What Can We Learn From The Geese?

Yesterday I went to a presentation organised by Birmingham Adult Education Service to collect my Preparing to Teach in the Lifelong Learning Sector (PTLLS) certificate. What we can learn from the geese
It was an inspiring event and as well as the certificate, I came away with two thoughts related to the virtual writing community of which we are all part.

Everyone at the presentation was given the sheet of paper shown on the right of this post and asked to think about it.
Then we were shown a three minute video about why geese fly in a ‘V’ shaped formation. As each goose flaps its wings it creates an uplift for the following birds, making their flight easier. This means that by flying in formation, the flock has a 70% greater flying range than if each bird flew alone. When the leading bird gets tired he drops back into the formation and another goose takes the leadership strain. If a bird gets sick and has to land, two other geese accompany him and stay with him until he is either well enough to fly again or until he dies.
This made me think about how we are stronger as a virtual group of writers rather than a single lone writer. Together we can help each other with publicity and promotion. We can offer support and encouragement when the going gets tough. Those who are feeling enthusiastic and strong can take the lead by trying something new and sharing their experiences with the rest of us. As a group we can all be more successful.

The celebration of success is the second thought I took away from the presentation event. A PTLLS certificate does not represent years of study and, in the academic world, it is quite small fry – but it’s worth celebrating. Celebrating each of our small achievements gives us the confidence and enthusiasm to take the next step forward along whichever path we have chosen.
So let’s all take a moment to reflect on our latest achievement – it might be meeting the deadline of a short story competition, plucking up the courage to pitch an article idea to a magazine editor, completing a synopsis, winning a prize, having a letter published in a newspaper, or anything else that makes you smile with satisfaction.
Record your achievement in the comments section beneath this post and let us all celebrate with you!

I’ll start the ball rolling. I’m chuffed to bits with an Amazon UK review for Bedsit Three which describes it as, “a psychological why dunnit reminiscent of Barbara Vine/ Ruth Rendell.
What a great lady to be compared to!

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  1. #1 by P. Douglas Hammond on December 11, 2015 - 9:13 pm

    Yesterday I had lost track of the days and then realised that I had an OU assignment to send in – not to worry, its about finished. Then I lost track of time and suddenly realised that I had two minutes left before the deadline – not to worry, its finished.
    I sent it in with one minute to spare and didn’t break a sweat. I’ll leave the sweating for when the results come back.

    • #2 by Sally Jenkins on December 11, 2015 - 9:17 pm

      Well done on meeting the deadline, Douglas! Fingers crossed you get a good result back.

  2. #3 by crimewritingsolutions on December 11, 2015 - 9:15 pm

    Sally, first of all your PTLLS is no small fry and is definitely worthy of celebration so well done. However, you are also right to be “chuffed” with your reviewers comment.

    I have quoted “chuffed” as whilst working towards my qualification I was hauled over the coals for using it due to its perceived political incorrectness. Only sometime later to be told that I shouldn’t have been as it wasn’t. That sparked a whole debate on what was PC and wasn’t. I was chuffed when everyone wore themselves out debating the validity of the PC ness or otherwise.

    My celebration is with regard to completing my very first NaNoWriMo and 4 days before the deadline too.

    Great post re the geese as well. Thanks

    • #4 by Sally Jenkins on December 11, 2015 - 9:20 pm

      It never occurred to me that ‘chuffed’ might not be PC. I better watch my language in the future!
      Well done on that NaNoWriMo ‘win’ – 50,000 words in 30 days requires discipline and forward planning. Very well done!

  3. #5 by Debbie W on December 11, 2015 - 10:53 pm

    I bet you are chuffed as a chimney, Sally. I’ve used that term many a time before now and won’t be stopping just because it doesn’t meet PC brigade criteria. And chuffed you should be too.

    Well done on your achievement of your PTLLS and that review.

    Love what you said about the geese btw.

    • #6 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2015 - 8:42 am

      Thanks, Debbie – and good luck with your writing goals and achievements!

  4. #7 by Tracy Fells on December 12, 2015 - 1:04 pm

    Congratulations, Sally, on this marvellous achievement. I agree that we must all celebrate our achievements and successes – that’s what we work so hard for after all! I’ve recently submitted the dissertation for my MA in Creative Writing – it was a challenge, but one I’m glad I stuck with. Have had a few celebrations – involving cake – to mark the moment.

    • #8 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2015 - 7:39 pm

      Celebrations involving cake are good, Tracy! Well done on that dissertation and fingers crossed that you get the brilliant mark that you deserve!

