Sunday, December 31, 2006

Happy New Year!

May it be a good - and peaceful - one for you all. And just in case you get bored tonight and can't think what to do with all your champagne corks, the Design Within Reach website is hosting its second 'design a champagne cork chair' competition. Your chair has to use the cork, foil, cage and label from no more than two (2) Champagne bottles (use of glass not permitted). Here's the photograph of last year's winner for inspiration:

And my writing prompt for today is: My favourite chair.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

OK, bearing in mind the success of 'which literary personality are you?' for readers of this blog, here's a chance to discover your REAL personality for 2007. Now I'm going to google 'Green Lantern' to find out just exactly who I am...

Your results:
You are Green Lantern

Green Lantern
Wonder Woman
The Flash
Iron Man
Hot-headed. You have strong
will power and a good imagination.

Click here to take the Superhero Personality Quiz

Thanks to a recommendation, I am in the process of discovering new/old writers through Persephone Books. Do go to the website - even the covers and endpapers bring great joy. I loved the short story, The Woman Novelist by Diana Gardner, but am restricting myself to just a bit more reading and choosing of new books for my wish list every time I visit the website to help eke out the pleasure. Have just reread the last sentence ... oh yes, I believe in living dangerously. Bring on 2007!!!!

And my writing prompt today is: The Woman (fill in profession of choice).

Friday, December 29, 2006

A quick writing prompt. Finish this letter:
Dear Father Christmas, Did you forget to bring the....

Sunday, December 24, 2006

I'm offline for the next few days. Happy holidays!!!!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Best Christmas game ever here, courtesy of another forum. Particularly for the sprouts fans amongst us.
And my writing prompt for today is: the best meal in the world would be... .

Thursday, December 21, 2006

To my shame, I can't remember the exact web-route that took me to finding the website of artists, Gerda Steiner and Jorg Lenzlinger, but what a stunning find! Browsing through their archive has been like the best possible Christmas present - oh, but to see their work in the flesh and not just via the internet. The photograph above is of one of their commissions - Soul warmer at the Abbey Library of St.Gall, 2005. This is how the description starts:

For a long time, the library was able to capture the emotions of stunned visitors. Some emotions remained stuck to the grilles in front of the books, or trickled away down the gaps in the parquet flooring, where they groaned and wished the whole day long whenever visitors glided over them wearing their felt slippers. More oohs and aahs that emanated from the stream of visitors hid in the ornate lettering in old-fashioned script used for the first letter of every page. Soon after, though (that is to say, 200 years ago), such books were all taken up, and there was space for the virginal oohs and aahs only in the printed matter.

The work itself represents what happens when all these emotions work themselves free...

...and that has inspired my writing prompt for today which is to: write about an emotion that has got stuck physically in a building.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

More good new words here, including BLOG STREAKING: "Revealing secrets or personal information online which for everybody's sake would be best kept private." Say no more. No, really, say no more....
One of the best things about writing is the reading. Have I said that before? At the moment, I'm working on a collection of poems about a shopaholic mother (definitely not autobiographical ... well, apart from handbags and everybody knows they're essential). Anyway, moving swiftly on, some of the research I've been doing about the history of shopping is both frightening and funny. From THE URGE TO SPLURGE by Laura Byrne Paquet, I've already discovered the following two facts:
1) 10 percent of the nouns an average 18-month-old US child knows are brand names

2) one in every four UK babies speaks a brand name as their first word.
Actually, that's not funny at all, just frightening. Here's a shopping quote from Sex in the City that does make me laugh because it sums up the characters so well for me: (note, the website above even has its own shop - is there no end?!
Carrie: Honey, if it hurts so much, why are we going shopping?
Samantha: I have a broken toe, not a broken spirit.

