My Podcasts - want to know about writing memoir? Listen up!

Anna Meryt Writings on Facebook 

Hi Everyone

Here we are moving towards the end of March 2021. Easter is next week and I'm moving on with my Podcasts on Writing Memoir. I've also found a sound engineer who will record my first memoir - A Hippopotamus at the Table  for Audible. So anyone who prefers listening to books rather than reading them, anyone with poor eyesight or partially sighted - well watch this space.

If you're interested in writing at all, you may enjoy my podcast series.  I've done 2 podcasts now, 4 to go - they focus on memoir writing initially, but as in my book Writing Memoir. How to Write a Story From Your Life, I will be quickly moving on to topics that apply to any writing-a-book project,  from writing Dialogue, to finding Your Voice, to StoryTelling, to publishing.

Here's the links

Podcast 1 - What is a memoir? 

Podcast 2 - Planning your book

New Year New You? And this time last year ....

Jan 5th 2021 Christmas was coming and we were all getting excited - at last, an opportunity for a social occasion albeit with the 'bubble' limitations.  Then 4 days before, Boris Johnson, reacting to alarming rises in covid numbers basically cancelled Xmas, by putting us all into Tier 4.  I'm not going to say much more about that, because me and my daughters cut back our plans and our time together. We had Xmas lunch and opened presents etc.  But most of the fun of all the anticipation had been doused with a large bucket of ice on our heads. I drank too much Baileys and Bucks Fizz, had a headache by 5 pm (I should have known) and went to bed and fell asleep for 2 hours.  Let's leave it at that. The New Year's eve small social event was basically cancelled - the covid news had got even worse.  

I've kept my spirits up with daily walks in one or other of London's amazing parks - Finsbury Park, Waterlow Park, Alexandra Palace and Park, Downhills Park - all within a 2-mile radius of where I live - lucky me - here's a selection of views and winter trees in different parks. 

and continuing contacts with my Buddhist community, with meditations, devotions(puja) or     interesting talks, as well as occasional meet-ups outdoors for walks with friends.  Plus working on my book sporadically of course - that's my second memoir covering a 6 month period in 2003 when I found myself flying to Indonesia to rescue my ex  who was in a rat and cockroach infested jail,  with 10 grand hidden in the bottom of my suitcase.  It's called Beyond the Bounds - watch this space.  I'm hoping it will be finished by March/April and published soon after in 2021.

Feb 3rd 2021

Well, I started this a month ago.  Now here we are in February.  We've had one day of snow, looked pretty for 24 hours - went sledding with grandson and his Mum (my daughter) and his dad.  That was fun.  Since then it's rained a lot, been cold a lot.  But slowly slowly the daylight hours are getting longer and the bulbs in my garden have put up an inch or two of green shoots.... 

Feb 12th

Well, the big freeze started, - snow, ice and a freezing wind. Brrrrr...  I've been busy  They tell us it's ending on Monday 14th Feb and a warmer week is coming.  Thank goodness - I won't have to sit in my flat with Central Heating on full, plus an oil heater on full, plus 3 T shirts and a jumper.  Plus a fleece over my legs.  my writing is coming along very slowly, with lots of distractions, prevarications and of course the inertia we're all experiencing from lockdown. Last week I went to an online poetry evening with Enfield Poets and performed at last some of my poems.  After no performing for more than a year, it was lovely to read some poems and to hear other peoples.  

On Sunday my poetry group is meeting for some feedback on our new poems.  Only a few of us left still attending on Zoom sporadically.

I'll stop now and next time I'll add a short podcast - about my book on Writing Memoir and give you some tips.  I'm going to do a series of 6 podcasts.  If you're serious about writing a memoir (or any sort of true story or even a novel, there are lots of chapters in the book that you'd find interesting.  Here's a sample:

... and please, if you buy my book - either in print or as an ebook, do write me a review on Amazon - I don't mind how many stars you give me but be nice 😀😀


Xmas is coming ... I'm so excited

 This year for the first time in many years, I'm looking forward to Xmas.  It's very odd.  I'm a Buddhist a full-on practicing, Buddhist, not one of those part-time Buddhists who have a buddha statue in the garden and tell everyone it's the one religion they'd follow if .... 

Buddhists don't celebrate Xmas.  It's a Christian festival.  Does it matter? In the annals of British history a pagan and a Christian festival were melded together. So this year I'm going to do it differently. maybe next year it'll be different I don't know.

