Pottering Gently – now November is behind me.

I.O.U – and me – 373 words since I missed one day in November so yer ‘tis.

Rather fun, checking on who’s published what this morning.  Most of last week hurtled by in a whirl of writerly activity so that I scarcely had time to read the blogs of those who’d been kind enough to follow me.

Sending advice across the planet to a delightful young girl on how to peel onions without crying is perhaps not what Virginia Woolf would have been doing (thinks:  could be a blog in that – shall look up a typical day in her journal and see if onions, or forks, crop up anywhere at all).

Right now I am still full of the excitement of my launch (well, me and the other seven), and a week full of Book related talks and activities culminating last night with Val McDermid sitting on the platform almost in the same place as I stood to read on Monday.

I know, but sitting next to Nelly has always been a reliable way to learn how to do things, and I can’t think of a better Nelly.

Of course, I blurted out this preposterous fact when speaking to her as she patiently signed my copy of her latest, and she was SO kind.

When I was a singer people outside that world used to say that singers could be bitchy to each other.  From my experience of working with singers, in pretty demanding situations for a beginner like me, this was so far from the truth that I want to shout about it.

Ask the best for help and you will get it in bucket-loads.  People whose lives and abilities and careers were stratospheric sat on hard chairs in echoing halls, giving their time and expertise and encouragement virtually for nothing just to lift the next generation up a step.

It’s the same with writers, be they poets or prose writers up to their necks in cleverness and crime, those who do something understand the passion that drives us  –  all of us  –  blogging away to each other, to write ourselves into existence and occasional delight.

I know about the poets;  they are letting me read one of mine on Wednesday – in public (almost).

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MyNewTryMo – Farewell Tour – on the way to the end?

Congrats to NaNoWriMo!

Having decided to blog instead of NaNoWriMo I want to send my congratulations to all those determined scribblers who made it through the month and the very, very few whose work will end up in a finished form as a novel.  They have achieved so much.

And what have I achieved?  Some shuffling around of projects, some recognition that this is a daily job and that if I am to take the rest of my writing seriously then I need to buckle down and get on with it – but I knew that already.

This should be my last blog for a while.

It’s been fun but I have taken it too lightly.  Funny on the page only happens when the editor’s brain is engaged as well as when she has her sense of humour in fine fettle, open to the absurd rather than buried in a bucket of self-pity.  Wallowing in that warm murky water is almost as attractive as procrastination and produces really damp purple patches.

So, farewell to those who have been kind enough to Like, Comment or even Follow.

Ah, but of course, this is a SINGER’s Farewell,  the preliminary heat in my drift to the exit.

I still owe some 333 words to this November Mission for the blog I missed out, a whole day that slipped out of sequence through my ineptitude (sloppy in this as in so much), so they will have to be crafted in at least 10 minutes of indifferent effort, watching the numbers pile up at the bottom, then getting carried away, ending by sacrificing my beloved bits to keep the numbers right.

Quick scan of body and brain for any cod-philosophy to give some weight to all this waffle?   Nothing beeps on the radar.  Be thankful!

Talking to myself has never been so much fun – and of course, it’s addictive. I shall miss doing the posting each morning while the coffee develops its strength in the cafetiere.  After all,  I haven’t blogged yet about my Latin class . . . quomodo de illo tunc!

MyNewTryMo – 2 days of November left – and far too much of me!

What is on the cards for today’s blog?

Recap the month so far?  The glitches, the loneliness of the unread writer compared with the suddenly discovered bliss of actually being read by someone who doesn’t share my DNA  – AND who has given unsolicited and gratifying feedback.  Not used to this!

Writing into space has now turned into writing for at least the four people who have taken the trouble to come up and talk to me about my story.  Changes everything, turning the need to rewrite into a pleasure rather than a chore.

Most of these blogs have been written on the run, catching the mood of the moment, hung on the peg of an experience, a surprise, something observed or overheard.  Today I am recovering from a day of being under the weather, sniffly, achy, desperately tired and – at the bottom of the heap – really worried about what is coming next.

It has been clear for some time that my efforts to lose weight have been inadequate.  Nothing here about vanity – if I had cared what I looked like I would never have reached this point on the scales – just health, a simple matter of avoiding disaster.

Well, I decided to check the facts.  Since according to all the current media coverage I appear to be absolutely one of the target patient group for an NHS Gastric Band I thought I’d check what that might entail.  Plenty of information out there, and on NHS sites so presumably kosher.  What might such a procedure entail?

Sobering stuff; pre-op, Op, and post-op – and forever – they spell it out and throw in helpful advice and suggestions.  All encouraging me to attempt the impossible in the hope of avoiding the inevitable!

That is what I will be doing in the months after the blog switches off for a bit.  I may even blog about it, but of course, there are plenty of those on the web already.

Just hope there are some bright moments in the coming months too.

MyNewTryMo – 3 to go – Tidying up

This is ridiculous.  I have just wasted perfectly good blogging time tidying up before the cleaners get here.

As if the guilt of employing someone to do my dirty work isn’t bad enough, the pressure mounts to make sure I have the right money to hand (change seems to be a problem and their memories are bad).

The puzzle about what I do as they work round me in my little home STILL has to be solved.

Mother and son bustle about, hoovering and wiping things, occasionally giggling at some shared and incomprehensible remark in their own language.  They smile, and keep busy, and always manage to finish well within the hour I pay for, but after the first few weeks, when their efforts really made a difference in what had become a nightmare of undone chores when I was ill, I’ve stopped enjoying it.

