Lockdown, Loneliness & Writing

Even before lockdown the stats will tell you that we are the loneliest generation to have roamed the earth. There are over 9 million lonely people in the UK. I find that really sad.

During some research for a short story I’m writing I came across a few projects and organisations who are trying to improve on those numbers. One of them is also looking to break a world record with the written word, more on that in a bit.

Scientific evidence shows that expressive writing in particularly can foster a sense of connection with others, even when we’re not directly engaged with them. Writing provides a way of ordering our thoughts and feelings. It is often easier to write about things than to speak about them, I know this can be true for me sometimes. By picking up a pen and writing about things whether it’s our fears, our hopes, or our dreams, we are helping to understand ourselves a little more and building a sense of connection with the world around us. Writing is powerful – truth!

Here are just a few of the organisations who are doing their bit in the battle against loneliness.

The Campaign to End Loneliness was set up in 2017. They believe that people of all ages need connections that matter. They research, lobby, campaign and inspire people to connect and bring communities together. In 2018 they launched Be More Us – a movement that celebrates small moments of connection. You can watch the video here.

The Loneliness Project is the first in a series of digital archives which seeks to build community and empathy by publishing weekly stories about loneliness. They want to receive letters on what loneliness means to you. There are no rules, no submission guidelines and it is open to everyone. It is free to enter.

Dear Loneliness is an interactive art project that aims to break a world record for the longest length of a letter!

As part of an artistic instillation they intend to create the world’s longest letter by covering a room in over 1,000 feet of handwritten and scanned letters about loneliness, with the ceiling and floor covered in large mirrors that create the illusion of letters on loneliness stretching into eternity. They want to receive letters on what loneliness means to you. There are no rules or guidelines and it is free to enter.

Being lonely is wretched and knowing what to do or where to try and find some solace can be hard. Picking up a pen and checking out the above organisations could be a start…

Taming the Beast…

I have taken procrastination to a whole new level. Today my friends I give to you a short poem which I hope will bring a gentle smile to your face – Enjoy…

Taming the Beast by Nicole Fitton

Sitting here my pen in hand

My thoughts and ideas shift like sand.

To write a 1,000 words at least

The only way to tame the beast

Which sits within my head and cries

Type faster girl for time it flies.

I write without a care for time, or food,

Or drink, or love – I’m blind

To anything that disturb’s my flow

Of how my perfect day will go.

So there you have it – I have found another way to talk about writing without actually doing too much of it!

Hey Shorty!

This week I received an exciting piece of news. A short story I entered into a competition made the Short List. As a writer it is the sort of news that sends tingles down your spine and puts a smile on your face.

Rejection is part and parcel of the everyday when you write, it comes with the territory. So when you get a short list or long list placing you can be assured that your story has had an impact – it is a wonderful feeling. Some days writing is thankless and hard, it can feel as if you are wading through treacle. You try your hardest to make your story sing only to have it land flat. Moments that make you fly are so important. They serve as a reminder that sometimes, just sometimes you can hold a tune!

Thankfully I do not have to wait too long for the results.

Read & Vote

This week I have a piece of flash fiction in AdHoc Fictions ebook. Issue 170, the theme is ‘need’. Try and guess which is mine – sorry, I’m not allowed to tell you! Why not pop on over and take a peak? Read and vote for the piece that you like., it really is that easy! Enjoy.

Sing That Song Girl…

With The Brits oh, I mean The Bryts (I’m so old school…) held last night, I got to thinking about how powerful and inspiring music can be.

Music connects with me in a way not much else can… except…books!

Music reaches into my soul and shines a light into places that are often left in shadow. Maybe it evokes a memory or a feeling. It plays around with parts of me that don’t surface as often as they should.

Recently I set myself a challenge to create a soundtrack for each piece of writing I either completed myself or read. It has been an entertaining and enlightening experience! My musical taste is eclectic to say the least, and I have spent hours pondering whether a character in one of my short stories is more into rock than jazz! If truth be told I would probably want all of my characters to like jazz, but that’s a whole other blog post!

So, what pieces of wisdom did I manage to garner from my quasi experiment? Above and beyond the obvious fact that both mediums tell stories and the sheer good fun of it all?

