Category Archives: A Writer’s Life….(article archive)

Introducing first guest writer: Paul F. Newman

 

” THE ODDS AGAINST SCIENCE FICTION.”

The odds might be scarier than the stories

by Paul F. Newman

(This article was first published in The New Writer, No.66, May/June 2004)

‘ “…don’t submit articles about rejections to magazine editors. It’s all been said before and there’s nothing new to add on the subject…” [Suzanne Ruthven, The New Writer Nov/Dec 2003].

This is not an article about rejection. It’s more about getting stuck some place in a zone between light and shadow. “Sf”, as the insiders like to call science fiction, appears to be a thriving genre. And it is. The problem is that just about every life form seems determined to write for it. I thought it only fair to pass on my experience of the current odds (in 2004) for getting a short story published in some of the leading monthly science fiction magazines.

Firstly, to define my credentials, “hard” sf has never been my line; I’m much more of a “soft” man myself. That means, like most of the sentient universe, I’m more interested in the fiction in science fiction that the science in it. There are certainly publications that do veer more towards the hard stuff, like the American Analog for instance, whose writer’s guidelines tell you that they prefer “stories in which some aspect of future science or technology is so integral to the plot that, if that aspect were removed, the story would collapse.”

Well, fair enough. If you’re a rocket scientist I foresee no problems for you there.

The Twilight Zone....

The Twilight Zone....

But if your mind is whirling more in flights of fantasy than in astronautical units you might deduce you were quarking up the wrong tree with Analog and feel more at home with three other of the market leaders: Fantasy & Science Fiction (US), Asimov’s Science Fiction (US) and Interzone (UK).

Over the last 12 months I sent a different story to each of these magazines in turn. These are the results.

Fantasy & Science Fiction politely declined my riveting story of two men taking an excursion into a sideways world within two weeks. (That is, it was declined within two weeks). In a personally signed letter from the Editorial Assistant in New York I was thanked for submitting it, but regretfully informed that it didn’t grab his interest this time. I had no clue as to whether it might have grabbed his interest at a different time or whether it was complete crap at any time. But I was most grateful for the swift reply.

Britain’s Interzone took four months to reject my next effort. A cheeky little tale of a near future when everyone’s higher selves were visible behind them. The setting was a casino, as it would be of course. To be fair, Interzone never led you to suspect that they would be particularly eager to receive your latest masterpiece in the first place. The small-print paragraph headed “submissions” on page 3 of their magazine baldly stated the required word range and little else, except what they would be unable to do: like reply if there was no return postage or accept responsibility for loss or damage to unsolicited material etc. Without a website to its name (what century are we in?) there was none of the cheery encouragement to writers that I found on the sites of the American magazines.

However I would soon learn what I was up against. The closely-printed rejection form enlightened me that Interzone was now receiving about 200 manuscripts a month. You didn’t have to be an Analog reader to figure out that with an average of just 5 stories published each issue – and with favour obviously going to any known writing names in the field – you had about as much chance of entering the Interzone as entering the Twilight Zone, or of having a sherry with H.G.Wells.

Well probably more chance with H.G.Wells. On a good day his Time Machine might be working.

I was left with the distinct impression that Interzone would be happier if all these people would stop sending in manuscripts and take out subscriptions instead.

I had more or less abandoned all hope of ever hearing back from Asimov’s Science Fiction. My powerful drama of four people on a cruise ship being dangerously affected by the invisible gravitational point at the second foci of the Earth’s elliptical orbit around the sun and activated (naturally) at aphelion, had probably caused it to disappear from the earth plane itself in mutual sympathy. But my impatience was premature. Seven months later the polite rejection arrived.

Not a signed letter this time but a standard though nicely-worded apology that informed me that unfortunately my piece had “failed to rise above the other 849 seen that month”. Yes, 850 manuscripts a month. That was the figure quoted as being received at Asimov’s from which, the stated figures suggested, only one unsolicited piece might fight its way through. Like a determined sperm I suppose. Why were all these blind hordes writing science fiction stories anyway? I reckon ninety per cent of them must be aliens. It’s obviously all a conspiracy.

