Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Secret Lives of Wives

Last Sunday I came across an article by John Masterson about a new book by Iris Krasnow called The Secret Lives of Wives.
And while a lot of the themes in the article resonated with me I couldn't help but think this is so middle class.
Or alternatively this is so me!

While I get the whole concept of not depending on one person in our home to fulfil all our needs.
I think every other adult female of reasonable intelligence has figured that out long ago.

Remember when you were in your teens and your best friend suddenly preferred going out with Susie
cause she was wild and willing to pretend she was 18 so they could sneak into the latest hippest club
and you were left home cause you were too scaredy cat.
So you had to find someone else to spend Saturday nights with and she was usually called Doris and only ever wanted to play scrabble?

Well it seems Iris Krasnow has interviewed a bunch of people (women) about being married (for many years) and they have opened up and told her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
And shock horror the truth is ... the romance is gone, and the husband is more of a useful companion (meal ticket).
And they wouldn't dream of leaving him because they are quite comfortable and its a case of better the devil you know.

Iris is the author of many very successful books.
I took a quick look over at her website and she gives tips on a happy marriage.

My favourite 'say you're sorry even if you're not one little bit'
So simple.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Write Something People Want to Read

OK time for a bit of a mental shake up.
I can't expect people to drop by and read any old drivel.
Its got to be something that means something to someone.


Let me think.

I could write about the weather we had over the weekend.
It was shocking bad, high winds, lots of heavy rain, flooding.
But unless I want to expand my expository skill and transplant you to an old house (built pre 1846)
And the goings on of a middle class family in the south of Ireland I'm not going to get anything there.
(One plus was my brother -in-law drove into a flood and had to wade through the flood water to get help -
I know I'm sick, but you have to get your kicks when you can!)
I like the rest of my in-laws but he is unkind to all his family and his mother (my mother-in-law) and I can't forgive that.
She is a lovely woman and doesn't deserve that.
So what do I do?
She won't hear a word against him and I am after all only family through marriage.
Keep schtum!
And hope for the best.

I could write about New Zealand winning the Rugby but that would have me falling asleep.
And there are thousands of sports writers who are paid to do just this.

I could write about Jane Eyre, starring Michael Fassbender.
He is hunky isn't he.
But his character Mr.Rochester is not a sympathetic one.
Also Jane is so silent for much of the movie that I really didn't care one way or another what happened next.
It was a good translation of the novel on to the big screen.
I was glad when the final credits rolled.
Maybe it was the dark brooding house.
It matched too closely my mood and the dark brooding storm we were enduring all Sunday?

I don't know.
All I do know is I am left uninspired.
I want to write something that catches my attention.
Something that somehow entertains you.
Today the well is empty.
The Ink bottle is dry.
My quill is broken.
I will try again tomorrow because not to write is the crime.

And to quote Louise Sorensen who commented on my 'Life Sucks' blog
"If we don't write the stories that live in our heads they will never exist."
Thanks Louise for that gem.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Writing Tips from Roddy Doyle

Roddy Doyle said:

1 Do not place a photograph of your ­favourite author on your desk,
especially if the author is one of the famous ones who committed suicide.

2 Do be kind to yourself. Fill pages as quickly as possible; double space,
or write on every second line. Regard every new page as a small triumph ­–

3 Until you get to Page 50. Then calm down, and start worrying about the
quality. Do feel anxiety – it's the job.

4 Do give the work a name as quickly as possible. Own it, and see it.
Dickens knew Bleak House was going to be called Bleak House before he
started writing it. The rest must have been easy.

5 Do restrict your browsing to a few websites a day. Don't go near the
online bookies – unless it's research.

6 Do keep a thesaurus, but in the shed at the back of the garden or behind
the fridge, somewhere that demands travel or effort. Chances are the words
that come into your head will do fine, eg "horse", "ran", "said".

7 Do, occasionally, give in to temptation. Wash the kitchen floor, hang out
the washing. It's research.

8 Do change your mind. Good ideas are often murdered by better ones. I was
working on a novel about a band called the Partitions. Then I decided to
call them the Commitments.

