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Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Getting what you want

Last night I felt so fed up when I got to work that I wasn't sure who I was more mad with - myself or the girl who told me about my other colleagues job offer, for it turns out that in doing so she has built my hopes up over something that may not even happen. I have since learned that the job in question is not a proper job at all, but an offer of bank staff, which can and often does mean anything. In theory it can mean no guarantee of work at all, but in practise it may turn out to be full time hours as many of our own bank staff work more or less full time. I cannot in all honesty say what I would do in such a situation, probably take the job and do it for extra money to test the water and see if I liked it first, and from what I understand this is what she plans to do.

So, in one fell swoop all my dreams have once again come crashing down. I don't why I continually do this - listening to gossip and rumours, for that is what it is (the girl who told me based her information on a conversation that she had overheard and had no business in telling me or anyone else for that matter) and base all my hopes and dreams around something that is not even tangible. I seem to do this time and time again and never seem to learn that you cannot believe what you hear unless it comes straight from the horses mouth.

Of course there is no one at work that I can share this with, for I never see the girl concerned (the one who has been offered the job). I can imagine how displeased she must be to know that her colleague whom she thought that she could trust would blab her personal and private information to others.

I don't know why she felt the need to do this anyway - in a strange sort of way maybe it was some kind of bonding, for we haven't always got on that well. In contrast I get on with the other housekeepers very well, and can speak to them about virtually everything. If I had the oppotrtunity I would speak the girl to whom the job was offered right now, as I really do need to speak to someone, but since the housekeepers hours were changed, I no longer get to see her, for she does not work weekends. In the meantime, the Head Housekeeper is on holiday, so I will not get to see her either for at least another ten days, or whenever her next weekend in is.

I really am though thoroughly fed up. It feels like I am trapped in this situation - all I do is sit around at home waiting to go to work with nothing to fill my days except an endless round of farming and daytime television with the occasional cup of tea. At least I had some respite when I used to go to the gym, but we had to cancel our membership two months ago as we could no longer afford to keep it going. I do not want to be sitting around the house for weeks on end with hardly any work and then rushed off my feet the next, constantly at their beck and call every time they need extra hours covered.

It seems to me very unequal but I am not sure what I can do, I did after all make the decision to stay and why was that? It was because of the people and because deep down inside I do love this job and want to stay because it makes such a difference - to me as a person and to those whom I serve, and I see this as a service in more ways than one, for the residents too are serving me in terms of what I get back from them. It is not that I am unhappy with the rate of pay that I do get when I am there, more that there are just enough hours being offered. That is why this seemed like such a good opportunity that was heaven sent - I have been putting out to the universe for months that I wanted a solution to be found that would enable me to stay and be better compensated for the work that I do, and really thought that this was it. It is only natural then to be disappointed when I find that this is not the case.

Oh I know there are others that are far worse off than I am and all of that, and I also know that I have a lot to be grateful for, and I do somehow manage to always keep ticking over, but I want a bit more than that. I do not want to have just enough to live on, I want to have a bit left over that I can save and have money in reserve for those unseen things - items that need to be replaced, luxuries and treats and to save for my own future. I am choosing then the wrong word, for I do not want to do this, I need to do this. The universe obviously has other ideas, but I do not have the slightest idea why or what they might be.

My horoscope for October by Sarah Jane Grace indicates that there may be more to this than meets the eye, but it is difficult right now to see it in this positive light. She says that I would be wise to expect the unexpected, and that is certainly what has happened with this situation, for I didn't see any of this coming. Rather than feeling let down and left in the lurch, as I undoubtedly do, I need to see it as yet another opportunity to stand on my own feet, and prove to myself and others than I am in control and that I have the resources to overcome this, and I know that I do, for as always it is all in the mind. I am always in control of everything I think, do and say even if I like to think otherwise (and most of the time I do).

There are several ways to look at this - maybe she should not have done what she did and told me about this job offer, but it has happened and I need to deal with it. Feeling disillusioned and sorry for myself really solves nothing, for I am the only one who suffers and truly feels the pain. The pain though will pass as it always does and something beautiful may still come from all of this. Maybe she will decide to cut her hours at work and do both jobs part time, maybe she will end up with so much work from the other place that in a few months time she does resign, or maybe nothing will change at all, and I am the one who needs to change. I very much suspect the latter, for what I need to change most of all is my mind, to move out of fear mode and back into the present moment. It will all come out in the wash, and it while it may not be the outcome I would want, it will always be the one that I need.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Pimpled, single and seedy - who me ? !

