Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea


Brighton beach

An empty beach, blue sky, calm sea. A hot, sunny, summer’s day.

Some people’s idea of heaven. Closer to my idea of hell. No shade. The baking sun burning my skin and making me sweat. My eyes half-closed against the sunlight reflected off the water and sand. No respite from the heat other than the occasional promise of a cooling sea breeze. Nothing to do but slowly cook on the barren beach. The clouds are pretty though.

Pennard coast

A fragment of the South Wales coastline. Vegetation, greenery, rocks. It’s still too hot really, but at least the scenery is more interesting and there are coastal paths to walk along. A much nicer location to watch the sea from.

And I am much happier watching it than being in it.

I’ve never spent much time by the sea. A few trips to Skegness growing up near Lincoln, a week in Bognor Regis with a friend and her children, and a handful of day trips out around the South Wales coast.

The one thing I remember about going to Skegness as a young child, other than memories of donkey rides and rock pools that may simply be memories of photographs, is being warned about the way the sea floor falls away, cliff-like, not that far from the water line. That and tales of strong currents dragging people out to sea. And of tides coming in fast and cutting people off from the shore. So, not being a particularly strong swimmer, I never venture further than I can comfortably paddle.

I love the idea of the sea, but I will admire it from the solid ground of the beautiful British coast that it surrounds.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Sea

Writing

When I was young, before I went to comprehensive school, I used to write. I would make up characters and invent adventures for them to have. Then I moved up to the big school and the joy was sucked out of writing. I could still escape into a story — though how I retained that ability after enduring the painful dissection of books in English Lit class I’m still not sure — but the uninspiring teaching of English smothered my love of language and I haven’t written since.

I have these odd categorisations of things in my brain: the blogging I have done isn’t writing, well, obviously, on a technical level, it is, but in my mind, it’s more akin to talking on paper. It’s a brain dump, diarising, thinking out loud. It’s not writing. And this makes no sense to anyone but me and then only barely.

Not that writing has to be fiction. Or can’t be purely reportage. I’m not sure where the line is drawn, maybe something to do with the style. Or maybe not. But I know the difference when I write it.

I don’t apply these distinctions to other people’s writing.

Two years of proofreading and copy-editing — even though it was all technical journalism — have re-kindled an interest in writing. Nothing more specific than that. I have no burning desire to write a novel or produce a volume of poetry. But I am curious to see whether I can put fingers to keyboard and come up with something that is more than just accumulated words.

So, on the off-chance that I don’t chicken out at the thought of someone else actually reading those words, there is a new category on the blog: “Writing”.

What next?

So I’m now officially unemployed — just waiting for the final pay cheque with the meagre redundancy payment to arrive in the middle of the month and that will be all ties severed.

After spending some time simply trying to relax and catch up with a few bits and pieces that didn’t get done while I was working, I really need to start thinking seriously about what I’m going to do.

So. What next?

Short answer:
No idea.

Longer answer:
I don’t know, but it will have to involve more of a plan than the conviction that “something will turn up” that has got me to this point.

Still longer answer:
Really not sure, but I did enjoy working for The H. Maybe it didn’t give me any visibility within the publishing industry, but the day-to-day work of proofreading, copy-editing and translation smoothing, along with the occasional bit of graphics creation and general organising of assets, was enjoyable. I take satisfaction in turning a piece of writing into something that reads cleanly and has its apostrophes, commas and hyphens in the right places.

Of course, I don’t have a degree in English (or any other subject for that matter) and I haven’t done any relevant training — I just have the two years’ experience at The H — which makes it hard to try to get past the CV-in-the-bin stage. My specific skills are very much tied to the needs of that particular job. Not that I couldn’t pick up other skills quickly enough — the one thing I am good at is turning my hand to whatever is needed — but when it comes to filling in application forms…

At least there’s no urgent need to find employment, I just have to be careful not to let weeks of indecision turn into months…

Postmortem

Content Editor: proofreader, copy editor, creator of graphics, organiser of assets. The invisible support for the writing team.

The problem with working behind the scenes is that few people know who you are and fewer recognise the value of the work that you do. My initials only ever appeared on the web site on those occasions when times were busy and I pitched in and put a translation into the CMS. And that was fine — I have never sought the spotlight — but it does mean there was no opportunity to earn a professional reputation outside of the office.

And without reputation you at least need good references. But, while my immediate boss, the editor-in-chief, could write the most meaningful reference, I suspect that him also being my other half might limit its credibility. And that leaves the two directors, neither of whom is in a position to pass judgement on my ability.

Once again I have ended up employed in a role that, no matter how satisfying at the time, is of no real long-term benefit to me. This is not a new experience. Previous positions have included a miscellany of whatever-turns-up jobs from pre-pack worker to post office sorter, Cobol programmer in the early 90s, office admin for friends, and CRM specialist (though, to be fair, if I’d wanted to move to Birmingham I could have got a job with the company that created that CRM system).

