Being Boring~~by John Nedwill

Douglas Adams once described it as “the long, dark teatime of the soul”. Medieval clergy called it ‘accidie’ and thought of it as one of the precursors to the mortal sin of sloth. Most of us just call it boredom. However, the stigma around it still stands. Many people see boredom as a curse – something to be avoided. To them, boredom is something to be avoided. Instead of being bored, we should be doing things that fill our time and occupy our minds.

Of course, in the last decade, any number of things have been brought about to relieve us from boredom. Each of these things demands a share of our increasingly divided attention. as well as social media with its unceasing demands for updates, likes and reads, there is mobile gaming – designed to separate us from our money as much as from our limited time. Streaming services and on-demand video channels try to tempt us to them with their latest ‘must-see’ offerings. News channels bombard us 24/7 with the latest developments in politics, fashion and trivia, and invite us to share our reactions – now! And, as if that wasn’t enough, there are those who try to fill the physical world with toys to distract us. Boredom is a terrible thing!

But what did we do before there were all these things to distract us from the tedium of life? The answer is simple. We got bored. And when we got bored, we got creative! As children, we would make up games with incomprehensible rules, or we would create worlds to inhabit and populate with our imaginations. We would explore the things around us, satisfying our curiosity and learning (sometimes salutary) lessons about life.

As writers, we should be harnessing this creative energy. Yes, we can always find something to distract us and fill in time, but that is time that we could be spending doing something creative. Even if we are not writing, we can be thinking, planning and plotting – not just idling the hours away in some fruitless twiddling of our thumbs.

So, the next time that you are feeling bored, don’t reach for the television remote or your mobile phone. Grab a pen, take some paper and use the time that you have been given.

Embrace your boredom!

(Editor’s note: I’ve always thought there was something significant about the fact that the German phrase for “I’m bored,” Ich langweile mich, literally translates as “I bore myself.”)


OMP Admin Note:  John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger.  His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

A Personal Space Odyssey~~by Christine Larsen

Wasn’t it only yesterday we watched in awe as the movie ‘2001 – A Space Odyssey’ showed us the unimaginable steps Man had taken in readiness to embrace the brave new world of the 21st century?

We look around ourselves now we’ve begun 2020 and find the world hasn’t changed anywhere near our hopes and expectations of a brighter, happier, more peaceful future. Despite this, we don’t have to change our own personal odyssey too much to gently increase the positives in our own small corner of this world and consistently work at reducing – even ceasing – the negatives that try to pull us down.

A well-known song suggested the need for ‘sweet love’ NOW in our troubled world… and that was back in 1965! That particular ‘now’ is much more than half a decade ago, but it’s never too late for any one of us to generously give and graciously receive Love – no matter how small the gift.

It’s not so hard to take that smallest step – to be the first to smile at a stranger; to offer a greeting, a kind word, a helping hand. These are the simplest gestures of regard toward another human being.

Marry that with empathy – NOT to be confused with sympathy – meaning feeling sorry for, or pitying – all too often leaving the person feeling alone in their tragedy, somehow lacking the understanding they sought and desperately needed.

Empathy is quite different. It is entering into that other person’s world as far as he will let you – and respecting whatever level he is ready to allow. It’s moving forward gently, with baby steps, as and when his spirit ebbs and flows. Never forget, we have not the least idea what this person feels, fears, avoids, or suffers – unless we have ‘walked a mile in his shoes’. And even then, his shoes are a different size than ours. His feet likewise. And his exact path has never been ours no matter how alike it may seem.

The most important thing we do have to offer is a willingness to just stay ‘with‘ this suffering person, in his moment – trying to sense and share and lessen his burden. Only he can lift it, but your understanding will help support him at what may well be his lowest ebb. This is Empathy.

And while you are concentrating on sensitively supporting this person, you will find unexpected changes happening inside yourself. Many previously negative attitudes to people and events will slowly change and soften – and your tolerance will increase to a previously unimaginable level. This is Love.

And from this love can come the possibility for both of you to choose your tomorrow to be the ‘First Day of the Rest of Your Life’ . Those simple words offer SO much – just like the promise of each day’s sunrise – a new day, and a new chapter can begin. A renewal process can begin by simply concentrating on becoming the best possible person you alone can be.

And just like that, your Personal Space Odyssey has begun.


OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Helsinki Solution~~by Akje Majdanek

“Did you know a homeless woman once asked Hedda for a handout while she was getting out of her BMW in the parking lot? and she told the bag lady to get a job. Can you believe that? Where’s an old woman gonna get a job in this town? She must have been at least eighty. And do you think Hedda would give her one? Hell no. If you wouldn’t hire a homeless person yourself, you ought to keep your big fat mouth shut about them getting a job.”

