Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Useful Literary Terms, No 1.

A synonym is a word you use when you can't spell the other one. Baltasar Gracián

Dog Day - a 50 word photo-story

When Colin was seven his father brought a dog home. It had just been a normal day up to then, boring even, but suddenly life changed. Colin was a dog owner. He grew bigger overnight. Dog day it was known after that. 28th October. The day on which miracles happened.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Geo-sex daddy of the rhodium world (M, 62) seeks practically anyone.

I've been ... well, I was going to say reading but it's more looking at words through hands pressed tightly to the eyes actually ... the book made up entirely of the personal ads of the London Review of Books, They Call Me Naughty Lola.

It is clear I haven't lived.

Or rather, I have. And that maybe M, 34, WLTM F to 30 able scientifically to prove the validity of the ten-second rule concerning dropped food. Box no. 9713 might have some catching up to do.

Still, embedded now that I am at the London School of Economics where everyone seems fairly normal, I am worried at the number of lecturers there are in other universities who seem, er, desperate. It's the only word for it.

If his status ain't hood I ain't checking fo' him. Classics lecturer (F, 53) wishes she had Beyonce's stomach, bling and movement. Though not necessarily her appreciation of lyric poetry. I want a soldier, or else any sane man within M25, at box no. 9521.

Now I know that soldier refers to Beyonce, hey I'm with it too, but look!!! I found Mr Right for her on the very next page!

Ladies: apply now for opportunity to make love with Roman gladiator (bankrupt publisher, 5'2", but every bit a man). Box no. 5890.

See classics - Roman, soldier - gladiator. Oh, this is exciting. I feel like shouting out 'he's behind you' loudly.

Although maybe she'd prefer one of her own kind. Those publishing types you know...

OMG! This magazine is the shizz. Seriously, dudes. Awesome! LOL! Classics lecturer (M, 48). Possibly out of his depth with today's youth. KTHX! Box no. 2680.

See!!! OMG!!! She's older than him, so he would feel in his depth. Even young, LOL!!! And they could both speak the same langua.... expect, oh, hang on a sec, they're the same person, aren't they?

And I bet you this is her too ...

Mini, 64, WLTM man whose first name is composed entirely of Roman numeral letters. You must also have a degree in advanced mathematics and be very well endowed. Box no. 2486.

And Mimi is also very possibly the person this woman DEFINITELY isn't looking for (although both sound equally demanding)...

Male LRB Readers. Drawing little faces on your thumbs, getting them to order meals, then shouting at them for not being able to pay is no way to win a woman. You know who you are. Men to 40 wiht working credit cards reply to ... F, 35. Box no. 1379.

Now there's a thing. I would LOVE to go out for dinner with someone who drew little faces on his or her thumbs and got them to order the meal. Almost as much as I loved the official warning in this book that the box numbers were no longer active, and therefore we shouldn't rush to reply to the ads.

Shucks. Spoil sports...

University lecturer in Russian literature (male, 57). Great legs. Box no. 1344

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Coventry - a 50 word photo-story

We don’t talk to Mandy. Sometimes we sit near her just so she doubly knows we won’t talk to her. If she makes an effort, puts ribbons in her hair say, we laugh. If she doesn’t, we laugh more. Why don’t we like Mandy? I’ve no idea. But we don’t.

Just another boring day then...

One night a year, in the Bahamas, the Selenicereus cactus flowers ache into bloom, conduct their entire sex lives, and vanish by morning. For several days beforehand, the cactuses develop large pregnant pods. Then one night, awakened by a powerful smell of vanilla, you know what has happened. The entire moonlit yard is erupting in huge, foot-wide flowers. Hundreds of sphinx moths rush from one flower to another. The air is full of the baying of dogs, the loud fluttering of the moths that sounds like someone riffling through a large book, and the sense-drenching vanilla nectar of the flowers, which disappear at dawn, leaving the cactuses sated for another year.

(From A Natural History of the Senses, by Diane Ackerman, page 55)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Read, read, read. Read everything- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write." William Faulkner

Bull talk

Now, this blog likes bulls. In fact, as regular blog readers know this blog even has a share in a bull of its own and I don't mean to boast, but I do wonder quite how many other blogs can claim that. Particularly writing based ones.