The one useful thing I have learned is that I do actually enjoy smoothing the rough edges off a piece of writing.

Almost unemployed

The H logoAt the end of June we had one of our irregular visits from management in Germany, but whereas previous visits have been brief and vague, this one was brief with a specific purpose: to deliver the news that The H would in all likelihood be shut down.

A week later it was confirmed and, after the formality of the two-week “consultancy” period, we were given one month’s notice. And, just over a week ago, we announced the closure on the site.

I can’t say that I’m surprised this has happened, in some ways I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner. The advertising model simply can’t finance three or more people in an office and, as far as I can tell, other options weren’t considered.

It wasn’t our decision to close the site, in fact, we had no say in the matter and, given the option, we would have happily continued and even brought on more writers to expand the coverage, but, at the end of the day it doesn’t matter how well the team producing the content performs — and we did a damn good job of putting out straight news and interesting features — if there isn’t a viable commercial foundation, it just can’t survive.

So, I’m technically employed until the end of the month, but apart from clearing a few bits and pieces from the office, there’s really been nothing to do. No more news items to proofread. No more articles to wrestle into the CMS. No more translations to turn into fluent English. No more graphics to create.

The H is no more.

Waiting

DoorwayI hate waiting.

I am, generally speaking, quite a patient person. I sat for an hour waiting for my number to come up to have a blood test last week and didn’t stress out in the slightest — well, apart from when the person behind me kept coughing, but that was just from a desperate desire to not catch yet another damn cold — I just took the opportunity to relax and people watch as I listened for my number to be called.

But there’s something about waiting for someone else that sets me on edge. Whether it’s waiting for a delivery to turn up (the cause of today’s lack of ease) or for an expected visitor to arrive or just for someone to do whatever it is they’ve said they will do. I can’t relax properly until it is done. Even if it’s not due to happen today, even if it’s scheduled for weeks in the future, there is a small corner of my brain that takes it upon itself to actively remember the who, what and when of the commitment.

So here I sit, waiting. My brain helpfully pointing out that normally orders from this shop would have been delivered by now. Unable to settle into doing anything that can’t be dropped the instant the doorbell goes or anything that could possibly stop me hearing the doorbell in the first place.

Almost human again

I’m starting to feel almost human again.

I don’t know whether it’s the result of the cold starting to clear up — though I’m still snuffly — or whether it’s down to having a few days off work, managing to shut up the voice that constantly reminds me “there are things that need to be done” and doing something that approximates relaxing instead.

Now I just need to build on this and figure out how to get some energy back; I still have far too many aches and twinges and am feeling generally run down. But still better than I have the last ten days.

Exhausted cont.

So I finished taking the course of antibiotics and, while the throat wasn’t as sore, overall I was left feeling even more run down.

Then the boiler decided it had had enough of heating water for this lifetime and would rather make constant clicking noises instead. Cue switching it off followed by five days of no heating or hot water while we organised getting a replacement.

Replacement installed (thank you Happy Dog Plumbing) and the opportunity for a nice hot shower. But several days of being cold and one wrong stretch led to all the muscles between my spine and my shoulder blade cramping up weirdly — by the end of the day I felt like I had a fluey ache pretty much everywhere.

The next couple of weeks of feeling generally run down and tired was topped off by coming down with another damn cold, which I have yet to get rid of.

Woke up with tooth/jaw ache this morning — was 95% sure it was just down to shoulder and neck tension and, but went to the dentist to get it checked out just in case. On the plus side, he only charged me half price seeing as it was my birthday.

Went to the GP to get more painkillers and he gave me some more, different, antibiotics as well. Which I’m not taking as I really don’t know why I was prescribed them — I’ll let the cold run its course.

Exhausted

Ten days of a crappy cold, followed by two and a half weeks of not quite getting rid of the cold, followed by an opportunistic throat infection, which required a week’s course of antibiotics that I am currently five days into.

Topped off with waking up before the alarm each day and having to take the antibiotics an hour before I can have food and having them not settle well on an empty stomach.

I am wiped out.

New blog home

When, on 12 March last year, Posterous announced the big news that it had been acquired by Twitter, I expected the worst. The assurance that “Posterous Spaces will remain up and running without disruption” was decidedly tempered by them saying that they would have a backup tool ready “in the coming weeks” for anyone wishing to move to another service.

However, the “coming weeks” turned into months with no updates, until on 27 December, Spaces export arrived and, although I had no immediate plan to move my blog away from Posterous, I made a backup.

Out of curiosity more than anything, I imported the backup into a WordPress blog I had never got around to using. And then, as an exercise in procrastination, faffed around with it, sorting out the tags and categories.

Which all turned out to be quite convenient really, given yesterday’s announcement that Posterous will disappear on 30 April.

So, from now on, this will be the new home for my occasional blog posts.