Monday, 25 February 2008

Can anyone smell gas?

There's been a slight smell of gas outside the house for a while, ok, make that a year or so. I finally pick a day I can be here and phone the emergency number. Half an hour later a guy turns up, finds the leak in the rusty pipe outside and calls a crew. All very efficient.

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

Guilty as charged

I'm feeling guilty.

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

Tuesday night drinking and thinking

Just been out for dinner at a local pub (I know, blogging after a drink is rarely a good idea, but I've not had too much!) and was amazed at how busy it was on a Tuesday night. We ate in the bar as the restaurant was full. I assumed this was because it wasn't all open, but armies of people then trooped through the bar to both sections of the restaurant. What were they all doing there?
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

Just a minor dose of plague...

I was reading the leaflet that came with my antibiotics (slumped on sofa with no other reading material in reach and too lazy to get up just yet) and discovered that not only were they going to fix my sinus infection, but I was also covered for syphilis, leprosy and bubonic plague. As much as I'm reassured by the amazing abilities of these pills, I am slightly concerned that bubonic plague is such a popular condition it makes it onto the front of the leaflet.

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

What was I meant to be doing?

I've been trying to work out how I manage to write so little when I think about it so much. I'm supposed to be editing the first draft of my novel, yet 5 days seem to have passed since I last picked it up. Thinking about it and actually doing it seem very different things. It's something I enjoy doing yet I always put just about everything else first. Maybe it's my contrary desire to do anything but what I'm meant to be doing!

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

Winchester Writers' Conference

This is probably an odd time of year to be writing about this, but I keep checking their website to see if the 2008 listings are there yet. If you've never been have a look at their site here which still details the 2007 programme. The main part of the conference takes place on a Saturday, this year 28th June, and is a series of 5 hour long lectures over the day. Last year there was a choice of 12 talks for each hour, which makes choosing incredibly difficult. Writing is the only link between these lectures because they cover an enormous variety of subjects. Whilst one talk was discussing how to submit to agents, another was discussing short story writing with the next room detailing police procedures for crime novels!

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!