Quarantine Post: The Importance of Routine

I hope everyone is following guidelines and keeping safe out there. STAY AT HOME unless it’s ESSENTIAL to travel for work, medical reasons, grocery shopping. You all know this so do it!

Interestingly, my life, as a writer and editor, has not really changed that much.

And for the record, I love being at home with my loved ones!

Rosie

Reason to be happy at home #1 Rosie (Lesson: be more dog!)

Sure some things have changed: I now ‘work out’ online to my gym classes. Work has really slowed with people experiencing financial issues… but I always always have my writing.

I will never run out of things to do.

 

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Reason to be happy at home #2 Cags and Lace as babies, still going strong at 15 and a half (Lesson: be more  chilled like a cat!)

 

I read someone that being a writer is like having homework for the rest of your life…  how true that is now, right?

I get frustrated even to read people say they are ‘bored being at home’ … eek! Really?

This is one of the reasons I think we need to restrict time on social media.  There is so much false information, sensational headlines and so much negativity just by scrolling. Before anyone says anything, yes I know there is also a positive side, I know there is community spirit but be careful and selective and look for the truth before you like and share. If working in science and conducting research has taught me anything it’s research wisely!  I have a feeling the people on social networking complaining about being at home, complained about being at work and were the first to wish they could be at home! And really, like I said last time, never has there been so much at our fingertips. This moment in history means this is a great time to take that online course, read those books, declutter the house… it’s all there for you! Even theatre online and cinema releases on Prime! No excuses!

 

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Reason to be happy at home #3 Hubby (Lesson: be more chilled like Mr Yoga)

 

Think of those of us who are working while lots of people out there are being paid to stay at home and not work! My work is important to me and my writer clients but let’s put that aside for one moment and think of the people really in the front line, I can entertain through my stories, sure, I can teach about writing, but what about all of you from lorry drives, retail workers, bin men, carers to the senior doctors and everyone in between? These are the ones we need to think about when even tempted to complain about being at home! My bestie is a nurse in the middle of all of this and I only have to think of her. I also have a number of good friends who are carers and nurses. Hats off to you. Think about that before you complain!

Writing is important (for me it’s a necessity like air) and actually, books are a wonderful way to leave home without leaving the couch. Sure we can all watch movies, but reading is a whole other type of immersion and a more active one for the brain so writing and getting those books out there remains just as important.

If I’d had my old job I would have been utterly thrilled to have been given paid leave to write!

So while I say this to writers who follow my blog, this applies to all… get into a routine. You are not on holiday…

So don’t think stay at home means:

  • don’t get dressed
  • don’t take care of our appearance
  • don’t exercise,
  • don’t get fresh air
  • don’t read
  • don’t learn
  • don’t write {substitute your hobby or passion here} — if you can’t do it because it’s social or needs another location, read about it learn more about it!
  • don’t eat healthy

On the contrary!

A popular myth is that writers spend all morning watching daytime TV. Well first: NO, NEVER Second I  hardly ever watch normal TV, so NO,  and third, too busy… so NO!

Nor should you! Be productive! Use this unprecedented time at home to do the things you promised yourself you never had time for. Don’t get fat, get into a healthy exercise routine.

 

My tips (and no it’s not rocket science!):

  • Get up at a good time. Even consider exercising or walking early when no one else is about. It’s the time I love best and a time to sit and be grateful.
  • Get showered and dressed as if for work!
  • Eat a healthy breakfast
  • Work out
  • Read, watch online videos: learn!
  • Write — even journal some of this!
  • Have conversations with those at home: video chat loved ones you can’t be with — set a time, even ‘Zoom’ friends so you can all chat together at certain times
  • Plan when to go for the groceries (only as needed!)
  • Plan when to stop your afternoon activity, to now, have a healthy dinner
  • Plan good movies or TV shows to watch (we need things to look forward to)
  • One night a week go to see a show online: lots of theatres are doing this

You can still have a life, but don’t get into lazy habits of thinking there is nothing to do,

And writers: for you, I am going to set up a Mentoring Programme online for 6 people. It will cost, so I know some of you might not be able to do that, but I am sure a great many can and so now might be the time to get onto my six-week writing programme. Details to follow this week! Use this time to change your life is a good way!

Above all GET INTO A DAILY ROUTINE! It’s not that hard!

 

keep-calm-and-get-back-into-a-routine

I will be posting on here regularly now with writing tips and tricks and challenges so no excuses. Also send me questions on editing writing for regular Q&A sessions to: writer@debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk

We are in this together!

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Keeping it Simple

It is a time to think, to reflect and to change. It is not a time to panic.

It is a time to write… to read, to keep it simple.

I am also a scientist who has worked in diagnostics and understands a fair bit so this is about some of that but the real message is more about keeping it real and I just felt, as a writer, I needed to express myself here. Ignore if you choose.

