just freaked myself out Googling this). I do have lesions on my brain because of MS maybe this is the cause of my mild case of hypergraphia.

Or it could be witchcraft.

Whenever I am coming to the end of writing a novel, I start to think about the next one. Not on purpose… it is REALLY annoying; picture the scene… Yay! I’m about to finish writing this brilliant book… this is going to be the one! Brain says, I’d like to introduce you to some fictional characters. Get to know them now because you’ll be writing about them soon (and you’ve only got four months to do it).

This is what happened with the characters from My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister. One of my best friends, Claire gifted me the name Epiphany (Pippa for short). Soon, I had imagined a world for this new character. Pippa works as an accountant, has a younger boyfriend and she lives in the flat upstairs in her mother’s pub. Then the world changed and my ideas really started to take shape. Pippa soon became a forty year old woman trying to rebuild her life after lockdown. She discovers that her mother (Jacquetta) and sister (Heather) are witches, but only after she is visited by her half-sister’s half-sister (Sadie).

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The above is concise for me; I hate writing blurb… the book came together so quickly after months and months of writing on bits of paper, backs of envelopes, sending myself text messages, writing on the insides of empty medication boxes. Anything I could get my hands on when Pippa, Sadie, Jacquetta or Heather popped into my head. You could say I was compelled to write it; almost as though I had been bewitched (and also like the description of hypergraphia on the internet).

And it wasn’t because I was bored writing the last two in series of Curmudgeon Avenue when this happened; when I came to the end of writing My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister, I accidentally started writing my next book.

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I’m not giving the title away just in case I don’t write it (probably will, though if the above is anything to go off).

The more I researched witchcraft, the more it was in my head. This is not a new fascination, I loved witch themed books and TV when I was younger (maybe because I am named Samantha). I wrote a post about this when I first started imagining that I would write My Half-Sister’s Half-Sister, click HERE to see that post.

I found out some really interesting things when researching paranormal/supernatural/psychological fiction (so many names)

Some of it I was scared to know. We’re all aware of Queen Victoria making black a mourning colour after her husband, Prince Albert died. I read in a dark book that ‘the Victorians’ were not only emulating their queen, black was considered to be the colour to wear to avoid seeing ghosts. I’m not sure about this, because Victorian culture is said to have welcomed clairvoyance, and where better than to see a spirit? (I’ve also read that wearing black at funerals pre-dates Victorian times).

However, my friends have not lied to me during my witchcraft quest. So excited was I about my next novel, I started boring my friends by telling them about it on nights out. My friends Janaki and Neil told me that they had watched an episode of QI, and learnt that plants associated with spells such as eye of newt are actually plants (now called Hemerocallis Calico Jack in the UK). The words eye of newt and toe of frog are from Shakespeare’s Scottish play, (check me out for superstition). Toe of frog is actually buttercups… I kid you not, during the summer my lawn was covered in buttercups (when it isn’t usually).

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Gardening is magic. This year a few plants I haven’t seen for a while reappeared in my garden. I’m not a gardener, but thinking things through logically, these mystery plants appeared because of my compost bin.

Or witchcraft…

This gave me an idea for a short story ‘Bit of Me’ about a couple who live on a pig farm. Unpublished as yet (I’m still hoping to collaborate on a short story collection). The compost bin features heavily in the plot; see what I mean? My garden is speaking to me.

I’m sure that there are other writers whose worlds have become very small since the pandemic, more than ever it feels as though something good can finally happen. Let me know if your garden has inspired you.

I’ll stop here, because recent mini-dramas have both inspired my writing and frightened me (plus I don’t want to go on too much about the time I thought someone had put a spell on me but it turned out I am becoming absent minded).

Last thoughts for today

May be an image of 1 person, standing, tree and outdoors

Either this sunflower is really tall, or I’m really small (I am leaning on a stick).

