Monday, June 30, 2008
The morning I spent at the hospital without an appointment waiting to see the doctor to give me Thyroxine prescription. They wouldn't give it to me without being seen by him despite the fact that I could, should I wish to, buy the medicine over the counter in Thailand. I only had to wait two hours... Carol, bless her, came with me.
For some reason, not even I'm aware of, I HAVE to update my ipod with all the things I'm almost certain not to listen to while I'm away. I have to do this ... even though I put money on the fact that I won't even put my earplugs to my ears for the next six weeks! I am still doing this... as I type.
I had to pack. Tick.
I had to do my words. Tick. I wrote 135 which was deeply disatisfying as I barely felt I'd got started - but that feeling is great. I celebrate that feeling most wonderously. Writing fiction used to feel a great big hurdle I couldn't manage, then I started the 100 words a day and slowly I've begun to enjoy writing again. I shall continue to aim only for 100 words as from tomorrow I will be knackered after my flight, but with the faith that I will want to write more as I return to normal. Faith and fiction haven't appeared together for me, for a very long time.
Next time I blog I will be in the UK. 'See' you all soon.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
I managed to paint the town a sort of pale pink (one gin and tonic) before deciding I’d rather go home and write …
Whatever has happened to me? I’ve been ‘doing my words’ as I call it, pretty much first thing. The last couple of sessions, I’ve started without having to talk myself into doing them and I’ve really not wanted to stop because I am enjoying it so much. Today the structure I’d been struggling with just sorted itself out in front of me and the reason … the thing that happens to make her run away … I knew vaguely what that was but didn’t quite understand the how it happened, and that just resolved itself too.
I really didn’t want to stop, but I’ve got so much to do before I fly on Monday night to the UK (Woooo hooooo) that I really had to tell myself that I’ve done my words and if there’s time again later in the day, so be it. If not, I’ll still have done my words.
I’m so looking forward to coming to England.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
I issued myself with a very stern ‘you are not allowed to go to the cinema unless you’ve done your 100 words’ warning. I even informed Husband of that fact which was, in retrospect, a mistake. No it wasn’t Husband’s fault – we were both pathetic. I did 247 words and he arrived home from work.
We lounged about on the sofa watching BBC Entertainment – which is our overseas BBC channel. No children appeared to say ‘Hannah Montana is on – can we have the TV?’ And we consumed the curry on the sofa (don’t tell the children) while watching Jack Dee in a programme where he’s a comedian … not much of a stretch to the imagination that one, but it made Husband laugh out loud and me snigger.
So it’s the cinema today instead. And I’m leaving you with a photo from my last trip to the cinema – last weekend with Son. Can you guess what we saw?
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Yeh heh heh*.
I have over 2,000 words. I have an opening. I am excited about my story. I will have something to show at the course in Sept/Oct.
I am determined to keep up the 100 (or more) words a day. It’s working really well for me. Despite the fact that on flight day and arrival day (Mon and Tues next week) it will be really hard. I will be tired and grumpy and feel that I deserve the day off. However, if I take one day off I will be able to take another day off… you get the picture. 100 words a day is doable even if I feel jetlagged and grumpsome. It is only 100 words a day.
* I'm not entirely sure what this means, but it's the noise I made when I clicked Word Count and saw it was over 2000!
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
I’ve solved my ‘my side of the bed’ problem. Do you remember this picture? Well I bought these funky shelves last week and they were delivered yesterday. I know they are very silly shelves – reminiscent of a sarcophagus – and not at all a sensible shape for books, but I fell a bit in love. You can also have them in a two by two shape (so versatile). I’ve moved my TBR pile from the overflowing shelves to the new ones and I have to come to terms with the fact that my TBR pile is somewhat decadent (please reassure me that I’m not the only one with an obscene TBR pile?)
I’ve been emailing my doctor brother to investigate the deaths in my books. This seems to matter enormously to me (I think I might be a frustrated doctor: I’ve always loved medical series and soaps and I rather pride myself on diagnosing Weil’s Disease or Munchausen’s before their doctors do.) In my story, both deaths occur before the story starts but I’m enjoying playing God with one of the deaths … a sort justice to the nasty behaviour of character. And funnily (or not) discussing the deaths has crystallised why one of the people behaved the way he did. It’s also solved a plot problem I hadn’t arrived at yet. I knew it needed solving but I hadn’t thought about how it would be solved. This medical condition means that we get a bit of a twisty turny plot solution by way of a medical history.
