Time to choose: Inspiration or Intimidation?

Ever since I put my focus on becoming a writer the way that I read things has changed.

No longer can I just get lost in a book, creating affinity with characters, speed reading through paragraphs as the story picks up pace. I’ve noticed that I’ve become a judge. Judging the author, the words, the meaning behind the words before putting myself in the spotlight.

The Comparison Cashier is out in full force, fingers pointing, scanning what I believe to be truths:

  • Beep: You’ll never be able to write anything as good as this
  • Beep: You’re not serious about writing when you don’t write every day
  • Beep: You’re a procrastinator, you’ll never finish a novel
  • Beep, Beep, Beep!

And I’m left feeling intimidated.

I’ve just finished reading ‘The Girl on the Train’ – Paula Hawkins. It’s the first fiction book I’ve read in ages that had me gripped from the offset. So much so, I finished the book in less than 6 hours! I was in awe.

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There were many a time whilst rushing through the pages that I said to myself:

This is the book I wish I had written”

At these times the Comparison Cashier was in full force, a thorn, edging deeper into my side. Beeping through the ‘truths’ – repeatedly. I had to get away. So I put on my trainers and I went for a run.

When I run……Ha, I’m saying ‘when’ like I do it all the time. The last time I ran was 25th June. I know the date because I use a running app and there it was, the date – laughing at me, proving that I am indeed a procrastinator!

When I run I feel amazing afterwards. It clears my mind, gives me more energy and allows my creativity to flow. It annoys me that I know this – yet rarely do I don my trainers and take myself outside.

The run highlighted that I have a choice. I always have a choice.

  • I could choose to stay at home or I could choose to go for a run.
  • I could choose to write each day or I could choose to write adhoc.
  • I could choose to be inspired by other authors or I could choose to be intimidated.

I CHOOSE TO BE INSPIRED

The thorn and the cashier began to disappear alongside the doubt pains and unnecessary anguish.

I CHOOSE INSPIRATION

And inspiration is everywhere.

Jeff Cann is a blogger friend. I came across his blog ‘The Other Stuff’ as one of his posts was chosen by WordPress in the ‘Discover‘ section. I was immediately struck by his openness and the vulnerability in his posts, that he had a follower in me.

When he mentioned he had published a book ‘Fragments – a memoir’. I bought it immediately, as I’m all for supporting friends with their endeavours. I’ve just started reading it and five stories in – I’m blown away. I knew this guy could write but this guy can really write!

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The way that Jeff welcomes you into his world, sharing pieces of his life non-chronologically works so well. I highly recommend ‘Fragments’, Jeff’s authenticity and humour shines through as you see his struggle with mental health, drug and alcohol abuse and life in general. I believe this could be a book that could help many people face their own demons.

I have a warm glow inside as I celebrate what Jeff has accomplished.

That’s when it struck me.

There is no place for intimidation on my writing journey. Other authors are not my competition. Just because someone writes something amazing, it doesn’t leave the creativity pool dry, empty for others. If anything, they’re adding to the pool.

I think to Paula Hawkins. Imagine if she, having read a book she loved decided that she wasn’t good enough to be able to write a novel. I would have never read her book.

Other authors are not my competition. The competition is with myself!

So thank you to Jeff Cann for helping me to remember that.

I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo which is the National Novel Writing Month which takes place every November. Will what I write be a bestseller? I very much doubt so. Is that going to stop me from writing my first novel? Hell no!

I’ve made my choice.

I CHOOSE INSPIRATION

I would also like to take this time to celebrate the success of some other people I know who have published books.

I met Angela Preston at the Public Speaking Accademy and this woman continues to inspire me to this day. ‘Opening Doors’ is her story of the trials and tribulations of life and shows you what is possible to achieve if you work at it.

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Surjit Kaur is a high school friend, we had so many laughs at school. Her creativity shone out then as we used to write letters to each other in class and she would be doodling and drawing everywhere. ‘Burt’s Shirt’ is a children’s book and is such a fun read.

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Each person I see working on their dreams, gives me the strength to be able to follow mine.

Blog post written. I’m {gasp, shock, horror} going for a run!

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday 

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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Filling the void one book at a time!

[This post is a 5 minute read]

Ever since I left the comfortable bosom of Network Marketing my focus has changed. I’m heading into a new direction. Unknown territories.

