Voices Across The Void

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Voices drift across the void

Calling out to home,

To those they left beyond the veil,

Next to whom they roam.

Silent pleas unheard by most

Witnessed by a few

Beyond the void they wait to be

Re-united with their loves.

Occasionally the veil slips

And through it they may pass.

For a moment worlds collide

Time stands still and waits.

You feel a deathly hush,

Then a message from

The one you love is finally

revealed.

The voices from across the void

Are not all to be feared

Yet should you chose

Not to hear…

Lessons in Death

For those of you who follow my Facebook page or twitter feed you will be aware of last weeks loss here in the Acton household, Eric the Hamster passed away just short of his second birthday.

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Pets are the way many of us learn about life and death, it is the first tangible link we make between this world and the next depending n your beliefs.  It is tempting to avoid having pets to protect our youngsters from dealing with the pain of loss but if doing so you do them an injustice and leave them unprepared when death arrives in the shape of a grandparent or other family member,  the monster has taken the loss of this little soul quite badly but he will recover and be all the stronger the next time he has to say goodbye.

The Second of My Inspirational Angels Series – Hayley Leon

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Some Angels are only loaned to us for such a short time – I wrote this recently on someone’s blog (they know who they are) but it really is true some Angels are destined to spend only a short time on Earth others to remain and walk amongst us and some inspire others to be transformed.  As I have helped trying to promote Charlie’s Cause I have been amazed by some of the amazingly strong and compassionate people I have come in contact with.  There are events in life which if the strike will either make you or break you these people have stood up to adversity looked it firmly in the face and fought not only for themselves but for others, when most would curl up in self pity they have reached out to help others, they are each and every one of them truly inspirational and over the next few weeks I would like to introduce you to just a few of them.

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I would like you all to meet Hayley Leon, her partner Lee and there son Jacob, though it was Jacob’s fight, it is the families journey and subsequent decision to become fundraisers extraordinaire that has led to their inclusion here.  Not only are they raising funds to support the unit that saved their son’s life but Hayley has taken an active role in helping to promote the petition for Charlie’s cause Cords4Life UK as well.  Recently Jacobs Journey launched their own website and Facebook page to compliment their twitter campaign.

First Hayley let me say thank you for agreeing to be interviewed and letting me ask lots of emotional questions which you have probably answered a hundred times before.

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1) Jacobs Journey is a very apt name for your cause given the very real journey you have all been on with Jacob, can you tell us how it began?