But in the end I began to feel truly sorry for the science fiction editors on the receiving end of all this. What an existence. The poor devils, red-eyed and exhausted, doomed to plough forever through an ever-replenishing pile of eccentric bilge. How much more could they take? Being cursed by the gods in Ancient Greece was of nothing in comparison.

I pictured one of these skeletal individuals – I’m talking about the editors, not the ancient gods now – muffled against the storm, collapsing homeward on the subway train. With head swimming through doppler shifts and time dilations, eyes lowered to avoid recognition (in case anyone offers them a new story), their gaunt frame belies a spirit still clinging to the slender hope that tomorrow the number of submissions might actually start to decrease.

A suspicious-looking man in black, obviously a government agent disguised as an old-fashioned ticket inspector, stops before them fumbling with something inside his uniform. Is he going to produce a metal clipper or a ray gun? No, instead he extracts a scrappy sheaf of papers with a menacing flourish and asks if there would be any chance of getting his manuscript published. At this point the sky falls in and the editor, crying “Enough!” crouches submissively to the swaying floor, sobbing and crying like a baby pulverised by meteoric infall…

Hey, maybe there’s a story there.

Paul F Newman

Paul F Newman

 

Paul F. Newman is an astrologer, astrology teacher, writer and contributor to many journals including ‘The Mountain Astrologer’ and  ‘The Astrological Journal’, author of “You’re not a person–just a birth chart” and  “Declination in Astrology The Steps of the Sun” He can be contacted at pneuma@ukonline.co.uk

1000 words Copyright Paul F Newman 2009

To the website! Chapter Three (at last!)

“Welcome to Facebook! Say goodbye to your life….”

(Message from a friend on the day I joined)

Now read on!!

Chapter 1

“……Much of 2007 was taken up in reflecting on a challenging topic: should I become more computer literate – a writer with a website – or sink slowly to the bottom of an ageing and increasingly befuddled slime of computer-refusing baby-boomers?

Befuddled slime did not appeal……”

….. To the website! Chapter One (c/f July 08 archive) described the process of acquiring a new AppleMac laptop and getting on the Net via mobile broadband – both accomplished during April 2008.

Chapter 2

“……Still can’t quite believe this….it is September 2008 and I am now a writer with a website. To inspire and encourage other writers in the same direction, the first thing to say is this: the process of moving from dinosaur to cyber-babe has been great fun, very creative, and not that difficult…..”

……To the website! Chapter Two (c/f Sept 08 archive) chronicled my progress – as I slowly built Writing from the Twelfth House – from bottom of the cyber-literacy food chain to a few links up, ably aided by my web person Susan Elena and my highly cyber-literate friend Willie Miller. In September 2008, not without some trepidation, I started posting articles weekly. Traffic soon increased….

and I said “……To the website! Chapter Three…... will appear in a few weeks, to give you some ideas and tips on the very important ongoing task of publicising your site. Watch this space…”

Chapter 3

Nine months and a considerably longer number of weeks later than I had intended, many apologies to those (three? four? two? one?) addicted writer followers, gazing at an empty space, whose lives have been blighted by the persistent non appearance of Chapter Three. Sorry. Sorry! OK?

Seriously though – it has taken much longer than I thought for a perspective to emerge which I hope may be useful to other writers who are still contemplating the leap into cyberspace. The terms of reference of this third article, therefore, have broadened somewhat from my originally stated intention….

Regular readers will know from the ‘Just let me get old, ok?’ theme that one of my preoccupations is how to face the reality of growing older with as little denial and as much grace, humour and realism as possible. An aspect of ageing which needs to be resisted is that increasing pull to stay with the familiar, avoiding taking on new challenges.

I feel a great sense of satisfaction at having managed to tackle and overcome my own fears and resistances, succeeding (with a lot of help!) in setting up a site which not only pleases me, but more importantly – judging from the messages and emails I have received – does offer support, information, entertainment and inspiration: my stated aspirations in setting up Writing from the Twelfth House.

