Monday, November 26, 2007

An Exercise in Definition

I've spent much of the day searching for a word. I've looked like a proper writer (albeit one with a poor vocabulary) with dictionaries littered all over the desk, Roget's Thesaurus lying about, and a study full of loving children. (I'm bored. Can I play on your computer? Oaww, but that's not fair. Waaaaah.)

The word I was looking for was verbal. I think. I'm still not sure. It was the best fit.

Now, please, before reading the rest of this post, read my Message (20:46), and tell me how you think the writer is describing her cousin - this exercise is optional, but I am interested in your thoughts!

I wanted a word that meant "formed of words" (not letters, not parts of words, not spoken words, etc.). I wanted to convey an image of the writer's correspondent as a person formed only of written words.

This has been a fascinating exercise for me, and verbal is not the word I expected to settle on. I have learned a lot about the structure of language, in telephonic company with my Dad (to whom I turn at times like this), and also about various art forms using words.

During the course of the day, I met: semantic, morphemic, calligrammic, epistolary, syntactic, and many others. None of them the right word, but all very interesting. Do you know what they mean? I didn't.

The word I really wanted was logoral, but it doesn't exist.

Next day Addendum: My father phoned back this morning, just after the 8am Messages deadline, to suggest verbiform. This doesn't exist either, but it is perfect, and I reckon I could have got away with it. He would have rung earlier, he said, but he didn't want to wake me up (I think he forgets sometimes that I have kids).

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Poorly-Baby Wallah Blog

I have been absolutely nowhere this weekend. I only set foot outside in order to drag the small girl off the trampoline (she's still in plaster, you know).

Instead, I've been wallah for an adorable, but poorly, baby. She has given me the odd five minutes here and there, but otherwise I've had to carry her around since yesterday morning. She does, bless her, sleep very well and this has been my only respite.

Having finally started to recover from the various crises, which have seemingly plagued us for the last six weeks, we had invited lots of people round this weekend. So, yesterday, while Himself was out doing something more important, I prepared everything for a dinner party (including sweeping four million toys into already-overfilled cupboards)...while jiggling a grumpy baby. Today, while Himself was out doing something more important, I made prepared lunch for some seldom-seen, and much-loved (and very tolerant), friends...while jiggling a grumpy baby.

My arms are tired.

I have, however, somehow managed to post my Messages. I am pleased with them, and am not really grumbling at all (unlike the baby).

Saturday, November 24, 2007

First Letter Meme

I've pinched this meme from Lane, who in turn snitched it from Jen. I quite liked the animal theme, and so I am going to re-introduce you to Rudy (of under-the-desk-vomit fame).

Rudy is a rag-doll, the largest breed of domestic cat, and so called because of his habit to go floppy when picked up. This just about says it all (psst... don't mention the pink nose; he's a boy):

R - Raucous. When I want something (food, to go outside, food, a cuddle, food, to go outside, food - you get the picture?)
U - Undeterred. Even when the rabbit is larger than I am.
D - Dim. People will tell you that cats are intelligent. I'm not.
Y - Yes. Is the answer to any offers of food, even if it's not actually offered, and even if it's still on someone else's plate. I don't mind. I'm not fussy.

I now tag...Smudge.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

A Room of my Own: Progress Report

I have been doing so well.

I have blitzed the kitchen, the utility room, and the study. Well, my side of it anyway; I don't go over to the other side, because don't have access to any rough-terrain gear and Kendal Mint Cake just now.


See that lovely leather-topped desk. See the shine on that beautiful formica gate-leg table; isn't it wonderful?

You might just be able to see in the second picture that I have stuck that photo of my loft on the wall, where it will provide inspiration should I start to show signs of slacking.

While clearing my desk I have thrown away:
1. Eight years' worth of interest-rate-change notifications from the bank.
2. Forty-six opened (and, thus, empty) envelopes.
3. Reams and reams of paper with absolutely-nothing-of-any-interest written on them.

I have so far resisted throwing away:
1. Our most recent bank statements (which I would dearly love never to see again)
2. Old Christmas cards (particularly those from people who are now dead).
3. Any of my children's drawings/scribbles/paintings, even though I have no idea when, or by whom, most of them were made (or even if they're by my children at all).

I have also caught up with eighteen months of personal correspondence (aka hand-written letters on Basildon Bond). I am particularly pleased about this, because I am very fond of all my ancient aunts and not-so-ancient cousins, and I like to hear what they're up to, as well as bore them with all my news (children/children/children + photos of children).

I realise I have now become my grandmother, and look forward to inflicting on the family, Sunday-afternoon readings of letters from people that the kids have never heard of. Marvellous.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I have a Dream

I have long held this dream, and it is for:

in which to write.

