Writing

Thank you

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Before I begin today’s blog entry, I’d just like to thank everybody who has visited my blog in April, and especially those who have written comments to me. It means a lot that so many people have been in touch to say that they are enjoying these posts either people who have been to New York City, and those who are going in the future.IMG_2023

I’m currently recovering from surgery which I had at the beginning of the month which is part of the reason I signed up to do this.

I knew I would feel slightly down about recovering from surgery as I am such an active person. But, every day has given me enjoyment as I can recoil to my fond memories of August 2013.

Writing is the one thing I truly enjoy doing, my number one hobby and it makes it even more worthwhile when I know that somebody has read something of mine and decides to spent their time in sending me feedback.

Thank you.

Best Wishes

Sarah

Northern Scribbler

Community Radio

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There are so many different ways to consume media these days whether it be through the television, billboards, social media, the internet, newspapers and magazines.

You’d think with the vastness of these mediums that radio would be a thing of the past.

You couldn’t be further from the truth.

Radio is thriving, which is brilliant news to the likes of myself who consumes many hours of radio every day of the week. From Radio 4 dramas to drivetime shows, the thing I love about radio is that you can be doing other things while absorbing it.

Listeners are just spoilt for choice these days with the variety of commercial radio stations as well as the growth in BBC radio. However, I’m mainly listening to community radio stations these days.radio smiley

Why?

Because I’ve been bitten by the radio broadcasting bug.

It’s true what they say about embracing every opportunity that comes along because you never know where it may take you.

Five months ago I went along to a session with Wythenshawe FM in a small community centre in Baguley. I’d seen an advertisement on the noticeboard for my local supermarket asking if anybody was interested in attending training for either writing radio scripts, presenting, editing and features.

So I went along thinking I could help them with the script writing. After all, I was in my final year of a masters degree in TV and Radio Scriptwriting so broadcasting credits are something that I’m looking for. It became apparent early on, that the other aspects that they were looking for were equally as important.

I felt the colour drain from my face when the words “live broadcasting” were mentioned.

It would be rude to get up and walk out at that point so I stayed for the entire session. But, at that point I had no intention of every broadcasting live – were they mad? I could barely talk to groups of people in work without fluffing my words, let alone a radio audience.

Over the next few days I thought about it more and more. If something scares me I tend to do it anyway as I really enjoy the adrenalin of achieving something that terrifies me, “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.

So, why not give it a go. The worst that can happen is that I freeze on air, and they can always fill in the space with a song.

So I did it. On the 9 December 2013, I co-presented a show with another volunteer at Wythenshawe FM and I must admit the adrenaline from being on air live is something else. Once the initial “feeling like I’m going to have a heart attack” as my heart was pounding through my chest as I waited for my half an hour slot to begin, it was fine.

After the live show in December, I carried on training with the radio station. We covered interview techniques, operating a Marantz, features, jingles, editing and then we had a number of sessions in the studio operating the desk.

The studio sessions really baffled me, as it was one thing having to talk on air, but to also operate the desk and ensure that adverts were played, songs were queued and not to leave the microphone on. The other volunteers and myself all took it in turns to broadcast live for twenty or so minutes each week. This was probably the best way to learn, as we had an experienced member of staff with us all the way to make sure that we kept the station on air.

At this point I was approached to see if I was interested in hosting my own radio show. I had to think about this one. It’s one thing to go on air with other people, but on my own and for an hour? What the hell have I possibly got to say for myself that would interest anybody in listening to me?

So, I thought about it for thirty seconds and said yes, why not. I’m sure I could think of things to talk about without anybody saying anything back to me. I live with three males – I’m used to talking to myself.radio.jpg

On 23 February 2014 The Sunday Matinee Show was first aired.

So, thank you Wythenshawe FM for giving me the opportunity to do something so out of my comfort zone that I would never have dreamed six months ago that I would be hosting my own show.

The Sunday Matinee Show

‘The Sunday Matinee Show’ is not only an entertainment show, but I also want to showcase up and coming local Manchester talent, whether it be writers, theatre companies, actors or musicians etc.

If you are a local writer, performing artist, band or theatre company then please contact either myself direct at https://www.facebook.com/TheSundayMatineeShow  or on twitter @SarahD_wfmradio

Mid-life crisis or Self-Destruction?

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Do you ever wake up in the middle of the night crippled in terror that there are just not enough hours in the day, or days in the week?