Lee; When Jacob was 2 weeks old he became very poorly and began screaming and vomiting, we took him to Coventry University Hospital where they completed some basic tests and believed he had gastroenteritis, we were not happy with the results as Jacob was completely out of character appearing to be suffering with extreme pain, he would feed on milk, then vomit and start screaming, we couldn’t comfort him and it was very upsetting.
We noticed Jacob’s eyes were not responding normally as they appeared to be fixed in one corner, we raised this with the nurse who contacted a specialist (Dr Morgan) who checked his eyes.
Dr Morgan then immediately arranged for a CT Scan to be completed on Jacob’s head, we were now feeling very worried, one minute we were told he had an upset stomach and now he was going to have a CT scan of his brain? The results came back and Dr Morgan explain that Jacob had a large mass within his brain believed to be caused by a bleed.
Obviously we broke down, when you hear of bleeds to the brain you automatically think of the worst, we were completely unable to help our son or even comfort him.
Dr Morgan arranged for Jacob to be rushed to Birmingham Children’s Hospital, we had to wait while a specialist ambulance arrived, by this time our family was at the hospital and we were breaking the news to them, this was completely heartbreaking and would be the start of a journey that would change our lives forever.
The specialist ambulance arrived and Jacob had to be place onto a life support machine for the journey, this looked like an incubation chamber full of wires, tubes and equipment, we followed the ambulance to Birmingham, we were directed to ICU (Intensive Care Unit) and we had to wait while the Surgeon on duty reviewed his scans and symptoms, Mr Rodrigues then came to speak to us explaining that Jacob needed brain surgery to remove the clot and relieve the pressure within the brain that is causing the pain, we had to sign a consent form before the surgery could take place, there was a real risk of death from the operation but a certain risk of death without it, not really a choice so we both signed and put all of our hope into a man we didn’t know.
Jacob was prepared for surgery, we were allowed to see him quickly before he was taken into theatre, we did not want it to be a goodbye but it had that feeling to it, we waited for several hours and then we were told the surgery was complete and Jacob was still with us, this was the first hurdle in many that Jacob will overcome, we had to wait again for them to take Jacob back to ICU and place him on life support, he was unable to breath for himself and he was incredibly weak.
Jacob was in ICU for 4 days but this felt longer, after 3 days we were given accommodation in the Hospital although Hayley didn’t leave Jacobs side the whole time, our Family all took turns to visit and the support from them and friends was fantastic, we were completely torn away from our normal lives as nothing else seemed to matter.
The team at Birmingham were great, everyday in ICU there would be a different nurse looking after Jacob, we sat and watched as they constantly attended to him, feeding him through tubes and tracking his progress every hour of the day and night.
After 3 days Jacob was well enough to start breathing for himself, this was a really upsetting time as it was clear Jacob was not happy and was struggling to breath on his own, he looked confused to what was happening and it was devastating to watch him unable to pick him up and comfort him.
Jacob was taken to the Neonatel ward , this ward specialises in post ICU care and there was now 2 nurses to 4 children, we got to spend some more private time with Jacob and we able to starting picking him up briefly and feeding him normally, the care here was still fantastic and the nurses would respond to every cry. He stayed here for 8 days, in that time he had his drain removed from his head and physio started. On day 8 his surgeon was happy for us to take him home , we on the other hand were petrified, we were so scared as there was also a chance of a second bleed. Mr Rodrigues didn’t know weather he had got all of the abnormal blood vessels because it was quite deep in Jacobs brain. We were sent home with weekly appointments at the hospital and for a nurse to come twice weekly to measure Jacobs head for any swelling. He also started regular physio at home. For the next 10 months our lives were consumed with Hospital visits,scans, doctors appointments, physio , twice weekly nurse visits and developmental checks.

309667_10150322789781245_116152128_n2) I know it will be hard to put into words but if you could try to explain how you felt seeing him lying on the life support machinery

Hayley; Seeing Jacob on life support machine is an image that will never leave my mind. In a blink of an eye my baby was taken away from his side room after being treated for a stomach bug and taken to a HDU unit where the KIDS team from BCH arrived with all their equipment . There was wires every where , a big tube in his mouth , tubes up his nose. We were briefly allowed to check in on him but we had to leave them to do their job. Myself and Lee just stared blankly at each other. We always joked that we had so much bad luck in our lives but this was something else. Why was this happening to our baby? Was it something i had done? We started to question everything! Dr Morgan (Jacobs Paediatric Consultant) was fantastic. She kept saying Jacob was having a little rest , he wasn’t in pain and the KIDS team would make sure he got to BCH safely. It was some kind of nightmare we were in! Lee took it really bad. Because he had only taken a weeks paternity he was very upset that he hadn’t spent enough time with him. I was trying to hold it altogether , even though I just wanted to hide in a room and cry and cry and cry!

3) Jacob has two big brothers who I am guessing were told by everybody when he was born to look after their little brother how did they cope not only with his illness but with the fact that it obviously meant a lot of time spent away from you while you were at the hospital?

Hayley; When Jacob fell ill Callum was 9 and Jack was 4. We had fantastic support from our families who all took time off to look after them and to make sure their day to day life wasn’t interfered with . We didn’t want them to worry. Callum was a bit wary that something was not right but Jack didn’t have a clue as he was very young. We didn’t want them to visit Jacob in PICU because the whole experience was not nice for anyone who came to that ward . Lots of babies and small children hooked up to ventilators was heart breaking and I kept my children away from that. They did however come to visit Jacob for a few hours when he had his drain removed. We were able to go for a walk around the hospital and grab something to eat with them. They enjoyed the visit. Callum now knows that Jacob was very poorly and has since wrote an autobiography on his short life so far.
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4) I obviously got to know you through Charlie’s couragous battle against cancer, how did you become involved with Cords4Life UK?