I feel free. In fact the only time I’ve felt this free [as an adult] was when I embarked on a 15mth travelling stint to South America and New Zealand.

This isn’t a dig at my past, network marketing was one of the best things to ever happen to me. It set me on a path that has led me to where I am. On the journey I not only met some truly wonderful people but I picked up an arsenal of skills and read some really valuable personal development books.

Once I closed the door to living my life in that environment, I suddenly felt many of the those books were redundant. I had no interest in how I should ‘Speak about my product’, ‘How to hustle’, ‘What successful people do’ and a plethora of other similar titles.

There was also a void where my vision once was. With network marketing although it hadn’t made a huge dent in my dreams, I knew what the end looked like. I knew what was possible and I knew it would be possible. I’d seen it happen.

My new dream leaves me questioning what my future is going to be. There’s no 5-year plan or step-by-step guide to success. Success leaves clues in many businesses but looking into writing the clues are scattered and what works for one person, dramatically fails for others. Will I ever make it? What does make it even look like? Will I only be a success and be able to live a comfortable life if I reach the heights of JK Rowling?

My reading habits have also changed since embarking on my new path. I’m reading more fiction and autobiographies instead of books that are constantly about enforcing change on you.

I read. I’m in awe. Then I’m scared. Then the doubts scuttle in. The way the authors manipulate the text, play with style, structure and pluck out words that I barely understand leaves me asking:

“What chance do I really have?”

I feel a tad relieved knowing that I’m still at the starting blocks. I haven’t figured out the ‘Author’ in me just yet and there are a lot of avenues I want to visit BUT at the same time I feel a sense of dread. As my ‘perfectly painted’ future has been white-washed over, leaving a sticky unclear residue with fragments of doubt, fears, envy and bewilderment.

But I have my books and I’m getting lost in them. Aside from reading some collection of short stories my focus has been on reading books from black Authors.

The reason I decided to this is because I have never embraced being ‘black’. Yes, I acknowledge I’m black but I don’t talk about it, research into my history, or even have that many black friends. I was brought up in a white family, in a white working class area and watched re-runs of films and TV shows with white actors in the lead and bit part actors in token ‘black’ roles. I talk more about this in my post – Back to Black 🙋🏿

From the top of my head I didn’t know many black authors so the first book I picked up was Maya Angelou’s first volume of her autobiography. Before I could delve into it I had to read a specific book as part of the ‘book club’ I attend.

Well the Universe certainly wanted to help me, as I found out when I started to read the book, the author was a black man. Paul Beatty’s – ‘The Sellout’, is a satire look at racism in the present day and how one man reinstates segregation and slavery. It was a book that was hard to read but nicely broken up with laugh out loud parts. It definitely made me think and question the way some things are.

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I finished Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ yesterday and WOW! It blew me away. With her words I got trapped into her world. The dark side of her growing up, mixed with her adventures and the thorn in my side, which drew constant tears on my commute to work, the out here racism she saw and endured. It made for a hard but a much needed read.

One of the lines that I read over and over again was a conversation Maya’s 13year old brother had with his Uncle:

“Uncle Willie. Why do they hate us so much?”

Uncle Willie muttered “They don’t really hate us. They don’t know us. How can they hate us? They mostly scared”

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Those words made me cry then and typing them out, made me just cry again. Yes, the past is the past but it dictates our future and it’s still got a strangle hold on us. So I’m reading these books to stop being ignorant, to try and understand and maybe just maybe something I write will help dictate a brighter future.

The final book I want to touch on is one that I received for my birthday back in July. Some of my girlfriends chipped in to buy me a few gifts and one of them was another nod from the Universe.

‘Bad Feminist’ – a book by a black author, Roxanne Gay. I just started reading it today and this woman is awesome! In her essays she touches on being black, having immigrant parents [raised in America], being a woman and as the title suggest being a feminist, albeit a bad one!

She talks about things other people daren’t and I can already see that I am going to be a big fan of hers. And start to speak up more about issues that matter. One thing at a time……

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One thing at a time………

One step at a time………

That’s all it takes. Reminding myself of this reaffirms that I’m on the right path, even though that path may be a dirt track, full of talented writers or full of wrong turns with no end in sight.

I am where I’m meant to be.

Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday 

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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Two additional books by black authors that are next on my list.

We can’t do this on our own!

This thing called life, we can’t do it on our own and why would we want to?

