Friday, 22 March 2013
So why in the name of the Easter Bunny is the scene I've written NOTHING LIKE THAT??
It's all most unsettling. My very deep and emotionally loaded scene is now littered with other - very minor - characters, and instead of taking place in bleak, freezing February it's now June. The mood of yearning and despair that was supposed to pervade it has been replaced by a something less emotionally loaded, and whereas it was going to be the point where the dynamic between the hero and heroine really shifts, as it turns out they barely connect at all. Of course, as I write this it does occur to me that the changes I've made elsewhere were bound to have an impact so I suppose it's only logical, but it does still take me by surprise when the words I put on the screen end up creating a very different picture than the one in intended to write. Does it happen to other people, or is it just me?
The upside is that all the emotion that was supposed to be in that scene, with its shadowy chateau and candlelight and scratchy gramophone waltz (though the music in my head was this) now needs to go somewhere else. And so a completely new scene is taking shape, with rosy apple orchards and syrupy sunlight. And the music in my head is this. (DON'T LAUGH.) Ho hum. Onwards and upwards.
Wednesday, 27 February 2013
Yesterday I managed to get changed out of my pyjamas before midday and put on mascara and decent underwear and head down to London for the RNA RoNA Awards. I hadn't intended to go, being under a self-imposed ban on fun, frivolity and glamorous events, but last week (in the middle of half term, which might not be coincidental) I had a sudden craving for all of the above; as well as for the pleasurable ache you get in your throat and feet the morning after you've talked your head off in a crowded room for a couple of hours wearing high heels. It was a fab evening, and easily justifiable to my inner Writing Despot on the grounds that it yielded not only plentiful champagne, but also bucketloads of motivation from being surrounded by totally top authors (as well as the chance to meet the amazing Susanna Kearsley in actual person, which was pretty overwhelming as I'd spent the entire journey down engrossed in The Firebird. Honestly, at my age I really should be past blushing and stammering when I meet people, shouldn't I?) Because it was a fairly last minute impulse, I didn't stay the night in town, but if I had I would have liked to spend it here, which is where Abby Green and Heidi Rice partied into the small hours on the contents of a very luxuriously-stocked mini-bar.
Anyway, the news on the homefront is that my book is coming together, though my computer is falling apart. Remember the terrifyingly efficient Mac? *hollow laugh* It is no longer presiding over my cluttered desk with its reproachful sleekness, but is in some repair centre in Warrington where, I was informed this morning, it might remain for another three weeks. THREE WEEKS? Do they not know that I've set myself a deadline of May for this book and there's still an awful lot of anguish to endure (both on the page and in reality) if that goal is to be met?? Of course there's nothing to be done (although the mini-rant on the phone was cathartic) except keep going - on scraps of paper, on the Fisher-Price netbook and the backs of envelopes if need be. Luckily I'm at the stage where the story is vivid and immediate and writing itself, which is just as well as writing is a bizarrely ritualistic activity; generally I need to be in the same place, with the same mug, the same scented candle, listening to the same music,
It's been ages since I posted any writing soundtracks, so here's a bit of the music I'd be listening to, if I still had my Mac on which to listen to it. As it is, you can imagine me humming it tunelessly as I scribble away in my cheap supermarket notebook.
Thursday, 20 December 2012
I've been a really rubbish blogger this year, largely because, without the rolling drama of deadlines and new books to start every 4 months there's not much to write about. The book I'm writing is slowly taking shape into something that I could just about imagine submitting, though it's not finished yet. In writing terms, 2012 has been such a steep learning curve I've needed crampons and a grappling hook, and although I've mostly enjoyed the climb I can't help hoping that 2013 lies on more even terrain. (Paved. With benches placed at regular intervals along it. And nice shops.) Anyway, thank you everyone for loyally checking in to read my sporadic and less than scintillating posts (many of which seemed to centre around not posting much.) If I could send you all chocolate I would, but as that's not possible I'm going to give you the emergency recipe for brownie in a mug that's got me through many a day when the words aren't flowing. Give a girl a brownie and she'll eat for a day. Give her a recipe for brownie in a mug and she has a failsafe fix for a lifetime of chocolateless afternoons.
This has been our first Christmas for 13 years without nativity plays, carol concerts, the need to make 50 mini sausage rolls (or cheese and pineapple on sticks) for the class party or write a poem for the talent show, so thus far the run up to festivities for me has been marked solely by... shopping. Oh, and cleaning the oven. However, now I have declared myself officially on holiday am going to spend the rest of the afternoon watching low-budget, made-for-TV tearjerkers and eat the Quality Street I bought for the bin men and forgot to leave out yesterday.
Happy Christmas to all of you. Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, I'm wishing you love, laughter, hot baths and good books. And for the phone not to ring during the Christmas episode of Downton Abbey.
Monday, 19 November 2012
Tuesday, 16 October 2012
The mementoes she kept of her brother who died in 1920 - photographs of him in uniform, a postcard showing a picture of a French bar, a silk handkerchief embroidered with '1919 Souvenir de France' in large letters, and - most poignantly of all - his memorial card. Inside she's written 'My brother Harry. Died of wounds.'
(I wonder if the jardiniere stand that cost 16/11 to move in 1926 is the one in the photograph beside Harry?)
