Thursday, 31 January 2013

Faulty maths

I see from the post I wrote at the end of December, that I fully intended to reach a total of 30,000 words by the end of January. Which required my writing no more than a paltry 500 words a day.
Um...yeah - and I'm still on course for that total. Only now it requires my writing 9,500 words by the end of today. Aargh! How did that happen?
Well...there were those few days where everything halted for snow-based fun....and I went down with a life-sucking bug for another few days - which was not fun! Then I made the fatal mistake of downloading an infuriatingly-addictive game (Jewel Quest II) which is still sucking away even more of my life than any bug could (Damn you, Sebastian Grenard!). And I have an idea there was a certain amount of procrastination - which sometimes turns out to be 'important thinking' however much it seems like idleness - so I don't always fight it as hard as I should...
Grrr! Trying to be a writer is like Feeling Guilty for a living!

Birds from Funnyjunk

Friday, 25 January 2013


Finally there was snow!

To the boys' delight, the school was closed and the husband couldn't get to work. It was like christmas - but better because we didn't have to see all the family members or spend a frikkin fortune! There were pyjama days, computer games and much dashing about in the snow and flinging it at each other. On the first day we wrapped up and walked down to the local cafe to find it heaving with people. All hatted and gloved and earmuffed - and all having toasted teacakes, toasted sandwiches and frothy cups of hot chocolate.
Like me, everyone was clearly pretending to be in Switzerland.

My writing has slowed right down again - because nobody writes in imaginary Switzerland!  Besides I've been too busy cooking heartening beef stews, cinnamon and raisin buns and giant bowls of porridge. What is it about snow that makes me want to eat so much?

Currently, the writing is a bit of a slog. I seem to be at an I-Hate-It stage.
I've done around 20,000 words and all my initial impetus has worn away and I'm left plodding away at a story without really knowing where I'm heading or who any of the characters are yet. Perhaps I ought to have planned better. Or perhaps I ought to go and sell shoes. Self-doubt aplenty! That's one of the many I-Hate-It stages. I expect there'll be more before it's finished.

Also - I'm having a go at fantasy this time and I'm finding it far harder to suspend my disbelief (and keep it suspended) when writing, rather than reading, anything magical. Maybe it's not the right genre for me after all...

But most of my favourite authors have admitted to their own I-Hate-It stages. Neil Gaiman and Laini Taylor (both fantastic fantasy writers) have written of their own My-Book-Sucks moments. Surely neither of them could never - ever - have written anything sucky!
So, as much as you need a certain amount of imagination and a feel for words to succeed as a writer - perhaps it's every bit as important that you also have plenty of cussedness. I bet lots of super-talented writers have never been published simply because they lacked the blind faith that their book would eventually be finished. And that however much it sucked in the early stages, they would eventually be able to make it better.
In fact, I think I know one or two writers like that!

I now have two weeks left of January to keep trudging doggedly away at it until I reach my 30,000 target. Hopefully I'll find a way to re-inspire myself as I go...

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Artistic endeavours

I've been alternating my writing with preparing (or cleaning up) lots of messy, painty art projects for my new after-school Art Club over the last couple of weeks.
My first attempt at being an art teacher was on the 7th. It involved twelve 9-10 year olds, one six year old, a dozen fluorescent marbling inks, four trays of water and a shitload of MESS.
We did marbling...
Even after it was over, I still had no idea whether they (or I) had enjoyed it - or whether it had gone OK. I was too preoccupied with - "Oh, no - the ink's running out and someone's spilled something and are we over-running or under-running and where the hell am I going to put all these dripping, oily sheets of paper?"
But the next day, lots of the children and their parents said they HAD enjoyed it, so I began to think that maybe I had too.
And we didn't just marble paper, oh no!

I bought some crap from the charity shop and we marbled that too. A couple of the boys were so inspired by the marbled eggs that they asked if our second Art Club session could be egg-based.
Which was pretty irresistible.
So, on the 14th I made twelve children (the thirteenth child being too wussy) poke holes in eggs and blow the yolks out. Both revolting and fun. Oh, and messy AGAIN.
Then they painted the shells...
Wooo - scary zombie egg
Angry (and bemused) Bird eggs
Toothless crocodile egg
Happy eggs driving trains
Stripey eggs
Ha ha ha...
Floral eggs crying baby and cool old man eggs. Because...well, why not really?

I relaxed a bit more and actually enjoyed the second class. The children are all helpful, friendly and fun. And - more importantly - there is now rather more to me than simply being an 'Unpublished Writer'. That's right - I'm an Unpublished Writer with an art club. You may well look impressed!

Sunday, 6 January 2013

The year so far...

