Tag Archives: writer

Sir Terry Pratchett – A Thank You

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‘THERE IS NO MORE TIME, EVEN FOR CAKE.’ – Death, Night Watch

My thank you sounds out from upon a disc, which sits upon the backs of four elephants, who stand on the back of a giant turtle, named Great A’Tuin. Who knows what he makes of this turn of events.

My thank you is so loud and so heartfelt that it can hopefully cross oceans without falling off the edge, cross universes without becoming lost in translation, cross even the borders between life and death without getting lost.

Every Hogswatch for a long, long time, I received a staple gift from the Hogfather – the latest Terry Pratchett, the latest Discworld feast for the senses. In this universe, words do more than meet your eyes – they get inside your mind and take up residence there. They treat the place like their own and turn things upside down and inside out and make you crease with laughter and tears more often than you’d think any combination of words in any collection of works possibly could. Words that are seriously funny, but also seriously clever. And, sometimes, seriously serious. There is often a message in the madness, scathing satire in the sands.

If I can make a scratch on the wall of the world even a millionth in depth of the mark made by Terry Pratchett, I will have achieved something. Books that make me laugh out loud, but also make me stop and think, but also make me grieve, but also make me cartwheel at the triumph of craft are among my most treasured possessions – thanks to Discworld, I have whole shelves of them.

It’s heartbreaking, of course, that there’ll be nothing new from someone taken too soon – that’s a refrain I’ve heard a lot these past days. But, oh my life, who else has left us so much? Terry Pratchett knew how to make moving pictures with words. He knew the colour of magic. Thanks to him, we can read all about it in the words he’s left behind. Words with a life of their own. So, thank you, Terry Pratchett, thank you for every single word.

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Show Compassion – Save A Teddy Bear

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Meet my teddy bear, Nicki (an avid reader). I’ve had him since I was born in Coventry, at which time he was bought in Hamley’s. And that’s a long time ago, as I’m turned thirty now (the Internet says so, so it must be true). I love him in a way I love no other inanimate object. A teddy bear can be so much more than a possession. A childhood companion, friend – even family. Nicki’s come with me round the world, when many of my friends and family could not fit in my suitcase, so, in a way, I’ve spent more time with him than anyone. I’ve lost many things – but I’d be heartbroken to lose him, and I’m fully grown now (perhaps even shrinking, which, at five foot nothing, doesn’t seem fair). Losing him as a child would have been Armageddon.

Compassion can wear many coats, but it often involves placing yourself in someone else’s shoes, and doing what one can to make those shoes more comfortable for their original occupant. I know many people who don’t adore social media – it’s not their cup of tea. For others, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet. I’m one of the latter – ever sold on Facebook since someone found my wallet in the street and then found me on FB so they could send it back to me, from Edinburgh to London, declining my reimbursement of postage.

A post popped up yesterday comparing Facebook to a fridge – you know nothing’s changed, but you go and open it every ten minutes anyway. Working on my own, online, it’s often a welcome break that can clear my mind for a few seconds before getting back to it. And sometimes, magical treats have appeared in the fridge while I wasn’t looking.

A case study in point. A child lost their teddy bear, Ratty, and the story popped up in my newsfeed because of a local trading group I belong to in sunny Queenstown. It made me happy (not the child losing their teddy bear – I’m not a monster – but the story’s ending. Hmm, spoiler). This adorable photo is reposted with permission.

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People sympathised. And someone who’d seen a stray bear piped up. Unfortunately, he wasn’t the one.

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But then another did the same. And it was.

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Compassion can be big or small. It still counts. It can be a case of being big now, but remembering how much bigger small things were, when you yourself were smaller. It can be not walking past something that is lost, ignoring it because it is meaningless to you, but instead picking it up, because you know that it is meaningful to someone else.

Another treat in the fridge today? A case study from Lizzi, to whom compassion is first and second nature. It was sparked by seeing someone putting themselves in someone else’s running shoes. Look around you. Is there someone doing the same? Could you help? Is there a teddy bear lying in the corner, lost and alone? Maybe pick it up.

