Friday, 26 February 2010

earrings = happiness

this week I have received three rejections
1) I didn't get a "writer in residence" thing I applied for
2) I didn't get an interview for the job at the Arts Council
3) My stories weren't selected for the INK festival

so after work, I went and bought myself these...which are possibly, the most god-awful, garishly beautiful earrings known to womankind. I love them very much indeed, and they have made me feel much better about the whole situation. of course I'm getting rejections because I'm actually sending things off and putting myself out there. rejection is a good thing because it is proof of productivity.

this week, I also had a really, really good session at my writing class. we had to write linked scenes (like a real story), and due to a lack of time, I used some passages from The Shepherd (nee The Second, nee The Chosen 2) and got some really useful feedback which made me realise that there is still a fair bit I can do with it. so I'm quite excited to get that back (I should know next month) so I can rewrite it and get it off again. so in that case, rejection would be a very good thing!

tomorrow I am off into town early for breakfast with my friend Mariley, then I have my writing group, then to York with my friend Gareth. next week I need to finish my entry for the Northern Promise Award. busy, busy, busy...

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

The Garden

We bought the house for the garden. An acre of land which just screamed "country" although by the time we moved in "country" had evolved to "jungle". We stood in the doorway on our first night, arms round each other, glasses of merlot resting behind us on the ancient tumble dryer left behind by the previous owner.

"This garden holds some secrets," you said.
I remember how hard you worked, mowing and digging and trimming whilst I busied myself ordering antique wallpaper and trying to get to grips with the Aga. You would come inside after a hard day's landscaping to find that I'd burnt another pie and we had to jump in the convertible and drive to the pub. You cringed every time we went over a bump and I would spend the time complaining about another unwanted piece of rubbish I’d found as I was going through the rooms. We’d never existed together in so many rooms before, the space was a luxury. We turned some heads when we first walked in, but after the initial silence people were friendly enough.

"So you've bought the old Allinson place, have you?"

We didn't know what the old Allinson place was but we nodded anyway. I remember we'd been in there three weeks when you called me into the garden.

"Look at this," you said.

I started screaming then. Hysterically. You had to slap me round the face and take me inside for a medicinal brandy.

"It could be an animal," I said when I could speak again. I had romanticised visions of a kitty funeral, father saying the last rites as the children wept.

"No, it couldn't," you said solemnly. It was your 'I wish I wasn't right but I am' voice. The one normally reserved for squashing my recurring dream of opening a bed and breakfast, or spending £10,000 on a chaise-lounge once owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, with no authentication certificate.

"It’s human," you said. "Definitely human."

The police didn't come straight away. There were some vandals down on Lower Farm and once they'd established that our problem was neither mobile nor particularly fresh, they said they would be there when they could. We went back out into the garden and stared down at the shallow grave. It didn’t look like much. A hole in the ground, a bin bag with a tear in it where you’d struck it with your spade, yellow skull smiling out at us. It didn’t look like a person.

"This is where the roses were going to be," you told me. I said that I absolutely couldn't think about roses right now, I felt too sick.

"That poor soul," I said.

The policeman, when he finally arrived, was nice enough.

"We're going to have to get a forensics team out here," he said. "Probably dig up the whole garden."

"I wish I'd found them earlier," you joked. "You could've have saved me a job."

I could see how disappointed you were. It was your garden, your project. I was upset at the thought of muddy boots trampling all over my reclaimed Victorian parquet flooring.

That night, we went to the pub again. I couldn't face cooking.

"Oliver," you said, putting a reassuring hand on my leg as we pulled into the car park. "It will be ok you know."

"I disagree Tom," I said, turning away. "I don't see how it possibly could be."

The news had obviously already gone round the village by the time we got there.

"I hear you found Linda Allinson," the barman said, giving us our drinks on the house. "Folks've been looking for her for years."

Sunday, 21 February 2010

tidy study, tidy mind?

so I finally got round to it. as a belated happy 30th birthday present to myself, I've moved all the rubbish out, shredded a lot of paper and covered one wall with brightly coloured pictures of the Virgen de Guadalupe. my study is now a lovely place to be. so it makes sense that I've spent the day avoiding it like the plague.

it was the birthday on Thursday, I say the birthday because it is like Christmas mark two in our house, with me being the birthday thief and all - the boyf also has his birthday on 18th Feb but with the dubious distinction of being three years older than me, he doesn't let me forget that he had it first.

the birthday itself was ok, we had a lovely meal, and on Friday met my dad and had another lovely meal, but other things (which I'm not going to go into on here) have made being 30, so far, pretty terrible. I hope I snap out of it and it gets better.