Happy New Year!
For me, 2013 has already been a week of ups and downs. Relatively small ups and fairly unremarkable downs, that is.
I began the year the same way I have for the last nine years - in the kitchen, making a big chocolatey birthday cake for the firstborn son. And on January the 2nd I had A TEN YEAR OLD!
Wow! That decade went fast!
We took the NOW-TEN-YEAR-OLD and some of his friends to see Life of Pi which had enough special effects and excitement to keep them all quiet - but thankfully (for self and husband) did not have Alvin and the sodding chipmunks in it.
The six year old alternated between fidgeting with boredom and squirming with terror. "I'm bored - I'm bored - is this film about God?...No, I don't like it! I don't like it! Are his family all drowning to death now?...I'm bored and I've dropped my glasses down the seat...Oh! I don't like it! The hyena's eating the monkey! Aaargh! No, don't let the tiger on the boat!...I'm bored again. I need a drink. Can I go to the toilet now?"

With hindsight, I really should've sat by someone else.
Of the ten year olds we took with us, the girls seemed to like the meerkats and the boys definitely liked the 'piscine' jokes.
After that, we had lunch at the Prezzo outside the cinema and all the ten year olds had a table to themselves, where they ordered their own meals, sang Happy Birthday to my oldest son (TEN!) and gave him presents which almost all included Angry Bird toys. Oh, and they whispered the word 'piscine' a lot, amid much giggling.
It was a nice day.
Unlike the 4th - which was miserable.
I started the day with a sort of New Year's spring cleaning fervour and decided to clean the grout in the shower. Not only had it been needing a good scrub for a while, it was beginning to take on a pinkish tinge which could (just possibly) have been caused by my flaming red hair. The official 'grout-cleaning' product I'd tried once before had been completely useless, so I wavered between 'Easy Bleach' which was extremely cheap and extremely strong - and a sort of multi-purpose cleaner in bright fluorescent yellow. Sod it, I thought, I'll use them both.
Much later, when I was feeling ultra-aware of the skin at the back of my nose and throat, I read the 'Easy Bleach' label to find that I should on no account mix it with other chemicals because it would become a dangerous gas (Chlorine). Well, I didn't like that at all.
Luckily I wasn't the type to lose my head and go searching the internet for the effects of chlorine poisoning, I reminded myself sternly.

Five minutes later, I was on the internet learning how chlorine gas had been used to kill soldiers during WW2...and feeling terrified. And stupid.
Both of the boys had a friend round to play on Friday afternoon, so I was in charge of four children and had possibly destroyed my respiratory system with chlorine gas. Stupid pink shower grout! Stupid lack of scientific knowledge! Or common sense! Stupid, stupid, stupid!
When I explained to my four young charges what they ought to do if I were to suffer sudden cramps, wheezing or vomiting, they all exploded with laughter. And when I confided my fears that my entire throat might swell up and cause me to stop breathing, they all clutched their own throats - tongues lolling out - and pretended to die horribly. The self same children I had treated to a 3D film and lunch at Prezzo two days earlier!
Anyway, since they clearly couldn't be relied upon, I persuaded my husband to phone me from work every half hour to make sure I was still able to take in air. And after only an hour of this, his resistance broke and he drove all the way home to continue working from the bedroom. To be honest, chlorine gas poisoning (all right, suspected chlorine gas poisoning) is one of the less-bizarre reasons I've summoned him home from work in the past.
Saturday 5th turned out to be a much better day. For one thing I was filled with a new zest and enthusiasm for life - what with still being alive and all. And I couldn't help but notice that our shower looks amazing - exactly as it did when it was new!
One of my new year's resolutions ought to be to try to exist much less at the mercy of my imagination - for my husband's sake, if not my own.
Also I really want to stop biffing my forehead on the casserole dish that sticks out from one of the shelves in the kitchen. I hate that.

And - um - I really want to save up enough money to buy this lucky horseshoe dress from Hobbs, since this is what I imagine myself to be wearing when I go out for an imaginary lunch with my imaginary literary agent.

Continuing the 'lucky' theme, I also plan to wear one of my sister's lucky penny pendants - made out of real old pennies. She has made so many fab ones I still have yet to decide which one to buy from her.
And if my resolutions are not yet shallow enough, there are still shoes to be decided upon. Perhaps it is a lucky thing that no agent has yet approached me with an offer of representation since I remain torn between all these different colours from the Irregular Choice Poetic Licence Backlash range...
Hmm...decisions, decisions.
I guess when the time comes, I'll be prepared. What's that you say? My wordcount? Why no, as it happens I haven't been writing of late. I've been far too busy looking at shoes. I'll write next week - it's my final resolution.