Or witchcraft…

Happy October everyone, Samantha 🙂

On Why I Use a Walking Stick

Accepting walking aids.

Why I Use a Walking Stick (written originally for the MS Society blog)

Recently, my physiotherapist has encouraged me to try and increase my exercise routine. I used to go to hydrotherapy, but this is not running currently. This got me thinking about why I use a walking stick when out and about.

     It all started when I was still working. I used to be a nurse, and my final post was a community psychiatric nurse. One winter’s day, I was tasked with escorting someone to an important solicitor’s meeting in Manchester city centre. This person was really shy, and had difficulty understanding others, he used a lot of non-verbal communication to make himself understood.

     It was all going well until I parked up in the nearest available space. As soon as I stepped out onto the street, I suffered the familiar sensation of blurred vision, indescribable dizziness and a feeling that I MUST grab onto something to steady myself.

  Even when I was a child, I had a sensation that ‘tall buildings might fall on me’. I suppose this is an irrational fear, and some have suggested this is anxiety, but I don’t think it is.

    I must tell you that we did manage to make the appointment although I must have looked rather strange clutching onto walls, lampposts and traffic lights. This made me feel terrible in my role. I was meant to be easing another person’s worries by providing physical support, and I must have looked as though I wanted to crawl along on the pavement. I could not explain what was happening because of the communication barrier. The man clutched at his chest, appearing even more anxious himself. I knew then that I had to do something – this is when I started using a walking stick.

     The feeling I described earlier has worsened over the years. Although I do get blurred vision at home, it is manageable in familiar surroundings. Triggers to the problem for me are bright lights (such as fluorescent lighting in supermarkets reflecting on shiny floors). Wide-open spaces (such as the big field that dog walkers use near my house). Or the opposite – city centres with a dense concentration of tall buildings. Looking at the sky, and then back to straight in front of me causes it too. I think that this is something to do with moving clouds, the contrast in lighting and my eyes not catching up.

     I am told that optic neuritis is quite common in MS, eye problems were the first thing I noticed, and I have been treated for it several times in the past. An MS nurse once told me that the lasting results of optic neuritis can be spatial awareness. I would say this is true for me because I do sometimes think there is a step there when there isn’t. And again, sticks come in handy in this instance.

   The walking stick has helped me immensely over the years. I feel more confident when out and about. I have noticed that if I try and walk without it, I am very unsure, slow and looking for somewhere to sit or lean when I should be looking ahead of me at my destination. I believe walking with a stick acts as a visual marker in a crowded situation that I might become unbalanced if I don’t have space.

     A couple of things to think about with walking sticks: as a person who follows the advice of my physiotherapist, I am conscious not to hunch over the stick. Get it at the right height (most walking sticks are adjustable and there is an NHS page on how to use them). My physio is always advising me to ‘turn my stomach muscles on’ and so I actively do this when moving. If anyone asks me ‘why are you using a stick?’ I try and keep my answer short and sweet because strangers don’t need to know my life story. Accept that the walking stick can only do so much, I use a scooter for longer journeys – planning is everything.

     Ultimately, I wanted to write about walking sticks because I did feel self-conscious when I first started using them. Now I embrace it. I have many sticks in different colours and patterns to match what I’m wearing, and I keep them in the car and just by the front door. I think it is essential to make life easy for yourself, whatever your particular problem is living with MS.

Me at the big field – sunglasses always help!

Happy reading everyone, Samantha 🙂

PS I wrote these books ~

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07FQXFV6R

I’m Back! (and other mini-dramas)

I haven’t blogged for a while, or participated (properly) with social media. It’s all been for a good cause – I concentrated all of my energies on my BA (Honours) English Literature and Creative Writing degree, of which I have now completed the first half of my third year.

I used to be able to do more – either my MS is getting worse, I’m getting older, or the course is getting more demanding. Probably mostly the latter but also (probably) a combination of the three.

I have still been reading for fun, of course but all the other things (book promotions, reviews, adverts) have had to take a back seat.

