Sunday, October 23, 2011

A favor to ask of you....

Mmmmm, I know that you folks out there in the great old blogosphere may not believe this but, if I’m perfectly honest with you, I’m a hobbit of little confidence. There I’ve said it, world shattering news eh? Ok to most folk this may not be a great deal but for one such as me it can dictate to whole course of one’s life; backing away from the edge, taking the easy option even if it’s not the right option, failing to speak out when I’m hurting, going along with the flow because it’s easier or even taking a step backwards when somebody could use my help. So why do I mention this now? After all I can bluster with the best of them, projecting an aura of confidence, of calmness even of threat! But that’s just it, its bluster whilst inside my stomach is churning, my thoughts are racing and I look for the easy way out! I’m absolutely crap at meeting folk for the first time; it sends bloody shivers down me back with my mind questioning how I come across to them – foolish? Maybe, but it’s a difficult thing to live with. So repeating myself, yes why do I mention it now? Well I have a favour to ask of you fellow bloggers, no don’t worry I know I’m Welsh but it doesn’t involve sheep. Some of you I have come to know well, as far as electronic communication may allow, others may well be full of bluster like myself but hide behind the monitor, but it’s hard to tell sometimes who are genuine folk or not. Ok I’ll stop rambling and tell today’s story of the walk and then put to you my question.

For the last few months I’ve been feeling more than the usual disconcertion with the road my life has followed, here I am in my mid forties (guess you didn’t think that from my youthful looks?) spending my working life grovelling around machinery trying to keep it running, funny thing – the engineer doesn’t produce a bean, keeps stopping the machinery to fix it and is intelligent enough to be a pain in the arse for a management team that doesn’t understand what we bring to a factory and also thinks we can fix absolutely anything with glue and bleedin’ fairy dust! Sorry off tangent again. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t want to be mauling my decaying body around heavy bloody machinery on a god damn awful shift rota any longer. But what options do I have? I’ve worked in factories now for too many years to change, or have I? Yes I have other issues with my life, don’t we all, but work certainly seems to be the main bug bear at the moment.

One thing that the hills around Moel Famau do for me is help clear my mind, they may not provide answers but they give me a sense of calm and it has been far too long since the hills here felt my foot falls upon them. It was afternoon before I managed to drag myself and the Warthog up there and on arriving the car park was absolutely chocker – bugger me thinks; half school term, people, little people, red faces, stupid questions about my gear, fat dogs on their yearly walk and an avalanche of detritus left by folk who have no understanding of, or just don’t care for the world outside their own four brick walls. I nearly turned around, I nearly did but I didn’t. I know enough of the area to know where the rarely trodden paths are, where even on a busy day like today the likelihood of meeting folk is minimal and these are more than likely of a similar mind to me. So off we trudged, leaving the clamour of the car park behind and soon forgetting the earlier frustrations as we’d arrived.

Our pace was not fast, I’d forgotten how little serious walking that I’d done lately and my breath at time was hard to come by. The woods alongside the trial were showing the colours of autumn in abundance and my thoughts grew less troubled and I was able to think more simply and more clearly.

As I walked today thinking upon my plight once more I came back to the same thoughts that have touched my mind with more and more regularity lately. Since been on this blogging journey I’ve come to realise that I love to write, love sharing my thoughts and having people respond to them. Some of you know of my other blog, Tails from the Fish, where I did try a little writing other than the drivel found here. One story there I enjoyed writing immensely, Something Under the Sea, a childhood tale of an evening adventure in Anglesey.  So I turned the thoughts around once more in my mind, could I write well enough for folk to want to read my stories so much so that they would pay for them? Confidence it’s a bugger, the lack of it makes you pull away from a path late you cannot see to clearly ahead and I have dismissed this idea so many time in the past. The trial continued....

Sorry about the clarity of the pictures but the warm air was laden with moisture.

We came across familiar a friend, pictured many a time on previous posts and once more thoughts turned briefly to the Bog monster as we were approaching some of her favourite places where she used to play ‘the spook game’ with me.

