Thursday, 30 August 2007

Rumours of my death have been greatly exaggerated...

Several theories have sought to explain why I’ve been blog awol for the last week:

1) The fridges ganged up on me and pinned me to a wall, preventing me from blogging

2) I murdered the electrician and spent the last week burying him and his wretched safety certificate under the patio

Sorry to disappoint folks but none of the above are true. I’m still surrounded by fridges, the electrician is still alive (though it was a close thing when he told me I’d have to wait for my cheque to clear before he gave me the safety certificate!) .

The truth is I decided to have an internet-free bank holiday and a very good one it was too. I even managed to finish a short story and sent it off to the Guildford ‘Up Your Street’ competition. I didn’t have chance to send it to my critique group so I decided to just send it and hope.

On Sunday I went off to Reading Festival to see Nine Inch Nails and the Smashing Pumpkins and, God, was that an adventure and a half! If you ever need short inspiration I suggest you queue for a taxi outside Paddington station at two in the morning. The list of characters included:

  • A black guy in his fifties who wore a full suit, a trilby, sunglasses and had a suitcase at his feet. He was propped up against a wall, statue-like and was, to all intents and purposes fast asleep

  • The long, skinny ginger-haired youth curled up at his feet, trying to keep warm by snuggling against the warm air vents at the side of the station. Whenever he moved position his mouth would gape and he would look around, bewildered. Then the black guy would stamp his foot and ginger would close his eyes again

  • ‘Milk woman’ The jury was out on whether this 40-something woman with three shopping bags and a litre of milk that she constantly swigged at was homeless or, perhaps, a little mentally impaired. Either way she addressed the queue as though we were her audience, telling us “Here comes a taxi” every time one appeared and got very annoyed when someone else decided to talk to the crowd. At one point milk woman tried to tidy up by re-affixing a ‘No smoking’ sign to the wall – upside down

  • The Serial Killer fake taxi driver with his dog. Typically this was the taxi drive that appeared when we were, finally, at the head of the queue. He drew up, light off, but agreed to take us to our destination. When we scrambled into the back we realised that this was no normal black cab. The adverts were ripped, the floor was dirty and the seatbelts didn’t work. Our guess was this guy had bought a second hand taxi and rigged up a fare counter. In the front a West Highland terrier was tethered to a seatbelt and we watched as he jumped up at the window, then fell back onto the seat, then jumped up at the window and fell back again. All this while the taxi driver thumped at his control panel and ignored him. Oh, and I should also add that an unlicensed blue mini cab that we’d earlier waved away was waiting round the corner as we pulled away from the station. When our cab overtook him he trailed us for several minutes. We really, really thought we might be driven to some deserted location and then…well…doesn’t bear thinking about. We did get home safely in the end.

Oh yes, and the other reason I’ve been awol recently is because I developed a chest infection earlier this week and am only now starting to feel a bit better.

Novel editing progress is still slow. My novelist critique group have now looked at my revised chapter one and half of chapter two and so far so good. I’ve read through a third of the novel and have made little notes in the margins and am alternating reading with re-writing the second half of chapter two. This really is a much more lengthy and boring process than I anticipated and to be honest I’m really missing writing something fresh. I think the answer is to alternate short story writing with editing.

Stay tuned…


Sarah*G* said...

hope you feel better soon cally! i too am a bit on the poorly side and am considering a 'sickie' day tomorrow from work and spend it in peace and quiet and do some writing. i am sure that any form of public transportation at ungodly hours of the morning always bring out the freaks and geeks. i expereinced a similar event at st andrews bus station in edinburgh at 7am a few years ago. very odd. maybe i will add some of them to my story....
anyway, feel better!

Bernadette said...

