Monday, September 15, 2008

Autumn: that back to blogging time of year

It’s back to school time. Rosy-cheeked kids with overflowing rucksacks. Conkers. Apples. The faintest tang of bonfires (yesterday we had one, fuelled by white spirit. Not so much the tang of autumn, rather the stench of runways).

For me, it’s back to blogging time. I love this time of year. Funny, I loathed school, but I always loved learning. School had the unfortunate by-product of other pupils, most of whom hated being there too, but for different reasons. I was a swotty child, short-sighted but too vain to wear glasses until I was twelve, hopeless at sport, and really too keen on learning for its own sake to get away without my share of bullying.

But now the best bit of autumn is reading the adult education brochures. Look! I could learn figure drawing (reality check: Art was the only exam I failed at school), ballet (reality check: last done at age eight, something of a two-left-footed fairy elephant), or an entire a new language (reality check: but which one? It used to be easy: French or German. Now it’s about taking a bet on whether Russia or China will be the new superpower. And also new alphabets to learn).
I have signed up for a couple of courses but keep reading to find out which.
Lessons in life

This has been a mixed year so far. It’s now two years since I became a full-time writer and I’ve learned a lot. The biggest lesson has been my natural inclination to become a bit of a hermit, alone with my characters and plots and the cat. That’s not good. Last year was really busy – writing two novels, plus six weeks of lecturing in China and the UK. Too busy. All the fun things I promised I’d do when I had freedom from the 24/7 pressures of journalism/TV work, were abandoned.

As a consequence I got a mild case of the blues, wrote a third of a book I had to abandon because it was tainted by those blues, and put on weight. Not good. But you live and learn: the lesson here was that I was a tougher boss to myself than my old employer ever was. I know how lucky I am to have this chance to work for myself, in an area I’ve loved since childhood. Now it’s time to cut myself some slack and make the most of my fortune.
New term, new attitude

So this year I’ve decided to do things that I had always promised myself but never done: I am going to sing in a choir, and learn more about writing plays. I am also pondering learning the piano which I know is tough as an adult but why not try? You can do anything if you want it enough.

I am also…giggle…running. Only someone who saw me during cross-country at school could appreciate the hilarity of this, but it’s true. I’m following the couch to 5K programme, which the help of Californian Robert Ullrey’s fab podcasts. Why not join me?

So where does all this extra-curricular activity leave the blog? Well, I am going to post when I have something to say about writing: so stand by for Choose your own Adventure and The Proactivity Recipe. I am also about to begin a new book so thought I’d post on the journey from a germ of an idea to publication. Hope you’ll join me. I've also, very belatedly, just discovered RSS so if you want to follow me, you might like to add me to your feeds.
In the meantime, I couldn’t resist adding Caroline Smailes’ Black Boxes widget as there’s so much talk of it on the web. This is unlikely to help with the new book but, hey, fun is my new mantra!

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Blogger Sarah*G* said...

Hello Kate and welcome back to blogging land. I think I may have a look at the podcast you mentioned that is helping you with running. If you have visit my blog you will notice how I have decided it would be a good idea to do the London Marathon. Again. It is another form of procrastination but is a more healthy one I guess.
Oh and before I forget, a friend hijacked my copy of your newest book and has taken it to read. She sent me a text saying she was loving it. Loving it so much she can't put it down!

9:36 am  
Blogger JJ said...

Hi Kate, firstly you're already on my feeds! I'm so pc au fait!

Secondly, you said learning the piano is tough as an adult but Husband tried and failed miserably to learn the piano AS A CHILD. But when he was made redundant five or so years ago, he began to learn to play as an adult. He takes his grade FOUR in a few weeks. He's loving it primarily, I think, because he actually wants to learn. So think positively and you never know, you might love it and want to practice all the time too.

Good luck with the new 'germ' and I look forward to following your blog with it.

10:47 am  
Blogger Mummy said...

Hi Kate, I'm already 'following' your blog - I enjoy reading it!

It's strange but reading this entry is, at points, rather like reading my own mind. Bizarre. I too, am turning into something of a hermit, just me and the laptop....oh and the washing machine :S I LOVE the brochures with all the new adult courses too...I'm attempting Welsh this time round. Probably a good idea living in Wales....with my son in a Welsh language school.....doesn't make it any easier though!

I look forward to reading about the progress of the germ. Although I have, so far, not been published I am about to start work on a couple of writing projects myself so I'll be hoping to watch and learn :)

Good luck with the piano!

11:53 am  
Blogger Sarah Ball said...

Hi Kate,

Your post rang so many bells, I'm glad you're back on track and running too! I did a similar couch to 5K challenge this year and have now seriously got the bug, I still go purple though, which is why I prefer the i-run!
Lots of good wishes for your wip!
Sarah x

2:54 pm  
Blogger Calistro said...

Lovely to see you blogging again Kate!

I know what you mean about that new school term feeling. I've signed up for a life drawing class! I only got a C in Art GCSE but was insanely jealous of the A-Level students who got to draw nude now I'm going to :o)

In January I might learn the guitar but baby class at a time!

I'd love to start running again (used to do it on a treadmill in 2006) but Brighton's just too damned hilly!

3:09 pm  
Blogger Kate said...

Thanaks for the welcome back, girls. Sarah, I think that the podcasts are a bit basic for a would-be marathon runner! But see what you think. And so chuffed to hear about your friend's reaction to the book!

JJ, good to hear about your husband, Grade Four is amazing - I had a taster session the other day and I could almost feel it stretching my synapses trying to play with the left hand, has to be a good thing, eh?

Hello, Mummy! Welsh, eh? That sounds challenging but at least you have lots of opportunities to try it out on people.

Sarah, the going purple thing would be OK if I went purple overall, rather than blotchy purple, like my legs used to playing school hockey in January. How far do you run now?

And Calistro, I tried life drawing once and was useless but then art really is a blind spot for me. Also it's tricky to know how much attention to pay to the, um, bits - too little and you look like you've got hang-ups, and too much and you seem obsessed. I am sure you'll love it, though. Maybe when you do guitar and I do piano we can do a procrastination jam session?

9:10 am  
Blogger Angie said...

Hi Kate, I used to pop by quietly, so it's good to see you back in my rss feed. :)

I'm at home working on my first novel, so I sympathize with the solitary feeling. I try to work outside the apartment at least once a week to combat it, but it's hard being your own boss!

Looking forward to following your progress on the new book.

8:27 pm  
Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Fun is a great mantra. And this is a much better time of year for making resolutions than the traditional 1st Jan.

9:06 pm  
Blogger Jane Henry said...

Hurrah, Hurrah! kate welcome back to the blogosphere. AND I spotted you'd run twenty minutes without stopping on your Facebook page and meant to say well done but forgot, so I'm saying well done here! As one novice runner who did stupidly go from scratch to running the London Marathon in a year, I can heartily recommend running if not the straight to marathon thing which was a bit bonkers. Autumn running is the best I find. Haven't had much running time of late, but you've inspired me again!

11:59 am  

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