Hayley; I first found out about Charlie when we set up Jacobs Facebook group. I remember searching for Birmingham Children’s Hospital and his page popped up and I have followed him ever since. There was something quite special about this little boy. I loved looking through his gorgeous smiley pictures and his family are quite simply amazing! I got to know Joey through twitter and arranged to meet them all in hospital while Charlie was having his trial drug to drop of some presents for the family . Charlie was gorgeous, and Fiona and Joey were lovely and I was very honoured that they let us visit. Jacob had a wail of a time eating biscuits and being cheeky! It is a time I will never forget as Charlie and his family changed my outlook on life.
 
5) I would imagine that you got to know a lot of parents during your stay at Birmingham Children’s Hospital many of whom won’t have been as lucky as you have been, have you ever felt I guess what would be termed as survivor guilt?

Hayley; We have never felt guilty because Jacob survived , in fact I have never even thought about this before. Myself and Lee prayed so hard for Jacob on the night of his op and we hoped our loved ones above were listening to us because we didn’t want him to leave. My Grandma Died 7 days before Jacob fell ill and my family always say she left so Jacob could stay and I will always believe this.

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6) I have gotten to know you well enough to become Facebook friends and have seen how well Jacob is doing but can you tell everyone where he is on terms of treatment now, and his prognosis for the future?

Hayley; Jacobs prognosis for the future is excellent. He has some left sided weakness due to the bleed but its not anything that anyone would notice. Its only something he would notice himself as he got older. He has another scan in July to check his brain and another developmental check to rule out mild cerebral palsy. The future is very bright for Jacob he is a very determined little boy!

300615_10150322794196245_149882415_n7) Do you ever worry that it could come back given how rapidly it struck before?

Hayley; Jacobs bleed was caused by a group of malformed blood vessels in his brain which burst as they became weakened by the blood flow. His last scan showed that Jacob had no AVM in his brain and that everything was normal. We are certain that this will never happen again but he will have 2 yearly scans to double check.
8) What made you decide to fundraise for the hospital rather than merely send a thankyou card?  And how would you counter those that argue we already pay for the NHS?

Hayley; When we came home from hospital , we set up a Facebook page for Jacob so we could raise money for Ward 10. No one knows if their child will ever need help from their local hospital and we all pray that this will never be the case, but we would like to know that if there was ever a need, they have the equipment, money and knowledge to be able to treat babies and children in the best possible way. Fundraising for Birmingham Children’s Hospital has become my hobby and passion and along with my friends and family we will continue to help and hold events to raise as much money as possible. Some people will just send a thank you card but lots of people want to give something back, how can you ever repay someone who saved your child’s life! The only way you can do this is to raise funds and make the hospital the best it can be.

541592_10151417731666245_725846638_n9)  You were honoured as one of the hundred heroes for your fundraising last year, how did that feel?

Hayley; We were over the moon when we received our award , it was lovely to know that the hospital wanted to show their appreciation. The night was filled with amazing stories of brave people who were fundraising to say thank you for all the help and support the hospital gives them.
46766_10151404138736245_380331365_n10) Your next event is your charity night can you tell us a little about that and where people can watch out for further events

Hayley; We are holding a charity night at the Willenhall Social Club Coventry on Saturday 30th March from 7pm We have some fantastic entertainment , live music, Children’s entertainer , Peppa Pig and George, Mickey and Minnie mouse, face painting , Raffle and a DJ! Tickets £5 adults £3 child. The amount of people helping me out with their time and generosity is amazing! We will also auction off a signed Coventry city shirt, a Coventry Blaze signed goalie stick , a signed photo of Man Utd Player Ashley Young and a signed Photo of Liverpool Player Luis Suarez. This will be taking place on Jacobs Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/Jacobsjourney/ 25th March til 8th April! You can follow Jacob on his face group page which is listed above or on twitter @jacobs__journey for further events . Jacob also has a webpage http://jacobs–journey.webs.com/

I just want to say a huge thank you to Hayley and Lee for sharing their story and if you want to bid on anything or even maybe if any of your writers would like to sign a book and donate it to a good cause here are the links again.

