Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Oh no! Mira's off to Grad School ...

Mira has resigned from CIC - sad!

I love thinking through Flower's thoughts on each of the Blog challenges.
This has shaped lots of areas of the story that I hadn't really considered.
The whole story has such a bare bones plan - one vision of the three boys by the bridge hanging the littlest over the edge and a lot of research into grief.

Well at least I'll gain more editing hours.

My friend is so much better - happy!

I got to see her for the first time in 8 weeks.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Didn't get much marking done...

because the next Harry Potter popped by.

So, I sat there with the writing folders - levelling - in theory...

But a persistent little idea kept circulating around in my head - he kept whispering that he was the next Harry Potter.

So, not wanting to be the author who turns the next Harry away because they're too busy with 'the day job' to sit down and write the details (while he is warning me that this is an opportunity that shouldn't be missed) - I hunted down my general note book and let him pitch his idea.

First I was having size-ist issues with Tony and then his dad wasn't letting me away without thinking things through properly. Vee, his Mum, was just heading off to welcome the new neighbours to the run-down, rediculously cheap house next door to their increadibly well-maintained show home when I had to yell at them all to back off and give me some time with the tasks that keep the roof over my head ... at the moment!

It's all sorted except the maths - multiples of three - huge numbers of them!

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Emote that ...

The 'artist in residence' is up to her neck in exam preparation.
So, she turns to the writer in residence and says: 'I need a piece to put into my study of the work of Jenny Holzer - there is a key word if you can get it in...'

I closed my eyes and took myself back to the time after 'shock and disbelief' and before real 'acceptance'. The day the total stranger said he hoped 'the boy' "would go home and die in his sleep"!


Then I went to the pub and Man Utd probably secured the league title - they can't screw it up and really wreck my life can they?

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Down at the pub with the Red Devils

Feared for my immortal .... no - not that kind of Red Devil!

I thought it might be good to watch the game live, so, off to the pub I strolled (well, drove but that sounded so much more dull).
Gave serious thought to going home at half time - not loving watching the game surrounded by Spurs supporters who were loud in their enjoyment of the first 45 minutes.
Well, it is a 'game of two halves' after all - I liked the second half best!

Go United!

Thursday, 23 April 2009

And after 7 weeks in intensive care ...?

I am so happy
I’m utterly relieved
I’m stunned and amazed
I’m going to stop going on because 4,000 variations are rarely needed - even though, this time, they might be warranted:

My friend – proof-reader extraordinaire – has been in intensive care for seven weeks …seven depressing weeks, with few glimmers of hope.

Viral hydro-encephalitis.

Three weeks ago doctors tried a different type of anti-biotic. They warned that this was not a ‘quick fix’, and that the affects wouldn’t be seen for 2 to 3 weeks:

Week 1
We waited …

Week 2
We waited … and the best news we had was that she was ranting about her father – and, although this could be seen as an improvement, as she was stringing words together, it was not exactly the most hopeful news.

Week 3
We heard that her Mum had seen improvements - but you know what Mums are like.

When the staff said that they were going to allow the first two friends in to see her for nearly 6 weeks, we knew that there really must have been an improvement.

The phone hasn’t stopped ringing and the e-mails are flying:

  • She sat up and began with: ‘Pull up a chair’
  • She joked about going away for a 'Girls' Weekend' now that her husband couldn’t pull the ‘I don’t think I could cope’ line
  • Wanted to know who had chosen the pink pjs – a redhead with an aversion for pink
  • Named every child on the photo-card sent in by her class
  • Asked about birthdays she knew had passed
  • Remembered and joked about the themed party that is coming soon

Weak – true

Speech – a little slow

Won’t be released from hospital for another month.

The doctors don't know if it was the anti-biotics or if the virus had just worked its way through but, frankly, I don't give a damn!

That thought (the one that couldn’t be said out loud) is coming true!


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Still learning

Writers' Circle

Went to the scenic one in the park - beautiful setting.

Heard all about the works of Edgar Allan Poe - including short stories and poetry. 'He's a bit wordy!' This is not my comment because, after all, that would be 'the pot ...'

But, having read everything the library had, that was written by Arthur Conan Doyle, James Fennimore Cooper and Alexandre Dumas (and carrying around the Complete works of Shakespeare for light reading), before I'd left school ... this did not come as a complete surprise.

I'd also read some of Poe's stories back-in-the-day, and when the younger version of 'spice-up-your-life' had a gothically inspired English teacher in Year 8, but I hadn't really appreciated his work. He surely had sparks of original thinking. Go Edgar!

Of course, I have to appreciate anyone who can write 4,000 words describing a cottage!

When I finish editing I'm going to go back to read his work - it may be counter-productive to start now!

I did sign up for one of the on-line forums (as per instructions) but ... nobody there will be able to pass around the custard creams!