I have always classified myself as strong and independent (not stable 😜) and thought I could work my way through life with little help.

I partly thought this because I’m a bit stubborn but mainly because I didn’t want to appear weak, vulnerable and to be honest I was too scared to let my defences down and too shy to actually ask for help.

I have seen the error in my ways and realise that to really experience life and get the most value from it, we need people. And you all know my thoughts on vulnerability – hence the name and theme of my blog.

We need people to: love, work with, talk to (I mean really talk where they’re actively listening), bounce ideas off, laugh with, cry with, moan to.

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And we sometimes need people to take over and be the crutch, the support when we feel like we can’t go on.

My emotions have been a bit all over the place this week, a lull set up camp and I felt a little disjointed. I put it down to post holiday blues but naming it didn’t make it disappear. Plus, I’m not sure that it was the actual reason.

I did however feel so much better having people there, not to judge or to fix me, but just be there. Texts with one friend, impromptu dinner with another, a couple of video calls and suddenly I didn’t feel so alone. To actually air how we are currently feeling really does expose it to the light and it can make the situation more bearable.

To hear the battles and obstacles other people are facing reminded me that life is hard, it can sometimes be shit and unfair. Running from how we feel or masking our feelings with social media, shopping, drugs, alcohol etc. can only work for a short time. There comes a time where we have to sit with our feelings and speak to someone we trust.

Which brings me on to my writing journey.

For years I have wanted to be a writer, but squashed that dream down with negative self talk and dangerous comparisons. When I finally started to tell people I wanted to write, far be it from laughing in my face and telling me how unrealistic I was, I got messages of encouragement and recommendations.

Since then I’ve become a member of a book club for writers, attended a workshop for intuitive writing, joined a flash-fiction writers group and……

I finished my first ever short story A piece of me!

This was due to a supportive creative writing workshop I attended. The host, Sean, was so kind, patient and understanding and was a great critical voice to have. I not only learnt that I can actually start something and complete it but I can actually handle constructive criticism – go me! If you’re based in London and are interested in writing, I recommend his workshops 100% – https://www.thenewmachine.com/ 

Yes, sometimes there are paths and journeys we have to take on our own but along the way there’ll be people to guide us.

I’m learning more each day to embrace this and to accept help when it’s offered. Next step, starting to actually ask for help too…….

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Emma x

Instagram: @emmalouhalliday

If you like this post or any other of my blog posts, please feel free to like, comment or share with friends.

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I’ve Been Nominated 🤗

For an award.

An award due to this blog.

An award due to this blog from a very wonderful, funny and talented blogger, Maria, The Super Wife & Mommy. Please do check out her page as it’s full of wonderful stories of life, children’s poetry, recipes and more.

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I’m going to admit, after the initial buzz of being recognised and receiving a compliment on a page where I bare parts of my soul, I felt torn.

And I had an inward battle with myself because I vowed when I started this blog not to indulge these types of awards that ask you to nominate other people. It reminded me of all those Facebook posts where you’re asked to share a picture or something about yourself and tag everybody and their pet. Plus, it didn’t fit in to the theme of my blog.

But it did and it does, in more ways than one, because; I felt vulnerable and I was being recognised for being vulnerable.

So I got over myself and the gratitude returned and I knew I was going to partake.

Here’s how the award works:

Rules:

  • Put the award logo on your blog.
  • Thank the people who nominated you, linking to their blogs.
  • Answer 7 questions asked by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate any number of bloggers you like, linking to their blogs.
  • Let them know you nominated them (by commenting on their blog, etc).
  • Ask your nominees 7 questions

I felt a tinge of guilt reading the rules as I realised that I haven’t built up many friendships on WordPress, I don’t have many followers, nor do I follow many blogs. I come on the site, make a post, read a few other people’s posts and move on. This award has made me want to become part of a community so I will also be spending more time trying to rectify that.

So before, I start answering the questions and making my own nominations I would like to say a HUGE thank you to Super Wife & Mommy for pulling me out of my blogging comfort zone.

Questions 

  • What’s an interesting thing you have read or seen this week?

An easy question to start with. It’s a blog post by Super Wife & Mommy. It is one of the most beautiful and vulnerable posts I have come across – a real heart tugger. If you read one thing today, check out her postSelf-Explanatory.

  • What do you prefer? Sitting alone in a room reading or going out partying.

