Stage Fright.

Stage Fright- I’ve got it. I can’t write a thing. I have three blog posts sitting in the drafts file. Help. Help! Does that happen to other bloggers?

This Big Project of mine has taken on a life of its own. It’s not what I thought it was going to be. It’s like a loose thing that I can’t get hold of. I sit at the kitchen table every morning studying, STUDYING- at my age it could be dangerous, and getting more and more excited by everything that I read and more and more intimidated by the amount I don’t know.IMG_1625

A couple of weeks ago I had the hubris to believe that I knew this stuff. Hah! Ye Gods, how ye laugh at me. By the way, it’s snowing. The Gods clearly read my last post, thought to themselves, what sort of know-it-all eejiot is this woman, and promptly turned the thermostat to Vladivostok.

I realise that I haven’t told you yet exactly what I’m doing. Soon, I promise. As soon as I know, you’ll know.

In the mean time it’s a thing, slowly coming to life, like this sourdough starter of mine, formless but fermenting. Hidden depths, deeply meaningful and all that malarkey. IMG_1665

What it means, I think, this awful wobbly nervous feeling I have, is that what I’m trying to write matters, matters to me. I have to stop fooling myself that it matters to anybody else and then I’ll be grand. Of course, it might also mean that what I’m trying to do is a really stupid idea. My gut and I are in need of a translator. HELP!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend,

A Ray of Sunshine and a Free Bench.

I’ve indulged myself for a few weeks in writing up an account of our weekend in Paris. It has been such a joy, not just because I succeeded in mentally air-lifting myself to a bistro in Montmartre, but because I wallowed in the freedom to write exactly what I wanted to write. I simply sat at the keyboard and told myself to ‘just get it down’, that’s all, nothing more. It’s not fancy but it’s honest and it says something, I hope, that I needed to say.

My desire was to package up something that we might take out in our dotage to read and remember a time when life was full to bursting. I gave it to Husband for his birthday, yesterday.

I also got him a book from Shakespeare and Company. I included a note in my order (there’s a space for notes in the online order form – of course there is!), thanking them for the tea and biscuits they gave us and they sent back a sweet handwritten note.

Honest to God, I think I left a piece of my heart behind in that shop. Can I just show you the packaging of their parcel? Look at this:IMG_9796

Would that not make any book-lover’s heart tick a little quicker?

Again, the online order form has some options to request a few little extras, a spritz of perfume, a poem typed up on the shop’s old typewriter, or just some random scrap of wordage they think you might like…

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It is surely for these small moments of contact, even virtual contact, with flesh and blood book people that independent bookshops MUST continue to exist. I’m not trying to sell you anything, well, I am, but I have nothing to gain other than that they continue to exist.

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The Paris write-up is far too long for a blog post. It would run to twelve blog posts, I think, which strikes me as ridiculous. Also, as I said, it is (even) more self-indulgent than my average blog post and includes minute details of no interest to anyone other than us.

The Paris write-up, which I titled A Ray of Sunshine and a Free Bench (it makes sense when you read it, I hope), does contain some photos. Most were snapped on Husband’s phone and some were taken by kindly strangers. This one is my favourite:


Hope life is treating you all kindly this murky Monday morning.

PS. Teenage Daughter made iced buns for her Dad yesterday and there is just that one left over and now I have to eat it. Oh, woe is me. #dietshmiet

Learning To Write.

The Small Girl and I are, each in our own way, learning to write. We are both novices, the new girl in the class. We are both excited by the possibilities and daunted by the blurry-edged picture of how much we don’t know. Small Girl can’t even count to twenty-six, let alone write all the letters of the alphabet, but yet she has announced to herself and the world, ‘I can write’.

This is a picture of Husband and Small Girl looking very contented whilst Yours Truly appears dazed and confused over the shopping list. Said list includes carrots, lemons, eggs, Rooster potatoes and several varieties of hugs (O’s) and kisses (X’s).


Next is a shocking exposé on alien eggs and their surprising desire to disseminate hugs and kisses throughout the universe. Notice, she has grasped that we write from left to right and is very keen on full stops.


I’m following an on-line writing course called Start Writing Fiction at Futurelearn. I’ve been spending mornings sipping coffee and chatting to some friendly, wordy, book-loving people and not really doing my assignments. Hey, maybe I’m finally getting to be an Arts student (minus the wild parties and fringed handbags).

So far, I have three big problems with writing fiction:

I find the making-up part of writing stories extremely arduous and exhausting. I cannot lie convincingly, never could. Possibly, through years of managing anxiety, I’ve trained myself out of imagining ‘what if?’s.

I’m not good at imagining the world from someone else’s point of view. The central character, in every story I write, is essentially myself. (I’m nicer than that makes me sound, at least I hope I am)

I’m rubbish at describing people. I’ve been claiming congenital face-blindness (prosopagnosia, now there’s a great word) but Husband tells me that I just don’t look at people properly.  Either way, I’m not good at describing physical attributes.

So, I can write you a story where nothing much happens, all the characters are emotional clones (of me), and you have no clue what any of them look like. Sounds riveting, right?

But, you will know how they (yes, that would be me) feels.

I would like to just quit. I could (should) make like a proper housewife and go bleach the toilets. Only now that I’ve started, I can’t seem to stop.

These words float around in my head and bug me until I put them down somewhere. Sometimes the words coalesce, of their own accord it seems, when I’m weeding or walking and even in my sleep. They fight to get out. Yeah, it’s weird. I’m weird.

I want to make my mark on the cave wall.

So, I’ll keep going on my writing course, sipping coffee and taking inspiration from people more talented than I.

Small Girl has it sussed. Her characters are well-drawn and mesmerising (those eyes!). You can’t knock her imagination (invasion of alien eggs?!). She knows what readers want; hugs, kisses and above all else, L.O.V.E., love.