Month: November 2011

Inspiring: Finding ways around dyslexia to become a teacher

Edublogs   aims to promote the use of social media in providing educational resources to both teachers and students. Their yearly awards highlight blogs and posts that are working to provide those resources or highlight important educational issues.

Michelle Moloney King is a teacher and writer. She also happens to be dyslexic. In this personal and engaging post Thinking Outside the Box   she outlines how dyslexia affected her throughout her life, the strategies she used for hiding it and working round it as a student. She also explains how her struggles led her to be inventive about learning, devising manuals that focussed more on visuals than text, manuals which were so popular that it was suggested that she should become a teacher.

Nomination for the most influential blog post category Thinking Outside the Box   Michelle Moloney King

Her account of how she persevered with her studies as a teacher despite her challenges is very inspiring and it is for that reason that I’d like to nominate her for the Edublog awards in the most influential blog post category.

NaNoWriMo in the bag

I’ve been quiet here for a while because I’ve been spending any spare time completing the 50,000 word challenge of NaNoWriMo. I’ve been working on something that I’m very excited about The Exhibit of Held Breaths and for which I’ve been awarded a retreat in the summer to continue work on it.

It’s been a good NaNoWriMo overall, no major panics. Early morning writing and getting a little bit ahead at the start saved me having to do major catchups as I’ve had two on my two previous NaNoWriMos and the subject matter still remained fresh for me even though the pace was frantic. I am looking forward to writing at a slightly slower more considered pace with breaks for research and thinking about the story. However I will bring forward the writing discipline and particular routine (2 hrs in the early morning followed by a stint later where possible) into the future.

To read more about the journey through NaNoWrimo, you can read my writing journal here.

Best of luck to all those who are still pelting down words today and tomorrow to finish. You can do it!

#fridayflash Do not forget the girl forgotten

I’m very happy to have been invited by Johanna Harness to post my #fridayflash today on the #amwriting website. This beautifully designed website has plenty of terrific articles by writers who use the #amwriting twitter hashtag to connect. If for any reason, you can’t access or comment on the story there, here it is:

It was the 70s, sideburns and plaid. There was a birthday party. Gertie had seen the trifle with the sugary spongey fingers and the hundreds and thousands on top. It must have been Saturday because the man who was her Dad was there, he was in the garden trying to catch butterflies with a net, actually a fishing net – it still had straggles of seaweed wrapped round it. Gertie had seen on the telly that nets were made in Bridport by a woman who was very skilled at hooking the twine round. Bridport had a tradition of net making the programme said. They started with fishing nets but later they went on to other nets for things like football. The netmaking people said that one of their brilliant nets had been used in the 1966 World Cup between England and Germany. That wasn’t very fair to Germany then, was it? Dad’s net didn’t come from Bridport, it came from the seafront in a place they had been on holidays.

Gertie was under the table. From out of her pocket she took out the string of a cat’s cradle. She wound it round her fingers in the long parallel strings of candles and the concertina of diamonds. One, two, three, four, five. Gertie wasn’t sure what age she was. No-one had told her.

Gertie thought about the food above her head, about the rows of sponge fingers at the bottom of the trifle, about the bowl in which the trifle was made, pale green glass with a pattern of repeating diamonds, the plaid on her skirt, repeating intersecting bands of colour. The wallpaper’s repeating rhomboids.

The birthday party wasn’t for her, she didn’t think. She wasn’t sure who it was for although that girl from next door was here, the one who’s right thumb was half the size of her left and was constantly spongy. And there was the girl who sat beside her in school and stole her fancy pencils. And there was her cousin Lily who had a very thin and delicate name but a wide body like a descending parachute and fat black boots and a heavy stomp. She was affectionate, like a Great Dane, she often came up close to Gertie whispering gibberish intimacies while spraying a mist of spittle against her skin.

What Gertie wanted right now was a person, a person she supposed you might call a friend who would know how to do the cat’s cradle with her, pinch out the strings, help her turn it into something else

A head appeared under the table, upside down so that he had a beard of curly black hair and his eyes spoke. “You aren’t real” said the boy. “You don’t talk normal. What’s wrong with your mouth?” Gertie didn’t answer. Sometimes she didn’t feel she had a mouth. Sometimes she felt like those special post boxes where you pulled up the lever to see all the letters inside and then pulled it shut again so it was just metal, boxed up. The boy disappeared and then it was just feet. Patent shoes, a pair of wellington wellies, scuffed runners. Then legs, skinny pales ones like cricket bats turned sideways.

