At War with Myself

According to an 8 question quiz in Psychologies Magazine, I am at war with myself. The UN don’t seem particularly interested in this civil war so I suppose I will have to initiate peacetalks with myself by myself. How will I persuade myself to have a ceasefire?

If I were at peace with myself, my day would go something like this: Get up, do yoga or meditation, have shower, get dressed, eat boiled egg and toast and drink real coffee.

Sit at desk and: Finish amendments to my novel and send to my patient copyeditor

Take rubbish out


Research primary texts for my Mum and Dad epistolary whatever it might turn out to be



Read text books on writing and teaching writing, plan one of three lessons for the next week



In fact my days go like this:

Wake up, batlle with headache and exhaustion, fight about real coffee v instant. Instant wins. Glare at yoga DVD as though it were my worst enemy. Watch the news, Lorraine, that snarky discussion programme on Channel Five. Think about moving my laptop from my desk to the sofa. Lose that battle and the will to live. Peer at myself in mirror, noting dustiness of mirror and ugliness of very comfortable pink fleecy dressing gown. Wish I was allowed to go outside in it. `Knocked senseless by unpleasant stink from rubbish bin. Glare at six shoeboxes of letters from M and D. Check the TV Guide for evening programmes. Cancel socialising in favour of soaps and thrillers that send me to sleep. Glare at Stair Accounts jobs. Read through Twitter, wondering why most of the posts are irrelevant to my life. Try to think of something witty to say on Twitter or Facebook and end up retweeting stuff I hope will make me appear supportive of the Common Weal. Realise I have only shaky understanding of what the Common Weal is.

Struggle with napping urge and lose battle to sleep. Wake up just in time for The One Show. Turn sound off and read interesting articles on internet. Remeber to check what battles are being waged on earth by watching Al Jazeera. Miss beginning of soap and stay up too late watching it on catch up.

Next day, wake up, battle with headache…

If you missed us live this morning, catch us live on STV Edinburgh tonight #dwf15


I was there!

Originally posted on Viccy Adams:

Jemma and I had a lot of fun (& surprisingly few technological mishaps) live broadcasting our writers tour of literary Edinburgh this morning as part of the Digital Writers Festival  ’20 Minute Cities’ strand.

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The joy of another family!

The family I’m talking about is a group of writers who have all done the same MA in Creative Writing at Edinburgh Napier University. We meet from time to time at the elegant and convenient Looking Glass Books and over coffee/tea and scones/millionaire shortbread we share our successes and failures — both literary and other kinds.

I was particularly struck today by the warmth of the group. They bombarded me with compliments of the kind I hardly ever get these days, particularly because my actual family is getting smaller and smaller — (for all sorts of reasons). Our group is as different from the Real Housewives of all those strange American gated communities as porridge is from nails. Look that was a poetic device–I don’t mean the group is like porridge or indeed nails. More like a big hug.

Today we celebrated the cover of one writer’s soon to be published novel and another’s enjoyment of recently becoming a full time writer. We heard about a glorious idea for a writers space and place for youngsters to write and be heard and swopped ideas for writing workshops. One of us might be summering on a Finnish island so we considered applying for funding to join her at the arts festival there.

We laughed, sighed, and confirmed our places in the writing world.  It was a nourishing afternoon.

A new book for people with dyslexia–guest post

‘Accessing Books – A Guide for Dyslexic Adults’


By using the many means at our disposal, dyslexic adults can unlock the potential of books and enjoy their benefits.



Help with books

‘Accessing Books – A Guide for Dyslexic Adults’ is a free downloadable resource.  It aims to help you discover strategies and other means that will help you to engage with books.  It contains lots of ideas and information and is written by a dyslexic.



This spider diagram gives an overview of the guide.


How can I use the guide?

You can

  1. try out as many or as few of the ideas as you want
  2. explore the resources
  3. use it as a thought provoker
  4. use for reference and signposting
  5. dip into it rather than read it from cover to cover


How is the guide dyslexia-friendly?

  1. Available in e-format: includes hyperlinks
  2. Dyslexia-friendly font and layout
  3. Points are illustrated with examples, analogies, a rap, visual imagery
  4. Summaries of information
  5. Simple sentence structure
  6. Terms are defined
  7. Spider diagrams and summary article give overview
  8. Clear layout
  9. Clear structure: sections all divided into sub sections
  10. Content is presented in manageable sized chunks
  11. Master contents list and contents list at the beginning of each section
  12. Each section can be read as a self-contained unit or mini-guide
  13. Comprehensive index of web links


Where is the guide available?

Download the guide here:

[upload guide and its supplement here]

Accessing Books – A Guide for Dyslexic Adults






Dementia Is Not Dementia Is Not Dementia


This is a vital part of dementia awareness. Thanks, Kate.

Originally posted on Creating life with words: Inspiration, love and truth:

I’ve been away for a week, and almost every day someone has asked me is Alzheimer’s Disease the same as dementia, even a registered nurse working in aged care. One taxi driver said he thought his mum was ‘soooooo lucky’ to have Alzhiemer’s Disease and not dementia like his father, although then went into a tirade (for the whole trip!) of how awful it is being a family carer… what a drag, what a terrible burden for him, how much he feels like he is on parole as he has to check in every day… For once, I kept my mouth firmly glued shut!

Although a little dated I am adding this journal articleDementia Is Not Dementia Is Not Dementia as explains it well. Teepa Snowalso talks of dementia in terms of fruit. All fruits are fruit, but below that label there are different categories of fruit such…

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Warming myself at the fire of youth

For a while now I have rented my spare room to young international students. They have included a quiet Dutch intern at the National Gallery, an Italian chef, a Spanish English student, a Sri Lankan oceanographer, a Russian art student and, my current lodgers, graduates from Taiwan and China. They have all added hugely to my well being. The varied exotic smells from the kitchen, the voices singing in the shower, the introduction to new ideas, new perspectives and all the laughter combine to make my tiny third floor flat resemble a world cafe!

It is like having daughters and sons who drop in from time to time, to entertain me, feed me and occasionally consult me about difficult decisions. Although I care about them, their welfare is only indirectly my responsibility. I miss them when they leave and then another one arrives and off we go again on a new discovery.

Yesterday I met a young artist who may want to rent the room next year. A Russian who has been educated in America she is hugely talented and full of original ideas. She picks up arts jobs as she goes along and has created projects in the furthest parts of Russia and while hiking around Japan.

Strangely, she was attracted to my advert because of the Chagall prints hanging on the wall behind my profile picture–I think the picture of ducklings may have influenced her as well. We walked round the Botanics together and then came back to the flat for a hot drink. We could have talked for hours. Miss Taiwan and Miss China joined us later and over a bowl of tangerines we had a lovely party. Hearing these young people’s experiences and future plans is both stimulating and inspiring. I am so lucky.

Help! I Have To Write A Grant Application

Originally posted on The Research Whisperer:

This post, jointly written by Jonathan and Tseen, first appeared in the March 2012 issue of Connect. Connect is the Australian National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) & Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA) magazine for casual academics. It is excellent.

How did this happen to me?

A blank application form - very scary

You might be reading this because part of your role is described as research assistant (as opposed to ‘marking assistant’, ‘lecturing assistant’, ‘attend meetings I don’t want to go to assistant’).

Or perhaps you were chatting to another academic who is working on a topic you are interested in and you said, innocently enough, “That sounds great – if you need any help…”

Maybe they sought you out and asked for your help because your PhD is related to the topic.

Looking back, you may not be able to identify the exact moment when you agreed to write the grant application, or…

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