Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Trying to be good

My lovely pots are still blooming!

I'm trying to be good today and not fritter time away by blogging or reading blogs but it is so dam addictive reading other writer's blogs. They all have such a unique take on the craft, the process and the 'hanging in there no matter what.' I like to hear the same encouraging words about the writing process from lots of different 'voices' because we all phrase it in different ways and sometimes you can hear the same piece of advice 5 times and yet it only sinks in from one person. It's great when you make that connection and finally you get it.

I was feeling very grumpy yesterday and quite discouraged about my ability to get my second draft completed - I feel heaps happier today - partly due to my lovely husband who is always supportive and partly due to the natural rhythm of life where 'this too shall come to pass' applies - in my case my glum mood. I also feel cheered by reading some writer's blogs to start this sunny day. So, now I'm off to write!!!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Grumpy Tuesday

I just had to post this pic of my veggie lasagne!!! I've made it twice now in the past week and since it is the first new recipe I have attempted to cook for about 5years I am very excited!!!!
Our jolly milkman woke me at 6am this morning as he was laughing and bantering with some noisy neighbour - how could they be laughing at 6am???? I'm not a morning person so this is a mystery to me - I don't really start functioning properly until about 10am. Though I do make a good show of being awake before then - it is all an act!!! I eventually fell back to sleep and into such a deep sleep (the kind where you feel like you are emerging from the bottom of a mud pit when you do wake up) that the alarm ringing at 7:30 was a hideous shock. I now feel out of sorts and then my wireless connection decided to be stubborn and won't work so I am hooked up to my 'old fashioned' modem which means I am bound to sit at my desk rather than sprawl on a sofa!!

I'm also having a little writer's worry than I will never manage to finish the next draft of my novel - Oh dear - I think I'll need my emotional crutch today - chocolate and I was trying to be so good and resist temptation. Today I am weak. Luckily there are a few choccy morsels in the fridge left over form the weekend. I shall have a nibble then talk myself back into a cheery mood. I feel better already for just writing the above - think I've exorcised some of the grumpiness!!!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Fantasy writing spot

This is where I'd like to be today! Just me, my laptop and a chilled glass of champagne - I'd do a bit of writing then I'd take a nap - Bliss!!! I'm really tired today after sitting up in bed until 1:15am reading a Michael Crichton thriller - Next. It has quite a lot of biomedical jargon in it and a gazillion characters but I'm hanging in there as the story has me hooked. I was really tired as well after going to the gym and doing the exercise class from hell. I should have known I was in trouble when the instructor began talking about 'military style' exercises. Now I know why I never ran away to join the army - they have to eat rations and DO killer exercises!!!
No, give me the setting above any day and I'd be quite happy. Shallow I know - but it's Friday and it's been a long week! Looking forward to the bank holiday weekend - I plan to spend a lot of it either in bed, on the sofa or on a sunbed if the predicated heat and sunshine comes through - Bliss!!!!!
And there will be champagne - for no reason - other than pure enjoyment. AAhhhh.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

In the moment

I read a quote in the weekend papers that resonated with me. I don't remember who it was (obviosuly my champagne consumption on sat night is haunting me!!!!) It was by a woman who was born in one country and now lived between two others and she said that she worked out a long time ago that she couldn't wish she was in one place when she was in the other - otherwise she would go mad.

I really liked that. Simple but powerful. I have a life that is split between the UK and Australia and sometimes when I think about my life back in OZ and the people there I love and miss I do feel a kind of madness descend and an overwhelming feeling that says I 'can't believe I'm not there right now.' But I am a great follower of 'living in the moment' and this does the trick for me 90% of the time. I'd love a magic wand or a tardis so I could live equally between both but all I have at the moment - which is quite a lot - is the feeling that I am content living in the moment - whether that means looking out at the lush South Downs on this bleak summers day or living a nomadic existence out of a suitcase when I'm back in Oz visiting family and friends.

I've realised that as you go through life and meet people that you form lasting friendships with - it is likely that no matter where you are - there is always someone that you'll be thinking about and missing. The upside of this is that I feel lucky to know and cherish a disparate group of people.
I'll never stop looking for that magic wand though!!!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Saturday Night

When I was in my early twenties the idea of having nowhere to go on a Saturday night was quite horrifying. Staying home alone when my flatmates were out at a party or away for the weekend was enough to force me to question whether or not I was a social pariah. It was a bit Bridget Jones on occasion - just me - a toasted tuna sandwich (I couldn't cook at all back then), a bottle of whatever cheap wine my meagre student income would allow and dire Saturday night TV.

