Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wot the Dickens? (groan)

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 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 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

More about ME

As if you haven't had enough, I've been tagged by Leigh and Cally, thank you (I think), for the following...I do apologise if your eyes start to bleed.

The small print: Link to the person that tagged you. Post the rules on your blog. Share six non-important things/habits/quirks about yourself. Tag random people at the end of your post by linking to their blogs.

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).

3. I’ve never, ever been drunk. I worked as a pub manager for two years, as well.

4. I once bluffed my way into a Top Job, by claiming I knew how to use their computer system. I learned very quickly.

5. I’ve lost my Northern accent, since moving Down South. I don’t know where it’s gone. It pops out occasionally, usually if I’m cross, or talking to my mum. (Maybe if I get cross while I’m talking to my mum it will come back full-time??) I think I’m susceptible to picking up accents. If I lived in Australia I’d sound like Dame Edna.

6. I can’t swim. I’m terrified of going underwater. I don’t even like taking a shower. I think I might have drowned in a previous life because I have recurring dreams about tsunamis, sinking boats and being stuck at the bottom of the sea.

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…

Oh, and if you haven't already been, I tag Fiona, Sarah, Tom Foolery, Spiral Skies, Juliette and Maddie and anyone else who'd like to have a go. Sorry to bother you, but I do like reading them :)

Thursday, January 24, 2008

But what's my motivation, dahling?

After hitting a bit of a brick wall, writing-wise, I decided to sit my main character down and ask her some questions. Like a therapist, or an interviewer from The Times, or The Independent. Not one from Heat magazine. They'd probably ask her who she'd grope if she was invisible for a day, or whether she'd ever had a threesome - although I suppose the answers could have been equally revealing!

No, I wanted a proper, in-depth Q&A session, along the lines of:

"So, Harriet. How did it all start?

"What did you do?"

"How did you feel, when you found out?"

"Why did you react that way, instead of simply confronting them?"

"Then what happened?"

And you know what. It actually worked, really well. I typed about 20 sheets altogether - there's literally no end to my procrastination tactics - and as Harriet's answers unfurled I began to see meaning where I hadn't before, and also to understand properly what everybody else's motives were, which has, in turn, created more depth. Depth which had been sadly lacking - hence the Q&A session in the first place. It was as if I'd worked out the plot and stuck to it as closely as possible, but had started to lose the bit of thread that made sense of, or clarified, everything. I'd gone off at a tangent here and there, which is fine - in fact, by the end of the exercise, I'd realised my story is as much about friendship as anything else, which I hadn't picked up at all before (!) - but certain things had ceased to make sense. (I know. What am I like? Call myself a writer?) It's like when you know you've got to confront someone about something, and you work out in your head all the clever, insightful, completely brilliant things you're going to say, but you haven't factored in their responses and feelings properly, so when you finally come face to face, they say something unexpected and you burst into tears. No? Just me?


Like posting my chapters as a blog, it's helped me to move things along nicely (a sort of mental laxative, as it were.) It's made me see what I've written so far with a fresh eye - I keep a supply of them under my desk for such occasions - and I thought it might be worth a mention, just in case anyone else out there is having a similar wobble and might find it useful.

Which I'm sure you won't as most of you lovely writers seem to be a lot cleverer than me, and possibly on the verge of being published any minute as it is (not that I'm bitter or anything...)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Another fine mess...

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

It's all about ME

Been tagged to do a MeMe by lovely Leigh and must say, it's rather enjoyable. Not to mention a good way to avoid mopping the floors...

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.

Write poetry?
See above. Not much, since then though.

Angsty poetry?
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 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

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
6oz butter
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

Back in the day

Whilst rummaging around in my cupboards (sounds like a euphemism, but it isn't - I wasn't looking for chocolate either...honest), I found an old tin full of early scribblings that I'd forgotten about. It reminded me that even then, aged 14, (spurred on by the dubious honour of having had a poem published in Judy comic aged 11) I used to write stuff...silly plays mostly with my dear friend, Cheryl. We'd record them onto enormous cassettes and bother the BBC or local radio to put them on. At least I'm assuming that's what the following two missives were about...

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.

