Sarah, from Yes And Yes, (I love her notes) on her blog, has posted 30 Things. Sarah, who is turning 30 years old in August, has come up with this genius birthday milestone activities idea and has written up, hopefully with some help from her fellow bloggers, a list of weird and wonderful new things to try: from strippersize, to checking out Scientology, to a brazilian ... Ouch! ... to name but a few. If you have suggestions of your own, these are welcomed at her blog site.
She also invited other birthday bloggers to take part. As it happens, funnily enough, I have a birthday approaching in a couple of weeks - 16th June, in fact. My age, is that sexy little number above. My list of 44 things to accomplish - streuth age is painful sometimes - is as follows and will be updated ...
1 Live wearing only a bikini over my birthday week. Wayhey! Bikini shopping here I come! Sarongs, sunglasses, nice gooey sunscreen and moisturisers, sun hat ... whilst, I'm at it. (Coincidently, I will be on holiday on my birthday.)
2 Watch the classic, Gone With The Wind. (Then at last, my mother will stop nagging, 'I can't believe you have never watched, Gone With The Wind. Tut Tut'.) I have no idea what the big deal is, but I will soon find out.
3 Horse riding naked - like Lady Godiva. Incidently I have been growing my hair long, though I do not think long enough yet to cover a nipple.
4 Visit four different countries in four days - keeping the '4' '4' theme - Ha, you noticed!
5 For the week around my birthday dress like a slut (er ... in between bikini wearing); short denim skirt, 4 inch stilettos, wonder bra, and fillets, which should make my bust ... you guessed, 44", three inches of makeup, skimpy vest top and head off to my strippersize class in these garments. That should keep the gossipy neighbours busy for a while.
6 Instead of going on one date as suggested on Sarah's list, I will go on a speed date ... Why have one man, when I can have 15 or more to tease and flutter eye lashes at.
7 My garden is, in fact, in need of some guerrilla gardening, as suggested on Sarah's post, but with a little twist. I will declare my garden a nudest garden - to all those who enter - for a week. Which will apply to my regular gardener who will have to stick to my 44 Things challenge: I am sure he will not want to be seen as a party pooper. Ha. Ha. I have waited for this moment for a long time.
8 Try out a new sexual position that I have never tried in 44 years ....Yeeeehaa! ... Damnit! I am single.
9 Considering number 1 and 3, I will definitely need that brazilian. Yikes!
10 Go to the pub in the week of my birthday and try a different cocktail every single night.
11 Join a voluntary organisation and commit to helping the community. Then my birthday is not just about me.
12 Instead of the Munger Trail, as suggested in Sarah's blog, I will cycle the Dundee cyclists trail and commit to completing the whole circuit - accompanied with a picnic of fresh salmon and cucumber sandwiches, flask of Bucks Fizz, a slice of my birthday cake and a wooly tartan rug to lay it on. Heaven.
13 12 requires me to home bake a birthday cake ... Mmmm yummy!
14 Learn to say I love you in 10 languages. Though would be a better birthday to hear it in 10 different languages.
15 Try a new dish from Sam, my local chinese takeaway, overcoming the urge and habit to always go with my old tried and tested boring favourite: Chicken curry with mushrooms and boiled rice.
16 Look into the Scientology stuff, though Dundee, is a long way from La La Land.
A fluke? In the hands of the Gods? Are you born lucky?
I think luck is, where skill and opportunity meet. Skill and opportunity together ... genius!
I talk of luck, as I visited the Dundee Degree Show yesterday, Saturday, the first day of public viewing. I usually show a face each year if I am in the city, to keep an eye on the talent: To headhunt, be inspired and network.
This year the exhibition took place for the first time ever in the Vision Building, a state-of-the-art, open plan accommodation for, modern office and digital media occupiers. The art exhibition this year certainly had a more dynamic feel.
Did I get lucky? Talent ... spot any? Yes, there was, and I am keeping my eye on it. (Watch this space.)
Almost two years ago, I moved to Edinburgh - lock, stock and barrel - to reasearch and write two books. I had a plan. I was living my dream. I was brushing shoulders with the big time. Others would look skywards towards the castle, from Princes Street, whereas I, with a smile, at the Sir Walter Scott Monument, most days. I moved accomodation twice and stayed a year. It was the most miserable year of my life.