These days the idea of having a Saturday night home alone is cause for great excitement. I get in my pyjamas early - have a bottle of bubbly chilling, a couple of good DVDs (by my standards - which is why I wait until I'm home alone to watch them!), large slab of chocolate and the take away menu at the ready. Utter Bliss!

BUT - there is still a thrill of excitement connected with socialising on a Saturday night. For a start you usually don't have to get up early the next morning and there is often more time to ponder what to wear and have a leisurely time getting ready. On Saturday night we did the loveliest kind of socialising. We went to a friends house a couple of hours drive away - stayed the night in their lovely guest room, sat nattering for several hours with tasty snacks and bubbly then the took us out to dinner at their local Indian, then we returned for further drinks, laughter and chatter.

It was a fantastic night and if I had known all those years ago when I sat home alone on a Saturday night that there were nights such as this one ahead of me, I would have relished my solitude and perhaps even done something useful with the time - such as study!!!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Utopia no more

Well this is the tale of my vege lasagne I cooked last night. First of all our friends arrived for dinner but the doorbell wasn't working so they were standing outside knocking and pushing the doorbell to no avail - we didn't hear a thing. They had to ring us to come and let them in. So we're all settled in the sun room having a drink and nibbles and I had the lasagne in the oven doing it's 40min cooking. The timer goes off and I swan into the kitchen after announcing that I would be serving in 10mins. Smug chef that I was I had made the salad and side dishes earlier!!!! I go to the oven and the first thing I notice when I open the door is lack of heat - Hmmmm - and the lasagne looks the same as it did when I put it on.

I had neglected to turn the gas up to 6 and it remained on preheat. Back to the guests feeling less smug with another bottle of wine in hand. Of course they had announced on arrival that they were starving as they had been gardening all day and forgot to have lunch!!! I open more nibbles and endure the good hearted (and deserved!!) ribbing. Finally the bell pings again and this time the lasagne looks and smells delicious - Wow I was so impressed. And the best bit - it tasted yummy and everyone had seconds.

All in all a fun evening and I feel proud of myself for attempting to cook a new dish. I was a borderline failure at school in domestic science - sometimes it shows - and sometimes I manage to get away with it!!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Domestic Utopia Part Two

Feeling smug today as our bedroom is now looking rather fab after my Herculean cleaning and clearing effort yesterday - didn't quite make it to my decluttering the wardrobe but feeling good anyway. I also did something I never do this morning - I went to the supermarket early and did the shopping before starting work for the day!!!! We have friends coming for dinner and I am going to cook a dish I have never made before - risky I know - as usually I would do a trial on family and check for unhealthy reactions - BUT - it's only vegetable lasagne - what could go wrong????? Hmmm.

We're on a high here in our household - A level results are in and our eldest got 2 As and a B - I currently have her anchored to the dinning table as I fear she will float away with happiness!!! I might have to join her. Her place at the uni of her choice is confirmed and I think her younger brother is in measuring up her bedroom in his anticipated move into the the 'big' bedroom when she leaves in a few weeks time for the spartan world of student accommodation!

I now have a few hours to myself so shall stop blogging and get writing. Oh, almost forgot to mention the sun is shinning - this day could be no better!!!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Domestic Utopia

My brief stay in a lovely, minimalist hotel on the weekend has given me a nasty dose of domestic envy. It's not that I don't love our home - I do - it's just that at the moment we seem to be struggling to keep it tidy and complete all those jobs we started. My idea of domestic utopia is where you can open any cupboard and know exactly what's in it - and when you need to put something away again it has a dedicated space and I don't mean the sort that needs you to push it in with your foot and slam the door quickly before it all falls out.

I'm not sure how much time I waste looking for things in our place, probably at least the equivalent of writing a chapter a week. Our bedroom currently looks like someone returned from a tour of duty and tipped their kit bag upside down on the floor and then riffled through the contents, spreading them randomly about the room. If I want an item of clothing out of my wardrobe I simply scavenge at the bottom of it knowing I stand a better chance of finding it there rather than hanging up. My wardrobe utopia? I open the door and find exactly 12 items hanging up, they are all clean, ironed and interchangeable. There are no odd coloured items that I bought on impulse one day when I was feeling bold. No, 80% of the clothes are black and the rest add a splash of colour that I can cope with.

My study conforms to my idea of domestic utopia for the most part and I love it. Today's task is to tackle the bedroom. The weather is fowl, house is empty and I have nowhere to be. That seems to equal a day dedicated to creating domestic utopia. I can't even think about writing whilst I have this chaos around me. I need to clear the physical decks around me and then, just maybe I can have a few hours to write tonight when I have the house to myself once again. That would be a treat - tidy bedroom and some writing time.

