It’s awful!

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Being in between craft projects – Bruce Springsteen doll finished and pink teddy not yet started – I decided to have a go at the novel.

It must be at least six weeks since I looked at it but in the mean time I have read a lot and I mean a LOT about writing.  I’ve also read two or three novels and finished a short story.

So I sat at the computer to continue with chapter eight and I couldn’t help myself – I just had to read chapter one … and … it’s awful!

At the beginning of this process I quickly decided on the location of my story.  It’s based around a little park in Leeds which I love and I think I got a bit too hung up with creating the atmosphere. I’ve opened with a line of dialogue and followed up with a long winded description of the cafe in which my two characters are sitting. Not good for moving the story along.  My reader will give up before the end of  the first page.

Most of the advice I’ve read recently says you need to get your reader to keep turning the pages.  I must admit that I love a good page turner myself and don’t like getting bogged down in details.  So, I ask myself, why am I writing a book that I wouldn’t read?

Anyway I’m going to try to move on with the story and leave the early chapters alone for now.

Onward and upward.

Mini Eggs

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At the start of this year – about January 4th I think – I started a diet.  I have always struggled with my weight primarily because I like to eat and I like to eat all the wrong things.

I was a skinny kid but started to put on weight when I was about 13 or 14.  At my largest I was squeezing into size 16 clothes.  Throughout my adult life I have never been bigger than a size 14 and at my smallest I can comfortably buy size 10 trousers.

Anyway over the past two years my weight had crept up until most of my size 12 clothes were too tight for me and I was determined to do something about it.  I set myself a target of a pound a week so that by Easter I would have lost a stone.  My reward was to be a bag (or two) of Cadburys mini eggs.

Those of you who have ever tried to diet will know that sometimes your will power is non existent and other times you can be really focussed.

Well I was in the zone. I lived mostly on chicken and fish and kept to 1200 calories a day plus any extra gained by taking exercise.  A minutes jogging uses up about 10 calories so a digestive biscuit = an 8 minute run.

I did it!  By Easter I had lost 15 pounds but… disaster I couldn’t find any mini eggs.

I’ve been a bit lax for the last two weeks and despite my success I still have a particular pair of jeans that are a touch too tight.

So I’ll get back on the straight and narrow next week but in the mean time I’ve found the elusive mini eggs.

To edit or not to edit

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My Novel isn’t going too well at the moment.  Well that’s a lie – it’s not going at all but I think about it all the time.
You see writing isn’t my only hobby.  I like to make cards.  I do a bit of knitting from time to time. Used to do cross stitch but that’s fallen by the way side as have the Christmas tree baubles which I made and sold for many years.  I went through a handbag making phase – that proved too difficult.  I have two guitars hanging on the wall to remind me I haven’t practiced for weeks and still haven’t mastered the barre chord.
At the moment I am making fabric dolls and when I have finished this one I am going to start on a fabric teddy bear for my granddaughter Gabrielle.  I made Stuffy Bear years ago.
Gabrielle’s will be all pink and girly of course.
But whilst I am doing all these other things I am thinking about my novel.
The other week I discovered Writing Magazine.  I’ve found it really interesting, packed with advice about every aspect of writing and publishing and full of reading.  Previous writing magazines I have tried were a bit short on content.
The trouble with advice is that it is always conflicting.  So last month in an interview with a published author she advises never starting on the next chapter until you are entirely satisfied with the one you are working on.  This means you might write and rewrite a chapter several times before moving on.
This month in a similar interview with a different author he recommends writing your book from beginning to end before starting to edit at all.  I can see his logic. He points out that once you have reached the end, even if you have to rewrite a lot of it, you have at least finished the story.
At the moment I seem to be caught between two stools.  I am on chapter eight and this is how it goes.  Hmmm I think I’ll work on my book for a couple of hours: just better read what I have done so far: chapter one – don’t like that I’ll just tweek it: chapter two – might just change those two paragraphs round: chapter three – I’ll just take out that sentence: chapter four … and so on and so on.  Before I know it two hours have gone by and I haven’t made any actual progress.
So I think from now on I’m just going to power on with the story and edit at the end.  I’ll let you know how I get on!
In the mean time I have found time to write my first short story which I am going to enter in the Writing Magazine‘s competition.  I’ll let you know how I get on with that too.

Bin Laden is dead

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The last time I woke up to find someone was dead it was Princess Diana.  The streets of London were filled with grieving people for weeks afterwards.

I don’t know what happened in London today but in Washington DC and New York City there were scenes of jubilation.

I was a little uncomfortable with this but I am not a New Yorker or indeed American so I can’t possibly know what it felt like after 9/11.  In fact at the time I was on a cruise ship in the middle of the Mediterranean.  This is not as grand as it sounds but it did mean that to a great extent we were sheltered from the wall to wall news coverage of that awful day.  Actually I don’t think I saw pictures of the planes hitting The Twin Towers until the anniversary programmes on the TV.

I love the USA. We have visited Washington DC and New York City and loved them both. I find the people friendly and helpful and apart from my own home NYC is the only place I would choose to be.  The notion of the American Dream captures hearts all over the world.

