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Welcome back to your weekly Writing Workshop!

For any newbies (and it’s never to late to join in), here’s how it works: I’m going to give you 5 writing/blogging prompts. Pick one, pick two, or do them all if you’re really keen – it’s up to you. How you respond is your choice. You could share a real-life story, or make one up. You could write a poem or just free-write without thinking too hard and see what happens. It can be funny; it can be serious; it can be emotional. It can be whatever you want it to be. The only rule is to enjoy writing your post and get something out of the process.

Prompts each week take their inspiration from blogs, current affairs, daily life, or just whatever everyone happened to be talking about that week. If you’d like to suggest a prompt for a future workshop then send me an email or catch me on Twitter – I would love to hear your ideas.

And remember! We’re not looking for perfection here! Just have a go! The best way to get better at writing is PRACTISE. All the best writers aren’t afraid to write badly. So turn your inner-critic off for a while and just see what words come out.

Here’s this week’s prompts!

1. Disaster! Tell us when a a best laid plan went spectacularly wrong…
- Inspired by my lovely friend Rachael over at Tales from the Village and her cake wrecks.

2. “I have a ……….. and I’m not afraid to use it”. Fill in the blank!
- Inspired by Tara over at Sticky Finger’s latest post about cooking with children.

3. What last made you cry?
- Inspired by Annie over at Incessant Ramblings’ emotional experience at her daughter’s school last week.

4. Share a powerful memory, or memories, from your childhood. Close your eyes and try to conjure it up as vividly as you can and share it descriptively with us. If it’s a painful memory, let the remembering be a healing release for you.
- Inspired by Slummy Single Mummy who has been using writing exercises to remember.

And finally, the last prompt is just one word. This should allow you a bit more creative freedom if you feel like taking the safety harness that particular week.

5. Storm
- Inspired by Sandrine’s haunting workshop post last week… Twilight Zone

Now here’s what you have to do. Write your post and publish it on your blog between now and THURSDAY. On Thursday come back and use the widget that will be up to paste in the URL of your post to share. Then take some time to read some of the other entries and leave some comment love! We’re not here to critique – just to have fun and support each other in our writing experiments. So be kind please. Anyone who would like to submit something via email, or even anonymously will be more than welcome to do so. I’ll post them on the site here and include the link in Thursday’s round-up.

Feel free to use the Workshop badge on your blog or as part of your post if you like. Code is here:

Note: I’m told Blogger does something a bit funny with the code so you’ll need to copy and paste it and then retype the quotation marks (“) as Blogger changes them for some reason. See you Thursday then!

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This Writing Workshop is brought to you in association with Mama Kat’s Losin’ It – who’s lovely author came up with the concept and runs her own workshop over in the U.S.


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Welcome back to your Writing Workshop.

At the bottom of this post you’ll find the widget to link up your posts. I hope you found a prompt to inspire you this week and help you create something unique, grown out of your own unique experiences and thoughts.

I’ve chosen the first prompt – what’s your therapy? Like Kerry-Ann, for me music is my medicine….

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I feel it building. That sense of panic. It is like a wave that starts down low, twisting my stomach as it rises up into my head, into my ears, filling them with a pressure that feels like being pushed, hard, down under water. I am drowning.

It could have been anything. Jumping out of the middle of a good mood like the very cruellest game of pass the parcel. Or it could have crept on, slowly. A day when time and patience and energy is sucked out of me drop by drop. Just one word, or lack of one. Too much attention. Too little. Who knows. My heart has it’s own mind, that’s all I know. I can control it as well as I can control the weather.

Whatever. I have given up trying to understand it.

Before long it is so strong I can barely see, barely think, barely speak. My hands start to fidget, mouth chewing at my nails, fingers pulling my hair up into ragged clumps, fists clasped and unclasped. My feet feel poised as if on a starting block. The need to run is so overwhelming it is all I can do to stay in one place, instead beginning to pace from room to room. I have to get out. I have to get out NOW.

A mumbled goodbye to Ant and my hand is on the door handle,  my bare feet slipped quickly into my shoes, fingers reaching up to plug in my stereo headphones before the door has even closed behind me.

