Monday, 22 April 2013

Tales from Stocksbridge

Hello, hello, hello!

It has been a long while since I updated this blog, which as usual, means that I haven't done much writing.

I have been doing something rather exciting, however, in the last couple of months: leading a short story writing competition at school, and then sorting out the publication of all the stories in an ebook!

This is what the finished product looks like:

How exciting!

You can now download the ebook from Amazon, by just clicking: HERE!

Please do download it! It's a great ebook, which really shows off the budding talents of young writers at Stocksbridge High School (and hidden talents of staff and parents!). And I suppose it's the first school ebook of its kind, which is really rather exciting. :D I am a pioneer of sorts, hehe.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Another Year

Any silence on this blog is a clear indication of how little writing I have done in that time, and I cringe to see that I last updated the blog in April 2013... but I have started again a bit lately. I'm rewriting Zack to take it into a completely new direction, because the last version didn't really work. It's around 12,000 words at the moment...

Though I haven't been writing much, I have been reading a lot. I'm currently reading a book called My Name is Mina, which seems to have been written to be used in a classroom. It's a bit polemical but it's full of creative writing ideas and would make a brilliant scheme of work for Y7 or Y8. I might have to develop it to teach next year when I go back to the PGCE... I still need to get to the end, of course, but I'm really liking it so far.

On that vein, I was looking into David Almond and I stumbled across this video. I haven't listened to it all, but a couple of minutes in, there is a wonderful quote from the man, which I have to repeat here:

“People say to writers: when did you start writing? But the question should be, for people who aren't writers: when did you stop writing?”
(David Almond)

He's making a point that all children have to write when they are at school. I may have huge gaps in my productivity, but I could never 'stop' writing! Perhaps the education system fails if it puts children off writing. So, if you are not a writer, when did you stop and why?

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Easter Update

It's been a stressful sort of holiday, for one reason or another...

It started off pretty well, with a trip to Buckingham and beyond (!) to see a friend who has moved down there to work *sob*. My boyfriend and I turned it into a mini-road trip and we visited Thorpe Park, Warwick Castle (really recommend!), Legoland. In that order. No, you're right, the order doesn't make sense for travelling. But we had our reasons... Then, when I returned up North, I made the most delightful chocolatey goodies with another friend.

Unfortunately, I came down with tonsillitis in the second week of the holiday! It's been pretty rough. I could handle the sore, pus-infected, swollen tonsils but the constant headache and fever were awful. It was hard to do very much for several days, which was frustrating, since there was (as always) a lot to get done. Fortunately, I still had some of the mindless tasks left, so I was doing filing for most of my illness.

I'm still not fully recovered, but I'm feeling a lot better. I can almost swallow properly now!

Another stress has been the threat of moving internet providers. It still hasn't quite happened but THE BOX is in the living room (it has the new wireless router in it). Dad is saving money. He doesn't realise that our current company has been hosting my website for free for the last five years and that my hit count has been oh so steadily creeping up. That's why I've been so frustrated.

Fortunately, a kind benefactor offered to give me some of his webspace, which is ever so generous. Ordinarily, it seems that you have to pay per month! I've had to buy a domain, but now the site is fully transferred over: Please click and help me establish it, the poor thing.

Because I've acted in time, I've put some redirects from my old site to the new site. I'm hoping this will help the new site to establish itself... It's not going to be anywhere near as popular, but maybe just maybe if I'm lucky I won't have to go RIGHT back to one hit a day. Maybe.

Ah well. That's my life at the moment. I'm back to school on Monday, which I am looking forward to. I have various new ideas to try out with my classes. I'm doing Creative Writing with Y7, which should be a nice scheme of work. Which reminds me of my own writing. For some reason Shadow Lords is in my mind at the moment: it wants me to redraft it again. Or to write the prequel. o_O Not sure I have time for either of those things...unless I resurrect my Paragraph-a-Day on Critique Circle.

Friday, 16 March 2012

Free afternoon

I should probably make a start on some lesson planning, but I feel I've deserved a break, since I've just come back from another job rejection. Getting a job is so hard...

