Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Positive Writing Vs Honest Writing

As most of you are becoming aware by now, my muse for writing keeps getting up and walking out of the door, which ain't good if one has decided to write a book! Anyway, before launching into this entry's main topic, I'll bring you up to date on my adventures.

I seem to be spending quite a bit of time commuting to London, much to the detriment of my overdraft and will have to pull back on that soon a) because we need to eat and b) because the bank is earning too much interest. But I am going up again Friday to see Ben Miller and his long time comedy partner Alexander Armstrong at a do in Kensington. I have seen our dear Ben a number of times this year, not just on seeing the Duck House but also at a masterclass and The Royal Albert Hall. Poor man must think I am stalking him!

The masterclass was at the Theatre Royal Haymarket just off Piccadilly and an *absolute* treasure. Ben used his experiences learned through his career to give invaluable advice to aspiring actors. Also he gave a very excellent answer to my question about his writing style and routine. This was a gem to me because I found out it's ok to have blank days and a nap counts as writing! But also what came across was to stick to a routine no matter what, with Ben introducing the concept of the '50 minute hour'. That is to write or give 50 minutes of writing time (whether any words appear or not) then take a 10 minute break. Ben usually works from 10am to 4pm on his writing days, and also takes about an hour for lunch. He also advises going for a walk at the end of the day's writing, taking a note book (he uses his iphone) to jot ideas, as that is the time you will likely be most inspired.

Brief video of Ben's experience at his masterclass click on this to see on YouTube.

Now I may not be up to a 6 hour writing day but certainly with the '50 minute hour' where you also use a timer or set an alarm for the hour - I have managed to get a lot more done although progress remains a little slow, because of variable energy and the fact my concentration isn't quite as good as it was. Ben also advised that when the alarm goes off, you stop writing, no matter what and take that break or finish for the day and also, when you decide you want to change everything, it's probably likely your work is complete.

By 'eck I was an 'ansum maid back in 1978 :)
So with dragging my muse back online (I also have a fanfic series I am seriously behind on) I thought I had better update this blog. I have already managed to complete the first chapter of my book but need to start factoring in the experiences of others. The idea of the book is not only write my own story but compare it with that of others. Although our individual journeys maybe vastly different, common themes are becoming more apparent and this can be backed up with anecdotes from the support groups, tweets on #BrainTumourThursday as well as face to face. So I have to get around to researching at some point.

Getting back to writing styles. I recently went to a 'college reunion' meeting up with folk most I haven't seen in nearly 35 years much to my joy, at the home of one, a beautiful house near Stroud. Looking at the photos of us all so young, naive and with our dreams yet undashed, was an experience especially seeing how gorgeous we *all* looked at 17 - 18 years old.  Sadly of course, there have been losses along the way, one I felt more keenly  a friend called called Rose, who was a beautiful woman and had modeled for Vogue when she was 15 years old. Apparently Rose became blindin one eye and died possibly from cancer. From what I can gather it seems that maybe the sight loss and a tumour somewhere were related which killed her, and of course, you all can guess what I am thinking about in terms of the type of cancer.

Old college codgers
Sadly, back in Penzance, I have found out two more people we know have been afflicted by brain tumours. One used to be my second in command at the lookout I used to run under the auspices of The National Coastwatch Institution, who has ended up in a nursing home after his 'benign' tumour did a considerable amount of damage, and another aquaintance, an antiques dealer has been diagnosed with terminal brain cancer.

And here's the thing, the main point of this entry. I have told you some sad stuff and looking back over this blog, have written much about depression. One of those at the college reunion said he enjoyed this blog but tended to be turned off by some of the 'maudlin' posts here and on Facebook. At the time I felt a little bad about this, but then it dawned on me, that again being positive and 'inspiring' might be very well, but it takes energy which I don;t always have. I want this to be an honest account of my experiences, not just a 'Mary Poppins' type of blog. There is some very uplifting stuff out there from people who inspire me and has given hope to many, but at the same time as much as I want this to be a positive inspiration and informative, I need it to be an honest one too. As said before, this isn't a 'pity me' or 'admire me' blog, but one I hope that someone will read and think 'Thank God I'm not the only one that feels this way', as that's what has helped me the most when reading other people's experiences.

There is room, a lot of room for all types of writing styles,.Some will look for only the hugely inspiring, uplifting stuff, which is fine and necessary, but others such as myself prefer also to read more honest accounts too. I hope this blog does the same, although in saying that, it is good to get feedback and it helps me put things into perspective so I don't end up writing a 'pity' blog. I am not criticizing other blogs, just saying what works for me.

