Monday, August 29, 2005


No. of occasions worn new dress: 3
No. of surprise visitors from Caracas: 1
No. of words: 46,401
No. of new jobs applied for: 3
No. of responses from prospective employers: 0

Am I onto something here? I type RC and I get five comments! Why? Blog comments must obviously have some spiritual link with London buses. Apart from the lovely Genevieve , who drops a much-appreciated friendly comment every so often, I've had no comments for ages then, all of a sudden, I get 8. And, for 5 of those I hadn't even written anything except Roberta's name. Not that I'm complaining.

Lemon Jelly's Nice Weather For Ducks cheered my day as well.

My real birthday day was yesterday. We had an amazing lunch at the River Café & in the evening Sue brought the dogs Clippie and Marnzie, K & family brought over the most incredible Roald Dahl Revolting Recipé chocolate cake and then, completely out of the blue, our old friend Lorenzo from Venezuela turned up, passing through London for a few hours.

I'm keeping up with the thousand words, though. Still crappy words, but the story is pushing along now. The FOR SALE sign has gone up outside our house, & we're starting to look at stuff on Friday. First call is a riverside flat with a swimming pool. I know, I know, I mustn't let that distract me, but, if this heatwave continues, it's bound to and we'll probably take it on the spot and jump in with our clothes on.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Friday, August 26, 2005


Roberta Close

Conf 89 Brazilian Beauty

No. of words: 41,869
No. of responses to job applications: 0
No. of new dresses: 1

A few solid days at novel 3 has cancelled the word debt and got me back on track. In 50 days I should have a completed first draft. I'm enjoying it again, things are starting to happen, characters and storylines are developing as I go. I did a fight scene today, which was great. Fight scenes are good value, lots of movement and impact.


Wide perspectives - characters looking down from high viewpoints give the text space
Speed - anything with lots of movement or hurrying along makes the pace of the story seem faster too
Wind - never underestimate the power of wind, even a little cough here and there infuses life
Colour - easily added at rewriting time

I also changed two names and the mysterious sex of an unseen character has been solved. As this novel is set in Brazil, one of my favouritest places in the whole wide world, when I started writing this person, my memory called up
the sumptuous

(something weird has happened to my links, the little box has gone from the top of the page, sorry.. will try and sort out, she's worth a google, though, honestly)

Roberta Close.

Gorgeous isn't she?


Any non-Brazilians out there, take a closer look.... I have some funny memories of filming with her in Rio, of our UK crew ogling her and making eyes at each other before they were told she was a man. When we had to travel to a different location, she came in the combi with us and all of these butch cocky English blokes wouldn't sit near her, they were scared of her, and not a bit confused. Actually, I guess thinking about it, so was I, I think I kept my awed distance too. Anyway, good character stuff.

I'm feeling much more bouyant. Partner took me out today to buy an outfit for my birthday next week. I'm having a small party for my, equally old, friends, and for once can justify buying something completely impractical I wouldn't normally consider. The first stop, T K Maxx, started well with me filling my arms with skirts and tops but it all looked horrific on. I knew I needed something that, as Trinny and Susannah would say, 'looked nothing on the hanger but good on' which left me floundering as clothes buying hasn't been part of my life for such a very long time. Ended up in a fat, flabby sweat & pacing down to Marks & Spencer. Instead of heading for the sale rack I went for the Per Una new collection and grabbed one of the last 2 dresses on a rack. It was the ONE, or I think so anyway, flimsy, sexy, even if I'm the only one who gets it it'll make me feel better.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Conf 88 Catching up

No. of words: 37,394
No. of e-mails from Guardian ed.: 1
No. of new publication days: 1

My second non-fiction is supposedly out now. I've had no author copies or any communication from the publisher. Amazon says delivery will be in 5-6 weeks. I e-mail the editor, the gushing editor who once promised me oodles more work once upon a long time ago.


Hope you're well. Is is publication day today? or did the dreadful deadlines finally take their toll? I was just wondering when I'd get my six author copies. Also, I hope you haven't forgotten that a copy was promised to J? For speed, here are her details again...
Best wishes, Amanda

OK? Friendly but crisp. I don't know if I want more work from them. I think I'd rather temp, it pays more. I applied for 2 temp jobs today, starting 5 September.

