Thursday, 24 July 2008
No, really. It's the only logical explanation. I go to work, come home, eat dinner and then suddenly it's time to go to bed. I'm sure I used to get things done in the interim. There may have been the occasional evening trip to a pub, but I'm still down a good few days. I wonder what a time thief looks like? Strange gnarled creature or just a bodyless entity that floats through the house and swipes your evening in a single pass? I fear I may have to start paying more attention to where I spend my time. I may even have to order that book that Jane mentioned in her Writing magazine column a couple of months back. Something to do with not wasting your life writing emails to your friends and watching crap tv. Hmm, maybe I'll order it next month. Or something to read on holiday perhaps... which is months away...
I really should have a picture of my new shiny desk in a gleaming room, with tasteful wooden blind in the background. However, it's not quite there yet, I seem to be repeating myself. Next post! I have at least got over the trauma of buying the desk and sofa bed from Ikea. Two trips to Wembley in 2 days. Just don't do it, shudder.
Saturday, 5 July 2008
My real agent appointments the next day seemed slightly less worrying in comparison until I discovered the bear pit of a venue for the meetings. They're held in a large room with tiny exam style tables set up in pairs. You sit next to another desperate delegate and try to hold a sensible conversation with the agent opposite. It's incredibly loud, and very hard not to listen to the person next to you who is losing it slightly. I did get lots of useful feedback and one of them said I could send it to him again once I'd made the suggested changes. I went home happy.
The wedding I was at yesterday was held in the most glamorous venue I've ever encountered. St Audries Park in Somerset resembles a stately home, but only hosts weddings. You get the entire place for the day, and it's vast grounds. Weddings are held in the Orangerie, dancing in the great hall and then there are the endless lounges and bedrooms of epic proportions. I think the sinks and powder room of the ladies covered about the same area as my house. It was lovely to float around the place as armies of staff got you drinks and brought out endless trays of food...
And then there was Doctor Who, sniff.
Friday, 20 June 2008
Tuesday - drive home 1 hour 45
Thursday - drive to work - 2 hours 40
Friday - drive home - 2 hours
Has everyone forgotten how to drive this week? OK, so maybe the diesel tanker that caught fire can't be blamed on anyone, but the rest were crashes blocking the road. Either that or fate is laughing at me after I asked if I could work from home two days a week. This request seems to have sent the powers that be into a tizzy and an answer is unlikely to be forthcoming any month soon. I feel a trawl of the job agency websites coming on...
I did finally manage to enter Waterstone's "What's your story?" competition, a whole day before it ended, although not according to the shop assistant. She took my card as a favour, saying it had finished the day before, despite the closing date on the card. I didn't like to argue, she's probably one of the store judges! I tried to summon up a winning smile instead, no pun intended! There are so many online entries I thought I might have more luck entering instore, and seeing my card in the corner of their shop window would be good!
Friday, 13 June 2008
Tuesday was a wonderful oasis in all of this. I can highly recommend a five hour lunch, in the sunshine, with eleven lovely writing friends. I don't think any of us paused the conversation for more than a mouthful of food, or sip of wine the whole afternoon! It's days like that, that stay with you forever and make me realise that writing and getting caught up in other people's triumphs and setbacks is one of the best things I do.
So it's two weeks to my self-imposed deadline for finishing. Nearly there!
Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Blogging has been edged out for the last week by my new toy. I know I really don't need the distraction but brain/sight/word training on my Nintendo DS is good fun! It only takes a few minutes on each and it wakes up my brain for some writing, or a few games of Sudoku... I was threatened with battery confiscation at the weekend due to my Tuesday deadline. I did manage to send in my Winchester conference stuff though so I'm feeling smug/terrified.
Right, I hear the call of the sofa, and maybe some of those ultra balm tissues.
Thursday, 22 May 2008
Thursday, 15 May 2008
Having been quite methodical with my editing recently, I now seem to have hit random mode. I keep skipping forwards to find a bit I'm more in the mood to work on. This is of course both confusing and unproductive, as half the point is to make sure everything flows and I haven't just had a conversation with someone that died in the last scene. I think it's because the fear has gone away this evening. I only have two and a half weeks before I have to send off the first 30 pages, a pitch and synopsis for the writers' conference. Somehow this doesn't scare me this evening. It'd better return tomorrow!
I got an email from Waterstones today, advertising their "What's your story" competition. Basically, you write a very short story, on a postcard sized bit of paper, which you may also decorate. There are a few on their website already and they've invited some authors to do one. The prize is being published alongside the official ones later this year. Lane, I thought of you when I saw some of the drawings behind the stories!
