Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My Favourite Places to Write

Hey, folks, I've discovered a brand-new writing-blog, hosted by Kerry at Writing at the Window. She has a couple of interesting posts about writing accompanied by some rather cool music. She also has a 'favourite places to write' list, which, in the spirit of welcoming a newbie to blogland, I promptly nicked.

I realise that I have totally different criteria for writing, depending on the time of day, and how much time I have available.

Favourite Places to Write
1. Lounging on my bed. Big headphones on. iTunes on (although sometimes I forget, and just sit there with silent headphones on all evening). Beer beside me (preferably chocolate too). Kids in bed/Himself out. Tends to be for marathon evening sessions: 2hr+.
2. Lounging on an easy chair in the living room. Feet up. Tea/coffee. Packet of crisps (hoola-hoops/quavers/skips). Kids in bed/at school. Short afternoon sessions: 1hr max.
3. In the study. Cup of tea (Earl Grey/Lady Grey/Lapsang). Plate of nice ginger/oaty biscuits. Kids watching TV. Quick, sneaky looks in the morning, when I should be doing something else (like talking to husband): ~15mins.

In my dreams:
4. In a bookshop cafe. Large hot chocolate and huge slice of bakewell beside me. All day.
5. In my room-of-my-own in the loft. Stereo on. Phone unplugged. Tea. Chocolate. Children all at school (one day). All day.

What's your favourite combination of place/drink/music/snack for writing?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Arch Procrastination

For once, it just worked. My fingers flew over the track-pad (perhaps it was clean for a change), and my heart started pounding with anticipation. I knew I was finally going to crack it.

At last!

At last I got the highest score in Chasing Simon Bloody Cowell. Now will someone please take the sodding thing down so I can get on with some writing.

Friday, March 21, 2008

From e-tales

Letters to Hackney Council
Please forward my money at once as I have fallen into errors with my landlord and the milkman.
My husband is diabetic and has to take insolence regular but he finds he's lethargic to it.
Mrs Brown only thinks she's ill but she's nothing but a hypodermic.
The man next door has a large erection in his garden which is unsightly and dangerous.
I am very annoyed to find you have branded my son illiterate. This is a lie as I married his father a week before he was born.

Hotel lift, Paris: You are invited to leave your values at the front desk.
In a Leipzig lift: Do not enter the lift backwards, and only when lit up.
Hotel lobby, Bucharest:
The lift is being fixed for the next day. During that time we regret that you will be unbearable.
Hotel, Zurich: Because of the impropriety of entertaining guests of the opposite sex in the bedroom, it is suggested that the lobby be used for this purpose.
Cocktail lounge, Norway: Ladies are requested not to have children in the bar.
In a Tokyo shop: Our nylons cost more than common, but you'll find they are the best in the long run.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Book Meme

Nicked from Helen.

1. Hardcover or paperback, and why?
Hardback, as long as it's properly stitched (and not glued).

2. If I were to own a book shop I would call it…
'Dusty Bums' (from sitting on the floor reading - just felt I needed to explain that).

3. My favourite quote from a book (mention the title) is…
The first line of any Dick Francis novel.

4. The author (alive or deceased) I would love to have lunch with would be….
Robert Louis Stevenson.

5. If I was going to a deserted island and could only bring one book, except the SAS survival guide, it would be…
Chambers Dictionary (Sorry: NERD ALERT!).

6. I would love someone to invent a bookish gadget that…
Made books easier to read when you're lying on your side in bed.

7. The smell of an old book reminds me of…
My father's study.

8. If I could be the lead character in a book (mention the title), it would be…
Any romance where the hero is tall, dark and handsome (and rich).

9. The most overestimated book of all time is….
Anything by a celebrity ‘non’-writer (YES! Helen, I couldn't agree more!)

10. I hate it when a book…
Turns out (when I've finished it) to be the first in a series of five...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

You're a Bloody Genius!

The level of education required to read this blog is:
blog readability test

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

I Just Had to Share This With You

I am lounging on my bed, laptop on lap, headphones on (Dire Straits). I have a cup of tea and some cranberry and orange buscuits beside me. The sun is shining.

The small boy is at school. The small girl is at playgroup. The baby is at Jane's. Himself is out.
I am home alone!