So if you find this blog turns you off sometimes, that's ok but it will not alter what I have to say. This is my account and it will stay that way. It's my writing style for which I make no apology.


Ohh! Get her in a Parliamentary Committee Room!
Other news. I found myself back in Parliament, this time with the Brain Tumour Charity and an all party cross committee meeting about issues surrounding brain tumour care in the UK. I heard some harrowing accounts of how people were either pushed out of their work because of the time it can take to receive and recover from treatment. The tale I found most upsetting was that of a family whose son who had collapsed at a school football match and how difficult it was to get a diagnosis and sadly when they did, the treatment needed to save his life caused a lot of damage but it was to no avail, so they had taken their son home to die.

What saddened me the most, apart from the terminal prognosis, was the fact the young lad needed to be fed by a tube - enteral feeding either by naso-gastic tube where a tube is passed through nose into stomach or PEG (percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy feeding) where a tube is passed through a hole (stoma) made into the stomach just below where the breastbone ends, and in both cases, special liquid is given by a pump. The family had no training on how to use the machine and local district nurses in their area refused to administer medication as they were not covered to do so. I find this shocking because even in my tiny, half forgotten neck of the woods we would *never* allow someone to be discharged with one of those things without full back up and training.

The meeting revealed the disparity of treatment and care standards in the UK, with some areas better than others with support and what have you. There is still great difficulty with getting a diagnosis, GPs being reluctant in making referrals as cost is always a factor. GPs *can* make direct appointment for emergency CT and MRI scans and I wish they would for those with sudden onsets of neurological symptoms, collapses and/or persistent headaches. The most telling part of the afternoon was a comment from a representative of the International Brain Tumor Alliance, why were we still discussing the same issues ten years later. That to me was a wake up call which really should leave us feeling somewhat ashamed that after a decade, the same problems still exist.

Getting away from brain tumours. There were also a couple of events, one of which was a fantastic day yet resulted in a mass disappointment! Now as nearly everyone on the planet knows, Penzance is very much associated with pirates and a few years back, Hastings (a town more renowned for arrows and their own battles) dared to get a world record for having the most pirates ( people dressed as pirates) in one place. Well, we weren't going to stand for this! So went and broke Hastings' record in 2010 with 8,734 pirates on our prom. The buggers then beat *our* record with about 14,200 pirates! Were we going to stand for this? No! So this year after a *lot* of preparation, headaches, getting the thing organised etc, we... failed to beat Hastings' record by being short of a mere 77 people..!! *head desk* *head desk* head desk* *head desk* *head desk*!!!! A similar problem occurred as with our previous, more successful event, that people left getting entry into the staging area until the last minute and caused a bit of a backlog to the point they all could not get in.

BUT...

Meet Dangerous Lord Dave Nicholson of Rosevean..Yaaaaarrr!!!
We'll do 'un again m'ansums!!!

The latest adventure involved traveling to The Royal Albert Hall for a concert called 'Symfunny'. This was organised in aid of the Parkinson's Disease Association by composer James Morgan, who was diagnosed with early onset Parkinson's Disease at 40 years old. It was fantastic evening with lots of music and comedy, compared by Al Murray 'The Pub Landlord', with guests such as Alfie Boe, Jane Asher and Sarah Brightman as 'guest conductors' and music including my one of my fave classics, 'Zadok The Priest'.

Of course, the highlight for me and a friend called Margo, was to see Ben Miller and Alexander Armstrong reprise their excellent Flanders and Swan parody, 'Brabbins and Fyffe', who songs have lyrics of the risque, toilet humour ilk and very, very funny. The two they performed were 'The Perineum Song' and 'Have You Ever Taken a Sh* t On A Train' with a choral ending to the last song, much to the delight of the audience. The evening, quite simply was divine! Margo and I did hang around the stage door at the end to hopefully see Alexander Armstrong who sadly didn't appear, having left earlier (he was kind enough to tweet us both afterwards), and Margo became very tired (she has multiple sclerosis) so had to :eave. Ever stubborn I remained and managed to not only be able to meet Ben again but also have a brief chat with his lovely wife, Jessica Parker, a producer. Mind you when I say 'chat', it was more my babbling complete bloody nonsense, as usual for which I can only apologize!

The fantastically funny Brabbins and Fyffe (Alexander Armstrong and
Ben Miller) reminding me about my
experiences with some 'facilities' on trains.

That's it for now. Until next time, take care and have fun. :)

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