Monday, 30 November 2009

winning is oh so very, very sweet, like a lovely cake


well, I did it. I absolutely really truly totally did it. I wrote 50, 660 words in November and won NaNo!!!!!! I actually won on Saturday after a nice little write in with my new friend Mariley (a crazy Cuban, she's super-fun) and I am very, very pleased with myself. its been a great personal achievement, and...yes. I'm very happy. so on Sunday I started the re-write, and I want 100,000 words by the end of December. this is going to be quite tricky, because (and this is the catch kids) I want those words to be good. not brilliant, not outstanding (that's January's job) but good. and bearing in mind that quite a few of those original 50,660 words can be officially classified as not very good, well, lets be honest, not even a little bit good, its a pretty tall order. so not only do I want to write the same amount again, but I am also going to have to delete quite a few of the pre-existing words. eeek!!! can I do it? I hope so. I like setting deadlines for myself, and I figure, if I can do it in November, there is absolutely no reason why I can't do it in December.

right, must dash and get writing. I got into work for 7am this morning and wrote for an hour before I started work, then I did 2 hours overtime after work (speaking to actual customers, which I haven't really done since I escaped from civil service HELL, it was ok but I'd forgotten quite how mental the general public could be but hey ho. Vegas won't pay for itself, I wish it would) anyway, I'm pretty tired but I need to do some work on the story. if I go in tomorrow morning and know that I have to write 1000 words about "X" I will probably be able to do it. if I go in and know that I have to write 1000 words, I will probably sit there and read the news and go on ebay. so I must get on.

bye! xx

ps I've noticed that my counter is clocking up "hits" nicely - now, unless you are the boyfriend and the lovely Cally coming on here eight times a day, who are you? stranger dangers please step up and introduce yourself (either that or my counter is broken)

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Hit and Run

Dead flowers sellotaped
to a lamp post
with sympathy.
Words running into
the folds of the soggy
card. Ink-blot butterfly
growing in the corner,

condensation gathers and glistens
foggy on cellophane.
A cried river of tears
dripping onto old, brown petals.

Lamp post like a beacon, glowing
a permanent marker,
as school friends hold hands and
their breath, tip-toeing round
the dark pool of blood,
long scrubbed away but
stained in their memories,
under the bed
with the pistol crack sound
of his head
splitting open
on the pavement.

Saturday, 28 November 2009


He called her Clare.

She was pear-shaped, his favourite fruit,
the image of her mother, fire red hair

slow, special smile, skin so fair
and mannerisms and an attitude to boot.
He called her Clare

and no other woman could begin to compare!
With her budding breasts and grown-up shoes
she was the image of her mother. Fire red hair

cut to precision with style and flair,
how could he resist her? this temptress? confused
he called her, “Clare!”

Watched her, stood on the stair
(and above the mantle, observing, mute
the image of her mother). She had fire red hair

down below. Delicate, perfect everywhere,
his little girl bruised in her birthday suit.
He only called her Clare.
She was the image of her mother.

Monday, 23 November 2009

blah blah blah

So I’m just coming into my last week of NaNo and am currently ahead of the game on 43000. And I’m rocketing between finding it quite easy, and finding it very difficult indeed.
One thing is for sure, I am obsessed with my word count. It can’t be healthy. But I’m fast approaching land, the end is in sight, yada yada yada.
What I hadn’t expected from my marathon word sprint is how physically exhausting it would be. My shoulders ache, I’m absolutely shattered, my ring finger on my left hand no longer co-operates and won’t hit the keys like it used to, my bones seem to be cracking more than they did in October.
On the plus side, my confidence has improved, although I am only a third of the word length of what will be my finished manuscript, it suddenly seems that much closer. Instead of talking myself out of writing, I am talking myself into it, and my previous mental see-saw that had self doubt being the fat kid on one end with skinny little self confidence way up high on the other, now sees self confidence eating cakes whilst his frenemy is on some sort of horrid cabbage soup diet.

I’m still having my moments, of course I am, but I'm getting better, which is great.