And my writing prompt for today is ... the Christmas I didn't shop at all.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

And another resolution - may as well start early - is to get back to writing prompts. Here's one for today -
write a love letter or poem to your bed.
I'm actually quite a sorted person (so sue me, I'm a Virgo!) and luckily Christmas doesn't throw me into the panic it seems to be driving other people towards. Of course the downside of this is my lists. Hundreds and hundreds of lists. I've got lists on everything - the exact minutes I have to put turkey and other stuff in the oven, presents to give, presents to get (I wish), games, Christmas cards etc etc etc. You can imagine, therefore, how much joy New Year gives me. We keep an old diary - given to us in 2000 - in which we all now annually write our New Year Resolutions while chortling over how many from last year we haven't achieved. We (husband, me and kids) give one resolution for ourselves and one for each other, with the only stipulation that they have to be reasonably do-able. What's interesting is that it's the ones we make for ourselves that seem to be the hardest. What's going on there? Run a marathon, I 'gave' myself in 2003, hahahahahahaha! Anyway, mine this year is to follow the weekly tutorials to be given by one of my heroes, Nicholas Bate on his blog. Here's today's tutorial (or at least I think it's today - some of my first goals are a) to find out exactly which day he posts this tutorial and b) to find out exactly what the Premium Consultancy I'm going to be starting in w/c 15 January actually is. Might have to skip that one!)

What do you want for 2007? What would make it your best year yet?
Think about your career: write it down.
Think about your health: write it down.
Think about your finances: write it down.
Think about your realtionships: write it down.
Think about your fun: write it down.
Think about your contribution/give back: write it down.

Monday, December 18, 2006

"All my life I've looked at words as though I were seeing them for the first time." Ernest Hemingway

I get excited every new year waiting for that newspaper article about the new words that have made it into the dictionary - not least because it's a great opportunity to get annoyed. One of the new words I hate, hate, hate but use to my shame in teaching is 'workshop' as a verb, ie 'we'll be workshopping..', but here are some Vogue magazine have already picked out as vital for the way we live now:

Jonesing - wanting what she's got (would have thought this might be 'Ryaning')
Standard - very cool (eh, sorry but I don't get that one)
Chiclets - over-bleached teeth (aren't they the worst?)
Blooples - the outward manifestation of cellulite (moving swiftly on)
Scarecut - bad haircut (just growing out of one of those)
Boydourves - junk men eat when women aren't around (as opposed to?)
Squarbler - that which you bleach to render invisible,
and my personal favourite:
Smirting - flirting while smoking outside.

Any other suggestions?

(ps those are my thoughts in brackets - ie I've been bracketing)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book Aid is one of the charities I really like supporting, and this year, one of their initiatives is the reverse book token where you buy a book token, and the charity sends specially selected books to where they're needed. They're not out of date text books either, like the ones we saw in Africa over the Summer. One letter on the website is from a boy called Fabrice in Rwanda praising the book he got: 'Great Football Stories'.

Friday, December 15, 2006

How about this for my new publicity photo? Is my hair OK? You can get five versions free - of you and your friends, not just of me, although I suppose you could... - by going to the Bless This Chick website. Christmas pressies sorted, eh?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Love stationery? Love films? Good game here....

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

The more I look at other blogs, the more I realise that mine lacks an identity. I'm not particularly intelligent, or arty, or angsty, or even the ultimate fashionista I've been dreaming of becoming ever since my days at fashion college. I'm just .... bitty. So I was going to try to remedy that, and come over all writerly and focused, but then a friend sent me this: and I've been trying not to put it up for days, but I just can't resist. This is absolute bliss. So, Writer's News crossed with Heat crossed with Vogue - that's what you get here and I'm not going to be ashamed of it any more. This is MY writing journal after all, and you're all very welcome to browse!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Another story to be read. How lucky are we that the internet throws up such gems? Anyway, I've been struggling with dialogue recently - does it move the story forward? Is it pedestrian? Does it feel real, get the feel of the character, sends the reader to sleep.... So a joy to read this story, A New Gravestone for an Old Grave by David Bezmozgis, which does the job perfectly in my opinion. I'm going to have fun dissecting just how he's managed it.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Thankfully much longer than six words (see below), John McGahern's last story, Creatures of the Earth, can be found here. Am going to print it off and read it tonight - a treat for this nasty December night!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

So how short can a short story be? Over at Wired, they have six-word short stories from many different writers. The idea is apparently based on Hemingway's own six word story: "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." which he called his best work. One of my favourites is Margaret Atwood's: 'Longed for him. Got him. Shit.' How many books waste so many words saying just that?