Sunday, 19 May 2013


I've got a new hobby.

Well, I say that but only time will tell whether my new activity makes the transition from obsession to hobby. At the moment, if I'm honest, it's still pretty much in the obsession stage but, knowing myself as I do, I can kind of spot the tell tale signs of a sticker.

You're dying to know what it is aren't you? I could keep you there, suspended in irritating ignorance for another paragraph or so but I won't. I'm just slightly reluctant to type its name in case it does turn out to be a flash in the pan kind of thing resulting in my failure to stick at it being writ large across the internet.

But in for a penny and all that. It's quilting. Stop sniggering. I can hear you from here. In fact, and I'm not defending myself here, I've always loved quilts, marvelling at the detail and the amount of work that goes into them. I even had a dalliance with the hobby a few years back but abandoned my efforts as being too fiddly at a time when my life already made complicated by the requirements of small children.

So, when a six weeks beginners' course popped up on Facebook it caught my eye. I mentioned it to a friend and before we knew it we had 'fat quarters' of fabric, flat headed pins and lots of cereal boxes cut into squares of various shapes. Then followed five weeks of cutting, pressing, sewing, chatting and cursing with the net result that I have almost finished my first effort. ( See below for proof.)

Of course, me being me, a small sampler quilt a metre square was not enough and before I knew it I had committed myself to making a double quilt each for all four of the children. I know. Madness! But with that promise came purchasing opportunities. Fabric, obviously. There is an almost overwhelming selection to choose from. Then, there are books that I must have - hundreds of books to choose from each promising to be the only one I'll ever need. And now gadgetry. Scissors just won't do it. I clearly need a self healing cutting board (honestly. You cut into it and it fixes itself!) and an elaborate pizza cutter- like affair to make cutting out endless fabric shapes a breeze.

All I have to do now is maintain my interest long enough to make my purchases worthwhile. This will be a challenge. I do have a variety of previous crafting obsessions hidden, skeleton-like in my cupboards. Well, one cupboard in particular as it goes. I shall begin quilt one tomorrow. It is a simple, vintage-looking affair with fabric and design chosen by my eldest daughter. And I have two years until she anticipates leaving home to go to university so that gives me plenty of time to get it finished. Watch this space!

Sunday, 5 May 2013


Ok. Enough shilly-shallying, prevaricating and procrastinating. The time has come. The moment is nigh.

As you know, I have been wittering on about my writing ambitions for a couple of years now. I bore anyone who shows even the slightest interest in my life and I think won't scoff at me. I even have my aspirations as part of my tagline on my underused twitter account. But until I actually do something about it, it will remain a pipe dream; something to while away the hours day-dreaming about, like a huge lottery win or my ideal home.

And it's not like I don't write. I have three novel manuscripts, ideas for at least two more and numerous short stories all waiting in the wings to make their nerve-wracking debut.

The trouble is, once I send them out to someone who knows their stuff, then my dream may suddenly be thrust onto life support. I know that everyone gets rejected, that it's part of the package and that I have to have a tough skin to survive. But what if I am rejected not simply because my story isn't right for that organisation or won't easily find a market. What if my writing is just plain bad?! Up goes my dream like an explosion in a match stick factory.

So yesterday I went to the Newcastle Writing Conference, designed to help new and emerging writers learn something about the tricky art of getting yourself published. I didn't know what to expect. I dressed up in case I needed to make a good impression, unnecessarily as it turned out. I found my way to the venue and made a beeline for the front row. I wasn't a front row kind of schoolgirl but now that I'm all grown up, I like to see the whites of the speakers' eyes. That way, I can forget what's going on behind me and imagine that they are delivering their talk exclusively for my benefit.

The organisers had put together a stella cast of speakers and I sat there, slightly star-struck, fascinated by the people who were already sitting where I long to be. I could have listened forever but when the day finally drew to a close and I was driving back down the A1, I gave myself a pep talk. I just have to  take a deep breath and plunge into the icy waters, regardless of my fear. I must dress my manuscript in its best bib and tucker and send it off into the world to make its fortune. And I owe it to myself to do that now.

So next time I am self-indulgently boring the pants off you about my literary ambitions, you have my permission to question me on my progress and mock me mercilessly if nothing has changed. After all, dreams are all very well but if you don't chase them to within an inch of their life then is there really any point harbouring them?