I’ve also realised that I am not the kind of writer that sits down and writes a story. I am in awe of anyone who can write a novel in one go (and that’s where I’ve gone wrong in the past, I’ve expected to sit down and write 200 consecutive pages of winning prose – impossible!) I write a massive great big mess that is a tangle of words. I don’t know how it will end or how everything will tie together, and I’m note even sure if it’s the story that I started with, but I will get there by next weekend, for sure. At 40,000 words I figured out the motivation for my murderer, but I had to write through those words in order to find it, it wasn’t just going to be there for the taking at the start, that would be too easy. And yes, there are lots of bits that don’t fit together now, but they will. I have a feeling that my re-write is going to use up a lot of post-it notes, and I don’t think I have enough wall space in the study for a time-line, but I hope that I will have enough space in the hall…

My other realisation is that it hasn’t been an impossible task. I mean, yes, there have been days (like today!!) when I haven’t wanted to write, and yes, there have been days when I haven’t written and have had to play catch-up, but if I had written for all of those days, and if all weekends had been as productive as last weekend, then I could have written an awful lot more. I’ve definitely come to the conclusion that I don’t suffer from writers block, as I conveniently thought for the last eight years, but instead I am just incredibly lazy. Next NaNo, I’m going to set myself a higher target, and I’m excited about it already.

The other thing I am excited about is reaching the end, and then doing something else. Like reading a book. I haven’t read anything this month, and I’m starting to miss it. And I want to work on some short stories. I finally sent one off to Fiction Feast today, which has only taken me about three weeks from actually having it finished but hey ho, I told you I was lazy.

Right, anyway, I’m off. I need to make the sandwiches for tomorrow, go and talk to the boyfriend if he hasn’t fallen asleep on the sofa (unlikely, he always falls asleep on the sofa, and he’s watching the match so I think sleep is like an inner defence mechanism so as not to feel embarrassment at poor play or silly yellow away shirts) and then I need to do some more procrastinating through the medium of watching I’m a Celebrity. I’m so pleased Joe is finally doing a task, I hope it makes him cry. Byeeeee!!! xx

Friday, 20 November 2009

bad thoughts, good thoughts and surprise sympathy

bad thoughts

so I keep expecting Mslexia to email me and tell me its all been a terrible mistake. that they thought my story was a different story and that they don't want to publish it after all. or that the draft I sent them as a word attachment is ever so slightly different from the one I originally posted, so its been disqualified. or for it just to somehow fall through before January.

good thoughts

in the stuff they sent me to fill in, it said at the bottom, almost like a little ps (like this wasn't a very exciting thing, and please bear in mind I'm paraphrasing here) being published in Mslexia means that a lot of editors and very important people will have a chance to read your work and many marvellous things might come of it.

so now, in my head, off the back of one short story (just a few words shy of 2500 words) I am no doubt going to have publishers and exciting people knocking my door down, asking if I have anymore little tales of the same calibre and could they possibly see them straight away? or they're so impressed with it, they'd like me to write a book, on a subject of my choice, for a life-changing fee. because of course, this is exactly whats going to happen. why wouldn't it?

in other news, the NaNo novel is currently 35,569 words. it has a title (which I might share later, I'm not sure how much I like it but it is a lot better than the working title I had previously) and today I made one of my characters 10 years younger. now, in previous Bijou-novelling attempts this would have been catastrophic. in new-and-improved-Bijou-novelling world, I just know that I will have to make some major changes in the re-write (for example, remove the incredibly awful opening scene where she attends the wedding of a friend from university, this is no big loss, it was rubbish anyway). so even though I have a lot of work to do, I'm happy about this and am just plodding on regardless of the blazing inconsistencies. having a younger character means that some of the reactions and situations will be more dramatic, realistic and altogether better. on the re-write, which I'm looking forward to.

I'm also looking forward to printing it out, its currently 66 pages, and once I've finished it, and 1.5 spaced it (perfect for editing) it will probably be close to 200 pages, which is amazing, whichever way you look at it.

surprise sympathy

I really, really feel for Katie Price (for those of you not keeping up with it, she's gone back in the jungle for some closure on her failed marriage to Peter Andre and the Great British Public are voting for her to do all the Bushtucker Trials) so the poor girl is eating shit and having cockroaches poured over her head and trying to pick up eels and climb mountains and put her hands in nasty things. and everytime she looks so scared, but she gives it a good go anyway.

today I voted for Joe Bugner, who is vile. I wasn't going to vote, but I just felt so sorry for Katie, I really wanted someone horrible to have to do something horrible. but it didn't work, and poor Katie is up again tomorrow. I will probably have to vote again soon.

ok, so thats it. I'm going to have to buy the Sunday Times this weekend because it has a live Blur cd from the concerts that they did over the summer. I went to the one at the Academy, and there were about 1500 people there and I was at the front and it was, absolutely and without a single doubt, the highlight of my gig-going career. ah, memories, memories...

bye! xx

(after thought - have you checked out how I've linked to Mslexia? you can get to their website, just by clicking on their name! this is incredibly technologically advanced and I figured it out all on my own!)