9 Do not search for the book you haven't written yet.

10 Do spend a few minutes a day working on the cover biog – "He divides his
time between Kabul and Tierra del Fuego." But then get back to work.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Put another log on the fire

Hubster was rocking back and forth in his chair.
He had shimmied forward so his bum was on the edge and had his hands palm down on the arms.
In other words he was in his just about to launch position.
But he looked liked he wasn't able to get vertical (this is a common problem of his). And usually he avoids getting vertical if he can get girlchild or boychild to fetch n' carry for him.
If that fails he'll try me and if that fails he will stand up and do what ever with the maximum amount of grumbling he can get away with.
So last night fearing he had actually some injury that was preventing him rising I asked 'Is something wrong?'
He replied in sing song 'Put another log on the fire dah de dah de dah de dum '
'Don't you know that song?' he asks.
He looks at me then like I am putting up a front and that quizzical confused look on my face is false.
Full sure he was making it up I said ' No. Who're you trying to kid?'
Then he added another line 'boil me up another cup of tea'.
Now I was definite he was making it up but no he insisted it was a song and he wasn't making it up.
Boychild was dispatched to Youtube to prove he wasn't telling big fat fibs.
Suddenly the room filled with honky-tonk (or a version of it).
Hubster started to dance in a very kind of 'I broke my back falling off a horse but I can still walk kind of way.
A bit jerky and not at all slick. But he knew his audience.
Girlchild was on the couch watching her father in stunned amazement and trying not to fall off the couch she was laughing so hard.
All told we had a good laugh and he did eventually get the firewood himself.
Score Mom!

Here are the lyrics.

From the Outlaws

Put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
And go out to the car and change the tyre.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.
Come on, baby, you can fill my pipe,
And then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire, babe,
And come and tell me why you're leaving me.

Now don't I let you wash the car on Sunday?
Don't I warn you when you're gettin fat?
Ain't I a-gonna take you fishin' with me someday?
Well, a man can't love a woman more than that.
Ain't I always nice to your kid sister?
Don't I take her driving every night?
So, sit here at my feet 'cos I like you when you're sweet,
And you know it ain't feminine to fight.

So, put another log on the fire.
Cook me up some bacon and some beans.
Go out to the car and lift it up and change the tyre.
Wash my socks and sew my old blue jeans.
Come on, baby, you can fill my pipe,
And then go fetch my slippers.
And boil me up another pot of tea.
Then put another log on the fire, babe,
And come and tell me why you're leaving me.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction

The Challenge: use 3 of the following 5 words in a story about a vampire - word limit 1000.






My Big Date That Didn't Happen.

In Twilight (the book) the vampires are good looking, well dressed, clean and for the most part youngish and according to Bella Swan really really attractive.
So when this dirty, scruffy, small, old and pale ‘hobo’ grabbed me from behind and bit my neck I was... unprepared. It was late yesterday afternoon, so the only thing he has in common with Stephanie Meyers vamps is the whole being out and about in the daylight thing.
Oh! and the feeding off human blood to survive bit as well.
I was horrified and in typical weak female virgin style I fainted. I don’t know if it was from the loss of blood or the fright or from his smell (rank) but everything went all black and blurry and then wham I hit the pavement.

And I was having such a good afternoon too. Tt was bright and autumnal, dry and a bit breezy with beautiful golden crunchy leaves everywhere underfoot. I was going to meet Derek and I was so excited I could hardly breathe which probably explains why I didn’t see Mr. Hobo sneaking up behind me or notice that he was following me across the park.

I was heading to my one bed little apartment to change. I had wanted to be all cleaned up and showered for my first date with Derek.

After he had his first good suck (god doesn’t that sound disgusting?) right there on the pathway he dragged me into some bushes which I’d only been admiring a few minutes before because of their lovely colours.
What a fool? Why didn’t I see them as potential camouflage for feeding vampires? The obvious always escapes me.

Anyway he had a good old feed once he got me in the bushes and I got very weak. I mean when you go to donate blood for the blood bank they tell you take it easy and they only take a couple of pints, this fellow had himself a few more than that. Then he stopped all of a sudden like he’d hit a switch. He wiped the blood from around his mouth and asked me if I was thirsty. Just like that. ‘Are you thirsty?’ Could things get any more surreal? I was past caring if I lived or died right then but the thought of some cool clean spring water made me realise just how thirsty I was. So I nodded and managed to mumble ‘water’.

