Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Little did they know…?

The thing that worries me most with chapter four and five is that I feel I keep hinting.

Some authors make a very successful career out of hints – look at author Dan Brown. His books (Angels and Demons, The Da Vinci Code, Digital Fortress etc) end nearly every segment and chapter with a hint of what to come.

‘Little did he know that this information would save his life 24 hours later’…

‘As she went downstairs Susan wondered how the day could get much worse. She was about to find out’.

So it is not necessary a bad thing when it is done well, but there is a fine line between doing it well and it becoming bloody annoying to the reader. Little hooks like these can reel a reader in like a well-caught fish – but these sorts of books are never a relaxing read. They are more like a sweaty gallop to the end as each hint pushes you ever onwards, like a fall of dominos. I can skim-read these type of books very quickly, but I don’t fall into them as I do a Stephen King tale. But that’s not to say I don’t like them, as I do.

Dan Brown’s twisted world of intrigue, myth and fact is very fascinating indeed; but (being very critical here) his style of writing is not as good as his story idea – yet because his story ideas are excellent, this pulls up his writing higher than it perhaps should be. Of course, I am talking about someone whose writing is still very good; you can’t be a best-seller without that talent! But it goes to show that an excellent idea can take you even further…

Chapter five plods slowly. It is because I really need to update the edits on the computer document now, and I can rarely find the time to sit at my home computer for longer than ten minutes. I might have to employ another Dan Brown trick, to be revealed next blog post (and little did she know that this trick would soon change her entire life).

Friday, 22 May 2009


Some days I look like I dressed in the dark

If I pack a few days early I will always feel the need to empty everything out at 6.30am on the day of travel, and re-pack in a muddle, with an extra top I won’t wear

My suitcase on wheels hates me

No matter how much I aim for ‘elegant traveller’ I get ‘harassed bag-lady’

If I have heavy bags I always have to run for a train

My hair has gone free-range in the excitement

If I go away I nearly always forget to take something crucial (this time my brush)

As you may have surmised, I am off for the bank holiday! I will be pegging it down to Euston train station after work to meet good friend R and then we will set off for a Famous Five adventure (minus two others and Timmy the dog). We are heading north to the Lake District, where will spend daylight hours striding over hill and dale, and twilight hours in cosy pubs with ale and pie. I am taking chapter five to glance at occasionally and fret, and R is taking paints and sketch pad. I am also taking waterproofs galore… oh the glamour of the ‘mac-in-a-pack’. Oh the style of waterproof trousers. For some reason I went for navy… perfect in case I ever have to do community service, or wish to become a refuse collector. In fact, my whole hiking wardrobe has been cobbled together from various snowboarding holidays, bygone school day-trips to France, and my entire collection of fleece jumpers. None of it matches, is a brand name, or even really is the same colour, thinking about it. *hangs head*

Still, some hikers are rather eccentric, aren’t they? I’ll probably blend in quite well. I remember my last visit to the Lakes six years ago, winding our way ever higher in the grey drizzle, and finally reaching the peak to find clusters of determined people sitting in the rain and howling gale grimly eating sandwiches. They are a strange lot at times. But that is why I like it.

I take the same motto as the scouts when thinking about holidaying in England – ‘be prepared’. As long as I am warm and dry then I have no problem with our weather – rain, sun, buffeting wind – it’s nice to smell the green and feel alive. I like the sense of time walking gives you, the feeling that nothing is rushed, and the way the hills seem to whisper ‘let it go’ about all your problems. City worries seem mindless and petty in the face of nature. We endure, we last forever, the hills and sky seem to say. When you realise that, then it is perfectly fine to sit back and watch the clouds.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Bits and pieces

Monday sometimes springs upon me like a tiger, with me the unwary dewy-eyed doe having a quiet drink at the water-hole. Today I have managed to get to work minus my swiper and the loose pages of chapter five. The swiper calamity means I have to knock on doors every time I want to go to the toilet (please miss, can I…), and the pages of novel mean I cannot do any writing at lunchtime. I don’t feel like me without carrying them around! Oh well, perhaps I can cope for a day.

