Tag Archives: Writers’ Guild of Great Britain

Mindfulness

www.susanshirley.myorganogold.com

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I went to a workshop about Mindfulness and how it may help you to focus yesterday.  The first thing I should say is that, although I’d heard of Mindfulness before, I didn’t really know what it was.  The second thing I should say is that I always think I am really bad at any form of meditation, and I almost always try to do several things at once.  And it drives me mad.

 

Why do it if it drives me mad?  Well, I get fed up with waiting for computers to load up to do what they have to do (patience is not one of my virtues) so I start doing other things, and, of course, once I’ve started, I can’t stop.  It’s about focus, though, isn’t it?  I was always brought up to do one thing at a time, and have only learned this so-called multi-tasking as I’ve got older.  Mostly, I am a pretty focussed person, but I can get sidetracked when things delay me, and then I start on something else.  By the end of the day, I find I have started on six things and finished none and I hate it.  I keep trying to pull myself back.  I like completion, the feeling I get when a job has been well done.

 

So I was intrigued when the FEU offered a course called “Improved Focus through Mindfulness.”  By the FEU is the Federation of Entertainment Unions, I get access to its courses and  its website through my membership of the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain.  It’s great because they offer a lot of free courses for a very reasonable monthly union membership fee, and I’m always up for something free, so…

 

Our tutor today was Muriel McClymont, who is an NLP practitioner.  I am fascinated by NLP and becoming a practitioner is on my to-do list, so that was a good start for me.  Muriel explained that mindfulness comes from the Buddhist philosophy of living in the moment.  I know, as I suspect most of us do, that living in the moment is really what we should be aiming for, at least some of the time, but how often do I do it?  Not very often, is the answer.  I am always thinking about what I should be doing next, and I think I am probably not alone in this.  So it was a real culture shock for someone to suggest to me that I should sit/stand and think before I acted.  Moreover, that I should enjoy the sensation of what I was doing in that moment, even if it was just washing the dishes.  Hmm….

beachmeditation

We started with a bit of background and theory then a short guided meditation, just focussing on the now.  I managed that without falling asleep and without causing any kind of mayhem, so that was a result. I usually find meditation an excuse for sleep.   A bit more discussion and then a further meditation – this one lead on to mindful eating.  Muriel had brought along chocolate, raisins, melon and grapes, the chocolate broken into individual square, the melon chopped up, and the grapes were, well, grapes.

As soon as we started this meditation, I could smell the chocolate quite strongly but I chose melon to eat.  No, I wasn’t being noble, but I just know that eating chocolate right now is going to hurt, and the game isn’t worth the candle, so… Muriel then talked us through a process that involved observing our chosen food and feeling it before we could actually eat it.  When we were allowed to put it in our mouths, we had to feel it with our tongues and taste buds before we were allowed to start to chew.  This was harder than it sounds!  We did this exercise a couple of times before we had a break.

meditation

When we came back, after a bit more discussion, we did another meditation, this time with just the sound of a bell (it wasn’t actually a bell, it was a small instrument like a glockenspiel, but the effect was the same) just to keep us one track.

As you might guess, people had their own different thoughts and feeling about all of this.  Me personally?  If I can find a way to stop doing so many things at once, that has to be a good thing (even though I’m tugging at my Kindle right now to look for a meditation app).  I know that none of them get my best when I’m trying to do then all at the same time.  I’m going to give mindfulness a run and see how I go.

Before I finish this week’s blog, one more thing.  My team and I went out for a meal last night, they are all going off in separate directions.  We had a lovely meal in the Palm Court Brasserie in Covent Garden.  Ladies, thank you all, keep your standards high and keep in touch.

 

© Susan Shirley 2015

 

 

The Writers’ Guild and Ghost Writing

I start planning my new blog as soon as the last one is published. Yes, I know, amazing, isn’t it, that planning actually goes into this, but it does. I always have one or two ideas in my back pocket, just in case I get a busy week. I’d even started writing this week’s post before today, but changed my mind about the subject after last night….

There are a few associations and unions specifically for writers in the UK, and back in September, I chose to join the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain. Why this one? Well, the membership requirements of some of the others are very strict (as in you can’t just join because you’ve thought about writing a book, you actually have to have something published) and the costs are greater. After careful consideration, and much time spent on the telephone with Ellie, a lady whom I met face-to-face last night, the WGGB clinched it for me, and I am now a fully paid up member.

The WGGB emailed me a few weeks back and invited me to attend a reception for new-ish members – new-ish extends to people who have joined within the last year. I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet some fellow writers and do a bit of networking, so I thought I’d pop along. Writing is, by definition, a pretty solitary profession.

The venue was a little theatre club in Charing Cross Road, the Phoenix Artist Club, so was easy for me to get to from work, and to get home from. All these little bonuses help, because when one is getting a touch of the last-minute-seconds and looking for a reason not to go, it wipes out two pretty major ones straight away. As an aside, I must find out whether this a member’s only club, because it was actually a very good venue.