The BBC website, which is undoubtedly one of Britain's best known institutions, and arguably exports, has almost 100 blogs attached to it whose readers are invited to comment on a range of different topics. However, Andrew Marr (former political editor of BBC News) has dismissed most of these bloggers as "inadequate, pimpled and single", and so-called citizen journalism as the "spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night". He goes on to say that "Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people."

It seems to me from my own observations, that he is talking about social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter more than real bloggers. There I see all sorts of comments, some obviously made by drunks, some yes by angry people, who in the heat of moment lose all social graces and communication skills (assuming they had any to begin with). Andrew is right when he says that people say stupid things online because it is anonymous, things that they often wouldn't dream of saying if they were face to face. Face to face communication though sadly in modern Britain, no longer seems to exist. Instead of meeting up to talk in person, or even talking over the phone, people share important news by text or email, where the words are all too easy to misconstrue. I have had first hand experience of this myself, when I used to moderate and at one time administrate, internet based forums.

This type of communication, to my mind at least is not communication at all. While it may be true that some bloggers are angry, late night uneducated drunks letting off steam,the vast majority are decent uright citizens simply voicing their concerns. Will blogging ever replace professional journalism? No, nothing can ever take the place of in depth news analysis which only a trained journalist can write, but when it comes to other issues, celebrity gossip, the insiders view of particular industries, gardening and everyday issues that are part of all our lives, then yes, blogging can be and often is, just as valid a means, if not more valid, of obtaining information, and I mean real information.

Self publishing, which I am of course an expert on, is a case in point. If you wish to obtain information on this, which source do you feel would be more reliable, a book written by a professional journalist who had not actually tried this method, or a blog written by someone who had? I know which I would prefer and find far more authentic, and I think the majority of other self publishers would agree with me. The same could be said of anything that you wanted to find out more about - which stereo or mobile phone to buy, which hotel to stay at, blogs written by those who have tried these things for themselves are infinitely more reliable and better informed than articles written by journalists who are given these things for free and simply asked by the manufacturer to write a review.

Is Andrew then right to attack bloggers in the way that he does or does he need to open his ears and eyes a little more to the real world - I suspect a bit of both. Yes there are some angry people out there (and most may well have good reason to feel angry), but this does not excuse their behaviour. On the other hand, there are also some very good blogs written by some very good and responsible bloggers. If he doesn't like a blog and the comments that it attracts, then he can always like everyone else, hit the escape key (or maybe the beep should just have better filters so that comments such as these don't appear inthe first place)!

Saturday, 9 October 2010

The universe does listen after all

After weeks if not months of agonising over what do with my job, and having finally made the decision to stay and put out to the universe that a solution needed to be found that would enable me to stay, it seems like my request may at last have been heard. While I was cleaning the laundry room earlier this morning, my colleague came in and informed me that another of the housekeepers, has obtained another job. I know she has been looking for a while, as I discussed it with her, and what she wanted to do, and now it seems that like me she has also made a decision, the opposite of mine, in that she needs to go.

This is good for me, since it will now pave the way for me to get the hours and the long term security that I need. Of course I cannot jump the gun and speak to the boss until I have confirmed this with the girl concerned, for the information was after all second hand. Unfortunately I will have to wait a while for that, since as of last week, the full time housekeepers have been changed so that I no longer see her. I used to see her each week when she did her long day, but long days are now not so long, so she finishes at 4.30pm half an hour before I come in. Something tells me however that the Care Home Manager will speak to me about this anyway though, as soon as things are confirmed and she has handed in her notice. Again this may not be for a while, since her new employer will need to obtain CRB clearance, which can take some time. It seems though that all being well, I will be a full time employee by Christmas.

What a huge relief this will be in so many ways - I will no longer have that constant worry about finances and being able to afford things, and will once again be able to save. Neither will be running around going from job to job, working for a few hours at a time doing washing up for minimum wage just to earn a few extra pounds. There will be no more split shifts either of sitting on my bum in the staff room for 3 hours as the Manager in her own words "cannot justify paying me for those three hours in between". I won't be sitting around bored at home anymore either, with nothing to do but play Farmville, yes this make a really big difference to my life, in many very positive ways. All of this goes to show that good things do indeed come to those who wait, and the universe does indeed listen as well.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Anyone want to buy a book?