Anyone wanting to find out more about how they can help Haley raise funds please check out the web page Jacob’s Journey follow on Twitter @Jacobs__Journey or on Face book Jacobs Journey

Bonus Tv Review – Blakes 7

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It could be seen as procrastinating from picking the Mysteries of Udolpho up again but the reality is that one thing leading to another has brought us here last week I discussed my love of the Doctor and the podcasts that I listen to as a result, well I have been listening to back episodes of a couple and listening to one by The Ood Cast another of my childhood favourites was mentioned.  I am fully aware for non UK followers this programme may be unknown unless they have the geek gene but let me introduce Blakes 7.

Now I know that by todays standards it looks terrible it has aged badly when you compare it to CGI technology but it still has something, these characters made you love them or in some cases hate them, as kids we played Blakes 7 in the field behind where I lived, we ran round pretending to shoot each other with sticks that were our lasers, teleported by jumping, and of course we girls spent as much time rescuing the boys as they did rescuing us.  I have to say in many ways my childhood was far more enjoyable than that of my own children, we had far more freedom, places we could play safely and less pressure to produce results at school which ironically led to far more creativity.  Now we have almost gone full turn where people expect children to learn by rote rather than thinking, they have targets to meet rather than time to develop but that is another story for another day.

Of course all good stories need a bad guy or in this case a very bad girl.

She always wore the most fantastic outfits sadly as a bit of a tomboy I never appreciated them at the time I was always far more like Cally who was a telepath aswell as her other talents.

One thing I have noticed is the age of the actors, if this was made today they would all be played by people in their early to mid twenties, for potentially two reasons one of course being sex appeal but the other reason I think is partly down to how long a series can be spun out while it keeps making money, Blakes 7 in some ways is unique in that it has a very obvious limitation in its very title, Blake himself.  His companions can change and if fact Blake himself did not appear throughout all four series but even when not an actual screen presence he was very much still part of the story line, fan fiction has suggested the possibility of clones being involved at the end of the series for its continuance but we will come back to that at in a minute.

If you have not watched this and now have an urge to watch the full series stop here! No seriously stop! Go Away! Because I am abut to discuss the end of the series so if you think you might want to watch it toddle off now the full episodes are on You tube.

Now for everyone else…

Blakes 7 ended with a massacre.  There is no other way to describe it, and today in a society where we have come to terms with the idea of things lasting forever this seems strange, although there was the slimmest possibility of one or two characters possibly having miraculously escaped according to certain fan circles, the reality is that a story line would have to be pretty far removed from reality to allow it.

Part of me would love to see this series remade, but part of me would be scared of what they would do with it.  While I am sure they could do amazing things for the special effects I am not so sure they could re-capture the spirit of it and that they would stay faithful to the ending.

Book Review – Beauty and The Feast By Julia Barrett

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis was one of those books I came across as a freebie that has sat for a little while on my Kindle but I have to say once I started it it got me hooked.

41-3TYl4kiL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA278_PIkin4,BottomRight,-64,22_AA300_SH20_OU02_I guess the first thing to address is genre, because this one is firmly sat in the middle between Romance and Erotica, while the sex scenes are very graphic they are well spaced out with plenty of story content inbetween, I think I shall classify it as a Raunchy Romance, which should certainly give you an idea of where this review is going.  It has been a long time since I stopped reading romances, maybe it is the experiences in life that make you cynical that also make it hard to enjoy many of the overly saccharine romances that flooded the market through the Nineties, but I have to say I loved this one.  Eva Raines the ‘heroine’ of the book is not exactly the damsel in distress waiting to be rescued, rather she is street wise, independent and happy to wait for Mr Right rather than settling for Mr Right-now.  On top of all that she is a chef extraordinaire infact that is how she meets the gorgeous and charming Gabe.  The back stories for both characters are compelling and make you care about them where it could very easily have become stereotyped.  The sex scenes are graphic but built up wonderfully of layered sensuality tied in with the the food references which add an extra dimension.  I would say if you reach this point on the bus then put it down and wait until you get home to read more as it is likely a flush will colour your cheeks and you will subconsciously find yourself licking your lips.

