Going with the Flow

‘Going with the flow’, ‘In the groove’, being in the right place at the right time, things falling into place/feeling right…  So many phrases for a phenomenon that most are aware of but which cannot be scientifically proven, or is it simply coincidence as I’m sure my skeptic/atheist older son would profess, and yet for me it is real.

#thewriter and I have read many books from the Mind, Body, Spirit shelves over the years which have helped us in all sorts of ways at difficult times, helping us to make sense of a puzzling world, sorting out what we believe… and many refer to this phenomenon: The Law of Attraction by Esther and Jerry Hicks, Michael Neill’s Life Coaching, Dr Robert Holden’s Happiness Now to name but a few. The idea that all will be well if we let life unfold at it’s own pace rather than pushing against the current or trying to force things to go faster, and listen to our inner guide.

The last two weeks have contain fine examples of times to listen. Our younger son (23, volunteer & part time support worker, living at home) has been applying for jobs for several months, at our instigation, with no result. He was perfectly happy doing what he was doing, and learning and growing so much too, but parents think they know best… Then suddenly, completely unexpectedly the Forestry Commission where he has volunteered for a day a week for over two years suddenly asked if he was up for a six month contract whilst someone was off sick.  He’s a lovely boy and was sad to hear about the sick leave but over the moon about the work. It’s exactly what he wants to do. Nothing definite then though, it had to be approved by the higher powers. Two days later he gets a phone call to say he has an interview for one of his job applications – a 9 month woodland trainee course 200 miles away. He was equally excited about this offer but suddenly it felt confusing because he couldn’t do both. What if he didn’t get a definite offer for his local forestry before the interview for the second… on the other hand if you want a sign that you are on the right path, in the groove, on the right track, going with the flow, this was a pretty good one.  Sure enough a definite offer came through for the local job with the people he’s been working alongside for two years, with time to decline and apologize to the other – who, of course, was delighted at his good fortune. This left the well meaning parents thinking, if we’d just left him alone and hadn’t nagged him into endless hours of job applications the last few months would have been a little less busy and stressful! The job he wanted has appeared at just the right time. He now drives (he’s a cyclist and has resisted learning until he needed to), one of his support worker jobs is coming to a natural end and he is ready. Of course in six months time when his contract ends we’ll have to remind ourselves of this and not repeat our unhelpful behaviour.

The second example of ‘coincidence’ occurred today. Last night #thewriter sat up ’til midnight for a Skype call to a school in China. They had invited him to visit in person but he’s not a great traveler, more a stay at home and write and read books type. Then this morning, here come’s the ‘in the groove’ moment, I find an email from Shindig asking if Andrew Norriss would be interested in video conferencing to celebrate the launch of I Don’t Believe It, Archie!’s paperback edition in the US.

Coincidence or Universal Alignment? Well it doesn’t actually matter. I just know that the feeling of being on the right path is much more comfortable than resisting and/or forcing things to go a particular way because I think I ought to but doesn’t ‘feel right’. Why fight against the current and feel uncomfortable when life is sending signs that another path might be the way to go. It might all be a matter of interpretation, and I know the skeptic son would have a lot to say about that sort of hooey but he’s young. And although he probably wouldn’t agree he is actually very good at listening to his inner voice and is allowing life to unfold beautifully.

So I wonder where the river of life will take us in the future. Just have to relax, listen and then see…

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Hooray for Proof Readers!

When I’m reading I find typos quite distracting and #thewriter and I try to ensure that his books are error free, but it’s not easy. And this week when making a quiz for I Don’t Believe It, Archie! by Andrew Norriss I found a whopper. Unbelievable!

Proof reading is a real art/skill. The first time I get to read, or indeed find out anything about #thewriter’s new work is when he finishes a book. I am then allowed to read it for the first time in order to proof read for typos and ‘anything that isn’t clear or doesn’t make sense’. I try to read carefully looking for spelling mistakes, repeated words etc. We both read a script more than once with #thewriter making changes and corrections. Then various people at the publishers read it carefully. We read it again and after more slight changes have been made the book is printed. After so many careful readings by people who really care that the text is accurate it should be perfect shouldn’t it? We read the wonderful new book when it arrives. Perfect – or so we think…

