Friday, December 17, 2010

Reflections: The Future

This will be my last post of 2010. I'm going to enjoy the holiday season with my kids, my mother and my friends.

I don't know what next year will bring, no-one does. All I know is that it will be a happier one for me.

I have my own place which I share with my son and next year we'll settle in even more and try to get know the neighbours.

I'm looking forward to expanding my writing. I have spent most of the year writing book reviews for Hub and will try and get published in other ways and in other places.

Next summer I will take over the vice-chair role of the drama group and I'm looking forward to taking part in the two planned plays: A Chorus Of Disapproval and Dancing at Lunaghsa.

In the new year I shall return to my abstract art. There are a couple of pictures I've been working on that I want to finish and a few ideas I want to try out.

I also have some ideas for videos that I want to make. Two are based around songs and one is a comedy that I will need my son's help with. One of the songs will require me to do some line pictures.

I also want to start keeping a book of comedy routines with a view to using them on Britain's Got Talent, or just for my own amusement. I may make some stand-up comedy videos using them.

How much of this will come to pass I don't know, but I have plans.

Have a great Christmas and I'll see you in the new year.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reflections: Keeping Focus

As in life, writers must keep their focus on what needs to be done and ignore the siren calls from the things that want to be done.

As I head toward the end of the year I am thinking about what I want to do next year.  Is there anything in my life that doesn't need to be there?  Over the last two years I haven't had much time to attend my writer's group due to being on stage so much.  Sad to say I haven't missed it that much either.  I'll have to give it some more thought over the holiday period and see what I think in the new year.

This may appear to be a backward step in terms of writing, we all need to have someone knowledgeable to cast an eye over our writing.  But what if you're not getting that eye?

I haven't submitted anything to the group for a while due to the plays, nor have I written much.  I have to be honest and say that part of the reason for me not writing is the less than stable year I've had.  Will it be better next year?  I don't know, which is why I hesitate to step away from the group.  I do know that I will not be stepping away from acting and if it comes to a straight choice, then the group will go.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Reflections: Lessons From Acting

First night of the panto...and boy was it fun.

We all missed lines, but that was even funnier.  I got a headache after being hit on the head so much.  One of our twins was sick so one of the cast doubled up.  None of us sung in tune.

We had had nearly 40 people in the audience, although we only expected 15, and they were superb.  Joining in with the songs, booing and hissing at me and, sadly, cheering the hero.

There are some cast members missing from this photo and with all the sets and props the stage is now a bit smaller.  You can imagine how cramped it is at the end.

Having been in four plays in the last 18 months I have to say that being part of this group has done me the world of good.  I have had something else to focus on rather than my divorce and the search for a home, something positive.  The best lesson, among many, that I have learned from acting with this group is that sometimes things go wrong that are not your fault.  You still suffer from them, you still have to fix it, but it isn't your fault.

Last night, the actor playing one of the twins pulled out due to sickness.  No fault of his or the cast's, but we all had to fix it, and we did.  Whether or not he gets there tonight we don't know, but the woman playing Marguerite (Yellow dress on the left had side) stepped in and is now playing both roles.

After years of being told that everything was my fault, it's a refreshing lesson.

What have you learned this year?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Reflections On Life

Yesterday I attended a funeral for someone I've never met.  His wife had only seen me once and that was when I was three weeks old: and probably asleep.

The man was my mother's uncle, Tommy Atkins, aged 97.  He and his wife, Pearl, had been married for 69 years and lived in the same house for 67 of those years.  In his time he'd been a merchant seaman and a firefighter in WW2.

It was Pearl's wish that we did not commiserate, but celebrate his life.  So we did.

Although I had never met any of the people before, including two of my mother's cousins, I did two of the things I do best:  I listened and drank tea.

Tommy was a remarkable man.  Still driving until a few years ago and still doing DIY until his late 80s.  He must have had some harrowing experiences during the war, trying to put out fires whilst bombs were falling.  As for his experiences at sea and in ports around the world, I can only guess at what he saw.

His memories died with him, but the memory of the man didn't.  It will live on in those who knew him well and in the stories that will be told for a number of years by his family.

One day that will happen to me and this year I have begun to see that I probably have less life in front of me than behind me.  If I live till I'm 70, 23 years left.  That's long enough.

As I sat through the service and listened to the songs that had been chosen (Heart of Glass by Blondie being one of them) I wondered what song I would like to be 'my' theme tune.  The song I keep coming back to is 'One More Arrow', by Elton John.  I don't know how people will remember me, this is how I hope people will remember me.



He said I want to grow up
And look like Robert Mitchum
And I hope that when I'm gone
There'll be some say that I miss him
He must have been romantic
He must have sensed adventure
And I feel the steel of his strong will
In the frame around his picture
And he's one more arrow flying through the air
One more arrow landing in a shady spot somewhere
Where the days and nights blend into one
And he can always feel the sun
Through the soft brown earth that holds him
Forever always young
He could have been a boxer
But the fight game seemed so dirty
We argued once he knocked me down
And he cried when he thought he'd hurt me
Strictly from the old school
He was quiet about his pain
And if one in ten could be that brave
I would never hate again
One more arrow
One more arrow
One more arrow
Forever always young

Friday, December 03, 2010

More Reflections On The Past Year

I sent off another book review yesterday and got a response within a few hours.  That is not always the case.

There are times in every writer's life when there are no phone calls, no emails and no letters.  Sometimes it can be weeks or months before you hear anything.  With the book reviews for Hub, most of the time I hear within a day or two, but sometimes it takes longer.

In the summer, I hadn't heard from them from for a few weeks.  When the website went down I thought that it had gone out of business.  A week later I received an email apologising for the delay and an explanation.  Too busy and the ISP was giving them grief.

I took heart from that, because sometimes in publishing it's not you that's at fault, but the publisher or some other agency.  Never give up trying.

On other news, we had our final rehearsal last night.  On Sunday we have a technical walk through, then two dress rehearsals on Monday and Tuesday.  Thursday is the opening night.  EEEEK! I have my maniacal laugh fully prepared, my evil look and my creepiness.  I will also partly shave my beard on Thursday to give the mutton chops my character needs to look all Victorian.

As it's Friday, here's the link to Oddbox.  Fantastic Ice sculptures and a dog that likes to eat microphones.  Oh, and a lawn mower that doubles up as a boat.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Another Year Nearly Gone

Things are finally settling down in my life.  I know this because I did my first lot of ironing for several months today. 

Before today I just couldn't work up the energy and wore scruffy stuff that, being a bloke, I could get away with.  I've also got onto changing my address with several companies and on my driving license as I now have a place of my own.

After over a year of sleeping on sofas and with most of my money problems, the severe ones, behind me, I'm looking forward to next year.

About the only thing that has kept me sane over this period has been acting in an amateur drama group.

So, as 2010 winds down, I'm going to reflect on the past year over the next few weeks.

To start with, it's been a good year for my writing.  I haven't done much on my novel, or written any short stories, but I have been writing a lot of book reviews.  Last December I submitted some to Hub Magazine and after a few of them were published, they asked me to become one of their in-house reviewers.  I've had several books sent my way and have reviewed them all, to the point where I am considered one of the more reliable ones.  I've also been asked to review a couple of TV programs for them.

This, I think, has given me a platform from which I can carry on next year with other writing.  Hopefully, I can get a short story or two published in Hub, but if not, the fact of being published will certainly help when I submit elsewhere, or if I finish my novel and start ending it off to agents or publishers.

What's your year been like?