Anyway, HUGE congratulations are due to the real bulldaddy (as he is named on my phone at least), Alasdair Houston. His Charolais bull (and Deeday's friend), Gretnahouse Drysky, was awarded the supreme male title at this month's Sale of Charolais Cattle at Carlisle bull sales.

And here is Gretnahouse Drysky with stockman, John Morton (who has been possibly the most patient man in the world as we all came stumbling round the herd with some of us doing things like calling Drysky Deeday's friend) ...

But he is pretty, isn't he?

Drysky, I mean. Drysky. Gawd, at this rate I'm never going to be allowed back to Gretna, and I love Gretna Green.

Ps. I hope I sound as if I know what I'm talking about. Being the part-owner of a bull is a serious business, and I for one certainly would NEVER get confused between Charolais and Chevrolet as I'm sure the rest of the bull family will testify (cough, cough)...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Bisc Lit

Happy to be dunking the first crumb into this new literary category here.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Taste more...

First, a fact ...

According to Diane Ackerman's A Natural History of Senses, the human has 11,000 taste buds in their mouths while the cow has 25,000. Imagine what that mouthful of grass must taste like. The explosion every time the cow takes a bite. How the cow can taste whether the grass has been in the sun or the rain. How even a bee stopping to offload pollen must make all the difference.

And we call someone sluggish cow-like? I want my writing to be by the power of 25,000 today, not a measly 11,000.

And now a quote ...

"The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware, joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware." Henry Miller

And lastly, a song ...

Indigo Sisters, Closer to Fine.

Heck, it's only life after all. This is all very un-British of me, I know, but hurrah for that.

I'm going to write BIG today!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Work - a 50 word photo-story

It was his seventeenth job interview that year. You’re not trying, his wife says, but he is. It’s just they don’t ask him the right questions. He’s not interested in career progression, or pensions, or salaries, or even bonuses. No, the only thing he wants to talk about is adventure.


That's the only word for the weather today.

So if you feel like a smile, take a look at this short illustrated story .... The Lost Fart, because we all need a dollop of silliness sometimes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Weekly blog round up ....

This week, I've been thinking about ...

* CLARITY - Cally Taylor's excellent new book, Heaven Can Wait has come out this week with a blog tour. This post on Fia Kenzie's blog is one of the best descriptions of how to write to an agent that I've seen.

* CONCENTRATION - Sonja Grussendorf's post about an interview Susan Hill did for Radio 4 chimed with how worried I've been about my writing practice now I do so much on the internet. To quote, Sonja, about Susan: She had previously become aware that her concentration was not what it used to be and suggested that “if you use the internet a lot you notice your concentration begins to become fragmented and you don’t have that complete concentration for two or three hours.”

* CREATIVITY - I follow Amanda Palmer on Twitter with a huge dollop of admiration, but this post by her assistant is just beautiful. Good to remember the whole creative process is never just up, up, up if it's to have any value. I can't remember the last time I felt so inspired just to create.

* CRAFT - Now I have lunchtimes, I like to wander round my bit of London. On Friday, I found The Origins craft show at Somerset House. It was completely uplifting. I particularly loved Alix Swan's book boxes, Annie Sherburne's rugs, and oh oh oh, I wish there was a way to show two-dimensionally just how fine Fenella Elms's ceramic pictures are.

* CENTENARIES - It was recently the Centenary of The Poetry Society, and this is the very best round up of what went on I could find - from Pamela Johnson's always well worth reading blog.

* CONNECTIONS - This letter from the poet Amy Clampitt to Mary Jo Salter made me think we all need to write more letters. Now. If only in the hope that we might one day get a reply like this one.

So who are you going to write to?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Not letting go ...

A few years ago, after lots and lots of serious testing, I found my perfect ever notebook. Ladies and gentleman, meet the Marbella ....

It's exactly the right size, it has a soft cover so feels nice, the pages are ruled just to the right width, it has not one but TWO ribbon bookmarks and a wide margin. What's not to like?

Even better I could buy it from Rymans, changing the colour when I was feeling daring. But then suddenly, Rymans stopped stocking it. No one could tell me anything. I tried other makes but they were all too hard, they just didn't feel as friendly. So I sulked for a bit.

But then today I went searching and guess what I found - my notebook has its own website. Good times. A new notebook is hopefully on its way to me right now.

And this is from the woman who used to insist strange writing rituals were a waste of time. And that I could write anywhere, on anything.

Be warned though, that website is wicked. I'm already thinking of asking Father Christmas for this, and I haven't even clicked on to the pen section yet.