Join us on 20th February 2015 when 1000 voices will speak out for compassion.

To join the group and meet the movement, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To read some background, return to Lizzi, whose inspiring post beats like a heart in our village-centre, and check in with Yvonne, who called forth a body of builders to grow around it – now over a thousand strong.

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.

#1000Speak - Listen

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A is for Adelaide, B is for Beauty, C is for Compassion

#1000Speak

I came to Adelaide three months ago, a little bit broken. I’m leaving now, a little, well, less so.

This is due in part to an unwillingness just to curl up in a corner and not participate in the world, in part to the uplifting beauty to be found all around, but, most of all, it is due to compassion.

Compassion is someone holding out their hands rather than putting them behind their back. It is someone offering you their home rather than muttering a platitude. And then putting up with you every day in that home, while you un-mire yourself.

It is patience; it is kindness; it is observance. It is empathy; it is companionship; it is hope.

The world is a mess. It is depressing. Sometimes, it seems hopeless. The news is overwhelming. The small hurts and the big hurts form a league of reasons to bury your head in the sand.

I read a post a few days ago that made me dig myself out of the sand, because I saw others sitting up, taking note, and doing it too. Within a week, there are so many people digging that tunnels through the world, connecting all sorts of countries and people have appeared. Pop through those tunnels and you find writers worth knowing – because a common strand has resonated with them and tied them together. And it’s the idea of compassion.

Showing compassion, and talking about it, writing about it, championing it – this is one way to make the right mark on the wall of the world. It is one way we can lift up the people around us, rather than trampling them, rather than ignoring them. It is a call to action. So that more and more people can feel the vibrations, pop their heads out of their sand patches, and start digging themselves.

Join us on 20th February 2015 when 1000 voices will speak out for compassion.

To join the group and start digging, go here: 1000 Voices for Compassion Facebook Group

To read some background, go to meet Lizzi, who first popped her head out the sand, and go to meet Yvonne, who picked up the first shovel.

To sing and dance together on Twitter, tweet #1000Speak.

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There And Back Again – Finding Direction In 2015

Sydney Harbour Bridge, midnight 31/12/14

Sydney Harbour Bridge, midnight 31/12/14

Happy new year! Here we are in 2015 and I hope it’s a wonderful one for you all! The festive road trip has finished and I’m back in Adelaide with much more movement to look forward to. And who knows where I’ll end up? I certainly don’t.

But that’s not a bad thing. A steady state has its comforts and attractions, but life has been a wonderful whirlwind since I left London three and half years ago, and the volatile roller coaster doesn’t seem about to stop. Coming to the beginning of a new year and looking back as well as forward – life has more highs than lows. Sometimes you just have to seek them out. Sometimes you need to take a shovel.

All I know is that it was a brilliant idea to end up in Sydney to see out the old year and in with the new – with the biggest of bangs. I adore fireworks and want to live my life like one – going off in all directions, popping, fizzing, delighting, colourful, crazy and illuminating. It doesn’t matter which way you’re going as long as you’re causing a ruckus on the way, filling as many lives as possible with light, laughter and love.

Many people will have so much they want to achieve this year, having achieved so much already – best of luck with it. Just don’t forget to stop, look around you, smell the roses, watch the sunsets, notice others, and leave the people you pass the happier for having known you. Strive as much as you like, but enrich those around you as well as yourself. Sing and dance, but invite others to add their voices and join the foxtrot. Put being plentiful in the soul before the pocket, and share.

Technically, ’tis the eleventh day of Christmas (who knew the twelve days start rather than end on Christmas day?!). So here’s a parting gift from my lovely friend and wonderful illustrator’s collection. As the familiar festive sights and scents fade away for another year, remember to keep the spirit of Christmas around and enjoy the whole twelve months ahead giving, loving and hoping. Everyone will have a better time for it.

What do you hope for this year? I hope it finds you.