Sunday, 19 April 2009

Still editing

I think I may have the same title for a while!

Yet another day suffering from red-pen-itus :(

Current book length:
115,380 words

Chapters 1 to 8 have experienced that shrinking feeling - nearly 14,000 words lighter!
I keep double checking - to make sure I haven't cut out a key part of the story - but all the best bits are still there!

Should I join the Writers' Circle in the park or down at the edge of the Weald?

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A good day in the Editorial Office

Running total: 117,797 words

It seems funny to be working on the book and rejoicing over shrinking pages!

I have only been 'weeding' through Chapters 1 to 6 too

I've noticed that the numbers of words being removed from the chapters are decreasing so I guess the writing was tighter there anyway.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Still Writing? Well, sort of...


I thought I'd give a running count, on the length of the book, on the Blog:

True count at the end of draft one 129,300 words - who says I might be a touch 'wordy'?!

Last Thursday - don't forget the concept of editing occurred to me before Manic Monday -127,000 words

I never win anything - raffles, the lottery, bets, Rock-paper-scissors - I've won nothing in my life! So, imagine my surprise when I won: 'Critique you query!'

Thank you to the 99.8% of responders, who, to date, have offered helpful advice or polite responses - my class of Rottweiler puppies have ways of dealing with teachers who only have effectively punctuating over-excited query letters in their skill set!

Still Editing:
Chapters 1 and 2 have been on the Red-pen Diet - they have seen amazing results and would like to take a few moments to endorse the plan! So, the new current total is 122,600 words.

Seriously, that's 6,700 words out of 2 chapters.
If I keep up this rate the book will be 62,300-ish words and I'll be gluing them back in!

Frankly, the editing would be going quicker if I wasn't still finding myself drawn to the 'dark-side' over on Nathan's Blog!

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

No, not really that stressful at all

Working on the cherub’s claim forms
Form-filling furiously as I detail exactly how his Autism impairs him – this has to rank as one of my favourite activities
Supporting the angel – last day before her, non-school, stage debut
Playing four roles and singing in them all – Go Babe! – I’m still fighting the temptation to go and watch every night of the run
This, apparently, is a key focus

Still, it could be worse - give me a minute and I'll think of the reason why - alright, so it might take a little longer.

Or it might be better ... He-who-must-not-be-named bought me a Muse tee-shirt - for a present - entirely out of the blue - this was remarkably thoughtful (considering the fact that he hates Muse); my hero! As it arrived in the post, and to my certain knowledge he isn't psychic, this is 'like' well-badly-good!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Literary Agent for the day ... in a night!

I'm shattered!
I have just completed the seven hour stint over the slush pile - and my brain has turned to mush. I started working at 23:30 and this is now 06:11 but I did my 'agenting' in a day.
Obviously, the fact that I also drove 250 miles home, in stop/start traffic, before starting my day as a Literary Agent, probably contributed to the brain strain.
Oh, yes!
I have learned that the query letter is more important than the book!
Infact, judging from my stint as a Literary Agent, I'd say the first paragraph of the query letter is make or break (as far as the 'wanna-be' author's career goes).

To anyone who commented on the book - thank you.

I am 'all over' the editing!
(It should give me something to do, as I appear to have missed the window of opportunity for sleep... for last night. However, I think it is time for a nice 'cuppa' tea and a re-write of the query letter first!!)

Friday, 10 April 2009

Writing - living, learning and growing

That was shameless - now I sound all twee!

WRITING - purely optional

Living - beats the heck out of the alternative
Learning - should be unavoidable
Growing - easier on the outside than the inside but probably worth the effort

RANTING? Nah - really what was s/he thinking?!

'the tongue in question here is more of a nickle plated than silver.'
Loving the image.

Thank you

Having worked hard this afternoon preparing and sending another on-line (save the rainforests) submission I wasn't paying much attention to my blog.
I only popped upstairs to find a key and I found kind thoughts aswell.
Much better than the missing key!

Is it Monday yet and could you just pop back home and arrive to visit after next week?

Now, obviously, I know it's not 'like' around the corner but this week is going to be a bit exciting so, if it's all the same with you, could you pop back to Oz and come visiting after Friday of next week? I'm counting down to being a Literary Agent for the day that lasts a week - books to read about how to do it properly - don't 'ya know?!

I know you hired the cottage in Yorkshire - in the middle of the Dales - and we can do Brontë stuff topped off with too much wine - sleeping the annoying little (ble....) perishers in the tent at the bottom of the garden - wizardingly great idea! And I get to see 'me Mam' to boot (that's 'as well' - by-the-by).

Do you think my politely worded request might strain the bonds of sisterly affection a smidge?

Good job I've got my priorities right - yes-sir-eee! (Hi Sis - love you lots really!)

