Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Aargh! The guilt!

So here's the thing: I haven't looked at my WIP (work-in-progress) for about three weeks. Sigh. And it was all going so well! It's just that other things have got in the way. Things like watching Harper's Island. Am I the ONLY person in the world who is watching this? It really feels like it. A TV series of joy made just for me. I heart it, big style.

But I'm feeling guilty about neglecting the new book. Hmm. What can I do to remedy this terrible situation? It's a tricky one. I just can't work out a solution, no matter hard I try...

WHOA THERE! Hold on a cotton-picking minute! I could actually do some work on it. Like carry on writing where I left off. True, it is a bit 'out there', but you know what? I think it might just work.

Person of the day: Mitten/Michelle (I'm gonna misssssssss you!)
Disappointing lunch of the day: cheese-and-marmite-panini-type thing from Camden Food Company (Words fail me. Worst. Lunch. Ever.)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

This makes me smile

I wish one of my cats would do this. Alas, my house is sorely lacking in big paper light shades at the moment. I may well buy one though, just in case.

Song of the day: Uprising, by Muse
(the new album is gooooood)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Ode to the Children's Writers' & Artists' Yearbook

(And if you want to know if someone can use apostrophes properly, just ask them to write down that heading. It's an apostrophe MINEFIELD, so it is.)

If anyone out there is even remotely interested in children's books, I'd strongly suggest you get your hands on a copy of CWAY. And if you're hoping to find an agent and get published, I'd suggest you get the contents of this book tattooed all over your body.

This book is the bible of children's books. Buy it. Borrow it. Don't steal it, because that is illegal. But do get it. It's got all the info you could ever need, including names and submission guidelines for agents and publishers. And lots of cool articles by writers, agents and clever publishing types that make you feel better about trying to be published.

AND you can read it on the way home and be all 'Check me out! I'm a writer, don't you know!'. You can be as smug as you like - just ignore the fact that it's really obvious that you're a wannabe, unpublished author. But you're on your way, oh yes indeedy. (Of course, no one on the train is in the least bit interested in what you're reading, but you can pretend.)

My copy of CWAY has been on my coffee table for the past four months, and I'm reluctant to put it back on the shelf. This could just be because I am extraordinarily lazy, but I'm not so sure. The book gives me hope, in a way I can't quite explain. I'm just glad it's there.

Song of the day: Fame by Irene Cara (It's all about the legwarmers.)

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

They've pret me down again!

WHY do I persist in buying disappointing sandwiches from Pret? It's like I have a special kind of sandwich amnesia. I expect something great every day, and every day I end up throwing half my lunch in the bin.

Today's offering was an avocado wrap. I enjoyed the first half (sort of), but when faced with the second half, I actually said the word 'Urgh!' out loud in my very quiet office. I just couldn't face the soggy tortillaness. Grossness.

But maybe they won't let me down tomorrow? Maybe tomorrow will be that glorious day I've been waiting for... a proper tasty sarnie and no hunger pangs mid-afternoon. Well, I can dream can't I?

BTW, I know I should make my lunch at home and bring it in to work but... but... it's too hard!

Person of the day: my big bro (taking me to the theatre tonight to see Anna Friel naked or something)
Song of the day: Beat it by Fall Out Boy (Yes, I am a heathen for preferring it to the MJ version, but I'm OK with that.)

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Ouch. That hurts.

So today's task has been to cut cut cut. Perhaps the image on the left might be taking things a tad too far (I always did have a tendency towards the dramatic)... BUT oh my goodness this is hard.
You see, The First Novel has rather a lot of words in it. That is a good thing. It makes it a novel, rather than a pamphlet. So, yay for words. But you can have too many. Words that don't serve a purpose. Words that slow things down so the reader gets bored and frustrated. These words are BAD words (like @#*$).
I've taken to the manuscript with a chainsaw (or rather, a tiny pair of nail scissors) and tried to get rid of some of those naughty words. After briefly considering just losing every seventh or eighth word or so just to make things easy, I decided to follow my agent's advice and try to cut the boring bits.
Thus far, 2500 words have been obliterated. Gone, just like that.
Farewell, dear words. I'll miss you. Even though you were a bit rubbish and boring and just... self-indulgent. Actually... GOOD RIDDANCE!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Things I wish I knew more about

There are lots and lots of things I wish I knew more about. But these one are specifically related to my WIP (Work-In-Progress, innit):

1. Ways to die
2. PGL-style activity holidays (which I, alas, missed out on, choosing to go sightseeing in Brittany instead)
3. Pot-holing on said activity holidays. What kind of equipment is needed? Do they even call it that nowadays?
4. What it's like going to a posh girls' school
5. Lochs

That gives you a little bit of insight into the story. If anyone out there knows anything about any of these topics (pot-holing in particular), please give me a shout. Of course, I could just do some internet research, but where's the fun in that?

