Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Writing, writing, writing – rawhide!

I really should get a cushion for this chair. *winks*

This August I have been doing my best imitation of a pinball. Pow – I spring from my home and shoot towards the other side of London. There I sit staring at the computer puzzling over websites until the buzzers ring and shazam – off I slam back towards home to sit in front of another computer puzzling over my story. My poor eyes hate me. I keep having to squirt them with Moist Eye Stuff. When I become an author (not if, when) I shall revert to a typewriter and tippex. I shall write every morning and garden every afternoon (and drink like a fish every evening.)

If I were an author... a-yadda-yadda-yadda-ya...

In-between all this powing and shazaming I have been watching the signs of approaching autumn. I spotted a conker (horse chestnut) on the floor the other day. The trees are poised to reveal their autumn/winter collection 2011. The morning air is fresh and smells of leaves and earth. The temperature is beginning to dip either end of the day. The dawn is stirring out of bed later, yawning and slightly rumpled. I’m already snuggled in jumpers and striding to work in boots, dreaming of scarves and gloves. I am autumn girl. Hear me roar!

Despite not being at school, my thoughts always turn to stationery. New pencil cases, crisp notebooks, shiny folders. There is something very pleasing about fresh stationery. You shall fill me with wonderful things, it says. You shall not disappoint, it says, and that is where me and It sometimes have a parting of the ways, as I am a scribbler. I’m also a doodler. I still scrawl spirals and flowers and ‘HELP!’ signs in notebooks, although now during Meetings of Officialdom.

Maybe one day I’ll have a minion. I could send my minion to Meetings of Officialdom and I could be elsewhere stomping in puddles instead. It’d be rather nice if my minion liked ironing as well. And cupcake eating. Tuesday shall be declared Cupcake Day for both of us. Gosh, maybe I’d have to get my minion a minion. The life of a benevolent dictator seems so tricky all of a sudden.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Driving Miss Jayne

A while back I got a car. This is my car:

I first took a driving test in 1993. Yikes! My mum crashed her car (with me in it) the previous day. I should have cancelled my test but didn’t, which, considering I’d spent the previous evening in hospital, was really, really stupid. Needless to say I failed (rather miserably) and then I gave up driving as couldn’t afford any more lessons. There was no need, I told myself, cars were expensive, other people drove, my work was easier to get to by trains and tubes.

But I always wanted to be The Jayne That Drives! I could see myself being the Jayne that drives – she zips around in classic cars with picnic baskets in the boot and goes on day trips to the beach. The Jayne that drives is a confident, go-getter sort of person, someone who makes things happen. The Jayne that doesn’t drive isn’t any of these things.

A conversational door closes when you don’t drive. It is hard to join in with talk on cars – petrol, makes, driving, distances. It depends whether you are someone who notices such things, but I am, and while it didn’t bother me at first, slowly I felt the distance lengthen.

Then I became the Jayne That Drives and the distance disappeared as if it was never there. My first foray was to the supermarket and coffee shop – I swung my car keys and bought my take-out coffee and suddenly felt part of something new. It felt good.

So far I have made only short forays, and have grinned with each new accomplishment. I parked in a car park! I found my windscreen-wipers! I put petrol in! I drove the cats to the vet! I made up a very silly driving song! (‘This is the driving song / You can sing along / But you can’t because you’re a cat / And that’s the end of that!’)

Tonight I’m off to see a friend and it will be the longest car journey yet. (Ten whole miles!) I have no sat-nav (or map) so have printed out large text directions to glance at if stuck. Although all will be fine, today has been spent needlessly worrying along the lines of:

1. Being in the wrong lane and ending up on the M25
2. Not being able to get off the M25 and ending up in a giant circle vortex
3. Getting totally lost
4. Breaking down
5. Not being able to change lanes on the A10
6. Changing lanes badly thus causing an accident
7. Not being able to see due to Sweat of Fear
8. Driving back in the dark
9. Missing the turn for A10 and getting stuck on the roundabout
10. Drivers beeping at me and road raging

That’s about it so far. Give me another hour and I’ll prob be able to write ten more!

When did you start driving? Where did you go on your first journey?

Update: Did the journey! All went very well. Yeay!

Friday, 12 August 2011

Greta Garble and the Great Cupcake Incident

I am Greta Garble at the moment. I can’t write! I just can’t. Every sentence I try looks at me as if I’m having a laugh. Read that back to yourself and weep, it says smugly, and when I do I realise I have spent an hour crafting a load of baloney.