Also, no sign of Russian covers of the 2 novels. However, I did hear from the Guardian ed. after sending her the copy for my third cleaning guru-like query . I sent a covering e-mail saying I hoped it was OK. Her reply was 'It's not just okay, it's blinking marvellous. Let me know if you don't get your payment for any reason.'

Now, THAT'S more like it. I'm not sure which I like best, the blinkin marvellous or the bit about the payment. There could be some holy-grail-like regular column work there, who knows.

Daughter's on a 3 day adventure course so I suddenly had myself to myself again today. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to be doing - finding a job, finding a home, writing novel 3, clearing junk, getting some food in. I decided on the writing, lots of wordcount to catch up on. The house still refreshingly clean after all the frantic preparations for landlord visit at the weekend. An agent came at lunchtime today to value the place for them. I let him in and went back to my computer. Then I promptly forgot about him, so I really jumped out of my skin when this man in a dark suit suddenly appeared at the door.

At the literary end of the compass, a meaty new
short story competition has just been announced. More difficult to crack than getting a novel published methinks, but interesting.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Conf 87 Life's Too Short for Sudoku

No. of words: ugh - same

After landlords' visit on Saturday morning to discuss our moving out of this house, it was off to Seaview on the Isle of Wight for cheerful, sunny weekend with friends by the sea. Seaview is a timewarp. A cross between a miniaturisedly modest Hamptons - the same families return to the same houses year after year for generations - and Enid Blyton c.1951. Then - en route to mother, sister and nephews in Folkestone (sodukuing in the car, which annoys partner no end) - a night in Rye. We couldn't afford to stay here , which is probably just as well, as it's one of the most haunted inns in England. We did go there for a drink and a bar meal, though, which was fab, and had a good mooch around Rye. I had a weekend place there for a short while in another life, an ancient teashop, and would love to spend more time there again sometime. It was home to many writers and artists, one (scrummy) house boasting Henry James and
E F Benson as former residents. Rye was also home for Joseph Conrad, H G Wells, G K Chesterton, John Nash, Edward Burra and Captain Pugwash. We drove the wild coastal route via Dungeness, I looked out for Derek Jarman's hut and garden, but sadly didn't see it. We will return.

Got back here to a few thousand words of debt, no writing done over weekend, and scary phone call from estate agent about notice to quit. Not a good feeling, coming back to a home that isn't going to be home quite soon. Not knowing where we're going or, more crucially, how we're going to get there. Buried fears with Chinese takeaway, cheesy telly and bottle of wine.

How about this for an enviable writing method, from the Paris Review (thanks to maud):

"When I’m in writing mode for a novel, I get up at 4:00 am and work for five to six hours. In the afternoon, I run for 10km or swim for 1500m (or do both), then I read a bit and listen to some music. I go to bed at 9:00 pm. I keep to this routine every day without variation.
The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism.
I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind. But to hold to such repetition for so long — six months to a year — requires a good amount of mental and physical strength. In that sense, writing a long novel is like survival training. Physical strength is as necessary as artistic sensitivity."

Maudless ones, guess who....

Clue: Female

HA, only kidding....


They don't have to make packed lunches for the kids in the morning, do they...

or empty the dishwasher....

or fill it..

and what's guessing they don't have a blog....


Haruki Murakami

Sorry, now I've finally cracked linking, I can't stop...

here's the lovely Derek Jarman's garden.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Conf 86 Theft or Homage

No. of words: 30,606

Philip Hensher writes about the Judith Kelly plagarism case (article: Conf 83) in the Independent. Sorry, one of those annoying items you have to pay for but you get the first few paras. All writers are thieves, he's saying, which is true. They steal from their own lives, friends', strangers', nothing is safe. He seems to think, however, that she deliberately stole in a 'homage' kind of a way which I just don't believe.

