Monday, 24 March 2014

Hat love...

I've just written a few lines in which a man is searching for his hat, only to be told that a small dog has run off with it. The scene is set in 1788 so the man's lost hat looks like this...

Only - now that I think of it, the story takes place in pre-revolutionary France, so there would've been a cockade in colours indicating the man's political affiliations (probably the dog had royalist leanings and so ate the cockade altogether...)

It reminded me of a similar few lines I'd written in a previous book, when a regency gentleman is wearing a hat so high it is blown from his head in a gale and caught by another man who favours a more countrified shallow crown (and whose opinion of gentlemen in overly-fashionable hats is not high...)

Then, when I'd noticed the coincidence, I realised I've actually named one of my contemporary characters Hat-man Dan because he is never seen without his hat. Only when he's really upset and his whole life is at the point of falling apart, does he remove his hat (he uses it to mop up his tears!) 
His hat looks like this... 

I had no idea I was so interested in (or fond of) hats. I never wear one myself. Because not many people do. And besides, I have the wrong shaped forehead.

A while ago, I read one of Laini Taylor's blog posts about coming across motifs in your writing. I can't find the post to link to it (you should read all her posts anyway - they're brilliant!) and neither can I remember which themes recurred in her writing, but I think she was surprised by one or two of them.

So, my surprise motif appears to be hats. 
Less surprising things I've included in both my books are mysterious paintings, secret tunnels and old buildings (the first book is set in a haunted castle by the sea - the second in a ch√Ęteau that burns down during the Revolution). I've also noticed that quite a few of my characters suffer from facial injuries which change the way that other people see them and in turn, the way they themselves behave. Although this wasn't a conscious agenda, my own face was paralysed half a dozen years ago, so I'm aware it's something that interests me. I've also included several cases of mistaken identity - people wearing masks or costumes and pretending to be other people, so this might be linked to that too. Or it might just be something that's really good fun to write. 

I'm almost at the end of my historical (French Revolution) storyline now and I've built up a collection of photos that help me with the mood I'm trying to create in my story. They're mostly from Sophia Coppola's film Marie Antoinette - which is one of the prettiest films ever made. The pictures are of frou-frou dresses, tumbly wigs, candy-coloured shoes and cake - all unapologetically girly. And - yes - I'm afraid I have been making more collages...

As for my contemporary storyline, the only plot-note I've made reads 'Add brilliant ending here.'
Right. OK. Finishing this one's probably going to take me a while then...  Au revoir!

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Snood love...

This week I have mostly been...hiding.

I hadn't been feeling quite right for a while - lots of headaches and tiredness. I may have mentioned it on here although I'm not one to make a fuss ('Hahahahahaahaaa!' - everyone who knows me.)
And I'd been trying to rock a deathly pallor with fire-engine-red hair - a combination that only works on Halloween, if I'm honest.
Oh - and I had this weird fluttery sensation running up and down my left arm which - since I keep my mobile in my left coat pocket - meant I spent a lot of time attempting to answer a phone which wasn't actually vibrating.
God, I'm such an old woman now, I could fill an entire post with symptoms and ailments (and I'd enjoy it too.) But the diagnosis that I'm a bit anaemic isn't dramatic enough to justify any more of my complaining.

The doctor sent me a text message to say I needed a course of B12 injections. Which surprised me, because I'd never been doctored by text before. It was quick and efficient and informal and made me think *old lady voice* 'Well, how modern we both are, doctor!'
Trouble was, it did not give me the chance to ask any questions. Such as... 'Might I have a bit of a reaction to this?' Or...'Might it in fact, make my entire skin explode?'

Hence the week spent in hiding.

Luckily I was given a giant woolly snood for Christmas and last week I fell more in love with it than ever. I'd advise anyone who ever has to go out and about with their face, neck and shoulders covered in calamine lotion, to invest in a snood. I like to imagine I looked a little like this...

Although, the reality was probably more...

Now that I come to think of it, I never visit the doctor without her saying something along the lines of...
'Ah, yes - it does sometimes happen that your body can reject this kind of treatment. I should probably have mentioned it before...'
'Now, I did make you aware that we'd be joined by a couple of students who'll be watching this procedure, didn't I?'
'Did you remember to take some ibuprofen before you came, because this can be a little...uncomfortable?'
No - no - no - you never mention any of this beforehand! I always have to find it out from the internet afterwards! When my skin has turned into fucking pizza - aaargh - aaargh - aaargh!

And then - oh, joy! - the sun came out. So I was able to wear my new chilli pepper sundress and sunglasses...

 ...along with my giant woolly snood (sigh)

On that first day of sunshine, we went to the Rococo Gardens, which seems to be our go-to place whenever we're in need of a fun outing. And all the way there, we passed people on bicycles, people eating ice-creams, people tearing the covers off their barbeques! Shorts and T-shirts everywhere - even though it was still early March. I found out later that many of our friends had gone all the way to the seaside. English people are adorable!

We ate ice-creams too, and ran around in the maze. And no - I didn't take any photos, for obvious reasons.
Oh, all right then - here we are...

At first, when my skin broke out, I tried to be grown-up about it. 'No one will notice or care,' I said to myself (sternly) 'You are forty - and not all that much of an oil-painting anyway. And besides, you must present a positive attitude to your two sons who will be acne-covered teens one day.'
But by the end of the week, I was waking up, reaching for the mirror and going, 'Sob...sob...sob...'

Because I'd forgotten how horrible spots can be. Especially those deep under the skin lumps and bumps that itch and throb. I've got those forehead spots that feel like a headache...and those awkward spots on the bridge of my nose and behind my ears where my glasses sit...and those spots on my neck that just won't go ever! I'd forgotten how vile it is to be a teenager. No wonder they're all so grumpy!

I think it might be time for me to go and look at the news now. I seem to need reminding that people are living in warzones, fighting terrible illnesses or struggling against poverty. I really don't need a teenager's self-absorption. Not on top of all these spots!