Here, then, are a few perspectives I have gained in the last year which may be of use:

* realise from the outset how addictive the internet is – if you aren’t disciplined your whole life will get sucked into it. How much time do you want to spend? If you don’t build in restrictions, the Web will take over. Networking sites need to be especially watched for this reason. My friend’s sardonic comment on my joining Facebook could have been predictive!

That same friend thinks I’m mad (he’s a 12 hour a day minimum web nut) to lock away my computer over the weekend in the office, and to have a policy of not checking emails every day – though at times I do give in. If you aspire to a balanced life, and are too weak-willed to resist the siren call, use tactics which will separate you from the Web.

* set your site up as a blog – initially I was rather dubious about a blog format – I’m not interested in daily chatter about my cat etc, which was rather the way I perceived blogs until I researched other people’s, set up my own, and became more knowledgeable about how flexible an instrument this format can be. It can be adapted for whatever your purpose is.

The interactive nature of blogs is also ideal, opening your Web experience out to a positive and creative sense of community-building. If you join eg WordPress which I really like, there are various safeguards built in – great spam filtering and ease of monitoring comments, enabling you quickly to get rid of anything you do not wish displayed.

I can see that my own site is more like a magazine than anything else, since I use it to republish articles which I still think are of interest, offer new material, and publicise my books. From June 2009, I am pleased to be launching an occasional Guest slot, in which I will be publishing material from writers whose work I like which fits into the ethos of “Writing from the Twelfth House”.

* it is very important to keep in mind what your site is for – and what your aims are. Your Home Page should state this briefly, simply and compellingly. Humour helps in getting the message across – as does an arresting visual image. It keeps focus to refer back to your objectives often.

* have lively and varied content – post regularly, interact with your readers, cultivate contacts with sites you like and build relationships, trade links, be generous. Post articles on showcasing sites eg Author’s Den, Creative Carnival, Blog Carnival, Technorati, Zimbio: get listed as much as possible.

Anne interacting with her reader....

Anne interacting with her reader....

* be happy to take critical feedback on board – for example, in the autumn of 2008 I had an email from a visitor to my site saying that she found my use of colour – mostly black and green, with some purple –confusing. She had clicked on some parts highlighted in green or purple thinking they might be links: they weren’t.

Not having had anyone else comment on this, on checking I discovered that I had not followed an early golden rule, ie underline all links: do not use underlining in editing UNLESS it is a link. I could see where there might be some confusion, over the next couple of weeks re-editing the whole site to fix this problem. Thanks, Linda!

* keep adding new links – I have begun to date the links I add, partly to let readers see how up to date they are, but also to keep me on my toes!

* don’t get complacent and sink into a comfort zone – be aware that your site is a work in progress, and keep an eye open always for ways to improve it.

* know yourself and be realistic about your limitations – this applies to everything in life, including running a website. For example, although I have got myself listed on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (professional networking site) etc, I simply cannot be bothered chattering for chattering’s sake and acquiring scores of cyberfriends (I prefer the flesh and blood kind!) although I know perfectly well that this is one of the best ways to build up a big following. (it is also a major way of saying goodbye to your real life!) I also don’t want to carry ads or do any of the commercial things which will bring traffic to my site but distract attention from the content.

My overall aim is for gradual growth of traffic, and moderate success in attracting a regular group of visitors who share my interests and preoccupations – as well as now having an essential tool for promoting my books. This is happening. I am a happy cyber-babe!

STILL teetering? Go on – jump!!

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1300 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2009

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Writers !! Are you now, or have you ever been….distracted?

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 in the post 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….

(slightly edited – first published in the Women Writers’ Network Newsletter June 2004)

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Astrological help for writers….

Indulge me. Have a guess. Which planet, do you think, might be specially linked to the writer’s craft? Yes, very good. It is indeed Mercury.

Mercury represents the principle of communication in all its facets. Pitching and selling ideas, reworking, appraising, editing; all the activities of the scribe’s trade are encompassed by the Mercury function.

