Tuesday, October 31, 2006

To work, to work on the new novel, but before I do, let me just remind myself of this all over again:
"Writing's not terrible, it's wonderful. I keep my own hours, do what I please. When I want to travel, I can. I'm doing what I most wanted to do all my life. I'm not into the agonies of creation." Raymond Carver
Desperate writer needs .... Ooops, I really didn't mean to come across quite so needy as in my last post - it was supposed to be a clever link to the article about personal ads, but thanks for the comments and emails anyway! And just in case you're looking for loving links - and one of the best things about blogging for me has been seeing who other people are reading/enjoying and following trails from there - let me direct you to the following beauties. This is an eclectic list, no rhyme or reason or anything, and I know already I'm leaving lots out, so more will follow ...

For fun and inspiration - try Swissmiss. The treadmill dance in particular has made my half hour several times already. Watch it...

For feeling like you've had one of those really good meaningful talks when you come away with at least a dozen book recommendations - there's Dove Grey Reader. (And thanks to her for two of my new finds - Rachel Unthank and Selvedge Magazine.

For some the best photo essays around - Clare Dudman is hard to beat. I bookmarked her recent seaside one immediately. Know I'll return to that for writing

Because her book is going to be fantastic and I want to say I was there at the beginning - Susannah.

For pure indulgence - Cream Puffs in Venice. I feel like I've been on holiday every time I click here.

Because I wish they were my friends - Muse to Muse. Oops am sounding needy again, but these women rock!

I've liked everything Myfanwy's recommended so far, and learnt about lots of good new writers.

I paused about putting in Secrets of a Sugar Mummy, because it does make me feel a bit 'had' - it's supposed to be a 'best-selling female novelist of a certain age' and the suspense must be working because I do keep running through possibilities in my mind. My number one choice is apparently wrong, but I'm not sure. I just really really don't want to be like this when I'm sixty. OK, I'll take the best-selling and certain age bits and even if the worst comes to the worst, the younger man, but not all that angst. I want to be content in my skin, and too busy writing, hiking and reading my Selvedge magazine to bother about what people think of me. Oy, young man, I'll shout, get yourself away and stop knocking at my door unless you're bringing something useful like chocolate, gin, the latest hardback Martin Amis and some good blog recommendations.

And others I'm reading, in no particular order, are - Feministing, Susan Hill, Ros Barber, P A Moed and Inner Minx and Me and My Big Mouth.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Lonely Needy Blog Seeks Readers.
Too busy writing to have a shower? I have just the thing for you. A site called Compactimpact is selling chewing gum that freshens your whole body. Now how healthy does that sound?
"Chewing gum just to freshen your breath is a thing of the past. Now with an innovative new gum from Japan, gum can freshen your whole body. Approximately an hour after chewing the gum, the special aroma component is emitted from your skin through the use of the new substances geraniol and linalool.

Available in three different flavors, Fuwarinka fresh citrus, Fuwarinka fruity rose, and Otokokaoru rose menthol for men, this unique gum will be available starting July 21st from CompactImpact.com."

And just in case, you don't quite get it right, the site is also selling these handy animal themed gauze masks. I like the pig, but you can choose from gorilla, jaguar, monkey or tiger too.

I wonder how Napoleon would have reacted if Josephine had chewed a few of these sticks before he came home.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

And don’t forget to book for

True or False? with Alexander Masters and Jon Ronson

Tuesday 21 November, 7:00pm

‘Reality literature’ is an increasingly big part of the literary scene. Alexander Masters won the Guardian First Book Award in 2005 for his real-life depiction of a young homeless man in Stuart: A Life Backwards. Jon Ronson, whose new book Out of the Ordinary: True Tales of Everyday Craziness is published in November, has been writing for years about real eccentrics, not least himself. Together they discuss the challenge of writing of writing about real people.

Time: 7.30pm

Tickets: £5.00 PEN Members; £7.00 non-members (includes a glass of wine after the talk)

Venue: The Guardian Newsroom, 60 Farringdon Road, London, EC1R 3GA

How to book: Call 020 7713 0023 or visit www.englishpen.org/events/
Via several forums, and then Sally, comes this link to a video which explains my publicity photo, really!
"Writing's not terrible, it's wonderful. I keep my own hours, do what I please. When I want to travel, I can. I'm doing what I most wanted to do all my life. I'm not into the agonies of creation." Raymond Carver

Saturday, October 28, 2006

After the question asked in the last post - not mine, by the way, but from the organisers of the conference - I've come back from a full day teaching at Sussex desperate to write. Which definitively proves that creative writing courses might be good for the tutors at least. And I'm desperate to write because of what I've read today. Reading always makes me want to write. Read, read, read, if you want to write. Apart from student gems, and we had lots of those, there was Fernando Sorrentino and his story, There's a Man in the Habit of Hitting Me on the Head with an Umbrella (not distributed amongst the students yet). And I admit I'm shallow - god, I seem to do nothing else but admit that on this blog - but the last time I mentioned Fernando Sorrentino, he emailed me saying something like 'this small elephant says thank you' and I've developed a huge crush on him since. Other stories of his are up on the wonderful East of the Web site, and while you're there, check out Hilary Jenkins. One author we did look at today was John Fowles and in particular his use of particular point of view in The Collector. I was shocked at how many students hadn't read it. Can't bear to think of the brilliant John Fowles slowly disappearing from view...