Sunday, 15 November 2009

good news, bad news (or woo hoo!!!!!!!)

so this week I've had a mixed week. I haven't been as good with NaNo as I was last week (although I am on 22,881 words, which is 43 pages and I will be on 25,005 by the time I go to bed) and on Monday, I had an email telling me that I hadn't won a competition (although I had been strongly considered - but, do they say that to everyone?) so thats the not-quite-so-good-can-probably-be-described-as-fair-to-middling news.

the good news is that I've made a writing friend! which is very exciting and nice. and the really, really, really, really good news is...

I've had a story accepted by Mslexia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm going to be published in January!!!!!!!!!!!!!

that email came through on Wednesday and I had a little cry at my desk when I opened it. I am so unbelievably pleased and proud of myself. its especially nice because it is the first story that I've written since I've started back up with my writing, and its the first story that I've sent off to a magazine - and you don't get your first story published. that just doesn't happen. they tell you that in all the books. oh, and added to that, I forgot to include a cover letter, so I was convinced that they would bin it immediately. but they didn't. hooray!!!!!!!!!!!

I wanted to be published by the time I'm 30 and its actually going to happen. the nice thing is that its actually made me think, yes, I can do this, I can actually do this.

anyway, I just wanted to let you know. I must get back to NaNo, I have just over 2000 words to write before bed (and the X Factor and I'm a Celebrity to watch too)

I'll post again soon, with something else that isn't just me bragging about how ace I am :-)

Saturday, 7 November 2009

The Librarian

Good Afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen, and welcome to the New and Improved City Library and Adult Learning Resource Centre.

Do you know how much money they’ve spent on us? Would you like to hazard a guess?

Six million pounds.

Yes, yes, I know. You heard me correctly. Six million pounds to house these books. Aren’t we lucky? Of course, it’s been difficult whilst the Library has been closed. They’ve farmed us out to other Libraries, however, it isn’t really the same. A Librarian of my calibre isn’t really at home in the smaller Libraries. I need the bustle of the big city Library, I find I crave the noise. Yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. Noise in a Library? Well it isn’t that kind of noise, not rowdy disco kind of noise. It’s a quiet, book-borrowing, pen-scribbling kind of noise. The noise in the smaller Libraries isn’t the same. It is more of a don’t-know-what-to-do-with-myself-so-I-thought-I’d-come-to-the-Library kind of noise. Totally different. So even thought they packed us off to other Libraries, I’ve still had more time on my hands than I normally would. Time which I’ve spent at home. It’s been quite nice in a way. I spent a lot of time in the garden, re-grouted the bathroom, was able to do my skirting boards once a week, that kind of thing. And of course I was able to spend more time with Jerry.

Ah, Jerry. Jerry is my husband, of course. He’s always been one of those softly gregarious types. You know the kind, not one to shoot his mouth off but he’ll talk quietly to anyone. He’s forever stopping to give young men lifts home. I always tell him, you have to be careful Jerry. You never know who you might pick up, what sort of undesirable you might find in the backseat of your car but he doesn’t listen. If you care for it, Ladies and Gentlemen, I think you’ll find that we have a top-notch true crime section that will make your skin crawl. But he doesn’t pay me any mind, as I’m sure any ladies who also have been married for thirty-odd years will agree is an unfortunate attribute of the male psyche. He wasn’t like that when I married him, he always used to agree that I know best, but I suppose that’s marriage for you. My waist isn’t as slim as it was and he’s forgotten that its better all round if he listens to me. I think he forgets where I work, what I’m involved in, day-in, day-out. He’s never been this close to such a wealth of information succinctly detailing the horrors of human-kind. He wouldn’t know how to use the internet if it walked up to him, smacked him in the face, and said “hello, I’m the internet, here is a simple step-by-step guide to how I work.” No, no, he’s in his own little world, and, this is a bit of a guilty admission, I am quite ashamed to tell you this, especially when so many of you have come here in the dusk of your lives, when things are becoming a little hazy, you’re going a little grey, trying to broaden your horizons, bring a little light, but…he isn’t even a member of the Library. That’s right! I’ll hold my hands up! My name is Lillian Broadbent, Chief Librarian of the new and improved City Library and Adult Learning Resource Centre, and my own husband isn’t even a member.

