Writing is Marmite

thisbetterworkThere’s a saying about Marmite… maybe you’ve heard of it?

You either love it or hate it.

Well, writing I’m afraid is both.

Writing is Marmite.

Some days I love it, some days it’s my worst enemy. I feel both.

“But how can you say that YOU’RE a Writer!”

…because it’s the truth. I have been writing for a while now and you can go ahead and ask any other writer, writing is a blessing and a curse.
It sounds like the simplest thing in the world to just jot down whatever you like and ta-da you have it, but being a writer means that it’s not enough to just throw down anything you think of and expect gold. It takes time and effort to write well. Writing is a job and like any job you have to work hard to get results.

I would say that 99.9% of anything you read, newspaper to novel is not a first draft, that the author did not just sit down one afternoon and whack out the words first time. Good writing comes from practice and editing, it comes from a writer’s experience and willpower to get the work to shine. Writers are compelled to write but very often we fall into chasms that we can’t get out of, and it’s experience and determination that gets us out of it.

Chasms you ask?

Yes chasms, deep dark pits of despair. People fling the phrase Writer’s Block around but in my experience it’s not a block, it’s a chasm that you have fallen into where nothing you write is good enough or makes sense… sometimes you can’t even put down one word because none have come to you at all.

This is why you can also hate writing as well as love it. It’s a skill you will always improve upon, and sometimes that’s a daunting feeling.

Ultimately we start writing because we love it and we have something to say. If you have ever felt love, you know that you don’t give up on it easily, so when you fall into bad times, into a chasm, you have to take a moment to reignite that love, that passion and use it to climb out.

This is a writer’s greatest weapon. This comes with practice and time.

The only way to get over writer’s block, a chasm, a mood, a grey cloud, whatever you want to call it is to stop what you’re doing, take a breath and reignite your passion, let your worries and self doubts be pushed aside with an editing pen later.

Slowly in time, just like Marmite, you’ll realise that writing is sticky. Once you start writing you will find it everywhere you go.

TV Licence Too Much?

tv-licence-too-much

So I do not have a TV Licence.

This apparently is shocking to a lot of people and to the TV Licensing company themselves.

A little bit of background here…

Last year my partner moved in with me after my flatmate moved out and we decided to take a good look at all of our bills and subscription services. We’re saving up as ever and didn’t want any excess we didn’t need. One of these under review was the TV License at £145.50 a year.

I decided to keep a TV Licence, just in case we ever felt the need to watch something we would be covered. It became really obvious when I had to start dusting the TV set and knew nothing about the adverts people would mention that we really didn’t watch TV. Even iplayer didn’t get a look in as frankly I’d gone off that whilst I was still at Uni and it decided to take forever to load, no matter what internet I used. Very frustrating. Instead of watching TV we were sticking to Netflix and occasionally popping into HMV for a new update in DVD’s we really wanted.

So it became obvious to me, why the heck are we paying £145.50 for something we don’t need or actually want anymore? I decided to end it. Following their website instructions, which I have to say I wasn’t impressed with, the website, the language is awful and the tone of the whole thing makes you feel insecure about everything you’re doing. I filled in their online form to cancel my TV licence, which at the end said to let them know we no longer required a licence, so I clicked that link and filled that in too, I also cancelled my direct debit with my bank and thought no more of it. Done. £145.50 saved,

great!

This was all done in August 2016, over the Christmas period I got a letter saying my licence will expire on 31st Dec and that I should renew urgently… Weird, I thought it was all done.
I re-read the letter and website and confirmed that I could’ve reclaimed the money between August and December, damn… but okay it’s actually over in December at the end of the year. Okay, let’s not cry over spilt milk let it expire, job done.

Now to present day. I have received 2 letters THIS WEEK telling me that my licence has expired and that I need to contact the licensing agency immediately (they even include a filled out Paypoint and postal payment slip for me to just sign and send back). They have branded a bold red inked notice on the top of the letter saying LATE RENEWAL. I decide this is ridiculous and someone hasn’t updated my info, so I call their 0300 number (which by the way from a mobile, as I don’t have a landline can cost up to 40p per minute check out the Ofcom website for yourselves) and have to be put on hold and various press 1 press 2 options and 20 minutes later I hear a real person’s voice on the end of the phone. I tell her there’s been a mistake and I don’t require a licence anymore, when I cancelled it and that I did already fill in the online form. She never says what happened, just swiftly moves on.
The next thing I know I am asked in several different ways the same sentences ‘Do you watch or record live TV?’ ‘Do you use iplayer’ … both of these get a No. Because I don’t, she then asks me if I have a TV… well yes for DVD’s and Netflix. She asks again if I use iplayer…No. This goes on for 5 more minutes until I cut her off with an explanation of how I do not even own an aerial and I only watch DVD’s and Netflix on my Amazon Fire stick.
She then sighs and asks me how long I intend to not watch or record live TV, I tell her probably indefinitely and that if I changed my mind I’ll call back. She then lists off how I could be fined or prosecuted if I do not comply with their rules and tells me she can give me a two year period for not having a licence. I should also expect an investigator to come round my house.