These past few weeks have taught me many things; some on a more personal level, that I will later share when the time is right. What I will say is that ahead of the current global crisis, I have had more time to think and refocus. To self-reflect. I have seen where change is needed to live the best life.

We live such busy lives we rarely make the time for the most important things. Living for a vacation once or twice a year is not enough — we should be living lives we don’t need to take a vacation from. Lives that matter, every day.

What this crisis has taught me, is that while people love to come together at times of need and many have done so gloriously, it has also brought out the absolute worst in people, with many looking out only for themselves: panic buying, ignoring advice that it won’t happen to them and if they get they’ll be fine. Let me tell you, there are many things we think won’t happen to us, I know this… but things do happen to us and it’s not about one person but all of us: about seeing the bigger picture. It is always about seeing the bigger picture. So this has taught me, sadly that humans really can be utterly selfish. They think they know better than what the doctors and scientists are telling them; they think they know better than the politicians. Sure we do struggle to know what is fake and what is real, an artifact of this crazy virtual world we now live in, the size of the human palm! But there are times we need to LISTEN. We need to pay attention.

Let me share my thoughts on the science of Covid-19 in the simplest way I know how…

  • This virus is new and is out there in a susceptible population. To start with everyone is a potential host with no immunity to it. It hence has a fast rate of transfer. It also has many elements that are unknown so there’s uncertainty.

 

  • As immunity grows, the spread slows because it encounters fewer new hosts. Look at China now. This from exposure and recovery and, as we learn more, soon will also be from vaccination.

 

  • 99% of deaths are from comorbidities: people with other illnesses, but like seasonal flu, there will always be exceptions. In general, for any infection — the vulnerable will always be the vulnerable. 

 

  • 4/5 of people will have mild or manageable symptoms.

 

  • Mortality rate is not really known absolutely since testing stopped, so since far more cases will be underreported than number of deaths, as this figure will be far more accurate, it is likely to be lower than the 4/5% reported. Not as low as seasonal flu perhaps which is endemic (always present) but I think it would be useful to see daily figures for how many people get diagnosed with flu, TB, Aids… all infectious diseases as well as non-infectious diseases like COPD, cancer… around the globe in the same countries every day and how many die every day in those countries. That way I think we will get perspective. I think that is what we need the most of to counteract the media sensationalism. This is because news and media write headlines to sell papers and entice clicks on websites, and people don’t always read beyond the headlines.

 

  • Why is this virus so different then? This for me has always been the BIG question. It does not have that high a mortality rate and is not dangerous like Ebola where we might have a 50% chance of dying, I think we would all stay indoors and no one would ignore the advice. I think it’s more to do with exhausting hospital resources because it will all happen at once. That is the real issue unless we are not being told the truth about this and then come the conspiracies that I am not even going to touch… I think the question is not so much number of new cases, not even mortality per se, but hospitalisation rates and that is the issue. And the reason for current measures and state of play, preparation at hospitals, etc. So the ‘social distancing’ and extra measures are VITAL and why lock-down might be the best way to contain it. To protect the vulnerable. Let me repeat to protect others even if you do not think you are vulnerable. If lock-down happens: we still don’t need to panic buy, that’s ridiculously selfish. There is enough for all if you shop as normal. In lock-down, you can still go out sensibly and buy food! And honestly, a lot of people are buying all the wrong things anyway if they want to stay slim and healthy and protect yourself! If we had to go without bread and pasta for a couple of days it might do us good!

 

  • If you have to join those of us working from home (10 years for me now), then enjoy it! I would never want it any other way! I love my job so much thank God I can still work. If you have to stay home and not work, my God this is the one time in history when there is absolutely no excuse for boredom! You can do all the things you used to do ONLINE!!! Exercise classes, other online classes, movies, books, conference calls, writing group meetings, book club meetings, lessons for kids… more than at any other time in history. So what are you complaining about? And don’t say money as many are FREE!

 

  • Money worries is an issue, it is more so for me and my partner, both self-employed.  But we are all in it together and measures are being taken. It might actually teach us a lesson because so many people live on credit for everything that when this happens they are one paycheque away from broke. Lesson to be learned there for us all.

 

  • Use this time to re-evaluate as I have had to do myself and am still doing.

 

This is a time for a change and you can do it. But follow the advice and for goodness sake don’t fight one another.

Be one of those better humans. Keep it simple. Don’t panic.

It will be okay.

What 2020 has already taught me, before this crisis, is that sometimes the worst thing to happen, can end up being the best (trust me I know) and often in the most surprising ways… because when we share in it and work together beautiful things can happen.

 

Lifestyle-Change

Change is good. Use adversity to change for the better.

 

 

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Quiet Reflections or Loud Bangs!