Today I am going to write about something that I have not written about for some time - my experiences as a self published author, and the problems associated with book promotion. I have not actively promoted my own work, Genesis of Man, for over a year now, in fact probably nearer two years, since after my return to work in retail in November 2008, it became more and more difficult to do so. I found out the hard way that the two things for the most part at least, are just not compatible. For those who work in the service sector, as I did and still do, it is well nigh impossible to concentrate on both your paid job and your book, as at the very time that you should be at home promoting your work, by writing press releases, phoning book shops, arranging book fairs, talks and signings etc, you are at work promoting other peoples wares. Writing, not to mention promoting a book, takes time and costs money. How are you to this on the ever dwindling royalties that authors now earn? The majority of authors, unless that are married to or in a relationship with someone famous, or have other independent means, cannot do this and have to find some other means of making money, which inevitably takes them away from what they love. It is a struggle and a dilemma that authors the world over have to face, and one that spelt the death knell on my burgeoning career before it had even got off the ground.

The thing that has prompted me to write about this today is another anomaly within the writing world that I found incredibly frustrating during the two to three years that I was promoting my work, and which has re-surfaced back into my consciousness again this week, prompted by a link to a free review site for print on demand works which I was notified of my another blogger whose site I used to read on a regular basis. This anomaly is the fact that there are far more resources (and far more of them are free) for fiction writers than there are non fiction.

Think about this for a moment if you will - what are the typical resources that writers use to perfect their craft and promote their wares - writing courses, networking via the Internet (blogs, peer review sites, forums and so on), radio, television and the press. Now some (in fact most in my experience) would say that non fiction is easier to market because the market is more clearly defined, and in many cases this may well be true, but they are assuming that the work in question can be defined in the first place. When that work (as was and is the case with mine) falls into three or even four categories then what do you do? It as my friend described the promotion of fiction, like throwing paint at a wall.

Actually though I disagree with his observation and his views that promoting non fiction is easier. In my experience it is in fact the opposite. It is a fact that the majority of resources that are open and available to fiction writers are closed to those who write non fiction. Peer review sites for example - there is to the best of my knowledge just one that accepts non fiction and even then without a separate Editor, blog sites - again most state fiction only, writing magazines are full of articles on how to write love scenes, how to write thrillers, write for the stage blah, blah, blah, but try finding an article on how to carry out academic research and gain access to the British Library archives or some such and it is nowhere to be found. The closest I have ever come to a writing course for non fiction writers was one in journalism, which is hardly the same thing (although I am an amateur journalist too as Editor of my village newsletter, so the course was useful from that point of view).

It all though leaves a very sour taste in the mouth and makes you think why? And more to the point what is the point, because I cannot see one. Even with forums it is the same, and I find doors slamming shut in my face - one in particular that I joined a few years ago, is a case in point. It is supposed to be a site for book lovers, but the non fiction forum is rarely used at all. When I contacted the owner about getting my book reviewed, I was told "We will get back to you". Two years later I am still waiting, and in the meantime, fiction writers who joined five minutes ago have their work reviewed and heavily promoted by free. It is just not fair.

I suppose though the point I am trying to make is that it is precisely the fact that there are more resources and more avenues for the fiction writer to try that makes it easier to promote. With non fiction, once you have exhausted all the avenues that are open to you (contacting magazines, specialist websites and forums etc, the press and so on) and they have done their piece or more likely not bothered to get back to you, what do you do then?

The fiction writer however has endless opportunities to play with, new sites and new avenues are constantly springing up to cater to their needs and help them with whatever it is they need, and all this despite the fact that at least two thirds of the books published in the UK are not fiction at all! Surely it should be the other way around and the the resources should be directed at us, but no, not a bit of it. Oh well, I guess I can't change people's attitudes, so maybe I should start a site of my own to try and address these issues. The trouble is I am too busy earning a living. Anyone want to buy a book ? !

Monday, 4 October 2010

Back from Cornwall

On Friday the first day of October, the south of England received around a quarter of its usually monthly rainfall, and this was the day that I chose for driving back from Devon - as it turned out, not a wise move, as it took 8 /12 hours against the usual 5. I thought I was never going to get home. As soon as I thought I was getting somewhere, the traffic seemed to slow again, and by the time I finally got in, I was tired, miserable and thoroughly fed up.

