A different horizon – and a straight path between the stars

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A lot of blogs offer advice on how to achieve success or find happiness. I would not attempt to advise on either – both depend so much on subjective definitions – but I suppose this could count as guidance on finding clarity, which I constantly strive for in my writing, and generally. It is also sharing something that has helped me survive the last 18 months. When things get tough, I have taught myself to find a different horizon.

People who go on long trips as a way of dealing with significant moments in their lives often refer to the hope that they will ‘find themselves’ in unfamiliar surroundings.

A recent conversation with an inspirational filmmaker and educator included his story of a group of tourists travelling across Africa. The truck driver said: “When people say they are here to find themselves, I reply, ‘Why are you looking for yourself here? You didn’t leave yourself here’.”

Putting physical distance between yourself and your problems is one way of leaving yourself behind and making a fresh start. But if you don’t want to run away, but rather to find a way through the confusion, and you have imagination, you don’t need to travel far to explore different horizons. A conversation about space travel and following astronaut Chris Hadfield on twitter inspired me to look for the International Space Station passing overhead. It is an Arthur C. Clarke moment sitting on a London rooftop watching a spaceship’s straight, steady path across a star strewn sky – knowing that the spaceship is ‘one of ours’.

Clarity in writing – and in life – can be likened to finding that straight path between the stars. I worked all night to meet a deadline and submitted my copy early in the morning. Then I got on a train to visit an old friend who lives by the sea. A few hours later a walk along the coast in the sunshine revealed a different horizon and provided the impetus to write this and more.

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Happy Holidays, Tweeties!

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Merry Christmas! Very best wishes for the holiday season to all my readers – especially followers and friends on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

A lot is written about social media and its benefits in terms of business and personal branding. And we read in the news about the court cases and other worrying consequences of tweeting unwisely, which raise important questions about its impact on freedom of expression. There is also an awful lot of advice about what we should and should not do, particularly on Twitter.

But social media is so much more than a virtual megaphone or a place to find unsought ‘advice’.

Here are a few personal reflections.

Professionally, social media has helped me reach people and organisations who have brought  expertise, insight and intellectual clout to my articles and creative work. I have met outstanding people whose guidance, friendship and support have boosted my profile as a writer, helped turn my screenwriting ambitions into reality and kept me going in my darkest hours.

It’s amazing to have made genuine real-life friends. People who are there in the middle of the night to offer a virtual hug and moral (and sometimes practical) support. It’s also about shared creativity and fun and inspiring each other with music, photos, videos, poetry and silly jokes – as well as travel, fashion and fitness tips, recipes, great (and not so great) movies, shows, books, restaurants and more.

How else could I have met so many talented, creative, inspirational people from all over the world? And meeting in real life is even better, every time. I hope to meet more social media friends in 2013.

My Christmas card is a blend of the professional and the personal. It was inspired by Society for Computers and Law, who in a recent blog post which included my technology predictions for 2013 described me as a ‘word dealer’ – which I liked a lot. It was designed by Sam Mardon, who brings my ideas and inspiration to life in countless ways.

Thank you, Tweeties, and Happy Holidays!

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