Judging by this, our expectations were a little unrealistic. (Nationwide was a local TV news programme).
Funny how we were anticipating fame back then, in much the same way that X-Factor contestants do now. Despite an obvious lack of talent.
I think the answer to question 9 would have been -"they are frightened and amused in equal measures, by our touching self-belief."
Ah, those were the days. Full of possibilities.
In biology lessons, a couple of friends and I used to write a weekly serial called Pigs in Pink Plastic Macs (don't ask) which we'd then pass round the school. I can't remember much about it, except it was great fun to do and, apparently, carried on circulating for quite a while after we'd left, according to my brother. I learnt a lot that year. Sadly, none of it had anything to do with biology.
It's quite reassuring to remember that, most of my life, on and off, I've been honing my skills as a writer. Maybe, one day, when (if) I'm published I'll be able to revive those questions accordingly!

Monday, January 14, 2008

Comfort zone

After having a good old nosey around some 'proper' writers' rooms in the Guardian online, I thought I'd post a picture of mine - just in case you haven't got anything better to do.
It made rather fascinating reading, and I was struck by how important it seems to be to have a separate 'writing space' and whether it isn't that we simply become attached to the place where we first started to write seriously. Which for me was a table with a typewriter, or later, a computer on it. It didn't much matter back then, only that there was a table and something to write or type on. Nowadays, particularly since we moved house, I must confess I've become addicted to my little writing comfort zone. (Note how I resisted the urge to tidy up. Also, how bored Molly looks. She's fed-up with the camera these days). Looking back, though, a consistent feature for me was to be facing a wall. I don't know why, but I still prefer it that way, though if I turn to my left I can see the front garden through an enormous, cleaner-unfriendly window. The postman has seen many a sight, walking past that window, I can tell you. Notably, me exercising on one of those step machines in front of This Morning, one day, wearing rubber gloves (I got distracted while washing up). Also, even though I can read a book on a crowded train, I can't write with anyone (apart from Molly) in the room with me, but I can cope with music or the tv turned down low.
I bought one of those knee-ly stool affairs last year, to make me sit up straighter and it does work in general, but makes my knees ache after a while so I end up straddling the thing like a tiny, well-behaved pony.
Of course, recently, there has been some bedroom activity with Laptop, (hardly suitable viewing for a family-friendly blog I think you'll agree), which did make me realise I can probably, if pushed, write anywhere once I actually Get On With It, but I still tend to drift inexorably towards this desk and this space most days. It's where I feel most comfortable and most productive, and is also my preferred place of procrastination...see that guitar there? It's not just to show how arty/bohemian and utterly creative I am at all moments (I do a bit of strumming now and then, but I'm never going to set the charts alight), it's just that I picked it up earlier with a view to dusting it and got distracted by some CD's that had fallen behind it that I thought I'd lost...sigh.
I think I've lost my thread.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Running amok

The editor of "Yours" magazine called me yesterday, to say she wanted to publish a short story I submitted, ages ago, in their year-book, which was a real thrill I can tell thee. I mean, it doesn't come out until October, but still - woo-hoo!! Funny how a bit of unexpected news like that can give you such a boost. It was like the writerly beast within me had been unleashed - sorry for the visual there, hope you weren't eating - and within minutes I found myself rooting out some short stories that had been languishing on the shelf, like little spinsters, for months and giving them a bit of a tweaking. I've already sent one off to "Best" magazine, and the others will soon be sent out into the world to seek their perfect partners. No doubt they'll return in due course, having been bitterly rejected, and I'll have to let them move back in again and start doing their washing and...oh sod it, I can't keep up the analogy. You get my drift. It was exciting all over again.
I'd also composed roughly 28 stories by bedtime (only in my head, mind you) and couldn't get to sleep for trying to work out a truly spectacular Twist in the Tale ending to one of them, which didn't happen even though I tried to programme myself to dream the answer. By mid-morning, I was somewhat flushed and wild-eyed, but as I went tramping round the fields with Molly-dog, brain still in over-drive, I came up with the truly stupendous idea of transferring my novel-in-progress to...ta-dah - A BLOG. Like this one, but as though I was the main character, telling her story to the world!!! I know! Brilliant. (You'd think I was the first person ever to think of this...) It's because I've been struggling a bit with the Voice, which I want to be chatty like I am on here, but more Fictional, obviously, only I haven't quite got it right yet, so I'm going to give it a go and see how it pans out. Not for anyone to read, or anything. Just as an experiment really. I'd taken my Moleskine** notepad out with me (despite the raging wind and rain - I must have looked insane) and under cover of a towering Oak (okay, it was a big tree, I don't know what sort) I even wrote down some ideas. Trouble was, reading them back when I got home, they were more like responses to the ideas, so I'd written things like "Blog?!?" "nice one!!" "chapters maybe???" "why though?" "taxi-drivers can't do that," which was a bit confusing as I've now got to work out what the ideas were in the first place. Of course, all this smacks a bit of getting out of Getting On With It, but in fact, after the phone call yesterday, I feel more like getting on with it than ever, which can't be a bad thing. I've already made a start, and it feels...well, schizophrenic, but in a good way. I'll let you know how it goes.