Still, it was worth it. The weather up until the day before had been fantastic. In fact it is hard to believe now that just last Wednesday I was sunbathing at Bedruthan Steps, one of the more stunning North Cornish beaches that I was lucky enough to be able to visit.

To try and keep costs down, I stayed at youth hostels. There are plenty in this part of the country to choose from, and the three I chose were Boswinger, which is in the south near St Austell, Tintagel and Westward Ho! which is just across the county border in Devon.

The drive out was long and tiring, along for me, an unfamiliar route, but now I have done it once, I will remember the way for next time. I usually find that I only have to go a place once in order to get my bearings, and remember my way around sometimes years after that initial visit. Boswinger is a small village near Goran Haven in the south of Cornwall, not far from the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which is of course the main reason I chose to stay there. Sunday then was spend exploring the different routes around the garden, and eating a delicious lunch of baked potato brushed with olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper with Cornish Yard (a Brie type cheese made with nettles), coleslaw and salad, all of which (apart from the cheese) was grown on site. When I returned to the hostel later on that day, I drove to nearby Hemmick beach, which is less than a kilometer from the hostel along a very narrow and very steep road. It was a a beautiful beach, but on the way back I met two cars trying to go the other way. Reversing round all those bends to the nearest passing place on a road barely wide enough for one car proved hairy to say the least, and is not something I would do again - I have a mental note to walk to the beach next time.

Monday was spent driving across Bodmin Moor via Golitha Falls and the village of Minions, which is the highest point on the Moor and close to the Hurlers Stone Circle and various other ancient artefacts. I had lunch in a lovely little tea room in the village and went back to the car to read before continuing the journey on to Tintagel. It was a lovely day, the scenery was stunning and I was in no hurry to get the hostel, which didn't open until 5pm anyway.

The directions said that it was perched on the cliffs near the south west coastal footpath at the end of a very rough track, and they weren't kidding. The track turned out to be a path strewn with rocks and gravel, and I found myself wishing for the first time, that I had a four wheel drive. I managed though, navigating the hairpin bends to arrive at the most beautiful location imaginable. I knew I was going to have an amazing few days and I wasn't wrong.

The weather was variable throughout my stay in Tintagel, but I managed to see all the sites - King Arthur's Castle, The Old Post Office and of course the various shops around the High Street. On one wet and windy lunch time, I treated myself to a delicious plate of scampi and chips. I then drove into Port Isaac, where the television series Doc Martin is filmed, in the company of an Australian lady named Barbara and bought some geranium flavoured Turkish Delight and a CD by local group, Fisherman's Friend.

The following day I went to Bedruthan Steps, around a hour and a half's drive from Tintagel, and not far from Newquay. There are probably quicker ways to get there but I was not confident at finding my way through all the small villages and so chose to stick to the main roads going, through Padstow. It was an amazing day and so warm - I removed the legs form my convertible trousers and walked up the beach for around an hour, stopping every now and then to take pictures of the surf and the huge boulders littering the beach, and supposedly used as stepping stones to the sea by the giant Bedruthan, hence the beach's name. It really was a beautiful day and probably the highlight of this trip.

Unfortunately it was over all too soon, as the following day I headed off out of Cornwall and back towards North Devon, en route for home. The last night was spent in the very cosy and by youth hostel standards, luxurious hostel at Westward Ho! I was the only guest and so had the place to myself - what luxury and how nice to was to sit in the conservatory watching television while listening to the rain, and to go upstairs afterwards for a long hot soak in the bath (the only hostel I have ever stayed at that actually has one). The following day it was back in the car for that long drive home.

It was a tiring week in some ways, with lots of driving (around 800 miles) but one that as ever stretched the boundaries and blew away the cobwebs of the preceding weeks. Of course now I am home, things continue pretty much as before - thankfully none of the residents at work died during my absence, but it is coming up to that time of year, so you do start to wonder who might be next. I would rather not think about it, but the thought is there.

My next time off now will be in November, this time just for five days, and then again in January, before I hopefully head off back to Lundy at the end of February. I need the wide open spaces and the solitude and sense of familiarity that only the island can bring. At the moment the cottage is free from Valentines Day onwards towards the end of March, so Is shall probably book as soon as the next credit card statement is processed, around 15th.