I was plagued by urban foxes and cockroaches in one rental and something far worse in the other. I found it impossible to make friends. Edinburgh was a disappointment. I live in Dundee, again. My hometown. The experience changed me. Perhaps, that was the best part of my journey? Time will tell.
The books? This is why I am job hunting. I have just completed the novel. Rubbish. Seriously.
Giving up doesn't mean you are weak sometimes it just means you are stong enough to let go.
I have always lived my life by this mantra. I am not one to stay stuck in a rut, in a bad relationship, working for morons, who dump on your desk because they are inadequate in their own job role.
I have finished my novel and I have given up, but not given in. I have started my second novel. I am excited. I love to write.
I said I moved to Edinburgh to research and write two books. The other, since then, I intend to pass to an unknown writer. A photographer is also involved. The project is to be a title for Pumpkin Press, the small publishing company that I own: A walker's guide to Edinburgh, for the tourist market. It may never happen. Time will tell.
I have just finished reading the best selling book, He's Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, which was also adapted into the recent blockbusting, movie of the same title. (I have not seen the movie yet, but the trailer, below, is funny.) The main voice of the work is Greg Behrenndt's with Liz Tuccillo's contribution backing up Greg's points, which probably also helps appease the wounded woman's feelings because Greg, tells it as it is, no holding back. I am glad Greg, is leading the way with his honesty, as this allows me to approach this post in a similar manner ... If you are a man you are going to wish you were never born!
The main thesis of this book is fairly self explanatory by the title, which is; girls, if he is not returning your texts, returning your emails, not dating you, disappears from plant Earth overnight - to the extent that you have to dig out old photos of him and call Births, Deaths & Marriages to check that this person ever existed because you are having a vague feeling that you just imagined the last three months of being in a relationship. Yes, these observations are all fine and dandy, but what if ... perish the thought, but what if ... she's just not that into him. Would a man ever do what Greg suggests we, women do in response to being callously dumped?
Greg suggests, when a man does not call us (even though he suggested it in the first place) then we just ahh ... forget the loser, easy peasy, we even write a letter if we are so angry and upset by the swine's behaviour and of course we then rip it up (never understood that one), or as Greg says, sometimes we women have to let the man be, and face closure on our own. Let me tell you what men do, when the boot is on the other foot and she's just not that into you.
They, don't do as women do and make gentle enquiries into why it went wrong or even one big, get it off your chest, You lying, cheating, loser moron, type message left on his answer machine. Oh no, men harass, pursue, frighten, behave in despicably anti social ways and even murder.
I went on a date - just one date, I was just not that into him, so I did what men do, I didn't pick up his call. That following weekend from Friday teatime onwards, every half hour with military precision this guy, whom I had met for just three hours, called me. He didn't made the odd call here and there no, no, it was every half hour on the hour and on the half hour through to Monday, where I was forced to pick up his call. But Greg, says that no answer is your answer. You would think that men would know their own rules ... wouldn't they?
I also had an ex-boyfriend, who knew he was an ex-boyfriend, but still pestered me with phone calls. I changed my number. He called me at work, and called my family. I gave him my new number so that he could blissfully pester me and I wouldn't lose my job. But, Greg advises us, to realise he is just not into us and move on with our life.
I was in along term relationship years ago and it wasn't working so we discussed how to end it. I said Goodbye, he said he needed three weeks minimum to continue the relationship, whilst he could adjust, find someone new etc. Greg, said (page 128) You can't talk your way out of a breakup. It is not up for discussion. A break is a definitive action, not a democratic one.
I have a neighbour who is just not that into her boyfriend. He turns up at her door at 3am. She doesn't let him in. He hammers on the door for an hour, harassing her, and the neighbourhood into the bargain. Greg tells us, don't be that girl. Someone needs to tell that guy.
And people think I'm weird because I prefer my tortoise.
The wordcounter is your pal (mine is called Harry) he pops up every 500-1000 words to bid hello and say hey, look how well you're doing. Clever writer.
Don't be fooled by his friendly face and lose sight of the fact that you are a wordsmith not an accountant. Don't get obsessed with the numbers. The greatest, probably, the best known and loved book is only 80 pages long - Dr Jekyll And Mr Hyde by the Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson. (My copy is by Penguin Popular Classics.) Sometimes less is more.
The second deadly sin is deferment and the mother of all procastination devils is blogging. Yet a writer's blog is a necessary evil.
