This blog now has its own Facebook Page, where I publish all kinds of additional stuff – blogs, videos and articles from leading bloggers and writers for instance  – in fact anything which takes my fancy and I think might interest YOU, dear reader. Do go over, visit for a while, leave a Like or even better, a comment. See you there!

Writers! Stop cleaning that oven at once!

I can see you.

The spray can of heavy duty industrial oven cleaner parked on the kitchen floor is a dead give away. Peel off those rubber gloves, stop pretending that your family will drop dead of food poisoning tonight if you don’t clean those charred meal residues insulating the inside of the oven right away. Follow me. Yes, just as I thought. The study door is ajar. I can see the laptop screen from here. Closer….yes, that’s it. Don’t die of embarrassment, it won’t help. A new document  is open on screen. A title?

(NB – provisional ) Of authorship and toads….

" Of authorship and toads...."

And ?  I suspected this. One paragraph indentation, and the word  “The”…...can that really be all ? Oh. There’s a new line.

“ F— this, I might as well be cleaning the oven!!!!”

I have two words to say to you. Pay attention, they really will help, I promise:

Natalie Goldberg

A few months ago, I visited Glasgow Buddhist Centre in search of a meditation stool. Yes, you’ve guessed, I had an article which had to be submitted by 5pm. I was distracted from the article by the stool, then distracted from the stool by Natalie Goldberg. Her book “ Wild Mind : Living the Writer’s Life” drew me like a lure. What a wonderful writer! What an inspiring book! Did the article get to the postbox? I’m not telling you.

Natalie Goldberg is an American writer  and creative writing teacher. She is sharp, witty, compassionate, lateral….and tough. She has bottom lines and is not afraid to state them. She has rules. My guess is, if you follow these rules on a regular basis, you’ll rarely be distracted by oven cleaning or any other form of housework ever again.

She is fanatical about writing practice. “ If you learn writing practice well, it is a good foundation for all other writing.” We need to do it as regularly as possible, she says.

“ When you sit down to write, whether it’s for ten minutes or an hour, once you begin, don’t stop. If an atom bomb drops at your feet eight minutes after you have begun and you were going to write for ten minutes, don’t budge. You’ll go out writing.”

In essence, writing practice is a technique for cracking open the confining grip of our conscious, rational mind – and flying free into the big blue sky of what Goldberg calls “ wild mind”.

Here, briefly, are Natalie’s rules:

(She also thinks they mostly work for hang gliding, tennis and sex.)

1. Keep your hand moving. If you stop your hand, you stop the creator’s flow and give the editor in you an opportunity to interrupt.

2. Lose control. Just say what you want no matter how inappropriate. Just go for it.

3. Be specific. Don’t write flower, write narcissus.

4. Don’t think. Stay with the first thing that flashes into your mind.

5. Don’t worry about punctuation, spelling, grammar.

6. You are free to write the worst junk in America ( or in your case, could be anywhere in the world ! )

7. Go for the jugular. Whatever comes up, no matter how frightening or disturbing, write it down.

There you are. Begin writing practice today. Next step, buy Goldberg’s books on the writers’ craft. They are a wonderful investment. I’m doing well with my writing practice, by the way. I’ve bought two new notebooks. Still can’t decide which one to start….

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

A little flare of magic in the night…

There is, sometimes, magic in the night…this was the scene which lit up my vision and my spirit on the way home last evening. Our local Botanic Gardens in Glasgow is putting on a sound and light show called The Electric Gardens from 23rd January until the 15th February 2015, and those of us returning home were treated to the rainbow delights of a lights rehearsal for free! Enjoy the pictures.

I’ll be back soon!

Magic in the Botanics 2

Magic in the Botanics 1

Magic in the Botanics 1

Magic in the Botanics 2

 

100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Someone was having a bad day….

Do you make a point of binning Forwards on principle? I usually do, but my husband sent me this one the other day and insisted that I read it,  on the grounds that I was such a stroppy anti-authority person that it would be balm to my soul, grist to my mill, etc. And believe it or not, dear Reader, it truly is! Dedicated to all stroppy folk everywhere, check out this letter supposedly sent recently to the UK Passport Office….

Dear Sirs,

I’m in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this.. How is it that Sky Television has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a bleeding satellite dish from them back in 1977, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was bloody born and on what date.

For goodness sake, do you guys do this by hand? My birth date you have on my pension book, and it is on all the income tax forms I’ve filed for the past 30 years. It is on my National Health card, my driving license, my car insurance, on the last eight damn passports I’ve had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I’ve had to fill out before being allowed off the plane over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother’s name is Mary Anne, my father’s name is Robert and I’d be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and when I die!!!!!!