Eleven Pipes Piping

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Looking for something new to read this year? Enter the world of The Night Butterflies and join the search for hope amidst horror…

The Night Butterflies

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Survival Of The Christmas

Giant Lobster, Kingston SA

Giant Lobster, Kingston

I’m on another festive road-trip, this year OZ rather than NZ. Christmas is such a great time to take a holiday – and while I’d love to be tucked at home with family and friends in the UK, amidst cosy jumpers and twinkling trees, I also love the utter freedom of constant movement and the excitement of seeing brand new things every day. Especially the sunshine. And my year wouldn’t have been complete without Sunday’s giant lobster on the roadside.

Christmas, nestled as it is before the end of one year and the start of another, often seems a time to compare. Compare life now to this time last year; compare location, occupation, partners, possessions; compare life’s pros and cons, what’s been gained and what’s been lost.

Our first night camping, what was lost was mainly sleep. Having been sweltering over in South Australia, we took a selection of sheets but decided sleeping bags would be surplus. Wrong. The tent, positioned as it was in the centre of a vortex, winds tearing around out of nowhere, was freezing. And I hadn’t even brought layers of clothing that could ease the situation.

Last night, we recovered in a motel. Whenever I stay in a motel I feel like I’m in an episode of the X-files. But there are no aliens here. Maybe just ghosts. I’m followed around by the ghost of last year’s Christmas road-trip, which I was lucky enough to enjoy with ex-partner-in-crime. I miss him like crazy. And last week, I went to see my friend Kade’s family on the Gold Coast. Not so much earlier than this time last year, partner-in-crime and I were over there for his funeral, and I’d not been back since.

Bad stuff has happened this year – stuff I’d rather hadn’t. But it’s not ever, nowhere near, the same as really losing someone. When someone dies, it doesn’t end. It’s never over. They’re gone forever. And every Christmas, every birthday, every holiday – they bring a peak in the ever-present pain for those who were closest. Seeing everyone left behind there, wishing my friend was still around, wishing it was possible to save each person from their grief… Those are Christmas wishes that could never be granted.

But such things are utterly out of our control. They can only be suffered and survived. And where there is unending grief, friends can only be supportive. Be present. Be there.

Not so with everything. Yesterday we acquired sleeping bags so we wouldn’t have another disastrous night of cold cramps. There are certainly things in our lives that go wrong that we can learn from and correct. Some things lost can be found again. I can think of several situations a tad more dire than lack of camping equipment that, with a little motivation, I can sort out next year.

Have a ridiculous holiday. Frolic until you’re famished and feast until you’re full. But spare a thought for those without. Those without the ones who would have made their Christmas complete. My heart goes out to you if you’re one of them. And if there’s anything distressing in your life that you know is fixable, that would make life merrier in 2015 if fixed, then make the resolution to address it. We owe it to ourselves – we who are lucky enough to have a full and fantastic life to live.

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In A Parallel World…

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Doctor Who, Season 2, Episode 13. I woke up this morning, put on the TV while I pottered around the flat tidying up, and that’s what came on.

For non-hardcore fans, or people who aren’t fans at all (baffled face), this is the episode where Dr Who (David Tennant) is separated from his companion Rose Tyler (Billie Piper). They are torn apart into parallel worlds through a series of events where – look, just watch the episode. But first watch all the preceding episodes so the pain of this parting isn’t lost on you.

Why has this sparked a post? Well, along with making me cry, seeing this episode again made me think.

There’s a theory that for every decision every person makes, the universe is splintered into an infinite number of parallel worlds living the realities where a different decision was made and/or a different outcome experienced.

It can be as small as thinking that, in a parallel world, this particular episode wasn’t on when I turned on the TV, which probably meant I didn’t write this particular post. It can be as large as thinking, in a parallel world, the Nazis won the war. For an infinite number of moments, an infinite number of possibilities.

In a parallel world, the alien horde didn’t pass us by last week and instead decided we were worth invading. You get the idea.

I might easily not have turned the TV on at all this morning. I don’t normally. I haven’t lived somewhere with a TV since I left London (when, funnily enough, David Tennant was still the Doctor). I wouldn’t be here in Adelaide if I hadn’t been broken up with in Queenstown. What if that hadn’t happened? I spend a lot of time wanting to go back to how it was or how it might have been, wanting it to be different. But it’s not – not in this particular world.

