Think thoughtfully.

Thinking. Its something we do all the time, something we cannot escape. When we are not actively thinking about anything our brain is computing something, thoughts are subconsciously running through our minds, even if its about what we’re doing. When someone asks what we’re thinking about, we suddenly think about thinking, about what we should be thinking, were thinking, thoughts about, thinking. And then we say, nothing, because actively we weren’t thinking anything…

Then there are the things we need to think about, the daily activities, remembering specific information, about work, life, family, our relationship, about the milk that’s getting low in the fridge, when we’ll get to the supermarket, which one, the one near work or when we’ve returned had tea and go late, what are we having for tea tonight, what’s in the cupboard… our thoughts run away with us constantly, on tangents and processes we’re not aware of.

As a depressive and having done cognitive behavioural therapy, thought processes, interest me. How dangerous a thought process can be. Our thoughts affect everything, the way we feel, the way we act, we present ourselves, how we achieve, how we cope. So, sometimes we’ll wake up and ‘ta da’, we’re in a fabulous mood, we look in the mirror, we feel fresh, rearing to go, our brain keeps on a positive note and we blissfully and excitedly bustle through our day… OR we wake look in the mirror and our brain decides to attack us, tells us we’re fat, we look horrid, that today’s going to be one of those days. We cant do anything because our brains decided its a shit day and therefore we’ll subconsciously make sure it is. We’ll turn down coffee with a friend because we don’t feel like, despite it probably being the thing that would bump us out of this funk.

But what scares me more than that is over thinking. We all think to much, and sometimes we seem to get stuck, musing, mulling things over, ruminating about things that weren’t a problem, aren’t a problem – creating a problem for our own sakes. We become obsessive, paranoid, totally consumed and preoccupied by this one thought. Something small becomes bigger so it becomes unbearable. I do it all the time. So I get up, I’m not having a great day but I perk up and I say hi to flatmate/friend/family member. They are equally as off colour as I am and grunt, not bothering to speak before leaving the room. Brain – she hates you, they hate you, you’ve upset them, what have you done, your always upsetting people, you cant even think what it is because you’re a bad friend, go and ask… so you do and, nothings wrong, but she’s saying that because somethings wrong… and before you know it you’ve become an annoying friend who suddenly thinks you’re a nutter and caused a problem by being, you.

It’s not just friendships – i’ve thought myself out of twenty or so decent relationships, with good people because i’ve over-thought stuff. we’ve had a rough patch and i’ve been to quick to go, this is it, they dont care, this is how its gonna be, do you want to spend the rest of your life like this (as though marriage was on the cards at 2 months) or they’re nice but not fun, you want someone fun, someone exciting someone who will push your buttons, you’ll break up with them anyways, somewhere down the line so do it now, they don’t really care or they’d make more effort and another one bites the dust. Its irrational and unlike me, who prides herself on being non judgemental, a logical thinker and a fair person, I certainly don’t think like it at times.

And its not me, its me being something I’m not. Suddenly being insecure, or over thoughtful, second guessing something really insignificant and it all goes tits up, and amazingly because i’m so preoccupied, I cant see how its happened. The confident, happy, calm, collected, secure in her own self Carla disappears momentarily and a monster takes over and destroys me. I’m not blaming the depression, I just think, we as people, don’t really like being happy. We like having something to think about, an issue, life is going great and we fabricate problems and drama from nowhere for, as all I can see, entertainment purposes. Mental.

I did it recently, nearly talked myself out of a new relationship thats building because he’s not my ex and to my family I know they’ll be comparing and they’re different, they’ll think i’ve just jumped into something, have I jumped into something, am I happy, he makes me happy but, am I just going to end it, do I even want a relationship now, but now i’m kinda in one, and he really cares and i’m just going to hurt him because he’s not the marriage and children that I had with the long term ex, but how can he we’ve only just met, and that’s it, we have only just met, we’re still so early on and yet we’re so serious, I don’t want serious… And suddenly, I’m being weird, he;s acting oddly because he doesn’t know what the hell he’s done and we row. And my brains response? he”s not the one for you see, you’re already rowing and you’ve only just got together. Its utter madness.