Disappointing lunch of the day: ham and greve baguette from Pret (yuk!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Trying to be lazy

Yesterday I did no writing and nothing writing-related. Since that was my aim, I should be feeling pretty pleased with myself. Instead of writing, I:

1. read the papers
2. finished reading Thirteen reasons why (which is a relief, because it was really getting me down)
3. watched Made on MTV (massive geek transforming himself into a ladies' man... not a huge success... he got down on one knee to ask a girl to the prom AND then told her he loved her. Ouch. Bad second date.)
4. listened to a radio programme about Agatha Christie
5. cooked up some Mexican food

But throughout these diverting diversions I couldn't help feeling that I REALLY SHOULD BE WRITING. I've gone from one extreme to the other: from being lazy all weekend and never wanting to write, to being unable to relax, even for one day.

I'm not quite sure how this happened. Maybe it's a good thing? Maybe it's because of my new super special agent (YAY! I got one!). It feels a bit like I'm not just writing for me anymore. I can't just give up on the work-in-progress if I get stuck or fed up with it. Not that I want to give up, not even a little bit. I'm hugely excited about where the story is heading - I think this one's got potential. But you never know what's around the corner...

So my September resolution is to learn to balance out the writing with a bit of relaxing, and vice versa. That means that today is writing day. I got up super early and am raring to go... after I check Twitter/Facebook/Hotmail/various writing blogs. Then I'll get started.

Song of the day: Let's get outta here, by Madina Lake

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The monkey tree

That's where I get my ideas. When I've run out and the cupboard is bare, I just head over to the monkey tree, holler, and a friendly monkey reaches down and hands me an envelope. Inside is a shiny new idea of awesomeness. And then I head home and start to write.

OK, not true. But it would be nice. I got the idea for TFN (pleeeease somebody publish it, pleeeease!) many many years ago in an A-level English Language exam. Best exam question ever: write the first chapter of a novel. I can't quite remember if there was more to it than that. I kind of think there must have been - maybe they gave us the first line or something? Anyhoo, I wrote about a girl in the woods, alone and frightened. She'd just escaped from a house she'd been held in against her will for weeks and weeks. She didn't know the identity of her captor, or why she'd been taken. It was fun to write.

I enjoyed writing it so much that the idea stayed with me, lurking somewhere in my brain's filing cabinet, until I pulled it out and dusted it off three years ago. The scene I wrote in the exam doesn't appear in my story, and the main character is completely different, but the feelings are the same. If it hadn't been for that exam question, I doubt I'd ever have come up with the idea for the novel, unless I'd paid a visit to those benevolent monkeys...

The idea for the book I'm working on now came from an overheard conversation at work. Someone said the words 'bus crash', and I was away. At least I think they said 'bus crash' - I may have misheard. Doesn't matter though; it got me started. BTW, there is no bus crash in this book. It was just a starting point that got my mind itching and twitching and wanting to write. So thank you, dear colleague.

Person of the day: Nev the newsagent, who didn't mind that I waited 4 days to pay him the £116 I owed him

Monday, September 7, 2009

Five good reasons to read Cracked up to be

1. It has has an awesome dog in it.
2. The characters say outrageous things that made me laugh out loud, but they’re not Dawson’s Creekly annoying.
3. There are cheerleaders and jocks and high school dances.
4. It does one of my favourite tricks: you know something really bad has happened but you don’t find out what it is till the end.
5. The relationship between Parker and her parents is brilliantly written.

Sunday, September 6, 2009


Have you seen this cat? She may look sweet and innocent/gormless, but she is actually the perpetrator of an unspeakable crime. Approach with extreme caution.

Name: Jem aka The Destroyer

Age: 17 months

Description: er... black with three and a half legs (and a tendency to use her disability to mask the evil within)

Crime: Trespass (onto my laptop when I was in the middle of a VERY tricky re-write. 'Aw,' I thought, 'so cute. She wants to see what I'm writing.' WRONG! The cuteness distracted me from the fact that her paw was on the 'off' button. Seconds later, my screen faded to black. Disaster! Two paragraphs lost. Possibly the two hardest paragraphs in the book. Bad kitty.

Today, I attempt to re-write the re-write. Oh, happy day!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Apologies for the lack of content

But I really have nothing to say. Er... I still have an agent? I'm still really, really happy about it? I haven't done any more work on the new book because I've been massively distracted?

This weekend I'm revising my first manuscript to take in some suggestions my new super shiny agent made. (Nope, still not in the least bit bored of saying 'my agent'.) I'm changing the ending, and adding in some bits to help with some characters' motivation. Nothing major. I'm actually looking forward to honing it a bit more. And all the suggestions made sense. Which was nice.

Bring on the weekend. Right now please.

Song of the day: every single song by Jack's Mannequin (who I'm going to see in Camden ce soir. Yay!)