But no one can accuse Americans of lacking in confidence.  Sometimes to the reserved Brit that pride can appear to tip over into arrogance.  At least that’s what I thought, but today via our news coverage, I began to understand that this confidence is such a part of the American psyche that being infiltrated by outsiders really rocked the country.  It’s only now that they’ve finally got their man that pride has been restored.

Here in The United Kingdom we really aren’t so United.  Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland all fight to retain their own identity and many people I know insist that they are English.  For my part I would rather be British but them I’m inclusive by nature.

All this individuality makes being proud of our country a little complicated.  Should I be proud to be English or British or both?

In any event we are all pleased that the Bin Laden is dead and here’s what has been going round in my head all day

I’m off to ponder whether I’m proud.

Annual Curry Day

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So today we had a family get together.  It’s our annual curry day.  You might think that this means we also have an annual barbecue day and an annual fondue party etc but you would be wrong.  Our annual curry day is in fact the one and only day in the year that all the family get together at ours.  It’s a curry day because we have it to commemorate MIke’s dad’s birthday and his favourite meal was chicken korma.

In my perfect world I imagine a warm sunny day, long trestle table on the patio with happy smiling people around helping themselves to good food and fine wine. The sort of thing you see people doing in rural France or Italy. In this scene I have a perfectly clean and tidy house and I am relaxed and in control.

I would actually love to be this person of my dreams – the  person who enjoys having loads of friends and relatives round weekend after weekend for dinner parties or drinks. The truth is I don’t really look forward to it.  I get stressed about it.  Don’t get me wrong once it’s underway I have a thoroughly good time but I wish I was the sort of person who naturally welcomes a house full. I’m really envious of those women who have an open house all the time.

Anyway it was a sunny day but a bit chilly in the wind. Everyone ate and drank and so far no one has rung to say they have been poisoned.

They have all gone home now and it’s back to the two of us.  Think we’ll have a quiet night in front of the TV.

Green Fingers

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I can’t make up my mind whether I like gardening or not.  I think, if I didn’t have so many other things to fill my spare time, I might quite enjoy it.  I used to watch Gardeners World avidly and my love of makeover programmes meant I couldn’t miss Ground Force. There are some Ground Force episodes I can watch again and again – they repeat them endlessly on one of the Sky channels.

Our house was brand new when we moved in so the garden was a blank canvas.  At the time I wanted to fill it with evergreen shrubs and conifers and for some reason (perhaps it was garden fashion at the time) I had an aversion to brightly coloured flowers.  The upshot of this is that it looks pretty good in the winter with lots of berries and dark green foliage, not bad in the spring when some of the bushes produce white flowers but pretty boring during the summer.

I have pots but rarely enough money to spend at the garden centre to make them really spectacular.  We tried growing from seed in the conservatory one year but I don’t have the commitment or the patience.

Our big success was the garden pond which we dug out ourselves and I am really quite proud of.  This is another by product of watching too many gardening programmes.  Charlie Dimmock has a lot to answer for!

Anyway the good weather and a week off work has meant that all the beds have been weeded and I scattered a box of mixed annuals (only £2.00 so worth a try) amongst some rocks. I can’t really call it a rockery. I wasn’t hopeful. I’ve tried this sort of thing before and never managed to grow anything but I followed the instructions and I’ve watered diligently since.

Today I think we have plants!  They could be weeds of course.  Difficult to say at this stage but I live in hope.

WWW dot

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My friends Jacquie and Mike have come back from a holiday in New York City today.  They had a great time.  I haven’t spoken to them yet but I know they had a great time because we’ve had daily reports from over the pond via Facebook.

The internet is a wonderful thing.  How great it was to live their holiday with them and  to see their photos within hours of them being taken. Digital photography – now that’s another fantastic thing.

This leads me in a roundabout way to The Big Day, because of course, If you happened to miss any of it you can see it again via the Web.

I actually wasn’t going to talk about the wedding again today but it has loomed so large that I couldn’t really avoid it.

I watched most of it and got completely sucked in.  I’m not a cynic by any stretch of the imagination so I’m easy game for anything like this.

By Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images

I thought Kate’s dress was beautiful but for sheer elegance you couldn’t beat Pippa Middleton’s Maid of Honour frock.  The younger bridesmaids looked cute and you’ve got to love little Grace Van Cutsem who was obviously not having fun.  This picture is going to come back to haunt her when she’s older.

All in all it was a great day.  The sun shone, the crowds cheered and waved flags – boy did they wave flags!!  Does it make me proud to be British?  I’m not sure that proud is the right word really but I can’t think of a better one.

Certainly it can’t do the UK any harm for people around the world to see us all smiling and cheering and I can see why it would do wonders for tourism.  I certainly believe that our Royal Family brings in the visitors.

It was clear that everyone lining the route had a brilliant day and although I can’t imagine ever standing in the street and waving a Union Flag I do appreciate the emotional impact of a huge cheering crowd.

I was going to set up another page when I started these daily writings and call it The Daily Drudge but then I realised that if I referred to it as a drudge it would become just that.  My life can be a drudge sometimes but almost every day there is something to cheer me.  Smile and the world smiles with you.

It certainly smiled with us today.

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