A writer that doesn’t write?

I started this blog with naive visions of a community of followers, all desperate to read the next post I put up. I’m not confident in many things, infact not much at all, but I know I can tell a good story. Like Stephen King I write from experience or nightmares, sometimes both, and really throw myself into the emotions of the character at any one time which leads to some fascinating car journeys home from work (I’ve bought on a panic attack once, just to write about it accurately). Within weeks I realised that blogging is not an instant ‘fame maker’ per say but I kept trying. Over the last few years, I’ve stopped completely – the occasional post going up followed by months of silence when viewers didn’t flock to my blog. I would look at people like Zoe Sugg, known as Zoella, Tanya Burr, Louise and other blogger/vloggers who have made a solid career out of blogging, each post getting thousands of comments and quickly spiralled into a deep depression where I questioned my ability to write.

One day I was sat watching Suits with my other half and a character, Jessica, said she had worked hard to build her Company from scratch (actually she’d stolen it from Daniel Hardman but lets not get into that). It was just a statement to move the episode along but it really hit home to me. I hadn’t tried, rather expected it to happen to me. How selfish is that? I want to be a novelist yet haven’t written a manuscript. I want followers but don’t follow people. I expect it to be handed to me on a plate and, at 26, I should certainly know better. It was nothing short of an epihany.

If I want people to reply to my stories, to start discussions surrounding what I’ve written or questions I’ve asked then I need to put the work in. The following are my targets:

* Start writing regularly – at least once a week, on a Sunday, building up to more.

* Reading/subscribing to other blogs I enjoy – simple really, share the love!

* Submit to competitions and really work at creating a ‘brand’ of myself – how can      people read my writing if I am not writing anything

* Be more personal – I am natural quite a recluse but I want you to get to know   me as well as my stories, often they overlap anyway

So I may not be Stephen King or Jodie Picoult…not just yet…but I am Sarah-Jayne, sometimes known as chronicles, and I will get my name out there! Now to find a pen…

Return of the Queen!

The water lapping against my body was a welcome feeling. I was so warm and it offered a little bit of relief, just a little. Opening my eyes, I tried to take in my surroundings and figure out where I was. Think back Charlotte I thought, the fog that encompassed my mind trying to thin itself and let memories seep through but they were patchy. A phone, a gold dress, pre going out cocktails, a text, a man and then… then… then nothing. Frustrated I sit up and look at my wrists for any stamps or signs of where I have been but they are plain except for a small scrape on my inner palm. Did I fall over? Running my hands over the rest of my body, I look for any more injuries, I have a bruise forming on my knee and a deep cut on my right hip, its tidy and clean, more like an incision then a cut. I place my hands on the floor and start to push myself up before a sharp stabbing pain rushes through my wrists and I fall back down, its jarred. Definitely fell down.

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Flash fiction: A sailors protection

Michael clung on to the edge of the ship with all his strength, the large waves crushing his body and loosening his grip each time they hit the boat.  He felt his hand slipping; he couldn’t hold on for much longer, he was going to die.
Once he hit the water Michael continued to sink in the direction of the ship. The vacuum caused by the sinking vessel was dragging him in and removing chance of rescue. Looking down, his blurred eyes just made out someone – or something in front of him – that couldn’t be real, could it?

Swimming from the sea floor in the direction of the ship, was what looked like a human. It swum smoothly, not needing air at all, like a fish. Stopping when it met his eye, it passed him apparatus he did not recognize; she motioned for him to put it in his mouth. With nothing to lose Michael did and immediately his burning lungs took in oxygen and he could breathe.

Dragging him to the seas surface, she waited until he found nearby debris to float on, and then disappeared. Frantically searching, he saw only a single opening oyster to show she had ever been there as the flashlight of the rescue ship circled around him.

Have we truly moved past homophobia?

The BBC are facing a row over homophobia as they cut the ‘lesbian kiss’ from their Asian airing of Doctor Who.

On the 23rd of August 6.8 million people tuned into BBC One to watch Pete Capaldi’s premier as the new Dr Who, a figure that had risen to 10 million by this morning.  Although widely received well by the audiences, a kiss between Madame Vestra and her human wife Jenny Flint.  There were six official complaints made to the BBC but Twitter went made with people stating it was ‘inappropriate’ and a ‘blatant gay agenda’.

The scene in quanigif_enhanced-25819-1409584217-1estion was depicted as an oxygen transfer rather than an interspecies kiss.  Jenny Flint, Madame Vestra’s human wife, was struggling to hold her breath to avoid being noticed by the robots attacking them.  As Madame Vestra’s lungs held a huge amount of oxygen, she transferred some to Jenny.  This scene was only shown for a few seconds before the scene carried on.  This was met with mixed views on Twitter from fans some of which that were happy to see the kiss and, as mentioned above, some thought it was a blatant gay agenda.