Done my grammar homework too - thanks to the link, or two, on the Bransford blog.

'Like' blow-me-down-with-a-feather - I never even noticed there was a difference - I just kept thinking Word was having a melt-down!

I can't wait for the man with the extra capital letter to get on to the rest of the advice!!

Nice - the most incorrectly used word in English - double-edged and sharply pointed! Go Nathan!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Mira - makes me think

I like Mira's COME IN CHARACTER blog - I think almost as much about my response for her page as I do about my own writing - I know the journey for my book so I rarely flounder.

I take a deep breath before opening the new writing challenge for the day on the CIC blog.
I never know where I'll be sent.

Often when I take that first look I 'do the Flower' - take one look at the new reality and go hide until I can bear to face it.

Unlike Flower I bounce back quickly.

I'm proud of today's response - give or take the missing letter 's' - perhaps every work of art needs one little flaw to remind us that .............. (no I pinched that philosophy)!!

I’m afraid of the darkness.
The safe sky turns from bright to grey.
The grey sky turns from grey to black.
When it gets closer to the black of night it unleashes the darkness that loiters out of sight all day and lets it slink back.
I keep an eye on dark all day. I watch shadows nervously because I know darkness starts in insignificant little patches of shade.
I stay indoors and keep turning on lights. First the ones near where I’m sitting and then the main ones that light the room; but it’s a pointless exercise. I sit near the downlights, uplights, desklights, nightlights but what is the point when the darkness is relentless and determined and it always comes back anyway?
It starts off outside – but I watch it come. Then no matter what I do the darkness outside creeps inside too.
I feel it first like there’s a billowing cloud roiling and churning behind and beside me.
I can feel it but I dare not turn to see it.
I turn my eyes to the lights around the room counting how many points of light are acting as weak defenders against the encroaching darkness. I watch the numbers tick over and around every clock and wait for the dark hours to pass back to the light ones so I can eventually sleep.
But with the arrival of the day I know that the dark will just retreat a little until it seems again to hover just behind me not quite out of sight – I know it’s still there and it knows I know.
It will bide its time because it has enveloped me before and it know it will again – it is only a matter of time.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009


No need for any roads to anywhere at all - I've just had an epiphany (he loves me) no, not that one ... the other one!
Why didn't I know?
Why didn't I know what I knew all along?
I went reading - over on Colleen Lindsay's Swivet blog - got reading and so got thinking - funny how that always happens - then the epiphany struck ~ lightning bolt from the computer - 'like' whereelse is it going to come from?
Just because I love words - the way they look when you write them and the sounds they make when you say them - (and there's no getting away from the fact that me and words are like 'that' ('∞' - or maybe 'ɤ')) - it doesn't mean I have to use every word I know before the 'plot' can get going!
You'd never catch me posting 557 words on the Bransford blog - I fine tune those babies down until every word there is doing a specific job or it is 'so out'. So, why the hell did I write 10 pages designed to alienate my readers? Because it was clever - obviously - and well-written and - a bit of a mistake!!!!
The babe (reluctant teen reader - don't know how that happened - the only way to rebel in a liberal household?) said - the book really works after she gets to school
My esteemed colleague - forced into proof reading draft 1 said - you really bring it alive once you let that headteacher speak -
So I let the first 10 pages of beautifully written description live this long - why?

My thanks to all the 'voices' I've been listening to on the Literary Agents' Blogs - it has been hearing so many different perspectives on the same issue - and taking characters out of their contexts (Thanks, Mira ) that started me thinking about thinking!

I'm busily engaged in taking figurative scissors to my baby - good job it's not a circumcision! How much do you really need?!

The caterpillar is feeling its wings

aka feeling poetical

I found someone loitering on my blog - hi!
Sitting in the middle of my diary - better remember to punctuate!!
I got so overexcited I commented on my own blog - sad!!!

If it feels this exciting to find that one person has read the blog how must it feel to actually get your book into print?

I tried to imagine me sitting back under a palm tree (as opposed to the 'Gok Wan' of the colour challenged baby beech that's growing in my garden (sorry but really - faded, rusty brown leaves with pale pink flower - what were you thinking when you evolved?!)) sipping from a frosted glass whilst nonchalantly drawling - "Yes, the new book's out next week ... thrilling... obviously... thrilling."

I went visiting on my visitor's site - developed a bit of a complex - her site's bigger than my site - insofaras (oh - spotted another of Shakespeare's finest inventions) she has one and I don't!

I'm putting together a submission for the Bransford Challenge.
Why do I feel it has to be even more professional than the one I sent out last week?
Why am I re-writing page one - even thinking of ditching the first 10 pages?
The reason would be why each of these thoughts has been bubbling under everything I've done for the last 5 days I guess - they all need to be tighter - less wordy - stronger ... !
So it looks like it's back to the 'drawing board' for me!