But, overall, I like this particular world. I’ve had the chance to travel all over it; I make a living doing a job I enjoy; I have wonderful friends; I can go wherever I want. I’m free. If I hadn’t quit my job working as an accounting professional for Ernst & Young three and a half years ago, where would I be now? Who would I be? I might never have met previous partner-in-crime at all, and we had three amazing years together with a forever of friendship to come. I might never have started my business, Right Ink On The Wall, which I love and which grows as I grow. I might never have published my book, The Night Butterflies, which is something I’ve always wanted to do.

So, instead of mourning what could have been and decisions that might have been different, I’m going to focus on what could happen now, what could happen next, now this new world of infinite possibilities has opened up in this of all possible worlds. Who knows what could happen tomorrow? Or the next day? It could be beyond amazing. Given the choice in five or ten years’ time, I might decide I would never have wanted to miss it. So it’s a good job I’m here.

What parallel life could you be living?  Would you go back and change something big, if you could?

On a completely related note, I adore David Tennant. If I could have changed anything about the moment I met him, when he was filming for Einstein & Eddington at my college in Cambridge, it would be not turning into the epic failure of a fan girl who couldn’t utter an intelligent word in his presence (can you tell from my smile?!). Oh, and I would have done my hair that day.

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30 Observations On Turning 30

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Last week, it was my birthday. And I wasn’t where I’d planned to be, because I was no longer with whom I’d planned to be with (hence hopping over the water for a while). But the best of it was made for me, with a handmade surprise mad hatter’s birthday breakfast tea party (just amazing – pics below!) and then a trip to a beautiful winery for a delicious, long lunch with much wine. My friend here has taken cheering me to heart and single-handedly saved what otherwise could have been a day of sorrowing. I also received several touching presents and cards that lifted my heart.

I’ve never been down around my birthday. I love to celebrate, and a number’s just a number after all! When I think of some of the things that have happened by the time I’ve turned this one: releasing myself from an occupation of reluctant accounting, starting my own business, travelling the world, publishing my own book, meeting the people I’ve met and seeing the sights that I’ve seen – I can say I’m happy with how I’ve got here.

So, to celebrate having turned thirty, here’s a list of thirty observations I’ve had upon doing so, in the order that they came to me.

1. Who doesn’t love a list?

2. Don’t heed the snake within (& that’s a sneak peek quote from my current NaNoWriMowork in progress, fantasy novel Luminosa).

3. If it is at all possible, find something in any given situation to laugh at.

4. It’s always tea time.

5. ‘Tis better to catch on late than never.

6. Smile at everyone and see what happens.

7. Patience is a virtue, but the really, really hard-to-find kind.

8. No matter how low you feel, someone’s suffering more in Game of Thrones.

9. Persevere.

10. See beauty everywhere you look.

11. I love books. But I can appreciate the Kindle.

12. Friends are treasures; guard them.

13. If something’s not okay, try and try and try to make it better.

14. It is better to love.

15. Never take a good shower for granted.

16. Be bold.

17. You can move all over the place, but it’s where you’re at inside that matters.

18. Say what you think; sometimes you’ll be surprised at the support from unexpected corners.

19. If you can’t help but lose something, remember it fondly.

20. People are kind.

21. Sending & receiving postal love changes the value of a stamp into something priceless.

22. Thirty years is a long time (I never said they’d all be meaningful).

23. Keep having adventures.

24. You can’t control what you can’t control. But you can control your occupation, your location and your outlook on life.

25. Regret as little as possible.

26. If something ain’t sitting right, alter it.

27. It’s possible to write 50,000 words in 30 days, whatever else is going on.

28. You might not know what’s next, but there’s probably something good involved.

29. Anything is possible.

30. Be you.

How do you feel about birthdays? Raise a glass with me and be merry, if you haven’t already. There’s nothing wrong with getting older and wiser. 

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