I’m still writing, thanks to the 100 words a day blog. I’m really wondering if Helen qualifies for a knighthood or sainthood or ‘services to literature’ to get all of us writing again. I must look into it.
Monday, June 23, 2008
I was having a beer with them in the night market when the mission came up. He hadn’t bothered to find out what she wanted and felt anything would do (Oh no, Man A, that is most certainly NOT the case). Husband (mine),
I was eventually dispatched into the market with a vague brief (honestly, anything I got would be better than that half witted, beer drinking man) and a more realistic budget. All seemed to be well. Bag was procured and I never heard anything else: Mission accomplished, I believe. Back at the beer drinking, I did relentlessly tease Man A that I’d hidden a little note inside telling his Significant Other that I, and not half wit man, had purchased the bag. I can guarantee that Man A spent half the night searching through the pockets of our purchase to ensure that Significant Other never knew I was involved.
So cue second mission. This one arose last Saturday with new colleagues in town and entails the procurement of my favourite ‘make’. Man B seemed happy enough for me to do the shopping. I was happy with the mission: emails were dispatched home regarding designs and colours (I don’t know if my part in the shopping is being discussed) and I’ve spent some of the weekend compiling a dossier…Man B has a hold on reality and has put forward a good budget. Tomorrow I make the hit.
So my question is this: if your Significant Other is on business somewhere famous for certain products and you really wanted him to come home with something for you, how would you feel about the situation? Would you mind him getting an ‘expert’ involved? Or would you rather he did the choosing and you risk getting something horrible?
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Saturday, June 21, 2008
What were you doing 10 years ago?
We’d just moved to Buckinghamshire. My children were four and two. I began a two year, two day a week art and design foundation course. Mondays and Tuesdays were my favourite days of the week. The rest of the time I was Mum.
Five things on your to-do list for today:
Write my 100 words a day
Fill out the Bupa health forms
Pick up Daughter from a party
Deliver Daughter to the next party
Clear up my pigsty like desk
What are three of your bad habits?
My tendency to ‘switch off’ when things don’t interest me.
My propensity to contemplate trying not to write.
What would you do if you were a billionaire?
Help out family.
Buy a lovely home.
Buy more handbags.
What are some snacks you enjoy?
Fruit bought on the street.
Dim sum in Sampeng Lane in Chinatown.
What were the last five books you read?
Storyteller by Kate Wilhelm (just because)
Inglorious by Joanna Kavenna (because a review in The Times interested me)
The Last Secret of the Temple by Paul Sussman (for Book Club)
Floor Sample by Julia Cameron (because she interested me)
Pillow Talk by Freya North (because it won the RNA Romantic Novel of the Year 2008)
What are five jobs you have had?
Data inputting – I was sacked for not being fast enough
Director’s Assistant in a property investment company
Assistant to the Director and Deputy Director of York Archaeological Trust
Administrator in higher education
Currently volunteer ‘webmaster in training’ for a charity
Five places that you have lived?
Kent – Ahh, the garden of England. I grew up here and it’s the setting of my current WIP. About a woman who, having exiled herself from her family, returns home from Bangkok for her father’s funeral to face the issues from which she ran away.
Hull – I was a student here – and remained to work in nearby York while Boyfriend, now Husband, finished his PhD. It was a fab place to be: beer was cheap; pies were cheap; housing was cheap - I bought my first home for £27,000 - and left considerably fatter than when I arrived.
Poole, Dorset – Another great place to live: the New Forest, the Purbecks, the sea and sandy beaches all on our doorstep. We moved there newly married for Husband’s first proper job and it’s where we had our children but god, how I miss the sea, still.
Bucks – We moved here for a proper grown up life - for Husband’s job which had him commuting into West London. Still a stunning part of England: gorgeous landscape but maybe a little neat and controlled after the wilds of the sea.
Bangkok – Well that one came out of left field, didn’t it? A simple text message arrived one Friday afternoon while I was standing in Ottakars bookshop in High Wycombe. ‘I’ve been offered a promotion in Bangkok.’ I texted back: ‘Blimey. And?’ and Husband wrote back: ‘So we need to talk tonight.’ I’m about to start my fourth year here and we’re hoping for a fifth so Son can complete his GCSEs, and then, who knows? (Well, actually, I do, but I'm not telling you because Husband doesn't know yet)
I don't always tag others but in this case I will: Leigh, Zinnia (though I'm not sure if she does tags), Jen, Helen and Fiona.