Der Reiter, Akje Majdanek

We’ve all been there, applying for work. Getting dressed up in your nicest clothes for an interview at McDonald’s only to lose out to someone better dressed or better looking than you. Remind me again how homeless people are supposed to get the position? Fast food seems to have the highest turnover rate and are the easiest jobs to get, but how can a homeless person get one? They need to shower, shave, get a haircut and buy nice clothes first.

Helsinki thinks it has the answer. The city has introduced a housing first policy, and so far it seems to be working. In 1987 there were more than 18,000 homeless people in Finland. In 2019 there were an estimated 5,500.

Previously, a homeless person in Helsinki had to jump through hoops before receiving the final prize─a home. The steps included getting a job, getting therapy, getting sober, etc. depending on the individual’s situation. Few people climbed out of homelessness that way since even the simplest steps were difficult without money.

But now each person is given a small apartment with electricity and running water. The cost is initially borne by the government, then repaid from the formerly homeless when they get a job. Each apartment is individually rented─there is no forced sharing.

It’s easy to see how this could be altered by region to accommodate prevailing conditions around the globe; for instance, instead of paying for an apartment with cash it could be paid for with “sweat equity” like Habitat for Humanity does. But unlike Habitat for Humanity, there’d be no hoops to jump through first. This could work, and would likely cost less than what we’re doing now. It certainly deserves experimentation. I think the Steve Miller Band said it best:

Feed the babies
Who don’t have enough to eat
Shoe the children
With no shoes on their feet
House the people
Living in the street
Oh oh, there’s a solution.


Remember the books you had to read back in high school and college? Books like Animal Farm, Catcher in the Rye, Anna Karenina, The Crucible, To Kill a Mockingbird, A Prayer for Owen Meany, Jane Eyre and a hundred other deep, profound, thought-provoking reads? And remember how you said, “My gawd, those were the most boring books I’ve ever read in my life. I swear I’ll never read anything with literary merit ever again. From now on it’s nothing but sparkly vampires for me!”

Remember that? So who’s writing brilliant stuff like that today? Who’s writing the books that future students will complain about in the universities of tomorrow?

Akje has no idea, but she’d love to find that author, buy him a bottle of Beam and plagiarize all his work. (#^.^#)

Discover more about Akje and her writing at these links:

Amazon

Dreamwidth

Twitter

NaNoWriMo

Wattpad

Goodreads

Facebook


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Ready, Steady, Groan~~by Mark Huntley-James

Self-publishing a book is easy, isn’t it? Write it, check it over, press the buttons on Amazon, and there you are, another ebook is born. Anyone can do it.

If that’s been your experience, you might want to stop reading at this point. Otherwise, here’s how it might really happen, and how long it might really take.

I just published another book, a science-fiction space-opera romp called Streamrider. It was great fun to write, but then languished in a corner for many years as I concentrated on writing urban fantasy. So part of the reason it took years is completely my own fault for writing and publishing three other books.

Looking back, the first draft of the opening of Streamrider was written in 2012, and the next activity was in 2015 when I picked it up again and finished the first draft. So, all told, it’s been around for a while. In a moment of madness, almost exactly a year ago, I agreed with my partner that yes, since it was in good shape, had already been through multiple editing passes, 2019 was the year to publish.

The point is, the book was so nearly ready that there was almost nothing to do except a final polish and sort out the cover design. So, whilst I was slogging away, working on edits for “Hell Of A Bite” a year ago, my parter decided on a quick re-read of Streamrider, just to get ahead of the game. I mean, it would be a month’s work at the most, and then I could write another book for the rest of the year. Simple, right?

Such an easy decision since the book was almost ready…

The funny thing is that a book looks different when you’re about to publish. Little niggles that perhaps weren’t right but easy to ignore on a casual read suddenly become important. It’s like redoing the wallpaper in the lounge – it looks fine until the family come round and mention the bubbles, and that bit by the door where the pattern doesn’t line up. From the initial re-read, my partner evolved a long list of things that needed fixing, and when I went through, I found words, sentences, paragraphs and even scenes that I wasn’t happy about.

If it were wallpaper, I’d be buying a big tub of magnolia paint to cover over the mess.

Now, throw in a few Real Life surprises, because those always turn up. Perhaps a few health problems leading to editing whilst sitting in hospital waiting rooms, and publication of “Hell Of A Bite” overrunning into lambing season. and all those positive statements about “just a month or so” fell apart.

