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“Scrievin Maist Weel”

Wir scrievin mad, maist still tae dae
Wi fifti thoosan wirds tae fill
Ah’m a fifth doon sae far tae gang
Wi a heart gaun boom, its rare ye see

Fir efter at, mair wirk wi wirds
Tae move at draft an find a hoose
It’s scrievers month an wir writin in fury
Dinna gibber tae me till its a ower

Fir nanowrimo’s a lot tae say
An ah’m daein ma wirk fae morn till nicht
An ah’ll see ye richt soon, na worries fir me
Fir me tae meet at yon bell, sae muckle tae dae

Ah’m up an doon fir wirds tae mak
Wi’ll a mak fun o ane anither
But fan it maks a diffrince
Is fan wir heids r dirlin

Far else culd ye scrieve sae muckle mush
An mak a tale hough an hale
Fir a o us fa mak it tae at winnin bell
Ah’ll raise me dram tae wish ye weel

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NaNoWriMo – What is in it for me?

If you have been watching a twitter or facebook stream in the last couple of days, you will have seen much about a thing called nanowrimo. 

Today is day 2 of nanowrimo.  For my sins, I have decided to take part in this years event.  It is run in November and is based around National Novel Writing Month.    http://nanowrimo.org/

Running from the 1st to the 30th of the month, it says on it’s website that it is “thirty days and nights of literary abandon.”  

I have scoured and searched the website and the informaton gained on it.  The thing that does stand out for me is that around the country they are having #nanowrimo meet ups for support and assistance.  There are also forums on the website to help when we hit the dreaded “writers block,” which we all do.

From what I have seen, there seem to be several types of people who are taking part.

  • Those who take it deadly serious and using it as a publicity awareness exercise.
  • Those like me, taking an idea as far as they can to see if it can be turned into anything worthy of a publishing house.
  • People who fancy the idea of writing a novel, but have never put pen to paper before, and just fancy giving it a go.
  • Those who cheat.

There are probably other groups of people out there, but a lot of the entrants I have come across seem to fall into one of those categories.

What do writers get for taking part in the exercise?

The answer to that lies in the heart of every entrant who is striving to reach their 50,000 words in the month of November – as that is literally the simply target. 

30 days and nights to write 50,000 words of a novel, using your own imagination, experiences and abilities.  Each novel will be different from the next and the amount of words that will be written over the next month in this competition will be staggering.  At the end of the month, those who reach the 50,000 wordcount will “win”.   The prize will be the knowledge that you have written 50,000 words of a novel, and then it is up to you to continue to write, or to begin editing and working on the piece of work you have created.   Winners are also allowed to use a special web badge which shows that they are a nanowrimo winner.

The idea is not to edit, rewrite, or correct grammar in what you are writing.  It is a simple exercise similar to a brain dump of your novel in progress.  How you get to the end point is up to you, and how much time you wish to spend on it.   With a daily goal of approximately 1700 a day to write, it is process that needs a little commitment to get to the end. 

My evening mealtime wordcount is sitting at 4614.  I need to get ahead for a couple of days toward the end of the month that I will not be able to write. 

Why am I doing this?  I don’t really know.  I have had ideas running through my head since I was 15 and up until now I have limited my writing to the more corporate requirements of business in operation.    I am now away from that environment, and with the freedom to express myself in my own words, the urge to write for leisure has begun to bite.

I am away from the more general aspects of grammatical perfecton.  They tell us that it is like riding a bike and is something that you never forget, well believe me, it is not.  I am waiting on a grammar book to arrive for when I decide to take any of my ramblings to the next level.  For now, I am enjoying the baby steps in commiting myself to 50,000 words in 30 days. 

Will I make it – well, only time will tell.  What I will do, is update my daily word count in the sidebar in my blog to remind myself how far I need to go. 

I hope some of you will be joining in this journey.  It is a personal journey, but one which we can share with ease, especially in the blogging world, where we are almost all aspiring novellists, just looking for a way to translate our energies into our work.

I wish everyone taking part the very best of luck with writing and forming their ideas.  We rock.

