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Sunday, 29 March 2015

Why I want my missing hour back NOW!

In another universe, I'm not even up yet.  Or I am, but I'm bungling around in a dressing gown, clasping a mug of coffee and my head and muttering about it being the middle of the night.  You can tell this is another universe, because I don't have a dressing gown in this one and I don't drink coffee in the mornings.  I do, however, have a head, so, you know, point of contact and all that.

Anyway.  Last night the clocks went forward and somebody stole an hour of my life.  I know I get it back again in October, but that's like the time my electricity company decided to charge me £160 a month when I was only using £63 a month - I know I get the money back eventually, but that's no good when I need it NOW, is it?  And I don't know what I might be doing in October, I might have some particularly enthralling hobby that gets me out of bed at four a m (no, I have no idea what it could be either, but something that can get me out of bed at four in the morning must be particularly exciting. Maybe I'm dating Aiden Turner or something...

Yes, yes I would, and yes, I would have to get out of bed at four a m in order to be ready for a date at seven p m) and that extra hour is completely wasted...Hang on. If I'm dating Aiden Turner, and I get an extra hour in bed...

Sorry.  Disregard what I just said, would you?

Point I am making is... hold on, I had a point just a minute ago... too tired to remember.  I am sleep deprived and..oh yes, that was it.  An hour of my life has been snatched away, and nobody bothered to ask if I was using it or anything, they just snuck in in the middle of the night and took it away.  I might have been doing anything with that hour (see above, re Aiden Turner...) and now I have to wait until October for repayment, by which time inflation will mean that I'll only get forty-five minutes and a few seconds back, and if that happens to everyone in the country then somewhere someone is sitting on about 86 thousand years, which is going to get uncomfortable unless they have a very special cushion.

I'm deranged and rambling now. It's lack of sleep, that's the only explanation...


Sunday, 22 March 2015

I begin my latest Scribble Thinking, stare out of the window and hum a lot.

Last week I finished a book.  This week I'm starting one.

I know a lot of people like to take a 'book holiday' between their works of genius, but since my brain is prone enough to taking mini-breaks whilst actually in the middle of a book - lolling around on a sun lounger with a glass of Pimms in one hand and a HobNob in the other (a surprisingly satisfying combination, if you've never tried it), sunglasses on, and a defiant approach to deadlines - I already feel well rested and up for starting a new Work In Progress.  Although, since it is neither yet work, nor in progress, I feel a new term is called for.  Something along the lines of Scribble Thinking.

Although, since you already know about my lack of drawing ability, this could be my latest book or a picture of my house.

So I find myself at that exciting state of writing, ie, the one where you don't actually have to do any work other than thinking up character names and backgrounds, but you really want to.  In a couple of weeks, ie when I begin putting finger to keyboard, these positions will firmly reverse. I will have to do some work, but I will no longer want to.  This is the precise point at which Scribble Thinking becomes Work In Progress.  You will be able to time it exactly, should you wish... just ask me how the new book is coming along.  Whilst I am in Scribble Thinking mode you will get an answer along the lines of 'oh, it's great! It's going to be a Bronze Age time-slip story, and there's this archaeological investigation and this carved stone and lots of mud and archaeologists and...'  Ask me the same question once I've started Work In Progress mode, and you will be lucky to escape with the toggles still on your duffel coat.

So, I'm off to do some research now.  This mainly consists of staring at pictures of Tony Robinson, looking out of the window and humming tunes to myself.  If you'll excuse me...


Sunday, 15 March 2015

Why writing 'The End' is like weeing in public...

I am just about to finish a book.  Writing, I mean, not reading, because that's a whole different ball game of expectation versus reality and that sort of thing. 

This book, the one I'm writing, although obviously I'm not writing it right now because I'm writing this, which is part of the problem because procrastination... has been 'nearly finished' for about the last three months.  'Nearly' as in, within two chapters.  The end is so nearly in sight that it's like that bit at the end of a very long car journey, where everyone has been saying 'are we nearly there yet?' for the last hundred and fifty miles, and you've been saying 'nearly', until you actually are nearly there, when you turn round to discover that everyone's fallen asleep and then they get all cranky about arriving because you have to wake them up to get out of the car.  If you see what I mean.

Anyway.  I truly am 'nearly there'.  And you'd think, wouldn't you, that I'd be tapping away, racing through those last words to get to The End..?  Er, no. I'm more, sort of, not.

So, what is stopping me?

