Flash Nov 1

It smelt green, strongly green. Intoxicating in not altogether a pleasant way. It bled at her feet and she knew that it’s stains would last a life time. Cut grass had a life cycle of its own. Born with the first cut, yet it reached it’s optimum, it’s softest and sweetest smell when it had lain in the sun for a few days. The acrid tinge would ebb away and a warm, musty cozy smell would take its place. It worked like a teleporter on her. It took her back to lazy afternoons, lying in the field behind the school. Knowing better but not doing it. It smelt exciting and forever of Mark. The only forever he had lived to have. He, much like the grass, had been cut down so young, so green, in another, quite faraway land. Where there is no grass.

She inhaled once more and walked away.

NaNoWriMo

Ok ok …. I survived the writing group review. More than survived even. Some people really liked what I had written and even better some big flaws had been pointed out to me so I can now fix them.

Of course I have not edited any further or even touched the manuscript yet… But all that is about to change! Because I have a very cunning plan. I will post one short flash fiction a day in November under my stories Page and I will attempt to finish the whole first draft as part of NaNoWriMo. Fool I hear you cry. I agree perhaps its a bit much pressure but what’s the worst that can happen? I fail? At least I would have tried and even that paltry try would have moved me on a bit!

So here goes something or possibly nothing 🙂

Don’t abandon hope all who enter here

Don’t abandon hope any who enter here. I have felt very hopeless of late but its starting to come back to me.

So Its been a while. A long while. I did feel that this little seedling of a blog had been abandoned but here I am again ready to give it another go.

Its been a challenging few months. The summer went by in fear, despair and anxiety with little or no good news. Often not even a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Needless to say that every sphere of my life has recently been hit and some fully annihilated.

But I guess I must be a cockroach as here i am – surviving. Eventually maybe even thriving.

In the back of my mind the whole time though was my work. My writing. Was this the legendary writers block? Was i unable to write? I dont think it was. I just needed all my mental capacity to keep my self going and I didn’t have any spare time or energy to feed my characters and to edit edit edit.

Yet they were all still there. Still living their lives and reliving certain actions and events. Their world kept unfolding in my mind even if the fingers never touched keys and pen never touched paper.

In the midst of anger or sadness It would occur to me that Edgar must have known Nick and that when Miles went missing of all the people in the world he would have a t least considered going to one of them. And what of the elusive uncle? Was he that elusive or was he about to come in from the cold? On and on it went. It wasn’t a shelter or a pass time. I never actively sought to think of the book. If anything I tried to put it out of my mind, sick with guilt that I had devoted it no time in months.

As Lear said “Nothing will come of nothing”. I too had always thought that no effort would bring no results. But it seems its not always the case. They kept on living and playing out their lives and every once in a while i saw what they were up to, surprised at the elegant moves some had made too gentle and elegant for me ever to have thought of them.

So I’m back and ready to start listening to them again and to start writing and editing.

The cold slap of water in the face will come tonight where the writing group will review a small yet vital chapter of mine. Having reread it today It needs a lot of work and the amateur spelling mistakes and autocorrect spell checker (I think i wrote the chapter on my iPhone!) are embarrassing – My favourite (most awful one) is “i witness”. *face palm*

They will rip me to shreds. Yet it will help me and I oh so deserve it!

Wish me luck.

Rivers of London – Three amazing books by Ben Aaronovitch

It’s a lost art – book buying. I wince even as I type that – like I’m personally killing books by saying it. But if not lost today then soon. Ebooks are great and do make life easier, yet they just aren’t the same. But they are changing the reading/writing/publishing game. Getting a kindle was a bitter sweet moment in my life. You see I’m a book geek. Always have been. I love to touch them, leaf through them, smell them. I also love to feel their covers. I’m not proud of it but I just can’t bring my self to buy or love a book with a rubbish cover. It’s taken me a while to overcome this enough to buy ebooks. It’s made a bit easier by my snazzy tactile kindle cover.

What first attracted me to Rivers of London was the cover. Its doodle / graffiti map of London overlaid with the strong bold font in blood red, not to mention how smooth and right it felt in my hand.

Sci-fi set in London. I was sold! I grew up in the big smoke and any books that are set in it immediately pluck at my nostalgic heart strings. The pictures in my mind are sharper and more vivid.

From the first page I was impressed. It’s rare to find a main character so immediate and likeable. You are instantly in his head for the crazy ride through the unknown magical side of London.

Peter is honest, modest and most importantly funny. No matter how serious the shit going down is, his perspective is light and likeable. It doesn’t detract from the severity of the events but it provides a counter point which gives it a great balance.

There is a winning combination in the book that makes it such a page turner: it combines the behind the scenes crime novel with magic and myth adding a big helping of London’s secret history into the mix.