I plan to use my summer to write my next standalone novel – I am too anxious to reveal the title today, although I’m not sure why.

First, I plan to relaunch my 2017 novel ‘1962 (an uplifting tale of 1960s Lancashire)

You know, someone hurt my feelings about this cover earlier this year and I could really have done without it. There’s a long story behind the cover, my dad didn’t want his face on the cover (!) and the person I gave the photograph to to draw a picture from didn’t illustrate an image of the bike. Amazon KDP were not happy with the original cover (too blurry) until eventually I was forced to change it. The cover you see above is aiming to be an old Penguin.

Postcards From Penguin: 100 Book Jackets in One Box: Amazon.co.uk: Penguin  Group USA: 8601404201011: Books

Anyway, I plan to change the cover when I relaunch.

One advantage of being an indie author is that I can make these kind of decisions and change things whenever I fancy it. (Although it doesn’t provide protection from busybodies)

Thank you for understanding, I hope everyone has a fabulous summer, Samantha 🙂

PS I wrote these!

The End of Lockdown (and why ‘popping round’ is still banned at my house).

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This is not my front door, but I chose this photo because of the colour. Green – how does green make you feel? This image makes me feel safe, and in harmony with my surroundings (I can’t wait for spring-time light-gardening weather). Also, I can’t stand up for long if someone knocks on my door.

The last twelve months have reminded me of when I had to finish work. It was awful – and I refuse to return to how I felt.

Writing about the end of lockdown in the UK may be premature but it is worth writing about. A word I heard on the news this morning was ‘caution’. This got me thinking… Especially as during my (phone) appointment with the MS nurse last month, she reminded me to be careful about anxiety when ‘things start getting back to normal.’

I have lots of words about the pandemic, but I suppose the most fitting one is ‘fraught’ the past twelve months have been fraught.

Upsetting/stressful/quiet/boring… these are all words that pop into my head when writing this.

I’ve got MS and I lost my twenty year nursing career (I was a band 6 community psychiatric nurse). Now I am used to being at home. While everyone was getting used to the weirdness of seeing the inside of their kitchen and front room at 11.30 am, nothing much had changed for me… except I had company.

I also had understanding, I knew what a culture shock staying at home was going to be for my family. I feel like we were lucky, and we’ve broken it’s back. We are now about to go through another change – I am not going to rush it.

It wasn’t the being at home… I am very comfortable spending time in my own house. Cabin fever is not something I suffer with. It is odd being at home all the time, though.

When I stopped working, I felt like I was losing my identity… my sense of self was stolen, and this wasn’t my employers fault – it was how others treated me. That is the absolute truth.

I’d been so ill… The worst relapse ever. My complete right side of stopped working from my right eye- blind with optic neuritis, a weird pins and needly painful nuisance feeling in my right arm, my right hand was completely useless – I couldn’t even put my glasses on without hitting myself in the face. And I couldn’t walk.

I looked the same, though.

And that’s where the problem began.

I looked the same so people thought I could still do the things that I used to be able to do. I can’t, listening to people talking is draining. If it wasn’t, I’d still be working. Likewise, we should be careful not to expect everything to quickly return to ‘normal’ after lockdown.

Since my diagnosis of MS in 2005, I have worked really hard to follow the advice of the neurology team at the hospital, occupational therapy and physiotherapy (which has been the consistent rescue of my condition – I swear by those appointments all these years later).

But even when I was still off sick, my life quickly became a stressful series of visits – people (not friends… these people were not being friendly) ‘popping round to see how I am’. All I heard was the chatter of loaded themes and bossy statements which all started with ‘What you should do/why don’t you do this/you NEED to do this. All the while, I should have been staying away from stressful interactions and looking after myself. I was so ill I did not feel strong enough to say ‘leave me alone’. Actually, when I did say ‘please don’t visit’, people ignored my requests and still knocked on my door. This is what I don’t want to return to after lockdown.