He hoisted me up and darted (yes darted) real fast or maybe it just seemed that way cause I was so bleary eyed from lack of blood. He carried me across the whole park thrown across his shoulder in a fireman’s lift. He dropped me on to a stone bench which cracked my skull pretty painfully. I recognised where he had brought me, it was one of the old buildings at the back of the college. There was an old fountain there and the sound of the water splashing against the old stone was wonderful. It was full of leaves and a dead cockroach. I know this because Mr Hobo cleared the surface of the water on to the flagstone next to my foot. He filled an old plastic bottle and gave it to me. ‘Drink, you’ll feel better’
I tried not to think about the cockroach or I would end up gagging.
‘When will I change’ I asked curious to know when I was going to change into a vampire. ‘What? He started to laugh. ‘You are not going to die today and you’re not going to change into a vampire’ His voice sounded funny, like it was rusty. ‘I just needed to feed real bad and getting in Derek’s way was too good an opportunity to miss’ what did that mean. I looked at him and he must have seen I didn’t follow.
‘Derek is one of us – the walking dead no that’s zombies – anyway he was going to kill you’
I shrank back ‘no I don’t believe you’
He leaned real close then and I could see his skin, it was grey and blemished ‘why don’t you believe me? Because he’s so cute? Because he still looks human?’ I saved your life you should be grateful’
I nodded. I was still alive that was true. The water made me feel less weak but my neck hurt like hell.
‘About that why?’
It was his turn to look surprised. ‘Why did I let you live? I’m not some mindless animal, I can control myself, all vampires can, Derek just doesn’t choose to and when the body count goes up he moves on. Then the place will be crawling with police and sniffer dogs and vampires like me who have been living in this college since it was built suddenly have to move out of town. Its not easy finding somewhere to be for endless time without being noticed by a neighbour or something. Derek and his kind ruin it for the rest of us.’

‘What happens now?’ I couldn’t believe I was sitting on a stone bench in the late afternoon having this conversation.

‘I let you go but you can’t tell anyone what happened. No one will believe you. You told all the girls in your dorm about meeting Derek today so that explains the hickey on your neck. And Derek was warned last night not to kill again so if he knows what’s good for him he’ll leave town today. I had to keep you away from him this afternoon and keep you out of sight so you and I will just stay here and chat tonight’
My eyes must have been like saucers, a whole night on my own? With him? Who just sucked the living daylights out of me. A woman walked in to the couryard and I just knew she was one of them. ‘Well Master how are we getting along’ and she sat next to me on the stone bench.
‘Just fine sister’ he replied.
‘Derek has left. I think when you didn’t show he freaked’ she smiled at me ‘take my cloak it will stop you freezing to death tonight’

‘Oh’ was all I could manage.

Wednesday I cracked.

That wonderful man I live with my husband often referred to here as the
hubster - I should change that to The Hubster - Make it his title for no
other reason than he seems to think he deserves one. And when I say that
wonderful man I being ironic cause the shine has definitely wore off him
since last night.

What happened?
What upset me?
What cast a pall over my otherwise picture perfect existence?
Well let me clear away the spiders webs and dust and sleepers in my eyes
and get thinking.

It all began innocently enough.
He said 'will you build my web page for me'
I said 'no'
(Can I just explain I am not a web builder person although I probably could
do it with time and effort and lots of patience.
However the thought of doing anything along the lines of 'working for The
Hubster' fills me with dread because he has no patience with me.
He will deny this vehemently.)

On with my story - one week later
He said 'will you build my web page for me'
I said 'no'
He then upped the pressure to 'I need help, if you don't help me the earths
crust is going to crack open and the end will come'
And if you think I'm kidding and being over dramatic? You weren't there.
That's exactly how it was.
So over the course of three years this has being going on.
He's been applying the pressure and I have been ignoring him.

Until Wednesday night I cracked. Like the earths core , I gave up the
battle, his magma was just too powerful to contain any longer and out all
manner of damage spewed.
So because I cracked I spent last night at the kitchen table with him as he
explained at a rate of knots how the software works.
An hour has passed and we still hadn't 'done' anything.
Eventually he decides he must redo the whole Master page.
This is no small job because this page is the background for every other
page on the site.
We got very little done.
I am at a loss just how I am going to take over this project which he seems
to have such an intimate knowledge of.
How can I possibly succeed when he communicates his needs so badly?

Anyhow what got me really riled was his comment last night when he was
going to sleep.
He called me too tough and too hard.
Is this because I didn't jump for joy when he asked, coerced, bullied me
until I agreed to do his website.
I feel I am getting lost under the weight of his personality.
I resist.
He resents.
Its a bit of a viscous cycle.
So I asked his falling asleep mind would he prefer me if I was all soft and
His answer didn't offer me much comfort.
I am still wondering what the F$%k is going on.
And after that rant I am still rankled.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Wednesdays Witterings.

Today I thought I would give all your writers out there the benefit of some
writerly advice from the sage herself Anne Enright

This was previously published somewhere else and I just thought it was very
good. I thought I would put that disclaimer in there before anyone decided
to sue.

It's not like Anne and I go to have coffee and a cake and she said let me
give you some writerly tips.

1 The first 12 years are the worst.

2 The way to write a book is to actually write a book. A pen is useful,
typing is also good. Keep putting words on the page.

3 Only bad writers think that their work is really good.

4 Description is hard. Remember that all description is an opinion about
the world. Find a place to stand.

5 Write whatever way you like. Fiction is made of words on a page; reality
is made of something else. It doesn't matter how "real" your story is, or
how "made up": what matters is its necessity.