It's like facing a challenge from 'peers' I 'know' - a very different thing than from the amorphous mass - scary.

Sunday, 5 April 2009

Still Writing 'Flower' and posting out 'Not Exactly Human'

Been having fun taking Flower over to Mira's Come in Character - my but my girl has some serious issues!

Mind you it's understandable what with her Mum dying and then being made to sit on a bed and wait (for the last five months) for me to go back and write her something else to do.

Writing for her still makes me cry - roll on getting to the two gay Dads and the golden eagles!

Must go back to writing as the alternative is doing the weekly washing.

I'm posting out the next submission on Moday - 'Not Exactly Human'.
This seems to be a straight forward process this time.
That will make two paper submissions (UK) and two on-line (US) which is neat and symmetrical.

My other project - life imitating art imitating life - 'Going to the shops with all the family' should also be finished by the end of the holiday.
It seems weird to be writing a story designed to be a picture book without pictures of any sort. Four views of each stage of what should be a normal trip out - what's normal?!

Which project will take first? Can you really push three diverse things at the same time? Sure!

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Reading 2009

I am going - I have the promise of tickets - and the dodgy ticket tout site has my money - and I could always buy more - and I've got my tent- need I say more? But. I am going.
Placebo and Maximo and Bloc Party and Vampire Weekend and Glasvegas and bands who are - as yet - unannounced - I am going.

Just a few technical details to sort - I have faith in Oli's confidence - well actually I don't - but I'm obstinate - and that is about the same thing. Don't think I'll buy my welly boots just yet - it's bound to be sunny!

Just need Muse and Linkin Park to phone to complete my dream line up and I'm 'so' there!

Friday, 3 April 2009

'Flower' by Elaine AM Smith - Chapter One - posting the other book - any thoughts much appreciated

