Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Dusty blog

Sometimes it is hard to post anything of interest. I am still in the doldrums really, and have managed no writing at all recently, so I am beginning to feel a rather dull person indeed. I also started the counselling thing… and while I can see it has potential, and is the way forward, it also seems to leave me feeling a bit low and cross about everything. But the first session felt like a heavy weight had unshackled itself for a few hours, so I have to hold onto that feeling, and know that the lightness will come back. I think the miserable part has to be got through in order to come out the other side smiling or something equally mushy. So I shall just carry on being low and cross. Gosh I sound delightful company!

I rather wish there was an injection you could take (not heroin, obviously) that would sort it all out for you. Maybe something free on the NHS. It would be much easier than killing tissues while talking to someone. Much less painful, and it could even come with a free chocolate bar for afterwards, and perhaps a badge – ‘I’m Not Sad!’ - with a slider so you can change sad for ‘mad!’ or ‘bad!’ depending on your problem.

I tried to give myself a stirring pep talk the other day. I told myself that there was no point moping around and that things will get better and I should just knuckle down to writing and get on with it. I did this in a series of Stern Thoughts as I crossed underneath London on a busy tube train. I no doubt looked rather cheesed off, although that could be my habitual expression while commuting, of course.

I am reading ‘Testament of Youth’ by Vera Brittain at the moment. My counsellor leant it to me (why? What does that mean? Does it mean anything?!), and it works well as a distraction, although I find myself at times wanting to step through the pages and give some of those people the benefit of my Stern Thoughts as well. But it is interesting to see that teenagers and young people of 1913 were really no different to teenagers and young people today, in that they all at some time write god-awful poetry.

There may be more on ‘Testament of Youth’ when I finish it (661 pages! Didn’t she have an editor?) as I haven’t read an awful lot on the First World War, but it seems that most of the officers were impressionable dramatic young boys that hadn’t a clue what they were about to be launched into, and it makes me… um… cross. Perhaps I need to read something like ‘Calvin and Hobbes’ instead!

So… my last blog entry looks rather jaunty compared to this! I still haven’t written the vague chapter plan, or found the children’s book. I fear The Stuff Under The Bed may have eaten it. But all this will happen; it’s on the plan of things to do, as soon as I muster some energy for it. I shall try another stirring pep-talk (eek!) and see what I get done this weekend.

Monday, 16 November 2009

So how goes it?

My week off real-life work gradually filled up with non-writing chores and appointments. I spent a whole day wrestling with The Stuff That Lurks under the Bed, which was a bad move, as once The Stuff is out, it rarely wants to go back quietly. I also spent a disproportionate amount of time playing with the cats, watching history documentaries in the name of research, and going for long walks. In fact, it was perfect time to recharge the flagging batteries, and when I did begin redrafting again, I managed to sort out two whole chapters, leaving me on chapter nine. Happy days!

I redraft in blocks of three, so once I finish with chapter nine I will do the usual - print out chapters 7 – 9, read them over and over, prune a little, and then send them off to lovely folk T and M for a read-through. Chapter nine is a little sticky in places, and needs a desperate chop, but I am hopeful to get it done by the end of November.

I am still feeling a bit down with myself, but have begun two hopefully very positive things in order to help me through – counselling, and sorting out a Big Thing that I had been putting off as too big to contemplate. Both make me feel like things are slowly progressing… and this helps me with my writing, although I must admit I spent the past weekend just staring at chapter nine without actually doing anything. But you know, I think this just happens occasionally. It won’t send me to The Pit of Despair (oh that evil pit!).

Another good thing is that I have decided on the next novel idea. I am very excited about this! There are a few ideas I have been gradually expanding on in daydreams over the last few years, and one was starting to stand out as a fully fledged story with a beginning, middle and end. I tried out the synopsis on J last night, in amongst a few other ideas. J is the best person to try ideas on as he will see immediately if there are plot-holes, or if something doesn’t sound right, or interesting. And he liked it, so in my mind it has now been given the Green Light of Glory. What I will do now is write a vague chapter-plan, get everything out of my head onto a page, and then leave it alone until I finish the current redrafting. But I am very happy with the idea, and think it definitely has potential. The only slight problem is it is very different to my current idea, so I might be genre-skipping, not sure if that is a bit problematic, but hey-ho.