I think even blogger has got fed up with my font hopping. The choice of fonts and sizes has vanished, allowing me only bold or italic. I'd decided on one as well, really! Oh, panic over, apparently I'm in the edit html window...
Thursday, 8 May 2008
I've been trying to focus on the lovely apple blossom and not the rest of the jungle that makes up the garden. It's very hard not to see the wilderness that needs hacking back but I seem to manage most of the time...
Also there is the distraction of a new, monster bbq this weekend. It's currently sitting in an alarmingly large box in the garage, just crying out to be put together. That's assuming any of the shops have anything left to cook on it! I'm sure there are some burgers at the back of the freezer, but they're not from last year (wet summer that thwarted all bbqs) and they may be an entirely new lifeform by now.
Someone at work offered to read my novel today and I nearly did fall off my chair, no really. I'm not used to other people showing an interest. It's usually people who have to make the occasional polite enquiry (friends and family) or people that write. I'm not finished with it yet anyway but I'm not sure I'm ready for 'work world' and 'writing world' to crossover. Although he's not the type to shy away from telling you what he thinks so maybe he's the ideal reader!
Anyway, time I got back to the garden!
Friday, 2 May 2008
I'm sure there's many a short story based on this premise but it's quite exciting, just for a moment, not to know what you might hear...
I'm having a rubbish week for blog writing, but it does mean I've done a lot of re-writing to try and get "Flickers" into shape. I've had confirmation from the Winchester Writers' Conference that I have my two agent appointments. Gulp. I have to send the first 30 pages, pitch letter and synopsis by June 6th. Of course the synopsis means I need to stop messing about with new scenes and changing things about as well!
I also nearly fell off the sofa when I turned to page 3 of Writers' news this month and saw the wannabes smiling back at me. How did that picture get in there! I was feeling particularly grim that day (evil sinus infection) and apparently I looked it too!
Hope everyone has a great weekend. Bank holiday, yippee!
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
1 - Mobile phones and the internet, ooh I've tried!
2 - That I'm not an angel, and therefore it's OK if everything doesn't go perfectly all the time.
3 - That the doctor is not too busy, is actually paid to see you and sometimes you should go!
In similar fashion, three things she couldn't explain to me
1 - Why it's important to keep everything, just in case.
2 - Why Coronation Street is essential viewing.
3 - Why patterns on clothes have to line up precisely along the seams.
Three things I can't explain to myself:
1 - I'm desperate to finish this book, so why haven't I??
2 - That getting cross with myself is rarely helpful.
3 - Why I think I'm using the same font, but am actually picking a new one every time!?
Monday, 14 April 2008
I am eagerly reading through the Saturday program though and trying to pick the talks I want to go to. Might also go to the Friday Pitch and Presentation mini course which claims to put you through your paces on pitching your novel. Bit scared by that, but then that's probably even more reason to go! I really wanted to sign up for a couple of one to one appointments this year with agents, but none of them look hopeful. Most say no SF on their descriptions and I've looked at the websites of others and they don't look keen either.
I went to an eclectic mix of talks last year including short stories, scripts and being the perfect author for your agent (I should be so lucky) and came away much more energised than by just going to the novel based ones. Might try something unusual again this year, I could certainly do with the motivation! Sadly I have to wait till June for that, will have to think of something else to help with the here and now.
Sunday, 13 April 2008
Did actually manage to do some writing today. I'm trying to perfect the first three chapters since editing the whole thing is going so slowly, this seems more manageable. Also summoning up the courage to hand them over to S for his opinion. We're both nervous about this! I need an honest opinion but I might not take the criticism well! I'd been tempted to finish the whole thing and then hand it over, but now I'm curious to see what he thinks. I guess everyone reaches this stage when they hand it over to a loved one. Did it go well for you or are you still prevaricating like me?
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
The weekend was also spent living in the past. I went back to my university with two of the people I shared a house with then. Very odd walking around somewhere so familiar 15 years later. They'd built a lot of new accommodation just to confuse us but it's basically the same place. After we'd finished grumbling about the beautiful looking rooms (and reminiscing about our grey breeze block monstrosity of a hall of residence) it all felt a bit strange. Same people, same place, different life. It was like searching for ghosts as we turned each corner, looking for the familiar but seeing only the new (and the younger....) That's probably the strangest part. I think living there now is probably much the same as when I was there. You don't often get the chance to see your past again, but life there continues much the same.
Saturday ended with the ultimate childhood experience, the new series of Doctor Who. The excitable butterflies are every bit as fluttery now as they were then!