Chapter One
Life goes on

Rivulets of water streamed down the glass pane and puddled on the white sill outside; not the dribble of dot-to-dot drops that make lazy progress down the transparent sheet like we’d had earlier on in the morning this was the constant stream blown sideways by the blustering breeze. Tracking the movement of mini torrents my eyes were drawn to swirls and eddies in the flow. Prodding ineffectually with my index finger at the glass to stop, force, change or otherwise affect the racing flood I had just about as much success as I have had with every other aspect of my life these days On the up side the rain should rule out any possibility of going for a walk this afternoon so that ‘helping’ strategy should be off for a while. On the downside that did mean I’d have to wait in the house with the ‘fosters’ not literally,‘The Fosters’, just the family who were doing their best to be welcoming and helpful.
Thinking about them made me look from the window to where they – intact and happy - carried on with their life as if the world had not infact ended. Amy and Hannah were lying by the TV playing with pretty-pink dolls complete with free-form, biro, facial tattoos (I’d noticed that they liked personalising most of their stuff that way) batting the heads to the ever present cartoon DVD. Their mother I could just see out of the corner of my eye leaning on the kitchen counter that acted as a partition to separate the long family room into the usual units. As I watched she smiled indulgently, lovingly - a look of adoration and acceptance; I felt the razor blade of loss cut a new groove into my heart. I knew that look. I’d once owned a face that looked like that at me. It had looked like that at me and I hadn’t known that it was something to be treasured. I pushed my back into the edge of the wall that met the patio window and grated my spine with a sideways motion that balanced the pain in my heart and replaced it with an ache that was much easier to deal with.
Joy next began to scan the room, I watched her turning her head to seek me out but was fascinated to see her head turning long before her eyes were ready to leave her girls. I knew my moments of solitude were numbered and, hoping to make them last a little longer, I reached for the rose pink drapes that hung full length beside the window to frame the garden and make the room so much more cosy in the colder evenings and dragged it swiftly around me. Not a bad idea as these things go but hardly subtle and the motion attracted her attention all the quicker.
“Flower?” she whispered as she approached, “are you alright honey? Can I get you anything?”
Flower, that would be a sweet and endearing nick name like ‘honey’ wouldn’t it? Sadly not. Flower - just the title: not Poppy, Daisy, Rose or Foxglove – Flower – me.
And then I realised that the combination of care and over-careful hesitation was beginning to do that thing to me – again. I could feel it growing starting as a small sick feeling but then stretching through my stomach like an over extended balloon: anger, desolation and, worst of all, the ever present tears that hovered just waiting to well in my eyes and somehow my head was rhythmically banging against the wall again.
“We could all go out for a bit of a walk,” she suggested and to do Amy and Hannah justice they didn’t even groan although they, like I, were well aware that the sombre clouds were now throwing down the rain at a ferocious rate and the wind was cutting rather than refreshing.
“Rather not,” I forced through lips and teeth that barely moved and tried not to feel the waves of relief rolling down from the TV end of the room.
“Well, not long now,” whispered Joy as she rubbed gently at my upper arm and straightened up to return to the kitchen to complete the preparations for the evening meal. She’d not long returned to the task when I felt a little plastic head rubbing my arm in the exact same spot.
“Flower? Do ya’ wan’ my doll?” lisped Hannah making her ultimate sacrifice; she was making a habit of this.
“Cheers, Babe!” I responded quietly as I reached for the doll - experience had shown it was the quickest way back to solitude and it made her feel better. But this time I was forced to open one eye as I noticed that an entirely new head was rubbing at my arm as Hannah now sat with me in the curtain. I realised it made me feel a little better too. For the first time in 17 days the ghost of a smile flitted across my lips.
The peel of the doorbell chime took away even that little bit of happiness and it seemed that everyone in the room held their breath.
“That’ll be the door,” said Joy looking again at me and I opened both eyes to look at her but no power on earth was powerful enough to make me look at the door. Because if you don’t look then you don’t see and if you don’t see then it isn’t so and I wouldn’t have to start my new life again.
“He’s early,” commented Joy as she made her way slowly towards the front door, “That’s a good sign.”
She spoke with most of her attention, and her head, turned toward me almost, but not quite, hidden by the floor length curtain, and I felt my head rise in slow motion. I dragged my eyes past pink knit slippers, ‘mom’ high-cut jeans, passed the pink sweatshirt, and her neck passed the whole of her face right up to the kindly eyes that seemed to beg me to believe. Believe it could be alright, believe he might just want me, believe I’d get beyond this and believe that I might not literally die. But how could that be as I’d seen the suitcase in passing and the lilac folder on the top balanced on my new padded jacket. So how was it going to be alright? I didn’t even feel it could be alright here, just 20 minutes from my house that wasn’t really mine anymore - so how could it be better when I’d be 20 hours further away from it by the end of tomorrow?
But life went on. That’s what I’d been learning all about in the last 17 days: parents go out and life goes on – they don’t come back and life goes on – on past services and cemeteries, and fairy cakes and wills and still life goes on. How that was still happening was the most bemusing thing of all.
But now the door was open and there were more voices to tune out and plenty more things not to think about or do.
“Amy, take the DVD upstairs with Hannah for a little,” suggested Joy, “Thanks honey.”
They collected it from the player and Hannah from under my arm; how had she gotten there? Then I heard the soft slippery sound of padded feet fade up the stairs and along the landing to the front of the house and Hannah asking when she’d be let back down to see me.
I heard the sound of whispered murmuring and the settling sounds as two people made themselves comfortable on the soft grey leather sofa and arm chair. Then I waited whilst the next piece of my heart prepared to be detached and all the while the little murmured nonsenses continued both upstairs and down: to settle the little ones and allow me time to ‘adjust’ I expect.
The voices were all familiar and I didn’t quite understand why. Janice (senior social worker) I knew her reasonable, measured, almost musical voice. She was talking in full flow so, obviously, at least one more person than me needed calming today. Joy, of course, I could hear as she made sure her children knew what was and was not acceptable ‘at this most delicate time’ upstairs.
What I couldn’t understand was why the other voice was registering as ‘known’. Had he been to see me? When? At the hospital or the bad day or here at Joy’s? He must have been here then; one of the many sorrowful, sympathetic hands that had patted my head or arm or knee at some point and his significance had not registered with me at the time.
“Flower?” said Joy, “It’s time to meet your uncle. Remember he is ‘Great’ after all.”
This was a joke she’d used before but I appreciated the effort as she reached out for my hand as well. The sheer force of will, or more accurately positive belief, in her steady, calm brown eyes had me reaching up to clasp her hand before, I think, I had actually considered making a choice.
Neither of us looked at Janice who, I knew, was not holding her breath or being at all interested and was certainly not paying attention to us at all - much. Joy continued to tow me over to the other, much more uncomfortable looking figure who sat centrally on the sofa making no effort to look like this was not a major moment at all. His large feet were covered in sandals – sandals and socks, then jeans on legs that ranged up and then still up – long legs, uncomfortably framed by the coffee table. A cream knit cardi with lumps and ropes that distracted me as I found my eyes swirling to follow a loop held in tracks until they drew my eyes still further upward to the face I knew must crown the top of this figure. Up then to the craggy, pensive, mobile face where emotions seemed to hover then chase in quick succession and the deep blue eyes that seemed the most expressive things of all. He had a long face too; long forehead – the bald probably helped with that. Lastly, I took in the white curled close cropped hair – uncle.
“Flower, this is your Great Uncle Will, your Mum’s Uncle Will,” she continued.
And I felt it fall, that detached piece of heart I’d prepared earlier because she’d said it, the two little words that I could hardly bare when put together.
“Oh!” I breathed and it seemed to be taken as speech.
“Hello,” the soft, deep voice seemed to think I’d communicated, “I’m here for you,” he continued. (And I caught every one of his meanings.) “We don’t have to do this now you know?”
But I fought off the panic and the echoing pain and knew it might as well be now because never - because the wish part – the wish that I really wanted just wasn’t an option that was inside the realm of things that were possible.
