Sunday, November 30, 2008

Wood and Scribbles


Fancy a house made of books? Me neither, although this bed looks rather nice. The rest of the rooms look a little bit creepy to me. I'm not sure what I'd like a house to be made of, apart from the obvious. I'd say cake, but it wouldn't last long. I'd be homeless in less than a week and fat and nauseous to boot.

Fur? Ours practically is at the moment, what with all the rodent activity going on in the walls. I swear I can see them moving in a certain light. (shudders)

Lego? I'd be forever building extensions. Could be useful though. Obviously the children are never going to be able to afford to move out, so at least we'd be able to knock up something at the bottom of the garden in double-quick time. Waterproof too, I'd imagine.

Straw?

What's this got to do with the price of fish? I hear thee ask.

Er, nothing. In fact, I feel guilty accepting this award from the delightful Dumdad on t'other side of Paris, after such drivel. But I'm going to anyway. The law says I have to pass it on to seven more so without further ado...

Lane

Lorna F

Jumbly Girl

Suzanne

Jean

Kerry

Tommo

I could go on. You're all superior scribblers to me :o)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tools of the trade


As you can see, I'm all prepared for writing inspiration to strike in the dead of night.

Notepad? check

Cheap biro? check

Tiny clip-on torch to avoid waking the dead? check

Drink of water to refresh sleep-addled brain? check
(actually I'm scared of having a choking fit in the middle of the night, that's why the water's there. Not that it's ever happened.)

Reading matter in case I can't get back to sleep? check

Stuffed bunny rabbit for...er? It's not mine, obviously.

Now, I'm normally away with the fairies once my head hits the pillow and although I dream about writing when I'm in full flow, and occasionally wake up in the morning with an Idea, I'm rarely, if ever (okay NEVER) roused enough to fanny about scrawling things down before sunrise...until last night. I can't even remember what time it was, only that I woke up knowing I'd had a writing thought SO PROFOUND it had to be committed to paper.

I got up this morning feeling quite excited, like I do on Christmas day wondering if Santa's been...ahem, I mean like I USED to do on Christmas day.

What pearls of wisdom had dribbled from brain to note-pad? Would they be so inspirational that scholars would study them in years to come, saying, "my god, I wish I'd thought of that. It's so...profound!"

I picked up the pad with bated breath and read...














...that'll be a no then.

One thing was clearly missing from my bedside check-list - a brain.

Also, I spent so much time fiddling about with that stupid tiny torch that I dropped the pad on the floor and apparently woke the dead anyway.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Earnings envy? Moi?

Huzzah! I've sold another story to Take a Break for their January Fiction Feast, which means that 2008 has been my most productive writing year, EVAH. (Tried to do a complicted, gangsta type finger flick there, but it didn't work and hurt quite a lot.)

We're not talking retirement-fund earnings, but I did consider a small, cake-based celebration...

Until I saw this....




Hmmm. Quite a long way to go then. Good job I write for love not money I suppose... (stifled sob.)

***********************

Ratwatch update - No sightings today, so fingers (and toes) crossed. I'm still as jumpy as a frog on a pogo-stick though.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Rat-faced

***Rat watch update 15/11 - sleepless night due to mysterious scrabblings in bedroom cupboard - found some trousers with mouse-shaped holes chewed in them this morning (too frozen with fear to investigate in the small hours). Braved the kitchen to make tea this morning and came eyeball to eyeball with another rat, sitting as bold as brass on the boiler. They're taking over the world - well our world anyway....


Once upon a time there was a beautiful and talented writer lady.** Possibly the most beautiful and talented writer lady the world had ever known.

One golden afternoon, as the beautiful, talented writer lady sat at her wooden desk, typing words of wit and wisdom (more wit and wisdom than the world etc.) into her Word document, she heard a sound on the stair and froze.

Unusually, the house was silent. The dog slept soundly at the writer lady's delicate feet (the most delicate etc.) Her daughter was resting in her downstairs bedroom. Her sons were out foraging for food, and her husband was at the coal-face. It could only mean one thing.

There was a mouse (where? there on the stair! where on the stair? right there! a little mouse with clogs on etc.) Writer lady had recently suspected the gingerbread house was infested. There had been Signs.

Another noise. She gasped and braving the doorway peered round to see, on the stair (where on the stair? there on the stair etc), staring back at her boldly...not a mouse but a RAT. A big hairy fellow with beady eyes.

Writer lady screamed. She screamed like baby girl. Writer lady's daughter dashed out, rubbing the sleep from her eyes, not heeding her mother's warnings. The rat leapt gracefully off the stair, through the air, past daughter's hair, into her bedroom and hid.

Writer lady and her daughter clung together and trembled like little cowards. Writing, sleep and normal life was abandoned.

Time passed. Every sound was a Sign. Mice appeared. Another rat. Holes were sourced and blocked up. Scrabbling was heard in the walls. Traps were put down and ignored. 'We must be humane,' cried Writer lady, then screamed as a rat scuttled over the bread-bin.

The kitchen was disinfected. Husband crouched into the night with an airgun (any excuse.) The dog was derided for not being a cat.