And a final good thing, although this will be a little way off yet, is that I have a little children’s book I wrote and illustrated nearly ten years ago. It has mainly been sat under the bed gathering dust, but I have decided to find it, spruce it up and then send it out. I am also going to look into self-publishing, maybe just for my friends with small children, as I think kiddies and their parents would really enjoy it, and as such it shouldn’t just be part of the Stuff under the Bed. This is something for the New Year, but I will research into it for the rest of 2009, and make sure it is all ready to go for January.

Gosh, this all makes me sound like I actually have a clue of what I am doing! I like it!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Scrabble of Doom Strikes Again

As a writer, you’d think I’d be a shoo-in for winning at Scrabble. You’d imagine I’d be able to think up all sorts of clever winning words, and walk off smugly with triple word scores dripping from every tile. I’d throw words such as ‘quixotry’ into the mix with ease. I’d even know what they’d mean, being the visionary that I am.

So why when playing a game, can I only spell the word ‘suds’? I am hopeless at scrabble. Hopeless. The game generally goes like this…

Pause as me and J pick tiles. Silence as we think.
Me: Ooo. If I had an ‘E’ I could have spelt ‘exit’.
J: Do you have an ‘E’?
Me: No…
J: Do you have an ‘X’?
Me: No…
More pause for thinking. J meanwhile has laid down ‘qualm’ and won himself 40 points.
I lean over to look at his word. Look back at my letters.

Me: Is MIT a word?
I show my tiles to J. He considers for two seconds, and reconstructs my tiles into a word.
Me: Ooo ‘acquit’! Funny, I was just thinking of that.
I lay down word, win 60 points.

Somehow I always win the game between me and J…

More scrabble woes here

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fireworks at Ally Pally

Fifty-five thousand people made their way up to the top of the hill, to where Alexandra Palace looks regally over north London.






And then fifty-five thousand people marched their way back down again.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Que Sera, Sera

I sometimes wonder whether I have chosen the best occupation for myself, and whether writing ‘a book’ is the way forward for me. This is mere speculation, as the path I have chosen is the path I will follow for a time at least, but sometimes I do wonder if perhaps something else would be more suitable.

When I was just a little girl and if anyone asked me what I would be, I never replied that I’d be famous or rich, I replied instead that I would be a cat. (You can see where it all went wrong, can’t you?) Later, this became an author. I have been pretty much single-minded about that ever since (while losing a fair few years to socialising, working frantically, and being just generally scatty). Becoming an author would still make me very happy indeed. (As would becoming a cat, if only it didn’t involve scary surgery, mental health issues, or my sad demise to allow reincarnation). But what else, what if?

I can quite easily see myself looking after an archive. Something small and specialised, rather geeky – something connected to TV or film history, or nostalgic pleasures. I can see myself carefully writing up notations and leading guided tours of equally geeky people around my small musty space, and all of us being thrilled with seeing a piece of the yellow brick road used in the original Wizard of Oz film, or a crumpled prop cardboard box as bashed into when filming The Sweeney. Or maybe not even as glamorous (she says, wondering if the above mentioned things are glamour), but more social history – how ordinary people got on with living in 1940, in 1910, and so on and so back. So maybe this puts me in the realm of a museum curator – but then I’d like to be the person that decides the exhibition, the person who rummages around to find the old stuff. So basically I want to be someone who gets to poke around in the secret stash of stuff museums and archives have out the back. Is there even a name for that job role besides Bloody Nosy?

Leading on from above, I quite like preservation work. I’d like to keep history alive. Time team, archaeology, digging around in the mud wearing wellies – this all appeals. Re-enactment also appeals. Travelling around the country being the world’s foremost expert (and no doubt complete bore) on Agatha Christie appeals, as does being the person television people contact when they want to make a scene authentic for 1970, or 1950. Continuity appeals. Buying ‘antiques’ for pubs to look rustic, reorganising books in some gorgeous old library, and traipsing around car boot fairs with more knowledge then ‘ooo that looks pretty’ also appeals.

So it seems there is a theme. Old tat, mainly. I want to collect it, display it, wear it, and possibly roll around in it given half the chance. Not quite sure what that says about my psyche, but it is rather funny.

What would you be?