“No. I’m good,” and I indicated towards my suitcase and the little pile of bits everyone in the room could see, “I’ve gotten everything ready.”
“Well,” chirped in Janice. “Let’s just sit here and go over your welcome pack again. Maybe some tea?”
This last was aimed at Joy who was already heading off that way. I felt my brow furrow as I struggled to remember another time when I’d looked through the pack. Wouldn’t Uncle Will have been here while I did that?
Everyone else looked unsurprised at the idea of that other meeting so I guessed that it must have happened. I tried to keep my face blank while I rewound back through my life to look for the time when that meeting had taken place. It took minutes of meaningless stilted whatever-they-weres of conversation, which I think I took part in, for me to realise that I was never going to be able to find the lost meeting. I presumed it must have been on the bad day, or one either side of it. That memory was obviously lost in the same place where I’d put the funeral and I wasn’t going anywhere near that black corner of my mind.
“Yes, Will, it was Flower’s 15th birthday in May.” continued Janice. “Let me reassure you, as I said before, if you have any difficulties at all those are the contact numbers. Shelley, who you met for the home study, is the contact in the office and she will always be willing to help.”
I looked vaguely bemused because the time had passed again and the conversation seemed to have reached its conclusion. I knew because there were empty cups and biscuit crumbs on side plates and shuffling of paper and the scrape of plastic as some part of my life was being filed away. Uncle Will was standing shaking hands with Janice but Joy was nowhere immediately in sight. He was also looking over to the area by the door where my single case waited to be moved out and into the car.
“Shall I pop out with this to the car?” he asked both Janice and I with his head moving from one to the other.
I looked at my case with a deep pinched grove between my eyes as I waited for the answer to that question to occur to me.
“Yes. I think that would be a good idea,” replied Janice while I looked back to her and concentrated on being very still. She went to hold the door open for him and I watched Uncle Will reach for my case.
He seemed incredibly lean and tall as he began to fold himself over to reach down to the carrying handle at the side of the case. His snowy, white hair showing a little thinning section to me as his head stooped low. Briefly, I had the impression that he was bowing. Then the moment was gone and he straightened up with suitcase under his left arm and my handbag and coat in the other. He struggled to maintain his hold on the other things - those bundled up bits of something I refused to look at but knew must be mine from my house and then he headed out the door. He was tall. Very tall. He ducked with a self-conscious air as he went out through the door towards the black car in the middle of the drive way. I don’t know how long it took him to drop the case, coat and clusters of other oddments tied up together with string into the boot of his car but I heard his splattering feet as he hurried back in to escape the lash of rain.
He dipped again on entry and paused as he caught my eye - I watched as the merest hint of a smile ghosted around his lips. It was then that I realised that he knew this was the one moment, of all the time we’d spent together today, that he was sure I was actually fully there. I got the impression that he felt that the soggy outing - which had left raindrops glistening on the arran cardigan and his wiry, white hair - been worth the trouble.
My head drifted left as I realised that Joy was now returning back downstairs with Amy. They both wore matching expressions of sadness tinged with resignation because ‘fosters’ moved on. Hannah was a lot less experienced with this. She was held high in her mother’s arms with her legs wrapped tightly around Joy’s waist and her arms in a similar strangle hold around her neck. She didn’t want me to go but she clung on to the one thing she couldn’t bare to be parted from; that one I got.
I went towards them.
“Good bye, Joy,” I whispered as I met her eyes and, frankly, clinging like a limpet looked good to me right then. “See you, Amy.” I turned towards her and she looked up
slightly more and smiled. Then I stroked my hand down Hannah’s silky curls. “Bye, Babes,” I whispered as she sobbed into her mother’s neck.
Joy’s free arm and hand hugged me tightly to her left side and the comfort registered along with Hannah’s right slipper digging into my ribs. Then Amy’s thin arms wound around us all and, bless them, I think I actually felt a little closer to normal.
Joy, always aware that change was inevitable, necessary and due began to step forward and with out easing up on the pressure from her hug she turned me once again towards the door.
My uncle smiled encouragingly as he stepped towards the door that Janice was again holding. He left his right hand trailing behind him as if it were a guide to show the way.
We moved to close the distance and our little group only disbanded slightly as Amy switched to hold onto the belt at the back of my black jeans. With this looser arrangement we only had to make a slight turn sideways and we could all stay together, one unit, as we made our way towards the car. It said a lot that Joy didn’t think to reach for a jacket to cover Hannah’s head when we went out into the downpour.
The rain certainly hurried things up.
I went to the passenger side and opened the door right away. Joy hugged me lopsidedly again and reminded me not to forget to write or call if I wanted anything or I needed anything – any time.
And she lingered.
Then became aware of the rain.
Then little Hannah, in her arms, straining down to reach me, and the anguish on my face.
Then she kissed me.
She didn’t turn but she hurried back towards the house towing Amy. They stopped at the covered doorway and there they stood. Uncle Will took longer to fold his long legs carefully into the car and under the steering wheel so I was able to look at the silhouettes of the family who had cared. They stepped back up onto the step and into the house but stayed there, by the door, while Uncle Will started the car and began to reverse back off the drive and onto the road. However, just when he was ready to drive Amy broke and ran further inside leaving Joy and Hannah to see me off. I was ,once again, unaware that I was rhythmically banging my head this time on the headrest at the back of my seat.
The car moved smoothly away from the curb and we began our drive. The car engine was quiet obviously built for long distance travel. The inside seemed to echo with many distinct noises: the swish of wiper and rain on window and under tyres from the road. My uncle
breathing in and out through long nose and into deep chest. My silence and the unknown rhythmic bumping.
“Um! Flower? Shall I put some music on?” Uncle Will inquired inventively.
“Flower? Do you think it’s time for a little radio?” he tried again.
I didn’t answer as the question didn’t exactly compute. I wanted to be able to get that one right but I didn’t know the answer and I felt my foot begin to tap an ever faster rhythm and that other noise – the bumping that got quicker too.
Oh but radios. Think about the answer to that one ….
But I never got to the answer the question and it’s importance quickly passed because it wasn’t the music I became aware of but a white corner house. I pass – passed - that house every day when I lived in my old house. I heard a separate little solitary voice inside me make that comment. My eyes were still on the house even though we were passed because if we turned left we’d get to that other place.
And the car turned left.
So Uncle Will had broken through with out words at all. I stopped my head’s incessant movement and glared straight ahead because if I didn’t know better I’d swear we were heading to the other place.
My eyes were locked forward. I held my breath. And I swear my heart stopped beating as we turned in at the bottom of that other street; the one from my other life – the place where I’d li…. that word.
“I’ve got the key,” Uncle Will began. “We don’t have to go in. Or, we could if you want to.” He had obviously decided this would be a good thing. “I thought you might like to call in to see if you want to collect anything before we start the long drive.”
But his voice, which started off defensively loud, got ever quieter as he continued. He got slow and cautious, “It’s a long way back if you want to have any of your other things with you.”
Other things - in the other place - from the other time.
“What do you think? Shall we?”
I stared at the familiar black varnished door set in the narrow terraced house. Then at the windows where the lowered blinds held back stares rather than light.
Did I want to leave this car, step up to the door like I’d done a million times before? Did I want to walk somewhere I’d never walked before? In that place – in that house – where my mum couldn’t be?
But yes.
A tear traced down my right cheek - the left tear left behind. Then I looked across, then up, to meet the unfamiliar face so filled with gentle regard and I thought.
Should I go inside? Could I physically do it?
I rocked a little back and forward while I tried to see myself take each painful step from car to path – and path to door – and up the step and through it.
I pictured every step again and again and having seen my self survive it, and with eyes stretched wide and painfully still, I carefully nodded my head.