I have always been a member of the Library. I’ve worked here for 40 years. Woman and girl. My first job was in this Library, when I was a young woman straight out of school, I was here part time when the children were small and needy, and I’ve taken more hours since they’ve grown up and spread their wings. The children, I am pleased to tell you, are members of the Library. They don’t come here very often because they live away and don’t get back a lot, but they’re always keen to pop in when they do. And it is always wonderful to see them. It really is.

So here we are, and I do hope to see you all again in the future. This is a wonderful Library, a real lifelong learning centre, it has everything you could ever need. Not just books you know. We have a varied selection of audio books and some wonderful films and documentaries, some of the dvds, I’m lead to believe, are quite racy, if you like that sort of thing. I don’t much care for it myself. I prefer a nice historical documentary, or a period drama. Jane Austin dramatises particularly well. Such lovely costumes. And it constantly amazes me that she is still so relevant. My daughter doesn’t agree with me, but then, our children rarely do, do they? How many in here have children? I suppose that in some small way that might have spurred you to come here. To fill the gap left by empty nest syndrome, or, really, just to see what all the fuss over the internet is about. Well, we’ll get to that later. There is an introductory session later today at 2pm, which will give you a really good idea of how it all works and what you do with all the bits and pieces. What I really want to convey to you though, is that, no matter what your reasons for coming here, do not be afraid. We’re all friends here. It might sound like a clichĂ©, but it’s true.

Ok, so we have lots of treats in store for you over the coming weeks. Thursday mornings are dedicated Senior Citizens Day. Although I’ve had to put my foot down and cancel the first key speaker. One of our younger members of staff booked her, in what I can only imagine is a bad taste joke. The book this lady wrote is about…sex. The premise is about not letting the dull familiarity of marriage intrude on your sex life. It was written by an American woman with three ex-husbands, no children, and an assortment of handbag sized dogs that look like hairdos. The book itself has a bright pink mock suede cover and is full of jaunty tips, the kind of quirky sex secrets that are apparently best tried out by candlelight. Honestly! Have you ever heard anything like it? It all seems so…robust. I can’t imagine Jerry and I ever doing anything like that. Cold lino under bare skin? No thank you very much indeed. Far more comfortable just to sit in quietly, perhaps read the paper or watch a gardening programme. I do love my garden. It is one of my few pleasures outside of my work. Not that my life is devoid of pleasure. I didn’t mean it like that. I have a lot of pleasure in my life. I mean, look around! Six million pounds they spent on this place. If that doesn’t make you happy, I don’t know what will. So luckily for us all I managed to stop us being subjected to that and now our first key speaker is going to be a member of the Local Historical Society. Full details can be found on the notice board by the main entrance, or when you’ve learnt how to use the internet, you can go on our mailing list and have all our up-and-coming news beamed straight into your inbox!

Here at the Library, we also keep a full range of papers, both broadsheet and tabloid. The story running on the front page of all of them today is another sad tale in the continued saga of the Side Street Strangler. These poor young boys are perhaps living on the shadier side of the tracks but that doesn’t mean that they deserve what happens to them, poor things. It must be a monster who picks up a young man and does the things described – if you haven’t been following it, well, first of all I don’t know where you’ve been because it has been all over the news, and secondly, I can’t bring myself to repeat the atrocities that are delightfully regaled in the newspapers – they are all over there in case I’ve piqued your interest and you would like to look yourselves. Basically, these poor unfortunates are picked up by a man who is trawling for…well, you know the things that some men look for outside of the home, late at night on the dimly lit side of the street. Five times it’s happened in the last six months. The papers say he’s picking up speed, killing with more ferocity now, but it looks like they have a lead, however tenuous it may be. They say the man they are looking for drives a dark coloured Ford sedan. Well, I call it tenuous because we all know how popular those cars are, don’t we? I mean, we have a dark coloured Ford sedan, as I’m sure do some of you and half the people in the city! Scepticism aside, I do hope the police catch him soon. I mean, he could be anyone! He could be anywhere! We could have passed him in the street and not known about it, such is the anonymous society we live in. This is why institutions such as the Library are so important. Back when I was a girl, the Library was seen as one of the hubs of the community, and it is my fervent wish that it will be that way again.