The thing about this time of year is it gives us that time to pause… and to think and to reflect… Something we ought to do far more often. We become so engrossed in the small dramas and the things that, on reflection, don’t matter, we forget to appreciate the things that really do matter. Gratitude is top of that list.

Be thankful for it all. For all of this, for this moment and for everyone we hold dear.

This has been one hell of a year in so many ways, beginning with turning 50 (how’d that happen?) and then, of course, getting married! The one-year anniversary fast approaches.  Again… how’d that happen? It has been a year punctuated with a bunch of mini honeymoons before the big one, a wonderful new literary agent, a story collection published, a new gym… a journey pathed with new and old friends… each one of them precious and important.

How many times have I said it? I mean it: life is change. So embrace it for all its uncertainty and unpredictability. and for making life wonderful and exciting.

I am also aware that this marks the closing of a decade and we can all reflect on those changes.

Here are some mad highlights in pictures from the blog!

2010 found me starting this last decade giving up my day job to finally live the dream and I have never looked back. It also saw Rosie, my beautiful cocker spaniel, come into my life, what a blessing she is. Completing the furry family, our two angels: the cats Cagney and Lacey. That year really marked the beginning of a special journey for me to who I am truly meant to be. This January is when I have been going it alone as a freelancer for ten years. While financially it has never made me as rich (not yet but it will), it has made me richer in every other sense. In the ways that matter. And finding happiness in your job, finding a passion to get out of bed for, but not just that, to open your eyes with utter excitement, is TRULY the most wonderful thing in life. I feel so very blessed.

wedding 6

19.1.19 A Symmetry in dates!

 

2010 saw the publication of Gentle Footprints and Hay, big things for our small press.

Lazy sit Rosie

2013 was a HUGE year for me with the Commonwealth shortlisting; that opened doors, winning the Bath Short Story Award and then, of course, the publication of my novel While No One was Watching.

A year or so later I got my first agent and  I moved my life to Essex so that saw the biggest change of all.

In 2015 I met Mal, my yoga teacher… and the rest is history, almost a decade single and I learned you can love again. You can have it all. What a blessing.

I finally sold my house and said the final farewell to my life in Wales and, in a way, to Lee although he never leaves me, he is in me not in a house… but selling it meant  Mal and I could move in together here in Essex in 2017.

Keeping the momentum going, there have been successes and there have been sad moments but all in all I would say this has been a pretty amazing journey. I have a new agent, the lovely Camilla and exciting things light the path ahead for us. Oh and a trip to LA in the fall too and before we know it, it will be Christmas again.

One of the things I love about New Year is the pen folded into the furrow of a new diary, all those blank pages. It’s new calendars, it’s a sense of restoring the balance, refocussing. Something we need to do a lot more often.

It won’t all be plain sailing but that is life, but with a grateful heart and always having things to look forward to, no matter how big or small… the movement will always be in the right direction. We can do anything!

Tomorrow I will pack away the glistening lights and the sparkle of Christmas for another year and look at my clean office and those blank pages and smile.

The future awaits… new decade… thanks for the past ten years, it’s been a blast and now we can embrace the next years.

Are you ready?

 

HNY

 

So thank you to every person who is and has been part of this wonderful journey… and I hope you will be part of the next chapter.

 

The best really is YET to COME!

 

 

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Reflecting

It is amazing to think that I left the mountains of beautiful Wales and my lovely little house five years ago this coming week. Wow. It was the beginning of a new journey. All I knew for sure was I planned on continuing the writing dream I had started and my editing business… and that I was on a mission to get fit and healthy.

Now when I look back I can count so many blessings. Truly.

Had I not gone to the gym that week and signed up I would never have got so fit, or met so many great people… including of course the love of my life.

I have a lot to be thankful for… Who knew a gym was all I needed! Of course that’s not quite true. It’s about a right time, right place, meeting the right people. Thank you ❤

So, I have been a gym bunny five years! That’s a lot of classes… two a day on average, five days a week! 💪

Yes indeed so much to be grateful for. Now a new gym but a million good memories behind me… and a million more new ones ahead. It’s all part of the journey.

My editing business is going strong and the writing is my other true passion. This week have been writing in the Austrian mountains on our delayed honeymoon… awaiting news from my fab new agent.

If I have learned anything in these past five years, it’s this: life is a journey to be taken one moment at a time. People matter, memories matter and it can be as beautiful as you choose. See good not bad, be strong not weak, live in hope, not fear. Thank everyone who has been part of it, don’t dwell on bad, remember good. Everyone and everything makes you who you are. Love it all.

I send love to everyone who has and is part of this glorious adventure. And I say thank you.

