Do You Lie?

I like to think of myself as an honest person. I was brought up to know that cheating and lying were bad and this is what I teach my children but the truth is, I lie all the time.

lying homer simpson GIF-downsized

In my family as a child, as in my family now, there was a special place for white lies. Those not-honest-but-not-quite-a-lie things we say. In explaining the concept of white lies to my kids I’ve gone with the definition of, ‘…they’re lies we tell so we don’t hurt someone else…’, but on closer inspection, that’s a pretty dodgy definition. After all, a cheating spouse could make the same claim about their lies (I didn’t tell you I was having it off with the butcher, because I didn’t want to hurt you), but that’s definitely not a white lie.

Unfortunately though, when you think about it, a white lie is often as self-serving as any other lie. They’re the lies we tell to avoid confrontation or guilt. We lie to our friend about her clothes and say it’s to spare her feelings, but in reality it’s to avoid a tricky conversation. We lie to acquaintances and say we’re busy, when really we’re not interested in spending time with them. We lie to ourselves.

More and more, I see white lies like strands of spider’s silk. It seems light and insubstantial but it’s sticky and difficult to rid yourself of and when it clumps together it becomes dusty and unsightly. And you know what they say, what a tangled web we weave, when we practise to my deceive.

On the other hand, how would we get through the day without a few white lies? Would it be an endless wave of conflict and confrontation or would we be freed by our honesty? What do you think?

Everyone has an opinion

Cheater, Cheater

If you follow the cricket or are from a cricketing nation you will know by now that the Aussie cricket team are a bunch of big fat cheaters. And bad ones at that, because they got caught and Lance Armstrong got away with if for years.

Even I, one of the un-sportiest people you could meet, felt winded by shame and disbelief when events came to light. After all, whether you follow a national team or not, they still represent your nation. It was worse for my husband, someone who follows cricket passionately, and he cut a dejected figure on the couch last night as more details were revealed.

It does raise the question though, what is worth your integrity? Is there something that you could say is so important to you, you would knowingly do the wrong thing? The only thing I could think of is my family, mainly my children. Even then, it would probably have to be a matter of life and death.

So what about you, do you have a price on your honesty and, if so, what is it?

Everyone has an opinion

A Body Image Challenge

Late last year I set myself a challenge to make a change. And now I’m inviting you to do the same.

In writing my latest manuscript about Maggie, a 16-year-old girl whose little sister has anorexia, I had to do a lot of research into eating disorders and the effect of these disorders on the whole family. Most of it was sad, some of it was shocking and some of it was bewildering. Because of my research, my Facebook and Pinterest feeds and browser ads began to change. Most of the changes were annoying but innocuous, like diet supplements, but some were distressing, like this little poem that came up in my Pinterest feed:

 

Hungry to bed

Hungry to rise

Makes a girl pretty

And smaller in size

 

And this:

weight-loss80a

 

Of which 1, 3, 4 and especially 10 make me shudder and none of which are ‘to be healthier’.

Things like this made me appreciate even more the value we put on weight and body image and how I reinforce this through my own actions. So, last year I made a conscious decision to stop saying to other women, “have you lost weight?” and to start saying, “you look well.”

You might think this is semantics, but I have found that even the response I get from women is different.

Me: “Have you lost weight?”

Them: “No, but I really need to.”  or “A bit.” or “I look terrible.” And on and on and on.

 

Me: “You look well.”

Them: “Thanks. I feel well.” or “I’ve been really good.” or just, “Thanks. So, do you.”

 

It seems like, by taking the focus off their body and making it about them as a whole, women (and the men I’ve tried it on) feel able to accept a compliment, to see themselves as doing well and to recognise that they feel good.

And so, I want to extend the challenge to you. Can you change a single sentence? Can you take the focus off body and weight and put it back onto feeling good and healthy and ‘well’?

Of course, there’s going to be times when, ‘Have you lost weight?’ is a valid thing to say. If Aunty Jo has lost 25kg and got down to a healthy weight, don’t deprive her of encouragement and support. But at other times, there must be more that you can say to someone than, ‘have you lost weight?’.

 

Everyone has an opinion

 

 

Autumn Arrives

Autumn is officially here. My favourite season because it heralds the return of cool (sleepable) nights and bright days and is filled with colour, although often of the softer variety than found is Spring. If seasons were My Little Ponys then Autumn would be the quieter, more sophisticated one. Spring would be the giggly, playful, one. And everyone loves that one. But for those of us who give Autumn a bit of attention, we see a beautiful, vibrant side.

The only problem I have with Autumn is a question of clothes. You’re not quite out of shorts and t-shirts but some days you need jeans and a jumper. 20 degrees in Spring felt comparatively balmy while 20 degrees in Autumn feels a tad chilly. Sometimes I dress in the morning and then have to get changed about lunchtime.