And that concludes my talk today, Ladies and Gentlemen. I hope this introductory session has whetted your appetite for what’s to come, which is, I hope, many a pleasant hour passed in our Library. And if you quite literally have worked up an appetite, why, you can visit our cafĂ© bar! It wouldn’t have had a place in the old Library, but I have to admit it is a very welcome addition to the new one. That’s progression for you. And my children call me old-fashioned! Now, does anyone have any questions? No? Good, good. I’ll let you get on with it then, happy browsing, and remember, if you have any problems, the staff will be more than happy to help, or you could just ask for me, Lillian Broadbent, Chief Librarian.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

NaNoWriMo and the joys of pop music

So I'm trying to write a 50,000 words in 30 days. I may have mentioned this before. It is my new obsession.

Some days I think I've gone crazy-loco, some days I think it will be easily achievable, it all depends on what kind of mood I'm in. I've been planning my story for a while in my head, some of it on purpose but most of it accidentally whilst I've been trying not to think about it and when it started at midnight on Sunday I was very, very excited. After the X Factor (I do like that its on twice now, although I really, really wanted Jamie Afro to go. He isn't rock, and in addition to that, he's rubbish!! Poor Rachel, but ultimately I think Simon made the right decision sending it to deadlock, as poor little Lloyd gave it his best shot even though he was obviously quite poorly. Rachel was a better singer, but Lloyd got the pity/pretty factor. He's one of those boys you'd see on the Metro and then notice he was in his school uniform, and then feel wrong inside) anyhoo, I made myself stay up til midnight, which is late for me. I know, I know, I'm up late now, but believe me, I will regret this in the morning. But I stayed up, so I could start to write at midnight, and what I wrote was utter shit. I couldn't believe that I had been waiting for such a long time to start, and once I did, it was so rubbish. BOOO!!!!

So I went to bed, and when I got up in the morning, duly got my laptop and settled in for the write in. And I wrote a load of shit, again. Except this time, the boyfriend was up and kept checking on me, and couldn't understand why I was in tears and kept bringing me chocolate to try and make it right. Sheer perseverance meant that I got my word count (1667 words per day) by about noon, so I went and read in the bath and calmed myself down. On the second write in of the day, after I'd changed tense and then reverted to the original tense but with some different characters, things started to go a bit better. Normally, if I don't know something, I'll go and look it up, and then get distracted (hello Facebook and Perez Hilton and and then lose my mojo. NaNo Bijou writes a bit differently. There are lots of random things like






and then just lots of writing. 6681 words so far, to be exact. Which is good. Its on target, which considering I had yesterday off, is tremendous. Now we just need to all keep our fingers crossed that I can keep up the good work...and don't get distracted, or disheartened, both of which are totally viable options. Hmmmm.

Apart from NaNoing (and going back to work today, to nothing but trouble. BOO!!! Don't have a team, its like having too many teenagers) but apart from all that, my November has mostly been spent going to pop concerts. I went to see Pink on Monday, which has been planned forever, and she was amazing and I got very drunk (and spent £26.50 on a t-shirt. On one single t-shirt!!) hence having to have Tuesday off writing. And then yesterday, my friend Laura randomly invited me to go and see the Backstreet Boys with her! She's reviewing things for the Chronicle and had free tickets, and what girl in her right mind would say no to that?

I won't say too much about it, other than we were laughing very, very loudly when they burst through a curtain whilst singing "Backstreets Back, Alright!" and were getting some mucky looks from the people who had paid good money to be there. At one point, she turned to me and said "wow, I didn't know that they could do so much with post-production."

Until she gets her own blog (Laura, get a blog!!!) you've got to buy the Chronicle or go online to read her very fabulous reviews, which you can do by going here...

although I would like her to quote her source and justify saying that they're the biggest selling boy band of all time, because if last nights performance is anything to go by, I just can't believe that's true.

Anyway, enough rambling. I've had three late nights in a row and have been tired all day and its now 11.45 and I intend to get up early and get a lift to the Metro station with the boyfriend at 6.30 so I can get into work early and spend some time NaNoing before I start work at 8. I am going to regret staying up late blogging in the morning, and I apologise in advance for whinging, loads.

Goodnight!! xx

ps I've got my word count, been to a writing class and blogged tonight. Go Bijou!!!