Team Effort

I’ve been meaning to write about the absolute gem of having a writing partner.

You know – somebody at whom I can throw a first draft of my work, they will read it, and put on their editor’s hat. The best criticism is always “X, Y, and Z suck, because…”. That then gives me a chance to address those issues before I make anything available to a wider audience.

I must be prepared to do exactly the same in return. Everything here is reciprocal. So I am better at editing my own work, thanks to experience suggesting edits to my partner’s.

And I guess that is the first hurdle. Somebody’s writing must not only be good as the finished article, but it must be good enough, as a first draft, to engage me. In that respect, I’m lucky.

I have a vague goal for a partner. Simply, that they “improve” what I write. And they do. 100%. Many times it is just a no-brainer word replacement. Fresh eyes, fresh brain, fresh ideas.

Even if they suggest something and I flatly reject it, they add value, because if it raises a red flag for them, it will likely raise a red flag for other readers, too. It’ll maybe tell me that I’ve been ambiguous, that I probably need to go back and rewrite something to add clarity.

It’s a nice feeling, because they must think I add value, too. They might ask me once, but if I gave bad feedback, they wouldn’t ask again. They’ll be using exactly the same “improve” criteria to judge me, as I am to judge them.

It introduces a time lag, of course, because we both have other lives. We can’t expect each other to just drop everything to read each other’s work. For me, if I can, I will. If I can’t, I can’t. But certainly in the amateur environment in which I write, producing something good is far more important than producing it quickly. And in the case of my partner and I, we do tend to turn things around quite quickly – for me, I look forward to reading their material anyway, and I guess that is mutual. They’ll use overall words like “fun”, where if they didn’t actually think that, there’d be no need to say anything.

We don’t send each other everything. That would probably be too testy. All those limericks I write are entirely my own. And, when I do my weekly “news” post, that’s just regurgitating something I already read. But anything creative, fiction of any length, poetry sometimes (although a lot of my poetry I want to keep private), having a partner comes into its own.

I write for fun. Strictly amateur, so I don’t really feel like I am in a position to give advice. I can just say that I feel both my writing and my editing have improved because I have a partner. I just think I can’t be the only one.

Respect

I’m sorry, but can I just take a minute out to remind readers?

I welcome debate on this site, but I want high-quality debate. If somebody doesn’t agree with a particular point of view, they can say why they don’t agree, they can maybe put forward their own view. These pages are all permanent, all publicly searchable, so by doing that, anyone who happens along later can see the debate and can decide for themselves who (if anyone) they agree with. Good debate.

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More Wasted Potential

I posted a piece of flash yesterday, a suicide, and it sparked a thought. Hadn’t I written about this before? So last night’s post prompted a hunt. It was called Wasted Potential. It sat in Drafts for months, because it was on such a sensitive subject, I wanted the wording just so. When I finally published, it was immediately misinterpreted. I was incredulous but I saw the lack of clarity when I reread it this morning.

The subject I had wanted to discuss was suicide, but I was a noob, I wanted to explain my back-story, a big part of which is my daughter. I conflated the two. The original post was so bad, I thought I should rewrite it. So, here goes:

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A Scare

I’ve spent a lot of the day in shock, trying to blamk out what happened at breakfast time.

I even put a couple of posts live this morning, then went through to the kitchen as normal. I put the kettle on, as normal. I mixed some oats up into porridge, as normal. I can’t help thinking I was lucky to be in the room for what happened next.

The kettle, almost boiled, stuttered. Then it started again – its LED shows on/off. So I am staring at the kettle, wondering what’s going on, when all of a sudden, I see a puff of black, acrid smoke, accompanied by a flash, coming from the kettle’s switch into the wall socket.

Fortunately I grabbed the (plastic, insulated) plug and pulled it out of the wall, removing power to the kettle. I was just left with this smoke and an awful smell.

Now, the kettle wasn’t actually connected directly to the wall socket. I had a wi-fi switch in there. The type of switch which allows me to remotely turn the kettle on from my bed. Ironically, I don’t use it any more, but it was still in the loop between wall socket and kettle.