so I'm now sat watching the Baftas, and making myself update this because I feel like I have to do something. I'm also trying to get a good head start on my story for the Bridport Prize which isn't due til June but I really want to give myself enough time to work on it properly. and I'm trying to stretch myself in a few ways, first of all to write something close to the five thousand word limit as my stories typically hover in the one-three thousand mark. secondly, to write something happy and uplifting, as the boyf has been complaining that my stories are too dark. and thirdly, to write something so totally kick-ass that it is capable of getting in the anthology, or, heaven forbid, actually winning. so I've started, and I love my idea. and I know how it starts and I know the major event that happens but at the moment, I have absolutely no idea how to get from the beginning to the end. I guess this is why its so good that I've given myself so much time. I've ordered an old anthology from ebay though, so I can see what I'm up against, and I'm also going to write a piece of flash fiction for it. so far, I have no idea what I'm going to do for that. I think I might do something historical though.

so, here I am, waffling on. I mostly just wanted to feel like I'm doing something constructive, instead of wallowing in my own misery. I find feeling terrible so all-consuming sometimes, its very difficult to write through it. I've been reading a lot today though, which is nice. I'm currently reading The Cromwell Street Murders, The Detective's Story, which is exactly as the title suggests. its research into police procedure. well, thats what I'm telling myself anyway

Sunday, 14 February 2010

go left at the next roundabout and straight on til morning...

I really don't know why I get myself so stressed out and question my ability to follow instructions. I'm a bright girl, I re-read instructions a gazillion times so why can't I ever be confident and think yes, I've done that correctly, there is absolutely no reason for panic.

No, instead, what I think is, oh my lord, you've made some sort of horrible mistake and not only are you going to be disqualified, but the judges are going to laugh at you too. Hmmmm. Watch this space. I find out about this particular competition in March which is like a nano-second in writing competition time. And you never know, they might not laugh at me immediately. I did, after all, pick up on the spelling mistake in the title just in the nick of time...honestly, I must go and drink tea, watch something mindless on tv and stop thinking about this now before I develop a writing competition related ulcer.


Big Hoss whinnied and bucked a little when Pa put the harness on. He wasn’t usually like that. He was a big soft horse. They’d had him since Cally was a little girl.

“What do you want to call him, button?” Pa had asked.

“Big Hoss!” was all she could say. It was a silly name from such a little girl, but it suited him. He sure was a big horse. Cally helped Pa load the wagon, making sure everything was packed away tight so it wouldn’t rattle and break. Cally knew that they would rattle sat in the wagon.

“Little girls are free to make,” Pa told her with a wink. “Good China is expensive.” Big Hoss pawed the ground impatiently.

“Steady there boy,” Pa soothed. Cally stood by and stroked Big Hoss’s soft nose. He wasn’t misbehaving, he was just excited. He wanted to go West.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

The Lost Boys

     Drake sat on the speaker tapping his black polished fingernails impatiently on the surface. He checked his watch again, the diamonds on the second hand quickly ticking off the minutes. Out of sight on the stage behind him, the support were just finishing.
“Thank you New York! You’ve been amazing! This is our last song – we hope you enjoy it and have a rocking New Years Eve!”
     Drake looked back at his watch. Where was he? Marty wandered over, clipboard in hand, suit looking as fresh as it had when he’d met them at Heathrow sixteen hours before. How did he do that? Drake wondered.
“Is he - ?” Marty started but Drake shook his head. No, Henry was not here. Henry had disappeared as soon as they got to the hotel. No, he did not know where Henry was. It was Marty’s turn to check his watch.
“He’s got about fifteen minutes.”
Drake jumped down off the speaker and started to pace. It was wrong to blame Marty for not being able to control Henry. He hadn’t grown up with him. Drake was the one who should have expected this – the European Tour, the X Factor, the interviews, for gods sake. How many times had he sat there and apologised to journalists for the fact that Henry had failed to show up? Henry was the one they all wanted, voted best looking, most charismatic, best hair cut. He thought he could do what he wanted, that Drake couldn’t get by without him. Well he was wrong.
     The audience roared their approval as the support finished their set and ran off the stage high fiving each other.
“Killer crowd, man!” Brody whooped as they clattered past to their dressing room. In the auditorium, the crowd was getting louder.
“Lost Boys! Lost Boys! Lost Boys!”
“I’m not going on!” Drake said finally, throwing his hands up. “There’s no point.”
“Don’t be such a drama queen,” a voice said from behind him. Drake turned to see Henry sandwiched between two leggy blondes, arms round their shoulders, cigarette in one hand, bottle of Jack Daniels in the other. “The show must go on!” Henry exclaimed. Drake’s face was set in hard lines now, his teeth clenched together.
“Oh, don’t such be a cliché, Drakey,” Henry said, disentangling himself from the blondes and going to put his arm round Drake. “I’m here now, aren’t I?”
“I’m the cliché? I’m the cliché?” Drake shouted, striding away. “I’m not Mr Rock and Roll, chasing the girls, turning up whenever he feels like it!”
“You’re jealous.”
Drake spun round, grabbed Henry by his coolly up-turned collar and slammed him against the wall.
“It was only one night, Drake. Get over it.”
The two men glared at each other. In the background, the crowd continued chanting.
“Right, the rest of the lads are here,” Marty intervened. “Now are you two going to kiss and make up, or shall we call the whole show off?”