Gorgeous Mercury!

Mercury – isn’t he gorgeous?!

In the spring, summer and autumn/winter of each year, the planet Mercury does something strange. It appears to slow down in its orbital pace, stop, then start to move backwards. This is known as retrograde motion. It is of course an illusion. Otherwise, we’d have fallen off the solar system aeons ago.

However, the effects down here on Earth when Mercury is in its  2-3 week retrograde phases are anything but illusory. For years, I studied this phenomenon in my own life, the lives of family, friends, and astrology students. In sum, communications of all types become strangely awkward and hard to manage during those times.

I learned to look forward to having some rest during Mercury Retrograde, since my referral rate dropped. Normally clients always turned up for appointments, MR periods being the exception. Cancellation rates increased. Once, a client called to cancel because her house had just caught fire (yes, she called the Fire Brigade first!).Two clients often turned up at the same time. Cheques invariably got lost in the post, or clients forgot to bring cash. One summer I moved office during MR, becoming involved in a dispute of byzantine complexity with the telephone company which took almost a nervous breakdown to sort out.

As MR periods approached, I used to entertain my students by looking at their individual horoscopes, which enabled me to be more specific regarding possible MR effects. I told one student, a lawyer, that a female helper in his workplace was likely to have communication problems which would impact on him. His feedback?  His secretary sprained her wrist, and was unable to type during the entire MR period.

Mercurial people, eg writers, are those most affected  by Mercury’s retrograde phase.

What can we writers do to maximise advantage and minimise disruption when Mercury is retrograde? MR is a positive time for going back over all matters to do with communication, and cleaning up.

Some examples: if you’ve been putting off a purge of your filing system, do it now. If your accountant has asked you nine times for your last year’s papers, use this 2-3 weeks to update them. Dig out and finish some of those half-worked articles. Use MR times for reminder letters to editors. If you’ve been writing furiously and the brain/wrist is seizing up, have a break. Catch up with some reading. As we know, fallow time is creative.

The don’ts? If it is not feasible as a working writer to avoid or delay taking new initiatives or completing existing processes, eg sending out new proposals and submissions or signing contracts, leases, etc, try to accept complications or thwartings philosophically. Also – be prepared for delays, eg when travelling, especially long distance.  Don’t sit under the mailbox waiting for cheques. And please, don’t arrange for a phone installation!

“Come on then !” I can hear you shouting as you search for my phone number or email. “Tell us WHEN !”

Just send me a £50 cheque and a self addressed envelope….

….oh, all right. Since this is a writer’s website, I’ll tell you.

The Mercury Retrograde periods for 2009 are: 11 January to 01 February + 07 May to 31 May + 07 September to 29 September.

(update: The Mercury Retrograde periods for 2009/2010 are: i) Retro 26/12/09, Direct 15/01/ 2010. ii) Retro 17/04/10, Direct 11/05/ 10. iii) Retro 20/08/10, Direct 12/09/ 10.iv) Retro 10/12/10, Direct 30/12/ 10.)

Let me know how you get on ! Susan Elena my web person, a highly Mercurial person, has a very rude name for Mercury Retrograde. She is on her way back from Istanbul at present. I will be amazed if it goes smoothly……

(slightly edited : first published in the Women Writers’ Network Newsletter August 2004)

********************

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

To the website! Chapter 2

“……Much of 2007 was taken up in reflecting on a challenging topic: should I become more computer literate – a writer with a website – or sink slowly to the bottom of an ageing and increasingly befuddled slime of computer-refusing baby-boomers? Befuddled slime did not appeal……”

To the website! Chapter One

(c/f July 08 archive) described the process of acquiring a new AppleMac laptop and getting on the Net via mobile broadband – both accomplished during April 2008.

Now read on!

