Stop, look & listen with Kathy Paterson

KP pictureOur guest on the blog today is Kathy Paterson, a writer from West Sussex whose poem was recently selected from among hundreds of entries into a competition held by the British animal rescue charity, Waders, to feature in an anthology raising funds for its vital work in wildlife rescue. Kathy is also busy penning short stories for women’s magazines and is in the process of writing her debut novel. Welcome to the blog, Kathy, and over to you.

Well, this is a nice diversion, writing a guest post for the Write Romantics rather than my own – how lovely to be asked and rather scary to live up to the expectations of another blog!

I was thinking about why I started to write – if I’m perfectly honest, it wasn’t down to a burning passion to get the stories whirling in my head committed to paper. Instead it was a solution to a problem that I had – ever practical, that’s me. I’d been ill and as a consequence my life was changing dramatically. Physically I was limited, and mentally too to some degree, so I knew that, just as it was vital to exercise my body to retain what capability I had, I needed to do the same for my brain.

Cue a new Creative Writing Group at my local Community Centre. It fitted the bill and so I signed up. From the get go, the Group has been astonishing. I am in awe of the creativity and quality of the writing. Their breadth of knowledge and passion is inspirational. Above all, there’s no judgement. Honest appraisals will be given – make no mistake about that! But there’s encouragement to try new styles and genres. Being part of a trusted circle has allowed me to experiment and write outside my comfort zone.

I feel rather ashamed to have admitted that’s how I started writing. I’d always written – factual (for the most part) reports for work and I am passionate about reading – if I wasn’t a ruthless de-clutterer, the house would be subsumed by stacks of books. However, there are so many astounding authors; it can let fear and laziness persuade me that I have nothing to contribute.

So, due to said fear and laziness, I know that I have to set myself writing goals. First up was to start writing my own blog, The Middle-aged Pensioner which I did in 2014. I aim to write at least one post a month; sometimes more if I discover a rich subject seam. This writing is non-fiction, more observations on my own situation which may perhaps offer help to others.

My second goal is to finish my novel. I began it properly earlier this year; but the pesky characters keep surprising me, so I’m not quite clear where it’s going or what genre it will be. This for me is the joy of writing – it’s consistently surprising and I’m baffled how a concept in my imagination can take on a life of its own.

I usually write at my dining table, once all chores have been completed. Malin with toyThe radio is switched off as is the internet connection. Total silence apart from a ticking clock and the tip-tapping of my fingers on the keyboard are the only sounds. The afternoon is usually best as the street where I live is quiet and my young dog is walked and, hopefully, asleep! The discipline of writing for an hour each day works best for me – when and what is written is not as important so much as actually getting into the habit. Invariably, I write for much longer than the sixty minutes.

That sounds terribly formal doesn’t it? I can honestly say that inspiration does suddenly strike too and that’s when I tend to write poetry. If I can translate a sight or emotion in a form that triggers the same in another person, it’s magical. Inspiration itself can literally come from anywhere. I’m a great believer of taking time to “Stop, look and listen”. Almost any situation, conversation, written article or notice can trigger an idea or concept which can be explored further. Then it’s a case of hoping I’ve remembered a notebook and pen to record the idea; or if those are not to hand, usually I have my mobile ‘phone to capture a cryptic note or a snatch of dialogue.

So what would be my advice to share? Hmmm, well based on my experience, if you can identify what’s stopping you from writing, you’ll be able to find a way to overcome it. Equally important, find a cheerleader or three (family, friends, complete strangers who’ve come across your musings via the internet); their motivation will act as a spur or sharp stick when yours is flagging. Finally, remember your Green Cross Code!

Kathy Paterson

Thank you so much for joining us on the blog today, Kathy, good luck with the anthology and please let us know how your novel is progressing.

Follow Kathy at her blog:

You can purchase a copy of the anthology featuring Kathy’s poem – Words for Waders – here.






22 thoughts on “Stop, look & listen with Kathy Paterson

  1. Ah, it’s so lovely to have my wonderful cousin, Kathy, as a guest on the blog today! Congratulations on your recent success, Kathy, and I can’t wait to read the novel once you are ready to hand it over to beta readers. Really proud of you cuz, as the young folks say! xx

    • You’re too kind Jo & the cousinly feel is mutual!!

      Thinking about the novel, especially the ending…seem to be starting at the end! This together with the link to the RNA you gave has given new impetus! So you’ll be the first to read it. Kxx

    • Hi Jo,

      Ah, what a talented & beautiful family we are ;o) Thank you for your kind words. You’ll be first in line to have chapters of the novel sent your way – though it may be the wrong way round, as oddly I’ve thought more about the ending than the beginning over the last few days! Kx

  2. What an interesting post, Kathy. Thanks. We all begin writing for different reasons, and the practical is no less valid than the burning desire….. Your writing group sounds marvellous. Good luck with the novel!

  3. Thanks for joining us on the blog today! I think your advice is spot on… We need a cheerleading club! I know I couldn’t have continued without my husband’s support and then the girls on this blog.
    All the best of luck with your writing 🙂
    Helen J Rolfe x

  4. Hi, Kathy! Thanks for such an interesting post. Absolutely agree with you about needing support. It would be impossible to continue if I wasn’t being cheered on by my husband, family and friends – especially the other Write Romantics.
    I think writing can be so therapeutic, and it’s great that the writing group was advertised in your area just when you needed it most. Fate lending a helping hand there. Good luck with your novel. I’m sure you’ll be back to tell us all about it when it’s finished. In the meantime, I’ll keep remembering the Green Cross Code! 🙂

    • Don’t be fooled Jackie – she’s a little minx!! But I love Malin to bits; she’s been a great way to meet people – she has her own fan club in the village. So many stop & talk to us; many of the conversations are inspiration for stories & poems!

  5. Welcome, Kathy. Thank you for sharing your journey. I’m sorry to hear that illness led you to writing, but also pleased to find that you discovered writing despite the circumstances. Your writing group sound fabulous. Good luck on finishing your debut xx

    • Hi Fiona, what a lovely way to reconnect. I should introduce you to Jo – one of my maternal cousins. Jo – Fiona is one of my paternal cousins! How lucky am I to be part of a wonderful family! Hope all is well? Kx

  6. Ditto for me Kathy!! I retired at the age of 42 cos of ill health though I managed short term contracts for a while afterwards. Its nice to ‘meet’ someone else who didn’t start writing when they were in nappies either, I had only written reports at work and had to teach myself how to write informally. There is one thing we differ on, I don’t start writing once the house work is done, I start when the teetering mound of dirty crockery in the kitchen has grown to epic proportions and I can’t face doing it 🙂
    Nice to ‘meet’ you and look forward to reading some of your work, Lynne x

    • Hi Lynne & thank you for this – it’s so good to hear that my experience has echoes for you too. It’s quite a big adjustment to make to retirement, isn’t it? But amazing how swiftly I got used to longer breakfasts & the chance to get a dog after wanting one for many years!! I miss the social side of work though, which is why writing and being part of a group has really helped. It probably also explains why I can strike up a conversation with anyone nowadays – that or I am turning into my Nan!!

  7. Pingback: What are we going to do now??? | A Middle-aged Pensioner

  8. What a lovely and inspirational post, Kathy. I’m so glad your writing group has helped so much. The very best of luck with your novel and congratulations on being included in the poetry anthology Alys xx

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