Friday, June 20, 2008
Thursday, June 19, 2008
What? You can’t write 100 words? Yes you can. That’s not a book, that’s 100 words – you can do that. You’ve been doing that for three days… And there I was back on track again. Hurrah for 100 words a day.
I do let myself get worked up about the little things. The details: my story opens with a funeral – and yes, we have a Humanist funeral expert in our midst – but this is a Christian funeral. I’ve tried and tried to talk myself into making him have a Humanist service, so that I can ask Zinnia, but it’s just not right. He wouldn’t. I’ve only ever been to one funeral and that was 22 years ago (OMG, can that be right?) So then I have to go and do some research …
A couple of days ago it was the layout of the village. Some of her progress through the village has to be in the opening: she hasn’t been home for 10 years or so. She doesn’t want to be there but she has to for her father’s funeral. How could I write her arriving home in the village without knowing the layout of the village? So I had to stop and make a map…
Then I get my knickers in a twist about layout of the ms. I know this can all be fixed at the end, but wouldn’t it be easier to know NOW and do it right now? Not everything can be left to be ‘fixed’ at the end. I’ve read the rules, and I’ve looked in books to get it right and my head just won’t absorb the information. How many times do I need to do it?
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
The word pitiful appears regularly in my head ... but I'm still giving a big, Thai kickboxing kick up the rear and rejecting it. I am spending time - lots of time - in front of my pc but I am very slow. Evidently I cannot just churn it out. I may have to come to terms with that.
I am also feeling a little under the weather (I will spare you the grim details) so any words are good.
There are now nine of us committed to 100 words a day - and we are all writing. Marvellous.
And now, I'm off for a while to read.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
‘100 words’ I thought. I could probably do that. I didn’t beat myself up about how little it is … do you KNOW how many fiction words I’m writing at the moment? NONE. So 100 would be 100 more. When the word ‘pitiful’ appeared in my head – I banished it. Helen suggested we might make more by Friday. An ongoing challenge. Fab.
I popped back over to Helen’s to commit to the challenge. And then I opened my 74 words of Novel 2, and I wrote a new 155 words. So now I have 229 words. I wanted to do more, but I also wanted to find it easy and pleasurable. And it was late in the evening …
So instead I prepared for bed with my book, and then I got a flashy light on my Blackberry announcing an invitation to Helen’s new blog ‘One Hundred Words A Day’. No excuses, just register ‘Done x words’ on the comments. And so we hope to rebuild our habit.
If you’d like to join us, send Helen an email and she’ll invite you to the blog.
Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got 100 words to write.
Monday, June 16, 2008
“I think the plan is to gather information now, find out who the characters are, and then write, write, write over July while I’m in England.”
No, you say, get on and write now. Caught procrastinating again!
I’m reading ‘Floor Sample: a creative memoir’ by Julia Cameron. Yes, THAT Julia Cameron: Julia ‘Morning Pages’ Cameron, whose ‘artist date’ is an essential for when the well feels empty. Flicking through The Artist’s Way in my final year of my fine art degree rescued me from a horrible and lingering ‘I can’t do this’ crisis.
I’m about two thirds through it and I really can’t put it down. She’s fascinating. Brought up a catholic she sought “a personal God … I wanted a God as intense and personal as my spiritual questioning. I wanted a God who just plain liked me.” She had a doomed marriage to Martin Scorsese – doomed essentially because she was an undiagnosed alcoholic and admits “I confused alcoholism with creativity.” She got sober (of course it wasn’t as easy as I’m suggesting) and draws parallels between reliance on a higher power working to help bring sobriety as well as helping to bring other things, such as ideas. Told by her sober alcoholic friends to consider God her new employer, she should appeal to Him for ideas.
Now I don’t have a faith – not a religious faith at all – but I am aware that faith … in myself or my ability or something - is crucial to being able to write or make art. I guess you could call it ‘confidence’ or ‘self belief’ but I don’t, it’s most definitely faith – I have pretty much zero confidence in my creativity. I think it’s also the subconscious rather than an external being (not that God has to be external – maybe that’s why He’s different for everyone) but it’s made me think harder about asking for help for the things I want to solve.
It’s also made me realise that ‘on flicking through The Artist’s Way’ isn’t really good enough. I am going to try to do the twelve weeks course from start to finish.
Sunday, June 15, 2008
A little while after I announced here that the characters were materializing inside my head and holding their own conversations, they disappeared. Perhaps they were shy or just a bit pissed off that I’d broadcast their appearance. I had a mild panic at their departure, tried to conjure them and then spent a few days thinking about giving up. I mean, really properly giving up.