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Communications Shutdown – Autism Awareness – Not for me.

Today you might have seen lots of posts, or information about the communication shutdown.
It is an appeal to raise awareness of autism and how it affects those affected.  Unlike those of us who are neuro-typical, many children on the autistic spectrum have difficulty communicating their feelings and thoughts in an appropriate manner, and in an appropriate fashion.

The idea of the communication shutdown is to have people who have no experience of autism feel the frustration that communicating with the world entails, by not logging onto facebook or twitter.  They also support the campaign by using the application which will post their involvement to their accounts, and donating to the campaign.

 The truth is, that simply not being in contact with social media is not even a quarter of the way to feeling the frustration that people on the autistic spectrum feel every second of every day of their lives.  The people who are taking part in the shutdown have the luxury of being able to carry on with daily life and take enjoyment from doing the most basic of tasks, and will more than likely simply replace their online activities with something else productive at home or at work. 

A good idea of how frustrating it can be for some of these children is to try reading a book, and imagine that someone is placing a black sheet of paper over the paragraph every 5 seconds as you try to read it, and then see how frustrated you get with it.  I am all for autism awareness, and the money that is raised by the people who take part in the shutdown will be a welcome addition, although I suspect the ones who take part are those who are already involved with autism on some level.

The National Autistic Society in the UK is not an official partner of the project, but wishes them every success.   http://www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/campaign-for-change/campaign-actions/communication-shutdown.aspx

As a parent with two children on the spectrum, and looking like the third is as well, I rely on the NAS for much information and support.   Locally, a group of parents decided to take action on the fact that there were no clubs to take our children to, and we began a local parent led group which provides a play club for up to 36 special needs children.   

While I wish the campaign all the success in the world, the dangers of  large scale campaigns like these,  is that those of us who struggle to provide suitable playschemes and groups on the ground may find it difficult to source funds to help these children on a practical level.   The flip side of the coin is that every pound raised is another pound spent on helping our children indirectly.  It really is a double edged sword. 

My other reason for not directly supporting the communications shutdown is that the internet is my lifeline.  Living with children on the spectrum (or indeed any child with significant special needs), may be a difficult existence.  Twitter, for me, means the freedom to indulge in general chitter chatter that is not practical in daily life. 

Often parents, guardians and carers have little or no outlet for their own frustrations and difficulties.  Friends often fall by the wayside one at a time as their children get older and become more demanding on time and ability to socialise.  If taking away the communications network for even a day could have a potentially devastating effect for even one family, then the campaign is not for them.

On a day to day basis, life here is not easy.  One of my sons is struggling at his new school and may need moved to a more suitable environment.  Being in crowds causes anxiety which translates to disruptive behaviour.   Meltdowns occur on a regular basis, but we are used to those.

Would I change my children if I could.  Yes and no.  I have been asked in the past, and have sometimes heard parents of special needs children say that they would not change them for the world.  I would not part with my children, no matter how hard work they are, but at the same time, there is always a point in every day where I wish that they could have the type of life that a neuro-typical child has.  

You have to excuse the use of the words neuro-typical as I am not really sure how to refer to the children who do not have special needs.  The use of the word “normal” would seem to imply that special needs children are “not normal”, and this is simply not true as they are indeed “very normal” in their world.

I will leave you with that last thought as this is indeed a very tricky subject and one which has raised much talk and discussion today.

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Umbrella’s at Dawn

I have been moved to blog about the growing band of mummies who stand at the school gates with brollies big enough to lose three people in.  I really, honestly and truly do not like brollies of any shape, size or colour (unless they are attached to a buggy and shading a little one’s eyes).  I really do not like them. 

People barge into you, spokes hit you on different parts of your head and body and you try to squeeze past on paths and pavements, and they rarely lift the spokes up to avoid hitting you.  Then there are the head turners, who suddenly hit you with the lower end of the brolly which is behind their head and leaning on their shoulders.