Honestly, forget the health stuff, that month was wildly optimistic of itself. With hindsight, make it at least three, and then double that to take account of all the other things intruding into our lives, and add on two for the overrun of “Hell Of A Bite”.

Self-publishing is exhausting and takes a huge amount of time, and no matter how ready you think you are, you probably aren’t. If you think it’s easy, then you probably aren’t doing it right, and even with the experience of previous books, I massively underestimated the amount of work.

Anyway, it’s done so time to start the next one. It ought to be written by June, ready to start editing for 2021…

Now, what was that formula again? Treble the first estimate, double that to account for real life, and maybe add two months for good measure?

Forget about the pain and stress, I’m just enjoying the sight of the book glowing in the reader. I’m also catching my breath before working out how to do the same book as a paperback. I’m ready, of course I am, and it shouldn’t take more than a month, should it?

Your turn, now.


OMP Admin Note:  Mark Huntley-James writes science fiction and fantasy on a small farm in Cornwall, where he lives with his partner and a menagerie of cats, poultry and sheep.

He has two urban fantasy novels out on Kindle – “Hell Of A Deal” (http://relinks.me/B01N94VXBC ) and “The Road To Hell” (relinks.me/B07BJLKFSS  ) – and is working on a third.

He can be found online at his blog http://writeedge.blogspot.co.uk, his website (https://sites.google.com/site/markhuntleyjames/), and occasionally on that new-fangled social media.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

The Problem With Resolutions~~by John Nedwill

Happy New Year to you all!

Yes. I know that it will be February by the time you read this, but that doesn’t matter. Did you have a good Christmas? Did you make any New Year resolutions? Are you sticking to them? I thought as much.

I know that it’s traditional to make promises to yourself at the start of a new year. It’s symbolic of a new start, an attempt to change you and your life for the better. But, keeping to your resolutions can be a terrible chore. It always seems to go through the same cycle. At first, it’s exciting to be trying something new. Then, as time goes by, they become inconvenient and you find excuses: you ‘forget’ or “Just this once won’t make any difference.” Then, before you know it, the gym pass is lying forgotten in your coat pocket, the intake of gin goes back to its old levels, and the great novel is left in a drawer somewhere.

Well – allow me to tell you my secret to keeping New Year resolutions.

I. Don’t. Make. Any.

You see, I find it far too easy to abandon my resolutions and discard them like puppies that have grown too big. Instead, if there’s something I want to do, I make a habit of it.

Human beings are great creatures of habit. Even if it’s harmful or something we don’t enjoy, a habit is a hard thing to break. But, if a habit can be harnessed for good, then why not cultivate one?

One of my habits is to make a daily entry in my journal. I take my journal everywhere with me; in fact, it has become one of my defining traits. When I take my journal out and start to scribble in it, nobody seems to notice. It’s just a habit of mine.

Another example. Like most people, I have a Sunday morning routine. Mine starts with Sunday breakfast while listening to the radio. After that I do the household chores. Then I sit down at the kitchen table to do something creative. It doesn’t matter what I do – writing, calligraphy, bookbinding – so long as I feel that I am adding something to the world. It’s a habit.

So, if you really want to do something, don’t make a resolution. Make it a habit!


OMP Admin Note: John Nedwill is a writer, OMP Network member, and a regular #OneMillionProject Blogger. His work can be found on Wattpad.com and in the One Million Project’s Short Story Anthologies published in February 2018.


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

STOP the Home Fires Burning~~by Christine Larsen

Most of my readers know by now I’m Australian. And all who know me are well aware of how passionately I love my country. Can you then imagine how my heart and soul bleeds for the pain so many of my fellow Aussies are enduring as our beautiful country burns?

Amongst our blessings in this small corner of our world are clear skies and cool nights, making our sometimes blistering days tolerable. Our dear old stone farm-house protects and comforts us … so far. But this morning we awake to a haze across distant paddocks. Same as yesterday morning’s sea fog that rolled in across our area. Or is it? Actually, no. It’s a light smoke drift from bushfires far north of us. The air is still and our weather forecast does not include winds from the north, so we should be safe. But the feeling of dread will not drift away similarly. And the tears continue to flow for the pictures and continuing bad news that surrounds and near overwhelms us.

Too many Aussies in countless parts of our great land, through every stratum of humanity, are finding themselves homeless, stripped of all that made them who they once were. Whether management/entrepreneur/business magnate – or everyday worker/small business owner or operator/ditch-digger – no matter their occupations – BUSHFIRE doesn’t discriminate. Or care. With a terrifying roar and at unimaginable speed, it roars across all, devastates all. Man does not doubt his helplessness against Nature’s fury.