This is a toughie as I am an eclectic person. I love and I mean LOVE both. Parties are great. I’m good at partying. Be it a festival, old man’s pub or clubbing into the early hours – I love it. But I also ache for alone time. I love reading. It’s my thing. I’ve always got a book on the go and crave for times where I can get lost in a story. I have balance in my life and I like it. SO on this occasion – I choose both.

  • Do you prefer digital reading (PDF, kindle, etc) or traditional books?

Easy. Books. I bought a digital reading device and couldn’t gel with it. Alas, it wasn’t a kindle and I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I enjoy getting stuck into a book and thumbing through the pages. I feel at home when I’m in a library – the smell of the books and the possibilities right there in front of your face. Aaaah I get a serious buzz just thinking about it.

  • What’s the closest thing to real magic?

When the universe and your intuition conspire to work in your favour. I’ve seen magic happen. You just have to let go and believe.

  • What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Define crazy? Many people think some of the activities I’ve done are a bit crazy. Getting naked and painting myself blue in the name of art, sky-diving, solo travelling in South America, having a body caste made, hitch-hiking, getting tattoos/piercings, skinny-dipping (hmmm I appear to be naked in most of these) but these were all so much fun. Crazy to me has been staying in a job too long, not getting into a relationship I wanted to, withholding my dreams and hanging onto the past.

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  • Your favorite quote

My favourite quote changes depending on how I’m feeling. I’m always saving new ones to my phone. I’m currently loving….

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Well that was fun. I’ve just realised there were only 6 questions. I’m going to change the questions slightly so they fit in with vulnerability.

Questions:

  1. Are you a perfectionist?
  2. What is the scariest thing you have ever done?
  3. Who do you admire?
  4. What trait do you love about yourself?
  5. What have you been giving yourself a hard time about?
  6. Do you believe in yourself?
  7. Do you like being naked? (Seriously, I’m obsessed with being naked)

Sticking with the theme of vulnerability. I have chosen bloggers that have invited me into their world and let their vulnerability shine. You guys rock:

  1. Peaceful Jellyfish
  2. Everyone Else Has the Best Titles
  3. The Other Stuff
  4. Not Just Any Job
  5. Victoria’s Bubble Blog

Note to nominees: You don’t have to continue the awards but I just wanted to let you all know that I appreciate you. Reading your posts make me feel more confident about keeping on my journey and for that I thank you.

Emma x

p.s. to any readers of this post. I’d be really interested in reading your answers to my questions in the comments. Dare you get a little vulnerable?

A piece of me!

Note: As this blog post includes an overview followed by a short story (3,044 words) this is a long read (13-16 minutes). So sit back, relax and read on……..(or run for the hills).

Overview

As many of you will know, I want to be a writer, I proclaimed it to the blogging world and my Facebook friends in this post – The write path. Since confessing my dreams, alongside this blog, I have:

Continue reading “A piece of me!”

The Adventure Island – Flash Fiction

She crouched over, allowing her lungs to take in as much air as possible. She was tired but couldn’t stop now. The cut she had sustained on her leg whilst running away added to the lethargy.

 

Smells from the shore gave her hope. She could hear the soft night time waves lapping against the rocks. The moon shone between the entangled trees, getting lighter as she neared the beach.

 

She cursed herself and her quench for an exciting life. Promises of love and laughter soon were lost beyond the sea.

 

“Adele.” Jessie panted “Hurry up, they’re not far behind us! ”

 

She picked up pace to join Jessie in the water, wincing as the salt stung her wound. Jessie took charge of the oars when they settled in the boat.

 

An adventurous, immersive and fun holiday Jessie had described this as. She was still waiting for the latter part.

 

Looking back towards the shore as the other teams began to emerge, she felt a sense of satisfaction.

 

Okay winning was quite fun!

(172 words)

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As part of my year of vulnerability I am putting myself out there with my writing. Here I am participating in a Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge. The challenge is to write a piece between 100 and 150 words (+- 25 words) inspired by the photo featured above.
Word Count: 172
Picture Credit: The Storyteller's abode by Louise
Emma x
Instagram: emmalouhalliday

 

 

The write path 📝

40 days ago I started a challenge which was recommended to me in the book ‘Making Miracles in 40 Days’. To regular visitors to my blog, you may recall me mention my experience of using it before when I visited a fertility clinic (you can read the post here). 