One of the most fascinating things about writing, and reading, is the exploration of your own subsconscious. When you read, your imagination interacts with the author's, conjuring up the pictures the words suggest. One of the craft skills of writing is to make these pictures as vivid as possible with as few words as possible. This woman would never have deliberately taken those chunks of prose and consciously reproduced them, not unless she's a complete nutter. If you're trying to get away with something like this, you're not going to use such closely resembling figures are you? ("45 out of 80 girls lay ill" from Jane Eyre. "45 out of 60 girls lay ill", Judith Kelly.) It seems obvious to me that the poor woman's subconscious brought up those phrases all by itself. In her defence, her publisher mentions her photographic memory. Philip Hensher doesn't consider this possibility.

I can understand Hilary Mantel's concerns, of course. Though, like Hensher, I'd probably be more flattered than anything.

When I wrote in an earlier confession about my own theft activities, saying we don't steal from each other. What I meant was we don't steal from each other in day to day chatter, if a writer says something to another writer, you know that whatever they talk about is coming from them and they might want to use it themselves. Or that's how I see it anyway. In my pub times with Keith Waterhouse, there was a lovely English "can I use that?" pause in the conversation with his friends sometimes, as the listener realised he'd just heard something he could use if the speaker didn't want to use it first. But when non-writers speak it's all there for the taking.

Not so the written word, I make notes all the time from books, fiction and non fiction. In fiction it's style. For me, the way the she saids, he saids are handled. The way they get from one scene to another. I would never take a phrase or a sentence knowingly, but there's no copyright in words, and if I see a word I like, I might note that down to use in my own way later.

Hooray, ">> Bridget Jones is back. What's the betting she's preggers, I said to partner the other day. My first novel was a complete, well, maybe 'homage' is the best word here, about a pregnant single mum. I wanted to get published, and this seemed worth a shot. Whilst I was writing it, I was terrified Helen Fielding was going to pop out of the tiles of LA swimming pools any day and announce Bridget's pregnancy. As it turns out, today's instalment (I missed last week's) starts with a menopausal rant, ARRGH I came over all hotly flushed as I read it, this is Abandoned Novel 4 haglit territory - damn. Then it moves to the pregancy test and I think aaah, phew, good, this will be fun, this will be funny, ten million times funnier than my book. But that's no matter. The original is back and I'll drink to that.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Conf 85 Beyond the Plod

No. of words: 29,428

I feel like I'm starting to write from scratch.

Writing stuff.
Tearing it up.
Writing stuff again.
Squirming. Tearing it up.

Getting to the point where you show something you've written is big. That's where classes are good, it speeds it up, makes you do it before you know it, with lots of sympatico thrown in. But then again, get a cruddy class and it could finish you for life. Even getting a good class isn't necessarily a good thing. If you're really unlucky you'll end up like me, getting minor successes and chasing them round corners and up dark alleys forever more.

The one thing I know now is that it'll get better. That this is a wall to get through and then there will be times again where I can't wait to get onto the computer. Where I'll write for hours and think only seconds have passed. It feels a million miles away, but I shall plod on. At least I know it's a point worth reaching, even if the only thing I get out of it is the buzz.

There's a house we might look at on
ttp://"> eel pie island , cheaper than this one. Mad, as I've always said the island has a strange, bleak atmosphere to it, but it does have a romantic side. Living on the river right by the shops and restaurants is appealing. Will have to start clearing junk soon. Have just discovered a freebay site I must look into. Getting rid of all our junk by e-mail sounds good to me.

The new neighbours have now put a circular washing line full of washing in the centre of their lawn. Doesn't bother me, just baffles me how they could prefer that view to the flowers.

Bye bye, thanks for visiting, come again soon.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Conf 83: Blog before novel

No. of e-mails on return from hols: 48
No. of phone messages: 4
No. of new rejections: 3
No. of new commissions: 1
No. of encouraging words from agent: 22
No. of new bills: 2
No. of surprise cheques from long lost cousins: 1
No. of new diet regimes: 1
No. of eviction notices on house: 1
No. of new neighbours: 2 (+ 2 + baby?)
No. of new noises in garden: 4

Back from hols, brown refreshed, the post opened, the e-mails scanned, the washing on the line, am DYING to rabbit on here but must be strict and go and do my 1,000 words and make clay statues first. Back later I hope.

In the meantime, I read this story in the newspaper over the weekend. Every author's worst nightmare, or what?

Bye bye, thanks for calling back, more later.