See, I’ve got this writing course coming up, at the end of September that Husband is willing for me to go on, it’s not cheap and I feel it’s for serious writers. I don’t want to waste money. If I can’t make myself write fiction … what is the point of doing the course? What is the point if I want to write fiction but I cannot actually do it? I keep reading on the blogs that people are finishing drafts and making progress, and I wonder why you are all putting up with me. Why haven’t I been asked to relinquish my Novel Racer place to somebody more serious?
I am writing my blog and I’m writing my regular and one off articles but it’s still not enough. If I think about not writing the fiction I spontaneously weep. It appears I cannot give up which is rather a good thing, given I don’t think there is another thing in the world I want to do!
And then somewhere along the line, the cast of characters reappeared in my head. So now I am furiously scribbling notes, I’m reading well and I’m sort of hoping it’s going to be okay. I think the plan is to gather information now, find out who the characters are, and then write, write, write over July while I’m in England.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
I’m okay today. I’ve picked myself up, dusted myself off and started all over again.
I’ve finished my article. Isn’t it wonderful the way it works? The way, as you’re fighting through the words and ideas, that it just … sort of comes together? A bit like a puzzle, though I hate puzzles and don’t understand their place in the world. Particularly jigsaw puzzles; what are they for? When we’ve got books?
Anyway I think I like writing articles because it’s like solving a puzzle but I make my own rules. I don’t always know what the rules are before hand – which can tip me off balance - but somehow it becomes clear to me during the process.
The pessimist in me might ask ‘why I can’t do this with fiction’, but the realist would say ‘because you haven’t/don’t do it enough.’ Finally the optimist would say ‘if you do it more/enough, this will happen’.
And then I start to realise I’m having conversations with three parts of myself, which can’t be healthy.
So now I'm off to do some website stuff I've promised ... it's coming Louise.
Monday, June 09, 2008
I was delighted to see six friends and Novel Racers had been selected: Leigh Forbes; Deborah Carr; Jenny Maltby; Helen Redfern; Kate Kingsley; Zinnia Cyclamen.
I am trying very hard to develop a thicker skin as I type because I wasn’t selected, but a tiny weeny piece of me is relieved that my horrible piece of writing never needs to see the light of day. Just to torment myself I went back and reread it this morning.
I went through all the usual reactions: shouting at Husband that his bloody alarm clock was going off loudly and enthusiastically while he snoozed on; self loathing; desiring to give up; wondering why I was doing this; deciding that I was shit; deciding that I was wasting money; apologising to Husband; big fat sloshy tears; feeling relieved that this horrible piece of writing wasn’t going to represent me; wondering what in god’s name I could do if I wasn’t ‘trying to write’ (probably the most depressing thought because I’m clean out of ideas.)
Anyway, despite the wallowing in self pity, I can’t quit just yet because I’ve got a cursin’ deadline tomorrow, and a pile of crap writing to knock into shape.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Saturday, June 07, 2008
(I woke this morning - Sunday - with a feeling I've reposted this before ... I toyed with removing it, but then decided I hadn't called it Lazy blogger for nothing!)
Friday, June 06, 2008
Not being one who works conventionally, I don't normally phew with relief at Friday. Apart from the family being mostly home all day on a weekend, I still potter about doing my artwork, website work, writing articles, planning to write novels and reading. But today, Oh I am glad it's Friday.
I'm not sure why. There are only three weeks of school to go til the end of term ... (we're back to school mid August, so don't go thinking we get three months break!) and I must confess I could do without the 5.45am starts to the day.
I was out last night, which might account for my lethargy. I went to see Sex and the City. I never watched the series *winces at the gasps of disbelief* but it was too good an invite to miss. The British Club in Bangkok had hired a VIP cinema to host a women only viewing of the movie (a couple of men did sneak in; nobody stoned them for being there, but Husband would have killed me for taking him along to it. Pah, no danger of that, this was a Girls Night Out.) The British Club hired the cinema, and then to make up the numbers invited the British Women's Group and the American Women's Group to attend. A glass of wine, a radioactive looking soft drink and rather splendid canapes were served, then coke and popcorn during the movie. The cinema seats recline: feet up and back ... well, back. And you get a blanket, which was just as well because the aircon was blowing a proper gale of about minus something.
I was at the British Club itself earlier in the day for a committee meeting and I managed to wangle an article in their magazine, Outpost, providing it's not too promotional, about my Andaman Discoveries trip - see November 07 for posts about this. However, the deadline is Tuesday! Aaagh. We never heard anything back from the Bangkok Post about my rewritten article, so I'm going to get going on finding somewhere else for that. Now that it's
Anyway, so there I am: glad it's friday.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Let’s just declare, here and now, that they’ll be none of this tea CUP talk: this is a place for MUGS only. Proper sized mugs.