Now, all the rooms in our house are occupied by small children and/or their stuff. The garage is full of man stuff, and the shed (which is supposed to be mine) is full of man stuff that doesn't fit in the garage.

So, the only other place is the loft. Here is a picture of our loft.

You will see that the loft is also occupied by stuff (please note my fine collection of empty cardboard boxes) but, seeing as there is nowhere else to put any of this stuff, because everywhere else is already full of stuff, I have decided to


As an obsessive-compulsive hoarder, I have never thrown stuff out, and I get a bit shaky just thinking about it; but, for the chance of having my very own place, for all my stuff (and in which I can hide away with my laptop, of course), I have decided to become a new me. A me who no longer keeps the cloying but-it-might-be-useful-one-day stuff.

To that end, I have in the last few days thrown away my collection of tumble-dryer fluff, 186 empty plastic bags (I had to count them first, mind), and the outer packaging from five-years' worth of nappies (don't ask, I don't know the answer). This is a good start. When I've had a cup of tea and some chocolate, I might feel brave enough to chuck some more.

(Today's Message posted at 10:22)

Another Novel Idea

Just got back from a night out at the pub, where we ran into some dear old friends (hence the particular lateness of the hour). Unfortunately, the conversation turned to writing and I have come home with an already-quite-detailed idea for another damn good novel, to add to the three I already have in waiting.

If only I could find the time to actually write something down (other than my Message - 00:39).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

A-Whole-Evening's-Worth-of-Procrastination Meme

Thanks for the tag, Sally!

Five Gentlemen I'd Like To Have Round for Tea
Sir Jimmy Young
Sir Bob Geldof
Tom Lehrer
Richard Branson
Trevor Baylis

Five Ladies I'd Like to Lunch With
Dame Maggie Smith
Dame Judi Dench
Zoe Wanamaker
Victoria Wood
Joanna Lumley

Four People I'd Like To Meet in Heaven (exc. family & friends)
Isaac Asimov
William Wallace
George III
Dame Thora Hird

Four Material Things I Couldn't Live Without
My car (sorry, environment)
My camera (for taking lots of piccies of the kids)
My computer (and all its associated widgets)
My washing machine (for all the goo)

Four Things I COULD Live Without
My watch
The TV
The Jeremy Vine Show
The cat jumping on my head at five in the morning

Three Books I Would Save From a Burning Building
The OED (or Chambers, if you prefer)
Jonathan Livingstone Seagull, by Richard Bach
My Grandmother’s copy of Black Beauty

Three Books I Would Throw Into a Burning Building
Any childcare book by Miriam Stoppard
The London Orbital, by God Knows (I’ve thrown it already)
Hard Times, by Charles Dickens

Five Songs That Make Me Happy
Handel’s The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba
Mozart’s Prelude to The Marriage of Figaro
The Flanders & Swann version of Mozart’s Horn Concerto in E flat
Kenny Ball’s version of Mozart’s Rondo (3rd movement, Piano Sonata No 11 in A)
The Dukenfield Brothel, as sung by The Three Crows

Five Songs That Make Me Cry
Pachabel’s Canon in D
Promise Me, by Beverley Craven
Father to Son, by Cat Stevens
Nothing Compares 2U, by Sinéad O’Connor
The Fields of Athenry, folk song

Two Things I Wish I'd Invented
Wireless technology
The telescope

I tag: JJ, and Liz Fenwick

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Beer is Food

Am sitting here, having given up pretending that I'm going to blitz the study, wondering when (and in what state) Himself will roll in. "I'll be back early," he said, "so we can eat together."

So here am I having done nothing again today (except my Message...note the time: 10:57 - that's 10.57am, and blogging...and looking after the kids).

It's now half past nine. I last ate at about half past twelve, and that was only a cup of watercress soup at a friend's house. Actually, just before that I had been scoffing all her Jaffa Cakes and Chocolate Fingers, but that doesn't sound quite so trendy. Oh, and then there was the Mars bar, and the Twix that I had on the way back from Toys R Us at quarter to six.

But, apart from that, I've eaten nothing all day, and I'm starving. So, because I don't reckon the quality of today's food-intake can get any worse, I've opened a bottle of beer. It's Badger's Golden Glory, a rather fine ale from Hall & Woodehouse who, incidentally, make me spit (the company, not the beer).

They took over my local(ish) brewers, King & Barnes, some years ago, knocked down the brewery and built flats (sorry, apartments) on it. They also dumped the K&B prize-winning "Festive" in favour of their own, comparatively tasteless, "Tanglefoot". However, much to my own annoyance, I do rather like their Golden Glory, with its hint of peach.

Well, that's the first glass gone. Perhaps another?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Your Messages & Nothing Else

I have done nothing today (apart from look after three small children).

