Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Well, I've -
Had a birthday (21 again)
Painted the bedroom (twice - the first shade of yellow I'd picked made my eyes hurt. A classic case of a colour not doing what it said on the tin!)
Worked overtime at the library (people are still dropping like flies with The Bug).
And now it's back to my Favourite Thing...fannying about on the computer. I accidentally came across an article about Charles Dickens. I was meant to be looking up how to convert American cups into English ounces for a nice cake recipe, but got lost on the way. Anyway, it made me wonder. How in hell's fiery furnace would I have managed to do any writing at all in that era? There am I, messing abart wiv me "chapters in progress" - cutting and pasting, deleting and inserting, editing and elaborating, finding and replacing at leisure - and there he was, bless him - desperately working from 8.30 am to 1pm, to make the most of what natural light there was...using a quill. A quill, for god's sake!! Can you imagine? Yet he managed to write about 27 books and only ever missed two deadlines, and one of those was because he died. Which as good an excuse as any I could have come up with.
I used to get annoyed using a typewriter, years ago, because I'd make so many mistakes and use so much correction fluid that my pages always looked like a seagull with the runs had flown overhead. I rarely sent anything out, because it never looked up to scratch - plus my stories were rubbish, but that's incidental. So, how I'd have managed with a quill, some splodgy ink and no electric, I've NO IDEA. Having said that...at least there weren't any distractions, I suppose. He just got on with it. Wonder how he'd have fared these days, with t'Internet at his fingertips? I like to think he'd have spent his days looking for blotters on e-bay and researching his family tree.
Jane Austen's handwriting was annoyingly neat, for someone who didn't have access to gel pens and those rollerball thingies that glide across the page, and those space-age pens you can write upside down with. I don't suppose she ever got so annoyed that her pen had run out of ink and she couldn't find another one, that she got a pencil and scribbled really hard over everything she'd written, until the page ripped and then hurled it on the fire...like someone I could mention. Not me.
Eeh - we don't know we're born, as m'gran would have said. And did, frequently.
On a completely different note, I was passed this rather lovely award from the fabulous Lane, which made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'm going to pass it on to Cally Taylor, because her's was the first blog I ever came across, after typing Writers Writing about Writing into Google (look, I was young and naive and still looking for the Magic Formula okay?) and it was so interesting and fun that I kept on reading. Still waiting for the Magic Formula though ;)
Actually, I think I know what it is.
I just need to buy a quill.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
1. I’ve only been abroad once, when I was 23. I wasn’t keen. Not so much the place, I just don’t enjoy travelling. I wish someone would invent a time machine.
2. Aged 14, I was barred from all the amusement arcades on Scarborough sea-front, because a friend and I worked out a horse-racing game and kept winning. (Note: the most you could win was £1, but they got sick of re-filling them with pennies).
4. I once bluffed my way into a Top Job, by claiming I knew how to use their computer system. I learned very quickly.
And on that cheery little note…
Funny how these memes make you think about stuff you haven’t thought of for years. I’m quite upset now, thanks, wishing I was a mermaid and stuff. Sniff. Think I’ll go and eat some chocolate…
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Look at my new recipe for coconut flapjacks. I know what you're thinking. You've made me hungry - I must have one.
Okay, so they went wrong. You probably can't tell. I chucked the ingredients into the pan earlier, after shooing the Teens off to school and feeding the dog, then I sat down at the computer and didn't come round until a - what can only be described as life-threatening - smell of burning brought me to my senses and sent me hurtling into the kitchen. Poor Molly-dog was slithering around on her tummy with a damp tea-towel wrapped round her face, telephone in paw as she tried to get through to emergency services. Alright, she wasn't, but you get the picture. (She did give me a disapproving look though.) The smell was so bad it seeped, inexplicably, into my sock drawer upstairs.
Anyway, I charged about, eyes watering, swearing a lot and threw the pan in the sink and stared into it, dismally, realising I didn't have enough ingredients for another batch. I wondered if this was a metaphor for my writing...
It wasn't. Thank God. If it had been, I'd have to seriously think about giving up and going back into full-time office work. Or one of the many other not-really-me-but-I-need-to-earn-a-crust jobs I've had over the years. No, instead I found myself thinking, "It's all their fault. Those blummin' bloggers, with all their witty, pithy, clever, amusing, interesting, informative and downright distracting...well, blogs for want of a better word - posts, maybe. Articles? Commentaries? Columns? Features? Crowd-pullers...step away from the Thesaurus ...
If it wasn't for them I'd be scoffing a tasty treat right now, before moving onto Chapter Five of The Novel, instead of rummaging about in the bin-bag round the side of the house, in my dressing-gown, looking for left-over cake crumbs like a fox with a sweet tooth - my writing life in ruins. Ruins, I tellsya!