It appears on examining my cupboards that I buy mugs in pairs. This was quite unconscious and it’s not so Husband and I can drink out of matching mugs (excuse me while I vomit) it’s so that if one is dirty I have another clean one. Or perhaps if I should drop one…
- They have to be the right size: Big, but not oversized. This is so that the teabag to water ratio is correct, obviously.
- They must not be chunky pottery. Bone china is ideal but not essential. If the ceramic is too thick the tea won’t taste right.
- They cannot have colour on the inside: they must be white. This used not to annoy me until HPoP pointed out that you can’t see the colour of the brewing tea. Fair point HPoP.
Anyway, I think those are the basic rules. And now here are the mugs:
I’m rather fond of these although I don’t use them on the basis that the tea to water ratio fails. They are tall but very slim. I bought them in TK Maxx because they got slightly squidged when their clay was wet.
I bought these very cheaply in Sainsbury. I think they’re beautiful. They have a special glaze on them that you might be able to see in the one on the left. I can’t use them unless all the mugs in the house are dirty, because they aren’t white inside.
These are rather special because I bought these when we moved to Thailand and our house contents were still being shipped. We bought 4 plates, 4 knives, 4 forks etc and these two mugs. They were reduced to 90 baht each which is about £1.40. They are almost perfect: my first choice of mug from the cupboard.
These I bought in Central because I fell in love with the pattern. They are good mugs to use, but they haven’t quite got the je ne c’est quoi of some of the others.
This mug I bought on Monday from Starbucks. It’s a good size; I love the design and the colour. It’s not the perfect mug though, just the one I’m infatuated with at the moment.
And now I tag: Oh any of you daft enough to have conversations with yourself about your teacups.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
And I’m now the proud owner of a new bank book and a new card! Hurrah.
I won’t be putting them anywhere safe, anytime soon.
2. I’m a great believer in the value of pottering. I believe it has the same therapeutic benefits as stroking a cat.
3. My sister pointed me in the direction of this blog. I am sorely missing on the domestic front despite wishing somewhat that it would fulfil me.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
I come from a family who promoted such things as being ultimately healthy. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Dad promoted picking out the weevils/cutting the mould off the cheese or bread or jam and eating it anyway: ‘it won’t do you any harm’ was an oft heard saying in our home. Husband won’t eat cheese at my parents’ place after a particularly nasty anecdote which I refuse to share in public. He’s actually frightened of my Dad’s cheese plate; no, genuinely frightened. It’s quite understandable give the signs of life that have been spotted therein.
Once my Dad, a doctor, gave me some antibiotic eye cream for an eye infection I’d got. Towards the end of the treatment I discovered a paw print on the tube of the cream. Further examination saw the declaration: for animal use only. I must’ve been about 14 and I flounced into the kitchen brandishing my moral high ground in the same hand as the offending animal eye cream. Dad just chuckled ‘it’s gone, though, hasn’t it?’
So I stood in the kitchen this morning, looking at the weevily thing, wondering what to do. They look a bit like linseeds, do weevils, but linseeds don’t have legs and move about the nuts, seeds and grains. I wondered briefly if I picked out the moving ones and eat it anyway would I come to any harm. It might even increase my static iron count; I could probably do with the extra protein. But it was nearly the end of the packet, so I tipped it all into the bin and open up the new pack.
I had a quick check for blunt ended, moving linseeds and then mixed up my muesli with the natural yogurt and crab apple, thinking ‘oh well, it’ll give me something to blog about today.’ I came down to my office to eat my cereal and check out weevils on the internet.
Bugger, I really wish I’d waited until after breakfast.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
I thought Harrison Ford was gorgeous still, if a little slower! I was surprised to find that the actor playing his son was Shia LaBeouf, who played Stanley Yelnats in the film of the book Holes by Louis Sacher. Now, that's a fab book and film.
And talking of not wanting silly, escapist adventure in my books, I have managed to finish this month's book club book: The Last Secret of the Temple by Paul Sussman. It wasn't remotely silly and only a bit escapist, but it was quite an adventure. Lots and lots of research must have gone into that book, and I enjoyed it, but it's not one I'd have selected myself. However, that is the pleasure of book clubs.
And now I'm off to choose my next book to read. My choice. Lovely.