Now. Do not get me wrong, I love thinking, i spend hours musing about the oddest things, about philosophy and ethics and English related stuff, and theories, on films and they’re influences, on how we change, on us as people, on the big life questions, I love letting me brain run off and form some conclusion eventually. But on other things, I think we all need to keep it on a tight rein. we need to remember that our biggest enemy at any time is ourselves. If someone beats us up, mentally, physically, verbally, its the affect and the way that we deal with it that has the biggest effect. Its how we let the experience change us, bother us, influence us. No one can hurt you if you don’t listen, don’t care for their opinions and know, deep down, you’re a decent human being.

We have the power to make ourselves great, to build ourselves up, to give ourselves the strength, the drive, the determination to succeed, to make life long friends, lasting relationships and a career we want. But its our minds that hold us back, our insecurities, that little voice in side of doubt, of dilenma, of diliberation that has the final word. It’s hard to be carefree if you care for yourself, your life, and those in it, but its harder to let your brain settle and care less for what it says than what it does to help. I genuinely believe we have a power inside us stronger than we can imagine, our brains have the ability to heal ourselves, change ourselves, make us lose weight for example without effort, to develop and guide us. We know so little about its capabilities that we have to treat it with respect and an air of caution and a sense of awe.

Thinking, over thinking, under thinking, not thinking, always thinking, thinking pointlessly, thinking logically, thinking pragmatically, thinking irrationally. thinking without thought… we all do them, we all have our ways, our processes, our thoughts, the way we form them, they way they develop, but thoughts are just that. They are meant to be times for self reflection, ordering and understanding, not berating, irritating and confusing our worlds and the things that our happening in it.

Think about thinking, the way you think, what your most common thoughts are, and I bet you’re surprised what they are, and how they affect us all.

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Someone once said to me, I had a path…

I must’ve been fifteen or sixteen, my brothers girlfriend came around with him bringing a friend. This woman unknown to all the family, came in the house, stood in the hallway for two minutes, promptly started hyperventilating and walked out the front door.

I looked at my brother, my mother at me, to my father, back to me and then we all stared at my brother with a look of wonderment and shock. Who on earth was this and what was she doing in our house. Finally he proceeded to tell the tale of how once he had said, his partners friend, a psychic, yes you heard me right, wanted  to come round, read us all and remove the evil she believed lived in our house.

I could hardly contain my laughter at the ridiculousness of the situation. How could anyone perceive that our house was evil, or we were, because after all, we live in it and I wax pretty sure no one was hiding in the garage, attic or back of the loft space. We asked him what had been said and it would appear nothing, she knew not our names, our jobs, what we did, our ages, education or any minor detail of our life.

It sounded a bit far fetched, otherwise why would she want to come around if she knew nothing but yet, felt an evil then from my brother? He’d always been a  bit of a one but not evil, he hid my teddy as a child, he would tease and torment with friends, but evil, that was a stretch…

So she returned, taking a seat in our small study at the front of the house and demanded my father go first. she asked us not to ask questions or discuss so in and out we all went, silently, giving each other odd looks on passing and not really wanting to say or do anything to upset whatever it was we would be upsetting by conversing, her, probably. I sat and watched my friend have a reading, she talked of the usual, her life was good, what she was to e, what she had been, how her life was panning out, her good soul, good heart, all the stuff you’d expect. When she finished, she ushered the girl out of the room and turned to me.

My turn. I moved over and took her seat, she eyed me for what seems like an eternity before asking me, ‘why?’ I stare quite blankly, not knowing if I have missed something, zoned out or what not, had a I telepathically relayed to her how ridiculous this all seemed? Not a believer but not not believing the situation seemed bizarre to me.

‘Why’, she repeated again. I asked, ‘why, did I want a reading? Why, why what?’ Before she smiled, ‘why destroy yourself so?’ It struck me as an odd thing to say, and before I had time to comment she held my hands and said ‘shh’ before continuing. ‘You are torturing yourself, tormenting yourself for a life you cannot understand for ills that have been done to you and yet you blame yourself, you are choosing this path, this destruction, soon it will destroy you, you’ll stay on it as long as you feel until, well, until you fall off it or you never recover.’