I walk, fast. Striding quickly through the familiar streets as the light fades in the sky above me, my eyes low and full. I flick through the menu on my music player, letting instinct find what I need, one finger pushing the volume control up as loud as it will go.

The beats starts and my stride slows to match, my feet turning down the wooded cycle path that has acted as my therapy couch over and over. There is no one here, not a soul in sight down the long mile track, and, as the piano starts and deep vibrating lull of cello or guitar rises with the melody, I allow my shoulders and my neck to unclench. My body starts to sway, my head gentle nodding and shaking from side to side as my eyes close and I let my feet carry me forward and music drown out all thought, sweeping down every neural pathway, stroking every inch of skin. I feel every note, every rhythm. Behind my half focused eyes I feel washes of colour begin to flood my vision. I am oblivious to everyone, everything, the sideways glances of the occasional dog walker not even breaking my stride.

Lyrics wash over me like waves, somehow always finding the exact line and phrase to illuminate the dark place. Comfort, connection, reassurance. What I feel, what I am going through, it has been felt before. It is heard. It is real. I breathe it deep down, the emotion I am feeling. It is ok. I am ok. Pain and confusion and heartbreak and fear. It is ok. Right now I will give myself to it. I will stop fighting.

My mouth opens and I pour out the sound, words tumbling off my tongue as I sing to the empty night and to the dark trees and the shapes of the swifts as they swoop and dart. As loud as I can, my lungs filling with cool air, releasing with every breath.

Sometimes just one song, played over and over. The message I need to hear. Or an album, played straight through, every word as familiar to me as any word I have ever written. A part of me, integrated into my consciousness after obsessive listening, over and over. Thousands of songs, a library of life and experience and expression, what feels right that night so variable, as variable as my mood. It doesn’t matter: there is always something right, always the right pill for this ache. I just have to keep walking, and keep listening, keep singing if it helps.

Soon my panic has been released out with the sound. My limbs soft again, my muscles unknotted and my mind clear, my heart calm once more.

After half an hour, and hour, maybe even two some nights, the hard frown has been softened and my brow lies smooth again.

I am ok. I will not run this night. I will not break.

I am ok.

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Writing Workshop Badge

So now it’s your turn. What prompt did you choose?

1. What’s your therapy?
- Inspired by Kerry-Ann at Falling Starlett who has been using music to give her inspiration and peace.

2.Tell us a story of something that happened with a bang.
- Inspired by Emma’s beautiful firework photos over at Me, the Man and the Baby.

3. Who’s your boss? Who (or what!) is in charge of you and your life?
- Inspired by Geeky Mummy’s four year old’s impeccable logic

4. Share your experience of a difficult transition. A moving ‘from’ to ‘something new’.
- Inspired by the Bubbleboo and her son’s Transition Day at school.

And finally, the last prompt is just one word. This should allow you a bit more creative freedom if you feel like taking the safety harness that particular week.

5. Running
- Inspired by World of Walker who has been finding her running feet again

Leave your name and the URL to your post in the MckLinky below (the URL should be to your post not just to your blog) and leave me a comment to let me know you’ve taken part. If you have the time it would be great if you could try and read and comment on at least two other entries. And be kind! It’s supposed to be a bit of fun – we’re not looking for the next Booker Prize winner here.

If you haven’t had chance to respond yet, then you’ve still got till Sunday to enter your link! Or just wait till next week, when there’ll be five brand new prompts to get you thinking.

This Writing Workshop is brought to you in association with Mama Kat’s Losin’ It – who’s lovely author came up with the concept and runs her own workshop over in the U.S.


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Peace and Freedom

So on Friday I went to Tate Liverpool to view an exhibition of Picasso’s work spanning the entire length of his political and emotional career. And it was, quite simply, astounding.

Picasso was a man that was moved by the world around him, and who responded to the things he saw and felt with intense passion and artistic expression. From the occupation during the Second World War where he lived in Paris, though his alliance with the Communism party, his post-war expressions of death and mortality, through the Cuban Missile Crisis and other conflicts around the world and his dedication to the Peace Movement, Picasso painted to SAY SOMETHING.

