Bingo, Jazz Bands and pigeons. (What does a writer do all day? Part 2)

In my last blog I tried to explain a little bit about what I get up to when I am being a writer. I only got as far as Wednesday in the first week so I’m going to carry on from where I left off and see where I end up.

Working alone has its pros and cons. A lot of this will be covered in my long awaited ‘Office Etiquette’ blog in the near future but one of the main benefits is not picking up everybody else’s germs. On the daily commute watching the runny noses, sitting in the office listening to people sneezing themselves inside out, you know the germs are heading your way. It’s therefore no surprise that I have managed to get to October without catching a cold.

But then I did catch one and it wiped me out for two days.

I used a little bit of artistic licence in my last blog as I talked about the Holmeside Writer’s meeting, I wasn’t there. I was tucked up in bed after devouring my home made Thai Chicken Soup (recipe available on request) which I guarantee will cure all colds.

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My soup took a little while to work its magic and I was still bed ridden on the Thursday. Would I have tried to struggle into work if I had a ‘proper job’? Possibly in the past but I would only have been spreading the germs around and not achieving much. Working for myself meant I didn’t feel guilty about writing off a couple of days and staying in bed.

I was still a bit shaky on the Friday but I had a meeting to attend so I took the opportunity to have a walk out and get some fresh air. The venue was the Media Centre at Sunderland University so I had the added bonus of a walk along the river. Fresh air, a lovely walk and the promise of cake. The perfect tonic.

You may notice a theme developing here; I only turn up at meetings where I get free food. Whilst this isn’t strictly the case, I would be mad to turn it down and the cakes in this meeting were the best yet. The coffee was another matter but we won’t dwell on that.

The meeting was for the ‘Putting Southwick On The Map’ project. I grew up in Southwick and Leg It was predominantly set there so I was excited to be invited along in May to give a little talk.

Without going into too much detail, the project is to digitally map culture in Southwick. I was so fascinated by the project that I have hung around and we’ve covered everything from Bingo to Jazz Bands to football and pigeons. I’ll cover this off in more detail in a future blog but it is something I am excited by and proud to be a part of. Anybody who has worked in an office will know the feeling of dread when a meeting is scheduled in for a Friday afternoon. The fact that I look forward to this says a lot about the project.

So that’s the end of week one. Meetings, projects, it all sounds a bit like working in an office.

I had a 70th birthday party to attend on the Saturday where I was questioned about my unemployed status but, always working, I made a mental note to write a short story based on when my best mate set off the emergency alarm in the toilet.

Sunday was the first event I was attending as part of the Creative Writing Festival. A talk with agents and publishers was a ‘must attend’ for any aspiring writer.  It did not disappoint and I’ll cover it more in my festival review. Luckily I didn’t suffer too much of a hangover from the birthday celebrations and after the talk I decamped to the Ivy House for a debriefing with my fellow writers. (Another theme developing here.)

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On Monday I forced myself to do some writing and wrote a new blog in my cycling series. I feel like I have let myself down a little bit with my blogging this month. Any blogger knows that regular blogging and building momentum is key. At the end of September I had my highest viewing stats by some considerable margin due to some pillock in London deciding that everyone on the Tube should be speaking to each other. The online backlash against him led to an earlier blog from me about how to behave on public transport being widely circulated.

Ideally I would have build on that to increase my followers but I was ‘too busy’. A lesson learned.

The rest of the week seems like a bit of a black hole in my calendar but with two appearances coming up in the Literature and Creative Writing Festival the following week, I was doing a lot of preparation.

It’s a long time since I have done a Powerpoint presentation and whilst I have been a self publisher for a number of years, I did a lot of research and experimenting to ensure that my information was up to date. I’ll possibly do a series of blogs in the future based on this presentation but the research threw up some interesting results that I plan to explore further.

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As my workshop got closer to selling out, I was doing a lot of plugging on social media both for the workshop and my other talk. It’s a side of the job that can’t be neglected. I tend to stick to Twitter and Facebook and I try not to spam people but it is a crucial skill for anyone who wants to be a writer. Without an online presence you will find it very difficult to succeed.

I don’t specifically set time aside for social media engagement but it is something I do on a daily basis. The important bit is the ‘social’ element. If all you are doing is plugging or selling something people will switch off. You have to engage with people first.

And that’s week two over with, a Powerpoint presentation and messing about on the internet. It’s all sounding a bit like working in the office again.


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