Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Let's Move To...

Every now and then someone out there spots how fab the town where I live is.

In the past it's won awards / hit the headlines for being funky, having independent shops, being the 'lesbian capital of Yorkshire', saying no to plastic bags etc.

It's always fun to see the place as others see it. So I enjoyed this in the Guardian this weekend. It's almost recognisable as the place I know and love - not sure about the 'clog museum' though and there's no mention of our lovely National Trust woods or the surrounding hills and moors, but then if they made it sound too attractive everyone would want to move here and then we really would have to mention the parking.

At this point I really should say 'of course its nothing special at all, just an ordinary town that the Guardian gets excited about every now and again." But when I tried to write that I realised it wasn't true, or at least I didn't believe it. It's got as many problems as any small town but overall it is pretty special, so I think I'll just enjoy being proud of it a little bit longer.

The HB Handmade Parade

Wednesday, 20 August 2008


OK, so hubby liked the new idea for the novel. And after writing a whole chapter yesterday so, I've decided, do I. The section I'm writing at the moment is building towards the tippy most peak on my story arc. Just hope I can do justice to it when I get there.

In a couple of weeks time I will find out what my writing mentor thinks. I haven't mentioned her before now, but thought it was about time I did in case you all think I've managed to write almost 60,000 words without someone regularly whipping me.

Plenty of people manage to write entire novels without the help of a mentor/ whip wielding person but being a major procrastinator and having blinding moments of self doubt where I decide everything I've written is rubbish and have to start all over agiain , I decided I needed a helping hand / boot up the bum.

I considered doing an MA - I've a couple of friends who completed novels on an MA course and one of them has just found a publisher. But the cost and time commitment made that a no-go. When I heard about mentoring I realised it was just what I was after. There are various schemes out there. I chose this one - Gold Dust -because I wanted a particular mentor ( I love her books and was taught by her on an Arvon course).

We meet about once a month and discuss the 10,000 or so words of the novel that I've sent her in between. I've found it amazingly useful and inspiring having such an experienced writer to talk to. The deadline thing has worked a treat too- I have written 50,000+ words of my novel in five months - which is about 45,000 more than I've managed in the preceeding several years.

I'm not guaranteed a publishable book at the end of the 12 month scheme but even if this novel doesn't make it into the shops , I think the experience will have massively helped my writing.

Of course the downside is that there are very few free mentoring places out there. I applied for a grant for mine but didn't get one. I couldn't afford the course myself but was helped out by someone very wonderful and generous who believes in what what I'm doing (and to whom I am very grateful and will of course dedicate the novel if it ever does get onto the shelves in Smiths).

Anyway what with holidays and festivals and other such glorious stuff on the horizon I appear to have a deadline of tomorrow evening to get my next couple of chapters sent off to Mavis (not her real name but it will do for now), complete with new developments and an explanatory note about why several characters have completely disappeared and a brand new one has merged.

So I'd best get writing.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Premenstrual woman tries to hoover room that she can't stand up-right in.

It was never a good idea. Especially when said room had corners that haven't seen the light of day for months. The daughter sat a safe distance away and after ten minutes of watching me huff and swear and growl said "It's really sunny outside, why don't we go to the park?"

The park was lovely - I stood tall, breathed fresh air and ate ice cream, and crucially, didn't have to lug a hoover about. Now it is dark and nobody can see the dust anyway. The daughter really does have much better ideas than me.

I may have to consult her on the novel. As of yesterday morning I have 'completely rewritten' the central bit of my plot - there are new characters and everything. it seems a bit radical at this point - 50K words, but I just felt it was lacking something, that it was a bit 'so-what'. Tonight I am going to present the case for the new story line to hubby , who is very objective and incisive yet kind about these things.