Finally, I know two people who are writing a book: They are writing a book to make money. Huh! Er, excuse me while I choke with laughter. Apart from the lucky exceptions, writing a book will not make the majority of writers wealthy. These two same people will still be writing their book in ten years time because their motivation is fools gold. It is very likely that people like these, are in love with the fantasy of being a writer and enjoy telling people at parties which helps elevate their status from humdrum.
Forget money. What drives a person to write a book is an internal fire, a yearning to create, to embrace a state of non-reality, a vision that needs to be expressed, or a truth to be told. What does not motivate a writer is money, a publishing deal or a great lie about yourself. A writer writes because that is what he/she is born to do.
Which brings me to the writers' Angel called inspiration. Inspiration is a little like opportunity it never comes knocking on the door. You dig trenches for it, travel the world in search of it ...
So, in order to get Harry popping in to say hello and shake off my secret desire to blog (I confess I am in love with my blog, that devilish little cutie) and accept the artist in the garret as forever, this is what I dug to inspire today's writing: a trip down memory lane.
I little background: When I was sixteen years old, I had myself a CB radio, which was illegal at the time (I was a sneaky little minx even in those days). My handle was Candyfloss, the Convoy song inspirational ...
talking with my son - he's funny and makes me laugh
Eight things I did yesterday:
ate two Eggos
put up a flat-pack of storage shelves to help organise my clutter
hung out 4 damp towels on the washing line
had three hunky firemen call in, yes .... three goddam lovelies complete with uniform. Leaving their big, bright engine parked outside my gate, for the neighbours to gawk at and be dead jealous. Seriously, honestly, cross my heart and hope to ... (It was my turn as part of the community fire safety awarness thingy. They even gave me a free sample ... smoke detector ... ha ha, what were you thinking?
fed my dog and cat Eggos. Naughty. (Cat was sick later and dog ate it up: He likes Eggos too, obviously ... I don't anymore.)
brought in 4 dripping wet towels from the washing line. Grrr ... Scottish weather.
watched t.v. BBC 2, 10pm - Ian Banks and Jack Vettriano: two talented Scottish guys from Fife, you may have heard of them. Great documentary.
Eight things I wish I could do:
get serious about money - everybody else is.
stay in a relationship longer than three years (my talents lie elsewhere, I guess)
sing ... la la la la
be more stylish - ie. an emerald mac may not go with faded denim jeans, and red ballet shoes, but hey ... it's worth a try.
love men with the same intensity as I love my dog, my cat and my tortoise.
have a whole week off where I will camp out at the library, write notes and read piles of books. Did you know that the largest library in the world is the Harold Washington Library in Chicago. It is so big people get lost ... and they die.
Eight things I don't like:
frenemies who say they will meet you at 12 noon for coffee and still expect you to be standing like a loony under Samuel's clock on the High Street at a quarter to one, when they arrive. Sorry, don't think so.
the way men (yes, all men, it's a universal trait, well ... sorry, I do apologise to that one) let go of a friendship, when they realise, that when you said you wanted to be just friends, you were not playing hard to get. Men don't want to be friends, they want sex or nothing. How shallow?
don't like pizza
crazy, psycho, jealous bitches and that's just my friends
paying £30 every six months for a dental check up, when I know I can get away attending maybe, once a year or 18 months and, then be scolded by the Missy Know-it-all dentist preaching, these are the rules. Listen, as it happens, here are my rules ...
Missy Know-it-alls. I don't mind Mister Know-it alls, though, they have got to understand I can only be friends ...
Oops, I adapted the questions slightly: I tag these 8 genius bloggers,
These were the topics under discussion on last night's documentary shown on BBC 2 Scotland at 10 pm: When Ian Rankin Met Jack Vettriano.
The half hour programme was just not long enough to get into the minds, styles and peculiarities of these talented men, who in Rankin's words says, "For two lads from Fife, we've done alright." Yes, you can say that again. Though, The Establishment ... ooh, la dee da ... think differently.
Ian Rankin, who has seventeen, Inspector Rebus, novels written over 20 years, says he finds writing therapeutic,
"If someone cuts me up at the traffic lights, I just go home and kill them."
Actually, being both writer and an artist myself, I can identify exactly with what these men are saying. By writing, I feel I am learning about life, probably, incurring through the long process of research for plot and character development. As for art, I feel this is a crazy, all consuming act of frenzy, which comes on during the few hours (which could in actual fact be over days) of creation.
