Happy (belated) birthday, Your Majesty

Happy (belated) birthday, Your Majesty

As I’m writing about recent work I have done, this project seems timely… A few months ago, Scripture Union’s team in the south east of England approached me about writing for the Queen! They were working with Hope, LICC and Bible Society to create a schools’ version of a resource to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday. I was sent the text of the book that Hope, LICC and Bible Society had written and asked to select material and write extra bits and pieces to put together a 12-page booklet for people to use in primary schools.

The book focused on the text of the Queen’s Christmas messages over the years. We don’t know much about the Queen’s opinions on politics, as she tries to remain neutral, but her Christmas messages are one of the few things that she writes herself and they clearly show one part of her life: her faith. It was this that the partner organisations were seeking to help people uncover as the Queen reached this milestone birthday.

It was quite a task to slim down all the excellent material that the authors of the main book had written, but arranging some of the most interesting facts, stories and photographs into three or four different categories helped everything fall into place. I added in some questions to help children think about these different categories for themselves, as well as selecting extracts from the messages themselves. Throw in some great infographics from the designer and the book looks quite good. In fact, it seems to have gone down so well that a reprint is on the way!

If you want to get your hands on the book (celebrations go on into June), then go to Scripture Union’s website. And if you’ve got a similar job that needs doing, get in touch!

What can Creative Daydream do for you?

What can Creative Daydream do for you?

OK, it’s been a while. I haven’t blogged for a few months, so I’m back! I thought it was high time that I wrote about some projects I have recently worked on, so that you had some idea of what I could do for you!

The last six months have been busy, with a wide range of projects making their way onto my desk…

Project managing an exhibition stand: over the past two years, I have put together the concept and graphics for Scripture Union‘s exhibition stand at the Hand in Hand Conference, and then used those to create stands for other exhibitions too. 2016 was no different and, in early February, I made my way to Eastbourne with a mix of new and repurposed graphics stands, leaflets and giveaways. Over the weekend, I also worked on the stand and it was great to talk to children’s workers from across the country. One of the resources the stand was promoting was…

Guardians of Ancora: my writing of this ground-breaking Bible reading game app for children has continued. I’ve been part of the team for about three years now and it’s great to see the game in action. Recent work has included writing scripts for the Easter parts of the game as well as putting together lots of back story to appear on the revamped Guardians of Ancora supporting website.

Editorial project management: it’s been good to work with a former colleague, Nina Marcel, on resources produced by Christian Education. I was brought in to help out with ongoing projects, RE Ideas and Essential RE, while Nina focused on an enormous, brand new series of RE resources for schools.

Rewriting a training course: over the past two years, I have delivered a training course in children’s ministry for the Diocese of London. This year, it was decided that the course needed a revamp, to include new elements and reshuffle the existing new ministry. So, I rewrote the material, created new PowerPoint presentations and handouts, and then delivered the new course to the good children’s workers of Neasden. That course proved invaluable in refining the new parts of the material. Onward to courses in Twickenham, Shadwell, Chelsea and Tottenham!

Writing a magazine column: in 2016, the magazine of the Mother’s Union, called Families First, features a column written by me! Being a single man with no children, this seems an unlikely choice, but it’s going well so far. Most of the columns seem to include focusing on my own ineptitude, but hopefully despite this, they will help to bridge the gaps that can often open up between single people and parents.

Premier Childrenswork: I’ve extended my time on Premier Childrenswork to include some commissioning and subbing work, on top of the writing responsibilities I’ve had for the past three years. It’s been enjoyable to get more involved in the work of this magazine.

If anything here makes you think I might be the right person for a job you need doing, then get in touch!

Don’t panic

Don’t panic

Oh dear.

This work blog has been neglected for too long. In my defence, I’ve been so busy writing and blogging for other people that I’ve not had time to write and blog for myself. This particular blog is like a wasteland and my poor novel languishes untouched and unloved, stuck on chapter 11.

The thing about being freelance, which people told me about but which still takes me by surprise, even after almost three years, is that work comes in waves. Sometimes you’re so busy you can’t think, and you end up working weekends (I even worked the August Bank Holiday this year). Yet at other times, you don’t have much on the go. It’s not that you’ve been abandoned by your clients, it’s just that the down time in all your work relationships happens at the same time, and you’re left twiddling your thumbs for a while.

This happened to me recently, and although it wasn’t the first time (and it certainly won’t be the last), I was still taken aback a little bit. After years of working in mainstream employment, the guilt of not doing very much for a day or so hung heavy over my head. I felt like I had to stay at my desk, because if I was in front of the computer, I was still ‘working’.

What I should have been doing, and what it’s taken me three years to realise, was to enjoy the down time as well as the busy periods. To make use of these pauses to reflect, to write for myself and to catch up with all those tasks that are important, but not urgent (or indeed paid). For one thing, I managed to file my tax return (now that’s something that also takes me by surprise, even though I’ve done it three times – the rising panic that you’ve done something wrong or even worse, underestimated how much you would have to pay and end up thousands of pounds out of pocket).

So, thanks to that quiet period, I’m up to date with my tax affairs, my personal blog is back up and running once more and the 11 chapters of my novel have been rejigged and added to (a little). All I need to do is remember these things the next time work eases off and not panic too much. But that, unfortunately, is easier said than done.

Maybe I need some kind of book with a reassuring message printed in large friendly letter on the front.

Gelatin-based confectionery and other lessons

Gelatin-based confectionery and other lessons

Well, Creative Daydream has been going for 18 months and I’ve learnt quite a lot. Particularly:

1 I have little self-control if there’s an open bag of marshmallows in the house.

2 If you’re going to be part of a meeting via Skype, you’ll spend an hour staring at the top of people’s heads.

3 It’s not going to go well if you put a TV programme on ‘in the background’.

4 Going to the supermarket at 10 on Monday morning means that you avoid the crowds, but also that the aisles will be populated with pensioners who stop suddenly for no apparent reason.

5 Searching iTunes for old Eurovision songs is not an acceptable way to spend the working day. (But you do rediscover beauties like this – I love a song with whistling…)

On the other hand, I’ve had a great time writing, editing, training and generally being creative for companies and organisations such as the Diocese of London, Dubit, Leprosy Mission, Dodo and Co, Shooting Star Chase and Childrenswork magazine. And I’m really looking forward to what the next 18 months might bring!

If you’ve got a project that requires a great way with words, a hundred ideas or a warm presenting style, then get in touch. What can Creative Daydream do for you?


Progress on the novel front

Progress on the novel front

A few months ago I blogged about writing a novel (well, rather ambitiously, I announced my intention to create a seven-book series). I have been writing since then, but I’ll admit that it’s not been very regular and I’ve only written 6,000 words so far! I’ve had so much other writing to do (both for work and stuff I do in my spare time), that fiction writing has been relegated to the ‘not yet’ pile of things to do.

So, I’m going to try and write a bit more regularly, and not view it as a luxury. And in November, I’m going to give National Novel Writing Month a go, particularly as all my theatrical productions will be over by then and I’ll have no rehearsals to go to. This is an approach where participants try to write a 50,000-word novel in a month! You can sign up on the website and get support and inspiration from others doing the same thing.

Doing something quickly like this may not produce the most well-tuned piece of work, but it certainly focuses your mind and stops you getting bogged down in small details. Once words are down on paper (or on screen), then you can go back and cut, edit, rewrite, expand, kill off, resurrect…

There are times when it’s good to look at detail and decide on the minutiae, but at other times, we just need to get things done. Where are you at?

PS Look out for Equestus, City of the Sea soon…