It’s over over a year since I Don’t Believe It, Archie! was published and I decided to make a quiz. (The book is popular in schools and libraries in both the UK and US and and someone had come to my website having searched for one).  I was getting on nicely, there seemed to be six simple questions for each chapter, and then I got to chapter five – On Thursday… the story with the helicopter and the ‘lady in the smart pink skirt’. When the brilliant illustrator Hannah Shaw had delivered rough sketches for the book she drew a picture of the lady wearing trousers. ‘Tut tut’, we said, she should be wearing a skirt. Hannah dutifully changed the picture and all was well – or so we all thought until his week. A question about what the lady was wearing seemed good for the quiz when my eye was caught by the words ‘trouser suit’. What! I re-read the story. Twice the lady is described as wearing a smart pink skirt, and then… turning the page there she is described as wearing a smart trouser suit. Well at least she’s still smart and pink but how could it have happened? So many clever people concerned for accuracy –  #thewriter, #thewriterswife, editor, illustrator, more publishing people, and none of us spotted it. So many readers, teachers and librarians have read and reviewed it and and no-one has written to us to comment on it either. Does that mean no-one at all has noticed I wonder…

lady in skirt

So my question for the quiz changed and is now a useful exercise for children in reading accurately! I am left wondering if our striving for exactitude matters after all. Actually I think it does and when I proof read the next lot of Archie stories I shall pay even more attention to detail and hope not to let anything slip through the net.

The stories however are wonderful. Andrew Norriss has a particular style/gift for writing with clever plots and a light comic touch. This is common to both his children’s books and his screen writing. Fortunately I love the way he writes and so when proof reading there is no worry about feeling critical of the content. How awful it would be not to like the writing style of your nearest and dearest. I laugh out loud and then find a tear in my eye at the end when I read #thewriter’s  books and that’s good because it means the story is working at an emotional level. I am engaged with the characters and plot. And best of all they always leave me with that deeply contented satisfied feeling that you get from a good story well told.

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PS. Aquila, which won the Whitbread Children’s Award, is a Puffin Modern Classic and is read around the world also has an error. That one was spotted and reported to us by a class in Australia who had used finding the lost invisible Aquila as a mathematics exercise and found that the details given in the book don’t actually work. They had the double delight of interesting maths and correcting the author. they’re the only one’s to have discovered it so far.

Author Interview for Scribbler! magazine.

Scribbler! magazine for children is a great way to improve literacy skills and help your child with their reading and writing. Created for children aged 7-11, it is packed full of fun yet educational activities for the kids to enjoy. Here’s a example of one of their author interviews and competitions. 

UntitledClick on the picture to see more clearly. Andrew Norriss was delighted to be interviewed for Scribbler! and lucky competition winners got signed copies of Archie’s Unbelievably Freaky Week.

Disaster? I don’t do disaster…

Andrew Norriss, Whitbread Award winning children’s author and all round kind thoughtful man, was asked by his publisher David Fickling Books, to contribute to their Story Blog, by writing about disaster. I’m not sure they got what they were expecting but Andrew writes with total honesty and having lived with him for over 30 years, read many of the same books, had many, many discussions about life, the universe and all that I agree with everything he wrote for them. Andrew passed on Games People Play by  Eric Berne for me to read in the seventies, and since then we have talked about some of the ideas with our children over the supper table. ‘Aint it awful‘ and Parent, Adult, Child are two very useful ideas when considering how people behave in certain situations.

So here is what Andrew wrote about disaster. Beautifully written piece, clearly expressed and rather different from what was expected I suspect…

Disaster… by Andrew Norriss

I don’t do disaster.

Well, obviously I do in real life – my own has had plenty of them –  but I don’t write about it. Not unless I’m going to turn it into a joke. Using real life tragedy for a story feels… wrong, somehow.

I whiz through books like War Horse and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but only to keep up with the game. They are not books I read by choice or for pleasure, however brilliantly written they may be. They do not make me feel comfortable, and this is not simply because the subject matter itself is uncomfortable.

In Games People Play, which I read while I was at university, Eric Berne described some of the mind games we all play in life.  more

So if you want books that consider disasters and problems that occur in everyday life, and then consider how to sort them out and live more happily, you want to read Andrew’s books. That is why he is an Award winning author and his books are read and valued particularly by teachers and librarians as well as loved by children.

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