The Three Jewels of Buddhism - Buddha, Dharma, Sangha
Dharma = teachings, scriptures, Sangha = community of Buddhists

I'm part of a Buddhist community that meets for a weekly community get-together (OK on Zoom currently) that celebrates Buddhist festivals which ritual, chanting, meditation and regularly go on retreat together. Sometimes they drive me nuts and sometimes I drive them nuts but we stick it out together, we have a common purpose - 'the fellowship of those who tread the Way. We have made commitments to follow some precepts - here's the five that all 'mitras' (committed Buddhists) follow:

... to undertake to abstain from taking life abstain from taking the not given

... to abstain from sexual misconduct

... to abstain from false/harsh/useless speech speech

... to undertake to abstain from taking intoxicants

These have been hotly debated and discussed for several thousand years, probably since the time of the Buddha who lived around 500 BCE, but remain substantially the same.  Each one has wide interpretations for example - not to take life can mean anything from killing people, or animals (hence vegans and vegetarians) to abuse of any sort towards others. It can include any sort of unkindness to animals or people. Not taking the not given, can mean taking anything from your employer's stationery cupboard, to picking up a phone on a bus and not making efforts to trace the owner; sexual misconduct can relate to watching unpleasant porn or sleeping with someone else's boyfriend or girlfriend, intoxicants can mean any substance that alters your clarity of mind. 

 These differ from the  Christian Ten Commandments (received by Moses) in the following way - the Ten Commandments were given out in an authoritarian way, by a vengeful and authoritarian God figure - those who disobeyed them would be severely punished - Hell awaited.

The Buddhist precepts on the other hand are not administered with such dire warnings by patriarchal church figures.  They are undertakings, in other words you choose to follow them, and none of your Buddhist community or teachers will take out a big verbal stick to you if you don't keep to the letter of the law (well they might if you killed someone). 

Right.  I'm going to stop now.  I don't want you to think I'm on a conversion crusade.  I'm not.  I'm just trying to correct a few misconceptions I come across about Buddhists. I've been a practicing Buddhist for 35 years  Oh one more misconception - some people think you must be a really good, chilled out, calm human being if you're a long term Buddhist - just to say I've still got a long way to go to achieve that, or to achieve enlightenment- like most Buddhists I know (although I always imagine all the other Buddhists are a lot further down the path to reaching the magic balance between wisdom and compassion than I am). 

No! I really am going to stop now.  Make of all that what you will.  I started off by saying how much I'm looking forward to Xmas  - not a day I've celebrated a great deal in the last 10 years, not more than the occasional nut roast etc -because of being a Buddhist and other things eg. the whole commercial thing and family stuff. This time, we've all spent 9-10 months in virtual isolation.  Did I say 'virtual' ffs (oops there goes my speech precepts again). Sometimes I spend the weekends AND weekdays on Zoom.  I've so had enough.  And we Buddhists are very touchy feely huggy people on the whole.  Not any more.  I miss that a lot.

Due to the lockdown(s), both my daughters now work exclusively from home and may well continue to do so for a long time to come.  As it happens they've both been quite pleased about it.  One because she hates office life, one because she now has a 2-year-old. .. and although he's been in nursery (since they opened again) 2 days a week or is with one or other set of grandparents(eg. me) 2 days a week, she's been able to spend a lot more time with him than she ever could have imagined. Many people may never go back to full-time office work.  And you can live anywhere in this country - as long as it's got good commutable transport and wi-fi, you might need to check-in physically at the office a couple of days a week only.  Everything has changed.

Maybe that's why Christmas is so important this year. It's a reference point of stability after a year of change and disorder where all the rulebooks and social norms have been piled on a bonfire. So many of my friends have polarised into different directions with their interpretation of how not to get the virus - I can't keep up, the situation has induced mass neurosis.  Calm and stability need to be re-established.

Christmas means my small family can come together and spend time with me. It'll be a social occasion.  A real live social occasion.  They will eat chicken (free-range organic), I will eat nut roast and roast potatoes and cauliflower cheese and carrots and Brussel sprouts and... and .. and Xmas pud and pull crackers and open presents.  Oh, what fun.  We can play games, watch a blockbuster movie, chill out ... together.  I'm going to wear a jumper with a reindeer and a Christmas tree on it and a red hat with white bits and a bell.   The Christmas table is going to be red, with gold candles and gold crackers.  ...  I can't wait.