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Showing posts from July, 2008

Timewasting - part 58

Found some "fun" writing tips in an old magazine yesterday. One was to pick some books off your shelves at random and copy out a sentence from each one, until you have an "amusing" passage to play with (matron.) Like that party game where everyone adds a sentence to a story until it all goes pear-shaped and someone starts crying.
Ooh, I thought. I've got nothing to do today apart from working, shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing, dog-walking, lawn-mowing, preparing the house for a family visit this weekend (including the redecoration of an entire bedroom ), shave my legs, wax my 'tache, lose ten pounds, negotiate the lowering of fuel prices with the Prime Minister before supper and - oh some writing - so I think I'll give it a go. Never let it be said I haven't got my priorities in order. Not within earshot, at least.

Anyway, this was the result:-

"It seemed to have completely escaped Mick Farley's notice that it was Harold Farley,…

The 'B' word

At work a colleague approached me in a manner normally reserved for bad news to ask in hushed tones about the book. She hoped I didn't mind her asking because she knows it must be annoying and put pressure on me, but she was just...well - wondering how it was know - going?

Blimey, I thought, watching her wring her hands and wince apologetically, she's had to pluck up courage to ask me. My writing has become a topic Best Avoided. It took me back a few years to Mum telling people not to mention Wayne while rolling her eyes at me quivering brokenheartedly on the sofa.

Okay, so I was a tad overenthusiastic back in the day, when I told anyone who'd listen I'd written a novel and was waiting to hear back from a couple of agents. We were all overexcited and naturally everyone kept asking about it. That's when I was in Blabbergob mode.

When rejections and reality flooded in I soon became Evasive. I stopped mentioning the book, and mumbled things in a tiny voice if …

The Wheels on the Bus have fallen off...

Horror of horrors, I was asked to assist with the aforementioned Bounce & Rhyme session at t'other library this morning. Unable to fake my own death - or even feign deafness - at such short notice, I had no choice but to help.

Don't get me wrong, I like children ( I used to be one) but I prefer them in small doses. Children en-masse scare the M&S support pants off me and, like animals, they can sense it. As soon as their beady little eyes settled on me knowingly, I guessed there'd be trouble.

Sure enough, as soon as the Big Story Book came out they started swarming all over it, snatching and pawing while I peeled them off one by one, horribly aware of the Mums weighing me up. Also, I had no idea how hard it would be to keep a smile pinned on with a Full Nappy under my nostrils.

Luckily, there was no sign of Experimental Mum today so there was no bashing, but Chav Mum was in full flow, charming her neighbour with tales of her 'arsehole' boyfriend, which were a…

Something missing

I'm staying at someone else's house this weekend, looking after their children while they take a much needed break.
After unexpectedly finishing the book I brought with me soon after the littlies fell asleep, I started casting around for something to read when I go to bed. (I said "casting around." That's NOT the same thing as snooping at all.) Then it hit me. The thing that's niggled at me before when I've visited.
There's not a SINGLE book in this house. Not ONE.
Is it me, or does a house feel it's missing something without a well-thumbed paperback or two lying around?
It's not all bad news though. I brought my notebook with me, so I'm going to work on the Novel instead.
Don't all faint at once.

The name of the game

I've noticed recently how many of you lovely bloggers have appropriately 'writerish' names. Names I can totally visualise gracing the front cover of a novel I'd want to read.

'Karen Clarke' just doesn't cut it, somehow. Where's the glamour, the integrity, the...the interview potential I implore thee? It's - well let's face it, it's plain.

Don't get me wrong I'm proud of my moniker, but I can't help thinking that if I were called Tiggy Bubblewrap or Felicity Sidecar, or Jemima Von Pantyhose, my name alone might attract that weary agent stepping over the slush pile - sod the quality of the writing.

According to the name generator I could become "Cassandra Eastwood" which has a rather nice ring donchya think? On the other hand, what's the point in writing a novel if you can't have your real name plastered all over the damn thing? On the plus side I can't think of any other Karens writing commercial fiction off the…

Noise pollution

Talking of not shushing people in the library (I was! See earlier post...) I had to laugh today at just how far the other way things have gone.

