Fiction writing

A fork in the road

It was a warm evening as I sat looking out to sea, my dog Rosie was sat next to me offering comfort. When life gets me down, I will often get in the car and just drive usually ending up sitting on a beach watching the waves crashing against the sand. The power of the water and the inner calm that it brings. I sat feeling a mixture of anger and hurt as well as elation and maybe a lucky escape. I had met Terry on a night out with friends, we had been so close, and I had thought that he might be the one. We had been together six months and a few days ago he dumped me in a text message. Why do men do this, build you up just to knock you down?

english cocker spaniel puppy sitting on ground beside grass
Photo by Johann on

So here I am, single again, what is wrong with me? By now I should be able to write a book on relationships and educate others on what not to do. ‘What men do not want, what will make a man run?’ Maybe the point that Rosie my dog is so important to me. Rosie comes before anyone else and some men will just not understand how much of a family member a dog is. I have had Rosie five years now from a puppy, she is a very obedient cocker spaniel. I have now learned that the next man I meet will need to be a dog lover. What else could I have done wrong? I did not know. Feeling rather useless and abandoned I stroked my beloved pooch.

I am thirty now, my body clock is ticking. So, what now? Men are idiots. I’m a nice person, surely one day the man of my dreams will come into my life. Until then I need to make the most of what I have got. I had decided that I needed a holiday, I needed time away and I did not mind going alone. Earlier this week I had booked myself a last-minute week in Wales, just me and Rosie.

The next morning, I had packed and had the car packed by 10am. Starting the engine I waved goodbye to home. Time away from all the “told you so’s” and the “he’s not worth it’s”, well-meaning friends that really do not help. Thankfully work had let me book leave at short notice, for me a broken heart was a good excuse for an impromptu holiday. Taking the A2 I started to sing, as we finally reached the M4 I was starting to wonder why I had started this crazy journey. Eventually, I saw a sign for Neath and breathed a sigh of relief, it had been a long journey with many stops along the way.

The rolling countryside and the peace were just what I needed. I sat down in my cosy holiday cottage and thought about my life. Where was I heading? I was an administrator and I was not keen on my job, I was sure I was worth more. Maybe I should consider attending university, but, how could I? I have rent and bills to pay. What was I good at? I like children, could I teach? I was not sure, educating young minds, but could I really be an educator, I have enough problems educating myself. Maybe I could be a nurse, I’m caring and good with people, maybe I could do an apprenticeship and get paid to train. This didn’t seem like a bad idea except I get very attached to people, I would need to toughen up.

woman walking beside seashore
Photo by Tim Mossholder on

I spent six glorious days in Wales, trying to get my thoughts straight and as the saying goes, ‘wash that man out of my hair’. My life was miles away and it was good to be away from everyone I knew. I have always been a loner and the inner peace I felt here proved that. Rosie was enjoying all the walks and her tail was wagging non-stop. She especially liked Aberavon Beach at Port Talbot paddling in the sea and the Knoll estate in Neath with its pretty grounds. I could not help noticing the house prices in an estate agents window. I found a one bedroom terraced house for under £40 000 and it had spectacular views. I thought maybe I should skip the idea of studying back home and move to Neath. I didn’t think my family would approve of this, just a little bit too far to pop around for a cup of tea and a chat.

So, the holiday is now over, and I am now driving back down the M4 listening to Brian Adams on the radio, singing along to ‘summer of ’69’, Rosie is happily lying across the back seat. I am heading home, back to reality and the know it all’s. I have decided that no man is going to make a mug out of me anymore. I deserve respect and not to be messed around. I am also going to try and let the well-meaning advice wash over me. At least I’m not going to end up being a crazy cat lady, maybe I could be a crazy dog lady instead. I’m going to get my life together. I suppose Terry has made me reflect on my life and made me realise that I want more from it.

I was exhausted and relieved when I finally arrived home. I have learned from this experience that only I can look after myself. Later tonight I will look online at college and university courses. Till then I grabbed a bottle of wine out of the fridge, got down a glass and walked upstairs to have a bath with bubbles. I deserved it, I lay there and toasted Terry and the other idiots I have met, who have pushed me towards furthering my education and really making something of myself. I am a strong independent woman and I will now show the world, cheers.

From the writing prompt, Educate on Gary’s Blog.


  • Gary

    Nicely put together, almost a biographical feel too. This journey I can walk with and feel the emotions and thought trains juggling together. I’ve posted your link to the BlogBattle page and it will appear alongside other entries next Tuesday now.

    This is the page it will appear on and where I’ve dropped yours ready to assimilate so you can check us out properly 😊

        • justmuddlingthroughlife

          This is just a short story written specifically for the word educate. (My bigger WIP I’m finding hard due to not knowing much on the subject, so at 29000 words am struggling. ) I was advised to write what I know which then led me to start my blog.

          • Gary

            Ahh, then it was a tremendous effort given it’s off the bat so to speak. Write what you know is something all writers are advised to do. If it’s out of ones “zone” then there’s always a reader that reviews waiting to put us straight. What’s the topic if you don’t mind me asking?

