Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The show must go on...

It's been almost a fortnight since I escaped from hospital and then crept back in the next morning. There'd been a screen around my empty bed all night so that no-one would notice that I was AWOL. Except it wasn't really without leave. A kind doctor allowed me to escape when I told him I had a talk to do. As my op' wasn't scheduled until the next day he said I could go if I promised to be back in bed by 7 the next morning before the shifts changed. I promised.
I gave an extra talk at the WI that night. It lasted a couple of minutes and had the title, You Don't Know How Lucky You are, Ladies. In it I explained how I'd escaped and why both my hands and elbows were bandaged up - one elbow to cover the plug where the drip was going to go in, hands and other elbows to cover the places a medical person had attempted to get blood out of me. My veins are invisible and, if found, refuse to give up blood. Then, when the needle has been removed I spurt blood like one of those cartoon cowboys who get peppered with shot, take a drink and the water shoots out of all the bullet holes.
My last meal before going under the knife was WI cake. Thank you.
I milked my predicament for all it was worth and had an attentive and sympathetic audience. The LSO is now wondering if I'm still milking the situation. But I am still having to visit a nurse every other day for new dressings. Ouch!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Goodbye Writer's Bottom

Many friends nagged. I saw doctor. Expected pills. Got sent to A&E. ‘Follow me,’ said nurse. Expected a cubicle, jab, slash and stitch and thank you and goodbye. Got shown a bed. Full anaesthetic. Cause of Writer’s Bottom dug out. Now suffering exhaustion and sore throat from anaesthetic. Daily trips to surgery for clean dressings. No photos.

(Don’t understand this post? See three below for explanation.)

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beware of fan mail

On FB Wendy Clarke mentions receiving a letter from a reader who wanted to let her know she’d enjoyed Wendy’s womag story. How lovely for Wendy to receive that. What a lovely reader, taking the time to write. Although no addresses are given out, Wendy is able to contact her reader via the magazine the story was published in. And that’s lovely too but beware!

Back in the 80s and 90s I received many letters from readers. Two of them were from the Antipodes. One told me she was a relative. Her maiden name had been Hackles and she had traced the family tree from when my husband’s great-grandfather sailed to Australia in the 1880s. We began writing and spent several holidays with this long-lost relly.

Another wrote to say she thought we were related when I used my mother-in-law’s maiden name on a story – Crayford. It turned out this reader was born Crayford and she’d traced the family back to Canterbury, UK – that’s where the LSO’s Mum was born. No real proof but…

We wrote. We exchanged Xmas cards and then she and her husband turned up on our doorstep and (here comes the beware bit) we couldn’t get rid of them.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Two writing lessons learned

Racing Start, my sports fiction novel for pre-teens managed to get up to number 3 on Amazon for children’s sports books. The theme of the book is racing cycling but also bullying.
            Why can I write about cycling? My son joined a cycling club when he was 12. We got roped in to help and the LSO ended up racing too. The Daughter joined because she realised the club membership was mostly boys.
            When I decided to write about the sport I actually did a ten mile time-trial so that I’d know what it felt like. Painful!
            I learned two lessons about writing when I wrote this book.
1.      Write about what you know. Being a cycling club member meant I had learned a lot about the sport. Later we had our own cycle shop and we called it Spokes And Saddles which was the name I gave the shop in my book.
2.      Find a niche in the market. I’d seen a series of sports fiction books and noticed that cycle racing was missing from their list of sports.

Monday, March 03, 2014

March Giggle Blog

'Come and join us, come and join us...' Didn't the Sally Army used to sing that? Seriously, why don't you join us in our giggle blogs. Start your own and become part of a very select group including me, Susan Jane Jones and a couple of others who begin each month by giving their followers a bit of a laugh. (And we all need that.) Nip over to Susan's blog - http://susanjanejones.wordpress.com/author/susanjanejones/
to see who the others are.
I am in pain today. I was in pain yesterday. What's so funny about that? Well, it's the old bit of trouble that I wrote about in Writing From Life (available on Amazon as a real or an e-book). My trouble is Writers' Bottom and I'll put the details at the end. Suffice to say here that it's an abscess on the buttock. It turns up every so often when I've been overdoing the sitting down stuff, like writing. When I take it to show a doctor it miraculously disappears. (It does take quite a time to get an appointment.)
So what is there to laugh about? My WB reminded me of happy days at Writers' Holiday, Caerleon. One year I arrived with abscess. One of my gorgeous friends was Maureen (who died far too young). She was a chemist and went out to buy me some ointment and dressings and she kindly administered to me. Now Jane Wenham-Jones was there too and I reckon the following was her idea but she's never admitted to it.
One day I limp into the kitchen, hand on rear, and there they all are. My friends. They have scrubbed the kitchen table and are all wearing some sort of masks over the lower part of their faces. I swear at least one had found rubber gloves to put on, but that may be my imagination. Their idea was to operate. I declined politely and not so politely. Jane later added my bottom to her end-of-week talk.
And, for those of you who thought WB was all about it spreading to obese proportions from all the sitting we do, read on.

Excuse me for tackling a delicate subject and such a personal one but I really think it should be aired.  It’s something not many people talk about and an item that, as far I know, has never been tackled in any How To Write book or article in any writing magazine.  Consider this a first.  Also consider it a warning.
            Writers tend to sit around a lot.  We sit and think.  We sit and write.  We sit and think about writing.  Therefore shouldn’t we take care of the seating department?  I’m not talking chairs here.  I’m talking bottoms.  We never think much about them, do we?  (Or maybe some of us do.  There’s a lot of erotic literature about and the Victorians loved well padded posteriors.)
            In the final five weeks of last year I sat down to write my great commercial novel. I’d honed up on novel writing, done my research, planned my outline, knew my characters and was ready to go.  In fact I managed 60,000 words. Now that’s a lorra lorra words and a lorra sitting down.  It didn’t particularly worry me because I’ve always been a static sort of person, well suited to long periods of physical inactivity.  But then, at my halfway stage, disaster struck in the form of an abscess on my right buttock.  The squeamish should skip the next bit.  It was as big as a saucer and gave off so much heat I could have roasted chestnuts in the leg of my knickers, that is if I was the kind of old fashioned girl who wore knickers with legs in.
            I spent ten days lying on my stomach, taking antibiotics and painkillers and being pestered by my minor characters demanding that my second best-seller (the second one in the six-figure, two-book deal I’m dreaming about) be all about them.
            Occasionally I tried writing.  Doing it in a prone position seemed to be the answer but I soon realised, with horror, that I’d virtually forgotten how to handwrite. Standing up was painful so that was also out of the question.  Most of my time was spent thinking, making notes and phoning friends.  And here comes the point.  Several writer friends informed me that they too had suffered the very same malady when writing their longer works but they’d never warned other writers that this could happen.  They’d never knocked off an article on Writers’ Bum, the equivalent to Tennis Elbow and sent it off to a magazine.  Apparently, women appear to be more prone to WB than men, probably because the female of the species is more sensitive.  I reckon I must be a direct descendant of that Princess - the one who could feel the pea beneath the mountain of mattresses.
            Allow me to suggest that, prevention being better than cure, we should all take a daily constitutional in future.
            Stephen King used to be my excuse for not taking exercise - he was nearly killed by a truck whilst taking his daily four mile walk.  Perhaps I’ll try some local footpaths, as I don’t want this experience again.  They should be safe enough.
            Anyway, let this be a warning to you.  Please take this article seriously.  I swear it wasn’t written tongue in cheek.