I am not one of nature’s cleaners – nothing obsessive about me apart from the need to eat and read and doss about, preferably in warm sunshine.  My standards are low and my health is actually improving; I could do it all myself, in other words.  So why don’t I?

Because, now, my ex-mother-in-law is not about to descend.

Without these substitute inspections the place would collapse under piles of unsorted detritus; paper everywhere, of course, some ready for shredding but still hanging about; ironing piled up waiting for ‘enough’ to make it worth the hassle of pulling out the ironing board; clothes discarded in teenager quantities as I work out who I want to be this afternoon, this evening.  Projects begun and waiting for another hour or so of useful activity.

However, today I have hit rock bottom.  Stuffing things into drawers to leave room for the cleaner is NO way to my ideal state of languid order with mind focussed on nothing but beautiful thoughts waiting to be written down in exactly the right words.  Hah!

On days like this I yearn for a warm shed to write in, or another house next-door all bright and shiny, just like the one my real neighbours actually live in.

MyNewTryMo – Pottering gently on Saturday – forgot to post it!

One of those bonus days of autumn, wet underfoot, heavy navy clouds intensifying the sunlight.

Not much on the to-do list today, yesterday’s having dissolved overnight, so in my own time I set off to do one of those little chores – Orange in the diary, if it had ever made it to the page – that mean leaving the house and just being one of the crowd, joining the queue.

No rush, no hassle, with an empty bag and strangely free from anxiety, I toddled off to renew my annual travel pass.  Just a flicker of concern as to whether the office closed at noon on a Saturday, as some places still do.

Needless concern, as so often.  The whole business took about 2 minutes at the counter from start to finish and now every day for the next year I will have in my coat pocket a little card that, waved over electronic machines, lets me float on and off the various moving platforms that facilitate my life.

No longer having a car these travelling spells are times to drift and wander inside my head as well as to and fro from places I usually enjoy.  Yes, there are grumpy, lumpy days, and I sometimes struggle with sitting comfortably, pushed forward by my back-pack and tripping myself up on the cheap and cheerful Nordic Poles that help to keep me balanced and upright instead of walking along with my nose pointed to the ground.

Today I was unencumbered and managed not to fall over – terrific!

I was, genuinely, pottering gently, and it was a delight.  I bought something to help me do my own patio tidying, tried on a coat in a charity shop and had to put it back because it was TOO BIG, and then listened to a programme on Radio 4 about the song “Plaisir d’Amour”, with Marianne Faithfull’s voice at 17 – pure, warm and natural – caressing the plaintive simple melody.

Some things speak straight to the peaceful centre.

Lovely day.

MyNewTryMo – Writing me Lighter?

What will I do with the time – and the energy – saved from doing a daily blog when December kicks in?  I made a remark about loose-covers on Monday but of course that was just a cover-up for the dream (and the pun was as unintentional as puns can ever be – down, Subconscious, down!)

I had put aside the novel for the month since I didn’t feel like writing that book during NaNoWriMo .  It was all too rushed.  I wanted to polish, to hone, to pay more attention to each word rather than pile them up and sell them cheap.  So perhaps NOT writing a novel this month has whetted my appetite for the story that keeps moving through the undergrowth, getting closer by stealth.

It won’t get written like that!  Bum on seat, preferably after getting washed and dressed since otherwise the Man from Sainsbury’s will find me in my nightie when he brings the weekly goodies – what?

What’s the matter?  Can’t a girl have a biscuit? Even Virginia Woolf had to eat, though admittedly I may consume more than her entire household if appearances are anything to go by.  My death-dealing stones aren’t in my pocket, they are distributed over my frame and I intend to lose them, ounce by ounce, even while sitting down at my keyboard.

This keyboard has something in common with my piano; when young and exiled to the front room to practise it would never have occurred to me to eat.  You can’t eat and play, not my mother’s piano  anyway.  I still keep food and drink away from both sets of keys and while I strum in the front room it is at least heated these days.

So, the Creative plan is in line with the Health plan; I can’t actually swim on my swivel stool but Turquoise (for writing) is close to the Blue I chose for fitness in my life.

I shall write my way lighter.

MyNewTryMo – Friends re-connected

Over a longish lifetime one meets people in powerful situations and the bonds are strong; they endure separation without any apparent loss.  My childhood best friend lives in Canada and I haven’t seen her for about 35+ years but we are still in touch, and so it is with many friends, in my case often those met through trying to sing better.

Standing up to perform and work in a solo-singing masterclass is like taking your skin off in public.  Not only your ability but your hopes and fears radiate out to the others in the room as you try to fly, fly, fly, with them helping your take-off.  Shared fear and joy bonds tightly.

It would be lovely to be closer to a group of intimate friends but, if one has to, one can manage with the ethereal sort, the ones alive in memory, strung out across the past like stars linked, criss-crossed on a dark woven web, my virtual support group.

Whenever I think of them there is a surge of warmth, a tiny ripple of what might have been there if we were together in reality, in the same place at the same time.

Mostly they don’t know they are doing such valuable work, and of course this way we can’t get on each other’s nerves!

Making new friends is fascinating, how connections form and sympathies resonate in new surroundings and new activities.  It certainly keeps me on my toes and I do love the surprises, both theirs and mine.

This week will be full of gatherings for pleasure and learning, grouping together several like-minded people some of whom are becoming friends in my new life.  More change, some shocks, some disappointments, but certainly worth getting out of bed for, which isn’t bad for late November.

And last night’s short story collection launch – WOW!

Signed a book someone had paid for – my first autograph as a writer!

At last, an ISBN number of my very own (well, ⅛ – it’s a start).  I exist.

Musings on life, including the lumpy bits