An App for an App?

Xcode (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So, I recently blabbed on and on about creating an app. I downloaded an app to help me, knew that it would not be an easy task but, I’m always keen to give something new a go.

However, at the moment, I’m feeling like I may have to quit before I even begin. I’ve tried a couple of times to start creating, but I can’t. This is not due to lack of ideas, I know exactly what I want, I just can’t seem to use the app!

A bit of light reading to do
A bit of light reading to do

I now have my hands on the manual, which I intend to tackle and hopefully it will unlock the gate and lead me into my new world of creating an app. Either that, or I’ll end up getting extremely frustrated, have a tantrum and then make myself a cup of tea.

If you’ve used Xcode before, do you have any advice?


The Lock

Lock. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The street was narrow. White Nissan trucks lay abandoned by the side of the road.  Along it stood a collection of shops, some complete, others small pockets of rubble and sand. The time was four o’clock and the street was only just awakening from the lazy midday heat.

One side of the street was littered with hardware stores of varying degrees, whilst the other side played host to a series of paint supply shops. It was as though they were simply a mirage, the stores seeming to at times blend into their surroundings. I set my sights on the only one that appeared to be open.

There were two windows either side of the small, narrow door. These windows served no purpose for they were blocked by the towering contents piled high inside. No one could look in or out; like Aladdin’s cave, the shop was filled with treasure. Treasure that to you or I may have gone unwanted, but to the discerning worker or DIY specialist this was a trove of jewels.

Upon entering through the slim door onto the cracked tiled floor the extent of the so-called treasure became clear. The floor was a maze of boxes towering at different heights.  There were no neat, pristine aisles or trolleys awaiting the arrival of customers. This was not like home. This was not a warehouse. This was a nondescript grotto of sorts; surrounded by dilapidated buildings.

It was a man’s world, a place where men would walk in, knowing exactly what they wanted. It was really no place for a woman. That became clear the minute I walked through the door. They stopped, all of them. The men stopped and a silence descended, settling gently on the boxes.  My appearance had caused a momentary pause in the activities.  I did what I thought was the right to do, perhaps forgetting where I was, I marched forward and started looking among the boxes for my item, a lock. This was apparently the wrong thing to do and it caused a silent uproar among the men.

All of sudden there was a flurry of activity surrounding me. They swarmed in from everywhere, men I didn’t even know were there seemed to emerge from the shadows. They each descended upon my need to get a lock with a focus and determination that was not there before. I was not sure if this was because they were being chivalrous or because I had invaded their space and they wanted it back.

It was fascinating to watch. There were boxes everywhere.  It seemed that they would never be able to find what they were looking for, how could they? All the boxes were unmarked and dusty.  Five men moved effortlessly through the towers, reaching up and bending down to examine the contents.  I stood near the door, trying to give them as much space and distance as I could. Men trickled in off the street; they would come in and immediately stop. Stare. Walk past me. Still staring. They were unsure. Why was a woman standing in their space?

Despite the chaos there was a desk; a clean, tidy desk, standing proud on the left-hand side near the wall.  It was a glass unit whose contents blended into each other becoming a fog of shapes and muted colours. Hanging on the wall behind was a collection of semi-familiar yellow and black boxes. The only part of the grotto that had order was at the desk.  Behind the desk stood the only man in the small, crowded shop that was looking directly at me, with a smile. Despite their behaviour, I was being welcomed. Kind of.

He smiled, beckoned me with a flick of the wrist. I walked over to the counter. He kept smiling. I smiled. “Hello”, I said. He nodded.  The flurry of activity continued.  I started to doubt that it was possible to find anything.  They stopped. A man approached me. Alone. He stopped. Looked at the man behind the counter. Placed a package on the clean glass. My lock.  I turned to thank the men that had bustled into action but they had faded into the shadows once more.

I stepped back on to the narrow street. The street was now busy. The call to prayer was the echoing around the city. The previously abandoned white Nissan trucks had moved. The street was no longer quiet, the doors were now open, and men were entering the various hardware stores. Some to make purchases, others to visit friends. I walked past them, past the crumbling wall and mound of dirt and rubble.  I got in my car and drove home having purchased my lock.

DIY Creative Space.

Being creative is not without its perils.

Many people in similar situations as mine blog about the process of being creative and how to find inspiration. Sometimes when working a full-time job it’s difficult to find time to write, or at least devote the amount of time you would like.  You could argue, that being a teacher makes me lucky as I get regular holidays allowing me time to write. Those of you reading this that are teachers will appreciate it when I say that holidays don’t always mean free time for us, it’s a time for marking, planning, tidying etc.

I usually go away somewhere at this time of year, but not this holiday. I’m allowing myself two days at work to get stuff done and that is it. The rest of my time ? I’ll be writing. My aim? To finish the three (almost finished) projects I’ve started so that I can start approaching agents.