I apologise, I’m really pissed off this morning. Between you and me, I’ve had enough of this bullshit! You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my bloody address!!!!

What is going on? Do you have a gang of neanderthal illiterates working there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don’t want to dig up Yasser Arafat, for Gods sake. I just want to go and park my backside on some sandy beach somewhere. And would someone please tell me, why would you care a damn whether I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? If I ever got the urge to do something weird to a chicken or a goat, believe you me, you’d be the last bloody people I’d want to tell !!

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to the other end of the poxy city to get yet another copy of my birth certificate, to the tune of £30. Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day?? Nooooooooooooo, that’d be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You’d rather have us running all over the bloody place like chickens with our heads cut off, then have to find some moron to confirm that it’s really me on the damn picture – you know, the one where we’re not allowed to smile?! (bureaucratic  idiots) Hey, do you know why we couldn’t smile if we wanted to? Because we’re totally pissed off!

Signed

An Irate Subject

ps (from Anne W) I don’t know where this originated, but if the reader recognises it could they let me know and I will happily credit it.

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600 words copyright Anne Whitaker/An Irate Subject 2015
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

Guest Post “Better than benefits”…from Miss Lou

Anne Whitaker:

I’ve just read this brilliantly written, painfully honest account of what life is like on benefits within the UK benefits system. I know the redoubtable Miss Lou. She used to run one of the best cafes in Glasgow, UK’s West End. She is bright, talented, hard working , and possessed of a truly wicked sense of humour. Do Share this post on Facebook etc. Leave her a comment. She deserves it!

cartoon by Paul F Newman

Writer and Friend at work…

Cartoon: Paul F Newman

 

Originally posted on The redoubtable:

The Job Centre, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t so bad.

The housing benefit office, on the other hand, is definitely inspired by Dante, but as I can never decide which circle it resides in (first? fifth? seventh? a combination?) I try not to think about it too much.

Anyway, once a fortnight I – like so many others – schlepp down to the Brew with my paper booklet of disappointment and present myself for assessment. My regular adviser is actually really nice, but I do occasionally have to deal with the office harridan who seems to view job seekers as workshy scroungers who are all ‘at it’.

Like the first time I went, arriving 25 minutes early. I couldn’t afford the bus fare and I was terrified of being late – having heard about draconian sanctions – so I speed-walked, wheezing my way into the building, only to…

View original 1,429 more words

Always look for light…from the poet R.S. Thomas as the year ends…

This year 2014 has in many ways been grim. It is important as it draws to a close to avoid offering fatuous cliches regarding how much better the New Year of 2015 will be. Maybe – and maybe not. But, as always, the best poets can find something to say which is apposite and pertinent. As I have grown older and survived a fair number of  Life’s battles, I have learned three major lessons, not in any way unique to me, but jewels of our common wisdom:

Be grateful for what you have

Live as much as is feasible, in the day you are in today – Carpe Diem!

Find light wherever you can, no matter how fleeting it may seem in very dark times

Let us not rush through 2015, then,  so much that we forget to pause, to notice, should a fleeting glimpse of the brightness of Eternity come our way….

A fleeting light.....

A fleeting light…..

The Bright Field

I have seen the sun break through
to illuminate a small field
for a while, and gone my way
and forgotten it. But that was the
pearl of great price, the one field that had
treasure in it. I realise now
that I must give all that I have
to possess it. Life is not hurrying

on to a receding future, nor hankering after
an imagined past. It is the turning
aside like Moses to the miracle
of the lit bush, to a brightness
that seemed as transitory as your youth
once, but is the eternity that awaits you.

R.S.Thomas

(From Laboratories of the Spirit, published by MacMillan. © Kunjana Thomas)

(I published this poem in a different post at the start of 2014. It seems even more appropriate to share it again at this particular year’s end…)

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300 words copyright Anne Whitaker/R.S. Thomas 2014

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

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Festive thanks to Followers, commenters, and friends old and new!

In the bleak Midwinter...

Midwinter…ethereal beauty…

Just having a quiet time of retreat from family chaos (very mild, very welcome!) and reflecting on how much I have enjoyed this particular year at Writing from the Twelfth House. Thanks to everyone for your support of my postings during 2014, and a special thanks to my family of regular commenters. I hope I’ve managed to be inspiring now and then, informative – and entertaining. The tougher the world becomes, the harder we all need to hold fast to the people and experiences that nourish and guide us. Blessings to all who drop by to read my blogs – and every good wish for this Festive Season and the year to follow. 

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Photo: courtesy of Margo Cline, shared on Facebook.( Sorry, don’t know who the photographer is to give a well-deserved credit!)

100 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2014
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page