I spent the exhibition with my head on fire. I have genuinely rarely been more moved, or more affected by an experience. I danced around the exhibition for three hours, nearly. My nose pressed up to the glass when I could, my fingers tracing the lines of his lines and staring long and hard at the shapes and patterns of each painting and sculpture. Trying to see what he saw, feel what he felt. And I GOT IT, I did see, or at least, it felt like I did. Each image seemed so FULL of meaning and significance and power.

I learnt so much. I learnt that Picasso liked to paint the spaces around things. I learnt that line was always more important than colour to him. I learnt that an owl means death, but not to me.  I learnt that conflict and cruelty and suffering and the resulting passion and outrage could result in something beautiful. I learnt that death and darkness can be just as beautiful as flowers and sunsets. I learnt that if you find an image you love that you connect with, you are drawn to paint it over and over. Not to improve the shape of it but just because it feels right under your brush and your pen.

But the one thing that struck me over and over was the functionality of his work. I am such an aesthetic at heart, it is ALL about beauty for me, and yet Picasso’s work was so fundamentally functional. It was art to portray a message. Only in his later years could you begin to see the first inklings of aesthetic indulgence, of his desire to captures things simply because they were beautiful, and even then in a brash, uncompromising style – HIS idea of beauty, no-one else’s.

And the thing that was so intensely inspirational was that, driven by political fervour, by his need to share a view with the world, his art was so devoid of fear. Picasso painted without one moment’s hesitation, not a second’s doubt. Although, I imagine, probably a deeply arrogant man, he would HAVE to be, his sometimes child-like expressions are completely devoid of ego. He cared not one iota what people thought, what things were SUPPOSED to look like, he just DID.

I stood and watched a video of Picasso painting a mural on a chapel wall. Old, bare chested, he moved up and down a step ladder to make big, bold strokes without a pause. I watched the unforgettable image of peace, the dove, come to life in less than five seconds flat. Perfect. Beautiful. Unapologetic. I shook at the power of it, of the power of HIM.

I want to paint like that, not in his style, but in his attitude. I want to live like that.

I want my art to be something joyous, a gift at my fingertips I am not afraid of and not afraid to embrace MY way, without thought for other’s opinion. Free.

I want my writing to be the same. Not pushed in directions I don’t want. Free to flow and evolve in my own voice.

And that is why yesterday I decided to apply to study Fine Art and Sculpture full time at my local art school from September. I never got to go to university, have never had one scrap of artistic training. I am sick of carrying dreams around with me like old, tight chains. I want to stop being afraid and start doing.

At school I will have the perfect supportive environment to explore my artistic identity. I will have the indulgence of time and financial support to see where this takes me. And with only 16 hours on campus and Kai in nursery I will have the freedom of evenings and weekends to still pursue my writing, work on my book, do whatever I want really.

So that’s that.

I will never be Picasso. But I will live a life unafraid, one of inner peace and freedom. To that I pledge.


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Welcome back to your weekly Writing Workshop. Thanks for your patience last week. I was recovering from a bad Fibro flare-up and then there was Kai’s birthday and an AMAZING day to go and see the Picasso exhibition at Tate Liverpool (a whole other blog post) And, it seems, it wasn’t just me feeling a bit weary last week so no bad thing to have a breather perhaps. We’re back to normal this week though, so I hope a week off has given you a renewed energy to get writing.

For any newbies (and it’s never to late to join in), here’s how it works: I’m going to give you 5 writing/blogging prompts. Pick one, pick two, or do them all if you’re really keen – it’s up to you. How you respond is your choice. You could share a real-life story, or make one up. You could write a poem or just free-write without thinking too hard and see what happens. It can be funny; it can be serious; it can be emotional. It can be whatever you want it to be. The only rule is to enjoy writing your post and get something out of the process.

Prompts each week take their inspiration from blogs, current affairs, daily life, or just whatever everyone happened to be talking about that week. If you’d like to suggest a prompt for a future workshop then send me an email or catch me on Twitter – I would love to hear your ideas.