I have to say it is of course not Shakespeare, if you are looking for deeper meanings then this is not the book for you but if you are looking for the perfect beach read then look no further, judging on its own merits for what it is it gets a 5 out of 5, which when you consider it made an old cynic like me smile then that says a lot.

Be

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No beginning nor end,

Recreation in chasms

Of fire and ice,

Death and rebirth

Continuously merged,

A thousand regenerations

In a Heartbeat.

From darkest depths

To illuminated heights

Serene silence

To cataclysmic cacophony

Cleansed by cascades

Of crystal tears

Content to simply

Be.

 

 

 

 

Random Thoughts And Storylines

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I am afraid it is sheer randomness for todays post, part fantasy, part rant, part insanity a little like my life lol.

First let me get the little rant over with which is to do with Charlie’s petition, you would not believe how hard it is to get 100k UK citizens to sign to help save lives, trying to get a celeb to RT on twitter can be like pulling teeth even those who have lost someone to cancer themselves are reluctant to sign something they believe means they are criticising the NHS well news flash the NHS is doing a good job of its own bad PR at the minute, this petition is actually about trying to get parliament to discuss cord donation and make the funds available for it to be made a countrywide option,  I get really annoyed at people arguing it will cost too much I would like to see them put a price tag on their own childs life, facebook and Twitter are full of posts from people desperately trying to raise money to take children abroad for life saving treatment, shouldn’t we be ashamed that we are so far behind the rest of the world that this is needed?  I am sure those people would happily raise money still for hospitals who offered treatment here infact in lieu of flowers Charlie’s parents asked that donations be made to the hospital who cared for Charlie so many times in his short life, with gift aid added it came to over eight thousand pounds, false economy seems to be a fixture of modern life taking the cheapest solution short term even if it gives the least long term benefit.

Right rant over!

Next would you believe it is possible for a writer to have an over active imagination?  No I know to an extent we need one, that’s how we create characters and stories but my problem is that idea just keep coming.  There is no way I will ever be able to write everything which presents itself to my mind.  I get distracted at times by the fact new characters and plots force their way into my thoughts demanding attention. For example after my post a couple of days ago about Doctor Who podcasts I then read a post from someone else about fan fiction and got thinking ramdomly about that.  No harm there you would think? Wrong!  I know have an idea for an gothic/timetravel story stuck in my head demanding attention which I really don’t have time to give it at the minute, last week it was the coma story that ended up as a flash fiction that interrupted the limited sanity that I have, so many people commented on what could be done with it but never will be which leads to another quandry…

What is my Genre?  My novel is dark/medieval fantasy, my short story collection ghost stories and another novel idea I have is Post-Apocalyptic/Dystopian so where do I see myself going?  I love being able to write what takes my fancy yet I know that I really should choose one direction to follow.

All Around the World

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI very rarely look at my Stats now, when I first started like so many others I would check them daily looking for vindication for taking up your time by expecting you to stop by and read.  As confidence grows you start to realise that it is the quality of those who visit not the number of followers that count, who hasn’t visited a site with thousands of followers yet noticed you are the only one clicking like!  But there is stil one aspect of Stats that does fascinate me, no not search terms though of course they are hilarious and I love the fact if you type in Chappy Chopper to google search my dungeon post is top of the list, but what actually never fails to make me smile is the location statistics. I love the fact that okay they may have only visited once but to know that a person in Peru has heard my name in relation to writing rather than playing games on Facebook amazes me, there are countries where they read me that I never would have expected, and let me say I appreciate every single one of you no matter if you live down the road or across an ocean but the fact a few years ago this would never have been possible fascinates me.

mapIt would be great to think that one day I could colour all the map in not just with people who visit my blogs but with people who I can visit theirs and build up a bond with people all around the world.

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Tasty Tuesday – Sausage One Pot Roast

Another one of those really easy dishes that don’t really require much in the way of preparation and save on the washing up, here’s what you need…

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Okay so basically you need pork sausages, potates, carrots, parsnips, onions or shallots, garlic,apples and any other veg you personally want to include plus a bunch of Thyme.