I was fortunate enough to start talking to a lady named Sarah, who works at the Writers’ Guild, but she was obviously there to circulate, so I couldn’t monopolise her all night, but she is trained as a journalist., and was very interesting to talk to. Particularly as I have just finished an Introduction to Journalism course with Future Learn. When Sarah went off to circulate, I got chatting to a few other writers, and other members of the Guild, include Ellie, who was actually the lady to whom I spoke on the telephone the day I actually joined up. I would commend anyone who intends to write in any of the conventional media to join, they do a great job at helping screen writers, etc get a decent rate of pay.
Writers are very inquisitive people you know, and the same question was asked of everyone: what do you write? What are you writing at the moment? I admitted that one of my projects is ghost writing, and that I was finding it very enjoyable, when one of the organisers said,
“Oh, you need to speak to that lady over there, she’s a ghost too! A very successful one.”
I made my way over to this lady, after a bit of a detour and she said to me,

“Are you the ghost?”

“Might be,” I answered. Everyone laughed.

Then she and I started to have a proper conversation. Successful is the right word for it. This lady commands at least £10k per book (which is far more than I am being paid at the moment, I can tell you, but then, she’s been doing it for longer than I have). What I did find interesting, though, was that she and I agreed on so many things about that side of the business, and she gets all her clients by word of mouth. Which may mean that ghost writing is where my future lies…

And finally…..

Bloggers are generally a very friendly lot, and I virtually met a lovely blogger who’s recently come over from the States to study her PhD – Gianni W. She has just awarded me the Liebster Award. What, I hear you ask, is the Liebster Award?

 

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Basically, it’s an award given by a blogger to another blogger who has fewer than 200 followers (sadly I fall into that category).

What you have to do is to link back to the nominator, but you can’t nominate them, which is the easy bit; here you go:

https://acrossthehogsback.wordpress.com/

You also have to answer the 10 questions and then nominate some other blogs.  These are the questions that I have to answer, so here goes:

1. What is your spirit animal?  Mm, good question.  A wolf, I think, because they are friendly and intelligent.

2. What one item do you have to have with you every day?  So I’m confined to one then? Mobile ‘phone and lipstick.

3. What song makes you happy every single time you hear it, no matter the circumstance?  I think I’m going to say Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” but not for the obvious reason. I’ve been doing a few NLP courses this year and this is the song that they always play after the breaks, so that you know you need to be back in your seat, ready for the next session. I associate with those sessions now and they make me feel really good.

4. If you could play anyone in a film or on stage, who would it be?  Elizabeth I. I can just see myself with a ginger wig and one of those big old frocks and a ruff!

5. What’s your least favorite word (in any language you choose)?  Why?  Hmm, that’s a difficult one. There are some wonderful words that I like, in a number of languages. But words I don’t like…. There is a word that I believe is derived from the Middle English (although I’m prepared to be corrected) word for wedge. That’s as far as I’m prepared to go here.

6. How do you think a stranger who observed a day in your life would describe you?  I think they’d think I was busy, fun to be around (most of the time), energetic and quite upbeat.

7. What place you’ve never visited do you think you’d enjoy the most? Why?  There are lots of places that I haven’t visited that I’d like to get to see, but I suppose, because this is what I’m planning for my next big trip, I’d have to say New Orleans and San Francisco. New Orleans because I love the jazz, and it’s redolent of “The Big Easy” for me. San Francisco – well that’s Bullitt, but it looks fab, and I really want to go to Alcatraz.

8. What nickname would you give yourself?  Ha ha! I was given a nickname years ago, which, in certain circles, has stuck – Scarybird. That’ll do.

9. If you could choose any famous building/monument to live in, which would it be?  This is a tricky one, because it would have to be in London. I was rather taken with Leighton House when I went there, because it’s such an eclectic mix, but would I want to live there? Hertford House is lovely; I love the staircase there, as well as the art. I think I’ll go for Hertford House.

10. What’s your favorite late night snack?  I’m not a late night snacker. To be honest, if it’s too late, even if I’m hungry, it’s very rare that I eat.

And now for my nominations:

Anne Germain (although I have no idea how many followers she has)
http://maggiesays47.blogspot.co.uk/
http://mummywhiskers.co.uk/

My questions:

1. What’s your favourite film and why?

2. How would you spend your favourite day?

3. Who is your role model and why?

4.  What is your favourite holiday destination and why?

5.  Least favourite holiday destination and why?

6.  If you could choose one superpower what would it be and why?

7.  Least favourite food?

8.  If money and qualifications were no object, what would be your chosen profession and why?

9.  If you were a chat show host, whom would you most like to interview and why?

10. Which uninhabited desert island would you like to be stranded on?

 

© Susan Shirley 2014

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