          • justmuddlingthroughlife

            My current WIP is a crime thriller, I know very little about crime, I’ve never done drugs, never been homeless.. so I need to do a lot of research to make it authentic.. I’m not sure if I could complete a novel just writing what I know.

          • Gary

            You’d be surprised I think. Most people know a great deal more than they might at first realise. Love to bereavement, kids, mental heath issues, people watching, reading other novels across wide genres. All these can be drawn upon. Book wise try Grisham to get a feel for processes and what goes into crime thrillers. I avoid writing in that zone too however. I know I’m weak on police protocols and court minutia. The reasons people turn to crime are easier though. Human psychology plays a huge part there, finances, MH, gang culture, peer pressure, drugs, abuse, sudden life changes that impact lifestyle such as mortgage default and loss of home. Everything shunts toward MH and a skewed sense of self worth, feeling trapped and poor decision making. Young people have their own flow towards it, mature people a different one. I’d recommend writing buddies too. You can talk around topics and bounce ideas. Not so easy to find them mind lol

          • justmuddlingthroughlife

            Hi Gary thanks so much for your advice, I’m not sure if I’ve read John Grisham, I have Lee Child’s new book by my bed and I have read a lot of James Patterson. Maybe I do know more then I think, but there are things I have never experienced.. I’ve never done drugs… I know i need to do a lot more reading… what you have written does relate very well to what I have written… thrown out of home, is on the street, ends up selling drugs to pay rent…etc…etc… but then there’s another story to… it’s trying to pull the whole thing together..and make sense.. Keep the reader guessing and not giving to much away to soon.. writing a book is harder then I thought it would be. Yes writing buddies would be good.. a friend in the police force would be useful to.. Thanks Gary.

          • Gary

            Ha, ha…yes, dead right. Readers tend to think we knock books up every five minutes! So much work goes into them from concept, to bones of a first draft, several revisions, editorial research, proofing and so on. Also don’t forget imagination is key too. Virtually no authors have endured space, but it doesn’t stop Sci-Fi writers. Same with me, I haven’t seen a ghost or lived in a fantasy world full of magic and strange beasts. However, if I’m dipping into, say, the Victoria era then facts must be on the money from wardrobes to dialogue. Stacks to think about 😂

          • justmuddlingthroughlife

            yes loads to think about, with fantasy I guess the facts are yours.. a reader can not research a mythlogical beast and say you are wrong.. with drugs and crime I need to try an be accurate and authentic.. its hard.. there was a book I read last year, cant remember the author now but it was obvious that he had done his research, it was a good book..

          • Gary

            True, but world creation is a huge task in itself. It has to run consistently throughout wrt laws, social structure, comply (generally) with established creatures such as elves, dwarves etc. Same with mythical creatures if using a known myth, even if it is allowed poetic license! Crime follows similar patterns too. Most writing in core structure is similar irrespective of genre. Readers need to identify with protagonist, antagonist must be the protagonist from their POV. Addicts, for example see the world from different perspectives to non-addicts, gang culture the same. If you want a take on an addict try James Fray Million Little Pieces. Ex hardcore addict about his journey in recovery at 23. Contentious book as it was picked up by Oprah Whinfrey and promoted. Later some of the “facts” were found to be untrue. I interpret that as potentially a serial liar through the addiction distorting truths as self preservation. So entrenched he came to believe them as true (POV bias) If you want hardcore addiction then that is a good example from a real addict. With characters you as the writer need to become them, see through their eyes and view the world from their POV. Not impose our own views upon them. That generates authenticity. Drugs and crime are multitudinous. No one size fits all. Nurture gone wrong, MH, spectrum, peers, all have potential as much as life collapse, job loss, bereavement, trauma, social isolation. Crumbs I could harp on with you on this for ages lol

          • justmuddlingthroughlife

            Wow thanks for your very full explanation.. if you loved near me we could discuss it over coffee, ha ha. Yes I’m sure world creation is massive, something I have never tried. You have given me a lot to think about and I honestly really appreciate your help. I need to do a lot more reading I think and just continue writing.. and im sure I will reread what you have written quite a few times… plus research.. Thanks so much.

          • Gary

            Nothing beats a good conversation when stuck on writing or a way to move it forward. You should also read On Writing by Stephen King too. It’s an author must read. Also keep in mind a first draft is nowhere near the finished article. You can over research and end up not writing anything. Write the draft then it will tell you exactly where the research is needed. Enter editing lol. You could link up on Facebook for additional discussions too. 😊

          • justmuddlingthroughlife

            I have that by my bed along with Shrunk and White, the new Lee Child novel and the foreigner by Stephen Leather.. right now they are just sitting there. Thanks for your support, I need to work through this block and continue writing it.. I am on other fiction writing forums but haven’t been on them in a little while. Thank you. Yes conversation is good!!

          • Gary

            I often just set up side notes to remind me when I go back over during editing to deepen research. A case of outlining what I want to do, but refer back to firm it up. We all do things differently though, but hearing how others do it might help spark a method for you too 😊 With a block, if often helps me to write something totally different. Hence the BlogBattle type of things!

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