Sorry to go on about things that happened years ago, but it has all come flooding back in nightmare and flashbacks during this recent turmoil.

(I did speak to another MS sufferer and she experienced the same thing – she even woke up one afternoon to find a visitor sitting on the end of her bed… how rude!)

It took a long time for me to accept and move on. AND I’M NOT LETTING MY NEW LIFE GO. Now I have a routine of physio, rest in the middle of the day and work in the afternoon. I write books instead of being a nurse, and yes, that is work. Also, keeping my fingers crossed for good health. Before lockdown, if I wanted to see my friends, this would be at the weekend – especially as I need my husband’s help to get around. Not Sundays though, Sundays are for COMPLETELY chilling out – husband agrees.

Even though we all look the same as we did, there is no denying that things are different now. Let’s learn from this, and adopt a new routine – with caution.

During this time, I have appreciated (even more) how important it is to be careful, I think we all have.

I can remember clearly (before all this) people had sneezed right in my face. It was disgusting, let’s not go back to those times. Face masks or not, let’s not spread germs.

When things re-open, let’s support local businesses and go to the pub or café instead of ‘popping round unexpectedly’. We can all (gradually) have a safe and enjoyable summer.

It is OK to be wary at the end of lockdown.

Since the start of the year, people have been hinting at breaking lockdown rules and ‘just popping round’. Even though, last week it was announced that people with some risk factors should shield until the end of March. I felt I was right back where I started my house full of people, not strong enough to say no. But that isn’t true anymore…

Although ambivalent, I am strong enough now to say do not flood me. It is ok to be cautious.

I don’t care if this makes me sound antisocial – I’m not, ask any of my actual friends.

Now leave me alone, I’m working from home (as Zandra Bennett said in my novel ‘The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue’).

I wrote these books:

Enjoy the next few months, Samantha 🙂

Poems From the Vault #2

Hi Everyone,

As promised, I have looked for (and found) poems that I wrote ages ago. Last week was poems from my Creative Writing module, this week one poem that I wrote at the library course I did and one reworking of an old poem that was submitted for my degree.

Eyeliner

The hallway frames the front door of my home.

Guarding me from well-wishers, I need to be alone.

Seasons, styles or Saturdays, there is always eyeliner,

bold black wings from cut price to designer.

I woke the other day, robbed of my right hand

sudden stolen senses, are hard to understand.

War paint frames my face, I’m ready for the world.

Without eyeliner,  I look a different girl.

Blurred vision, a thousand texts becoming unbearable.

In her best posh voice, she tells me I ‘look terrible’

Healing, time and patience all falls into place

I’m faking being well, with eyeliner on my face.

Samantha Henthorn © 2015

photo of venus eyeliner pencil set
Photo by ud835udc15ud835udc1eud835udc27ud835udc2eud835udc2c ud835udc07ud835udc03 ud835udc0cud835udc1aud835udc24ud835udc1e- ud835udc2eud835udc29 & ud835udc0fud835udc1eud835udc2bud835udc1fud835udc2eud835udc26ud835udc1e on Pexels.com

I’m sorry I didn’t come to your funeral.

The long-distance made it impossible.

Your sister’s phone call echoed strangely,

reminding me of you – I almost knew.

I’m sorry I didn’t go to your funeral. 

Happy days and happy memories,

time dissolved the Christmas card list.

Robins, feathers, bereavement tokens,

I wonder if you know the reason;

how sorry I am I didn’t go to your funeral.  

I don’t know why the above has come out in small writing- I copy/pasted it from a word document.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Samantha xx

I wrote these books! https://t.co/aqJFqYlGWl?a

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What we did during lockdown (1)

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Physiotherapy Has Kept Me Going (even during #lockdown)

Samantha Henthorn Author talks about her experiences of living with MS

Hello everyone!