I’ve been feeling like this for a few weeks now. Just wishing there were more hours in the day, and also wishing the things that I’m doing now in my life which are really giving me a lot of fulfillment – well I wish I had done them ten years ago when I was younger, in better health and had more energy,

This feeling co-incides with deadlines that are looming. And I mean really important deadlines to me.

I’m interested to know how other writers who also hold down full-time jobs manage their time.

Any hints of tips would be gratefully received, because I have to tell you that I don’t like the feeling of being overwhelmed all the time.

It manifests itself with the knowledge that I have deadlines looming. If I have a particularly stressful day in the day job and I come home feeling exhausted, then I end up doing nothing except feeling guilty.

If I decide to sit on the sofa and unwind, or listen to a radio show then I then have a feeling of guilt that I should be writing.
I’ll be functioning normally for a couple of weeks but will then start to feel so exhausted mentally that by the time I get home in the evening I can barely string two sentences together, never mind write a script.

How do other writers manage their time between working, writing and general life. Please tell me!

The last time this happened was three weeks ago. I’d been feeling increasingly annoyed at myself that my evening writing had become practically none existent due to feeling tired every night. This then sent me on a downer as the realisation that I’d wasted four nights of valuable writing time hit home.

My current writing schedule is that I have two 45 minute episodes to write to second draft by the end of March (approx. 15,000 words). These pieces are for my final major project for my Masters degree. They are passed to my supervisor for notes at the end of the month and the clock is indeed ticking.

On top of that though I am conscious that I really want to try and write for the blog at least once a week, even if its utter nonsense from my head like this post is.

I’m still reviewing theatre shows and did I mention that I have my own weekly radio show now which I am trying to get off the ground?

This is what I seem to do. I take on way too much than I should, and then have a hissy-fit when I run myself down to the last drop of energy.

I’m sure there is some psychological reason why I constantly push myself with challenges. Who knows? Mid-life crisis or just pure self-destruction?

Last night when I got home from work, I sat and had my dinner with my family. We talked, we laughed and then we watched some television together. Perfect. It actually was perfect, I can’t remember the last time I led on the sofa cuddling my son.

I was really enjoying the evening, until the demon in my head told me that I was wasting valuable hours enjoying myself when I should have been on the laptop editing draft two because that deadline is creeping towards me.

World Book Day

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I woke up this morning to the usual packed timeline on Facebook and Twitter of enthusiastic parents proudly displaying their works of art.

The works of art being their children dressed up as characters from a story to celebrate the 2014 World Book Day.

As I rolled over in bed looking at these images on my phone I felt a tiny sense of sadness that my children are both too old for this, but that was immediately overtaken by a sense of relief.
I am now excused from the pressure exerted on us parents from the schools in what became known to me as shaming those parents who couldn’t spend weeks preparing a hand-made costume.

Oh yes indeed, I used to despise the pressure that was World Book Day in my kids primary school.

It wasn’t cute, it wasn’t a celebration of books, characters and authors – no it was a competition amongst the nightmare playground mothers who thrived on little Cayden or little Sophie winning the coveted prize awarded by the school for the best costume.

Being a full-time working mother I used to feel intense pressure the moment that letter from the school had made its way home to announce that National Who’s a Bad Parent? World Book Day was coming.

I all but booted my kids out of the car every day as I had to battle the traffic to get to work each day.

Where would I find time to go to the crafts shop, make the costume and more importantly make a good job of it so that child was not picked on by those kids dressed by Gok and Tony Hart. The ones where the mothers had spent the past two weeks in between Jeremy Kyle and Loose Women to cut, stitch and design those costumes.

One year I made Mr Bump during my lunch break at work as soon as I’d realised that tomorrow was the show off day. I’ve been up to 1am gluing pipe cleaners to a swimming cap to make a “Wild Thing” until finally the last year I had to endure this mockery of books, I gave in and bought a Where’s Wally costume which I accessorised.

World Book Day 2011, as my child rocked up dressed as Where’s Wally, he was pushed aside by Cayden who had to get the double doors open so that he could walk into school with flipping Hogwarts attached to him.

Deep breathe – it was fine. I would never have to endure this test to how to make a working mother feel like a failure again.

I wouldn’t have minded but for most of these competitive parents experience of reading probably went as far as Fifty Shades of Grey, never mind read on a regular basis and passing on their love of books to their kids.

World Book Day should be a time to celebrate the great stories of the past and present. Let’s try and get back to that instead of making it such a vile excuse for parents to show off.image

Busy bee

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Again it’s been a while since I last wrote a post on this blog.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a long list of ideas to blog about and of course here comes the excuses.