I stared at her blankly, what an earth was she getting at… she changed tact. ‘You’re an old soul although you knew that, because you knew things beyond your years, things you couldn’t understand, you have a knowledge of life, a perception unknown to people of your age and yet you are so young, you know what I’m saying to you, hear me, hear me in your soul, let yourself forgive yourself, forgive your tormentors and move on, don’t destroy yourself. You have much good, much intelligence but your are mad, mad with grief, with anger, with something you cannot understand. let it go.’

With that she proceeded to fall into silence, holding my hands and humming. I have never in my life felt so ill at ease in my own home and confused. Yes so I was a little mature for my age, did that mean I was reborn into this body… yes I was a little crazed and somewhat depressed but, mad, clinically and incurably mad? And as for this path, well I had no idea I was on a path, yet now even if I am and it will destroy me, how on earth will I get off?

With that she let go of my hands, shook her head, said be careful child and ushered me out of the room. This experience has perplexed me for many years and somewhat confused me as a person who prides themselves on deep thinking and understanding, and if I don’t making sure I research it till I do.

The idea that our life is somehow preplanned by a past we can not remember nor recollect, nor understand or be influenced by in anything but a subliminal level, not only scares me but upsets me greatly. surely we are in control of our own lives, how can we be the same person as was someone else, a maid in a rich house in Victorian England, a washer woman in Georgian London, a teacher in the stuarts… How was that possible. I had a Buddhist understanding of reincarnation but in the western world, it seemed unknown, unheard of and completely unrelated to me.

I have as I said been confused by this ever since, yet it has not changed my life nor my opinions, or I think altered the route I have taken. I wish I could now, some seven years on, see if I was off my path of destruction, if I’d managed to jump onto my ‘path of enlightenment  and fulfil my role in this life’. My reason for relating all of this is simply, it interests me and perplexes me. I do not believe it, and yet I know nothing of the world that she supposedly inhibits so therefore, how can I really comment.

The idea of life being predictable, predestined and pre-written in my opinion, takes away all that life is, a journey of possibilities, of endless choices and routes that we can take. We write our own future as we do our past, we choose what profession, what educational route, who we love, who we meet, make friends with, keep, how we interact with people, whether we have a change of heart, career, whether we have a mid-life crisis. Its all up to us to some degree, its our life, its our choice. That for me is what makes life so much fun, so interesting, the endlessness of possibilities and promises, of experience and understanding.

As for my path of destruction, well yes I’ve had a rough few years for a youngster, but I’m also infinitely proud of them, for I came through the other end, with I hope the same grace I entered in with, with a bit more experience and a fuller open heart for the real things in life. So, if that was my path, to be tested and pass, well in my opinion I have.

I cant understand palmists, tarot readers, psychics, all of the other world, the supernatural, as for me, its beyond my world of comprehension. Whatever life is, however it plays out, whatever lies beneath this surface of reality and life as we understand it, if anything beyond darkness and rotting and rest, well, I hope I maintain the feeling of freedom, the same mind set, the impression of having a choice, for if not, what is the point but to trudge along mindlessly, and what a dismal world that would be.

So I say as I always do, lets find our own paths, lets carve our own route through the world, and our lives, lets choose to be the best people we can be, to have the most impact on the world and others for the positive, lets be all that we can be and lets leave the unknown to rest.

Can you put youself onto paper?

We all have to do it at some point, whether its a CV, a covering letter, an application of some sort for something we inevitably want or wouldn’t trouble ourselves to bother to write something in the first place… I’m talking about putting yourself onto paper.

No not literally smearing yourself onto a page, or printing a picture of yourself, but writing about yourself in a way that is to showcase your many good talents, talk yourself up and not come across as a pretentious and arrogant arse. Now, I’m not sure if its an English thing or a people thing and I guess that’s my reason for writing about it in the first place but I always find it an odd thing thing to do.

Its not the sort of thing we ever do in real life, as modest individuals (or most of us are) however high are opinion of ourselves we don’t want to come across as arses, we play down our attributes, publicly ridicule our faults and draw attention through humour or other means to our many misfortunes and failings. So when suddenly we have to show ourselves in the best light possible and pitch ourselves against the other hundreds of nameless pieces of paper and names, it seems harder than you would think.