Still can’t quite believe this….it is September 2008 and I am now a writer with a website!.To inspire and encourage other writers in the same direction, the first thing to say is this: the process of moving from dinosaur to cyber-babe has been great fun, very creative, and not that difficult. For this, much credit goes to my web person, Susan Elena. Her winning combination of geekiness (does this word exist? It does now….), efficiency and reliability, clear teaching and patient good humour set a context where I could relax and have a laugh – mostly at myself, with plenty of input from Susan! – as well as learn a whole range of new skills.

I was also fortunate in benefiting from the very considerable computer expertise of my friend Willie Miller, who runs a successful urban design practice here in Glasgow, Scotland, UK and uses both Macs and PCs. An initial discussion with him, after I had drafted and showed him the Home Page and categories within which I wished to locate articles, proved very useful in focusing the research I did prior to beginning to work with Susan.

There being innumerable Net articles on Writers Websites, it felt very lucky right at the outset to come upon just what was needed to get going. Check out “http://www.sky-bolt.com , the site of Sky Bolt Enterprises which specialises in ‘….effective business websites….’ and a very practical article by Ginny Stibolt called “You Don’t Have to be a Technical Wizard or Rich to Have an Effective Writer’s Website”. It fitted my starting level of comprehension, ie at the bottom of the cyber-literacy food chain. Read it for yourself. Before you start, you need to know why you want a website and what you want it to do. You should then be able to compose a clear, brief and if possible entertaining mission statement for visitors to your Home Page. As Ginny Stibolt observes: “….you have less than 10 seconds to capture their attention. You must state or imply your message instantly.”

I checked out quite a few writers’ sites, and decided that the one whose form I liked best was Bryan Appleyards. I am a fan of his writing so this may have caused some bias! But the clear, unfussy, simple way it is laid out appealed to me – easy to navigate and easy to read.

Following my meeting with Willie and subsequent research, I drafted a preliminary list of ten key website requirements to give Susan a clear idea of what our aims were. Here are four which you might find useful as starting points for thinking about setting up your own site:

1. Purchase a domain name and arrange hosting. Set this up with your name on it, not your web person’s – thereby retaining your independent status.

2. Set up the website as a blog with archives and some fixed pages: eg for Biography, CV (if you decide to put this up, bear in mind the risk of identity theft), Clips, and several writing themes. Thus when you want to put up new articles, the additions can initially be posted on the weblog, then transferred to archives under appropriate headings.

3. Create simplicity of use, so that you can transfer words and images from desktop into website without intermediary help or having to learn eg HTML. This is where a blog format really works.

4. In sum – create structured, categorized, designed web space into which you can then cut and paste your own material at your own pace. Aim to make your web person redundant rather than establishing an (expensive!) ongoing dependency.

Willie suggested WordPress, who provide a wide range of FREE templates, as a good option for a flexible blog package. This was also Susan’s recommendation. I have found my WordPress template very easy to use, with lots of clever and ingenious features – eg Blogstats. This supplies details of visits to your site in addictive and easy to read graphs for day, week and month, enabling you to monitor your fame rippling across the Web!

(Considering my avowed intention right back at the beginning to lurk quietly in an unpromoted corner of cyberspace whilst putting everything together, I am truly amazed at how many visitors the site has had already. Thank you and keep visiting! )

With Susan’s help, I also arranged to be hosted by WordPress. This is very easy to accomplish, at a very modest cost.

We met for nine 1.5 hour sessions from 8th May until 21st July 2008. Essentially, Susan showed me what to do, and I went ahead and did it. Within a couple of sessions, I was happily pasting already prepared articles into the fixed pages we set up on the site, each page presenting one of my writing themes as well as Biog, Clips, Favourite Quotes and Cartoons.

I learned very quickly how to add interest to the text with colour – deciding to stay mainly with black and green for an uncluttered, professional look. Some images were uploaded next. Although it is a writers’ site, I didn’t want it to look too ‘wordy’. Following this came learning how to insert links into articles, then the Blogroll facility which enabled me to post a few key links – relating to each of my writing themes – on the bottom right of the Home Page.