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Sunday, Sunday, here again in tidy attire

I have just deleted the blog I posted at 3.30 on account of it being Far Too Miserable. I won't bore you with all of the details, in two short sentences it was...

oh where, oh where has my Sunday gone?


job applications eat my soul

I've since decided that I don't want to whinge, and whinge, and whinge. so I've stopped it!

my plans for the evening include watching tv, and possibly making myself a fish finger sandwich in a bit. and absolutely, definitely NO wallowing in a vat of self pity

Saturday, 6 February 2010

to do

today I am going to...

  1. apply for a job
  2. write a full first draft of a story about Haiti for one of the many competitions that have sprung up
  3. start to re-write The Second (due in next Sun)
  4. drink lots of tea
  5. make Chinese curry
  6. do some washing
  7. (tidy the study)*
the end

* this is in brackets as it is always on my to do list, rarely gets done and sadly never stays done

Friday, 5 February 2010

almuerzo de senoritas

today, I am a lady who lunches in the Cuban stylee.

after a horrendous morning full of irrational fears and lots of tears (I had to go for another blood test, the fourth one in three weeks as they thought I was diabetic but I'm not, I just have high blood sugar, but in this particular blood test my vein collapsed whilst she was doing it and then it took her another two veins before she found one that produced, by which point I was quietly inconsolable). anyhoo, horrible morning, then I decided to get off the bus on Chilli Road and bought a super-cute dress (and a book, and some organic, fair trade dried mango from Burkina Faso, which is a poor substitute for a toffee crisp now I have to cut out sugar) and then on to my friend Mariley's for lunch and writing.

and oh! what a lunch! we had cheese omelette and salad and rice and Cuban black beans - mmmmmmmmmm!!!!!! as the boyf cooks once in a blue sparkly moon, part of me just loves having a nice meal that I've had no input in, but aside from that, it was absolutely delish and prepared with care and beans sent over from Cuba!...and so we ate amazing food, and drank wine (shit morning+day off work+lunch with a good friend = nice pink wine) and gossiped a little and then Mariley talked about Cuba. and then I felt really bad for feeling bad about my life. I have always considered myself open-minded and I've travelled through Asia and have seen things that a lot of my friends haven't seen, but crikey. I've never really understood what free speech means, or considered the constraints that some people have on them, purely for the country they were born in. I have never needed anything, I mean, I've (occasionally) wanted for things I haven't got, but when it comes to actually needing things? no. I've never, ever had to go with out. and I'm currently working myself up to the point of a nervous breakdown because I have to use sweetener instead of sugar in my tea, not eat chocolate every day and am fearful that I've formatted a competition entry incorrectly?

sometimes it just takes a little lunch to help put it all back in perspective...

adios x

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Debut Dagger

so the deadline for Debut Dagger is Saturday. last Monday, I almost gave up, thinking everything was truly awful. then I decided I would aim to get it sent in on Friday. today, I sent it off. my entry number has a few sixes in it (six is my favourite number, I'm taking that as a sign)

woo hoo!

I have been meaning to enter that competition for the last three years. it is, in my mind, the Daddy of competitions, with the real prize being the fact that lots of agents know about it, and could possibly, possibly read my work. and I've done it! hooray for me!

(now, also in tandem with the hoorays is the oh my word, what if somehow the file corrupted and I will forfeit the ever so slightly extortionate £25 entrance fee. bearing in mind that pre-netbook me was the queen of emailing things to herself at work so I know how to attach a file, I still had a major panic and had to call the boyf through to check I'd done it correctly. I am beginning to realise that extremely ridiculous stress is part and parcel of submitting work. at least in my world, anyway)

so, that was the point of this. just to let you all know I did it, and I'm pleased. having the netbook has really helped as I've been able to work when I should have been at work (we provide a face-to-face outreach service three days a week, Shazz and I were down there today and saw no customers for the last four hours. thanks to rubbish IT I can't access my work inbox or anything on my hard drive so can't actually do any real work, but I did loads of writing, he he he)

oh, and I'd also like to say CONGRATULATIONS to the lovely Cally. her card range arrived on the doorstep this week and looks fabulous. you can check her out here. she is ace

right, thats me done. all this being early has tired me out, and I have to go to Washington tomorrow (of all places!!) to talk about customer service. yuk! x