  5. #9 by Julia Ibbotson on December 12, 2015 - 1:40 pm

    First of all, well done with the PTLLS certificate, Sally! Next, I totally agree with you about the benefit of the community of writers. I gain so much support, strength and useful advice from RNA, Society of Authors, and small local groups. I recently participated in a “short story writing for magazines” course locally and the small group from that are planning a get together in the new year. My little achievement to share is my contract from Endeavour Press for the second in the Drumbeats trilogy (Walking in the Rain) due out next year, following the success of the first novel (Drumbeats) which was published by them this year. Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year to you, Sally, and all reading this page!

    • #10 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2015 - 7:40 pm

      Wow – I don’t call that a small achievement Julia – a contract is a fantastic achievement, well done!

  6. #11 by susanjanejones on December 12, 2015 - 5:39 pm

    Well done on the PTLLS, Sally. Our daughter did that and I know how much effort goes into it and I wouldn’t call it small fry, it’s an opening to being able to teach. I sent an article proposal to Writers’ Forum. Not heard anything yet though. Now I know I have to get bedsit 3 as well. Well done.

    • #12 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2015 - 7:42 pm

      Congratulations on the article pitch, Susan! And don’t be afraid to gently nudge WF in a few weeks if you don’t hear anything back. Also, well done on getting your Redington stories into print!

  7. #13 by Linda Daunter on December 12, 2015 - 7:34 pm

    You’ve got a certificate? Wow! Hope you’ll frame it and hang it in a prominent place. And while you’re at it, print out those book reviews and get them framed too!
    You’re right, we writers should blow our own trumpets more – but it’s easier said than done.
    For many years, only my closest family knew I was ‘trying’ to write. When I started getting a few stories published I always played it down: ‘It’s only a children’s story’ or, ‘It’s in a little magazine you’ve probably never heard of’. Even when writing became my full-time occupation, if a stranger asked me what I did, I would mumble something about ‘doing a bit of writing’ and changed the subject as fast as I could!
    I agree completely with you about the power of a virtual group of writers. I was far too shy to join a real-life writers’ group, but It was ‘meeting’ other writers through blogging that gradually coaxed me a little way out of my shell.
    So, I’d like to record my two most recent achievements here. The first was winning the 2015 Alfie Dog Fiction short story competition. The second was plucking up the courage to announce my win, not only to my family and blogging friends, but also to the amateur art group that I attend. I walked into the village hall and said, ‘Hey everyone, I’ve had some good news…’
    I felt that I’d finally ‘come out’, and was amazed to find non-writers (most of whom I don’t know very well) were genuinely interested and pleased for me.

    • #14 by Sally Jenkins on December 12, 2015 - 7:47 pm

      Winning the Alfie Dog competition is a fantastic achievement, Linda! I hope you opened a bottle of bubbly!
      Glad to hear you’re ‘out of the closet’ – hopefully having the interest and support of those around you will spur you on to greater things. Well done!

  8. #15 by hilarycustancegreen on December 12, 2015 - 9:19 pm

    Congratulations on the PTLLS cert. and what a lovely post about the geese.

    • #16 by Sally Jenkins on December 13, 2015 - 8:17 am

      Thanks, Hilary. Have you done something satisfying lately – and you’re hiding your light under a bushel?

  9. #17 by juliathorley on December 15, 2015 - 9:05 am

    This a great post, Sally. I love the geese thing. As others have said, you have achieved something important with the PTLLS qualification, so put your certificate on the wall where it can be seen. My literary achievement this week is a ‘highly commended’ in a 100-word story comp run by the excellent Morgen Bailey.

    • #18 by Sally Jenkins on December 16, 2015 - 8:22 pm

      Well done, Julia! Is this something you could now enter in the Readers’ Digest comp.? Or has it been published?

      • #19 by juliathorley on December 16, 2015 - 10:10 pm

        Ooh good point. No, it’s not published, I don’t think it’s on Morgen’s website, but I’ll double check. Thanks.

  10. #20 by Patsy on December 15, 2015 - 5:50 pm

    I saw a themed competition with a close deadline – and managed to write something and get it in on time. I’m quite pleased with the story, so een if I don’t get placed, I’ve ‘won’ an extra piece I can sub somewhere.

    • #21 by Sally Jenkins on December 16, 2015 - 8:23 pm

      Great stuff, Patsy! And I like your attitude about having ‘won’ an extra piece – a good way of looking at things.

  11. #22 by Susan A Eames on December 26, 2015 - 8:53 pm

    I’ve come to your post a bit late, Sally, as I’ve been away, but it’s very timely. I completely agree about the support we writers can give each other and – funnily enough – my latest blogpost is titled ‘latest writing successes’. (I was runner up to Linda’s Alfie Dog win.) Many congratulations on your successes, Sally!

    • #23 by Sally Jenkins on December 28, 2015 - 8:07 pm

      Thanks, Susan. And extremely well done on your recent successes (I’ve just had a look at your blog post) – I hope it’s a springboard to even more in 2016.

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