Ofcom have responded in a anti-homophobic way stating that it will not be investigating the complaints, explaining that they do not discriminate against scenes depicting opposite, or same sex, couples.  However, this step forward was cut short as the BBC has cut the scene from episodes that are due to be aired in conservative countries such as Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore amongst others.

This action by the BBC is a major step backwards for the UK’s progression.  When a law was passed on 29th March 2014 meaning that gay couples could be wed, the world rejoiced as a major step forward for a society who had progressed from slavery, racism and  supposedly homophobia.  The BBC released a statement following the editing of this issue stating

 “in order to comply with broadcast regulations in Asia where our BBC Entertainment channel airs, BBC Worldwide made a brief edit to the first episode of Doctor Who Series 8, but did so without detracting from the storyline”.  – http://www.buzzfeed.com

 

A quick glance through the broadcasting rules of Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong shows that the BBC are telling the truth. Images that promote a ‘gay lifestyle’ would be banned from their televisions, meaning Dr Who would not have been broadcast anyway. However, by editing scenes from Dr Who in order to placate those who do not believe in same sex couples, have the BBC not told them that this view is OK to have.

Horrible Histories comes to Milton Keynes Museum

History was bought to life at Milton Keynes Museum last weekend through the hard work of volunteers who braved the cold weather to bring you a little piece of all your favourite eras.Tod Booth, organiser and re-enactor, hand picked all participators to ensure that all displays were authentic. ‘Nothing you see here would have been out of place in the chosen era, I won’t allow it. All volunteers have slept overnight on the grounds as that is what would have happened’.  Relenting slightly on the second day; Tod gave the option for some of the actors to get tea from the cafe on site but only if it was placed into cups of the period.
Walking around the various displays and demonstrations that were held through the day, audiences were offered a chance to participate and learn a little more about what it would have been like. The War of the Rose’s display encouraged members of the audience from all ages to join John De Vere, the 13th Earl of Oxfords, personal army. From holding the weapons to learning the war cries, the audience were enthralled.

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A display by the musketeers of the English Civil War showed just how far these actors go to show their passion. ‘All weapons are replica’s of the originals and are firing live ammunition’ explained Christian Towers ‘we all purchase these out of our own pocket and hold gun licences to carry them with us’.  Being interviewed by Milton Keynes Hospital Radio; Christian went on to explain that the volunteers travel around the country to events and stay overnight at all the locations, no matter what the weather. ‘We do have the option to check into a B n B but no one takes it, it is more fun to stay out, we sit discussing things over a fire’.
Not to be misdone, a Roman tent displayed all types of instruments used in medical procedures of the time, all of which had been made by the re-enactor from replicas found on archaeological digs. This tent was definitely the place to scare the children at the event. Stall owner Fiona, Roman name Flora, showed her knowledge of Roman times by explaining what every tool was used for – and where it was used. ‘ I think a lot of the principles we have in medicine today started with the Greeks and the Romans because we have the Hippocratic oath. Things have progressed but it is clearly from the Romans.’
In the tent next to Fiona’s was her partners, and here you could watch the instruments being made and, for the avid historian, even purchase some.

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 It was not all dirty and unhygienic living. The 1940’s display showed viewers what it would have been like during the war when rationing was around. The poor re-enactors were determined not to go to the Cafe and instead painstaking boiled the old fashioned kettle to have tea.  Passing the time by playing Croquet – it was nice to see the children get involved in the game.
Interviewing a member from each period, the enthusiasm for this was apparent in all of them. All actors knew copious amounts about not only their own period of time, but also each others, and were happy to talk to anyone who wanted to learn. With various displays over the two days and an ‘open tent’ policy were people could walk into their tents and learn a different trade – this really was a good day for children and adults alike.
Museum Director Bill Griffiths was pleased with the event but expressed his frustration at the weather; ‘This has been a brilliant weekend, and visitors have had a great time. It is frustrating that the weather forecast scared prospective visitors away but I’m still pleased with how it went.’

Taking away literature in prisons…really?!?

I have a daily ritual of reading my Daily Mail showbiz app (please don’t judge, I am a celebrity junkie) followed by reading The Guardian and topping this off by watching BBC News to ensure that I get the latest headlines from different angles. I have skipped the BBC News as an article in The Guardian got me so aggravated that I had to share it with you.
The headline reads ‘The prison book ban will cause a real catch-22’ and the article is far from a damnation of Justice Secretary Chris Grayling but instead shines a light on the failures of the prison to provide enough, if any, literature to prisoners. According to the article, prisoners can still take 12 books out at a time but does not clarify how much access the prisoners have to the library. If, therefore, they wish to have their favourite books sent in – it is then that the ban is set. Prisoners can not receive books as gifts.
The comments section made for excellent reading as people came out in their droves to criticise the banning of books with one going as far as to say we should force prisoners to read whilst in jail.