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
Here's the dilemma. I get on well with the people I work with and it's a fairly easy going place to work. Is reducing my commute worth the risk of working somewhere I may not like as much? I have no reason to suspect the new place may not be as good, but I've previously worked for some truly horrible people and there's always that risk...
Finding a new job is such an unsatisfactory process. You meet a few people during the interview process, but not necessarily the people you'll work with. You get a well presented version of the place you'll be working, and get sugar coated answers to your questions. The first day can often be an eye opener!
The other temptation for moving is just to try something new. I've been at my current job for 8 and a half years and I've always had it in mind that 10 years is too long to spend anywhere. Not sure when I decided this, just looks like a long time written on a CV!
Of course this may all be decided for me, maybe they won't ask me for another interview!
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Crufts was lovely and I now have an even longer list of breeds of dog I'd love to have but can't. I could still breathe at the end of the day which was a bonus I wasn't expecting. The hotel upgraded us as well, so our room had a walk in shower that could have accommodated a rugby team. The enormous wooden framed bed looked great, but had hobbled both of us by the end of the weekend after we walked into the cleverly camouflaged edges. I have a talent for walking into things. My favourite is door frames, but I'm quite good with low tables as well. I've always resisted the suggestions of going skiing, I dread to think of the consequences...
Right, I'm off to do some writing. I really am. Just need to make one phonecall, a short one, no really!
Wednesday, 5 March 2008
I'm not sure I trust myself to fire it up though. I think I might need to wait for a crowd before being let loose on a cascade of flowing chocolate. Maybe with some strawberries, mmmm.
My usual chocolate habit is taken care of by Montezumas. Not content with having a store near where I live, they've opened another where I work. Financially astute for them, all too easy for me! If you get a chance try their chilli chocolate. First you just taste rich dark chocolate, but then you get just a hint of fire. They do a hot chocolate version as well, and no, I'm not on commission.
It seems even my rabbits have their own chocolate now. The pet shop are selling easter eggs for bunnies. I don't think they look like this one...
Tuesday, 4 March 2008
Monday, 25 February 2008
An hour later they've removed the pipe, dug some substancial holes and are calling for more help. So now I've got 6 workmen and a drive full of equipment. A few rounds of tea and coffee later and I notice one of the holes now contains a man in breathing apparatus and the man wrestling with the meter under the stairs is firing up a blow torch! At least it confirmed the smoke alarm was working.
The up side to all this, apart from not getting blown up due to gas leak, was meant to be a day where I would write, edit etc. I've spent most of today confined to the one room that was sufficiently air tight not to fill with either gas or smoke. Whilst I have done some editing it still doesn't seem to be very much. I think I'm getting lost in the scale of editing the whole thing. A large part of the editing is re-ordering bits that are in the wrong place. Even though it's on paper I'm finding it overwhelming to move around.
So now I have a plan. No, not a cunning plan. I'm going to write a single line summary of each scene and then I'll have everything in a few pages. I may even go crazy with a few numbers and coloured stickers. It might take a while but I think it will help get me out of this phase of getting nothing done.
I hear the blow torch again. These people know what they're doing right?
Monday, 18 February 2008
Words written last week - 0
Editing done last week - urmm, does dividing it into chapters count? Probably not since I didn't even get all the way through.
Blog entries - 1
Short stories contributed to Cloud line - 0.
Comments written about other people's entries last week, urmm, well.
I can see a very large red pen floating over me, writing out "MUST DO BETTER. SEE ME!"
I seem to been distracted by a large pile of things that need organising. For a start S's 40th birthday in a fortnight, present for same and holidays in general this year. Give me a list of options and I'll lose myself for days in working out the benefits of each and researching them.
This is especially true with holidays. There are websites, guide books, review sites and brochures to keep me endlessly amused with the possibilities. Finding holiday pics to put on here is also quite entertaining! The picture above is one of the scarily large cruise ships that suddenly appeared outside the hotel one morning in Key West. The one that parked right outside nearly gave me a heart attack when I walked onto the balcony. Watching something so massive manoeuvre is spellbinding. So now I'm thinking about going on one. The world's largest cruise ship is launched in April and if the ice rink, mini golf and rock climbing don't keep you amused there are always the ports it stops at...
Gratuitous, if fuzzy, rabbit picture whilst I'm leafing through them all.
Tuesday, 12 February 2008
We were there to celebrate an anniversary, which conveniently excuses us from the chaos of Valentine's day two days later, but what about the rest of them?