Jack's, most famous painting The Singing Butler, received the highest amount ever paid for a painting at a Scottish auction: £750,000.
I liked the London story of Jack's, where, as young man of nineteen, he set off for London and as he strolled along the streets he thought that a limo would pull up at any moment and then it would all begin. I laughed, because I thought the very same thing, when I moved to Edinburgh, just under two years ago for a year, but I didn't have the excuse of being a naive nineteen year old.
Rankin's novels account for 10% of all crime book sales in the UK. A book is never finished, is a saying to which, Ian agrees. Is so true. I have a saying, which may help writers and artists, Production not perfection.
I missed the bit where they talked about sex, as I was in the kitchen making a cup of tea - story of my life - but I think Vettriano's, paintings speak for themselves.
Ian Rankin, concludes, If we can do it, anybody can.
I was in London last month (23 April, to be exact) visiting the London Book Fair (I'll tell you about that hullaballoo in another post) and as I was staying at lodgings by Kings Cross tube station and realising that Charles Dickens's, old pad was just a few streets away, I decided to pop in ... take a packet of biscuits, perhaps be offered a cup of tea. Of course, I missed him by 170 years, he having moved out in 1839, though you would not know.
The Charles Dicken's Museum, at 48 Doughty Street, is an exquisite place to visit if you are bookish or interested in social history. The house is big, over four floors and includes a basement. Quite impressive considering that Dickens came from a poverty stricken background. The interior is modelled on Dickens's day: typically early Victorian middle class. I particularly liked the scullery/washhouse at the rear of the basement which spun my imagination, Brrr .... Freeeezing!
If you enjoy poking around other peoples houses then you will love the, Charles Dickens Museum, it is full of his letters, books, manuscripts, furniture, miniature portraits and the oddments that he liked to have on his desk during work ... ahha, I'm not the only superstitious writer then! A visit there inspired me and although I have never finished a whole one (I did my best, honestly, to plough through Bleak House) I admire his descriptive style in his diaries of travel and just looove his choice of character names, eg
Martin Chuzzlewit, Newman Noggs, Fanny Squeer, Blathers and Duff, Mr Bumble, Rosa Budd, I could go on ...
I didn't get a cup of tea (they don't serve refreshments at the museum) but I popped into a friendly Italian deli around the corner on Theobald's Road, for a cuppa and a slice of carrot cake.
"He [Arthur Miller] wouldn't have married me if I had been nothing but a dumb blonde."
Marilyn, married a bookish man.
I seem obsessed with this beauty/brains issue ... Well, not only is it because I am a fan of Marilyn (and I'm always fighting her cause) I too, in fact, have blonde hair: I feel, therefor obligated towards prooving my point, which is, a woman can be beautiful and brainy. This is very important to me. Of course, a woman can also be beautiful and dumb. But, what I want to establish is that it is not, either or:
"Hey, I got the brains, my sister got the beauty ... Cow!"
Also, listen very carefully, this isveryimportant, a woman can be intelligent and beautiful and act dumb. Let me explain.
I was at Tesco's petrol station filling up my Corsa, with unleaded a few weeks ago. I then returned this morning to refuel, only to discover that I had left the petrol cap on the roof of my car two weeks previously. I felt foolish.
With a red face I slinked into ask the duty attendant at filling station (which was the same Tescos's from two weeks earlier ... please, I am not that stupid) if by any chance a petrol cap for a Corsa had been handed in (which would save me having to buy a new one).
The attendant, a geeky looking guy of around eighteen years old, startled me a little, because I was not expecting his reaction, whereby he sprung beneath the counter before popping a cardboard box full to the brim of lost petrol caps of all descriptions.
"Take your pick," he says with a lopsided grin.
Ahh ... eeny, meeny, miny, mo ... decisions, decisions ... need help, can't he see I'm blonde!
"Ahh, take a couple," he says, "I like your smile." He probably guessed this wasn't my first time.