A while ago, I promised to start talking about my experiences of living with MS. The series of posts was going to be called ‘If You Love It So Much, Why Don’t You Marry It?’ *

However, this post is a positive post about how I have managed to keep going in the 15 years since diagnosis (so I have changed the title for this one).

I have been really lucky during the lockdown because my physiotherapist has adapted and is providing sessions by Skype. You might not think these work as well, but they do! One to one sessions prevent me from moving my limbs incorrectly (which I think can stop the exercise from working and sometimes can lead to aches and pains later). My physiotherapist has brilliant observational skills and can spot a slumped shoulder or a sagging hip – even from behind the screen. Anna has worked on my core, balance and strengthening muscles that (I think) will help me keep on my feet. I can’t tell you what the exercises are – I am writing this post to tell you my experience that physiotherapy has worked for me more than anything else.

Poor motivation has been a real problem for lots of people I know during the lockdown, including me but physiotherapy has kept me going. I have got a few bits and pieces of gym equipment at home because I use the advice I have been given each month and do a bit of physio-designed exercise every morning.

positive pregnant women during exercise with fit ball in gym
Photo by Gustavo Fring on Pexels.com

Look there is a picture of me doing my exercises! (NOT REALLY LOL!)

I haven’t taken any photos obviously during my remote appointments with my physiotherapist, Anna because I am busy paying attention and moving my limbs…

 

SP Therapy Services, Bury | Physiotherapists - Yell SP Therapy Services in Bury town centre. If you live in the Bury area and have a neurological condition, I think SP Therapy Services can really help you.

I usually attend Hydrotherapy once a week, this has really helped, my physiotherapist put me on to this. I can’t even swim and am not confident in the water but the benefits far outweigh the… I don’t know how to describe it actually – I think I am frightened of letting go of the side and lying on my back. However, lots of people told me that I seemed much better for trying hydrotherapy. And I am actually missing it!

I used to do seated yoga for people with mobility problems that was really good. Obviously, these activities are not on at the moment because of lockdown. Better to be safe.

During the time I have had MS

Strategies to manage the condition have popped up. And, at times I have been asked why I’m not taking CBD oil (because it doesn’t treat the symptoms I have). Or, why I am not following a strict diet… I have nothing against nutrition therapy, good for you if they work. I did try the diet and I felt great for a short period. Then I had several really bad relapses including the one that made me lose my job. That is just what happened to me.

Instead of being told what I should do, I want to ask something:

Are you doing physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy is the one thing that has consistently kept me going for the past fifteen years. When I started going to the physiotherapist that I still attend now, I could not bear to lift my head up straight without a sensation of hot pins and needles shooting through my neck. Because my head was permanently slumped to the side, this affected my posture. The knock-on effect of this was a nasty, achy pain just under my left collar bone. Although there is no cure for MS, I have been cured of pain in that specific part of me. But there are always little niggly things that crop up because of my condition. Blurred vision and sensitivity to light can affect my posture because I hide from the light. I am slightly weaker on one arm and one leg. I can’t stand up for long, I feel like I need to lean on something or sit down (urgently). I walk with a stick outside because I feel like I need something to lean on. I feel dizzy in wide-open spaces. Too much distance and I use a scooter. The benefits of physiotherapy are longterm. They are not a quick fix but for me, this works better than anything else.

I don’t mind putting a bit of work in to stay well because:

Before MS, I used to run ten miles per week.

I started running during my late twenties to try and improve my health. I was surprised how well I took to it, although I never saw much of a speed improvement I did feel better after a run. However, I was diagnosed with MS just before my thirtieth birthday and everything changed. I didn’t stop running immediately but I noticed that I didn’t get the ‘good feeling’ after a run anymore. Plus I fell over a few times. Cut my knee and wet myself. When I started to try and find a way to look forwards, I searched for a way that I could physically move – to make myself feel better. Physiotherapy has achieved this for me (even though I am shattered afterwards and have a lie-down!)