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The ultimate combination pork sausage and apples, my preference is pink lady apples but everyone has their own favourite and it would work equally well with braeburn or dessert apples, first thing to do is slice and dice all the veg including the apples removing the cores, if you want to leave your potatoes and root veg in larger chunks it is worth part boiling them first just to get them started. I like to skin my garlic and chop each clove in half but for those who are not so keen on it you can leave it out.

Once everything is chopped place it all in a big casserole dish or roasting tray…

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Spread a few sprigs of thyme around the dish and drizzle with oil, as you can see I am using the Thyme infused oil I made from the thyme left over the previous time I made it for extra flavour.  The into the middle of the oven for around an hour at gas mark 6

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see some parts do get a little crispy so it is important to go give it all a stir round half way through.  Once it is finished remove the woody thyme stalks and transfer to a serving bowl.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThen let every one dive in, in my house I serve with gravy and yorkshire puddings, and I have to be honest there is always a fight over the sausages no matter how many I put it, it is my daughters dinner of preference when she stays over.

Review – Get Your Geek On

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I can see the puzzled looks on your faces, wondering, from the fact it is a review what the title could mean, well let me explain.

I think at heart most writers are geeks, it comes with the territory, we have to dissect everything, know the back stories and worry about continuity, all the stuff most people will overlook if they are enjoying what they are watching or reading.  To an extent we can switch off and push these thoughts aside, the difference is for us they are always there and once we spot one the urge to proof read comes bubbling to the surface, I think that’s why I have yet to read a writer giving 50 Shades of Grey a good review.

My favourite geek out involves a man in a blue box! Yes, I am a huge Doctor Who fan to the point where I actually listen to several podcasts based on the show.  But for all I have taken from Doctor who as a simple viewer, as a writer the podcasts and new Who are helping me improve my skills.  This was my Doctor number four also known as Tom Baker the man in the scarf, growing up there were three companions  that resonated with me and not suprisingly all three were strong women in their own way, they needed to be to survive with my child hood Doctor.

The kickass warrior

The female timelord..

and the first of his companions and the one who has assisted more doctors than anyone else and will be sadly missed

Now I have to say I am not a full geek, I can’t store every detail of every episode ever made in my head but I love the Doctor which ever incarnation I am watching.  I love most of the companions, I love watching the way the characters develop, especially in the newer series where it could be argued that they get to play far more pivotal roles, likewise the relationships between Doctor and companion.

But above else the thing I gain most as a writer in a deeper appreciation for not only story arcs but the way the reader/viewer feels about them.  Fandom can get a little obsessive at times and some groups are very exclusive but Fandom in its wider context encourages discussion and healthy constructive dissection of plot, arcs and the mechanics of story telling.  That of course is not forgetting the whole concept of non linear storytelling which is perfectly demonstrated by the Doctor’s and River Song’s conflicting experiences of where they are respective to each other in their relationship.  The idea that a story does not need to be told in linear fashion is not a new one but no other story has ever taken it to quite the same lengths and sustained it over such a long period of time.  This year Doctor Who celebrates fifty years of regenerations, monsters and stories which have captured generations of followers and no doubt will for ever more my four year old is already developing the bug although he does believe mummy can buy him a working TARDIS and Sonic screwdriver at the supermarket so I think a few lessons in the difference between science fact and fiction may be required.

The science in early Who may be dated in some respects but the characters are developed enough that even watching now the bad special effects and amusing costumes can be forgiven because you care enough about them.

And as writers isn’t that what we want, others to read our words, for them to resonant, be discussed, and if we are really lucky to be enjoyed from one generation to the next.  Not every story has been brilliant but the good have far outweighed the bad enough to keep fans coming back, and not everyone will like every thing you write even those who do love your writing will seldom agree on your best story or characters.  The ne thing that it has shown me is that just because one story does not work you do not throw in the towel, you re invent, recreate if you take time away you find other creative outlets to keep your dreams alive.

I have no idea if in fifty years time anyone other than family will remember I ever wrote anything but I do believe that in my own way I will have if I am lucky made a mark somewhere, for someone, that I will have inspired someone or given them the support to pursue their dreams.

Think about the TV shows you love what have they taught you?

One final clip of one of my favourite Doctor’s bowing out.