When I was younger, I did have a huge issue with prisoners getting degrees and learning trades whilst in prison, feeling cheated that I had to pay a lot of money to learn a new skill when all they had to do was commit a crime? It didn’t seem fair and I would happily argue with anyone who said otherwise. I then became close friends with a person who had just come out of jail and he told me that the idea of working daily (in a small garden), using the gym and reading filled his days with purpose and made it so that he behaved through fear of losing his privileges.

I understand the idea of not letting prisoners recieve books as presents due to the ability for the pages to be laced with drugs and messages being hidden inside as guards and security can not feasibly be expected to read through all texts sent in but would it not be possible to provide more frequent access to the library or more books in so the choice is more extensive?

Bored prisoners surely are more likely to cause problems just to have something to do so, in the long run, by making these items more accesible they are doing themselves a favour in the long term?

Reading peoples views, I have found that the main problem appears to be lack of resourcing that is affecting access to the library. The prisoners will need supervision which requires man power and staff- something that the ever dwindling funds of the prisons can barely afford and prioritise. This being said, with the lack of material to help rehabilitation, the likelihood of reoffending is dramatically increased meaning that they will spend more time in jail thus spending government resources. It is a ever spinning circle.

So what do you think?

Is Social Media blurring the boundaries between student and teachers?

I admit it, I watched ‘Sexting Teacher’ on Channel 4 expecting to be told how the teacher Jeremy Forest grooms and tricked 15 year old student Gemma into fleeing the country with him. For those who are not aware of this story, among the others we have seen, the world was rocked when they had found the couple who stood defiantly by each other- even through the court case- swearing that they were in love and would get married once Jeremy was free. They have subsequently broken up as, now 16 year old Gemma, found the stress of being apart to much.

The television show didn’t depict paedophilia, grooming and rape (although as Gemma consented, this is statutory).Instead they showed a tragic love story between the two lovers and their fight to stay together. The part that stuck out to me most was that the relationship had started on Twitter, following Forest apologising via direct message, for disciplining Gemma for wearing nail polish in school. The two other stories featured in the show had seemingly all started because of mobile phones. So I have to ask- is social networking blurring the teacher/student relationship?

There are currently 15 different social media networks out there that are considered popular still. On my Facebook account I have 3 of my old teachers from College and University, on my Twitter I have pretty much all of them. I know them by name, know there favourite colour, artist, food, drink and how they spend their down time but I have never hung out with them privately and wouldn’t breach that boundary.

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Posing the question on Twitter to everyone, I received many of the same replies, that although we have social networking, they can not be blamed it for the grooming of children. Whilst I do agree with this, I do think it makes it easier- how much contact is too much between students and teachers? Can you like their status’s, reply on status’s that they have put up and even retweet them. Is it only when the private messaging starts that this becomes wrong?

When I first came home from Year 11 and informed my mum that I could now call the teachers by their first names, she was horrified, these were my teachers and the people she trusted to look after me, and I was talking about them like they were my friends. This was starting to blur the lines, the authority and respect of calling someone Mr, Miss or Mrs ceases, which stops reminding you daily that these people are not your friends. By College and University, you are young adults and whilst the dynamics of the relationship with your teacher will inevitably change, the way in which they talk to you should not.

I remember clearly, although I can not remember his name, a teaching assistant I had when I was in nursery. I had been late again as my mum used to drop me off before starting her lectures and was crying due to being in trouble. The teaching assistant gave me a hug to calm me down- he was subsequently fired and I never saw him again. Discussing this with mum sitting next to me, she informed me that this was because of the close contact, there should never be just yourself and the teacher alone in a room. If there is; the door to the room should be open and, if the door needs to be closed, there should be more than one teacher to confirm that nothing untoward has happened.

Teachers have a duty of pastoral care- but when does the pastoral care turn into something different- and how much interactivity is too much. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn etc all provide an open channel of communication for group projects, sending out information about the course and can prove to be a tool for monitoring cyber bullying amongst peers. So, could it be that teachers should be banned from sending private messages, which then ensures that parents can monitor and scrutinise all communication from them? Or should we just trust that we have taught our children well in how to interact with a person of authority? I was shocked on ‘Sexting teacher’ when it had been discovered that Jeremy and Gemma were sending direct messages on Twitter and had been told to ‘unfollow’ each other. What about disciplinary action – Jeremy suspended (and fired) and Gemma in detention until she graduates- the headmasters need to be more brutal in this as well.

 

What do you think?