For instance, our branch has just undergone a long-overdue facelift (wanted one myself, but they'd run out of emulsion) which has entailed weeks of sawing, drilling, sandpapering, swearing, painting, cups of tea, whistling and hammering. Cheeky Chappies have been looming at windows left, right and centre, scaring the (incontinence) pants off the pensioners and causing Tutting to treble. Many a Catherine Cookson has been sent clattering to the floor in alarm. 'Can't they do it at night?' someone grumbled. Probably not a good idea. Due to the darkness, Madam.

It does look a lot better though.

Then we've had norty children charging in, shouting "BOGIES!!" and charging out again, unaware that this Dick and Dom inspired lunacy is sooooo last year, dahling. Adult murmurings were overheard.
'In my day...'

You're too kind

I've been given a rather lovely award by that creative gnome-loving genius, Tomfoolery, and the delightfully informative Debs, who both deserve it far more than I do. It's called Arte y pico, which roughly translates as 'ooh you are awful, but I like you!' I think.

In a similar vein I was tagged by lovely Ernest, who kindly described me as his 'favourite librarian.' What? I thought. I'm a librarian? It's funny how the word still conjures up lumpen spinsters in hairy tweed, sporting furry shins and carefully controlled hair, shushing the general public. I'm sooooo not like that. No REALLY, I'm not. Okay so I favour the occasional cardigan, but cardis are a long way from the uneven fairisle numbers, knitted by glaucoma-riddled grannies of yesteryear.

I've never shushed a member of the public (out loud) and while I don't fetch up at work in denim hotpants with my hair in bunches, I haven't settled for elasticated waists (they're sch…


I'm Very Bad at motivating myself to write.

External deadlines work a treat. My book review and Story a Fortnight are in on time regardless, but setting deadlines for myself just doesn't work.

I've tried the write-a-1,000 words a day, which was gradually whittled down to write-any-bloodything-a day to no avail. I've tried 'an hour's writing before you do anything else - even have a wee,' but that didn't get off the ground. In a houseful of people it's impossible to not do something on the way to the PC, laptop or notebook, and something has a horrid habit of leading to something else unrelated to writing.

I thought about getting up an hour earlier to squeeze in some writing, but I need my sleep, dammit, or I'm good for nothing.

I've even bribed myself - i.e. If you write 500 words
you can have a slab of cake or some crumble with custard, or a family sized bar of fruit n' nut (note how bribes are all food-related?) but the very thought makes …

Everyone's a critic

I write a weekly book review for my local paper and occasionally a customer will fetch up at the library and tell me they read it and liked it. I'll refrain from cuddling them and saying 'thank you so much. I love you,' while turning Menopausal Red, and say instead, 'Oh! Er, thanks, um, I mean...yes. Ahem. Good. Marvellous.' Or something equally cutting-edge.

There was just such a customer today, but before I could ransack my brain for a response, a man behind him said crossly, 'oh I'm sorry, but I never read it. Half the time you people haven't even read the books you're criticising. Can't stand 'em m'self.'

'Neither can I,' I said, which threw him. I longed to point out the irony of him criticising my book review column without having read it, but he was in possession of a pair of eyebrows that could only be described as "beetling" and brought to mind the sort of man who might harbour a grudge against women who loo…

Unchartered territory

Completely off-topic, but how in the name of J-Lo does one go about navigating the troubled waters of Teenagerdom? Specifically Phase II - School-Leaver to Grown-up?

All three of mine are in a state of Flux at the moment and it's most unsettling. You get the sense things could go Either Way.

Gone are the days of dimpled smiles and colouring books, with me at the centre of their squinty little universe. Mooching, glowering and slamming doors is the norm. 'Love you Mummy,' has been replaced with 'God's sake, Mum,' and muttered 'hate you's' with occasional f-words thrown in for good measure. 'I can hear you!' I shrill, like my own mother did. Don't they know Mums have Bionic hearing as well as eyes in the back of their heads?

I was asked recently, if a nipple could be pierced. And I thought cutting off their curls was radical.

Structured days, where I knew where they were and what they were doing are a thing of the past, and I mourn them. It…