And the disadvantage of teaching today is that I got back too late to go to the Bluechrome party, but I hope my forthcoming book of short stories, Leading the Dance was celebrated in style, albeit without me. I'm not fussed at all, no not at all...

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Creative Writing Courses – are they any good?

writers inc.
the Arts Council funded writing organisation


Sunday 10 December
the Barbican Library in the City of London (1.30 to 5 pm)

Booking at the Barbican Box Office – 020 7628 2326

Attending a creative writing course? Know someone who is thinking of going on a creative writing course? Thinking of going on a writing course yourself?

Poet, Novelist and Arts Critic for The Independent SUE HUBBARD will introduce MARIO PETRUCCI, Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, PHILIP GROSS, Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan and MAGGIE BUTT who runs the Media and Communications department of Middlesex University to discuss whether creative writing courses can create a realistic or a false expectation in terms of publication and careers in writing, whether such courses lead to original or to predictable styles of writing and whether a university can nurture and develop creativity or stultify it.
Luckily I've never pretended to be sophisticated so I can recommend Dorling Kindersley's Click Me Up game without any possible loss of face. There's no great skill involved, but bumping into those super nerds and having my books stolen has made me laugh out loud several times already. Now, back to work...
My writing prompt for today is - the people you meet in libraries.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Let me invite you to Bluechrome Live

Date: Saturday 28th October.
Venue:The United Reform Church
Buck Street. Camden NW1
(1 minute Camden Town Tube )

Doors 6:30 for 7:00pm
Entrance: £4 / £3 (conc.)

All profits to Cold Weather Shelter
M.C. Ruth O'Callaghan

Books Being 'Celebrated'
1. DM Thomas "Not Saying Everything"
2. Alexis Lykiard "Judging By Disappearances"
3. Kevin Bailey "Prospero's Dreams"
4. Robin Bell "How To Tell Lies: G8 Handbook"
5. Erik Ryman "God's Game"
6. David Green "Music of Maninjau"
7. Sarah Salway "Leading The Dance"
8. Lynne Rees & Sarah Salway "Messages"
9. Gareth Calway "Exile In His Own Country"
10. David Ashbee "Loss Adjuster"
11. Sam Smith "The Secret Report of Friar Otto"
12. Patrick Osada " Rough Music"
13. Dee Rimbaud "The Book of Hopes & Dreams"
14. Ian Caws "The Canterbury Road"
15. Elizabeth Barrett "Walking on Tiptoe"
16. Fred Johnston "Neon Rose"
17. John McAllister "Line of Flight"
18. Poul Webb "Shades of Grey"
19. Sue Guiney "Dreams of May"
20. Roger Elkin "Fixing Things"
21. Guinevere Clark "Fresh Fruit & Screams"
22. Mike Hogan "American Voodoo"
23. James Kirkup "The Authentic Touch"
24. John Griffiths "Truckerson: The Myth The Legend"
25. Oz Hardwick "Carrying Fire"

Cynical Re-issues:
25. Joe Stein "Cold Fire, Calm Rage"
26. EC Hulme "Stroking The Air"
27. Aliya Whitely "Mean, Mode, Median"
28. Elizabeth O'Neill "Wooden Womb Man"

Friday, October 20, 2006

I will be away for a couple of days now, but I'm going to take as my writing prompt this quote from Clare Dudman's blog, which was extracted from an excellent report of a talk by George Mombiot. I'm just chilled by the realisation that we could be destroying our planet through love...
"The fact that we can change the atmosphere of out planet by our infinitesimal individual actions stretches our imaginations, but the planet could be destroyed by love - because many of the journeys we make are to visit people we love - and for each journey we make we produce carbon dioxide."

OK, I'm definitely old enough to know better but this dating quiz made me laugh. It's been set up to promote the launch of The Boy Book by E. lockhart, the latest touring author from the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit. Here's some information about the book..

The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them
is the sequel to The Boyfriend List, which is just out in paperback. The Boy Book is about Ruby, who in the first book plummeted from social butterfly to leper, rebuilding her life junior year of high school -- with the help of a guide to understanding the male sex that she wrote with her ex-friends.

The new, cheaper edition of the first Ruby Oliver book (The Boyfriend List) has a fun author Q&A at the back, plus provocative questions for your book club or reading group.

In The Boy Book, Rub confronts the secret about Noel,
mysterious notes from Jackson,
the interpretation of boy-speak,
the villainy of Cricket,
the horrors of the school retreat,
and the exploitation of hooters everywhere.

