Tuesday 27 March 2012

A Writing Place

On the back of a postcard of the Yorkshire Dales, I wrote a few sentences about my favourite ‘Writing Place’. This was for a competition hosted by Arvon who run top quality writing courses. http://www.arvonfoundation.org/ It was here that I wrote the first 5,000 words of Glass Houses, met my friend and writing buddy, Author, Jane Rusbridge, and was so inspired by the need to take this writing lark seriously that I came home and handed in my notice forthwith.  

I say I wrote my missives, ‘on the back of a postcard’, thankfully I’d had the foresight to buy five from my local post office which is probably why, when I was tidying up my study earlier – for tidying read, filing old scribbles which should be re-cycled and re-ordering my To Be Read pile- I stumbled across one of the four rejected cards. Establishing my experimental piece of flash fiction hadn’t taken obscenely long, I’d written it in my head while I was running. Producing a legible, flawless script, however, proved to be one of life’s little challenges; the ones which beat you around the head just at a time when your deadline dictates you need to sit very calmly and still.

Lumb Bank, one of four Arvon centres
My entry didn’t win, nor was it a runner up, so forgive me for ignoring the loud hint to bury this copy in the back of a forgotten drawer somewhere. But I like it because it reminds me of why I must always find time to put on my trainers, and explains how somebody who misses the company of people from previous employment, could be as equally addicted to the solitary sport of running, as writing.

Trip, trap, trip, trap, my feet bounce from the roots and branches covering the wooded track. My woolly hat, with its thick, blue bobble, is pulled down over my ears. My fingers are numb and my cheeks are burning in the cold wind. But my core is warm, my calves are pumping and my heart has found its steady beat. I drift to that place of creative thought where tricky passages are unravelled, blog posts devised and novel plots wondered. There is little interruption; a diving Red Kite adds to my description and a chance conversation only helps with characterisation. Running is my new page. This is why my feet are my favourite writing place.

Where’s your favourite place to write, to read, to be? Where do you go to think?

Thursday 15 March 2012

Sensible Shoes Required

I don’t like shopping for children’s shoes. I lose patience and it costs too much money. In fact, I think I shall remove personal shopper from my list of things-to-do-when-Spielberg-gets-his-hands-on-my-novel and replace it with a professional shoe fitter who will whisk my children away and return them to me only when their feet are adorned in perfectly fitting shoes; a modern day Elves and the Shoemaker.
My children aren’t too keen either. I was reading my youngest’s homework on her likes and dislikes. She said that the last time she went shoe shopping was the worst day of her life and I have to say, I probably concur.
I shall cut us both a little slack here. In general terms, the good old British shoe is not made for my daughter’s feet. She has unfeasibly high insteps and weak ankles. Unusually wide at the front, they taper into normal proportions at the back which means that a shoe which fits the toes, inevitably falls off at the heel.
The particular shopping trip in question is engrained in my brain too, except I remember it as three separate trips, each lasting hours longer than planned. The paediatrician had sent us off with a sort of ‘shoe prescription’.  I’d agreed with her, in a sheepish, seriously wanting-mother type of way, ‘But it’s just so hard to find a shoe which does all that,’ I’d whispered. Or one which a twelve year old will wear.
It began well. ‘Yes,’ my daughter agreed, ‘I understand I’ll have to compromise to find shoes which support my feet.’ So willing was she to comply, she even deigned to try on a pair or two. Hours and hours later, even her older sister - dragged there as moral support, in the attempt to convince a mother who couldn’t possibly understand the importance of ‘cool’ over mobility (she writes, curling up her toes and denying the pain in her bunions) - was manhandling her feet into the only non-pump type pair of shoes and expressing with an exaggerated shake of the head that these would just have to do and she could remove the bows before anyone else saw them.
Compromises made by every party, we bought a pair of shoes. My daughter suffered them until, in great delight, she announced that they’d worn out. So hated were these shoes that she obviously thought the pain involved in potentially finding a better pair, was marginally better than being forced to wear them a day longer than necessary.
This time my eldest also needed new shoes. Her feet are not so problematical but her taste range is a little on the narrow side. Pleeeease, can I have pumps this time, pleeeease. Absolutely everybody else has…
Pumps for school? They’re so 2011. It would appear that they have been jettisoned to the stock room of shoe fashion heaven.
So, this is where I say thank you. Thank you to the powers-that-be that decide what shall be fashionable. To the god who oversees, I offer a prayer to ask that this particular fashion stays around until my children leave school.
The only potential black spot of the whole shopping experience, which lasted, oh, almost half an hour, was the concern that both girls would fall in love with the same pair of sensible, strong leather, lace up and perfectly fitting brogues. However, the fashion gods had kindly decreed that there would be a good ten variations in all sizes of this type of shoe.
Once home, my husband eye-balled both pairs of shiny, toughened shoes with surprised curiosity. Had his daughters really chosen these shoes for themselves?
‘Dad,’ the raised eyebrows answered him, not unsympathetically, ‘You haven’t got a clue, have you?’   

Tuesday 6 March 2012

Thanks to my marketeers

Many thanks to my budding marketeers both here and on Facebook and Twitter, for helping me come to a conclusion regarding the turbulent future of my book title, Glass Houses. My, very unscientific, survey would suggest that Glass Houses must remain the title for now, even if this isn’t the most charismatic of names.
Your responses have suggested it is a little one-dimensional and the idea of a sub-heading is a good one. I need to play with the idea of a life being prone to shattering in an instant and, although its re-building can be painful and the end result will never be the same, the journey to re-building can be fun; the re-built ‘glass house’ can be even better than before, even in the most unlikely of circumstances. This is the case for my main character, who also, for the record, receives her fair share of stone throwing, from those who can least afford to throw them.
As you can see, this could do with being a little snappier but you can leave that particular conundrum with me.
However, I would love you to tell me about your titles and how you came up with them - and crucially, whether you’re happy with what you’ve chosen.  We could have an Agenthood and Submissionville title workshop right here!
And to my lovely readers, far too sensible to ever get mixed up in this writing escapade, what would your title be, just for fun? What’s the best title you’ve ever seen and did the book delight or disappoint? I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for reading!