Two hours sleep is plenty really and have we done for Nathan?

I'm a bit tired - what with two hours sleep being a little below the guidelines recommended for such things - but it is Friday so all is well in my world!
  • Done teaching
  • Done breaking up for the holiday - it's a hard life
  • Done speed visit to the pub
  • Done telling everyone to make their own tea

Where is Nathan? Working - surely not? Refusing to speak to us - unlikey? Sickly - doubtful? Having a life - that is such bad news! For me - if not for him.
Now how will I get to hear all those familiar and distinctive 'voices'?

I'm going to the gym tomorrow - as usual - but I can go and buy a new book too (preferably one that I 'can't put down'). The decision now is what shall I select from the ranks and rows? I can't wait!!

It may be only 8 hours until school starts but my course work essay needs to be done for tomorrow!

There I was having fun debating if common courtesy is ever dispensable - even when the 'protagonists' are unpublished writers and literary agents -when the younger version of 'how can I make your life more complicated' announces that she has a major piece of course work to re-write and only 8 hours to do it in - complicated by a need to sleep within those said hours too.
I love a challenge almost as much as a debate - less fun though really.
To sleep perchance to dream? I think not.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Nathan he says 'No'

Reminds me of removing plasters

People say fast is best - less painful anticipation (sharp and stinging) - others say that to soak the plaster to give you time to prepare is best so you can gently ease the thing off (mental preparation to cope with the fact that it is going to hurt)

Pain is pain.