But as in all things change comes about, where once stood old pine trees casting forbidding shadows on the path and if you had the courage to glance into their depths as you scurried past you’d be reminded of fairy tale woods. No, not the ones with shimmering elfin lanterns and the sweet singing of the little folk – no these trees reminded you of the darkest depths of primeval fears where the talon and the fang lurked in the shadows awaiting to pounce upon the unwary traveller. it was here always that Lucy would inevitably play her games.

But no more, for Lucy has gone to tread other paths and the trees stand tall and dark no more, the landscape left does indeed resemble ‘the desolation of Smaug.

Further on we broke clear of the hills, descending to the fields that skirt them where the exposed Hawthorn trees have been twisted and torn by years of harsh weather found here in the winter months.

Clinging to one was a large fungus, one I do not know but it may be called the ‘beef streak’ fungus.

My thoughts drifted as I watch Willow stalk a pigeon on the path, it taking off far later than I thought it would. I thought about how animals perceived colour through their eyes and wondered that if some do see just in black and white would the Warthog’s coat allow her to blend more;

She is in there honest

I sometimes wish that my life could be more black and white, but I guess I’d soon miss the colour of not knowing the future.

The walk was all too soon at an end, as we crested the last hill we could just make out the trig point a couple of miles away at Nercwys, me thinks that we’ll be heading there Monday, before the light fails, and try to catch a sunset.  

As we sat the catch breath once more sitting in the fun cruiser, thoughts once again turned to my plight and I decided the ask what I’ve been mulling over for some time.  I am going to have a go at writing, stories from my youth and later, hopefully told with warmth and humour and perhaps with some poetic licence. What I would like is to have some folk as proof readers to help me along and give advice. So there you have it, if you’d seriously like to take the time to read my struggling future attempts and pass back constructive feedback, good or bad as long as it is constructive, please let me know and do not let confidence hold you back! Take a look at the ‘unpolished’ story here and then decide if you’d like to help and receive stories to study and remark upon. As I’ve already mentioned I have received a kindly offer to help with my photography so now it’s your turn! I have a couple of folk in mind whom I hope will reply with an offer but me thinks that it would be best not to ask and just wait and see (confidence again)

Fingers crossed, your friend,



Gorges Smythe said...

I sincerely wish I had the time, John. Do you know any retired english or journalism instructors? A local college instructor sometimes proofs my posts for me, but such folks are hard to come by. Incidentally, consider publishing online with Amazon or some such company.

Keith said...

John you have become an excellent writer with a style all of your own. I remember that there used to be some excellent English country magazines who published much the same sort of thing that you write about. May I suggest that you google search for English/Cymro magazines/journals, get the publishing info & rates of pay & send them something.
Your photos are good and publications usually pay more for images & are more likely to publish an article if there are images.
Make sure you mark the article First Rights so they know it has not been published elswhere. Later you may want to try maketing the same article elswhere as Second Rights, in which case you must give details of where & when it was first posted.
Best of luck mate.
Regards, Keith.

Keith said...

I had already read this story, bl**dy good mate. Some spelling correction needed but otherwise very good. Definately a seller!

murphyfish said...

Mr. Smythe,
It was Amazon that I was thinking i'e. it's Kindle network. Unfortunately I do not know such folk as retired writers or their ilk personally, although I do know a couple of teachers who may be able to direct me to such folk.

murphyfish said...

Thank for your kind words and advice I'll look into this as well.

Meanqueen said...

Hi John. I made a start reading your story. I noticed that a bit of tidying up could be done, mainly punctuation. I am not educated to a high level, left school at 15 and went straight into work, but I do enjoy writing.

I don't mind reading through your work and making constructive comments, if you think that would be helpfull. I think you definately have a talent for writing and you should pursue your dream.

Kath said...

Fabulous photos John, I echo what le Loup said.
You might be interested to "meet" fellow blogger Mark, at

murphyfish said...