That’s the first point. We are too busy, too quick as I have perpetually repeated, to pick up on our bad points, for many of us when asked to think about what attributes we have that make us employable, eligible, ‘want-able’, suddenly its not so easy. We say we are organised; and stare around at the state of our kitchens or bedrooms with disgust, we say we’re good in teams; remembering how we hated and despised that person you worked with before, wishing to make their lives a living hell but acting with professionalism – so we can say we’re professionally, except that time we chose to skive off work because we were hung over from the night before’s  antics or the childish bantar the boss caught us batting back between colleagues.

Its not that we don’t have good qualities, and its not that we don’t know precisely what it is the employer reads on a bit of a paper, but there in lies problem number two. We all know the things employers want and so how do you stand out against Joe Bloggs and Little Miss Perfect? With humour? With Something different, with enthusiasm? How do you not sound as though your sucking arse, how do you not sound as though you don’t really care and take the opportunity as a bit of a joke… how do you sound sincere and represent the person, the individual you are behind the words on the page?

With tone. Its all in the tone. When I write, I am sure you can hear my tone, the intonation I use in my own speech, my turns of phrase, my personality, humour or irony coming across. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know me personally, its there, something comes across and you can hear ‘me’ on the page. Its what we want to put across, its precisely that, that voice that we need to show and exploit, without showcasing any of the negative aspects of our personality.

We are but a name on a page, and words written like everyone else. We are all the same when it comes down to it, whether its a CV or a covering letter, its just the same bullshit laid on thick in a desperate hope taht they take a chance and get to meet you at that dreaded interview.

Interviews never bother me much, I don’t get nervous because I think, one I got here so they must have liked something and two, its time to showcase me, the real me, not the two sided a four sheet of condensed me, but me, the intellectual, punctual, loquacious me, the employee me, the girl with ambition me, the one who walks in and says with a look, you know what you want and I’m going to be it (without an air of arrogance).

But the paper. Oh, the paper. I like writing, I enjoy writing as much as anyone else who ever dreamt as a kid of being an author, a journalist, or running a magazine or a blog, of having a career where vocabulary and books were my life… but even I don’t like writing about me. Its not that I dont, or I cant write it well, its just, well, it doesn’t seem very me. I don’t big myself up, I don’t like those who boast, who forcefully present themselves and the opinion your supposed to have of them when you meet them… But I always think, its words.

Words are easy, sentences are easy. Its not hard to write something well with intelligence and authority, after all, whatever the purpose of your prose, its a basic GCSE level skill, writing to persuade. That is all we are doing after all, writing to persuade that person reading ‘us’, that we are what they want and to give us a chance.

This all comes up because at present I’m writing my teaching application. I’m trying to explain and express why I, me, little Carla Danielle, should be given one of the eight places available in the up and coming year to train as an English and Drama teacher, that I am the the one they want, against the 300 other applicants expected, by last years stats, to apply.

There is in this situation, no other way I can approach this but with, enthusiasm. Luckily for me I want this, really want this and teaching for me, like my TEFL teaching, is my passion, my life, my vocation even more than it is my chosen career. I cant imagine anything more rewarding or anything more I’d want to do, than to inspire youngsters as my teacher inspired my to get excited about learning. Its all very clichéd and slightly, ‘I’m going to throw up in my mouth’ but unfortunately it is all perfectly true. So writing this? Its a big deal, for me its make or break the next year and possible career  that I will fall into.

But its not THAT big a deal, because I know that my tone, that voice we were just talking about, will come across, with sincerity, with passion and with wanton desire to get a place and be seen because, well that’s how I feel. Writing about yourself is only ever difficult if you a) don’t believe a word you are writing, b) have no interest in the job you are applying for and therefore are faking your enthusiasm and c) if secretly, you think you don’t deserve it in the first place.

Guess what? It’ll come across, just as when you speak to your friend and say your fine, they know you’re bullshitting by that unconscious look you give them from behind your eyes, or the slightest waver in your tone, why people know your lying, by you somehow giving away that actually you are bullshitting through your teeth. We communicate in more ways than through speech, through words, through body language, or through looks, it comes from somewhere inside through those actions.