Eventually, poison was purchased and scattered (safely - but not for the rodents!)

The beautiful, talented writer lady took to wearing her slippers 24/7. She no longer cared about being beautiful (though naturally, she was still talented.) She simply couldn't bear the thought of a rat running over her feet.

It had been quite a week.

**It's called artistic license, okay?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Mills & Swoon


Feeling much better (thanks for your lovely comments) and finally got round to watching a programme I recorded on BBC4 last week, about literary novelist Stella Duffy taking on the challenge of writing for Mills and Boon, who are celebrating their centenary this year.

It was oddly fascinating. Probably because back in the day I - along with crime writer Mark Billingham, strangely, and lots of other people I suspect - thought it would be a doddle to write one too, and earn enough money to buy myself a flat. (I was young and stupid, okay?)

Anyway, Ms Duffy, who is extremely likeable by the way, was well out of her comfort zone as she normally writes about Gritty Real Life and The Seedy Underbelly (those aren't her titles by the way) but to give her credit she threw herself into it. She talked to the superfans - one woman admitted she'd spent over £20,000 on M&B novels over the years - met an established writer, went on a writing course in Tuscany, and forced herself to override her natural instincts. Mills & Boon novels HAVE to feature alpha males and a strong heroine who teaches the hero that love is all. Once Stella realised she could write for their supernatural imprint - albeit still within the guidelines - she started to care about her characters and the words flowed - although she needed a couple of stiff ones for the sex scene, as it were. The editor really liked what she'd done and would have asked for the full MS had Stella decided to continue, which I don't think she did.

It proved once and for all - if proof were needed - that it's nigh on impossible to write something for the sake of it. I can't remember what mine was about, but I know I called it The Valley of Clouds and my hero was a blacksmith I called Ben, because I fancied Ben Murphy from Alias Smith and Jones (shakes head at youthful self).

Actually, looking at that photo he wasn't half bad. I won't bother trying to find out what he looks like now...

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sneezing and scary


I got sent home early from work today, because I look so hideous. Can you believe it?? Okay, nobody actually said that, but I do. I was scaring the customers with my giant, swollen red nose, leaky eyes and hacking cough. In case you think I normally look like that, I've actually got my first cold in nearly three years, and it's a corker. I'm single-handedly keeping the tissue industry afloat. Because I can't taste anything I thought I'd eat something healthy for dinner last night that would normally make me gag, but it didn't work because it was spinach and I realised it's the texture I'm not keen on (slimy.) Ho-hum.

My plan for getting on with it, now I've got more writing time, was given a boost at the weekend by my lovely mother-in-law flying off to Australia for a month. As she doesn't live far from us, and we're keeping an eye on the house anyway, I've been popping round there in the mornings with Laptop and being Productive. It's very peaceful there. There's no Internet. It's spotlessly clean and tidy. There are plenty of teabags. There are no teenagers lurching about demanding food and lifts. There's no Molly-dog nudging my hand for a game of grab-the-sock (we know how to live in our 'ouse), although I don't mind that so much.

The trouble is, it's bloody freezing. She lives in one of those lovely, big old rambling places that are hard to heat in the first place, with proper sash windows (none of the wussy double-glazing that we've got) and gappy doors, and only a couple of radiators. I tried wrapping up well in a big coat, fluffy earmuffs, fingerless gloves and thick socks and taking a flask of soup with me yesterday, but her neighbour (who's also 'keeping an eye out') peered through the window at one point, after spotting me propped in the 'old lady' chair by the window, and practically had a seizure.

So unless the weather warms up over the next three weeks I'm just going to have to brave it out at home. Maybe if I keep the earmuffs on I'll be able to ignore the distractions.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Getting on with it

How the heck can it be November already? It was only April the last time I looked. The sun was shining and everything.

I've been doing a lot of overtime at the library over the past few months due to staff shortages, but it's all finished today. We're staffed up to the max, and I'm back to my normal hours. Not that I mind. It's funny how you start getting sucked into the politics of work when you're there every day. In way I like being in the thick of it, part of a team etc. but on the other hand it can drag you down. I'm quite looking forward to being more peripheral again - letting the grittier stuff fly over my head.

What I'm also looking forward to is..ta-dah...More Writing Time. (I will not think about all the jobs that need doing at home.) What I'm not looking forward to is less money. Yes I know it's vulgar to talk about the M word, but I've never claimed to be classy. Anyway, after selling a couple of short stories recently I'm going to see if I can make some sort of living at it. Not a champagne swigging, designer shoe buying, white-truffle scoffing, chihuahua-in-a-bag holding, mixing with royalty, holidaying in the Maldives type living OBVIOUSLY, but enough to keep us in HobNobs. Worth a try. What's the worst that can happen? Gradual destitution, loss of dignity, depression, aggression, a brush with the law and an ASBO, I suppose. But it won't come to that. Or will it?

I'm making headway with the novel too, thanks to a fab new writing buddy with a whip and a Friday morning deadline, which has spurred me on no end. At this rate it'll be finished in...ooh, ten years give or take.

Don't hold your breath or anything.

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