Pen and Paper vs Technology

I am a technophile.  I have a notebook and two netbooks, a tablet and a couple of Smartphones.  I use apps to make my life easier, so I can record notes and memos.  I save my files to a cloud based solution, as well as a portable hard drive, so I don’t need to worry about losing my memory stick or my computer.  I have ‘phone reminders for virtually everything.  And yet, I still always carry and pen and notebook with me.  Why?

Well, for one thing, a pen and paper doesn’t freeze or crash (yes, the pen can run out of ink, but I usually have more than one.  And a pencil.)  It’s lighter to carry and I can buy notebooks in a variety of different sizes, depending on the size of the handbag I’m using.  I don’t have to worry about logging back in if I’ve closed the cover on it.  The battery doesn’t run out.

And yet, it is far quicker for me to type on a computer than it is to write longhand (especially as I touch type, and am quite fast).  Editing is easier on a computer – those paper pages can get very messy with the repeated crossings out.  And, actually, reading back what’s been written is easier on a computer – my handwriting isn’t neat at the best of times, and when I’m on a train, it’s very hard to make it look beautiful.  Anyway, I’m not trying to write in copper-plate when I just want to get ideas down on paper.

I will confess, though, I’ve never got the hang of voice notes.  I don’t like the idea of being out in public and saying “Jennifer” out loud to get someone’s telephone number, and I like the idea of recording my thoughts out loud even less.  I’m not quite sure why.

So pen and paper or technology?  It’s like the difference between wearing a skirt or trousers.  Wearing red lipstick or pink.  Eating chicken or fish.  All perfectly reasonable choices, at different times.  So, for me, there is no contest.  None at all.  They both have their place with me.


©Susan Shirley 2013

Chasing the Heron

After last week’s fiasco with the heron (more correctly, my failure to photograph the bird when it was close to me) I decided to take my camera into work and see if I could get my own photograph of him.  Friday was such a beautiful day, it was ideal for a stroll around the park.

We walked around to where I’d seen the heron previously.  He was there, but soon flew into the lake to pick up a fish.  Which he did successfully.  I’ve never seen a heron eat a fish before.  Clearly his mother didn’t teach him to chew his food.  Anyway, I waited for about ten minutes and got a few snaps of him, but really struggled with sun on the viewfinder.  When I got back to the office, I found I’d taken some interesting good photographs…  Not what I’d hoped for but interesting nonetheless, and if I hadn’t been so fixated on the heron, I’d probably be blogging about them.

PS I am actually rather pleased with this photograph! xx


©Susan Shirley 2013

To Photograph or Not to Photograph

I was walking around St James’ Park the other day with a friend.  We do this walk sometimes, to get some exercise, and it gives us a chance to catch up with what’s going on in the other’s life, although this was actually the first time we’d been able to meet up for a couple of months.

As we were walking, my friend said to me,

“Is that a heron?”

I turned and looked, and it was.  I even said to him,

“I really should take a photograph.”

But I didn’t.  Why not?  My photographer friends will kill me when they read this.

As non-fiction writers, conventional magazines (and some e-zines) often ask us to provide photographs to go with our articles; and, of course, it is much less expensive to take your own photographs than to (a) pay someone else, or (b) buy them from somewhere.   (It’s also cheaper to get them developed yourself, rather than have to take copies of photographs people have lent you, as I know to my cost.  You can’t always be sure that you will get them back from magazines so it’s best to have copies you can return to whoever was kind enough to lend the photographs to you.)  It’s also quicker to take your own photographs than have to ask someone else to send you theirs.

So why didn’t I take the photograph?  I didn’t have my camera with me, but I do have a reasonable camera on my Smartphone, so I could have used that.  I wasn’t specifically thinking of writing an article or a blog about the park when I saw the heron, it’s true, but the fact that he is featuring in this blog proves a point:  if you see something of interest, take a photograph.

My writing course features a whole module about taking photographs and which type of camera to use.  And since studying that, I really have tried to improve.

One of my work colleagues has even made me a crib card with the centre cut-out (to resemble the viewfinder on a camera) giving me prompts as to what to consider when taking a photograph: foreground interest, leading lines, rule of three, diagonal lines.  I can’t remember the others.  I’ve even downloaded a book on my e-reader to help me improve my photography.  (I’ve actually downloaded about a year’s worth of books, and keep downloading more, so it’s no great surprise that I haven’t read that one yet.)  So am actually keen to try to develop this skill.

I regret not taking the photograph of the heron.  I suppose am just not confident with a camera yet.  I will keep on trying and someday soon, you’ll see photographs included in my blogs.  And I’m going back to the park to see if I can see that heron again…

Love and Light xx

Post Script

Another colleague took this photograph for me, but it’s not as close as when I saw him…Image

©Susan Shirley 2013

Hello Everybody!! First Writer’s Blog

Welcome to my first blog!  And thank you for visiting!  I hope you will enjoy reading this, and those that follow (I would really appreciated feedback at  Please do check back regularly.

So, a bit about me… I am over 21, and, right now, that’s the best you are going to get.  I am female and I live with four cats.  More correctly, I live with them, to do their bidding.  (Cat owners will understand.)   I am also a qualified HR Professional (FCIPD for those in that world) and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.  My full-time job (I still have one at the moment) is in that world.  I have also dabbled in (and when I say “dabbled,” I mean “qualified in” – it was a moment in time – ) some beauty courses and complementary therapies.  (Well,  a girl’s got to try to make a bit of extra money somehow!)  Which means that I can read my book and paint your toenails while giving you Reiki.  (Joke!  I may be a woman but I am REALLY bad at multi-tasking.)

I have always had a passion for reading.  I got it from my father, he was a great reader.  (Strangely, my Mum didn’t read a book until she was 40.  Honestly!)

So, I like reading and I love the whole process of writing.  As an undergraduate student, I wrote so many notes, I must have felled all the Norwegian coniferous forests single-handed.  But writing student notes only satisfied the parts of me that physically wrote, there was no creativity.  Although it did help me recall details for the exams.

I didn’t ever think of myself as creative, but when I discovered the internet and learned how to “surf,” I found a number of creative writing courses.  One day, I must have requested information, because one of the companies started writing to me, and, one day, I signed up for the course.  The rest, as they say, is history.

I  am still studying my course, and loving it.  My goal is to write books and articles and blogs that everyone will love.  The blogs won’t all be about me, this is just an intro.  Let’s see where the music takes us…

Love and light



©Susan Shirley 2013