So I guess at the end of this long rant and insight into the workings of my opinion on such topics, I guess all I have to say, as usual is, believe in yourself, strive for greatness sand be determined to prove to everyone, to that person, as you should all the time in everyday life – that you are worthy, you are worth the risk, you are deserving and damn you are too good for it anyway…

It’s all possible until proven otherwise…

Now, I’m not the religious type at all. I’m not a woman of faith at all. I don’t believe in ghosts or ghouls or things that go boo in the night, I don’t believe in a higher power, or a man in the clouds, in anything but emptiness and darkness after death. I don’t believe in our paths being ready laid, or in an underlying guiding force… Or do I.

See, I’m an Agnostic and a realist. I don’t believe in anything, and I don’t not believe it either, simply because, we cannot ever know. I believe in that for sure. It cannot be proven, there is a large gap between faith, belief and knowledge that cannot and will not be proven. Unless a Deity came down from the heavens and showed us all the truth in some fashion, how can we know? We don’t/can’t come back from the, and tell everyone the truth, we can’t disbelieve anything is accurate until its proven wrong.

I think its my background of questioning. I was a child full of questions, of whys, and if’s, and buts… I was never satisfied with an answer if I could ask another question, The sentence, “because it is” never really worked with me either. Some people like to tell me it’s a get out clause for having no opinion, and it may seem that way but really, no its more complicated than that.

I am interested in everything, religion, theology, philosophy, psychology, sociology… A lot of the “ology’s” but its my English background. I like getting under the skin of things ad looking at things from different perspectives.

  • We can’t understand why people act as they do or how things come about such as large sociological movements because some things happen almost without provocation or reason, seemingly on a whim.
  • We can’t understand why people do things they do because, we’ll never understand the human brain and its function, mainly because we can’t access the  whole of our brain capacity in the first place. We’re self restrictive.
  • We can’t answer life’s big questions, with science or religion, because we can’t find and don’t have the answers, or the capability of proving or disproving things right or wrong.

I do have an opinion, on everything I’ve come across in my life. Its my job as a training academic (supposedly) to formulate opinions. My opinions fall on my realistic outlook – to me there isn’t a god or one religion that’s right or wrong, they are all systems of belief used as sociological control. There is no such thing as the afterlife and purgatory or parallel universes or dimensions. This isn’t to say that I am not interested in them or respectful either. I find it fascinating how people believe, what they believe in with little truth or fact. How we can be educated to believe and therefore we don;t know any different. How people find faith in times of mourning, when it would seem the most unlikely time. How belief comforts and carries, cares for people throughout their lives…But there are two things I do “believe” as loosely as I will ever believe in anything. (But they can wait for another post…)

It’s not so much a belief, it’s a feeling and like everything, I can’t understand it, can’t prove it, but unlike some people who would ignore it and discard it for that reason alone, I am utterly fascinated with the idea and implications of it, much like those above. For me its all possible, impossible and (im)probable all at the same time.

For me to think any other way is, close minded, ignorant and stubborn. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and as a fan of debating and discussing things, I would dislike a world where we all sat on the fence with a leg dangling both sides – yet to me, there is no other stand point. Formulate an opinion, yes, but do not be so narrow-minded as to think that. that is the only option, the only explanation and justification for said topic.

To live life like that, with that perspective means life is full of endless possibilities, and things we will not understand. For someone who likes learning that almost annoying to comprehend and yet, comforting. If you could know the answers to everything would you want to know? To find out there was nothing, no possibility, to never believe or have faith, to never have the chance to say, “Yes but what if…” ever again. I wouldn’t want to know. There is freedom in ignorance as there is in knowledge. It is not living life as an optimist, more as a realist.

Realistically I can’t say either way, I can’t certifiably answer any of those sorts of questions without an air of poetic license or personal opinion. (Realistically I can have an answer that the reality of a man sitting in the clouds is highly unlikely, at the furthest end of unlikely on the cusp of impossible), but what that does do is open up a world that is forever is never understandable and in that, there is hope, there is belief, and there is optimism. If we had all the answers, a term like optimism couldn’t exist, because things would be the way they were, without dispute – ever. How utterly depressing and unfathomable.

I like living in a world I can endlessly question, to go around and round in circles and never come to any sort of conclusion or answer – ever; A world of free choice, free interpretation and a life full of endless possibilities –  just the way I like it.