The phone is put down and I search on Google for people’s experiences with these ‘Investigators’ and I have seen nothing but complaints and accusations of harassment and intimidation.

This is just my story, I am waiting for said ‘Investigator’ to appear, but I have to say I am already annoyed and frustrated. From looking at forums and comments online it seems I’m not the only one with these troubles and some have some really horrendous stories with how they’ve been treated.

What really grinds my gears is the language that has been used to communicate with me, after all, I followed TV Licensing procedure, I even contacted them to rectify a problem, yet their language has been nothing but accusatory and curt.

I’d be interested to hear anyone else’s experiences with the TV Licensing company and what other people think of the fees and communication methods currently used.

I’ll leave you with this excerpt from my latest letter for your own judgement and inspection:

*my address* has now been unlicensed for 2 weeks.

Dear Miss Ford,
Your TV License expired last month.

This means:

  • If you have been watching or recording live TV programmes on any channel or device, or downloading or watching BBC programmes on iPlayer, then you have been breaking the law.
  • If you delay renewing, you are not saving money as, legally, your property still needs to be licensed from the date your last TV Licence expired.
  • If you do not renew immediately, you are putting yourself at risk of investigation, prosecution and a fine for committing a criminal offence. 

 

 

KEY POINTS: At no point does this letter say that I can state that I do not need  a license.

It has not asked me to verify my status or even a suggestion that it may be a mistake

The letter is accusatory, misleading and frankly insulting in my personal opinion.

The Best Book for Writers.

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So you might be a writer yourself or perhaps you know one… what can you get them when Christmas or a birthday rolls around?

Let me tell you.

Every year a book is released, a book that is vital to anyone in the writing industry, that book is called Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook.

If you have no idea what this book is, it’s essentially the writer’s Yellow Pages. This directory has invaluable information in it that should be at arm’s reach whenever you are pitching any writing. It has business listings and services to advice on the media and publishing industry.

Writing a children’s story?
This book will make sure you’re pitching your story to the right publishers. No one wants a pile of rejection letters because you sent your cute kids story to horror publishers.

They release one every year, making this an ideal gift to save your writer some pennies and make sure your writer is up to date.

If you’re still not sold on the idea I urge you to dig a bit more into the book and perhaps pop down to the bookstore to flick through one, you will see how useful it really is.

The break’s over.

the
So I’ve had a lot of decisions to make lately, some big life decisions really, and in order to get myself organised I gave myself time off blogging here over the Christmas period.

Well, the break is over.

One of the things that I have been mulling over the last couple of months now is whether to go back to University and continue my academic studies.

*insert drum roll here*

I’m pleased to say that I have applied and been accepted for returning to a Creative & Professional Writing course for September 2017. So it is happening.
I’ve always been a writer and not getting the best writing qualifications I knew I could seemed criminal to me. I wanted another shot now I’ve had a taste of what the writing industry is really like. It may have taken a long time getting there but I am finally going to wear the funny cap and gown that I missed out on last time.

This is turning into more of a heartfelt speech than a writing blog post, but I felt it was important to keep the site and any readers (that’s you!) updated as I have been absent from the site for over 4 weeks now.

I also wanted to take this opportunity to remind everyone reading this that just because things don’t work out the first time around, it doesn’t mean it’s not meant to be. I also wanted to reiterate that certificates and grades aren’t everything! I have done writing work for a while now without the highest qualifications and I know that you can achieve anything you set your mind to. I can’t stop writing, so I knew it was for me all along. I just have to go earn my piece of paper now because it’s what I want to prove for myself (and so Grandma can stop complaining that she doesn’t have my graduation photo!).

Finally, to end the now obvious speech I am now spouting, I just want to thank everyone around me for letting me breathe and backing me up on my dreams. In particular, to Jessica, she has listened to far too many pitched ideas and rants over long distance phone calls.
Me, you and coffee (I’ll pay) sometime. I.O.U.

What next?

Yep, you’re going to keep getting my opinions and advice on here and probably a few rants about being a student all over again! Not forgetting though that this is my writing website… I will be letting you know of any topics and useful things that come my way, so please keep checking back to join me in the writing world.