This morning, set the scene, I am trying to lead a very wet dog and three neighbours children though a rainy public path.    That is on top of the two children who belong to me.  We go single file to walk through the mummy chat zone, but I have a problem.  Mummies are lined up right along the path.  There is nowhere to walk, they are blocking the whole path.   There is a lot of noise on the walkway 6 feet up, and the rain is drowning out a lot of noise.  They are also shouting to each other to be heard.

Neighbours child no 3 asks politely if one “lady” will move, no luck.  She asks if another “lady” will move and gets swatted away as if she were a fly on her coat tails.   We can’t see any faces, as they are brandishing large umbrellas which are spoke to spoke as they chat selfishly.    The hackles are rising on the back of my neck as I call all the children back to behind me. 

Then I spot a car drawing up behind us on the road and move swiftly to the passenger door.  Inside is a well known other brolly hater.  I ask her if she has a lovely big brolly in her car, and to my amazement she has.   I leave her car, also with two of her children in tow.

Armed with the large green umbrella, I make my way back to the mummy brolly tent and shove my green one into the spokes of the other mummies brollies.  The onslaught brings a parting of the path, which allows me to get my forming brood through in one piece, and without this mummy getting someone else’s brolly spokes in her eyes.  I politely mutter sorry, sorry, sorry in passing while trying to keep a straight face.  Strangely none of them seems to mind this at all.  

All of which brings me to the absolute loating I have for umbrellas at school gates, or anywhere near a school, and why, for the safety of my eyes, I am going shopping this afternoon for my very own brolly tent.

if you can’t beat em, join em.

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Tech Decks and Flick Trix

It’s that time of year again when shops are starting to take away all the year long staple items on their shelves,and replacing them with glittery, twinkling and shiny temptations for Christmas.

This year though, one of the hardest toys to find locally are the Tech Deck and Flick Trix finger trick skateboards and bikes.  In case you have not come across these little gadgets, they are found in the hands of many a grubby 6 – 12 year old boy in our area.

 

September and October brings a totally different perspective on these little toys from one year ago.  Last Christmas, a generous Santa Clause brought a big box with some generic finger skateboards and a huge ramp to our house.  This box was used for all of 10 minutes and relegated to the back of the toy cupboard.  Fast forward six months and the ramp and boards were being pulled out of the cupboard and fought over by two of my minis’.   The change was brought about by the onset of the new boy craze around town.

The generic finger skateboards were not good enough though, and pester power started.  If they are not the “real” Tech Decks, then seemingly no-one will talk to them.  A birthday or two came and went and some “real” Tech Decks arrived in the house, courtesy of www.toysrus.co.uk, along with a couple of ramps by someone called Ryan Sheckler from www.amazon.co.uk.

The two trickster skateboarders started to practice in earnest, and with miniature screwdrivers at the ready had boards with orange, white, black and yellow wheels, so that they would be good enough to swap at school.   The old Top Gear card craze of early summer was well and truly over.

I thought that I was safe, skateboards in place, ramps in place, different colour wheels in place, and lots of skateboard swapping going on in schools and playgrounds nearby.

The peaceful life was not to be.   September 2010 saw an interest in something that is a miniature BMX bike.  Small comments began to be dropped about how fantastic they were.  On the way out of school, many children were trying their hardest to get someone with a shiny new Flick Trix BMX bike to swap for their “best” Tech Deck.  The smart children of the Flick Trix brigade held onto their prizes and slowly, very slowly, the pester power began again.

With no birthdays between September and Christmas to be able to have one of these beauties for themselves, and being from a family that does not just buy everything that kiddies demand, I was struggling to find a way to end the misery of my children by not being with the “in crowd”.

A flash of inspiration hit me and, and suddenly my boys had a new bedtime routine, with deadlines to achieve.  Once they reached 10 nights of perfect behaviour in the evening going to bed, and keeping their rooms tidy – one of these bikes would be theirs.   It took 15 nights for the deadline to be achieved and the day of reckoning finally came yesterday.  After dropping boys off at school, off to www.tesco.com  I go.   Disaster struck as there were none of the £4.95 boards in stock, and they didn’t know when the next delivery would be in.  Also on the shelves were two bike shop packs at three times the price.  In these packs was a selection of different accessories to add to the BMX, and a box to hold all the small parts.    There were only two of these beauties left on the shelf, and after wrestling with my conscience, I decided to buy them.