There haven’t been enough hours in the day recently. Working on a 90 page script for my final project in my MA has taken every ounce of energy out of me since Christmas.

It’s not over, not by a longshot it merely means that I’ve handed in my first draft and I’m currently awaiting my supervisor to send me her notes. Once I receive her notes, I then have to work on draft number two which has a deadline of the 12 March. The same process happens that she’ll send me her notes and the third draft is submitted in May alongside a 3000 word report.

As if that wasn’t enough, I’ve been writing my first stage play since October. I say first, it’s not really my first stage play, but it’s the first one that I’ve finished. I’m going to write a separate blog about this, because I really am quite excited about this piece of writing. They say that you’re only as good as your last project, I hope this project gets good feedback at its rehearsed reading next week.

Finally, did I mention that I’ve also been volunteering at my local community radio station?

What started out as me just going along to a session to try and find out about writing scripts for them has turned into me being trained as a presenter, presenting on three live shows and I also wrote them a 60 minute radio play which was broadcast over the festive period.

Having written all that down in this entry, add to that that I work 40+ hours per sat
week in my day job, match report for an ice hockey team at weekends and try and find time to be a mother and wife……well no wonder the blog has been abandoned somewhat.

I only have one regret about all of the above. Why didn’t I do all these exciting things that make me feel inspired and proud of myself ten/fifteen years ago when I was much younger.

In my case youth was definitely wasted on the young.

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Happy New Year

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It’s been a while since I’ve blogged on here, and to be honest I feel a bit bad about that.

A couple of reasons really, I’ve been busy writing two plays and continueing with all the other writing commitments that I have. I’m struggling with an ongoing back problem which has made it just bareable to carry on working, but leaving me exhausted in the evening and just being damn right lazy.

I’m still to blog about my trip to NYC, the saga with my ailing back and my Christmas radio play.

For the person who read a review I did about a certain play that I endured at The Lowry who went on to say that I was a frustrated writer and hadn’t finished anything. Well I have and I had a radio play broadcast four times over Christmas. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Years Eve. I’m also well on my way to writing two out of six episodes of my comedy drama “The Starr GIrls” – yes you read it here first. Determined to get those finished and hopefully graduate this year with my MA in Television and Radio Scriptwriting, unless my back gets in the way. It would be a fabulous achievement to have completed my undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in my thirties.

With the new year comes those awful new years resolutions. What is it that a different day, brings with it a time of reflection and the need to change things about oneself.

I don’t like new years resolutions – I much prefer to set myself targets. That way if I fail miserably I won’t feel like such a failure which I think with resolutions you do. I know, it’s the same thing really isn’t it?

What are yours? I love finding out from people.

I’m going to be joining weightwatchers again on Thursday – along with half of the population I suspect. I don’t know what’s happened to me in the past 18 months but my will power got up and left me, and with it it’s left some extra flab and a horrendous sweet tooth. I managed to lose a couple of stones before I started the job where I am now. But overtime it’s slowly crept back on. Not helped with having to decrease my exercise when my back started giving me hell shortly after returning from holiday in September. So back to fat club I will go, back to counting points, being hungry and if I am a grumpy cow at the moment it will get worse when my belly is screaming out for snickers and custard creams.

Facebook. Oh yes indeed this one rears it’s ugly head as I realise how much time I spend reading posts every day. I have eased myself off posting things on there other than posters, captions etc but I do need to stop reading it before I get up in the morning. It winds me up – full of attention seekers, show offs, baby bores or moaners. I much prefer twitter and have a fondness for a number of my followers, but just love the way I can watch TV and find out the opinion of others who are watching the same show as me. Powerful stuff.

I’ve already mentioned trying to pass my degree this year. I’m also going to try and not be a doormat that certain people in my life only contact when they want something. In future I am going to put myself first, and to stop tieing myself in knots to try and please folk.

Every payday I am going to treat myself to an item of clothing. Over Christmas I have looked through my wardrobe which is full of clothes which I never wear anymore, clothes that are faded and tattered. I have a couple of pairs of shoes and that is all. I realise that I really need to invest in making myself feel better about myself and it starts with clothes. A woman of my age should not live in converse, and work shoes – have no clothes to go shopping in other than jeans and a hoodie. No more, I wouldn’t think twice about spending money on my kids so it’s time to spend a little on myself.

And that’s it. There’s enough there to keep me going in 2014. We’ll see how many I actually achieve by the time I reach the end of this year. But, no matter what I do or don’t achieve this year one thing I did do was finally go to New York City. If I never do anything more with my life at least I have the fabulous memories of that wonderful city.

