Monday, 15 July 2013

AlphaPoem of the Week - Mrs Darwin

As I've resurrected my blog, it's time to resurrect my Poem of the Week.

Here's a quickie from Carol Ann Duffy's The World's Wife - a collection of poetry written from the point of view of the female consorts of many great male figures.

I'm reading a book about genes, evolution and natural selection at the moment, so this appealed.  Hope you enjoy it!

Mrs Darwin   by Carol Ann Duffy

7th April 1852
Went to the Zoo.
I said to Him –
Something about that Chimpanzee over there reminds me of

Friday, 12 July 2013

AlphaThoughts: Finding Your Fire

Have you ever wondered what to do with your life?  Or whether what you're already doing is really what you're meant to do?

If you have, welcome to the club that includes me, all the other budding writers out there, and...oh...only every other human on the planet.  If you're lucky enough to have found the thing you love to do, you believe you're meant to do it, and you're already out there living it, I wholeheartedly salute you.  You have reached the pinnacle of self-actualisation in the career world.  And you won't get much out of this post, so feel free to leave us at this point.  See ya later.

Ok, so for the 99.9% of you who aren't quite there yet, this is for you.

We often have pretty fixed ideas about what we want to do with our lives, what we love, and what we're good at.  For instance, in an early post on my blog I wrote that I have wanted to be a writer since I was a little girl, though that's not strictly true - many days I did want to be a writer, but on other days I wanted to be an actress, and on still others, a vet.  At one point I asked my mum whether there were any princes around my age at Buckingham Palace, thinking the job title of 'Princess' would suit me rather well.  Sometimes I amuse myself wondering whether a 7-year-old Kate Middleton might have been asking her mother the same question at the same time.  How different life might have been for me...

I digress. What I'm trying to express is that very few of us are ever 100% sure exactly what career is right for us - though we may be categorically sure that the one we're currently in is definitely not what fires us up.

So, if you're hoping to be a writer, or a vet, or anything else, how can you know before you take the plunge that you're diving into the right pool? can't.  You can never be sure.  But you can listen to what your mind is telling you day after day.

For instance, I was in a meeting today for my day job.  We were discussing a particular problem that was proving difficult to solve.  I was fairly engaged in the that's my mind telling me I quite like problem-solving.  Whoop-de-doo.

Then the solution arrived, and part of it involves writing management scenarios about imaginary organisations and people.  Suddenly, I was practically kicking my boss under the table while the others talked, mouthing 'I want to do it' and jiggling up and down in my seat like I had ants in my pants.

Does this mean I want to write management scenarios for the rest of my life?  Hell no.  But if I get that fired-up about writing creatively in my day job, it gives me a teeny smidge more confidence that writing fiction is the right choice for me.

Another little smidge?  I wrote most of this post on the train journey home, and was gutted when we reached my stop and I had to put my phone away mid-flow.  And now here I am finishing it the second I'm in the door, while AlphaCat wonders why he hasn't been fed yet...There's another vote for how much I love creative writing of any kind.

So if you have no idea what you want to do, or you need reassurance that the path you're striving for is the right one, look out for little clues like these in yourself.  When you sit up, your pulse quickens and everything but that idea starts to fade from your awareness, that's how you know you've found your fire.  If it seems as mundane as management scenarios, deconstruct it - why does it make you excited?  What does that tell you about what path would be right for you?

What about you?  Have you encountered little clues that the path you're on is the right one?  How do your smaller passions hint at the bigger picture of what you're meant to do?

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

AlphaThoughts: I'm back, and here's why it will stick

Well, my 'new leaf' two years ago rather withered and died on its stem.  So here I am, back with a whole new plant.

I could say that the reason I haven't blogged for two years is that life got in the way - wedding planning, wedding, honeymoon, moving house, getting pregnant etc.  But who has a life that doesn't get in the way - and come to that, who wants one?

The real reason I haven't been blogging is, I think, that pesky internal editor again.  I stopped drafting my novel (AlphaBook 2) at around 22,000 words because the stupid editor kept telling me it was no good; and as Alphabet Soup charts the progress of writing the book and there was no progress to chart, I got embarrassed and crawled away to hide from it all.  I figured I had enough beautiful things happening in my life to occupy my time, and off I went to do them.


So why am I back now?

I'm having my first baby in October / November this year, which is something AlphaBloke and I have wanted for a while and we're both looking forward to welcoming the AlphaChicklet.  This has got me thinking about the things I wanted to achieve in life, like writing a novel.  I always thought I would get these things done or substantially underway before I had children, and I feel a little sad that I've let everything get on top of me and haven't accomplished these things yet.

Then a week ago I started reading Be a Free Range Human by Marianne Cantwell, a wonderful book about breaking away from the office 9-5 and building your own 'free range' career by doing the things you love.  Please see Marianne's excellent blog here for more information - safe to say this AlphaChicken is already a convert to her free range flock.  I am only halfway through the book, but have done every reflective exercise to try and figure out what I love to do, what I bring to the table, and what lifestyle I want to have.  I've realised how much I loved blogging, how much I miss it, and am starting to understand how it might help to support a free range lifestyle for me once AlphaChicklet comes along.  One of the first missions the book sets is to do a 'Play Project', something to explore a possible career idea (in my case writing) in a short project form, with definite deliverables, and to be completed in a month.  So here's mine - in a month from today, on August 10th, I will have completed at least eight blog posts on any topic.  It does not matter whether anyone reads them or comments - what matters is that I am flexing my writing muscles and testing whether this is really what I love to do.  I've already got a list of possible posts to work on, and I'm raring to go...

So my blog is back - a whole new plant in a free range garden.  I'm so excited to be setting off on this journey.  Join me for the ride if you like!