At the start of our process, Susan said “ What do you want to call your site?” I hadn’t a clue. Playing around with a few phrases relating to my writing themes proved unproductive – so I just used my own name. Then, early in August, the title came through. “Writing from the Twelfth House”. This feels right, for reasons which are revealed in Evoking the Twelfth House.

Willie Miller, a speedy kind of person, couldn’t believe that I intended to take the whole summer setting up the website. However, in an article called “Learning to do slow”, you will see why. It has felt very good to do so – taking time gives the creative process opportunities to let ideas ripen and take shape. A website is, of course, a work in progress like any other creative venture. But I am reasonably happy with it as it stands. It will develop as my web and computer skills progress – do return from time to time to see how we are both getting along!

*****************

……To the website! Chapter Three…… will appear in a few weeks, to give you some ideas and tips on the very important ongoing task of publicising your site. Watch this space……

***************

1200 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008

Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

 

 


To the Website! Chapter One

Susan Elena is quite a woman! I am a person of somewhat fixed ideas, and she has proved herself expert at dynamiting them. For example, I would have spent months angst-ridden over exactly WHEN to launch the website – but she simply went ahead and did it in mid May. I had no intention of posting anything else on this blog page until September – but, quailing under her humorously withering look when I said I’d post an article for practice then take it off, I have as you can see simply left it on….

The intention in posting To the website! Chapter One is very simple : to encourage all writers to GET A WEBSITE ! I hope this encourages you, wherever you are….

” Much of 2007 was taken up in reflecting on a challenging topic: should I become more computer literate – a writer with a website – or sink slowly to the bottom of an ageing and increasingly befuddled slime of computer-refusing baby-boomers?

Befuddled slime did not appeal, and my old second hand laptop was throwing minor but alarming wobblers. Then the decision was sealed late January 2008 by a visit to the Women Writers Network website, an excellent organisation of which I am a member. I couldn’t believe my eyes. Only four members of the network had sites listed then.(2009 update: sadly, Women Writers Network is no more….)

Researching writers’ websites glaringly exposed the limitations of my dial-up. Its slowness made it impossible to access many sites. Something else became very clear. Having a website meant investing in a new computer and some form of broadband. I could access broadband and WiFi from home. But my office building has no WiFi and my office – being a place to hide – has no phone line. Next conclusion: I needed mobile broadband.

Three things became evident from my restricted and patchy research. First, it is mad to be a writer, especially if like me you will shortly have a book to promote, and not have a website. Second, you need to decide on a focus: author-focused, book-focused, or issue-focused. Third, if you are not technically-minded, you need to find an anorak, preferably under thirty, who won’t charge you the earth, will set up the site competently, and steer you patiently through the whole process.

I found my anorak, a can-do, competent young woman of twenty-eight : Susan Elena. Then I hit the wall, waking up at 3 am with acute anxiety. The prospect of what lay ahead felt overwhelmingly daunting. My state of retreat and paralysis lasted much of March.

However, early in April the paralysis broke with a simple decision. I would set aside website building meantime, to concentrate first on acquiring the new computer and going on mobile broadband. The very next afternoon I was able to go into my office – where, incidentally, the building, being tarted up to enable a public enquiry, was crawling with noisy workmen – and get down on paper my website requirements and sample home page. I had been putting off this task for weeks.

On Monday 14 April I had a one-hour shopping appointment to discuss my requirements with one of the staff at the AppleMac store in central Glasgow – Justin. He was great. Tuesday saw me buy a new MacBook, taking out a three-year aftercare plan which a friend described as “the best value on the planet”. He was right. The support I had initially could not have been better. Further visits on Wednesday and Friday ironed out some initial teething problems. On Friday morning, I returned to the store with a mobile broadband package, which Justin installed in a mere fifteen minutes.

At 3pm on Friday 18th April, I sat in my office and stuck the mobile broadband dongle into my new Mac. I am now connected – watch this space! “

600 words copyright Anne Whitaker 2008
Licensed under Creative Commons – for conditions see Home Page

Chapter Two of To the website! will appear when the site is ready to go live officially….ie in September 2008