The Eternal Learner…

For me there is nothing greater than studying. I know that sounds clichéd, and like one of the sentences I’m spun at University, about becoming more than just a degree, becoming an academic – but its true. I love studying. Ever since a young child I loved school, I loved the idea of learning, of feeling myself getting cleverer, storing information in my memory banks to draw upon, having those light bulb moments when suddenly everything makes a little more sense, you understand everything a little bit more.

Of course when you’re a child that happens almost continually. You are more or less bombarded with a new slice of information, slither of experience or newly figured fact on a minute by minute basis. As we get older, that seems to change. Suddenly we understand the basics, we have the answers to the simple stuff, how to read, write, (in my case, attempt) maths, science… our biology. It’s all there and readily explained. We’ve drawn our conclusions on our basic views, our opinions on the big stuff, religion, family, politics, education… We’re already quite formed.

What do we learn as adults? Relationships. There’s a wealth of experience and knowledge we continue to learn there, about ourselves more, with each new experience comes a moment of self-awareness… learning to drive? That always seems an odd one, it’s the first time since a child when we learnt to walk, to ride a bike, to swim, we have to do something that seems completely impossible and illogical to us….

Studying, makes the world, my world, more interesting. The more I learn the more I feel I have to offer, to contribute, the more I understand the smaller things in life, the more opportunities I give myself. I reform opinions, have my ideas challenged and tested, have my intellect stretched, my own foundations undermined, and…. I love that feeling. I love learning something new. Studying English it’s almost something everyday, a new word for my vocabulary, a new concept or idea, historical, philosophical, psychological, sociological details I didn’t know before.

I love reading something I’ve never heard, researching something and discovering a new interest, going into the tiny details… I can feel myself brighten up with each new sentence or concept, my brain buzzing with questions, ideas, contradictions. I lose hours lost int he recesses of my brain processing, ordering, thinking, understanding. I love finding out about everything – anything. What really interests me  is the big picture stuff, culture, society, gender… to civilisations, history, the makings of man.

I study when I shouldn’t be studying, constantly undertaking a new course or programme to keep my mind active. I qualified as a TEFL teacher last summer and this took at Level Four, Educational Psychology, learning about studying – learning why I like studying, we like learning – studying about studying. It couldn’t have been a more perfect course… I’m reading and studying Epistemology, the theory of knowledge, after my degree I begin teacher training, a masters… I’ll never stop wanting to learn – it’s just me.

Everything is a learning experience. Reading, articles, the newspaper, novels, facts, watching programmes on life, on art, on culture, on history… Talking to people. Getting to know them, their story, imparting and sharing knowledge. Life is so rich, so full of amazing things; of knowledge, interesting people, of questions, I just want to enjoy and share it all. We never stop learning, so why don’t we embrace it whole heartedly and aim to learn something new, each and everyday. I certainly do, do you?

The Black Destruction of Words…

As writers we all want to create something new, something poignant, something funny, something heartfelt, something honest…We strive to find that perfect phrasing, that sentence that says more in a few words than a paragraph could. We want clarity, perfection – drama.

We strive to delete all the unnecessary words, to strip back to what’s not needed to what simply is. It’s a hard task. Then there’s the inspiration. Where to start, how to draw together an idea from the hundreds of bubbling brooding thoughts of our mind.

What if, there was a way of using another’s work, and creating something, totally unique, unrelated to what was there before, that brings life, colour and meaning to a piece of work. Well, I introduce, Black out poetry.

Created by Austin Kleon, the idea is simple. Take a newspaper, find an article. Do not read it, do not spend time working through the article, do not try to force something out of it that is already there… Find a word – A phrase – something that stands out. It could and probably should be random, something that stands out to you. Skim for related words, words that fit the idea or the topic, the mood you’ve already chosen. Get a marker pen. Heres the fun bit… Draw around your chosen words, link the words across the page, and create something ingenious.

It sounds easy, but it’s a skill, a talent and something that will take time. Everyone can do it, but its a new way of working and as we all know, it takes a little time to adjust. When your little poems formed, black out everything else. Wipe the page clean so its only your words, your work that stands out against the darkness. You’ve made your first poem.