I thought my mini-lesson today went quite well, and thought I'd at least get through to the interview stage. But it was another lunchtime elimination. If I can take anything good from it, at least they said that no one 'failed' in their teaching...just that some people were better than others. Thinking back, I can think of areas where there needs to be improvement. At the time, the rejection did surprise me -- I was just so happy until that point, because I delivered well today in a number of areas that have previously been lacking.

I do feel that I'm making progress now, more than ever before. My mentor at my new placement school is simply fantastic; I just can't get over how wonderful she is. So I need to keep the progression going and I suppose I'll have to just keep applying. I'm lucky that I can, at least, get invited to job interviews: some people can't even get that far.

So I thought I'd just update the blog a bit about where things are. I'm so determined to be a really amazing teacher... A bit gutted because I would have just loved to have worked at that school so much, but oh well. I suppose I'll find somewhere else...eventually.

Until the next blue moon...

Sunday, 29 January 2012

On Writing

Welcome to the New Year, almost at the end of the first month. Hmm.

Anyway, here's a good quote from an anime film called Whispers of the Heart:

"It’s a special kind of rock called a geode. When you first become an artist, you’re like that rock. You’re in a raw, unnatural state, with hidden gems inside. You need to dig down deep and find the emeralds tucked away inside you. And that’s just the beginning. Once you’ve found your gems, you have to polish them. It takes a lot of hard work."

I may share that in class at some point. Hehe.

It's a good film to watch, too. :D

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Reflections on the last seven weeks…

What other job would let you walk into work, dressed in a silly green top hat and scarf, to spend a chunk of time pretending to be Scrooge? Where else would your feeble attempts at drama be met with a round of applause from impressed eleven-year-olds?

In what other job could you read silly stories like Chaucer’s Miller’s Tale as part of its requirements? What other job requires you to be on top of all the latest children’s fiction, in order to be able to sincerely recommend it?

Where else would you always be the most powerful person in the room, the one who decides upon every activity that takes place in the room? Elsewhere, how often would people turn to you, with an implicit trust that you will have their answer? In what other job could your mind be opened in a brand new way, by a single insightful comment?

Where else can you teach a word like “inferior” and then read twenty-four essays a week later that include it (often with the right spelling and almost always in the right context)?

In what other job can you care so much about a group of people and be determined to do your all to help them achieve their very best? Where else would you receive an “aww” or a round of applause when you explain that you won’t be there after the holidays?

How often does a job have perks like a free performance, where a bunch of youths display their musical talents? Choirs, solo singers, brass bands, pianists and more. In what other job could you watch a free production of Grease, where an all-star amateur cast of adults put themselves on display for the amusement of others? Or where, if you felt brave enough (which I didn’t), you could join them?

The last seven weeks have been exhausting. I’ve never had a moment to myself. Stress has kept me awake many nights. There have been times when I’ve cried. And cried. And cried.

But I wouldn’t want to do anything else.

Monday, 31 October 2011

Spreading the word...

I've been googling myself again. I know, I know. Egotistical freak. Actually, I was wanting to see whether my email address was floating around at all (which might explain a recent influx of annoying spam).

What I found when typing in part of my email address was bizarrely disturbing:

On this page is a review by "E. Taylor "elizabeth_jane_taylor" (24 September 2011)". And it is indeed a review I wrote. But I didn't write it on 24 September 2011 and I didn't write it on that website. It was written on years ago, just after The Da Vinci Code was first released on DVD.

Not that I really mind my words being spread around, but it was strange to see it re-published without my permission. Really random, too. Having glanced at the other reviews on the page, I can only think that the website owners were looking for reviews that compared to the book to the film. Maybe it's a new site and they wanted to make themselves look popular by stealing reviews from elsewhere and claiming users wrote them on their pages.

It's still rather disconcerting. And shows how things don't simply disappear from the web once you publish them. They can, apparently, randomly reappear after years of being forgotten.

Be careful what you write: you never know who might be reading or where it's been published.