There was a lot of noise from the garden. From under the table Gertie could just see out the kitchen door but only through a gap that was triangle shaped like the segments in her aunty’s special tray for what she called ‘nibbles’. From what Gertie could see, her father had put down the net and was helping Barry arrange fireworks beside a realistic cardboard model of an Apollo shuttle. They had laughed at Gertie because she called it a Polo shuttle. She had been thinking about those round sweets with a hole in the middle that came in mint or fruit. Barry and her father had forgotten her, and her mother was busy talking to her Aunty who was holding the nibbles tray. Gertie looked back down at the cat’s cradle. It was lovely once she held it tight but she couldn’t do that forever.

When Gertie’s was three months old her mother left her in the pram outside the butchers and went home. Once they forgot her when they went on holidays – her grandad found her when he called round to put out the bins. He said that her parents were away with the fairies. She thought they had gone with Barry and Gary. When her mother told the stories of her family they always left her out. She heard her grandmother say once that she had been an afterthought. Somehow that made her think of after dinner mints with the green stuff inside. That cheered her up. But then \again there was the time when her mother leapt up after a dinner party exclaiming – “The after dinner mints! I forgot to put them out!” There was always some kind of tragedy or commotion.

Gertie had been hopeful for her mother, despite her forgetfulness until she started hanging things up, wind chimes, dream catchers, those yellow sticky strips that caught flies. Gertie used to dance in front of her, trying to catch her attention but it never worked. It was as if she wasn’t there, as if she was an after dinner mint from the after life.

But if she had been from the afterlife they might have seen her. Gertie’s family were always looking to the sky, to the butterflies and the UFOs, the trajectory of comets, the parallel vapour trails of airshow jets. Gertie looked at the cat’s cradle. She heard the fireworks whoosh in the dusk, she heard the cheers of all the faraway people. Perhaps it actually had been her birthday, but now she was utterly forgotten. She sat quite still under the table until she could not longer be seen, until, in fact she disappeared, in the finger shadows of chair legs.

Life on Mars and Getting in the Zone

If this blog has fallen unnaturally silent it is because my writing efforts are being directed towards completing the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word challenge and also blogging about it. It’s going very well over all and I’ve added several posts here on writing.ie with various topics, including Getting in the Zone, Life on Mars (the challenges of the third quarter in long term space missions) and Writing a Mission Statement for your novel.

It’s a physically and mentally challenge endeavour and the most difficult thing is not to have an occasional day off incorporated into it. These last couple of weeks have been really busy in general and I have projects to keep me very busy right through until the end of January so I’m trying to balance work, rest and family life as best I can!

Watch out tomorrow for some more #fridayflash fiction. I have another guest appearance on the #amwriting website.

Maria Duffy – Any Dream will Do!

Back in March I interviewed Irish writer and fellow mum of four Maria Duffy in my mother writer series. I am absolutely delighted to announce that today is the publication day for her novel Any Dream Will Do. It’s been a whirlwind of a year for her, since signing with her Curtis Brown agent Sheila Crowley and getting a two book deal with Hodder Headline. In the last few days she announced that she did a sixteen hour stint to finish a draft of her next novel. But in the meantime huge congratulations to her on the official launch date of Any Dream will Do! Do check it out. I’ll be joining her for the real life book signing launch (all welcome) next Tuesday in Dubray in Dublin and I wish her all the very best.

NaNoWriMo Journal on Writing.ie

The folks at Writing.ie have asked me to keep a NaNoWriMo writing journal this year. At the risk of boring you I have agreed to jot down a few notes on my progress, my lack of progress, nasty critic gremlins and so on. So far my early morning regime is working for me but I don’t know how long the momentum will last as I’m working hard on another project too and beginning already to feel the fatigue! If you like adventure suspense, the “will she make it or not kind of thing” then my NaNoJournal might just be for you. Or if you just want to laugh, make yourself feel better or give out because today I’ve finished early you might like it too….

It’s here