Fear of Flying – Part 2

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I cannot thank British Airways flying without fear course enough for educating people like me in the mechanics of flying.

It was very reassuring that I wasn’t the only person with such an intense fear as the class of a hundred people was full. They educate you with the statistics of how safe flying is, the mechanics of how the plane manages to get off the ground in the first place and stay in the sky. I knew that I was much safer being on a plane than I was being in a car. During the flight there is commentary about every single sound, sensation and experience that passengers feel when they are flying. I felt confident that the next “real” flight I would experience would be a nerve wracking one, but that the safety wouldn’t be an issue for me.

Given how incredibly scared I was at the prospect of getting on a plane I also had a series of hypnotherapy sessions which I found also really helped me in coping with my feelings of anxiety. Overcoming that fear was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, and ten years ago I would have laughed at anybody who suggested that I would stop taking holidays to Wales.

In the years that have followed I have flown to Dublin, Barcelona, Paris, Menorca, Portugal, Amsterdam, Stuttgart, Munich, Nice and Rome. I’ve seen a lot of places, experienced different cultures and can quite honestly say that I am richer in life because of the travelling.
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However, I still hadn’t made it to New York yet, or managed to fly past three and a half hours. The flying was becoming comfortable but I knew that I had to step it up and do a long haul flight.

I don’t do things by halves that’s for sure. An offer came at the start of this year for a holiday to the USA and Canada with family. I immediately felt nervous about the flight, and doubted whether I could sit in one place for so many hours with only my thoughts to drive me to panic. The only way that I would get on a long haul flight would be if the first flight was New York bound. This was in our budget so it was something to look forward to.

Anyone who is scared of flying will sympathise with how anal you can get when booking these things. I must have spent hours looking at the routes to New York from Manchester. I would then look to see which size planes they were, and which seats were available. Crazy I know, but a lot of the fear is about staying in control so I needed to control all aspects of this. It wasn’t like flying to Portugal where I knew I would be airborne for only a few hours.

Thank goodness that British Airways (my saviours again) allow you to view the aircraft type, the seating arrangements and give you control of most aspects of the journey. Back in April 2013, I finally booked the tickets. First stop London Heathrow, then to New York, then a short flight from Boston to Toronto, then a long flight from Toronto to Vancouver and finally flying home to London from Vancouver which was the longest flight.

I didn’t really think about the flying in the coming months. I was getting so excited about going to New York that it was merely a means to get from A to B – right? Wrong. The anxiety that I had experienced a few times when I first started to fly kicked in again. It was horrendous and I couldn’t seem to shake it off. What should have been an exciting build up to the holiday of a lifetime was turning into a nightmare – although I would have welcomed a nightmare as I sure as hell wasn’t able to sleep much.

Again though this was the product of my visualisations and the fact that I couldn’t ever imagine myself in Times Square or seeing the Statue of Liberty. Only a brave person could get on a plane and be up in the air for eight hours, I’m not that brave!

The week leading up to the flight I was a nervous wreck. Thankfully my mind was preoccupied with work and a script idea to try not to think about the eight hour flight that was imminent. I got really cross with myself given that I have flown so many times in the past five years, so I know what to expect, I knew I would be fine but for some reason it was really was a huge anxiety with it being long haul. I visited my hypnotherapist again for a top up session and downloaded his mp3 onto my iphone so I could at least listen to him should I have feelings of panic on the plane. After all, keeping calm for three hours is a lot different than eight hours.

The night before the flight I ensured that I had a bag full of activities to keep me occupied. My ipad was loaded with some movies and TV shows that I could rely on to entertain me should the inflight entertainment be dull. Wordsearch, audiobooks, kindle with a selection of easy reading chick lits, notebook and an elastic band. Anybody reading who suffers with panic attacks will know that distraction is a key thing for getting through an anxiety attack. For me flicking the elastic band when it is on my hand firstly takes my mind off the feelings, plus it’s a non-verbal signal to my other half that he may need to distract me.

First flight was a short one from Manchester to London Heathrow. Apart from the ham and cheese snacks smelling vile and making me heave this flight, although bumpy was fine. It was only forty minutes long – a walk in the park.
On arrival at Heathrow passengers on long haul transfer to another terminal by tram. At this point my levels of fear were increasing and I recall saying to my husband “No matter what happens, you get on the plane and make sure @#### has a fantastic holiday (@#### is my youngest child).