So, how do I intend to get my creativity on? By buying a desk of course. That was the first order of the holiday. Ikea has just opened here, and whilst some of you may roll your eyes and say, ‘so what?’ To us living in the desert it’s rather exciting. I’ve been twice so far and what’s funny is that before it opened, I was shrugging my shoulders saying to the Ikea enthusiasts ‘so what?’ It seems I’ve been converted. Converted purely because I got myself a nice desk at an even nicer price.

I started this post, by referring to perils. You may be asking yourself what perils? I am of course referring to the perils of building a desk.

The beginning...
The beginning…

In my bubble of Ikea naïvety, I thought that constructing anything from there would be easy. All you need is an Allen key right? Wrong. I had to go out and buy myself tools- tools! I am now the proud owner of a nine piece tool kit, which may or may not come in handy again.

The construction, if you know what you’re doing, would probably take very little time. However, I’m a novice and not ashamed to admit it either. Obviously, I hit a hurdle at the very beginning. The joining of the first three pieces were the most difficult challenge. So, I did what any self-respecting young woman would do….took a photo and sent it to my dad for advice ( I’m living in a different country from my parents, but they are always a text message away!). Whilst waiting for a reply, I thought of all the times I could have hung around and watched my dad build stuff, but I didn’t. There’s a lesson in there somewhere….

I would not let this mere hurdle get in my way...
I would not let this mere hurdle get in my way…

With a little help and encouragement  it wasn’t long until I was on my way- using a hammer to tap in the plugs, using the Philips head to tighten the screws…Yes, one desk and I’m already talking like a pro. Maybe I’ll go back for a new bookcase, I do have the tools now.

So, it’s the extra step we take to compose our creative space along with the journey that we are on that, at times, makes it perilous; and of course, what makes this blog post extra special is that it’s the first one to come from the desk. Yes, that’s right. I’m currently sitting at my new desk, that I built myself, writing. Just what I wanted.

The desk, where the inspiration happens
The desk, where the inspiration happens

If you look closely you’ll see a few things… collection of notebooks, a pencil shaving scarf, flowers to create feeling of being outside, and the almighty laptop.

This will be a good holiday, I can sense it.

Now, I’m off to create a book dummy to see how many more animal encounters I can have on my 32 pages!

Jasper not the Colonel!

The writing process is an interesting one. You start with an idea of a character or plot and go with it, but it’s a constantly evolving thing, you never really know what the final product will be.  About two years ago, I started with my character the Colonel, I started writing a story about him and became completely absorbed in him; and then just recently I woke up in the middle of the night with the realization that it’s Jasper’s story!

This might not seem like a big deal, but to me it is. I’m excited to find out what this means and part of me feels bad that I ignored Jasper and didn’t let him have the limelight. Now, I’m going back to look at my story and see what changes I can make so that Jasper gets to have his say.

Lesson learnt: Don’t get obsessed with one character and forget the rest, they have feelings too.

Sorry Jasper.

The Next Project: Frank.


Who is Frank?

Frank is the ‘Godfather’ of the pier.

He is almost at the end of his rein, feeling threatened by Tony “Big Beak” Gull. Frank trains the younger gulls to rule over the boardwalk, keeping the humans always on their guard. But, Frank is getting old, he can not keep up with the young ones anymore, whilst trying train Joey, he makes a fatal error of judgment. Frank might seem mean and powerful but he is actually kind hearted, although he doesn’t want anyone to know. This becomes obvious when he meets Rosie…


Waiting for The Colonel.

As you know I have submitted a picture book with my friend and very talented illustrator Mel. We are now waiting to hear back from the publisher. In the meantime, we are going to busy ourselves with another joint project, another children’s picture book that is based upon my experience last summer when I was eating ice cream on a pier in England.  I refer to it now as ‘the very traumatic experience of having my ice cream stolen by a very evil seagull’.  Needless to say, seagulls feature in this next project, but they are not as mean as the one that I encountered.

Said Ice Cream Prior to the Stealing…

The more I write and think about these stories the more I realise that I am developing themes, all are about birds, the Colonel had a few military connections, whilst this next one seems to be taking on a mobster theme. Maybe I am subconsciously trying to appeal to the adult reader? Who knows, but I can tell you that I am having great fun writing these stories, so much so that my head is full of ideas. It is now all I think about, I am even trying to find excuses to incorporate it in to my lessons so that I have an excuse to work on them. Not that I have actually had the opportunity to do so, Golding’s Lord of the Flies or The Island of Dr Moreau by Wells  do not really lend themselves to seagulls!

Oh, well, I will just have to wait a few more days until the holidays when I will be able to devote lots of time to my stories.