Shock Horror (not a new genre)

Yes, I’ve been talking about writing a novel for yonks. I’ve plotted, procrastinated and petered out so many times, I was beginning to think I was actually allergic to writing.

It’s a common thing, I think. Worrying, endlessly, that what we write will be too terrible and that, I don’t know, the house will fall down or we’ll be sent to the gallows for putting out into the world words that aren’t utterly perfect.

I’ve written things before. Even had bits published but still that voice says ‘no, get a grip, who’s interested your turgid tragic tales?’ Ok, maybe no one does but it does it’s better than doing housework.

So. I’m a thousand words in. I know what structure I’m going to use and there’s a sniff of plot. God, I hope it’s plot I can smell and that the dog hasn’t disgraced himself again. Actually, I wonder what my plot would smell like if it had an odour? These are the sort of things writerly types need to ponder, I’m sure.

Words. Characters. A sort-of plot. I’m devouring other people’s writing and making use of the seven hundred and twenty million books about writing I have on my heaving shelves. If you need inspiration, I highly recommend A Writer’s Book of Days by Judy Reeves; it’s an oldie but a goodie.

I’m filling the creative well, and not with wine before you ask! Theatre and music and podcasts; my brain is bursting! This week I saw The Ballad of Maria Marten – it’s on tour, see it if you can. And then see it again, it’s that good.

I’m not convinced writing a novel that’s as yet untitled is a good thing. It seems a little half-baked. Hmmm. The last novel I started writing was actually titled Half Baked. But that’s another story. Literally.

The Writer’s Book of Days says I must go out, look at things, sniff them and lick them. Or something. The dog’s enjoying this part. He did tell me today that he could easily write a much better novel than me if only he could type. Bloody sod. I’ll show him… he does look handsome having his writerly thoughts though, doesn’t he?

Epiphanies and Exasperation

Crumbs. A new decade. It’s the law that we look back and reflect, right?

I’ve started 2020 in my 50s. Well, just 50 to be precise. No need to overegg the whole age thing. It occurred to me that the next ten years will be gone in a flash. They do as you get older, why is that? Anyway. I’ve never thought anything much before about the starting of a new decade. But by the time the next one comes and bites us on the bum, I’ll be 60. 60!

This has to be the decade, surely, when I get my act together. Become a world famous writer and all that. These past six months, I’ve made a lot of changes. To me, they were pretty major: I gave up covering my greys then had all my hair chopped off. From shoulder-length brunette to grey pixie overnight. What will people think, I wondered? Funnily enough, no one even noticed.

I signed up to Lookiero and bought a load of new clothes to go with my new image. Clothes that hadn’t even had other people in them. Come on, I’m a skinflint. I’m happy to buy an amazing coat on eBay for £15 if it’s no good to the current owner. I haven’t worn any of the new clothes yet. Um…

I spent approx. eleventy billion quid on new make-up and life-changing skincare from Glossier. Are people stopping me in the street to comment on how bloody fab I’m looking? Nah, of course they’re not. I mean, it could be said that I was already pretty fabulous before I started all this nonsense. I’ve reached peak awesomeness. Or maybe not.

My epiphany as I start the new decade? I’ll do as I am. My life won’t change a jot if I lose weight, shave my head or start wearing rock chick clothes. It might if I actually crack on with the thing I’ve stopped and started (or vice versa, more accurately) and actually do something about my dream. Is 50 too old to start being fabulous? Obviously when I’m a famous writer, I’ll have to stop being so spiffing or else Richard Curtis and all those other super Suffolk types will be too intimidated to be my friend. Maybe I’ll just stick to hiding under the kitchen table every time someone knocks on the door. Best not to change too many things at once, eh? I’ll be writing under there, though, oh yes.

Rust, Ruts and Resolutions

Don’t you just love this time of year?  All those perky new plans popping up and shouting ‘yoo hoo, here I am!’ while we’re writhing on the bed, trying to do our zips up and wondering when – WHEN? – elasticated waists will become acceptable.

I spotted something on Instagram a little while ago that I liked the idea of: my month as a flatlay.  I’ll do that, I thought.  I didn’t do it though.  I never get round to doing anything.  I’m terrible.  So.  2019 is the year I will Achieve Things.  No procrastination.  No excuses.  I mean, apart from the new full-time job, associated study and the street food wotsit to run.  I will write my novel.  Or maybe a screenplay.  I will do whatever it takes to look no older than 40 by the beginning of May (when I’ll be 50).  Exercise, healthy living, that sort of thing; the glass of red I’m drinking as I type this doesn’t count but I can’t remember why.

I’ve made a three-pronged start already and I think you’ll be proud.

Declutter:  an essential.  I know this because I read it on the internet.  I gathered up all the things I haven’t used or worn for a while.  I spent hours researching how much I should list them for on eBay, had a lovely daydream about what I’d spend all the money on before deciding I couldn’t really be arsed.  Sent some stuff to charity.  Decided to keep the rest.  I’ve not beaten procrastination but I’ve been provident.  Those old clothes will come in handy when I’m young and thin again, won’t they?