Well today was the last day of the challenge. Have I seen miracles? Well that would depend on what you define a miracle to be. Have I seen a change? Hell yes – no matter what your definition of change is. I definitely have. 

My miracle was made up of a total shift in mindset and a huge step closer to living uncomfortably ME. Sounds pained. But I truly believe that those that follow their passion live a life that – at most times – is uncomfortable. 

There’s the fear of the unknown. Coupled with loud and invisible whispers from others. This can often lead us to choosing to live a compromised life – that we pass off as our truth!

I know this to be true as I did this. 

At the beginning of the challenge I asked for my miracle to be in the form of my businesses booming. 

I then spent the next 40 days taking 10mins in the morning to write my NON-gratitude list. I held back for the first few days but as I started to open up to myself and become vulnerable, what I was writing began to surprise me. This included not wanting to continue on the path I’d forged for myself for over 3yrs. 

I wrote that:

  • I was unhappy
  • I was bored
  • I was unmotivated
  • I was uninspired
  • I was on the wrong path

      I tried to fight the feelings as I really wanted to hold on to my Arbonne business. Hand on heart it is one of the most amazing things to happen in my life. After a week of scribing about ‘wanting to leave’ I asked myself the question: “Would I still be doing Arbonne if I won one million pounds?”. It was a strong No!!

      I finally accepted the message. I could see clearly that this chapter had come to an end. To stay – would be giving it approval to smother my dreams!

      A whole weight, which I didn’t know I was even carrying, was lifted. And for the first time in a long time – I was looking at the world from a different perspective. 

      I also knew the time was right to pursue my passion. One that I’ve never thought of as more than an ardent hobby. 

      I was going to be a writer!

      It scared me to actually admit that. I had no plan. No ideas. No clear vision. I just knew the time was right to write

      Telling people brought with it a rush of different feelings. With some it felt like I was breaking up with them. Others I felt like a quitter. One friend told me I was brave – which may seem like an odd comment to those that don’t understand the network marketing industry. 

      Because with Arbonne I’m working with friends. I’m part of a team. I have clear guidance. Great support. A path to follow. People leading the way. Leaving the security of all this to go into the unknown – was quite brave. 

      My passion brings with it the opposite. With my writing I am laid out bare. Each word I scribe uncovering a part of me. Leaving me naked and up for scrutiny!
      It scares the hell out of me – to even just admit I’m chasing a goal like this. 

      I am a writer. I’ve always known it.  As a child I loved to write but I didn’t believe someone like me could be a writer. So I wrote, mainly in secret, and slowly my dreams faded away. 

      There have been so many signs through the years – subtly telling me “you can do it”. Oportunities presented themselves – and I took them. 

      It was a sign when:

      • I won a poetry competition when I was 15.
      • I attended a creative writing course and was told that I had natural writing talent by the tutor. 
      • I fell into a job as a festival and gig reviewer.
      • I helped pay my way around South America by writing articles, reviews and bios for other people. This included a gig watching porn to write overviews of the videos! (lonely housewife turns sultry madam for the randy postman) – I kid you not!!

      But – pursue I didn’t. I retreated back to safety as:

      • I fear criticism
      • I fear rejection
      • I fear the unknown

      Yet here I am bypassing these fears – sharing more than I planned to in this blog. Which has actually been the biggest source of happiness I’ve had in my life for longer than I dare to remember. And also another sign that I can do it!

      I thank Arbonne for getting me where I am today. The increased confidence. The mindset shift. The promotions. For shining light and beauty on to my fears. 

      To all those folk that have already forged their own paths. To have made the decision to live each day in the painful unknowing. I am inspired by you! 

      For now I’m standing up. Being unashamedly me and telling the world (ahem – the few that read my blog) that:

      I – Emma Halliday – am a writer! 

      As I said at the beginning of this post. Living your passion is uncomfortable but now I’ve had a taste of it – I know it is so fucking worth it!

      Emma x

      P.s. Another fear and a weakness of mine is asking for help. So here goes….if you’ve liked this or any of my other posts. I would be utterly grateful if you could give them a share. 

      If you know someone who has a lead into scriptwriting, publishers, magazines etc. I would really welcome an introduction. 

      If you don’t ask the answer is always going to be no and I’m wanting a yes. Another sign that I’m on the write path!

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      Instagram: @emmalouhalliday