There are fruit roll-ups.

There is upper-regioning.
There are so many boys to choose from!
And there are penguins.

And there's an extract here. I loved the line, 'She's my ex-friend. Not my friend'. Summed up being that age all over again for me.

Here are some of the reviews:
"Lockhart achieves the perfect balance of self-deprecating humor and self-pity in Ruby, and thus imbues her with such realism she seems to fly off the page." -- VOYA

"Each chapter begins with an excerpt from 'The Boy Book' which is hilarious...The book not only covers topics teens obsess over, but it helps illustrate the connection Ruby had with her friends, especially Kim, and what a loss she has suffered. Ruby's overanalytical, fast-paced and authentic narration will win over new devotees, while her loyal fans will no doubt hope for more." -- Publishers Weekly, starred review

"The story is both humorous and witty, and the language is realistically raw. Sections such as "The Care and Ownership of Boobs" are particularly funny." -- School Library Journal

"[Ruby's] character's strength stems from her earnest search for identity through introspection, sexual experimentation, therapy, and the formation and rehabbing of new and old friendships. Refreshingly honest." -- Kirkus

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Thanks to bb at the Becoming Amethyst blog for this stunning photograph, which is my writing prompt for today:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

I was lucky enough to go to a private view of the Velazquez exhibition at the National Gallery in London this week. It was a night of inspiration, not least from this erotic painting of Mars. Apparently it depicts him just after he has had sex with Venus and he has just realised that while he can win any battle, love has undone him. So that's my prompt for today ... undone by love.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage -- as long as you edit brilliantly. In other words, until you have something down on paper (even it it's terrible) there is nothing you can improve. The audience neither needs nor gets to see the less than brilliant first draft, so they won't know you weren't brilliant all along." --C.J. Cherryh

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Try this photograph for the best writing prompt I've found for a long while....

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

“Don't be humble. You're not that great.” Golda Meir
Result! I will never have to think twice now when people ask me what having a blog has done for me. I don't do this often - honest - but sometimes I do sift through the google searches that bring readers here. Some are straightforward (why are people googling ME? Spooky), others are just plain weird (but I do like how many Sexy Sarah searches there are), and there are many more gems than I expected. A couple of days ago, I had the best ever - making golf holes out of carpet. (And Google directed them to me? Why? It must have been more disappointing than for the Sexy Sarah searchers.)

Anyway, it's given me the best idea for a party. All the guests have to come with their own crazy golf homemade hole, and then we can make a course around the house. And here are easy instructions to get us started (http://www.hitentertainment.com/artattack/crazygolfcourse.html). I'm so excited, I can hardly breathe. Please feel free to ask to be invited - but you do have to have your own sticky-backed plastic and green crepe paper for the palm trees.

And my writing prompt for today is going to be ... parties I enjoyed, and parties I didn't.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

“If I had had more time, I would have written you a shorter letter.” Mark Twain
There's a great story here by Patricia Highsmith.

And my writing prompt is going to be to write a detective poem, not a thing you see a lot.

Friday, October 06, 2006

I can still remember an afternoon spent in tears after my mother gave me a copy of her Woman Magazine (she used to get Woman and WOman's Own every week) with a story about Peter Pan in it. Used to the Disney version, I read it greedily, until the end when Peter decides to come home to his mother, but when he gets there, he finds bars on the window and looking inside he sees his mother with a new little boy. She doesn't want Peter anymore. Oh hell, I'm crying again just thinking about this! A masterclass lesson in how to f*** a kid up, I didn't leave my mum's side for a year! Anyway, at last it's out ... the officially approved sequel, Peter Pan in Scarlet, and the Great Ormond Street Hospital are finally revealing the plot ...
Set in 1926, green summer has turned to scarlet autumn. The Great War has claimed a life (Michael), the children have grown up and have children of their own, and troublesome dreams are leaking out of Neverland. When the Darlings and the Lost Boys arrive back there, they find it quite changed. Someone is living in the underground den and hanks of mermaid hair litter the shore. Captain Hook’s ghostly pirate ship is adrift without Captain or crew. When the Wendy House tumbles out of the Nevertree there seems nothing to do but venture further afield and into the realms of Never-been-there-land. Awaiting them are pirates, a circus, animals, witches, fairies… and dangers that will test the resolve of even the greatest hero.
O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow's wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Robert Frost

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Some time ago ... wake up in back, were you listening?! ... I posted a link to the most common nouns in the English language. So pleased to see then how the Snakeskin webzine have taken it several steps further, by publishing their Ten Nouns Special, poems which use the top ten nouns. Particular credit to Cheryl Snell for her poem, Special Effects.

So that's going to be my writing prompt for today, but I'm going to stick to prose - a paragraph with the top ten nouns which are
1 Time
2 Person
3 Year
4 Way
5 Day
6 Thing
7 Man
8 World
9 Life
10 Hand
“We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Anais Nin