Sunday, October 26, 2008

Talk talk

I did a marathon library-working session on Friday - four hours in my usual branch followed by five hours in a smaller one, and it struck me afterwards how different the staff conversations were in each.

In library A there're a lot of us - ages ranging from twenty-two upwards (I'm the twenty-two year old in case you were wondering.) A couple of sample conversations from Friday:

1) "If we still lived in Victorian times, I wonder what we'd all be doing?"
"You'd have several children by now."
"I'd have died in childbirth."
"We'd be upper-class, so I wouldn't be working. I'd have servants."
"I'm going to marry a rich man."
"Why not?"

2) "I've got this great recipe - melt a 400g chocolate bar, put it in a baking tin crumble four chocolate digestives in, no more than four or it goes wrong, add two bags of white chocolate buttons and two bags of maltesers - or you could make it healthier with nuts and cherries but I perfer chocolate - and leave it in the fridge to cool. It's gorgeous, I could live on it. I've got another one as well...."
"I'm having a heart attack just listening. But, go on."

In Library B, there were just the two of us - ladies of a similar age (twenty-two obviously) :

1) "Ooh, that's a nice cardi!"
"Oh thanks! M&S. They're good aren't they?"
"I don't know. I tried some jumpers on recently, but the sizing's all wrong."
"There's home-made cake by the way, so help yourself when you go down for your tea-break.
"Ooh, lovely!"

2) "Can't believe the clocks go back tomorrow."
"I know. It'll soon be Christmas."
"I'm just popping down to make some tea."
"Why don't you bring the cake back up with you?"

I enjoy working in both branches for different reasons, but did you, per-chance, spot the common thread running through both conversations??? And it's by no means unusual. (What do you mean NO?)

I wonder what men talk about at work?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Lovely Booky-book

I received my copy of Della Galton's How to Write and Sell Short Stories in the post today. I was very excited. I love new books. Especially ones containing Knowledge.

Actually, I was lucky enough to sell another story to Take a Break this week, so at first I shouted, "Pah! Advice? Moi? What was I THINKing?. Ay'm a fully- fledged short story writer now, donchya know? Children! Peel me some more grapes!" (As if)

Then I got over myself, and had a flip through. I'll sit down and read it properly over the weekend, but I can see already that it's jam-packed with tips, wisdom, advice and inspiration from one of the most prolific short story writers in the UK, and is a great tool to have in your writing belt (ooh, hark at me. Haven't a clue what I'm on about.) Highly recommended.

More importantly, it looks pretty. And SMELLS great! Does anyone else sniff new books like an addict? No?

O-kay. Neither do I...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And the award goes to...

...ME! (and lots of other people.) Thank you lovely Debs in your cosy shed.

I was going to post something meaningful about the novel that won the Man Booker Prize and ask if anyone had read it/was planning to read it, or mention the fact that it's Blog Action Day (the subject this year is Poverty) but it's been covered beautifully on several other blogs, so I figured...I know. I'll talk about me. Don't all fall asleep at once.

The rules of the award state that the following questions must be answered in one word (they don't all have to be true do they?)

1. Where is your cell phone? Heaven
2. Where is your significant other? Wardrobe
3. Your hair color? Forgotten
4. Your mother? Camilla
5. Your father? Charles
6. Your favorite thing? Cake
7. Your dream last night? Incomprehensible
8. Your dream/goal? Immortality
9. The room you're in? Hot
10. Your hobby? Taxidermy
11. Your fear? Incontinence
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Outside
13. Where were you last night? Stringfellows
14. What you're not? Manly
15. One of your wish-list items? Clothes-horse
16. Where you grew up? Scarborough
17. The last thing you did? Breakdance
18. What are you wearing? Stilts
19. Your TV? Beloved
20. Your pets? Damp
21. Your computer? Busy
22. Your mood? Mischievous
23. Missing someone? Non
24. Your car? Filthy
25. Something you're not wearing? Spandex
26. Favorite store? Staples
27. Your summer? Sorry?
28. Love someone? Oui
29. Your favorite color? Strawberries
30. When is the last time you laughed? 1974
31. Last time you cried? 7.44am

Now the hard bit - I have to pass this on to (only) 5 other bloggers, who haven't already been tagged. I choose:-
Ernest - because he'll hate it (I do love your blog though)
Fionnuala - a fellow Lost-lover and talented flasher
Spiralskies - she makes me laff
Lily - 'cos she's lovely
Womagwriter - for having all the answers (well, most of them)
Tom Foolery - she's good with words AND pictures

I love you all though.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Outraged of Tunbridge Wells

Occasionally a library book will upset a customer due to its, ahem...content. I remember an elderly woman shouting about unnecessary references to the male member in what she'd assumed was a harmless story about horses. She thought it should be removed in case it fell into the wrong hands (the book not the male member, for heaven's sake.)

Of course we're not there to make judgements about the stories on them there shelves, but common sense prevails. We're not allowed to stock men's magazines like Zoo and Nuts due to the proliferation of brazen hussies lolling on the covers in frosted lipstick (and not much else), and ex Big Brother contestants talking about getting mobbed in nightclubs and having boob jobs - which is fair enough. But we can hardly go through all the books, scribbling out rude words.

Once, someone kindly stuck a Post-it note inside a book, pointing out various uses of the F-word and which passages to avoid, which was quite thoughtful. Customers have ripped out pages they've found repellent before now, which isn't so good. Especially for the reader left wondering what happened and whether they're going to get blamed.

Today's offender was Crown Jewels in the Sun by Nora Roberts. On pages 104 and 105 someone had written in pen, "for gods sake", "kick him in the balls" and "ugh!!" as the heroine was taken masterfully by the rather overbearing hero. We couldn't work out if the reader was a feminist horrified by such boorish behaviour, or someone who prefers decent writing. (Mee-OW!)

Or an ex-editor perhaps....

Anyway, the writing style rather reminded me of the Mills and Boons I used to devour as a teenager, when men were forever "thrusting their manhood" at a lady's "sex."

I don't know how I survived in the real world.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Who am I?

Looking back over my WIP, which I haven't done for a while (I've had to wean myself off editing constantly as I tend to get stuck) I was struck by how influenced I seem to be by what I'm reading at the time - and I do read a lot.

My first few chapters reflect the humourous women's fiction I was reading at the time, then I got hold of a couple of psychological thrillers and the style gets darker. After reading a memoir recently I realised I was writing shorter sentences and being all poetic. Literary novels make me lyrical and magazine stories more pithy (love that word).

It's quite confusing and made me think that I should probably stop reading while I'm writing altogether (D'ur!) Maybe I could harness the various influences in a constructive way, but at the moment I'm danger of smothering myself, as it were.

I seem to have lost my Voice.