And remember! We’re not looking for perfection here! Just have a go! The best way to get better at writing is PRACTISE. All the best writers aren’t afraid to write badly. So turn your inner-critic off for a while and just see what words come out.

Here’s this week’s prompts!

1. What’s your therapy?
- Inspired by Kerry-Ann at Falling Starlett who has been using music to give her inspiration and peace.

2.Tell us a story of something that happened with a bang.
- Inspired by Emma’s beautiful firework photos over at Me, the Man and the Baby.

3. Who’s your boss? Who (or what!) is in charge of you and your life?
- Inspired by Geeky Mummy’s four year old’s impeccable logic

4. Share your experience of a difficult transition. A moving ‘from’ to ‘something new’.
- Inspired by the Bubbleboo and her son’s Transition Day at school.

And finally, the last prompt is just one word. This should allow you a bit more creative freedom if you feel like taking the safety harness that particular week.

5. Running
- Inspired by World of Walker who has been finding her running feet again

Now here’s what you have to do. Write your post and publish it on your blog between now and THURSDAY. On Thursday come back and use the widget that will be up to paste in the URL of your post to share. Then take some time to read some of the other entries and leave some comment love! We’re not here to critique – just to have fun and support each other in our writing experiments. So be kind please. Anyone who would like to submit something via email, or even anonymously will be more than welcome to do so. I’ll post them on the site here and include the link in Thursday’s round-up.

Feel free to use the Workshop badge on your blog or as part of your post if you like. Code is here:

Note: I’m told Blogger does something a bit funny with the code so you’ll need to copy and paste it and then retype the quotation marks (“) as Blogger changes them for some reason. See you Thursday then!

——————————————————–

This Writing Workshop is brought to you in association with Mama Kat’s Losin’ It – who’s lovely author came up with the concept and runs her own workshop over in the U.S.


read more

Two

Dear Kai,

Today we sat by the marshes and talked about the wind. The sky was low and heavy and your blonde curls blew about your face like white light as you stood above me, blocking out the sun as you took in the world around you.  With your nonsense words and your expressive hands you told me about the ducks on the pond and that they were hungry; that there was a train and that mummy rides on the train; that the wind on your face felt funny and that you thought it might rain and that playing football makes you happy. And I listened and smiled that smile at you that only you know. And we talked some more with no words, just by being together and connected, which we are.

I am so proud of you, my son. I am proud of the way you hold a pencil and think about the marks you are going to make before you make them. I am proud that you have learnt colours but not numbers, because let’s face it in our world colours are far more important. I am proud of the way you dance and move and use your shoulders when you make tunes on the piano or on your little guitar. I am proud of the way you kick a ball and run and run. I am proud of the way you use your hands to describe the things you see, just like your mama, and that you use words that make sense to you, though not always to us.

I am amazed and delighted by everything you are. I could sit and watch your frowny face for hours and hours, waiting for the thing that makes it break and smile. I want to crawl into your head and watch your thoughts, because I know you have so many and I know that they are yours and they are beautiful. I love to watch you play, so absorbed, watching your imagination and your creativity grow and grow every time you do so. I love to hear you laugh.  Your laughter is like mine and bubbles up from your toes, moving your whole body. I hope you will always laugh like that.

I love the way you say my name. I am so glad to be your mama.

I know that I am not always as perfect as you deserve. I get cross and tired and frustrated so easily. She feels things, your mama, just like you do. They push her to want to do many, many things. Sometimes she finds it hard to get the balance right, to make the right amount of space for you and everything else. She is like a kite pulled about by lots of strings right now, some of them are a bit tangled and it hurts. But she is trying and she will be ok. Because we trust the wind, we do. That’s what people like us do, and it will take us where we need to go eventually.

I love you. More than paint and words and sunshine. More than anything. I have so much to show you. There is a world of beautiful things out there. And I am going to show you as much of it as I possibly can. I promise. I can’t promise you an easy ride, but I promise you one filled with wonder and discovery.

Thank you for being you, and being mine, if only for a little while.

Happy 2nd Birthday my darling.


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