Talking of making excuses (which I suspect I am) my son came home from school with an amusing little printout the other day - the best of which was... "Sir, I'm having a problem with my eyes. I can't see myself coming in to school/work any more."
(This is the kind of thing they do at school these days...the Internet has a lot to answer for).
Warning: if you try this, you'll be expelled/sacked
Right - where was I? And who can I blame?
Friday, January 18, 2008
What's the last thing you wrote?
A recipe for low-carb Rich Chocolate Brownies. This writing lark requires energy donchyaknow?
Was it any good?
It was accurate. They're bloody good.
What's the first thing you ever wrote that you still have?
A poem about unrequited love. The only sort I knew in those days.
See above. Not much, since then though.
See above. The first line was "An artist is painting a picture of you in my mind..." Need I say more??
Favourite genre of writing?
Romantic comedy. (I will not call it Chick-Lit...stamps foot.) I have a psychological thriller inside me, as well, which I may well release one day.
Most fun character you ever created?
The main character's mother-in-law, Pearl, in my first-ever novel. She was, frankly, bonkers and had all the best lines.
Most annoying character you ever created?
The main character of my second novel. I was Trying Too Hard, and she started getting on my wick.
Best plot you ever created?
All of them are unique in their own way, is the diplomatic answer, but I'm having fun with the current one.
Coolest plot twist you ever created?
The would-be novelist finally lands a publishing deal after years of hard work and mucking about. Oh alright then...in a short story I submitted somewhere, the main character turns out not to be the baby's mother...
How often do you get writer's block?
It's not so much writer's block as procrastination-fever. When I come up against a brick wall, I tend to do something else instead of pushing through it.
Write fan fiction?
Do you type or write by hand?
Type. Almost forgotten how to write by hand, although I do scribble things in m'lovely notepads.
Do you save everything you write?
Mostly. There are things from years ago that I've chucked out in a rage, that I wish I'd kept, just to see how far I've come since then. (Probably not as far as I'd like...)
Do you ever go back to an old idea long after you abandoned it?
Oh yes. Like picking scabs. I always think, if I can just improve it...although I have finally given up on the first-ever novel now. Much as I loved writing it, and got encouraging feedback about it, it's dead in the water.
What's your favourite thing that you've written?
Apart from the first-ever novel, a short story about autism as a tribute to a dear friend.
What's everyone else's favourite story that you've written?
If you mean friends and family, they're polite about everything, so it's hard to know. Generally the stuff that makes them laugh.
Do you ever show people your work?
Not any more. Apart from people I don't know, very occasionally, for critique purposes. Friends and family can't be impartial.
Did you ever write a novel?
Ummm...let me see. (Rolls eyes.) YES.
Ever written romance or teen angsty drama?
Romance, yes. Teen, angsty drama no. Have enough of that going on at home thankyou.
What's your favourite setting for your characters?
Present-day, places I know usually. I love to read novels set in either World War 2 or the nineteenth century, but don't feel up to describing those kinds of settings convincingly myself...not yet anyway.
How many writing projects are you working on right now?
Current novel, occasional short story, this bloomin' lovely blogging lark, and weekly book review for local paper.
Do you want to write for a living?
Love to, but I'd still do it anyway. (Like I have a choice...!)
Have you ever won an award for your writing?
If there was an award for Trying-Quite-Hard, I'd probably win, but competition would be fierce. In other words...no.
Ever written something in script or play format?
Not since school.
What are your five favourite words?
At the moment..." LOST is back in February." Oh, okay...serendipity, marvellous, goodygumdrops, bootylicious and flapjack.
Do you ever write based on yourself?
I s'pose thoughts and opinions are based on my own, but not really. I'm far too boring.
What character have you created that most resembles yourself?
The main character of my first-ever novel. I think that's quite common. Now I've sicked her up, I can move on...
Where do you get ideas for your other characters?
They all have characteristics of people I know, or sometimes I just think 'this guy, her neighbour, he's good-looking but shy and doesn't know it,' and I visualise someone from film or tv who might be good at playing that part. (Colin Firth?? Who said Colin Firth? Not all my male characters are based on Colin Firth, you know...tut).
Do you ever write based on your dreams?
No. My dreams are ridiculous. It would result in me being locked away. I dream about writing, though. Often.
Do you favour happy endings, sad endings, or cliff-hangers?
I favour the happy ending. Too many sad ones in real life.
Have you ever written based on an artwork you've seen?
I've written a short story based on a photograph, of people round a bandstand in a park. (Don't ask).
Are you concerned with spelling and grammar as you write?