**Did you know that Moleskine is apparently pronounced "Mol-a-skeen-a" ?? How flipping pretentious does that sound? Bad enough owning one (I couldn't resist - see Lane's post about notebook addiction) but if I said to my family, "I got my Mol-a-skeen-a out in the field today," they'd assume I'd flipped and bought myself a firearm. At the risk of sounding dumb, as opposed to Up-Myself (as the Teens would say), I've decided to stick to my "hide-of-a-burrowing-mammal" pronunciation. I don't suppose anyone will notice. Will they??

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Salon fresh

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 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

Unrealistic expectations

Okay, so I haven't written a thousand words a day for the past couple of days. I haven't even written a hundred. Mainly because we delivered my mum back home to Scarborough (town of my childhood) on Saturday, and decided to stay over, but mostly because I decided, on the long journey back, that I must have had my New Year goggles on when I made that resolution (like beer goggles but more brutal, because you haven't even got the excuse that you were drunk at the time), so it's now been discarded as being utterly unreasonable and I've made a new one - one that I think I can stick to. It came about after discussing writerly things with Lovely Husband on the way back, and realising that one of the things I struggle with the most when I'm writing is my inner cynic. I call her Auntie Barbara, because she's like one of those sensible women who wear sturdy shoes and have a hanky up their sleeve and a sewing kit in their handbag for emergencies, and says things like "they need their heads banging together" and "just tell him you don't like him, then you'll both know where you stand." She's very hard to switch off sometimes. One of the criticisms levelled at my very first manuscript when I sent it out, was that my main characters were too reasonable - too nice. As a result, there just wasn't enough conflict. I think I've got better since then, but still sometimes, I'll be tapping away, and suddenly think - come on. Would this ever, ever happen in real life? If she/he just did this or that, it would all be sorted out. Ridiculous, I know. If all writers worked on that premise, there would be no fiction. We'd all be writing terribly informative books instead, like the one above. Or these beauties...

I read Louise Doughty's "A Novel In A Year" just before Christmas (highly recommended) and she says you should never be afraid to throw a hand grenade (metaphorically speaking) into your story to see how your characters react, because you need action to move the story along and I can't argue with that. 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.)

Thursday, January 3, 2008

How Time Flies

I've already broken my New Year's Resolution, which was to not make any New Year's Resolutions, by making a New Year's Resolution (if you get my drift). Which is to write a 1000 words a day. I know it's a tad ambitious, but I love that 'clean slate' feeling of a new year, when anything (even writing a 1000 words a day) seems possible. To that end, my laptop and I - still in the first flush - have been doing our best to oblige. At 7.30 this morning, after Husband had slipped off to work, I opened him up (Laptop, not Husband - do keep up) and started typing. Mum was asleep in the guest room, the Teens were nowhere to be heard and the dog was happy enough on the landing. Perfect. I looked at the clock about four minutes later and thought, OH MY GOD!!! It was 11am. What the...? How...? Of course there'd been distractions during that time. Teen son 1 wanted to know if I could give him a lift somewhere this afternoon, and Teen son 2 made several demands to be noticed, Mum had a bath and made herself some breakfast, (oops) and my tummy started rumbling with hunger, but I hadn't really taken it in. This is the trouble when I do actually start writing. I Zone Out, like one of those people tricked onto stage by a spooky hypnotist, who taps them on the shoulder and says "sleep" and when they wake up they've eaten a raw onion thinking it was an apple, stripped to their undercrackers and danced to the Birdie Song, and managed to offend their entire family.
This is why (and I know it sounds like an excuse - probably because it is) normally, I daren't start writing before I've (crucially) got out of bed, got myself showered and dressed, fed and walked the dog, done some shopping, made a cake (I love baking), made sure there's something for dinner, browsed the internet (for research purposes, obviously) and, er, gone to work on the days I do work (mind you, by then it's usually bed-time). Because if I didn't, I'd start tapping away at say, 8am, and come round hours later looking dazed and confused, having forgotten to eat all day. Actually that would never happen. Although...hang on. What's that on my bedside table?? Could it be...surely it's not! Is that a half-eaten onion? Oh dear.

(Parts of this post have been dramatised for comedic effect - Ed).