This switch had all the right logos on it – there is a safety standard within the EU, and since we only left a year ago… But, on inspection, this wi-fi switch was the culprit – indeed, part of it had melted away. After it cooled I could see quite clear damage.

So I can’t help thinking how lucky I was to be in the room when this happened, so I was able to nip it all in the bud. And I can’t help thinking that we need to get an electrician in just to make sure the socket is safe (although I’m pretty sure it was this switch rather than the socket, we’ve left the socketoff just in case, so there is no circuit there). And, I tested the kettle – literally watched water boil – at lunchtime, in a different socket. But I can’t help thinking that every unidentified little noise in the house is the start of a fire somewhere, and I can still smell that bloody smell!

Going Places

I met my friend again for a coffee yesterday. The weather, as you can see, was cloudier and far more humid.

I can’t help being quite proud of myself, given that all those years ago, I left hospital in a chair, and my journey to the coffee shop and back is a 2½ mile (about 4km) walk. My legs feel like jelly today.

But the coffee cake made it all worthwhile.

That pathway on the left is the pathway across the meadows to the next village. It came about in 2000, after neglect of the waterways caused the village to flood every winter. So we eventually got flood defences, costing millions.

Mister Bump

I went out for my first post-lockdown coffee yesterday. We went to the coffee shop, a friend and I, in a nearby village. I had not seen the friend since pre-lockdown.

Outdoors. Apart from having 10 or 15 people within 10 or 15 yards of me (nobody too close, not even my buddy), I figured that the risk was no greater than having friends come sit in the garden. It was even better for me, because I didn’t have to go into the shop to order – my friend did so. Although I suppose if he picked something up in there, he’d likely have breathed it in my general direction afterwards. We didn’t wear masks – we are only mandated to wear them here when we go into a shop.

So we followed the UK’s rules. I’m not too sure, how closely the UK’s rules match the science, so I…

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Excursion

I went out for my first post-lockdown coffee yesterday. We went to the coffee shop, a friend and I, in a nearby village. I had not seen the friend since pre-lockdown.

Outdoors. Apart from having 10 or 15 people within 10 or 15 yards of me (nobody too close, not even my buddy), I figured that the risk was no greater than having friends come sit in the garden. It was even better for me, because I didn’t have to go into the shop to order – my friend did so. Although I suppose if he picked something up in there, he’d likely have breathed it in my general direction afterwards. We didn’t wear masks – we are only mandated to wear them here when we go into a shop.

So we followed the UK’s rules. I’m not too sure, how closely the UK’s rules match the science, so I wanted to be happy for myself. Before I agreed to meet him, I satisfied myself about the state of the virus locally. In the last available figures, week ending mid-July-ish, there were 11 deaths in our region. The week before that, there were 7. The week before that, 17. All in the same ballpark. Our region is the south west of the UK – probably 10-20,000 square miles? a big number. If you imagine dividing the UK into about 8, that’s us. And me and my space is, what, a square yard?

My friend… Well, my friend is an old cycling buddy. Up until corona, he was a director for a well-known, UK charity. In charge of all new development, nationally. At the very start of this, he figured that for the next few years, new development would be a thing of the past, so figured he was living on borrowed time. He’s roughly retirement age anyhow.

But they kept him on through lockdown, even though he was at home, and they only made him redundant last week.

We had a weird conversation, about my own mobility. As we both love cycling, he suggested an electric bike, or trike. I said that they were good ideas (I’ve thought about this a lot) but that the holy grail would be a new car, an automatic (uncommon in the UK). And with anything, I would not be prepared to spend any cash until I was bringing money in.

– will the state not buy you a car?

– You’re joking, aren’t you?

I told him that instead of receiving the thousands (GBP, USD, EUR, any currency you care to choose) to pay for a car, immediately after the stroke I was awarded GBP 10 per week because I could hardly walk. When the state assessed me a couple years ago, they decided I must be walking better by now, so reduced that portion to zero. I still get additional benefit because I can’t use my hand, but we’re in the same ballpark.