Most of all to my lovely husband for putting up with my madness! Here’s to having it all! 🥂

 

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Three things you need to know

 

YOU CAN SIGN UP FOR MY MENTORING PROGRAMME HERE FOR ONLY £99!

SEEKING 10 WRITERS with short stories or novel in progress who want to take part in 6-week online Mentoring Programme Aug to mid-Sept. 2 online tutorials/week plus a critique of short story or chapter. SPECIAL INTRO RATE £99 per person! Email for info writer@debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk This is the first time of running it so offering it at a hugely discounted rate to see if anyone is interested. We need 10!!! I will set up a FB group and encourage interaction. We might even meet at the end if people can get to London! STARTS AUGUST 5th!

🙂 🙂 🙂

YOU CAN BUY MY NEW SHORT STORY COLLECTION HERE!

You can buy signed copies of my short story collection through my website in the UK: LINK SIGNED

You can buy my book on Amazon UK here: LINK

You can buy my book on Amazon US here: US Link

🙂 🙂 🙂

 

YOU SHOULD FOLLOW THIS TWITTER ACCOUNT… YOU WILL SEE WHY LATER! 

This is what happens when characters become REAL…

Debz 1Signing my book at the launch 19.7.19 St Nicholas Church, Canvey Island, Essex

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Do you know who you are?

You only get this day once.

You only get to wake up on this very day once.

You only get to make a difference today once.

Sometimes we get so preoccupied with the trivia of our lives we forget this simple fact.

So did you say it today?

Did you say: I love you. I don’t ever want to live without you. You changed my life.

Did you say it?

This comes from my favourite TV show:  Grey’s Anatomy and trust me, I barely watch any normal TV ever anymore as it’s mind-numbing to me and full of things I could not care less about. I find a good drama and I immerse myself in that.

Here’s another quote:

 

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years It’s that it only takes one person…one moment to change your life forever. To change your perspective. Colour your thinking. To force you to reevaluate everything you think you know.”

And I remember the episode when they used what they say to someone who comes around in hospital after massive injury as a metaphor for life. So here it is:

Do you know where you are?

Do you know what’s happened to you?

Do you want to live this way?

So I give these to you.

What’s the answer? Are you happy? If not… change it! And start right now TODAY.

Lose the things that do not allow you to move towards the goal — to being exactly who you want to be. Do it now. Right now.

Have a great week everyone!

Did you say it?

Do you know who you are?

Are you ready for change?

Greys

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When a plan comes together…

There is nothing like the feeling when the advance copy of your book arrives!

And here it is!

Book

If you are local to Essex then please do come to my launch event! Or if you are local and unable to come then I  can sign a copy for you 🙂

July 19th, St Nicholas Church, Canvey Island, Essex 7 pm — 9 pm

Friends further afield, if you want a signed copy then I  can arrange that, £9 for book plus postage. I need to check what that is!

Or you will find it on Amazon!

This is a collection of seventeen short stories: most of them competition winners, runners-up or shortlisted. Some are previously published and one or two brand new ones! This includes the one about my grandad in Changi that is a very personal story. It’s called Goldfish Parade and is the final one and the longest one in the collection.

The Stories

 

Learning to Fly: Winner of the inaugural Bath Short Story Award, 2013.

Mirror Image: Runner up in the Aeon Prize, 2010.

Chutney: shortlisted (regional final 3), Commonwealth Short Story Prize, 2013.

We Went There: 3rd place in Leicester Writes Short Story Competition, 2017.

I Am Wolf: Published in Gentle Footprints launched at the Hay Festival by Virginia McKenna, 2010. Featured on Mariella Frostrup’s The Book Show At Hay and Loose Women.

Graffiti: Runner-up Chapter One Promotions International Short Story Competition 2010, published in winner’s anthology Graft and in Tales from the Upper Room.

The Red Queenpublished in In The Shadow of the Red Queen, 2009.

Rats in the AtticWinner of the Sunpenny Press Short Story Competition, 2010, shortlisted in Carried in Waves and recorded for radio, 2015.

Thinking in CirclesRunner-up in Book A Break Short Story Competition, 2017, published in With Our Eyes Open winners’ anthology.

Director’s Cut: previously unpublished but awarded a distinction on my MA Creative Writing degree.

The Theory of Circles: Nominated for the prestigious Pushcart Prize, 2015. Published in Unthology 3, 2014.

Because Sometimes Something Happens 3rd place in Leicester Writes Short Story Competition, 2019

When the Bees Die: Previously unpublished.

Four Minutes in AprilWinner of City Writes Competition, 2018.

Paper Chains: 2nd place in Leicester Writes Short Story Competition, 2018.

JigsawFirst published in Making Changes anthology, 2008.

Goldfish ParadePreviously unpublished.

Book 2

If you do have a copy and enjoy it please feel free to leave a review on Amazon! Thank you!

 

 

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