Saturday, 28 September 2013

Coping with IBS at home and leisure

Back to my series about coping with IBS, or not. Today I am going to post about how I have coped, or not, with IBS at home and leisure time.

First, at home. I am talking about when I am at home and about to go out shopping. For quite a while, earlier this year, I would have breakfast, get ready, then go shopping with my mum to get the weekly food shopping. Mistake. As I've said in my previous post, it is a good idea to sit and rest for 20 mins or so after eating because your food won't digest properly. I know this now from experience. When I did this, and started walking round the store, half an hour in shopping I'd say to my mum that I had a stomach upset and needed to go somewhere. Feeling that I was spoiling the shopping trip, made me anxious and made my stomach feel worse. I hated this happening. Not only because it spoiled our experience shopping, but due to having Asperger's Syndrome I'd get anxious about not finding my mum when I came out. (That is another post about coping with AS). Thankfully, this hasn't happened for ages, and I intend it not to happen again. If it does, my mum and I have a strategy to meet up.

Secondly, leisure time. I am talking about when you are going out to meet friends. I often go out and meet writer friends for talks, or brunches and lunches. There was one occasion recently when the weather was v hot (in the 30s) and I was going to be meeting friends for brunch and had to sit outside. I got really anxious about this and ended up with a stomach upset from IBS. I didn't go in the end, with the excuse that sitting in the heat was bad for me and my heart (I have a hole in it, and was said that people with heart problems shouldn't stay in the heat), and wasn't well. I get nervous about going to talks in general, but try to stay calm and relaxed before hand. I think in that instance, it was a case of going into the unknown as well as going to a place I'd not been to before that set it off.

So, if you have IBS, how many times has it stopped you enjoying pleasant experiences such as shopping and meeting friends? With me, lots of times.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Young at heart Masterclass - writing for 5-8 year-olds

On Sat 7 Sept I went to Charing Cross to a SCBWI-BW Masterclass about writing for young readers. That was after a long journey of getting a train to New Cross Gate, then a replacement bus to New Cross, another train to London Bridge, and a final train to Charing Cross. Due to works on the line, there were no trains via New Cross to London Bridge. I got there on time, which surprised me. Anyway, the workshop was taken by the publisher Stripes.

First we were asked what made young fiction different from say MG. Vocabulary, short chapters, you are being kind eg no parents arguing, and subject matter. I also thought that with young fiction, parents are always there in the background.

You have to think who is the reader? Are they on their own or are they being read to by their parent? Ruth, from Stripes, said not to worry about the story being related to the real world.  Give the character a sense of individuality. With 7-10,000 words you have to have points in everything.

Then came an exercise. We were given a choice of three opening lines. I chose the one about not being able to run, and wrote about a girl who had dwarfism and was about to run around a track. (Maybe part of my new series of special needs children meeting magical worlds).

Ruth then said that the reader must like the logical world and that it ties together.

Then we had to write a character profile. I wrote about Charlie, who will be in the second of my special needs books. I will use that to write the story when I do. Then we had to write a scene where we put the child in a different scenario. I wrote about Charlie and his dyspraxia going to a hairdresser. It gave me the idea to write short stories like this in between the main books.

We were given homework of writing an exercise, which I might do later on. I am thinking it might be the premise of another series I have in mind about special needs.

Ruth then told us how to write a cover letter and a synopsis. I have used this info to write the cover letter and synopsis for Billy to send to agents again.

What she did say that interested me was that if you are writing a series, you should prob wait until Book 1 is accepted to start Book 2, unless you want to do it for yourself.

Then we got our feedback from our first chapter. Mine was liked. It just so happened that Ruth's husband had read it because he works with people with autism, and thought it was a good description of someone with Asperger's. I gave her my card for her husband.  I did think of querying Stripes with Billy, but have since found I'd already sent Billy, the old version, to them, so that was out.

Overall, I learnt quite a bit, and it gave me ideas for future stories to write later. Can't wait.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Coping with IBS whilst working, or not

Having IBS really affected my life when I worked. In the morning I sometimes had IBS after breakfast, so it would delay my leaving time to get to work. If there is one thing I hate it is being late to anywhere (something connected to my Asperger's, I think). I remember a time many years ago when I was on what was then the Youth Training Scheme (one thing that I feel should be still available today to youngsters leaving school. Esp young ones who are like me quite shy and not sure about working straight after school), there was a period when I had pseudo diarrhoea. That is when you feel you want to go to the toilet time and again but can't go. Later on when I worked properly, just before I found out I was intolerant to dairy, it really affected me like that again. I kept going in and out of the toilet (I know it's not nice to talk about, but that is what IBS is). It really affected my work performance, in that I couldn't do all the work I had to. It affected me on and off over the years until the last time it really affected me again was due to stress - after I was told I was being made redundant from my job of 20 years. I found this really stressful, and it didn't help that a colleague wasn't very nice to me. When we had this altercation, it really stressed me out, and brought on IBS again, v badly. So badly that everytime I did a number two I bled.

So it appeared that stress made my IBS flare up badly when I worked. Next time I shall post about IBS, it will be about how it has affected my home life. But my next post will be about the workshop I attended yesterday and what I learnt and what I did. Until then...