The randomness of Nature is yet another source of wonder. And horror. In the main street of a small country town, ALL is decimated – the baker, the butcher (and yes, if there were a candlestick-maker, him too!) but in the 21st century it’s most likely a mini-supermarket. They’re levelled. Every hope and dream, everything they’ve slaved their lives (and usually quite a few forefathers lives, too)- GONE! And amid the desolation, one home stands – or is it the local hairdressing salon? The owner cannot stop shaking her head in bewilderment – and a ridiculous but increasing feeling of guilt somehow – for being a sole survivor. She continues to ask herself how the whole area will survive without its heartbeat and soul… its tiny township.

Down a nearby dirt road, again, all man-made structures are flattened, charred, beyond redemption. No tree or blade of grass remains unscorched. A shell-shocked farmer attempts to accept the loss of all he’s worked his lifetime for. The tears he sheds are not only due to the smoke-filled air of his still smouldering world. He cannot bear to imagine the final total of his stock losses. He’s already seen enough instances of burnt bodies piled up against fences. Abruptly his head lifts. Was that…? It couldn’t be…? And he starts running towards the faint but increasingly plaintive bleating of his goats. They’ve survived against the odds. He may never learn how, but he cares not as they re-unite.

Would that all the victims could find their way home like this. Would that Man and beast alike were not facing a future of some of the worst post-traumatic-stress known? Trouble is, although we all dream – ‘If wishes were horses, beggars would ride’ – right now there seems to be a dreadful lack of winged unicorns to ride far from danger and the pain of the loss of all those treasures… and realities.

Doesn’t stop us wishing.


OMP Admin Note: Christine Larsen is a writer, farmer, wife, mother, and grandmother from Australia. She has never been homeless or had significant cancer – yet – but has had exposure to both – creating a great sense of empathy and desire to help in any way she can. She is humbled by the opportunity to give one of her stories to the sincerely worthwhile causes of Cancer research and Homelessness.

To find out more about Christine and her work:

ceedee moodling  (Christine’s website)

Christine Larsen, Author

 – on Wattpad

–  on Facebook

– on Tablo

– on Amazon

Old McLarsen had some Farms (farming memoirs)

ceedee4kids (Christine’s children’s book site)


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Narrative Medicine~~by Søvn Drake

In my early twenties, I lived as a volunteer at the Simon Community, a remarkable program dedicated to homeless outreach and sheltering in London. We walked the windy streets and sat on the cold cement of the Bullring rolling fags to build rapport with people so chilled from the elements their fingers didn’t work properly enough for a smoke. At Christmastime donations flooded our pantry. Delectables literally rotted on the floor by New Year’s, but by February the cupboards were bare (food for thought as you consider donations to charities this time of year). The fact is we all need to work year round to make the world a better place. All of us should and can do more.

What, you ask?

When I’m not masquerading as a writer, I’m a physician and I practice something called narrative medicine. It sounds very fluffy and not terribly scientific. It certainly doesn’t reimburse well, but after using it for 18 years, I can tell you it’s consistently the most powerful tool I’ve seen help people. And you don’t need to have an M.D. to learn it.

Narrative medicine consists of listening to people’s stories and asking about them with kind curiosity. What do you hope for? What are you looking forward to? What brings you joy and makes your life worth living? What are you worried about and how do you find strength in difficult times? Or even, how was your day and why was it good or bad? These seem like simple questions, but coupled with compassion and patience for others, even those different than you, progress can be made.

There is no need to limit these conversations to those who are ill or destitute. Ask your family, ask your friends and coworkers. Ask the girl serving you coffee at the shop. Don’t mindlessly stare at your phone and ignore the people you pass on the street. Engage with those around you in the real world. When you know more about people, how they feel, and what they think, you can better provide them with what they need, may it be a medical intervention, a hug, companionship, a kind word, a cup of tea, or just a smile.

It’s human connection that heals us, bonds us together, soothes hopelessness. When we genuinely listen to one another we understand one another. When we understand one another, we find common ground and on common ground we can move past differences in politics, religion, and the color of our skin. We can care for one another, love one another, heal and grow.

I care for people who are homeless and people with terminal cancer as well as hundreds of others with marred and broken souls. I can’t fix any of those problems. But hopefully I make people’s lives a little better by listening to and connecting with them, and I’ll keep getting up and going to work everyday, even if that is all I can do.

And I ask you to help me.


Søvn Drake is an emerging writer who can be found haunting coffee shops in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. More about her and her writing can be found at: https://sovndrakestories.wordpress.com


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology