Monday, 11 February 2019

The Dangling Baskets of Naples

Naples, summer of 2018.

We're falling into step with the ebb and flow of people meandering along the oversized cobbles of the street.

Broken glass and cigarette butts nessle in the cracks, wear flip flops at your peril around the old part of the city!

1.5 million people live and work on top of each other here, and tourists swell their ranks in the summer.

Crumbling apartment blocks, from every era, crowding along on the narrow streets, creating shaded canyons radiating from sun soaked piazzas.

For all its busyness, to the observer, Naples doesn't cut a prosperous figure.

Boxes and battered crates teeter in festering piles in the back alleys. Graffiti, fly posters and OSB patch boards are the patina of these grimy streets.

Scooters zip through, weaving between pedestrians like bees about to swarm.

Every vehicle is dinged and dented, dust caked and forlorn in the sensory-battering throng of the streets. The song of this city is the buzz of Vespa engines and the impatient blair of horns.

Moments of tranquillity are rare in such purposefulness. Then we strolled into the Quatro Espanol, the Spanish District - named after the Spanish soldiers Garrisoned there during the reign of Ferdinand of Aragon.

We watch as women lower plastic baskets down from their balconies to street level.

Vendors take the money from the basket, replace it with goods the customer has phoned ahead for, and the basket is then hoisted back up these UNESCO protected tall apartment blocks.

Colourful, cheap plastic baskets dangle from so many of these windows, while below, people walk past unawares.

Built in the Renaissance, these, tall, slender apartment blocks don't have lifts and who wants to walk up four flights of stairs in 28 degrees for a loaf of bread and a bottle of beer from the shop!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Vision or Vanity?

Every business needs a vision, but not every entrepreneur has to be a visionary.
If you close your eyes and imagine where you would like your life to be in, say, 5 years, what might it look like?

Life in 5 Years

Each time I've done exactly that, what I see, where I imagine myself, is not in the front of my computer in my attic office!
In those daydreams, I've been on the prow of a speedboat, or laying on a bed of fur in a yurt, or cruising along the Amalfi Coast in a vintage convertible,  big bug-eyed sunglasses and a flowery scarf billowing behind me, Audrey Hepburn Style.

Where The Future Takes Us

This is where I imagine my future will take me. But these aren't one-off holidays - a few days hiatus between long spells of air-conditioned offices - No
The overwhelming feeling I've had in all these flights of fancy has been that these are high points of everyday life. 

Freedom of self-employment has allowed me to live a nomadic lifestyle.

This is the vision for my business. The vision for our life.

What's stopping this from being my life right now?

Is It Vanity?

This is where I find myself thinking of it as just 'vanity'. 

I can't only think of myself, I have a husband and a mortgage. A husband in a full-time office based job which pays that mortgage!
The thing that stops this being my reality is my responsibility to my life partner, in all things.
The challenge therefore, is to find a way to be true to both.

Is it Vision?

Writing about the 'vision' for my business is the first step to making these changes.
The first steps towards creating a reality that suits both of us.
A vision for the Morses

Being Blogger

Blogging has served me well as a means to an end, doing the thing I'll do anyway... writing.
I started my first blog in 2013, the year I published my first book, when my worlds as an author and business advisor collided in 2015, I started my consultancy business. 
That has since evolved into Learn To Love Your Words and my specialty is as a blogging mentor for business.
Building my marketing around content was the obvious solution. 
The first blog was about becoming an author - I still keep this blog on my author website.
The second blog was to grow my influence as a writing mentor and build a business.
This (third blog!) is about challenging my reality and sharing my love of travelling.
I have an innate curiosity. I love exploring and discovery. I love meeting new people and having new experiences.

I want to discover more of this amazing, diverse and fascinating planet we inhabit.

Be the change you want to see

Life's Little Luxuries

However, I also enjoy a little luxury! 

I don't mean traveling 5-star, I mean not living out of a backpack and sleeping in bug infested hovels.
I mean travelling, but maintaining a comfortable life. Earning enough money to enjoy eating and drinking out, Cafe Culture and sleeping in a comfortable - private - bedroom.
Being able to enjoy the trappings of travel, as well as living with the locals.
I would hate to travel to a once in a lifetime place and not be able to afford the entrance fee!
Perhaps this blog will turn out to be an experiment in vanity? 
Or perhaps I'll achieve the vision of location independence - of being a Wandering Entrepreneur,  a Roaming Entrepreneur? 
In the end, it doesn't matter, as long as the journey is enjoyable!

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Say Hello to a Roaming Entrepreneur!

Enter, a new chapter in my blog journey...

Since starting this original blog back in 2013, it's changed and evolved.

Originally, it was 'Idea-ism' - suffering the syndrome of too many ideas!

Later, I used it exclusively for my writing blog, having published my fiction novels as Amy C Fitzjohn. It was connected to that website

Now I have a writing blog as part of my Amy C Fitzjohn webiste, this one can evolve once more...

I dream of being location independant. 

To be able to live, work and travel around the world. 

The ultimate freedom. The ultimate escape.

My husband, Graham, and I try to travel as much as we can, but are restricted by his full time job in the UK, and my business, which currently does most of it's work in the South West region of England.

We've lived abroad (Bulgaria - you'll read about that on here!), we've trvelled to many places - cities in particular - and we now live in the city of Bristol.

Bristol is a city we love, we will always keep a home here, we will always come back here, but that doesn't weaken my wanderlust instincts!

I dream of building my business to a point where it can sustain us both and allow us the freedom to make choices. To live, work and explore with purpose.

Say hello to a 'Roaming Entrepreneur'! 

Monday, 2 July 2018

What Makes a Good Beach Read?

With the summer upon us, and thoughts turning to vacations by the beach, what will be on your reading pile?

Personally, I still like a paperback, but when your hand luggage is weight restricted, you have to choose your books carefully!

eBooks are far more practical if you are away for a couple of weeks and will be feasting on books while you sip a Mojito by the pool or a chilled beer on the beach!

Grab your Kindle and make sure you pack it with some great reads!

As I write this, I have that classic summer song playing, 'Club Tropicana' by Wham. 
Have a listen as you read :)

"...Fun and sunshine, there's enough for everyone!"

I wrote previously on my 'Cocktail for a Perfect Holiday Read'.

Here's my latest recipe:

  • Into your solid, well-contained plot; blend a complementary mix of tasty characters

  • Add a generous shot of action

  • Muddle in some adventure

  • Drop in a dash of violence

  • Sprinkle in some sensuous sex

  • Shake vigourously to mix in all the subtle flavours of sub plot

  • Finally, serve chilled with a twist


I've just returned from my summer vacation, with thoughts of starting a travel blog!

I was part way through 'Warlock' by Wilbur Smith, and being the size of a small brick, there was plenty left of it to keep my occupied!

Recent favourite reads have been:

Time and Time Again, by Ben Elton

The Taxidermist's Daughter, by Kate Mosse

I've also loved the Giordano Bruno books by SJ Paris. I think I may be a little in love with Bruno, the spy/ex-monk! All three books are availibale as a box set:

If binge reading is your thing on vacation, the bumper 4 in 1 Sherdian and Blake eBook Boxset is perfect.

All four books in one:

  • The Bronze Box
  • Solomon's Secrets
  • Gabriel's Game parts 1 and 2

Happy Summer!

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Blogging FAQ - for Writers

Blogging is awesome when you are an author!

You get to do all the, "horrid marketing and business stuff"* by doing the one thing you were going to do anyway... write!

*Actually, I rather like all that marketing and business stuff. 

All marketing really is is telling people the story of what you do and why you do it. Being in business is a fantastic way to meet lots of interesting people - ripe fodder for narrative and character ideas!

My blog is the spine of my businesses. 

Everything I do extends from the blogs I write, whether it's for businesses wanting to be more creative, or with writers wanting to be my business-like.

There are six questions I'm commonly asked by new bloggers:

  1. How often should I blog?

  2. What’s the ideal length for a blog?

  3. What shall I blog about?

  4. How do you make the time to blog?

  5. What are the benefits of blogging?

  6. How do I get people to see my blogs?

Read more, and discover my simple, no nonsense solutions, HERE 


Friday, 30 March 2018

Writing Time Guilt

I'm a writer.

Writing is my job.

Or, more accurately, part of my job.

The fact I'm an author and a blogger qualifies me to mentor my clients on blogging or book writing. And the fact that my day job has been as a trainer, and more recently, a business advisor for the past 20 odd years qualifies me to mentor businesses on blogging and book writing.

In 2015, my world as a writer and my world as a business advisor collided and I started my own consultancy business.

These days I trade as 'Learn To Love Your Words'.

I need both things to run my business.


So, why I do feel such a sense of guilt about 'wasting time' on writing?

Madness, isn't it? Especially when I see it written down like this!

I suppose I'm posing this as more of a philosophical question, and one I'm not sure I have an answer to.

Why do I feel guilty about writing time?

Yet, blogging about something helps me to work through it - like a kind of 'self-coaching'!

At the start of 2018, I went through my diary and blocked out every Monday and every Friday for writing/admin time.

I set a recurring reminder in my outlook calendar too, so every Sunday evening and every Thursday evening my computer helpfully reminds me that tomorrow is writing day.

Somehow, permission from my computer doesn't seem to be enough!

Is this just the maddening musings of an author? 
Or, is there some underlying preconception at play here?... 
Or, can I just swathe the whole thought process under the rather convenient, yet terribly demotivating label of 'Procrastination'?

Somehow, giving it a name makes it into 'a thing'. Like suddenly diagnosing a disease. Then we give ourselves an excuse to have a victim mentality and throw an extravagant, imagined, pity party.

Sad monkey wants you to feel sorry for him

F that! 

I don't need, want or deserve pity for my inability to knuckle down and write, I need solutions. 

But not some Elastoplast or pill to pop, something I can work through myself!

It's not 'creative block'.

It's a time allocation block.

I can't help but ask myself where it stems from?

Is it a Cultural or Societal perception?

Part of me wonders if it was the years in my childhood of being told by authority figures (Teachers, Careers Advisors etc.) that being an author was not a 'proper job'.

In Thatcher's Capitalistic-Orgasm that was 1980's Britain (when I was at school), only jobs that made money had any value.

In fact, we still hold this 'class' mentality at the heart of our national psyche, and class is defined by financial means. The implication being that if you don't have financial means, you're worth-less. If you're poor, it's your own fault for not working hard enough.

We instil this idea into our children from the moment they join formal education. It's about passing exams, not learning to learn.

It's about achieving results in areas that can be easily quantified and scrutinised.

Arts, humanities, creativity are overlooked in the pursuit of academic excellence.

Is it my own inability to appropriately prioritise?

I seem perfectly able to prioritise the other part of 'my job' - in fact, the admin/writing days, invariable become admin only days.

However, I manage to blog in that time, and after all, my whole philosophy around blogging is that it's a creative non-fiction writing process. 

My mentoring practice is centred on the notion that there are too many bad blogs because people approach blogging like an academic exercise. Filling it with jargon and sticking only to factual information. 

Much of my work is helping mentees to 'unlearn' the approach to writing instilled in them through years of academia and corporate speak. 

Embrace the creativity, enjoy the process, because when you enjoy something, you make time for it. 

I want them to 'learn to love' their words.

Is it the instant gratification of blogging?


When I had this conversation with a friend, she pointed out the instant gratification of blogging. 

The instant gratification inherent in the way we live our lives. 

Constructing an entire book takes time, stamina, discipline, commitment.

On some level, I'm fulfilling some of my creative writing urges through blogging.

Is it a financial consideration?

My Amazon book sales are, if I'm honest, woeful, and have been for the past year at least. 

I don’t do enough to market my books. 

But why should I? 

I can get one consultancy client, do a couple of hours work with them and earn the equivalent of 200 book sales.

When you look at the cold hard financial facts like that, investing my energy in my consultancy business is a no brainer.

But... then I remind myself that I don't write books to make money. 

In fact, anyone who writes books to make money is doing it for the wrong reasons (and is likely to get a rude awakening and be sorely disappointed).

"Anyone who writes books to make money is doing it for the wrong reason."

Is it a lack of accountability?

I've tried declaring to the world that 'I've started writing a book', in the hope it will motivate me to crack on with it.

My mother's tiresome, weekly, "so, have you given up writing then?" question is met with a roll of the eyes now, rather than a sense of shame. I'm immune to her opinions and assumptions at my age!

As I spew out this stream of consciousness to anyone tolerant enough to read it (thanks for sticking with me), as I mull over it, and transmit the results through my fingers into the keyboard, I'm forced to conclude that... it's a bit of everything.

It feels like a cop-out, but it's a multifaceted dilemma. 

My guilt stems from:

Societal perception - I 'should' spend time doing 'real work' - like invoicing, running workshops and record keeping.

Prioritisation - I'm not respecting my own boundaries and using the time in my diary for 'more important tasks'

Seeking gratification - It's easier to blog, because it's more immediate.

Financial Consideration - I tell myself "I'm not yet financially secure enough for the luxury of writing". (I need to change the story I tell myself).

Accountability - Do I just need someone (other than my mum, who I rarely listen to anyway!) to kick me in the butt!

And the solution?

I'm still figuring that out!