The secret ingredient is Peters perspective and his world view. He has had a tough life; black in a mostly white profession and city; his dads continuing battle with addiction and driving passion for music. Yet he is not maudlin nor troubled. He is just trying to get on and do the best he can. It makes him easy to identify with and really easy to like.

So far there are three books in this series with a fourth in the pipe line (Broken Homes (2013)).

Book 1) Rivers of London (2011) introduces us to Peter Grant, a well meaning if not always very focused police constable who haphazardly discovers another side of London – a darker side. He works with the last wizard in England to unravel a mystery and save ordinary Londoners from a sly evil that is literally tearing people up.

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Book 2) Moon Over Soho (2011) follows on directly from the previous book. We have the cast of regular characters plus many new ones through whom we begin to learn more of the magical side of London. We look back on Nightingale’s past as well as Peter’s own history. We see how his parents, his childhood made him what he is. There are good times and bad, plus plenty of twist and turns to keep the adrenalin soaring.

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Book 3) Whispers Under Ground (2012) is a continuation that sees lovely Lesley installed at the Folly and Peter with a chance of getting on the Murder Squad. It’s the amazing mix of history and myth all told in the crisp funny voice that keeps you totally hooked from the first sentence to the last.

Click – no big bang merely just a whimper of realisation

I’m not really sure how things work for other people, but for me transitions consist of a subconscious ripening of an idea and then it’s eventual maturity into action. There’s a moment when it all clicks into place and really I don’t have to think about what I need to do or what the next logical step is because by then my feet are already following that path.

You could say its the lazy way and well… you’d be right. There is an element of not taking responsibility for ones actions but really its my attempt at not rushing things and always striving to follow my heart. But yes lazy.

It took me by surprise when one such seminal moment took place on a rainy Thursday in a church room. Attempting to ignore the clucking gulls of the WI and the church Choir competing for oxygen in various rooms around the imposing stone building that we lovingly call Craggy Island, while Nick Triplow walked us through his writing history and process.

Though the idea for my novel originated a long long time ago in a town far far from here – It was just that an idea and when the actual task of writing needed to start I couldn’t manage it. I stopped after less than about 5k words and it died a death. Yet I did day-dream about it, about the characters what they were doing, and why.

A last minute opportunity to attend a creative writing course (what would i have done if the French class hadn’t been full??) was the catalyst and I started writing in earnest last autumn.

Things went well to start with. I wrote about 3 – 4 hours a day. I wrote on the train on my mobile. I jotted in the Tesco checkout queue on the back of my shopping list. I wrote ideas while on the bus. I would wake in the middle of the night having solved a major plot point and have to write it down before it evaporated. I wrote at the dinner table I wrote at my desk. Flying high on years of suppressed ideas I wrote – a lot.

And as all things must this slowly started to slow and then subside. I’m at around 70k + now and its been a slow couple of months. I have started to edit… a bit. This is vital to any book, but especially to me. Due to the way / place i wrote most of the work is utterly unedited and lacks punctuation, lay out and even grammar. Don’t even get me started on the *creative* spelling. Yet editing is not exciting and doesn’t get me all motivated to start the laptop up. In fact I had only started to edit so that i didnt drop the novel completely. I want to finish it but I look around and every book seems to be a 200k word mammoth. Frankly I am not sure I have that in me. My pathetic 70k + unedited words seems like a joke. One i’d rather not tell in public – I don’t like tumbleweed.

On Thursday listening to Nick talk about Frank’s Wild Years, how long it took to do, how many words he wrote and how many edits he did made something click for me. I’m not going to be the next GRR Martin or JK Rowling. But I could finish this work and make it the best that it can be.

That’s what really clicked for me – the question “What are you waiting for?” because I have nothing to wait for. So I have started writing again. Or more to the point I have started to finish. I’ve accepted that its done and that the really hard part starts here. I’m back to pushing myself to start setting goals and deadlines and plotting a strategy of next steps. It needs very little writing to finish it, hundreds not thousands of words but in essence I’m done.

And then I need to sharpen my pen and slash it to bits. Cut out the slack and sew it back up again, tighter and firmer.

Wish me luck.

Mwahahaha

Revenge is not a dish best served cold. Revenge is a primal urge to show your opponent how you have suffered and how you have worked so hard to make them suffer.

Furthermore how their suffering has inspired you to do a jig of joy on their freshly made grave, while their limo corpse is still cooling.

I, of course, speak metaphorically.

Boss – Your review is due in the next two weeks.

Me – Huh. Oh is it? (casual to the point of disinterest)

Boss – I was wondering when you wanted to come over for it. My diary is pretty free next Thursday.

Me – Oh. Well I’ve been thinking about that. Funny story really. I was at this work event and bumped into &&&&. Isn’t he your boss? He’s so lovely! You never mentioned that he was so lovely! And i didn’t know he was a keen golfer.

