Saturday, 18 August 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : GUEST POST - MY REBIRTH AFTER 37 YEARS ...: My name is Marianne Orlando and I’m a freelance illustrator from Massachusetts, and I also work a full-time job as a proofreader for ...


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : A CHANGE OF ENVIRONMENT: Up at the narrow boat in Warwickshire because we need a change of environment. We're not very good at being at home for any length of ti...


Up at the narrow boat in Warwickshire because we need a change of environment. We're not very good at being at home for any length of time!

This summer with the twins

     Yesterday morning attended our writing group - Bordon Writers (Hampshire, UK) - and enjoyed it as usual, including poetry, short fiction, and anecdotal stories. Excellent quality.  Six of us. All different styles and a lot of humour. Fabulous. We're always looking for new members, so if anyone's interested in joining us (a sense of humour obligatory), please let me know.

     This morning visited Compton Verney in Warwickshire. Well worth it. Magnificent Capability Brown landscape and fantastic mechanical and folk art exhibitions and fantastical automatons in the Marvelloulous Mechanical Museum based on Rowland Emett.

Inspirational! Particularly loved the pirate ship in a sardine tin by Rodney Peppe and most of the designs of Dorothy Marx, although I discovered that she was the designer of the ghastly textiles that cover the seats on the London tube. Very relaxing. Not. I also discovered that Compton Verney was used by the armed forces during the war, and that the stone sphynxs on one of Robert Adam's bridges was used for target practice. *Haw haw!* (Robert Adam and Capability Brown collaborated on Compton Verney). 

Compton Verney 

     Back to the boat for plumbing maintenance by Himself and catching up with blogging for me. We don't have WiFi but we do have a signal from a local mast. Also watch aerobatics by single engined small plane overhead. We see that a lot here.

     I'm unsubscribing from newsletters like bonkers. The ones I subscribed to when I began recovery from depression are going. Nothing personal, bloggers and newsletter writers. Just need to reduce the number of Gmails I get, which are bordering on insane! I'm going back to 2016 and see that there are life coaching and artistic ones I no longer read and forgot I still had! 

     This is my endeavour to make more sense of the mental health blogs I want to contribute to and the creatives I want to collaborate with. Difficult when one is so horrifically disorganised, as I tend to be. Trying to get to grips with that. So my apologies to anyone who's waiting to hear from me or for posts from me.

     Also deleting outdated copies of novel chapters, hung onto because I was paranoid of losing any! Hopefully that'll make more sense of that as well. *Sigh*. I think I'm getting there.

     Meanwhile, decorating the spare bedroom in our endeavours to prettify the house (which is gradually working. The bathroom  and conservatory are a-m-a-z-i-n-g. Yes - must post before and afters, I know!). Wall papering almost done, except that the paste I used liquified, then went off, smelling disgusting, after a week away from home. *Gugh*. Gloss painting as we speak. 

     Plans for the future? Imminently hosting a mini Open Mic at our pad, using the awning of our western camp, and folks dressed up as cowpokes or whatever else they fancy. (I still want to be a pirate!). Our writing lot come and read out short pieces of their writing, sing and play instruments... whatever rings your bell etcetera. A great way to build confidence, with an intimate group of friends. 

     Twin granddaughters are coming to stay for a while, then a cruise on the boat. After that my 65th birthday trip to Venice, lunch with writing friends and party with Sid Valley Cakes extreme cake - courtesy of daughter of old friends) - with son and daughter and her family. Also to celebrate the five years since starting the treatment that cured my depression and anxiety. Never celebrated a birthday like this before! Ever. Except perhaps my 21st, which was okay.

A Sid Valley Creation

     What else? Husband has arranged for us to drop into Farnham Archers Club in September. I've gone on about it for so long but kept putting it off. Very apprehensive. Now he's coming with me for moral support and might give it a go himself. I know. He's amazing! 😃

Farnham Archers 

Visiting Gran Canaria next January. Lots to look forward to such as other trips abroad and other plans afoot, including a hoped-for art exhibition collaboration with my sculptor tutor friend. 

That's it for now, I think! How're things going for you guys? 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : The Quick and the Dead

CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : The Quick and the Dead: I watched The Quick and the Dead last night.      'Okay. A-a-a-nd…?.' Nothing particularly special about that. But for me ...

The Quick and the Dead

I watched The Quick and the Dead last night.