Two little words.  Two words that are not The End... Performance Anxiety.  Finishing a book is like weeing in public.  You know you really, really want to, and that if you don't, sooner or later something terrible is going to happen... but you just can't.  Because - and I stress this is to do with ending a book and not weeing - what actually comes out is never going to be as good as you imagined.  In your head the book is all shiny and perfect, not a word misplaced.  No slightly wonky synonyms, all your similes are spot-and apposite, everything is gaspingly, knee-tremblingly wow.

But then you have to do it.  And gradually you realise that... you could have done better.

And this is where the moist soft-furnishings of redrafting and editing come in.  You've done it, you've let it go, you've finally managed the wee, but you realise that you've got a lot of drying out and mopping to do before you can appear in public.  So, here is where I rely on the incontinence pants of beta-readers, who will wipe up the worst of my damp patches before my End is actually submitted.
You know who you are, and I am very grateful...

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Some of the inspirations for my WIP, plus my inability to draw. Also, Yorkshire is entirely built of uphill - discuss.

You may, if you are assiduous followers of my blog (and no, assiduous doesn't mean that your bottom falls off in winter.  Although, if your bottom does fall off in winter you may want to see a doctor. And buy thicker trousers.  I can help you no further on this.) remember my trials and tribulations when I started out on writing the New Book, back in ..err...well, it was probably about last summer. Ish.  The one about the tea shop and the big house and all that.  Before I got distracted by The Cough..yes, I am now living my life in the state of dating things by whether or not they happened in the days before I coughed myself stupid or after. 

A sort of Post Cough ergo Propter Cough, if you will...

Anyway.  That book, titled 'Crush' for the moment, is the one I am finally limping to the end of.  Of which I am finally limping to the end, for all the grammatic pedants out there.  So I thought you might like a small glimpsette into a few of the things that have gone into the making of this one.

Firstly, the site plan.  Now, rarely has the total and complete inability to sketch been a real drawback in my daily life.  Of course, it stopped dead my nascent career as an archaeologist, because there's quite a lot of sketching in that, even if it's only layers of earth, and, believe me, it takes quite a lack of any skill whatsoever to be unable to draw layers of earth in a recognisable form, but I can manage it.  Imagine archaeologists all over the country (all right, imagine Tony if you must but be careful, you will go blind) holding up matrix sketches, turning them sideways and saying 'no, I give in, is it a sort of dog?' and you will be close.  So, when it comes to sketching out the plan of the buildings and the layout of my story...well.  You get something like this...

And then I went to visit the house where I sort-of based my story...
Yep, that's me on the bench, all hunched and wearing all the clothes I possess.  I wasn't feeling well, all right?  I think you can see how my sketch and the reality bear absolutely no resemblance to one another at all?  I like to think of it as a kind of reverse-talent, and as soon as I find a use for it, you will be among the first to know.

I can't even draw a straight line WITH A RULER.

I have just noticed that the above sketch contains two uphills.  And now I can't remember if that is one continuous uphill, or whether it goes uphill in one direction and downhill in the other - well, obviously it does because that is how hills work, if they were uphill in both directions they'd be impossible.  Although I have been on walks (particularly post Cough) that do seem to be entirely uphill even when ending up back at the original starting position.  I am convinced that Yorkshire is not built on normal principles, and is entirely built of Uphill, except on those occasions when, eg, you drop the dog's ball and it rolls considerably further than either your, or the dog's, enthusiasm can take you.

There is also some of this...

In the book, I mean, not in Yorkshire.  Well, yes, in Yorkshire too, but you know what I mean.  And this...
And ghosts. But I can't find a picture of those. 

Anyway.  That's a little bit of what's gone into the latest book.  Now, I must stop procrastinating and actually finish it, otherwise this entire exercise has been a bit of a waste of time.

Except the cakes. Cakes are never a waste of time.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

I have The Poorlies and am taunted by my pets.

Sorry, am poorly. <cough cough>  One of those poorlies where you can't get out of bed, and if you can it takes ten minutes to get downstairs, where you have to stop and have a coughing fit of such magnitude that the small dog goes and hides in the garden.  Honestly.

This is me, at the moment.  I'd send you a recording of me coughing as well, but it wouldn't help, it would only make the dog hide even further down the garden.  I have no idea why she does it, I can only assume that I'm barking some kind of confrontation.  <cough cough>.

I tried lying on the sofa downstairs and all the animals thought this was a great idea, because it made them a lovely snuggly bed on which to stretch out, notwithstanding the fact that the lovely snuggly bed they were stretching out on was actually me..

And then they start playing...

Yes, despite the rolling eyes and the teeth thing, this is the terriers playing.  And then they jump on my head.

So, if it's all the same to everyone, I'm just going to stay here with the duvet over my ears for a  bit longer. <cough cough>.  Although, if this goes on for very much longer I'm going to go down the garden and hide with the small dog...