I have never had much stamina. I remember growing up I always felt weaker than all the other children in school. PE in the 1980s included ‘picking teams’. I was always picked last.

group of woman playing on green field during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I couldn’t catch I couldn’t throw and I wasn’t much better at running. I was a weakling!

Then, during my twenties, I had multiple periods of sick leave from work. I was a staff nurse and then a ward sister. It seemed I picked up every bug going. I cringe now at having to ring in sick. It was embarrassing and eventually, I was asked ‘Is there a problem?’ The only problem was, I think stress was playing a part in my poor health. Nursing can be a great job…

woman throwing confetti
Photo by Joshua Mcknight on Pexels.com

It can also be a physically draining job.

Now I don’t have a job, I was retired on ill-health in 2014. But I have an occupation. Number one is keeping myself as well as possible. I cannot thank my physiotherapist for all the help over all the years.

Number two is writing… I write this blog and I write books. I am an independent author with eight titles available on Amazon. If you want to find out a bit more about that then sign up for my mailing list: https://landing.mailerlite.com/webforms/landing/d0q2h7 or follow this blog!

Thank you for reading this post on my experience of living with MS, I think next time I talk about MS I will talk about why I use a walking stick. Happy reading and stay safe, Samantha xx

*The reason for the title ‘If You Love It So Much, Why don’t You Marry It?’ is I am not keen on being asked questions about MS when I am socialising. It does my head in. You wouldn’t ask someone who’s got asthma if they are still taking their inhalers, would you? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care who knows I’ve got MS and I don’t mind being asked how I am, as you would ask anyone.  BUT stupid questions about ‘How does my scooter fit in my car?’ and ‘Are you on benefits?’ I find intrusive and are not helpful!

 

I wrote these books

978-1717745552Curmudgeon Avenue Book TWoEdna and Genevieve (1)Add a heading (2)51fgIVSsMiLAdd a heading

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It is All Happening on Curmudgeon Avenue! #Kindle #Audiobook news

Free kindle books plus audiobook news

Hello, me again, honestly, I have something good to say.

The other day, I received an email from ACX (the audiobook marketplace) to say that I had received an audition from a narrator for my book Curmudgeon Avenue!

In the past few years, one of the ‘things’ that folk have been saying to me is ‘why don’t you do an audiobook?’ I was a bit ambivalent, how do I do this? I’ve got enough to do! Writing, marketing, physiotherapy, MS surviving, everything! I have spoken before about the amount of overwhelming advice on the internet about being an indie author… anyway, eventually, I got round to investigating ACX.

I found it easy to set things up, there are a few options for sorting out the money side of things – can I be completely honest, I did not expect anyone to want to take a chance on Curmudgeon Avenue (the reason I thought this was because, on the set up form, I was asked how many Twitter followers I have ‘eg. 10,000??’ !!) I thought I would have to be’ better known’.

HOWEVER, giving things a go has worked, six weeks later, I am honoured to announce that voiceover actor Lindsay McKinnon otherwise known as Theatre of the Mind Productions is going to narrate Curmudgeon Avenue – I am starting to talk about it now in anticipation of its release! Lindsay has narrated the book in exactly the same way that I imagined when I wrote it – the house is talking with a real disdain for its guests, and the voice given to Edith and Edna is hilarious! Especially the bit where Edna covers her face with her turtleneck jumper! I am so looking forward to sharing this version of Curmudgeon Avenue with everyone. 

Don’t forget, The Ghosts of Curmudgeon Avenue is due for publication on Thursday 31st October (preorder now by clicking on the pink link). The Harold and Edith Adventures (book 2) is free until this Thursday 31/10/19 and Edna and Genevieve Escape From Curmudgeon Avenue (book 3) is free too! (until Thursday, as above). Curmudgeon Avenue book one is 99p.