I forgot my card pin number the other day. It was the same number arrangement I have used for two years, and yet for some reason the sequence of numbers went completely out of my mind. I tried three times in desperation, and of course the card locked as a security measure, so now I am waiting for a new pin. I went in the bank to draw some money out, and managed to feel so guilty, like I was clearing some poor soul’s account. I had to keep checking my handbag to make sure the word ‘swag’ wasn’t printed on it in clear letters. And now paying by cash for everything is making me wince - £44 went out the window this morning for the weekly travel. Look at the pretty purple notes go.

Weekend was spent with good friend S, and good friend S’s new little baby. Aw. Possibly one of the cutest babies ever, although there were a few questions to fend off about marriage (are you and J thinking of…? when will you and J…?) and babies (when are you thinking of…?). Managed to duck out of all such grown up questions about my future, and instead shared my vision of the Grand Plan (write book, make book readable, send book off, um…) Sometimes I think I make it sound like I am teetering on the edge of good fortune, in which case everyone starts congratulating me and I panic that I have made things sound too good when in fact nothing is happening. Sometimes it feels more like I have done some crayoning and am proud the finished result is stuck to my mum’s fridge, in which case people look at me with pity in their eyes and enthuse about how my full time job sounds so good.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Slow process

I think, perhaps, that I might be done with chapter four. I spent most of last week racing out of work at lunchtimes to find a coffee shop, and then furiously editing the pages I had printed out from the previous day. This arrangement is actually working well, as at the moment I can take a full hour for lunch and I have found a coffee shop that is about ten minutes from my desk, so logistically this is a possibility. The only thing is of course wondering whether the editing / rewriting I do during this time is valid and good – but at least I am doing something, and it is sparking my interest again.

This weekend I have pretty much rugby tackled myself to stay indoors and work on the story. I still have the attention span of a gnat though. But today I revised all the edits I had made last weekend, and am mostly happy now with chapter four.

Mostly happy means of course still room to fiddle, but I am ignoring that for now.

I have now moved on to chapter five, and have printed it out ready to work on in the coming week. The only problem is the price of sitting in coffee shops! I have moved down the menu from coffee to tea, and slowly will make my way to the cheapest thing I can see (one small mint and a glass of tap water please).

I also need to get more disciplined with lunch – I need to get up early and make something that in six hours time I will want to eat, rather than open the bag and think urgh (battered apple, thumbprint sarnie, crumb covered chocolate). The only issue with this is I find it hard enough to squash breakfast down my gullet before racing for the train, let alone having the time to pause and make nice lunch. So I have been naughtily buying salad from M&S (£3 a time) and that, combined with the lunchtime coffee shop visit, is turning each day into around £6. I know this is a rather minimal amount, but I’m still climbing out of the money pit, so it feels a fortune! The trick is getting up on the dot of 6.30am. That means healthy breakfast and lunch, equalling guilt-free coffee shop visits. Lying in bed until 7am means the fat breakfast (pain au chocolate from bakery) and throwing cash down the pit. Maybe I should go to bed right now.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Looking 'peaky'

"You feeling alright? You're looking a bit peaky!" said my mum this morning. J also said I was looking a bit peaky the other day - and it's always 'a bit' peaky - it never reaches full on peaky status. Good friend I also mentioned my peakiness last week - it's official then. I am a bit peaky.

I don't like being told I am a bit peaky. I think I am just fine, with a slight cold. But once it is elevated to peakiness, then I start to feel peaky, and from there on in it is a spiralling circle of doom.

What is 'peaky' anyway? Where did this word come from? Peaky apparently means 'not at your peak' so not at your best. This sort of translates to me that basically I just look rough. Nice. Always what a girl wants to hear.

So to combat looking rough, my chosen weapons are lem-sip, sleep, and snuggly jumpers. This would be the weekend when I really wanted to get on and write, wouldn't it? I have managed zero editing, and even clicking the document open seems a tough call to make. Yet back at work tomorrow (as you just know these sort of cold things get better for working days) and I will rue my missed opportunity. Maybe I could print out the bit I want to work on and find myself a quite corner at lunch? See - now that feels pro-active. But then I have to actually turn on the printer, and find paper, and click 'print...

*yawns again and buries head under quilt*