6 Try to be accurate about stuff.

7 Imagine that you are dying. If you had a terminal disease would you ­
finish this book? Why not? The thing that annoys this 10-weeks-to-live self
is the thing that is wrong with the book. So change it. Stop arguing with
yourself. Change it. See? Easy. And no one had to die.

8 You can also do all that with whiskey.

9 Have fun.

10 Remember, if you sit at your desk for 15 or 20 years, every day, not ­
counting weekends, it changes you. It just does. It may not improve your
temper, but it fixes something else. It makes you more free.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chuck Wendig Flash Fiction Challenge - Create new Monster.

Well - I didn't really create a monster here but its a kind of monstrous idea.

Angel Taker

The lake mirrors the night sky.
The moon is weaving silver light through the trees and brambles.
Leaves are transformed to priceless silver leaf.
Clouds pass concentrating the night in the shadows.
Holly leaves glisten, their thorny carcasses menacing in the twilight.
Standing in a clearing where the grass is covered in dew and glinting, I
can see a beautiful young girl dressed in a white gown.
Her hair is white and flows down her back, purity glows from her pale skin.
Her arms are slender, thin; she is no match for Ali.
He is wearing a black city suit, and his skin is polished ebony. It shines
with strength and health under the moon.
His eyes are pools of black ink. His mouth is parted slightly, he is
breathing in the scent of her.
I see her struggle against him. Her wings flap uselessly as she tries to
free herself from his grip.
He hits her one punishing blow to the side of the head. She goes limp and
falls against him.
Then he scoops her up in to his arms and carries her like a sleeping child
towards the lake.
Her head lolls with each step he takes and the brambles scratch her bare
feet cruelly.
Her beautiful white hair catches on low branches.
I try to scream to wake her but my voice is strangled in my throat.
I am powerless.
All I can do is watch.
He walks to a low bank.
The moon has disappeared behind grey clouds;
she refuses to witness the murder of this angel.
My angel. My guardian angel.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Life sucks.

I read Chuck Wendigs piece on NaNoWriMo.
Did you?
Now I just want to give up.
The stats he laid out before us are pretty stark.
Especially the one about only 0.04% of the people who complete the
NaNoWriMo challenge ever actually getting published.
That's so bleak.

Double Sigh.

But I seem unable to get rid of this urge to tell stories to sheets of
Cause lets face it I've never published anything. Not really. Not for
(Does reading out loud to my own private very small very select group of
writers count?)

The white reams of paper are always so accepting.
So happy to hear what I say.
They rarely send me away with a flea in my ear.
I could just say I write for myself but I know that's not true and rings
I started off doing this because I thought I could make an income as a stay
at home Mom...but that didn't happen.
Because I never finished anything.
There it is in black and white.
I never finished anything. How can you sell a half arsed attempt at
Then I realised I needed help to polish up my craft. So I did a few
classes at the local 'creative writing' place.
Then global meltdown and money for my CW classes seemed a bit frivolous.
Then Chuck stamps all over my head and my heart telling me that even if I
finished something and even if I continued getting tutoring and even if it
was any good chances of getting published are still at 0.04%

life sucks.

Monday, October 3, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 coming soon.

Its that time of year again.
The month before NaNoWriMo when we budding novelists try our hand at
belting out 50k in 30 days.
Or over 1600 words a day.
So far so peachy.

Except I've never done it before.

AND I know I won't be able to get to it every day because............

I have a day job,
I have 2 kids, 1 husband, 1 dog, 1 rabbit , a leaky roof and a demanding
mother (not entirely true).

And while these people (and creatures) profess to support my writing
endeavours some of it rings hollow.

Take the dog for instance; while he doesn't actively discourage me from
writing he does actively encourage me to take him for walks (by nudging my
elbow repeatedly so I can't type and ignore him any longer)
And feeding him only takes seconds -really - as he can manage it all by
There is no need to do the airplane flying into the cave routine with him
(mothers of small boys nod with immediate understanding)

My husband feels unloved and ignored if I don't make time for him in the
evening (which usually ends up being over an hour).

And my kids- well the kids are a different story. I am afraid of missing
the 'something is wrong' signs so I pester them to talk to me and spend
time with me.
So in reverse I am stopping me writing.
I am the cause of me not getting down to do the nasty business of putting a
first draft together.

And finally I'm not sure November is the month for me to start something
like this. Am I at my most productive at this time of the year. NO!
But as Nike says 'just do it'

And before anyone decides to point it out YES I KNOW I AM THE ONE WHO IS CAUSING ALL THE TROUBLE.
Thank you.