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Happy reading (and soon to be listening) everyone! Samantha xx

PS, if you happen to be in the Bury area on Thursday, I will be doing an author talk at The Tottington Library (used to be Totty library) at 2pm.

On Achieving a Distinction in The Creative Writing Module of My Degree.

Hello everyone, and thank you for joining me on my monthly ‘writerly ramblings’ blog post., (yes I made that word up!)

Yesterday, I was thrilled to bits to receive an overall score of 82% in the creative writing module of my degree. I have no words, I have regained my self-worth.

Achievable, I would say because I am studying with the Open University. The teaching and support is first class. I don’t need to leave my house. I only work when I feel up to it, (I have to pace myself ALL the time because of fatigue). I can turn the computer off if I get a headache, or if my eyes start hurting, and so on. I won’t go on about MS, you won’t meet two people who have the condition with the same symptoms, and impetuously worded conversations around it can become rather tiresome.*

When I was forced to give up nursing six years ago due to having MS, I went through a very difficult time. This is part of my (non-fiction) story.  When I started writing ‘full-time’ an ex-colleague commented ‘If you can do that, why can’t you still work?’ Not the case, and not the point either, it was not my decision to leave work, and it was not my fault that I have this chronic condition.

You can see why I am nervous about celebrating my good news, but the point I am trying to make is, this is me now. There is hope, it is possible to dig yourself out of a hole, and if you happen to be reading this post because you have searched ‘writing inspiration’ then I am saying to you ‘JUST GO FOR IT’. Writing will give you SO MUCH.

Writing for me is not just a case of my legs don’t work like they used to so now I have to do something different. I write because I love it. I love reading, I love escaping into a different world and I love that I can write and escape into another world too. And I am studying writing because my husband (correctly) suggested ‘why don’t you learn your trade?’

I write because it feels like this is what I should be doing.

Getting a good result has been an added bonus, I have learnt so much during this module which will hopefully feature in further blog posts – in particular, that ‘writing what you know, doesn’t mean writing what you know (about)’. That blew my mind, and I was very pleased to learn it. I don’t think J K Rowling knew about how to be an eleven-year-old wizard, and Stephen King did not know how to be a menstrual teenager but they still wrote about what they could see, smell, taste, imagine etc – this is what you know – AS A HUMAN.

On reflection, I have learnt that I am ‘safe’ in my writing style, this is what I’ll be working on next – although I cannot promise any sex scenes in my series Curmudgeon Avenue!

I must also add to why I am able to ‘achieve’; I am in a good place, I have an amazing, supportive husband not only in what he says but he makes life easy for me. Doing the shopping, the garden, walking the dog, anything. My daughter is the funniest person I know and, she has grown up! She has a fab job and lives with her lovely boyfriend. (in other words, I don’t have small children to look after!)

Edna and Genevieve cover_000Featured Image -- 1533This is the Curmudgeon Avenue series

 

Happy reading and writing everybody! Samantha xx

PS, the picture is from WordPress’ free photo library, I have a while to go before I graduate. 🙂

It’s the Most Tiring Time of the Year!

The rush up to Christmas can, for some be the most draining and stressful time of the year.  This is not a ‘grinch’ post, I am a big believer that complaining is draining. Moaning about feeling tired does not make you any less tired (or any more popular!) Be kind to yourself at this time of year.

During the last few years, I have realised that it is OK to make life easier for yourself. In the past, I said yes to every party at this time of year even though I often did not have the energy, or the money to join in. Reason I said yes? Because I didn’t want to feel guilty for not going. This did me no favours, because by the time Christmas day arrived, I had completely run out of energy, for the people that I was meant to be spending time with, my family. Worse still, this period of ‘overdoing things’ would be followed by a period of illness, which eventually led to me losing my career (if you don’t know, I’ve got MS). But you know what I’ve realised?