My friend knows somebody, apparently, up in Yorkshire, a long way from here, who has terminal cancer, and needs to travel around 20 miles (presumably a few times a week) for treatment. They are probably pretty rural, they probably have no public transport – outside of London, it is not good in the UK. Anyway, he says that the state awarded them a car.

I mean, if this is true, there are probably discrepancies between this other case and mine. I never really got any treatment once I left hospital, so there is no ongoing relationship between me and the health service.

But I thought it was interesting that even my friend, who as a charity bigwig will have seen hardship cases, believes that when something happens, the state will come to the rescue.

Anyway, I took a few photos yesterday, it was a lovely day.

Could It Happen to You?

My friend Farida posted a quiz question yesterday, and I responded that the graphic she used looked like a lottery ticket. I suggested that it would be a good question. What are the odds of winning the lottery?

I’m gonna pre-empt that question, by answering it myself, today.

In the UK, you need to match 6 numbers, from a possible 59. That 6:59 format seems quite a common combination globally.

On the night of the draw:

  • before you start, there are 59 balls in the pot, and you have six possible numbers on your ticket, so the chance of getting a hit is 6/59.
  • Let’s assume you got a hit.
  • Second number. One ball has been removed from the bag, but one ball, too, has been crossed off your ticket, so the odds are 5/58.

The odds of getting both the first and second numbers are those two numbers, multiplied, i.e. (6/59) * (5/58). Which is 30/3,422, or 1/115. That’s for getting the first two numbers.

  • Now, third ball out. You know the drill.

There’s one less ball in the bag – 57.

There’s also one less number on your ticket – 4.

So, to get just the third ball, you’re 4/57.

And to get all all of the first three balls, you’re

(6/59) * (5/58) * (4/57)

I won’t work that out, because we’re not through yet.

  • Fourth ball. Again, one less ball in the bag, one less number on the ticket.

Balls in bag – 56

Numbers on ticket – 3

And, the odds to get all four of the balls so far,

(6/59) * (5/58) * (4/57) * (3/56)

  • Fifth ball.

55 balls to choose from

2 numbers left on your ticket.

Odds of getting all five numbers:

(6/59) * (5/58) * (4/57) * (3/56) * (2/55)

  • And lastly, the sixth ball.

54 balls to choose from

1 number left on your ticket.

Odds of getting all six numbers:

(6/59) * (5/58) * (4/57) * (3/56) * (2/55) * (1/54)


Phew! So, where are we at? Well, if you got to the very end there, congratulations! You just won the lottery! But let’s finally work out that sum.

(6/59) * (5/58) * (4/57) * (3/56) * (2/55) * (1/54) = about 1/22,500,000.

But it’s not impossible. People do win the lottery, here maybe every month or so.

But more often, nobody wins. On their site at the moment, they say the next draw is a triple rollover – so that is the last two draws, where nobody has won. In fact, winners are sufficiently rare that the lottery company has a rule of no more than five rollovers in a row. After that, they share the prize money out between the people who came closest.

But, would you back a horse at those odds?

My answer, by the way, is “no”. I don’t buy a ticket, which I figure is the most profitable move of all!

Reblog: Grand opening: Stinewriting on Etsy

I picked up my wife’s christmas present two years ago from Etsy. Some custom soft leather labels for her to sew into the clothes she was making. Came all the way from an artisan in Vladivostok! I thought they were quirky and unique.

I don’t know if I spelled her name wrong or something but after Christmas Day, I never saw these labels again!

Anyway I share Christine’s post with you:

Stine Writing

https://www.etsy.com/listing/813236079/handbound-journal?ref=listing_published_alert

Only a few items for now but the inventory will be growing!

Handbound journals

After watching a video https://youtu.be/pb5ckTXwCwY via someone else’s blog post, I have begun making hand-bound journals. They will be for sale on ETSY. I can make them customized for a more personal gift. I will be adding more, with different details to each one. Right now I have each listed as a single product because I make them all differently.

Please check my shop out and share!
Thank you for your support!

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