Meanwhile I have been inspired by Tam, whose output on the womag story front has made me determined to try to increase my own. As have the successes of Calistro, womagwriter, Helen MH, Maddie Moon , Sally Q and Bernadette. Well done everyone.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008

Harlem River Blues

Is the title of the Fish Anthology 2008 - and I'm in it! Five copies arrived on my doormat this morning (well actually I had to open the door to the postman cos they were too bulky to fit thorough the letterbox, but you know what I mean) along with my Runner-up prize of 100 Euros. Hurrah!

The book is lovely - packed with short stories, poems and flashes. I haven't dared read my story yet, I'll save it til I've had a glass of wine or two. I've got a biog at the back too, which compared to everyone elses is a bit dull and straightforward, but I think my thrill at having made it to the anthology is pretty clear. The accompanying photo makes me look like I'm away with the fairies, but then maybe that day I was.

One quibble. It's not a big one, really, and I am honoured etc to be in the book and very grateful for my prize - but, they've spelled my surname wrong.

It was spelled right on the website and in all our correspondence, but has somehow lost an 'n' when it came to the printing of the book. Ah well, hubby says it will make the copies even more valuable when I'm a rich and famous author.

What to do with the five copies? Well there's one for me, obviously, and one each for mum and dad (after warning them about subject matter of story, although the title - The Job of Sex - might be a bit of a give-away). My local library is also getting a copy - the librarian is keen on short story collections and has already said she would like to add this one to the shelves. I think I will make the fifth one a generally borrowable copy - not that I think people will be queuing outside my front door desperate to read my story, but I know my writing group will be interested to see the stories that made the anthology and I might risk passing it round at book club, as long as they don't give me the forthright/incisive/no nonsense and usually spot on criticisms they give on the books we read (I'm published, it's enough, I'm not ready for reviews yet :o))

Also to be celebrated on the writing front, yet another day passes without the six stories I have sent out to womags being returned rejected - hurrah (again)

Shoe warning of the day - Don't let your children go paddling in rivers in crocs (or even fake crocs). They float far too well (the crocs that is not the children). One of Daughter's lovely streaky blue fakeys slipped off mid-paddle and disappeared downstream. It is currently caught in an eddy unreachable by arm or stick or oar from any bank. Unwadable to cos of steep drops on every side. Lost forever. Hoping it will become home/boat to small creature. Suspect it will become plastic pollution. We are going to grow cress in the remaining shoe in an attempt to redeem ourselves.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Running in Birkenstocks

Is not recommended. Not even when they are the flowery blue funky kind

Running in Birkenstocks is a bad idea, especially when your route takes you over cobbles still wet from the rain and you catch sight of a him and a her that you didn't realise had become a 'them' and you fail to see the cobblestone that is slightly bigger than all the rest. There is little consolation in being the owner of a juicy piece of gossip when you are prostrate on the floor with a bruised knee while the subjects of your gossip float by oblivious.

Running in Birkenstocks is particularly to be avoided at train stations. I was waiting patiently for my delayed train when there was a platform alteration at the last minute. Forgetting what was on my feet I ran, an extra-large not-yet-even-sipped cappucino in one hand, a stuffed to busting suitcase on wheels in the other. It had been raining (again). One minute I was running, the next I was flying - all limbs in the air suspended above the ground, then whoompf. The platform was very hard, and covered in hot coffee, and one of my sandals had disappeared. The guard blew his whistle and suddenly strangers appeared bundling me onto the train, mopping at my skirt with hankies, heaving my suitcase after me and, thankfully, one of them handing over the missing Birkie. They oohed and aahed at the blood oozing from my knee, but all avoided my eyes. I think they suspected I was drunk.

Ah well love them though I do I won't be running in my Birkies again soon. I did however find them very useful on my hols at the seaside. I clambered over rocks in them, played tennis, cycled, did a spot of archery and practiced handstands with my daughter (it's the modern Birkenstock pentathlon!). They also came in very useful as an anchor for a bodyboard on a windy day at the beach (anchored on the sand not the in the sea :o)) and as a holder for my cup of tea in the morning and my glass of cider at night (we were camping, if that makes that bit make more sense).

No more shoes in my next post I promise. I have things to say about writing . I really do. Honest.