Thank you MQ, tis the second offer from a Lady I've had today! I'll take you up on your kind offer, it'll be a few weeks or so probably before I have anything to send you, but the more help and advice I receive the better me thinks.

murphyfish said...

Thank you Kath, you're too kind. I'll pop along this evening to Mark's blog - thank you for the link

The bike shed said...

Hello John and thanks for popping over.

There are lot of places to get help with writing. Ty Newydd, national writing centre Wales is a good start as is the arvon foundation - both on the web. Shameless plug but I'm tutoring a long weekend course there next spring ( it was supposed to be this week but cancelled last minute) with the travel writer Rory Maclean and Travel Blogger of the year, Zoe Dawes. It's called ' travel, memoir and landscape - from blogs to books' so may be right up your street. But the centre does all sorts of courses on writing.

Also good are the Open College of Arts through which you can write at your own pace and study towards a degree.

Finally private tutors. Jane McNulty was my first tutor and she has a website called, I think, Writers Arc.

I was lucky enough to get a book deal, in part from my blog, and I'm currently deep in the process of completing the manuscript. If I get some time I'll look at the link to your story.

You write well, so keep going.

Mark Kautz said...

Hi John. When I read this last year, I said you should publish. I still think you should, but make sure you copyright so no body can steal it.


Fish Whisperer said...

John, I am not the literary giant I would like to be, but I can offer you this.
I was a builder for 24 years. It was a great profession and I have no regrets. When I turned 40 I decided I had had enough. I told my wife if she wanted a picture hung she had to do it herself, as I would not swing a hammer again.
I needed a change, no matter what.
I bought a boat and started a fishing charter. I now also own a tackle store and to be honest, have never looked back.
Moral to this diatribe, do it now, while you can. No time like the present.

Jean said...

Dear John ..

Have a look at this website .. he may be able to give you a few pointers.

All I can see is that now (40ish) is a great time to take stock and try something that you are passionate about. Leave it any longer and it will only be a pipe dream. I gave up work this year to go back to college and study Art. I can honestly say it's the best thing I've ever done. You may not be able to give up work but there is always a way! Good luck.

By the way, happy to read stories and articles and give constructive feedback - helping a fellow artisan would be a pleasure.

Damn The Broccoli said...

Well you know where I am and you should never be shy of asking if you ever need a favour, both m'Lady and I are big readers and she with an English degree as well. If no one else springs forward then I'll help. I can find the odd moment to read through and give advice.
I don't know about writing courses but one thing you can do to correct a lot of silly little errors we tend to make is to type everything up in Word first as that will spell check everything for you within reason (beware though it only checks spelling and not grammar so the odd slip will get through such as there/their etc). It also does a reasonable job of checking basic grammar however the english language is so awkward that this is not too reliable, nor is it always how you want to say something which in fairness is what makes a difference.

As far as Amazon goes, doesn't sound like a bad idea at all but as a couple of other suggestions, Readers Digest is still going strong, they pay for reader's articles so may be worth sending one or two to them. Also see if you can find somewhere to guest write, such as the OBN or some other site. This will give you a portfolio you could direct people to and be good practice.
Otherwise I would be happy to pay to read your stuff, this meandering style has always brought a bit of cheer to my day. Just one question, can I pay in cider?

murphyfish said...

Thank you Mark,I'll be checking those out.

murphyfish said...

Mark (shoreman) Thank you I'll bear that in mind.

murphyfish said...

Thank you FB, the sort of encouragement this hesitant hobbit needs.

murphyfish said...

Thank you Jean, I'll mail you if that is ok?

murphyfish said...

Eh up Damn, Only home made cider is currency here abouts!
I'll mail you over the weekend my good friend with thoughts and so on (also the next chess move!)

Rachel Flowers said...

Even before I scrolled down I KNEW there'd be tons of comments.

Believe in yourself xx

murphyfish said...

Hi Rach, very nice of you to say so me dear ;o)