Saturday, February 27, 2016

His Life In A Box

The crock of gold at the end of the rainbow is now sitting in my writing room. And it’s all down to a mother.
I’m ghostwriting for an ex-professional cyclist. This is a project I have dreamed about for many years and recently, when we met up again, I asked if I could write his story. Ghosts usually get asked if they will take on a project and not the other way around.
I knew this would be a wonderful story but what I’d forgotten was my subject had, and always has had, a lousy memory. I may even call the book Forgotten. An apt title because if I ask him any questions he says he’s forgotten and the guy himself has been forgotten, in spite of his amazing career.
I was beginning to wonder if the book would ever get started, let alone finished. Explaining that I only had 3,000 words and needed another 77,000 didn’t bring forth a gush of stories and recollections. There had to be another way so I began interviewing some of his friends and family. The ghosting was turning into more of a biography. It was my subject’s father who told me he had some ‘stuff’ in the garage. I was welcome to keep it for as long as I needed it. The stuff turned out to be a huge plastic box filled with newspapers, magazines, photos, letters race sheets and information. My subject’s life in a box. This was all down to his mother who died six years ago. She had kept everything. And it was all filed in date order.

Bless you, Chris.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Deleting procrastination and gaining time

What have I done this week? I’ve turned out more work that I have for months. Would you like to know how I did this?
I closed my Facebook account.
Have I missed it? No.
Do I feel better? Yes.
I was getting sick of being told to share this, like that, here’s my dinner, here’s me on holiday (with the unwritten lines – be jealous, be very jealous). Politics and religion were being argued about all the time and the whole thing was making me miserable. In fact, there has been a psychological study done regarding Facebook and it was discovered that many people felt depressed or angry after being on the site for a while.
I’m not saying I’ll never return. Never say never, but for now I have plenty of work to do, under various names, and I am returning to short story writing after a long break. Turning to Facebook when the going gets tough is no longer an option and I deleted all games years ago.

I enjoy writing my blog and I keep in touch with friends via email or I actually - and you may think this is really quaint – meet up with them, face to face.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Random Books

I’ve written a series of six articles about inspiration for Writing Magazine. In the current issue (March) on page 25 it’s all about choosing random books to see what you can learn from them. Each time I visit the library I pick up a book at random and, so far, there hasn’t been a single one I’ve not read. There was one set in early Victorian times where a foundling, a baby girl, was brought up as a boy in order to be heir to an estate - a novel I can only describe as being slightly mad yet thoroughly enjoyable. (I wish I’d written these titles and authors’ names down.)
Then there was one about a young man who lost his love to Jack The Ripper and wanted to change time so that they could be reunited. It involved H G Wells’s time machine which was real and which HG kept in his attic. I’d say this one was steampunk and I shall be looking for more in the genre.
The latest, and one whose title and author I remember because the book hasn’t been returned yet, is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. It’s described as a fantasy novel. Normally I would avoid fantasy. Apparently the author originally started it when entering NaNoWriMo. It’s all about a magical circus, which only opens after dark and where everything is in black or white – the tents, the entertainers clothes… This circus moves about, never advertises its whereabouts, everything about it is beautiful and magical and the place is a venue for a magical fight. Oh, and there’s a love story woven in too. This is a circus I would want to run away with. I’m not going to say any more because, if you decide to read it, then I’d hate to spoil it for you. The Night Circus is classed as fantasy. I don’t like fantasy, or at least I thought I didn’t. If you don’t like fantasy either I urge you to make this an exception. It’s weird and wonderful.

It’s surprising that when I approach a random shelf to pick out a random book, the weird ones leap into my hands.

Monday, February 08, 2016

15 steps to celebrating a 134th birthday


1.  You need to be born on the same day as your partner. (We were both born on February 6th.)
2.  Your ages need to add up to 134. (I told everyone he was 100. I was 34.)
3.  You invite friends and family to a drop-in day. ‘Drop in any time between 11am and 4pm,’ you tell everyone.
4.  You plan easy food – cheese and biscuits and drinks.
5.  You order a selection of cheeses from a deli. The expert behind the counter tells you how much you need for thirty to forty people. You decide you know better and double the amount.
6.  You tidy the house the day before.
7.  On the morning you lay the table and wonder if there’s enough cheese.
8.  From 11am to 11.30 you sit and worry whether anyone will turn up.
9.  Just after 11.30 guests start arriving. It’s time to relax.
10. You have a fantastic time and (hopefully) so does everyone else.
11.Someone decides it would be a good idea to end the day with a curry. A couple of guests say they’ll come with you.
12. By 5pm everyone has gone, except lovely daughter and great son-in-law who are staying the night. They help tidy up.
13. You realise the guy at the deli was right and wonder what to do with a barrow load of left-over cheese.
14. You laugh so much over curry that you need Rennies at bed-time.
15. The birthday couple (me and the Long Suffering One) go to sleep dreaming of our wonderful day and being grateful for all the good friends we have.