I’ve learnt that in order to be brave you must be vulnerable. It could I suppose apply to any art form, but my drugs of choice are books and music. They are as interconnected in me as blood and DNA. They exist to compliment each other not to compete. Buried within the words of both is a truth, shared just with me. The wordsmiths have been brave. They  have laid out their vulnerability for all to see. The least I can do is try to hear and understand.

Happy New Year – Again!

2018 spat me into 2019 before I felt ready! The good news is now I’m ready! So, belated New Year greetings!

I have a plan for 2019, well sort of. I slumped my way towards the end of last year after an action packed Spring, Summer and Autumn. I don’t have a crystal ball but this year is not about puppies or kittens or any other sort of fluffy fur-balls as far as I’m aware. This year is about my writing. Thanks to my wonderful diary courtesy of Charlie at Urban Writers Retreats I can hold myself to account. I shall be either patting myself on the back, or slapping myself around the face, depending on how things are going! I’m happy to report so far no faces have been slapped! 🤣 Happy New Year!

Restoration Reflections

After the week I’ve had (I know it’s only Tuesday) all I needed to do was to lie quietly in a dark room and recharge. After a super early start and a 5-mile walk with the naughty dog, I sat down to write. It was to be my quiet time, my time to complete another round in my (editing) chamber of hell. That reminds me, my third novel, I’m pleased to report is being tweaked and polished… Again! As a distraction, I wanted to work on something that did not involve a red pen and lines.

For inspiration, I looked through projects I’d begun and not finished. Works which for whatever reason I’d put onto the back burner but didn’t burn. Maybe secretly deep down I hoped they could be resurrected. After all, where there’s life there’s hope, right?

I spend the first hour or so on the internet doing ‘research’ (OK… randomly doing anything but writing), then set to it.

I had two lightbulb moments –

‘who the hell wrote this dross?’ and ‘some of this isn’t that bad.’

The dross has now gone to the log basket to be ‘recycled’ – the rest? Well, the rest is being restored and will be looking for a home in the not so distant future. Onwards people onwards…

A Charmed Life ~ The Importance of Character Flaws

Today I’ve been ruminating… Yes, I am feeling quite well, thanks for asking!

A while ago I wrote a blog piece on the believability of character flaws. They are such a big part of a writers remit that I wanted to revisit them. Recently I’ve read a few books where the characters were not believable and it irked me. The books were well written, and the stories could have been so amazing. Yet the characters were not believable. Those books sadly were just words on a page, there was no life in them and I got bored!

Characters need to be equally at home eating a plate of pasta, as running for their lives. Buried deep within the pages they need to live, breathe and come to life.

As a reader, I need to understand them. If I don’t understand them, I don’t believe them. If I don’t believe them, I can’t connect with them and I hang up. I don’t have to agree with them or even like them, but I do need to have a level of understanding.

As I move forward to write book 4 my head is filled with people. Tall people, short people, fat people, thin people – all bouncing through my mind waiting for their moment to connect. Some I’ve already ditched, some I am curious about and some keep me awake at night!

They are ordinary people living ordinary lives…. until something extraordinary happens. How many ordinary lives do you know that are perfectly lived? Exactly!

We, as a species love nothing more than neat little boxes. We want labels on absolutely everything from gender to religion, to leftovers in the fridge (maybe that one’s just me…). We gain a level of security knowing where we are within the world and how everyone else fits into our model.

I, am a walking contradiction. I change my mind more often than not, tell white lies, debate, argue and cry. I laugh at things I shouldn’t and get myself into awkward and tricky situations. Am I perfect – er no! Am I believable? I would like to think so. And that’s the point. It is OK for me to change my mind – I am flawed, it’s part of who I am. It is the same for my characters. They can change their minds too but (you knew there was a ‘but’ coming), as writers, we get so focused on making sure our characters fit into the boxes we’ve created they can become ‘too perfect’. Characters with contradictions, some ‘why the hell did they do that?’ moments grab our attention. Crazy events work well if you understand them. You need events to move your story forward. People are peculiar- not perfect!

Usually, events are character driven, unless you’re a shark, a big great white shark with big teeth! Although, thinking about it, even shark based thrillers require the characters to get into the water!

So lovely people put your characters in the water and watch them swim for their lives! They can swim right?…Cue scary music…

 

Are you ready to get into the water? Photo by Francisco Jesús Navarro Hernández on Unsplash