So what do you write on? Send pictures. This blog likes its stationery porn.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cheerleader - a 50 word photostory

I said to my husband, ‘Brian, you never notice me anymore.’ ‘Did someone say something?’ he replied. I didn’t laugh. Next match day, I packed my pompoms and jumped the barriers. I’m waiting for him to pick me up from security now. Brian, I’ll say, did someone just do something?

Monday, October 12, 2009

In treatment....

Dr Paul crush alert...

Well, he's not my therapist, so there's nothing wrong with it, is there? Although, wait ... he's not real either.

If you've not caught up with In Treatment yet, it's well worth a look. Even for other things than the handsome Gabriel Bryne.

It's like The Archers too, in that it's on every day and then all of it on Sunday. You need never miss an appointment!


So continuing the theme of doing too many things at one time, I wondered how many people are considering writing a novel in November?

Come on, surely you can fit it in!!!!

Seriously, it's a great project. I know lots of people who swear by it, not least as a kickstart to their sluggish creativity. Kay Sexton reminded me about it with this post on her blog, which explains it all much better than I can.

And in case you were wondering, we are not doing another round of Your Messages this November. However the prompts are still up there, if you want to see if you can write a completely new response for yourself. (ps and if you have a comment up there, and would like it removed, maybe to rework for publication etc, do get in touch - we certainly wouldn't want to hold back any of your excellent work from finding new homes.)

The Lesson - a 50 word photostory

Mrs Fisher told them it didn’t matter how fast they climbed the stairway of life. Even those who came last got somewhere, she said. So are the steps made from winner’s gravestones? John’s dad scoffed. To get to the top was to die. But so was being at the bottom.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Troubadour

One of my favourite places for readings etc in London is The Troubadour Cafe - and this poetry evening coming up on Monday 19th October looks particularly good. It's a mix of poets I've read, and some that are new to me, so I look forward to hearing some fresh voices.

Coffee House Poetry Features: David Constantine Introduces Sasha Dugdale, Stephen Romer, Lucy Newlyn, Joseph Butler, Jenny Lewis, Robert Saxton And Jane Draycott

More details here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Been rejected recently?

Here's one way to deal with it....

The author, Mary Patrick Kavanaugh's website is here - at the wonderfully named My Dream is Dead But I'm Not site.

My guess is that she's an ace marketeer. And my second guess is that she's now got a book deal. She's certainly creative, but does it make me want to read her book ...? Sadly not. But that's personal. I have a thing about reading about death, and there's enough of it around my life right now. What it does make me want is to read more about her though.

And my third guess is that I will. Soon.

Alive - a 50 word photostory

Lucy has become a different person since her anger management therapy. We used to be able to go to her for everything. She’s terrifying now, but some of us still ask her for stupid things. We like how her rage makes us feel real. As if our life really matters.

Monday, October 05, 2009

One thing at a time...

I have so much I want to say on this blog - photographs from my travels, new 50 word stories, thoughts about writing, the creative process, my new post at the LSE, books I've been reading - that to be honest, sometimes I just look at it all and feel so exhausted about where to start I just give up. It can feel like I'm a pot about to burst with steam. Much easier just to keep the lid tightly on and do nothing.

Is anyone else the same?

And a couple of months ago, thinking about just this, I started to wonder if women of my age, of any age actually, hadn't been taken for a ride with all the stories we were fed about how much better we were at multi-tasking than men. Gawd, I even felt smug about it at the time. One of my most successful stories was started in the kitchen as I scribbled down notes while cooking supper for my kids and playing junior scrabble with them at the same time. More work, more jobs ... bring them on.

But now things seem to be swinging the other way. An article in the New York Times suggests that multitaskers just think they are doing lots of things successfully.

Trouble is, it's not just circumstance. There's so much I want to do. And not enough time to do it. Of course, I need to prioritise, but maybe I need a different attitude too. One that can adapt to my writing life, and doesn't keep telling me I'm doing everything wrong because I'm trying to follow research designed for an office day. A friend has suggested this book, Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher, so I'll give that a go and report back.

And in the meantime, I'm going to throw chronology to the wind on this blog, and over the next couple of weeks, post the things I fancy talking about whether they come from yesterday, a week ago or even three months ago. The key thing is to unscrew the top of the pot off carefully, and let just one thing out at a time.