     'Okay. A-a-a-nd…?.' Nothing particularly special about that. But for me it was a breakthrough, mentally. I watched a western, virtually the whole way through (I missed a little at the beginning). I haven't watched a western for over ten years, probably more. I couldn't. It would've hurt. Allow me to explain. 

     You may or may not be aware that the wild west is one of my favourite hobbies/interests, and has been from my secondary school days. I saw Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at the cinema, watched The Virginian, Alias Smith and Jones, and The High Chaparral on the telly (my westerns had to have humour). I wanted to be a cowgirl, at least a western gal in buckskins and holster. And I am, and that's what I became as I acquired the kit. I joined The British Westerners Association and grew to know other westerners and about events. Eventually, we joined living history camps for around five years. Throughout that time I was struggling with depression and anxiety. 
     I desperately wanted to be a part of the western scene, but I didn't really discover it and get involved until I became depressed. At that time, too, I had started writing my epic western, my protagonist being the woman I wanted to read about and see in a film (Sharon Stone is the closest role model for my character that I've seen, although many other westerns featuring a female lead have turned up, with I'm rather pleased about). 
     And then depression and anxiety began to infringe upon my hobby. If I read or saw a western, I would be sad and hurt at the lack of female role models to such an extent that I could no longer watch or read anything to do with the west. My stupid brain was telling me that women had no part in the west. It wasn't fact, it was my subconscious. And I became intensely, tearfully anxious before going to western camps. Who would be there? Would they accept my character? That's what it had felt like. Rubbish, of course, but at a few - and it was only a few - of the events I'd been to I had met people who had criticised my character and pulled disdain over her/me. I was furious, and those few occasions had been engrained in my mind. I stopped camping.

     On my road to complete recovery, I was taught Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, which challenges negative thought patterns. Out of all the events we'd ever attended - many - countless - just how many had had negative repercussions involving people? Two, three, maybe four at most. I was also taking my new medication - Mirtazipine - combined with my Venlafaxine, the dosage increased, and I was getting better and better, until I began to feel confident - a strange, unknown, feeling. Anxiety was slowly dissipating.

     Eventually, two years ago, I attended a camp. I was anxious, but nothing like I had been in the past. And I did enjoy it, to a certain extent. But then I appreciated that, truthfully, I'm not a group person. I'm not someone who can turn up to these events and know that I'm going to enjoy it. It always depends on the people. And usually, they're good. Fine. But I began to realise that it wasn't depression that was necessarily causing the anxiety, it was simple, real anxiety attending an event that didn't actually suit my nature.

     And now, five years after starting my treatment, I watched my first western. I came in just after it had begun, switched channels, then thought: 'Sod it! Give it a go.' Particularly since Sharon Stone's character is pretty close to my protagonist's. So, I watched the whole thing. Husband and son joined me. I enjoyed it, if 'enjoy' is the right word. I was shaking, emotional over the ending. Son and Husband hugged me. They understood. 


Friday, 10 August 2018


CREATING MY ODYSSEY - : BEWARE - AUTHOR AT WORK!: This is me - working on My Novel.  Researching facts, I've been Googling books, and the number of facts I've unearthed to make my...


This is me - working on My Novel. 
Researching facts, I've been Googling books, and the number of facts I've unearthed to make my story credible is great. Obviously I don't write all those facts into my story, I just need to confirm that what I'm writing is right! I've been printing out chapters for Husband, my chief critic, to read. He's brilliant at this. They do say don't ask friends, family or pets to critique, but he's fair but firm. He's very good. If he thinks something doesn't read well, or a fact should be researched more, he'll tell me. Yes, he's very good.
                  Here's my laptop filing system. I'm in the process of making sense of it. 
                  Years ago, I was paranoid about losing chapters so kept old ones 'just in 
                  case'. Now I find those old ones, dated two years ago, hanging around on 
                  the screen and in odd spots. 'How the **** did that get there?!' Give me 
                  an old tin cabinet with drawers any day! I can see what I've got at a glance. 
                  I don't have to go through searches, blah, blah... So I'm deleting old ones, 
                  identifying up-to-date edits... I am getting there - I think. 😵
And here it is! Well, it's been here for some time. In the right order. Complete. 'The End' at the end. Never write an epic novel unless you really, really mean it and want it. And I've given myself perhaps a year to try and finish it. 

Author at Work - Apparently... 

I would love to hear from anyone who's on the same journey - particularly the writing of epic novels. I know you're out there, so please get it touch. It can get a bit lonely at times, so comparing notes and exchanging thoughts and ideas on this are more than welcome!