In life, generally. It bothers me. Not that I'm immune to the odd typo of course! (She says, backpeddalling like mad).
Ever write something entirely in chatspeak? (How r u?)
Never. Even sending texts I have to use proper grammar, spelling and punctuation. Takes forever.
Entirely in L337?
Do you mean Leetspeak - a written argot used primarily on the Internet and which uses various combinations of alphanumerics to replace Latinate letters? (I love Wikipedia).
Was that question completely appalling and un-writer like?
Very. Numbers make my brain go mushy.
Does music help you write?
Only as background noise. Too loud and it's intrusive.
Quote something you've written. The first thing to pop into your mind.
12oz Plain chocolate
12oz Milk chocolate
3 large eggs lightly beaten.
Line 8" cake tin with parchment. Melt butter and most of chocolate in a bowl on top of a pan of boiling water. Stir in eggs, and some nuts if you like. Sprinkle with remaining chocolate (chopped). Bake at 180 degrees until just firm (20-30 mins).
With a glint in my eye, I'm going to tag l-plate author, tomfoolery, womagwriter and Mike (don't hate me) because I'm rather fascinated to read everyone else's little MeMe. I thank you.
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
Now, to be fair, I'm not quite sure what the letter is referring to, but I think it involved a play about Susie who, as I recall, was a rather mischeivous little girl who got up to all sorts of...well, mischief I suppose. I'd write the script and Cheryl would play Susie, using what can only be described as a 'baby-voice.' What can I say? We were young and deluded. High on custard creams.
Monday, January 14, 2008
Friday, January 11, 2008
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
I visited a hairdressing salon today, as a special treat to myself. It's not something I do very often - I'm still not over the humiliation of accidentally asking for a cut and blow-job when I was younger - but the barnet was out of control, and there are only so many times you can trim your own fringe and 'mend' your split ends before you start to resemble Edward Scissorhands on an off day. (Having scissors for hands, you'd have thought his hair would have been a bit tidier, but hey-ho). Anyway, it was all very pleasant, although the stylist did have a habit of using the royal "we."
"What do we want?" she asked, when I walked in, fingering my locks as if they were oily rags.
I felt like saying, "Well I don't know about you, love, but I want a lottery win, a published novel in Waterstones...and world peace."
Anyway, it was all very pleasant, and one of the assistants made me a nice cup of tea, which would have been nicer without the little hairs that materialised on the surface within four seconds, but it wasn't long before the stylist pitched up at the inevitable question.
Her (snipping vigorously) - "So. What do you do for a living?"
Me (looking shifty) - "Um. Well, I work in a library, part-time and, er, I'm...well I'm a bit of a writer. Sometimes."
A bit of a writer??? What the heck...? I think I meant to say I do a bit of writing sometimes, but it came out wrong. The thing is, I don't really think of myself as a writer, yet, so the words tend to stick in my throat. In fact, I don't normally mention it at all these days, as such a bold claim (not that it was bold on this occasion), always leads to that vexing question "ooh, what do you write?" to which the only acceptable answer, really, is, "Oh, you know...best-selling novels that top the charts and get made into films or television dramas." Rather than "oh, you know. A feature here and there. Book review in the local paper (actually, that statement does lend a tiny bit of gravitas), plus I'm working on a novel..." which naturally leads to the response, "ooh, what kind of novel?" Groan. It's at that point I long to change tactics and say that, actually, I made the whole thing up, because I'm really an astronaut or a spy or something I can't really talk about in public, because people are listening.
The cringiness of the conversation, which soon stuttered to a halt, I can tell you, did give me an idea for a story, though. Imagine a character making up something extravagant like that, at the hairdressers, or a party, and saying something like, "I used to be a glamour model. Oh yes, I've worked with all the greats..." and the person she's talking to says, "Oh god, I thought I recognised you. You were in that film too, weren't you, with Brad Pitt? Didn't you have a fling with that photographer, who went on to shoot the Queen (in a manner of speaking)..." and before she knows it the heroine is up to her eyes in all sorts of high jinks. Interesting. Maybe.
It must have been my lucky day though, because as well as a nice haircut (still long, but humanized), it was half-price, as a special New Year offer!
Now I just need that stylist to call round every morning and maintain my shiny, swishy, ever-so-slightly wig-like, new locks for me, or come the weekend I'll look like a rat peeping through a hedge again...
Monday, January 7, 2008
So...my New, New Year's Resolution is to throw caution to the wind, let the muse take over and allow the ideas (however far-fetched) to simply flow. In other words, I'm going to kill Aunty Barbara. Well, ignore her at least. For a bit.
(See? Even here, I can't quite make myself do something so...well, unbelievable.)