I have two whole hours to write, and I'm on a roll. The muse has me firmly by the hand and is leading me towards her friends, Success and Fortune. Wish me productivity. Please! I need to make the most of this!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Oh Dear...

You Should Be a Film Writer

You don't just create compelling stories, you see them as clearly as a movie in your mind.

You have a knack for details and dialogue. You can really make a character come to life.

Chances are, you enjoy creating all types of stories. The joy is in the storytelling.

And nothing would please you more than millions of people seeing your story on the big screen!

Of course, when they turn my novel into a film...

Monday, March 10, 2008

My Career as a Rock Star - Part Two

Further to my new-found ambition to be a rock star (see 4th March), I find
that I am not the only one. Shame. I thought I'd found a niche.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Life on Mars - a Holiday

I was in need of a real break - one that didn't involve broken legs, heart attacks, or vomit. To that end, I have spent the last week on Mars, with DCI Gene Hunt, and very nice it has been too. Jane leant me both series on DVD, making for a smorgasbord of ogling viewing. All sixteen hours! I didn't know I had that much free time...

I have now returned to planet Real World to find a veritable Olympus Mons of washing, and some fine spring-growth in the fridge. I'm also rather hungry, not having eaten since Monday last. Just give me a couple of days to scale the 90,000' monolith in my utility room, and I'll be back to play catch-up in Blogland.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

My Career as a Rock Star Starts Here

This is a great procrastination meme that I nicked from found on Karen's blog. All you have to do is:

1. Click on Wikipedia's Random Article page
The first article title on the page is the name of your band.

2. Click on this Random Quote page
The last four words of the very last quote is the title of your album.

3. Click on Flickr's Last Seven Days page
The third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.

Here's mine:

I like this so much that I now plan to give up all forms of drudgery, and become a rock star.

Monday, March 03, 2008

No Title

Ruth is thirty two years old and
doesn't know if she wants to be thirty three. She gives herself three months
to decide, and that is where her journey into the unknown begins...

Ruth's diary
is the new novel by Fiona Robyn, Thaw. She has decided to blog the novel in
its entirety over the next few months, so you can read it for free.

Read the first entry below, and continue reading
tomorrow at


These hands are
ninety-three years old. They belong to Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller.
She was so frail that her grand-daughter had to carry her onto the set
to take this photo. It’s a close-up. Her emaciated arms emerge from the
top corners of the photo and the background is black, maybe velvet, as
if we’re being protected from seeing the strings. One wrist rests on the
other, and her fingers hang loose, close together, a pair of folded
wings. And you can see her insides.

The bones of her knuckles bulge out of the skin, which sags like plastic
that has melted in the sun and is dripping off her, wrinkling and
folding. Her veins look as though they’re stuck to the outside of her
hands. They’re a colour that’s difficult to describe: blue, but also
silver, green; her blood runs through them, close to the surface. The
book says she died shortly after they took this picture. Did she even
get to see it? Maybe it was the last beautiful thing she left in the

I’m trying to decide whether or not I want to carry on living. I’m
giving myself three months of this journal to decide. You might think
that sounds melodramatic, but I don’t think I’m alone in wondering
whether it’s all worth it. I’ve seen the look in people’s eyes. Stiff
suits travelling to work, morning after morning, on the cramped and
humid tube. Tarted-up girls and gangs of boys reeking of aftershave,
reeling on the pavements on a Friday night, trying to mop up the
dreariness of their week with one desperate, fake-happy night. I’ve
heard the weary grief in my dad’s voice.

So where do I start with all this? What do you want to know about me?
I’m Ruth White, thirty-two years old, going on a hundred. I live alone
with no boyfriend and no cat in a tiny flat in central London. In fact,
I had a non-relationship with a man at work, Dan, for seven years. I’m
sitting in my bedroom-cum-living room right now, looking up every
so often at the thin rain slanting across a flat grey sky. I work in a
city hospital lab as a microbiologist. My dad is an accountant and lives
with his sensible second wife Julie, in a sensible second home. Mother
finished dying when I was fourteen, three years after her first
diagnosis. What else? What else is there?