The menu from the dining room of the White Star Line's MV Georgic, in 1932...
(Saute of Veal Belle Meuniere and Puree of turnips, anyone?)
And this rather good news/bad news postcard from the British Red Cross, dated 16th August 1940...
'Very many thanks for the bedsocks - we now require 30 000 day socks...'
There's so much else too - ordinary items that somehow seem extraordinary because of the story they tell. The thing I'm going to miss most about my godmother is listening to her stories and raiding her storehouse of memories (as well as her biscuit tin, which was always stocked with the very best Foxes chocolate biscuits) to hear about the past. She couldn't have left me a more valuable legacy than those stories... except perhaps the possibility of new ones I discovered in the tins in the garage.
Monday, 17 September 2012
Cool professionalism was further undermined on arrival in the room where the lunch was being held (feel the urge to refer to it as 'luncheon', which tells you what kind of room it is) by the pink goody bags at each place setting. As someone who, over the years, has spent vast amounts of cash and many late nights putting together pink party bags for mini-guests at endless birthday parties this was a most pleasing manifestation of karma, though I have to confess that nothing as generous or exciting as Laurent Perrier champagne, Hotel Chocolat Kir Royale chocolates, candles or pink moleskine notebooks (with M&B logo) have ever appeared in a party bag of my creation.
It was a fabulous day, ending with a lovely, champagne-hazy evening at the M&B Author Toast (complete with dainty canapes, but no actual toast) during which conversation embraced such highbrow topics as The Actor Most Suited to Playing Christian Grey (Henry Cavill, obv) and Preparations for Childbirth (which I'm not going to mention, for fear of attracting the wrong sort of visitor via Google Search). The following morning I met Daughter #1 from the train at Euston as she'd been shortlisted in a poetry competition in Peterborough that evening, which was a fine excuse for a day in London first. Given the purpose of the visit and her literary leanings she was keen to make a pilgrimage to Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey, which supplied the cultural element of the weekend. Not only is she a talented poet, but she also has a prodigious skill in getting me to part with large amounts of cash, so after lunch I found myself in Topshop with my credit card in my hand. Seriously, the girl's a genius.
The evening's poetry event was hugely enjoyable and inspiring, not only because Sir Andrew Motion was the judge and gave a reading, but also because hearing the variety of styles and approaches to the theme in the shortlisted poems was so interesting. Also on the judging panel was the super-cool Mark Grist, writer and performer of one of my favourite poems of recent years. Check this out...
Anyway, yesterday was spent sitting on draughty branch-line stations in the syrupy autumn sun and waiting for delayed trains and missed connections to get home. The days when this would have been an endurance test of endless games of I-spy and Hangman are still fresh in my memory, but it was actually a joy to spend time with lovely daughter #1 and talk about things we never get a chance to at home, where conversations rarely progress beyond the number of wet towels on the bathroom floor or the whereabouts of my Touche Eclat.
Back at home the fridge was full (of slightly random items ordered by Him in the online shop) the fire was laid, and there was plenty of time to unpack, hug daughters 2 and 3 and chill the goody bag champagne before DOWNTON ABBEY.
(And that, ladies, is a whole new avenue of joy and the subject of a post all of its own...)
Wednesday, 5 September 2012
So the plan was that the moment the daughters were all out the door I'd be up to my office like a rat up a drain, typing away frantically and trying to get down all the fabulous, sparkly words and ideas that have glittered in my head all summer when I've been far away from a computer. Instead I spent the first hour wistfully sorting washing and feeling teary-eyed and nostalgic for the happy weeks of freedom from routine and time spent with lovely people. This year we timed our own prestigious Family Olympics to coincide with the similarly-named event in London, although as a member of Team GB I have to report that we didn't do nearly as well as the official team, despite my own gold-medal performance in the Sock Sorting event. After that, with scarcely a washing-machine-cycle's turnaround, we went off to St Ives, where the evenings were warm, the sea was clear and the surfers were plentiful. We'd chosen a house right in the centre of the town so the teenagers could come and go (and stay in bed) as they pleased, which seems to be the Shape of Holidays to Come. Am fleetingly sad about the passing of the sandcastle-building years, but on balance think that the going-out-in-the-evening and drinking-wine-on-the-beach years will have much to recommend them.
Back home again, the days settled into an easy routine of waking early and writing before the daughters roused themselves from their beauty sleep. I've been writing something a bit different which has been both challenging and fun, which I usually find a contradiction in terms. (Not sure whether the fun element was due to writing in bed, which adds a certain holiday atmosphere. Also, on the downside, a certain amount of toast crumbs. Impossible to write without devouring mini-breakfast, to boost creative energy levels.) The afternoons were given over to entertainment and adventure, and a good deal of extremely messy baking, so that the kitchen has become so covered in drifts of icing sugar it looks like Miss Havisham's dining room. It was only the prospect of cleaning it that finally sent me hurrying upstairs to blow the dust off the computer and locate the 'on' switch... (after which I spent a pleasant hour browsing the internet for new shoes - which are surely an essential compensation for the end of summer and onset of autumn?)
Hope everyone else has had a lovely summer and made a few more memories to add to the precious store we each carry with us. If there are any that you'd like to share I'd love to hear them...