But it’s a small price to pay I guess, for Autumn’s charm.

The Value of Reading

I often hear people bemoaning the reading habits of the ‘youth of today’. Apparently they’re too busy with their eyes on a screen to have their nose in a book but according to this article, published early last year, that simply isn’t true. My own experience says otherwise as well, which isn’t just great for me as a YA author, it’s great for society as well.

Books are wonderful teachers, they let us live vicariously without the risk of failure (or injury). We experience love, loss, triumph and witness the consequences of taking risks. Books don’t only help us become the best version of ourselves, they also help us to be interesting people to be around.

So, what if you’re a young person who doesn’t love to read? Maybe novels aren’t for you but don’t be put off trying graphic novels, audio books or short stories. Chances are, when you find a medium you enjoy, you won’t be able to stop.

Everyone has an opinion

Do you like to read? What books are into at the moment?

Questions for My Favourite Author

Who’s your favourite author? Mine is Terry Pratchett. I’ve read (and reread) all his books and they never fail to delight and inspire me. Sadly, Terry passed away in 2015 but if I had had a chance to spend some time with him I would have asked him these questions:

Who’s your favourite author?

What do you think the hardest part of writing is?

How do you keep track of so many characters across so many different books?

What story haven’t you written yet, that you would love to write?

Will you be my BFF? (OK, not that one)

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Me and Mr. Pratchett.

 

What about you? Who’s your favourite author and what would you like to ask them?

Everyone has an opinion

Five Clues that You’re Writing for an Audience of One – You

We write for a lot of reasons – to entertain, to educate, to share our emotions – and for the most part writing is about communicating ideas between people. But sometimes we write for ourselves, to understand ourselves better or vent our feelings.

Both options are fine but if you’re looking to share or publish your work you need to know if you’re writing for an audience of many, or just for yourself.

Here’s 5 clues that you’re writing for yourself:

  1. You’ve written the first draft and you’re calling it quits.

No one’s first draft is perfect. No one’s. It takes time and effort to turn a first draft into something worth sharing with the world at large. If you’ve enjoyed the writing process and now you’re ready to move on to the next thing, that’s great. But accept that the only audience that work is fit for, is you.

 

  1. It begins with ‘Dear Diary…’

Diarising or journaling is great for getting in touch with your feelings, recording important events in your life and venting tension and stress. It’s also let’s you write without censoring yourself. But this very freedom is also what makes a diary or journal private. When you’re angry, upset or in love you are going to say things about other people that you don’t want them to know – things that might not even be true. And that’s fine. But for everyone’s sake, keep it under lock and key (or password protect).

 

  1. The main character is basically you…but more so.

I’ve read a lot of fiction written by teenagers which starred them, only without their name. I’ve also written this fiction myself, when I was a teenager. It’s basically a fantasy in which the gorgeous and super nice guy or girl in the school sees how beautiful and special the main character (i.e. you) is and falls in love despite the gorgeous but evil guy or girl (i.e. which ever popular person is making your life difficult) going out of their way to halt the progress of true love.

Go ahead and write these stories, they’re fun and everyone deserves a fantasy. And you’re right, you are awesome. But they often lack the depth that makes a good story because the protagonist is perfect in every way (because obviously, you are perfect in every way), and a perfect person has no reason to grow and change – which is what drives a story.

 

  1. You stood on a soapbox while writing.

You’ve got something to say. You’ve got opinions. You’ve got a message to get across. Great. But don’t turn your story into a vehicle for your message. A good story is driven by character and conflict, and while your personal feelings on an issue may naturally filter into your story, if you beat your reader over the head with a message, they’ll stop reading.

 

  1. You name names.

Don’t do it. Don’t say nasty things (or things that could be construed as nasty) about people unless they’re true and even then, even then, be sure that you’re willing to bring the wrath of those people down on you. Because while you might think that your neighbor is a puppy-drowning-cat-worshiper, if you write it down, show it to other people and he’s upset about it (although why would he be? Cats are awesome) then he could be within his rights to take legal action against you. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t do it under any circumstances. I’m say be careful and very, very, sure about what you’re saying. Otherwise, keep it to yourself.

Everyone has an opinion

How to Tell People You Write…Without Blushing.

Do you tell people you write? That you’re a writer? That you’re an author, even?

Without blushing?

Well, then let the rest of us in on the secret! How do you own up to ‘being a writer’ without…well…this:

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I’m not good at it. This year my youngest will be starting school and people are full of advice and curiosity about what I’ll be doing with all my “free time”.

Pfft, as if.

The easiest and truest response would be to say that I’ll be working on my business, that of writing. But I don’t because quite frankly it makes me feel…like a fraud.

So, if you have the secret then be a mate and let the rest of us know what it is.