Oh and as a reward I have a massage booked for the end of the day. I shall feel guilty if I go and enjoy it without having earned it. I'm off to hunt in the kitchen cupboard for the Mr Sheen and several garbage bags. I feel in the mood to scrub and cull.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Love hotels!!

Oh I love hotels - someone else to load the dishwasher, make the bed, do the cooking and make me cappuccinos on demand - Bliss!!! I have decided that I am really meant to be leading a different life - one where someone else permanently has all the above responsibilities and I just swan around in a flowing caftan and turban snapping my fingers!! Yep and then I woke up and remembered this was just for one night. We had a mid school holiday treat and stayed with the kids in a lovely hotel near Blue Water shopping centre (huge mall for those who don't know it - in Kent) and spent the day shopping and eating and then went to see the new Harry Potter movie in the evening - in a cinema with sofas - that was the best bit!!! We all had our feet up and disappeared into HP world for a delicious couple of hours.

We were only at the hotel for about 18hrs but made use of the pool, gym. coffee shop, bar and restaurant. On the Sunday morning the active family members (everyone but me!!!) got up early and went for a swim whilst I lay in bed wrapped in the hotel fluffy robe, with a face pack on doing some writing with lovely classical music in the background - bliss!!!! We then feasted on a fantastic treat of a breakfast before hitting the shops. Could I have been any happier???? Definitely not! I'm trying to stave off the reality of Monday but its forcing its way in. Ah well - caftan and turban back into the wardrobe until the next escape.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Friday Already

This has been a mad and crazy week at the paid job and I have not had a chance to write or work on my editing. I have sat morning to myself and shall hide away and continue reading my first draft. It is funny how you start to notice your own mannerisms in your writing - some of them good and some of them just plain annoying. I'm trying to banish certain bits of 'me' from my writing. I know it is inevitable that aspects of me will appear and I think it is tricky trying to analyse which bits are the unique elements that you need to keep and which bits you need to bin. It can be a it cringy hearing yourself on the page. Perhaps I'm just not experienced enough yet at reading my own work. I plough on - strangely enjoying the experience.

Off with the family to see the Harry Potter movie on the weekend in a cinema that has sofas!!!! We're all very excited.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Gorgeous Day

The sun is shinning here on the coast and I'm in my shorts!!! Very exciting - The Aussie in my just has to be outside on a day like this so we're off to buy a new sun umbrella for the patio then I'm going to lie on a sunbed to finish Souvenir - I'm totally hooked on it and need to know where it's all heading. I shall try and do some writing later when the sun sets.

Still fighting the anxiety of being close to submitting to agents - it's almost too scary to contemplate - because I know that once I open that door I'm laying myself bare. There is something safe in keeping your writing close and something very scary about venturing into the 'business' side of it. Maybe I'm just feeling this acutely because I'm not quite ready to submit. Perhaps I'll feel bolder when I can sit back and say 'OK' it's time for the jiffy bag. Who knows?

I'm beginning to wish I'd paid more attention to science and maths at school and had a job that deals with black and white, right or wrong...too many variables in fiction but I know that's what makes it exciting. And I'm sure that science is also plagued with 'if I go down this path...etc etc.'

Ah well for now it's off into the Sunshine!

Thursday, August 02, 2007

All in the timing

I had an idea for my next novel quite a long time ago and had begun making notes and was getting quite excited about starting it. Then I was watching a movie on the weekend that had a scene shot in a place that reminded me of a house I used to live in. This led me to thinking about that house and the life I led whilst there and the people who were in my life - some of whom still are and a few I haven't seen for years. That night when I went to bed I woke up about 3am with an idea for a story. I scribbled it down (for once I actually forced myself to turn on the light and use my notebook!!!) and when I woke up the next morning and read it back a novel idea clicked into place. This is going to be my next one. I can't believe that only two years ago I had never even thought of writing a novel. Even though I've always written I just never considered the novel as a form for me. Now I have a completed first draft and ideas for two further books - how did that happen?????

Anyway I have a question I'm grappling with at the moment as I read through and make notes on my first draft (up to page 169 of 297) - When do I really start on the next one? I'm not sure on this. Will I get myself tied up in knots if I make a start on a fresh story whilst redrafting my current one? Is it really just up to me to find a process that works for my style? Should I wait until I've sent 'Support Act' out to Agents and then get cracking on the new one?

I can't quite believe I'm even thinking about this - amazing!!!! Well it's back to work for the afternoon with the red pen.