Then something happened to me when I saw the aeroplane at the gate. I looked at the sign which gave the flight detail and that it said NEW YORK, and I got incredibly excited. Oh my goodness I was about to fly to New York.

New York! This was what all of this hypnotherapy and tackling the fear was all about – New York. “Do one thing every day that scares you” is an affirmation that I live by. Today was no different, except I was heading to Lady Liberty and the Big Apple.

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So I did. Once on board the fear went away altogether when I saw how huge the plane was. Not the most leg space considering we would be sitting for eight hours but there was plenty of room to walk around and do you know what? That flight went by so quickly. At one point I wrote in my notebook a reminder to myself that I felt calm, the flight was smooth and I shouldn’t be afraid of the trip back to the UK in three weeks’ time.

For the trip I flew six times including three long hauls, and coming home from Vancouver I experienced my first real turbulence over the Atlantic Ocean which occurred when my son and I were queuing for the toilet. We were knocked off our feet and managed to stagger back to our seats, but it didn’t phase me at all. I won’t be a prisoner to my fear, and being able to visit different countries and build memories and adventures makes it all worth while.

My travel blogs will be following this post in due course.

Thanks to British Airways for not only delivering their Flying without Fear courses, but for always being courteous and professional to all of their passengers, even the nervous ones.

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Fear of Flying – Part 1

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fear of lfyingApparently one in ten of the population suffer with aero-phobia, also known as fear of flying. Fear of flying is mainly linked to the fear of aeroplanes or other problems such as panic attacks and claustrophobia. Sufferers have in increase to anxiety and panic attacks at the thought of flying.

I am one of these people and I want to share my experiences with whoever is reading this post.

People suffering with fear of flying commonly fall into one of two groups. The first group are people who fear an “internal loss of control”. For such individuals, their fear of flying stems from a fear that they will lose control of their emotions during flight and therefore embarrass themselves in front of fellow passengers. These people may express concern about suffering a panic attack, loss of control of bodily functions or become hysterical. For others, the fear is associated with external factors such as turbulence, bad weather or a fault with the aeroplane.

I suffered with both of those factors. Like many people my childhood didn’t involve any air travel. I vaguely remember a family holiday to Spain when I was five, but since then nothing. At the age of twenty I began suffering with panic attacks which at one point were so crippling that I wouldn’t leave the flat that I lived in, and if I did I had to be accompanied by my boyfriend. Flying was something we had discussed when talking about holidays, but I knew how terrified I was when a panic attack happened at home, let alone at 36,000 feet with hundreds of other people.

So, then came the holidays to Devon, Cornwall and Wales because I couldn’t even begin to imagine that I would ever be brave enough to fly anywhere in the world. Maybe one day I would wake up and be brave enough to see Paris and New York (the two places on my list of places to visit before I die).

With parents who are very nervous travellers, perhaps this was a lot to do with my psychological barrier into the whole flying thing. If my parents were scared then there must be something to really be fearful of? In a space of three years, I did try to be brave and booked two holidays but ended up for the first holiday having a panic attack at boarding and not being able to proceed onto the aircraft. The second time I didn’t even get to the airport. The latter was in 2003. That was my last attempt (in my mind). I would forever be a regular at Haven, St Ives and Ilfracombe.

That was until August 2006 when my eldest son who was ten at the time went to the USA with his granddad. I recall standing on the aviation viewing car park at Manchester Airport crying as I was worried that if anything happened overseas I couldn’t get to him.
And you know those moments in your life when you will meet someone, or have a conversation with another person that will change your life forever? Well I’ve had a couple in my life and this was one of them. I was sitting in a board meeting at work when for some reason myself and a senior colleague were talking and I told him about my son being in America, my fear of flying etc. His wife had the same fear and he recommended to try the hypnotherapist that helped his wife.

At that moment I decided that not only would I try a hypnotherapist to help with the fear of panic/flying but I would also book onto a Fear of Flying course. The only person I told about this was my best friend at the time, because if I didn’t go through with the flight that was part of the course then nobody would know any better.

Let me tell you that flying was the biggest worry in my life. It took so much courage and guts to get on that plane for that course. Right up until the moment I boarded I didn’t think I would go through with it. Firstly, because I didn’t think I was that brave a person and secondly because I couldn’t ever visualise myself looking out of a window at 36,000 feet and seeing the world below.

In the end it was only 19,000 feet as we flew to the Isle of Man. That moment, right there when I sat on the runway shaking and just wanting it all to be over was the moment that my life changed forever.
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