1/ Have you ever finished writing a piece of work; sit back, lay biro on desk only to miss and watch said pen roll under antique, six foot x six foot x two foot, solid oak bookcase (pen joyously meeting up with old pals, some of which were quite decent and expensive, probably) ... What am I saying? ... I digress. What I mean to say, is have you ever completed a piece of work; sit back, read out loud and think ... genius
2/ Then, have you ever, sometime later, during a re-read, in preparation for letting granny have first look (good first person choice: she'll say you're a star, whatever you've written ... of course ... silly ... remembering to leave out the sexy bits, as discussed in previous posts) only to get that ... shock ... gut wrenching ... soul destroying ... God, I'll be working in Tesco's for ever ... realisation, that it's rubbish?
3/ Have you ever, then jiggled about like a lunatic, with aforementioned work - rearranging commas, here and there, willy nilly, perhaps a semi colon or three to add a little graphic appeal - in desperate hopes of making flow better? ... But it's still rubbish? Barack Obama's, pre-election speech springs to mind, You can put lipstick on a pig ... it's still a pig.
4/Six months down the line: have you ever been vacuuming under the bed only to choke your Dyson Ball, with infamous chapter five and on reading, just for old times sake, again think ... genius?
5/ How do you know? How do you really, really know, that what you've written is any good?
It's a bit like falling in love ... How will I know, when I've met the right man?
Sorry, to still be harking on about sex scenes, I am not sex mad, honest, but this issue of adding intimate scenes into my novel will just not go away. My deciding to write chick-lit ... umm ... how long ago now? ... umm ... three years ... huhh! Yes, dammit, it's still that same book - means that there is no escape. I've put it off for three years - the characters are well described, the plot is sewn up, and I have a beginning a middle and an end - so perhaps it's time to face the music.
In writing modern adult fiction, the male/female characters behaviour are similar to relationships in real life: Funny enough. So, sex is going to crop up and the issues are the same: When to have sex? Where to have sex? Should I? Shouldn't I? Am I ready? What if I get pregnant? Lights on? Lights off?
I have got to say, that I agonised, whether to include the sexy bits hoping that my novel would sparkle with out it ... it doesn't. I then thought that maybe a subtle hint ... push readers imagination in the right direction, for example:
... Saturday night / Sunday morning:Upstairs; the two goofy lovebirds slink behind a bedroom door. She hears it creak. Later, only minutes, a muffled sort of something else, ripples across the ceiling, Penny-Sue, rolls her eyes, she recognises the sound as a kingsize grinding on a hard laminate floor.
That's a true story, by the way: It's the girl who lives in the flat upstairs from mine and her boyfriend. (Penny-Sue, thats me ... did you guess?) Tisk ... no consideration for the neighbours.
New tactic. What if I just spit it out and use the proper words ... like ... you know ... like ... penis ... (chuckle) ... ejaculation (chuckle, chuckle). Nah! Too much like my old biology lessons from school. Cringe!
Next. God, forbid I use the words and descriptions of, Girl With A One Track Mind. (I mentioned her in a previous blog, dated 25/4/09.) She, Zoe Margolis, exposed, rather intimately, her shenanigans with her boyfriends on her blog, which then became hugely popular and led to a book deal - in fact her blog had 7 million readers! Seven million! I should give up now.
Luckily, there exists a weird phenomenon ... I don't understand it myself ... but once a writer starts to write - the book starts to write itself. It's true! And the characters begin to tell the writer what to say. Great. I'll take no responsibility then, for what I write, however silly, absurd or, as in Zoe Margolis's, case, shocking.
Ah well, lets get started: Light's on or lights off?
I HAVE SOLD BOOKS, WRITTEN BOOKS, ILLUSTRATED BOOKS, PUBLISHED BOOKS, STUDIED BOOKS, COVETED BOOKS, VANDALISED BOOKS (THOUGH, I WAS ONLY TWO YEARS OLD AT THE TIME: HAVING BEEN LET LOOSE WITH CRAYONS), GIVEN PUBLIC TALKS ABOUT BOOKS, BOUGHT BOOKS (I PAID 400 FRENCH FRANKS ONCE - £40.00 - FOR A BOOK IN FRENCH TEXT THAT I CANNOT READ), DESIGNED BOOKS AND LAST, BUT NOT LEAST, I OWN A BUSINESS ABOUT BOOKS ... YET, BOOKISH THOUGH I MAY BE ... NEVER UNDERESTIMATE A BLONDE WITH A PEN!
My favourite things are books, pets and houses. I once owned a publishing company called Pumpkin Press and now own a cleaning business called House Proud. I am a published author of two books and have edited a third. I have a degree in English. I continue to write.