Jane came round this morning (with various additional small children), and we talked about writing (as far as that was possible), which was lovely (in a lovely-things-you-can-do-with-kids-around sort of way). She's been thinking about my novel and, bless her, has been trying to help me think of a title.

I cannot think of a title.

I go to sleep thinking about it hoping that I'll wake up in the morning with the answer. I dread discovering that I did, actually wake up with it once, but forgot to write it down, and then forgot that I even had it (this is a possibility).

It's not that I don't know what the book is about - I reckon it has a strong and obvious premise - but all the obvious titles are just that. Obvious. Too obvious. Clichés. Tired old hackneyed idioms. I need something different.

So, I've done a lot of thinking today, but I haven't actually done anything...

...except my Message (21:24).

Sunday, November 11, 2007

The No Waffle Challenge

I've been somewhat heartened to receive several complementary emails about my contributions to Your Messages, particularly yesterday's. This is rather nice. Thank you.

I've been enjoying the challenge, having never before attempted flash fiction. Up until a year ago, I had only ever tried novels, and thought my first ever short story was really short at 16,000 words.

I rather like the 300-word limit. I can't waffle, you see. I like not being able to waffle; it's good for my self-control. I do tend to go on a bit if left to my own devices. I get that from my grandfather, that's my mother's father, not my father's father, you understand. My father's father died in 1937, which was a long time before I was born, so I never knew him. No, it was my mother's father who I take after in this particular respect. Why, I remember how we used to laugh when Grandpa started-


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Anti-Social Behaviour (...& Your Messages)

I am speaking to you today via a little yellow ethernet cable. I am actually joined to the net. I feel in touch.

I am staying with my Dad for the night, having brought him his birthday present, and three lovely grandchildren to coo over. The trouble is, it was Fireworks' Night last week. 'Last Week?' I hear you cry. 'So what's the trouble?'

The trouble is that the anti-social nouveax-riches of the home counties, think it's acceptable to blast rockets sky high for over an hour while much of the world (inlcuding 99% of the little kids) is/are trying to relax and/or sleep. It would be tolerable if it hadn't already been going on for three weeks.

I have three screaming children upstairs. Actually, I haven't - the fireworks have stopped at last, and the kids have (miraculously) gone back to sleep - otherwise I wouldn't be down here writing this; but, God, it makes my blood boil.

Sorry. Rant over.

Posted today's Message at 21:57.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Dog the Bounty Hunter

Just got my Message posted for today.

I spent the evening babysitting for Jane. Mercifully, she doesn't have WiFi, so I have to do writing. I went round at seven-thirty and, during the ad breaks for Dog the Bounty Hunter, Cops: Most Shocking, and Dallas SWAT, I wrote my message. I'd managed 249 words by the time they came home at eleven.

Finished it now. Posted at 23:28 if you're interested.
Oh, God. Is that the time?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Your Messages

Third Message just posted (14:36). Quite enjoying this.
Not getting anything else done, mind.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Your Messages & Silence

Posted a second Message (20:30), and am really pleased with it. Words came as quickly as yesterday, and more or less in the right order. Very satisfying.

Also, I've done lots of editing today. Among other things, I have finally found the solution for a Problem Paragraph. I've been staring at it for over a month (in between eating, sleeping, and taking various children to various hospitals), and suddenly it clicked!

This revelation might have had something to do with himself being airborne somewhere over southern England, the small boy being at school, the small girl being at Jane's, and the baby being asleep. I could actually hear the cogs going round, which was good - although the graunching might not have been...

Your Messages

Posted my first Message yesterday evening (near the bottom, 21:31, if you're interested), and am quite pleased with it. The 300 words fell out in about ten minutes. It took a further hour to put them in the right order.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Rupert's Phone Call

Having read Rebecca's post yesterday, I was reminded of a transcript buried deep in my hard drive. I have dug it out, htmled it, and posted it here for the world to share.

Be amazed!

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Drowning in New Ideas

While barely treading water in the swamp of editing, I am being deluged with ideas for new stories. I have thought up five new plots in the last three days alone. They're not just snippets, to go in the anecdotes file, but fully-fledged plots with characters, dialogue and satisfying endings.

Unfortunately, they have appeared to me at the most inconvenient moments (as though wallowing in a swamp of mucky grammar wasn't bad enough) and I've had to carry them round in my, already overwhelmed brain, until I could reach the computer.

Lunchtime today was a good example: I was just stirring the milk into some cheese sauce, when this great story-line appeared before me; the action danced before my eyes, and the dialogue sang in my ears (poetic, huh?). Now, I have a certain pride when it comes to making cheese sauce, so I had to wait until it was simmering before I could make a dash for the study, and get out as many words as possible (368) before the beeper went off.

Then, while we were eating lunch, I had an idea for a story about cheese sauce...