Sort out desk/study to enable efficient studying/writing: um, well I ordered a guitar stand so that the guitar I haven’t played for six months doesn’t just rest on a pair of jeans that I haven’t squeezed into for six years.  Yeah, let’s gloss over that one.

Creativity: Fiddled about with some photos demonstrating ‘my month as a flatlay’.  Well, a flatlay of things I didn’t do at all last year but were all top of my teetering pile of resolutions.  It’s not even a flatlay, to be fair.  A pile-up, perhaps?

A pile-up of procrastination.  Yes, I think that just about sums my life up.  2019 will be better though, right?  Whatevs.  Even though I’ve decided to be 40 instead of 50 this year, I’m still looking forward to the time when ‘lie down more, eat more cake and just have a nice time’ becomes ok.  It’s all about achievable goals, right?

Anyway, The Voice starts tonight and I’ve got a risotto to make.  I’ll write the novel tomorrow.  Probably.

 

 

 

New Year, New Dreams

January’s a funny old month; Christmas a distant memory yet daffodils a hopeful pipe dream.  Sunshine is what we need and where better to recharge, recalibrate and fire oneself up for the year ahead than… er… the Northumbrian coast.  A great big Greek bloke, posh Jersey bird and their brute of a rescue dog holed up in a teeny tiny whitewashed cottage in Seahouses.

My mother’s uncles were  fishermen in Seahouses, back in the day.  I grew up with Mum’s endless stories of Alnwick, Bamburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed.  Of Lowry’s paintings.  Of how the endless consumption of oily fish made her aunts  the least wrinkly ladies ever.  Of the time Mum was supposed to be looking after her little brother, Jimmy, when they got cut off by the tide and nearly drowned until she spotted steps to safety.  Magical steps, that appeared magically!  Steps that had never been seen before nor again after.  The steps that saved their lives.

I confess, I didn’t want to listen to Mum’s dreary old northern ramblings as a child growing up in Jersey.  But I suppose those stories became embedded because, well, here I am.  The old girl has talked about coming back to visit for years – along with all the other places she’d been saving for her retirement.  But her eyesight’s gone, unexpectedly.  She can’t even stalk Seahouses on Google Maps now, so here I am.  Seeing it all for her.   I’ve seen ‘her’ castle; the Bamburgh butcher (Carter’s, established in 1887, and one of Rick Stein’s original food heroes) where I ‘had’ to buy sausages (the Greek God’s cooking them as I type).  I haven’t seen the magical life-saving steps though.  Funny, that.

The weird thing?  I’m strangely at home here.  I can find my way without satnav.  I’ve fallen in love – hopelessly, helplessly and irrevocably – with the arse-bitingly cold wind that chases us as we slip and slide over the frozen rockpools and frosty rocks; mad cows guarding the gate from dune to beach; hot kippers in a bun; proper pubs full of glowing glass and brass with pints of Farne Island beer to be swigged by a roaring fire.

Tomorrow we visit Holy Island after which my grandmother, Lindis, was named.  The perfect way to spend our last day.  But we’ll be back.  I’m already secretly searching for houses.  Shhhhh.  It’s our little secret.  I need to talk the Greek God round first.

Up the Caffeine Creek

I don’t know how food writers cope with the whole ‘eating out’ thing all the time.  I’ve only managed half a sausage roll and, after three flat whites, am shaking too much to type and can’t concentrate on anything more than my urge to pee.  Perhaps that’s why novelists write in cafés; the pressing urgency to write a day’s quota of words before their bladders burst.

I need to start writing again.  Coffee shops will be my escape from pitta-baking and the neglected housework, I decided.  I’m writing this in my third of the day; the first in which I shared a sausage roll with the Greek God and indulged in a VERY creative discussion about profit, loss & dividends; the second into which I was lured by a clever A-board but where the coffee was vile and the music snooze-inducing and now this one: bursting – more than my too-tight greedy-arse jeans – with groovy tattooed tutors and waistcoat-wearing gentlemen.  There’s a man drawing circles in a notebook and I wonder whether he’s an artist, architect or venn diagram enthusiast.  He’s had beans on toast for lunch though.  That tells me all I need to know about him.  Another flat white, if you please, with some foil-wrapped headspace…

I wrote a novel once.  Unpublished, but still.  All those words spilling out of my brain, through my fingers and onto a page.  I’m still bursting with words.  But they seem to be the wrong words at the mo.  Never mind, eh?  Being a street food lady now, I know to keep all the wrong words in an airtight tub to keep them fresh; they’ll probably come in handy if I run out completely.   Tupperwared words.  Who knew?

But anyway.  While I wrestle the wrong words into submission, this isn’t too bad a place to hang out, right..?

Cafe1

Cafe2