I caught the odd bit of conversation, terrible eavesdropping habit of mine that I excuse for the slightly shaky reason of being good writing material... There were a few after dinner drinks, a couple of women catching up, a birthday meal out. I can't say what the 60 or so other people were there for. Maybe I've just not been out much early in the week recently. I was worried it would be one of those evenings where you watch the door, desperate for some fellow diners to distract the staff who snatch your plates at the first opportunity. Tonight you had to catch the waiters before they reached light speed en-route to the bar.
I thought pubs were supposed to be falling on hard times? There was news of a brewery closing today due to the trend of people drinking wine at home. I don't think my local could handle an upswing in business, they seemed to be flat out already. Perhaps it was an epidemic of pre-valentine dinners. If the grumbling I heard at work today is an accurate representation, then the male half of the species does not relish the occasion. I was asked, being one of only two females in the building, "what is it with women and flowers?" I'm not that fussed about them myself, since many of them make me sneeze, but I tried to make the case for their long suffering wives and girlfriends (they live with engineers, they deserve something!) I tried to make the correlation between the number, style and quality of the flowers demonstrating how much they cared. I also pointed out that Valentine's day was a key date and would be much talked about amongst their friends. Some of them even looked quite worried. Cruel? Me?
Thursday, 7 February 2008
The list of side effects isn't much more reassuring since it covers the majority of the tiny print A5 leaflet. Apparently there's a chance of fever, sunburn, aching muscles and problems with the liver, central nervous system, bones and blood cells. No worries there then. How do they come up with these side effects? I've had slightly sore teeth this week, can I be added to the list? I could be published at last!
Given the myriad of conditions these pills cover I wonder if doctors prescribe them as a cover up? You've really got leprosy but they can tell you it's a throat infection. If they think a diagnosis of plague might cause alarm then it's a skin rash. I suppose it depends how long you've had it...
Wednesday, 6 February 2008
I did do better before Christmas when I had Lane's Finishers and the threat of her pointy stick to prod me along, but I'm not sure how. I don't have any kind of routine when it comes to writing. Since my writing time is confined to evenings and weekends it's always been somewhat haphazard. I have tried allocating evenings, or parts of evenings but it rarely seems to last. I've also set myself weekly word targets, numbered paper pages that I have to complete and set scene specific deadlines but these always seem to be short term measures. I think I need to get organised. But how?
Maybe short term goals are the answer. If I divide up that large pile of paper into sections for each week I have something to aim at. It's very easy to ignore the whole thing for days at a time. A chapter at a time would be a sensible division but I've yet to put any in! I'm determined to be more organised for the next one (hadn't really considered the next, there's always been only one!) and write a chapter at a time, in order and without using 20 different pukka pads. There's the contents of a small stationery shop scattered around the house and I live in fear of discovering another pad of paper with a plot line I'd forgotten about!
I know many people give themselves a reliable writing time by getting up an hour earlier. I just can't imagine doing it. I already get up at 6:30 to leave for work, any less sleep and I will be a true zombie. I will have to rely on the fear of not finishing to get it done and try and come up with new targets every couple of weeks. Even with my level of dedication I can usually manage to keep something up for a fortnight!
Friday, 1 February 2008
There are also mini courses on the Friday and Sunday as well as the one to one appoinments that I have yet to brave... These can be with agents, publishers or authors. The main aim of course being to pitch your novel to an agent face to face in your allotted 15 minutes. For the last 3 years I've deluded myself that there was no point booking any of these because I hadn't finished my novel. This is the year.
Meeting other writers is also a great part of the weekend and the Friday mini courses are a good way to do this. I've always come away with massively renewed enthusiasm for writing, having spent 2 days with a few hundred others all doing the same thing.
Although the website is good they also send out lovely little booklets with all the details, so get your name on their list to get one. There's something very satisfying about scribbling asterisks on the talks you might want to attend!
Thursday, 31 January 2008
My revolting cold has kept me off work and I just hope I didn't infect anyone yesterday! I managed to do a a fair bit of talking despite the dreaded gunge doing its best to remove my voice. Listening to everyone's enthusiasm for their writing was a real buzz and I can't wait to see the stories and novels they produce. Being around other writers is always the best incentive to get on with my editing as well. It's taken me far too many years to write this novel and it's time it got out there.
Wednesday, 30 January 2008
I must admit I got the blog title from one of my rabbits, Humbug. I'm sure Honey will feature in enough pictures on here in the future not to feel too neglected. It also seems appropriate because sometimes I wonder if I really am just writing nonsense. I'm currently editing my first novel which brings the scary stuff that much closer...sending it to agents. Must go and get ready or I shall miss my train!