Blackout poetry provides a great starting point for all poets, writers and those who enjoy literature in general. It gets your creative flow going, it allows in the shortest of time to create something unique from something plain, bland – the pages of a newspaper. You can use the poem as inspiration for a longer piece of writing, to adapt into an epic poem or simply, to hold on its own, as its own piece of art.

The best thing about Newspaper Blackout is simply, you can do it anywhere. Over a morning coffee, on the train to and from work, in bed when you can’t sleep, in any spare five minutes you have a day. We all know of five-minute exercises that are supposed to keep us in touch with our creativity and help our writing, but what better way to do it than to, force something from our minds and get stressed about that five minutes. Sit back, relax, and just do it.

Austin Kleon is to me, a hero in his own right. A figurehead for the generation of writers that are finding more creative ways to be, well, creative. To find art in the profoundest of places, to work with something that’s already there, to reinvent the written word and poem.

Stealing! I hear you say… How can something be creative, be individual, be unique, when you’ve stolen someone else words, when you’ve had no hand in the writing itself. If you’re still of this mind, you’ve missed the point of Blackout completely. Its recreating not reiterating. You aren’t working with something already there and condensing, your finding something new, something hidden, amongst the garble of corporate wording.

Now I’ll admit, I’m not that great. I’m hardly the next and newest Blackout poet, ready to set your minds alight and show you examples of brilliance but you know, its a new hobby. Its something exciting and more importantly, its something I enjoy. Why not give it a go, and see what you may discover, lost and found on your favourite broadsheet.

To get a better idea of what I’m talking about check out, Austin Kleon’s book “Blackout Poetry” or http://newspaperblackout.com/ for examples and ideas to inspire you all. The best thing about the website, you can post your own works, and if your lucky (such as my friend and colleague at Uni) Austin may just reblog it himself as a fine example, of just what he wanted to achieve.

But why stop at newspapers. Think of the possibility, every old book you hate, those long-winded Victorian epics that bored you silly, wouldn’t you like to destroy the text and create something, brilliant? A journal, a pamphlet, an old novel, a horoscope… The opportunities are endless. Suddenly every word ever written can be recreated, redesigned, reinvented, recreated.

We always say how can you write something new when everything’s been written once before? Well… start with the stuff that has been done, and find your own magic within…

If we ever needed encouragement…

We all have days, days when we want to give up, days when we can’t see any point, days when we take yet another knock and think, is it all worth it? It doesn’t matter if it’s at work, if its home life, it’s a hobby, or an interest. Whether its something we’ve just started like that new gym regime, or something we’ve been doing for ages – trying to see ourselves better. Some days it’s a little bit too much effort.

Well, if there ever was a story to inspire, it comes once again in my beloved Mr Murray, who after his Wimbledon defeat, myself and the English Nation poured their hearts out for. A dream whipped away by the greatest man in tennis. We all said, how do you bounce back? How can you overcome something that took so much emotional strength from you, and so much passion to reach in the first place.

By winning, in straight 3 sets, 28 days later, beating the same man, on the same court, and take home a gold medal. It was never going to be an easy task but a glimmer of hope, a window of opportunity opened  and Andy took it. Maybe it was a grudge match, made it was revenge, maybe it was to prove himself but prove he did. The same emotional, shaky and unsure Andy had disappeared. A new man stood in front of us all.

Calm, collected, full of composure and relaxed. He played the best tennis of his life, he threaded the needle down the line more times than we’d ever seen, his shots were sublime, his speed and reaction as fast as ever, and Federer looked, well tired. It’s not to say that he wasn’t, that he wasn’t himself having an off day, but Murray took advantage.

He showed that in loss there is not defeat. That with hard work, with self belief and courage, you can bounce back and achieve whatever you wish. He won, the biggest match of his life, in perfect form and made us all realise, we need not give up on our dreams.

Rutherford, who went on to win a gold medal in the long jump, after defeat in Beijing, nearly gave up, nearly quit his sport and retired for good. How he would have kicked himself. He wouldn’t have realised his potential, wouldn’t have realised his dreams, and accepted his place as Olympic Champion. It would have been easier, to accept and to give up, but with more time, harder work, and the same support – just shows what can be achieved.