On emerging from school, the first question that greeted me was a cry for the BMX with moving parts, working wheels and pedals, and I was really pleased to be able to say that I had one each for them.  The look on their faces was priceless, as I had warned them that I might not actually manage to get my hands on them and that they might have to be ordered.

Fast forward 28 hours and these bikes have not been out of their hands.  I have been pestered and pestered and pestered again to help with changing over pedals, bike seat, wheels, grips, pegs and helping with nuts and bolts.  The enjoyment out of this little toy is immense.

When I first bought the skateboards, I baulked at the price of them, and of the ramps to go with them.  On reflection over the last few months, I can honestly say that they have been excellent value for money.  The amount of hours spent with these toys, fiddling with screwdrivers, concentrating, improving dexterity and the sheer benefits of the power of negotiation in the playground between children of all ages is astounding.

The bikes may only have been in the house for 28 hours, but already the signs of being an enhanced version of the Tech Decks is emerging.   Both toys are on the table, the Tech Decks are still being used on the ramps along with the bikes.   Both the Tech Decks and Flick Trix feel quite substantial for such little things and seem to take quite a bit of punishment.  They are certainly breakable with quite a bit of force, but they do give the feeling of quality when you hold them.

The bikes have taken their place in our household as staple favourites, along with the skateboards and the Xbox.  What will come along between now and Christmas I have no idea, but there are rumblings of a special edition gold Flick Trix, and I am now scouring the internet trying to come across this elusive beast for Christmas day.

Am I mad?  Probably, but I have to admit, I have had many an enjoyable hour with my boys using these toys as they sometimes struggle with the tiny pieces, so it has been a “win win” situation and amoung our “best buys” of  the year.

What are your “best buys?”

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“Supper Time”

Fars thon kids

Jist fit on earth did yon bairns get up tae the day
Tea’s on the table an nae a soul in sicht

Open at windae an bawl aff me heid
Here’s ane o em, na, mak it twa
And richt ower e hill, number three maks it as weel

It’s caul on e table an ah’ve a richt tae scold
Ah’m e mug thit made it

An jist as a’m done wi my tongue
At middle loon pats is belly
An seys yum yum

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“Muckle Ba”

It’s guid ah am, wi it’s fair fine pitch
Ah’ll mak it yet, so dinna say nay
Kickin n spinnin that great muckly ba
Ma heiders are fair
Tho ah need some mair flair

The oors ah spint, wir braw
Ah forgot me tea
Me maw’s een were red

An the day ah focht
For ma place in the team
Ahh sweet, sweet
Nae mair in a guddle

Ah didnae get in
But ah had me day
Ahh sweet, sweet
Nae fash, mair mair

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“Ma Bonnie Yellow Lab”

Yer bonnie n bricht wi yer licht glossy coat
Ye’ve nowt tae say fan ye’re in yer bed
Yer auld n sad when ye teet oot o yer paws
Them auld grey een, with now tae see nae mair

 The dogs o yer youth, are ower the hill, or gone
All braw pups, eence loupin n floppin
Spinnin in tae mud, an treadin thru water
Free wi the birds an chasin roon hares

Settin doon on the grun, like the twa auld wifies we are
We mind hoo we were, an grin frae afar
Ye’re nae ready tae go, an ah’m nae ready tae lose ye
We’ve mair tae share, an ye’ve still nae had yer fill

Oor dreams come tae mend us, an ye see thru yer heid
Wi shut een, ye see clear, an yer limbs stride the air
As yer een and yer nose twitch, yer ears lift up high
An a whisper o dinner, brings ye richt tae ma heel

Ah’ve loved ye sin the day ah bocht ye
An ah’ll niver forget just a that ye gave me
Withoot a doot, a heart sae grand
My bonnie yellow lab, wi a retrievers nose

Then ye’ll be in ma dreams
Till ma last day o sleep
An we’ll baith race tae that river
Eence mair tae the breen