Charlotte Marie Bradley Miller. I looked at her hands for twelve
minutes. It was odd describing what I was seeing in words. Usually the
picture just sits inside my head and I swish it around like tasting
wine. I have huge books all over my flat; books you have to take in
both hands to lift. I’ve had the photo habit for years. Mother bought me
my first book, black and white landscapes by Ansel Adams. When she got
really ill, I used to take it to bed with me and look at it for hours,
concentrating on the huge trees, the still water, the never-ending
skies. I suppose it helped me think about something other than what was
happening. I learned to focus on one photo at a time rather than
flicking from scene to scene in search of something to hold me. If I
concentrate, then everything stands still. Although I use them to escape
the world, I also think they bring me closer to it. I’ve still got that
book. When I take it out, I handle the pages as though they might flake
into dust.

Mother used to write a journal. When I was small, I sat by her bed in
the early mornings on a hard chair and looked at her face as her pen
spat out sentences in short bursts. I imagined what she might have been
writing about; princesses dressed in star-patterned silk, talking
horses, adventures with pirates. More likely she was writing about what
she was going to cook for dinner and how irritating Dad’s snoring was.

I’ve always wanted to write my own journal, and this is my chance. Maybe
my last chance. The idea is that every night for three months, I’ll take
one of these heavy sheets of pure white paper, rough under my
fingertips, and fill it up on both sides. If my suicide note is nearly a
hundred pages long, then no-one can accuse me of not thinking it
through. No-one can say; ‘It makes no sense; she was a polite, cheerful
girl, had everything to live for’, before adding that I did keep myself
to myself. It’ll all be here. I’m using a silver fountain pen with
purple ink. A bit flamboyant for me, I know. I need these idiosyncratic
rituals; they hold things in place. Like the way I make tea, squeezing
the tea-bag three times, the exact amount of milk, seven stirs. My
writing is small and neat; I’m striping the paper. I’m near the bottom
of the page now. Only ninety-one more days to go before I’m allowed to
make my decision. That’s it for today. It’s begun.


I'm a Busy Bee!

Bees are a bit of a theme in our house, so I am a particularly delighted recipient of the Busy Bee Award, which Sally has given me in recognition of my trying to write whilst looking after small children (although, I don't actually attempt these things at the same time).

I would like to bestow the honour on my fellow scramblers-up-the-laundry-mountain: Karen (yes, I know you've had it), Jen, and Lane.

Sunday, March 02, 2008


I've had a really bad week. This is partly due to still being behind with kids/house/jobs since before we went to Shropshire (we're talking the best part of three-weeks' washing here), and partly because life after a Della Galton course is a real anticlimax!

I came home from Bournemouth really keen to get back to shorties. I have four stories needing nothing more than envelopes, and thirty more in various stages of composition! It is just a matter of finding the time. Oh, the time! The shorties beckon. The novel beckons. The washing beckons...

Clean underwear? Try the basket on the landing. No? Try the one in the utility room? No? Erm, try the tumble dryer. No? Well, how long have you been wearing the ones you've got on?
I needed to do some washing.

I spent yesterday, up to my arms in soap suds, wash board and starch, in a modern sort of way you understand. Ten loads, I did, TEN LOADS. Washed. Dried. Folded. Now all I have to do is put it away...

And that's just the washing. You should see my desk, the sitting-room floor, the kitchen...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

To Infinity and Beyond

Himself and the small boy (aged four-and-a-bit) were having a conversation in the car this afternoon. The small boy was writing numbers on one of those magnetic drawing-boards.
SB: Look at my number eight, Dad. Isn't it good?
H: Yes very good.
SB: Eights are easy. You just start with an S, and carry on going.
H: Yes, that's right.
SB: And look. I can write infinity. It's just an eight on its side.
H (astonished): How on earth did you know that?
SB (adopting the air of a university professor): Infinity is bigger than the biggest number there is. I bet you didn't know that!
H: So, can you count to infinity?
SB: No! Don't be a silly head. It would take me the rest of my life to count to infinity.

They don't half put you in your place sometimes!

I have been awarded the Mwah by Helen. She has no idea how much this perked me up at the time (I've had a really shitty few days). So thank you, Helen! I hope it has the same effect on Sarah G and Honeysuckle, both of whom have made me think a bit just recently. Thank you, girls.