We need not give up on things we feel passionate about, when the boat gets rocked and a storm brews, when life seems to throw hurdle and hail storm, it may knock you down but it wont break you. For me, it was another time to realise that despite life’s woes there are so many things to be happy about, so much to look forward to, so much to strive for – so much more to achieve.

We’ll all have our break, it might not be in sporting history in front of 15,000 people, but we all have our moments, our chance to shine, our spotlights, surrounded by our fans – our families, our friends, our partners – ready to celebrate with us. Whatever your back breaker is, lets not give up just yet, because in a months time, your life could have changed completely.

For all those lost loves…

For all those past loves we have to move on from, we have to let go but we will, always at some point – Love. There is always someone in your life that changes it in a way that you will never forget, one person that takes a little bit of you away with them forever. We have to move on but we have to remember, the good times, the laughs – the honesty of Love.

Golden, golden, golden river run
to the East then drop beneath the sun
and as the moon lies low and overhead
we’re lost

Burn slow, burning up the back wall
long roads, where the city meets the sky
most days, most days stay the sole same
please stay, for this fear it will not die

If I had a boat, I would sail to you
hold you in my arms, ask you to be true
once I had a dream, it died long before
now I’m pointed north, hoping for the shore

Down low, down amongst the thorn rows
weeds grow, through the lilies and the vine
birds play, try to find their own way
soft clay, on your feet and under mine

splitting at the seams
heaving at the brace
sheets all billowing
breaking of the day
sea is not my friend
and everyone conspires
still I choose to swim
slip beneath the tide

once I had a dream
once I had a hope
that was yesterday
not so long ago
this is not the end
this is just the world
such a foolish thing
such an honest girl

You could write a book…

How many times is that bantared around? Anyone with a half creative brain, anyone studying English, anyone have ever had an english lesson, everyone thinks could be a writer. It’s mentioned like, going shopping or popping to the gym or losing a few pounds.

No. simply no. We cannot all write novels. We are not all gifted enough, it’s a skill, yes everyone can write to a degree, everyone can put across their voice, can write a little bit of a prose, can write things that their friends will gush over, but as in, getting a publishing contract and hundreds of sales, enough to live?

No. I didn’t take the creative writing modules at Uni for the simple reason, that I couldn’t handle, hearing people every seminar saying, I’m writing my second book, this is an excerpt from my first novel, I’m currently finishing off my first paperback… instead I had to listen to everyone bitching about it. Yes there are a lot of authors out there, but compared to the number of people actually living in a  country or in the world? It’s a TINY percentage and it’s getting harder, with funding limited and publishers not so keen to print.

Oh yeah, anyone can self publish, but that isn’t quite the same thing is it? The same sense of achievement, the same sort of, book deal that everyone (it seems) craves. I’m sorry to sound like a heartless woman, damning everyone’s hopes and dreams of literary success, I’m just a realist. I would love to be a writer, a full-time erotic fiction writer…

Oh yes, that’s the other half of my brain, spent delving into dark corners and crevices of passionate embraces and sexy encounters. I would love, adore, to be that good, to give up the day job, teaching and to just write, to do product reviews and enjoy my dark side. But it isn’t going to happen. I don’t write fiction, I write erotic tales, there’s no romance,  no plot, it’s just sex and that’s what I love – and it wouldn’t sell.

I hate this culture of everyone being an author. celebrities bringing out books by the week. Do you actually think they write them? Not some poor twit that can’t make it and is hoping that one day they’ll be recognised by their amazing skills in putting across Katie Price’s life story, and writing something rewarding.

I have an unbelievable amount of respect for writers, for authors and for publishers. The hours writers spend on their own, immersed in their own thoughts, in a story, trawling over sentences and syntax, and trying to get it, just right. Publishers, for the tine and commitment in reading, re reading, editing, making sure we get the very best novel from an author that they can. Its gruelling – it’s not an easy job. What if it doesn’t sell, what if your ill and behind on a deadline, what if you can’t pay your rent, what if you realise, you weren’t that good?

I am not disillusioned, but I am respectfully envious, not of their success, not of their lifestyle, but of their ability, that they have found their niche, and a skill that many of us just simply don’t have. Well, I guess that concludes my rant. Maybe one day we’ll all have a book, maybe we’ll all write about our lives and keep it hidden for eyes one day to see, maybe we’ll call it a diary or something…