FRIENDS ARE FOR LIFE, NOT JUST FOR CHRISTMAS 

Most folk know it is OK to keep in touch during the year, not just during the rushing period just before Christmas. ‘SHOULD’ and ‘NEED’ (you should pop in, I need to see you’ Do not be afraid of these words, people are just being friendly, however, do not get trapped by guilt if you don’t have the energy to join in, and need to say no; give yourself a break.

IF PEOPLE KNOW YOU WELL ENOUGH TO BE A GOOD FRIEND OF YOURS, THEY WILL UNDERSTAND.

Get the balance right. Better to see well you than ill you – it’s OK to pace yourself. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it when my daughter was growing up and before I had to give up nursing. I was a single parent working full time, I think there was a lot of ‘powering on through’. I was younger and things were different with my MS. If I was in that situation now, then I would have no choice but to prioritise the necessary. A story my physiotherapist told me about someone who is joining in on that ‘Elf on the shelf’ business… it was making this person ill due to overstretching their energy reserves. Stop that now! Things like that are only fun if you are actually enjoying them.

A NOTE ON THE BIG DAY

When the Christmas dinner has been cleared away, you’ve eaten double your body weight in turkey with all the trimmings plus pudding(s), drank loads, and enjoyed some quality time with your nearest and dearest, Don’t forget to look after yourself . Please don’t martyr yourself here with I should and I need to (those words again). Just do the necessary, give yourself a break, put you’re feet up, treat yourself it is Christmas after all. Unless you want to carry on being a stress head, (no one will thank you though). You may be thinking ‘it’s alright for you’ . No it isn’t; but I have learnt that stress is toxic, this is no good for me, I have chosen to take control.  

SLEEP AND ONWARDS

It’s Christmas… there are more social events. More than likely, if you do drink alcohol, you will have been drinking more than usual. You may have been able to get to sleep easier, but you will not have been able to stay asleep. Not the deep refreshing sleep that we all need to keep ourselves less vulnerable to moods, stress and illness. Enjoy yourself but like I said, it’s only fun if  you’re actually enjoying it. Give yourself a break!

If you can’t get to sleep, I would recommend good old fashioned reading a book to help you drop off, (one of my books should do it!) Not a gripping thriller that will keep you awake until 2AM though. Other genres are available to help you escape and switch off,  as are other relaxation methods.

Onwards; you might be thinking of January and going on a health kick binge (I know I always do). I have recently started reading a book called the Healing Point by James Lilley. It’s easy to read and all the bases of health are covered. Great to read a book about health when you’re trying to be healthy; puts you in the mood!

This is probably going to be my last blog post of 2018 – it’s been a blast!

All the best to you at this time of year, Samantha xx

How do YOU do it?

Fellow writers! Today I am interested in time management, and I only have thirty minutes to be interested before I have to go out. How do you do it? I’m in a weird position, just over four years ago I had to give up nursing because I have MS. Now, I manage my symptoms well but this takes a lot of time. For the first two years of retirement, I was inundated with people popping around to visit. Sounds nice? Well, without sounding ungrateful, because I had up to ten visits per week this meant that I didn’t have time to look after myself, or… what I am getting to I didn’t have time to write. Move on to 2018, I am now doing a degree in Creative Writing and have published three books (soon to be four), the people that are in my life now understand and are flexible. But! I am struggling to find the time to write. Reason being, some of my week is spent doing physical therapies, and having allocated rest times. Now, I am the token ‘helper’ and marketing executive of my husband and mine’s woodfired pizza business. Although this has been good, physically, I am finding it hard. I still feel guilty if I am too tired to go to things that I used to do, but I’m too tired to move by 7pm. Or having to say no to people. Sometimes I am convinced that my body will not catch up with my brain, that I have too many ideas and not enough energy. I have thought about going to a specific place to write, such as a café or a pub! For now though, while I’m hoping to get finish the next in the series of my next books ‘Curmudgeon Avenue’ I think I will just have to be stricter with my routine. Interested to know how other writers cope with writing/life balance?

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