Boss – Hmm is he? How interesting.

Me – (adopting a subconscious Vally girl upspeak) And i love golf (lie) and it was really weird as we both knew Steve from marketing and &&&& didn’t know Steve was a golfer too (partial lie) and we both thought how nice Steve was (blatant lie) and how we should all go golfing together. Anyway we talked about work and where we saw the sector going (utter lie). He was keen to hear how the project was going (badly) and why (badly run fiefdoms die splendid deaths).

Boss – That’s nice (meaning anything but).

Me – And we are meeting for lunch Next week. Which is great, because it turns out he was looking to mentor someone and I was looking for a mentor. Isn’t that a weird coincidence!?! (by this point the glee is genuine and all my words run to form a kind of breathless gobbledygook)

Boss – I see. (le penny it starts to descend).

Me – Yeah so we chatted about that for aaaaaaggggges and he was really interested and the he mentioned that your review was on the 20th. And that you would both be here then (by this point I can’t even stop myself 1- from using ‘and’ as every other word, 2- from the upspeak. In all honesty I don’t even know why it came out. Neither one of us is American. Perhaps I didn’t want my implied ‘nahnah nah nana’ to be so obvious or that implied. Who knows?)

Boss – Yes…. I guess it makes sense for me to come and see you for your review then.

Me – Oh good. I thought you’d agree. (go lie down as adrenaline recedes)

Ta da!!

Ok so not a huge victory in any way shape or form i hear you say! No victory in playing her own pointless little game. But i had the opportunity and didn’t want to waste it! To me it was like realising she is not my master and more importantly that I’m no longer her bitch! I have a secret (she is shit at her job (shhhh don’t tell)) and I now have HER masters ear.

The next few weeks will be a whole load of sadistic fun!!

Maybe she’s right

My friend Queenie thinks I do too much. It’s a constant rolling argument between us. She says I should cut my self some slack and stop pushing myself so hard. I think “Why aren’t there more hours in the day??”

As I type this I’m on holiday (staycation) sitting in the park. In theory I’m sunning my legs (if only the sun would cooperate) so they start to look less like Lincolnshire sausages (mottled, spotty and a revolting shade of pink that all raw meat has (in my eyes!)). In reality I’m multi tasking. So yes leg tanning (tick) but I’m also doing other stuff.

Let’s ignore the obvious and compulsory – blogging, tweeting and facebooking… (tick)

I’m also arranging this weeks social diary. Doing something every night takes some coordination! “And total lack of spontaneity” I hear you say. You may be right but I’m more of a Don’t-Try-Don’t-Get kind of girl. I hate to miss an opportunity when it’s in my power not to. But either way – nights out (tick).

So apart from the above, the obvious, I’m also reading “Catching Fire” part two in the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. I read all of part one in a couple of sittings, hating myself for enjoying it so much (I’m 35 not 5! Surely I should have graduated to something more intellectual by now??! (My writing class teacher tries to push Zola and Amis at me but It just doesn’t stick)). It’s simple yet beautifully written. I find the POV and tense really engaging. I started on part two this dawn and I’m a third of the way through. (tick)

I’m also wringing the next chapter of Project One, the Novel – working title “I killed you last night”. It’s at a delicate stage and the chapter must cover an uncomfortable topic – the sex scene between two of the main characters. I’m see this as essential yet it makes me so uncomfortable that I’ve been avoiding it for months. It’s time has come today! (argh!) But nonetheless tick!

I’m also editing. I’ve done the second draft of the first 10 chapters, which is to say I’ve reread them for the first time and also stitched them all together. I write as if I’m vomiting words, all directly onto any media device at hand. To make this harder I also just write whichever bit is resonating with me at the time. Occasionally I will force myself to write a bit that ‘needs’ writing. So today I’m rereading the next ten chapters, rearranging them and gluing into a coherent sequence.

For Christmas, at my request, my sibling got me a book on trees. I’m determined to be able to tell the most common British trees apart. It was all deferred during the winter as who would have thunk it there were no leaves (they are the most distinguishing features, and I really will never aspire to being able to tell the trees apart by the trunk or bark (because that would just be crazy)). So far I can tell Lime, Horse Chestnut and Sycamore but the park I’m in is a botanical garden and has many more opportunities for tree spotting. I’m stuck on some kind of maple – either Field Maple or Norway Maple. It’s leaves are maple shaped and regular but the tree itself is a dwarf variety… Very tricky!

Needless to say that while doing all these things I’m constantly cramming my face with food and drink. This week I’m very determined to get in my five-a-day. Two scoffed already – Wooop!

And then there is the obligatory hand & toe nail painting (who wants to look chipped??).

Maybe Queenie is right.

Next week I’ll explore why I’m so desperate to work hard and please.
Answers on a postcard!

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