Still writing!

Harshly heartless but the post man he says 'yes' - well he said that will be £2.53 actually

FMP - someone wants to have my babies! I'll ponder the advances that would need to be made in medical science for that to happen while I go to make my tea!

Nathan - my best bud in America - says he turns around submissions 'like' fast - what's with the hold up in my acceptance then? Hopefully my revised and resent e-mail can make the swim and long hike to San Francisco and that Nathan isn't now snowed under the flood of resubmissions his blog has engenered.

Speaking of Literary Agents who don't live so far away that it is almost like another planet - (ooh - story plot line? I think I could work with that):

I was harshly heartless today - I walked past the netballers in their first match of the season - how late it is for this to be happening (at the end of the season) is a fair reflection of how dire they are .... so when I discovered quite by accident that they were only one-nil down to a team that thrashed them 16 - 0 last outing ... I kept on walking whilst wishing them well!

Instead I drove to town - and put the second ever submission in the post !!!! I know - I'm still a little weak at the knees myself!!

Not exactly rocket science but I think I've got a much better chance at securing a Literary Agent now that my submission has been posted to one!

On writing - still writing

Books about writing books?
I spent ages thinking about books to help you write - surely you'd get conflicting advice - from (depending on how many you read) singular view points.
I re-read every book I buy, beg, borrow or 'steal' up to 20 times - during my extended reading I absorb a lot of useful information about how books are written. I read everything put out by individual authors for 'fun' (if I find a voice that really catches my attention). I don't have favourite genres but page 49 better be good as I use it to select books for reading - prologues have had it (unless they are very long)!
If writers are writing about something they have never seen, heard, felt or done - then the 'how to' book would be a must - is anyone actually doing that?
(Talk to the person who did it - or buy the book written by the person who did it - or as close as you can find ) then visualise it - plan the 'journey' (space, time, physically, mentally, emotionally and socially) - and write; let them live - play God.

Been out at the pub drinking-ish (designated driver) with friends - think I might have gotten all philosophical!
01:18 and just the reading part of my day to go - did I mention the reading? 06:30 alarm but 'real' books await.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

The Postman always rings twice

So far today:
  • done teaching
  • done meeting
  • got Yr 6 sorted for Samlearning
  • showed collegues how to sort their classes for said on-line tool
  • took heavily-laden collegue to the train station
  • done cursing the post office when the little window was closed when I arrived

It is however, 2 days to the school holidays and the sun is shining! My sister is flying in from Australia! Life could be worse!

If it hadn't been for the 'puppy-dog' eyes and what exactly is it with the Post Office anyway?!

So, anyway, just the 10 days late with the posting of the submission - procrastination no more - today was the day - oh yeah (slow version) ... !

Well 'like' - it went like this:

Everything was going fine - I ignored suggestions to watch little people play football or bigger ones play rugby after moulding minds - heartless but necessary - I was on a shedule here

So where did it all go wrong?

Sick rugby player = player and Mommy going home (I blame Patient X - still)

No problem - still single-mindedly pursuing the writer's dream of making it to the Post Office before it closes with the parcel to get it weighed, stamped and in the post box - I head off to Chess with my eager collection of geeks - looking forward to their go at attempting to thrash the teacher - the most fun they get all week! I had been forced to return to reading 'Improve your Chess' after allowing one of the little perishers to blind-side me with clever rook play last week - never again! I'd remember to pay attention and show a little respect this week.


Puppy-dog eyes!!

Sick player! Therefore the devoted parent was unavailable for transportation duty - at 3:30 with nothing that could be done except to cancell the away fixture or persuade 'soft' teachers to step into the transportation breach!

See above: all the KS2 teachers were involved in Art Club, Chess Club, Rugby matches, Football tournament, hosted at ours, so all helpful staff members were otherwise occupied. Then I thought the problem was averted when KS1 stepped up with staff member able to get the team THERE - this, of course, only made my dilemma worse - the 'pretty pleases' and 'puppy eyes' did it! I agreed to go and rescue them from the other side of town - with the traffic against me on the return journey - all because I had to pass the sad-looking, huddled throng of already changed rugby players with their best crestfallen, disillusioned, miserable eyes on my way to the Chess Wars!


  • did teaching - fair enough I get paid for that - 3:30 PO still open
  • did Chess Club - no one beat me today (need I say more - except the fact that no-one there is over the age of 11 - except me) - 4:30 PO still open
  • collected victorious rugby team from opposite end of town, returned them to school, drove home again hacking through cross town traffic - 5:30


Why do they close at exactly the same time as working people finish work? Why can they not give us a chance to post things to loved ones or Literary Agencies ? Couldn't they just stay open until - Oh! I don't know - a more reasonable time?!

Tomorrow is another day - I await the next effort of the Harbinger of Anti-writing } : (