If my novel was a pencil-top eraser it would now be worn to a sad sorry little stump. I can’t seem to stop revising and editing. It’s because I have decided to make some hefty changes and the very idea makes me want to howl at the moon. So it’s all an uphill struggle at the moment, but there are some things that make a difference.

1. Even if you only have time to write 200 words a day, that is 200 more than nothing
2. When everything is failing, say to yourself that you will only write to the end of the page. Taking off the pressure sometimes encourages creativity.
3. Remember that writing is what we choose to do and as much as it makes us want to tear our hair out, it’s also kind of lovely as well

Even writing a blog post feels kind of tricksy, like I am expecting it to lay in wait a paragraph down and trip up my fingers. Will I get over this strange feeling? It doesn't help that I have given up chocolate since the Great Cupcake Incident.

'What's that?' you say. 'The great cupcake whatta? Spill.'

Well. It was the other day. I was being Healthy and Good. I decided to go on a three-mile stride, as I rather like walking and thinking and plotting and admiring other people's gardens. I set out... and, despite good intentions, the only real place to walk around my area is away out of the borough towards a nice little tea shop.

I may have mentioned this nice little tea-shop before.

So I got there, Woman's Weekly Fiction Special magazine in hand, pen and notebook ready, determined that I was just going to have a coffee. I was lying to myself at this point as I knew full well I was going to have a chocolate cupcake and in fact all my plotting for the last 15 minutes of my walk had been completely cupcake orientated.

'We're having a sale,' chirruped the nice tea-shop lady. She wasn't a bird by the way. But she did chirrup somewhat. In a minute she'll carroll.

'All cakes half-price!' she carrolled.

Blogger buddies, I don't know what came over me. It was like the red velvet mist descended. Next thing I knew; I walked out of the tea shop with a box.

Yes. A box. A box of cupcakes.

I even did that thing in the shop where I pretended I was buying cakes for the family - 'oh mum will like this one and little brother Toby can have that one...'

(There is no little brother Toby. Toby was, in fact, a teddy-bear.)

Bad Jayne. However, my mum did get a cupcake eventually as even I, sugar fiend extraordinaire, can't eat a whole box of cupcakes.

There is a motto here and it probably should say something like if you are being Good and Healthy, avoid the chirrupy happy tea-shop lady. As for me? I'm now on a diet.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011


It is heart-breaking to see what is happening in London recently. Be under no illusion that this wanton destruction is about protest; this is about theft. The people doing this don’t want to talk or bargain; they don’t wish to lobby for answers, better employment or less cuts. They just want free trainers. They really don’t care if they burn down a person’s business or home, damage communities or historical buildings, and destroy trust. None of that seems to matter if you can get a free, slightly cracked, plasma TV. They think it’s a game with no consequences.

Sadly, the consequences for a community and London as a whole go much further than an individual person being arrested for their crimes. Shops that once had pretty glass fronts may be tempted to put up ugly metal shutters. Barriers could be raised where once there were none; restrictions might be in place where once movement was free. That’s what they don’t realise, these silly people.

There is pride in being a responsible person in the world. With pride comes respect – respect for yourself and respect for those around you, for the natural world and how amazing it is to be alive. Being kind costs nothing and yet the dividend is priceless – far higher than anything they can steal.

I hope one day these people looting realise this.

PS - This post is opinion only, not an analysis.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

August by the wayside

August is thought to be the high season of holidays but really it is the month of unseen magic. Turn your face to sun! Relax and enjoy! It says. And while we play on the sand and splash in the sea Nature is readying the stage for autumn. Can you spot the magician at work?

I spy with my little eye...

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Today I’m over there

Just when I was about to Unleash the Gloom, I’ve discovered my next blog post is up on the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook website! In it I talk about OARS (Over-Active Research Syndrome). If you have time do pop over and leave me a comment – be great to hear your thoughts.

Click here to read about Over-Active Research Syndrome/

As for the Gloom… oh dear. There are a few reasons for the Gloom, mainly circling around living arrangements that need to be better arranged, not winning the lottery (which would greatly help the first reason), commuting in hot weather and general work / life balance doing its best Jedi mind trick - ‘There is no balance. Move along.’

But it’s cool (well, apart from if you are a commuter. Then it’s freakin’ hot.) I just have to keep focused on The Grand Plan. There is a new Grand Plan, y’see, and this one supersedes the other grand plan, which turned out not to be as grand as once thought. This new one rocks socks, it really does.

And because I have just heard from the vet that my Ginger boy is recovering nicely after having some dental work done, here’s a picture of him enjoying the sunshine.

Ps. Have changed my blog template slightly in the hope that it will sort out the annoying backlink problem. Here's hoping!