Glad to hear you're alive and (relatively) well. I had missed you even though I only found you a week ago! Hope the chest clears up properly soon.
I also had an e-mail from Louise Candlish this week in which she wished me 'last minute luck', so you never know.....
Well, I know we do know really, so well done to whoever has won and good luck to the rest of us in getting our work seen elsewhere.
I heartily agree with you about the editing. My book is 'finished' but I'm having problems telling whether it's boring or not. The fact that I'm asking that probably means that it is, but maybe I'm just too familiar with it now? Anyway, I've sent it out (2nd draft stage) to a couple of friends for comment so I hope they will be honest with me. I really don't want the trauma of agents etc and all the waiting if in fact it is rubbish, or just not ready yet. They say your first novel is for practice anyway, so maybe that was it and the next one will be magnificent!
Anyway, good luck with yours Cally and with the Guildford competition.
Bernadette xx

HelenMH said...

Hi Cally

Also glad to see you back, although I too only started looking at your blog recently. In fact I'm relatively new to the whole blogging lark! It's always nice to have a blog to drop by where there's always something interesting/good advice to read!

A. Writer said...

Hope you feel better soon!

I love your descriptions of the various people! I recently had my own 'experience' with a rather odd person. It's fun people watching!

As for the Miss Write Comp. The new Cosmo is due to go on sale on the 14th Sept but according to the person who sorts out the papers/magazines in the shop I work in, it could be delivered to my shop as early as tomorrow!!!! It obviously won't be on sale but I might be able to have a sneaky peak!

Hera said...

Glad you're back. Look at all the fuss you caused, how cool is that. Get well!

SallyQ said...

Great picture of your weekend away, Cally! There are some stories there for sure!

A friend's daughter went to the festival and was horrified, when she used one of the cash machines, to be charged £2 to get her balance, then another £2 to get her money out. What a racket!

Sorry you've not heard from Miss Write, but you can feel proud in the knowledge that you have a novel finished. That's the real achievement!

Angela.Campbell said...

Hi - I also entered the Miss Write Competition and have heard nothing. I have a Cosmo subscription and I received the latest edition around the 5th August via post and so I think we can safely say that the winners have been contacted and printed already for the next edition. boo! Oh well, good luck with everyone's novels and getting them published by other means.
Great blog Cally! You inspire me lots

Jude said...

Hurray! Welcome back to the blogging community. We have missed you!
I was convinced that you had won the Miss Write competition and were off having editorial lunches with Louise Candlish. Sorry to hear you've not heard anything. Neither have I.
Oh well, on to other things... Good luck with the Guildford competition and your on going fridge battle.

Jude xx

Lane said...

Great people snapshots Cally.
Hope you're feeling better now.
Good luck with Guildford Comp. I entered too at the last minute. Hopefully there were no postal strikes this week! Good luck:))

liz fenwick said...

Glad you're feeling better......

CTaylor said...

Sarah - thanks for the well wishes. I blame all the stress of last week! And yes, there is something about being in a city, or anywhere infact, very early in the morning that seems to bring out some very unusual characters. It's all good story material!

Bernadette - yes, I've got a similar approach to my novel about the first one you finish being a 'practice'. You do read about lots of authors who wrote several books before they wrote the one they were happy with and later went on to be published to critical acclaim. I hope you get some good feedback from your friends. I totally know what you mean about reading your novel so much you starting to think it's boring/unfunny/dull/awful* (*delete as applicable). There are some critiquing services you can use to get a professional opinion. I'm going to blog about them soon.

Helenmh - thanks so much for dropping by. It's lovely when people leave comment to let me know they're reading. I'm glad you find the advice useful.

AWriter - Yeah, I read your blog about that and meant to comment. Do you have 'one of those faces' where random people trust you and open up to you? I get a lot of old ladies asking me to get tins off high shelves in the supermarket for them - but that's because I'm tall rather than anything else ;o) I've blogged about you getting a copy of Cosmo on Tuesday. Expect a deluge of visitors!

Hera - I know! Very odd. Am sure it will calm down a bit after the Miss Write results have been announced. I may well lose a few visitors then too! ;o)

Sallyq - they have cash machines at festivals?! I've never seen one. I know the ones you mean that charge you to take money out (you often find them in or outside newsagents) but £2 to get a statement. That's just mean!

Angela - thanks for the comment. It never occured to me that subscribers might get their copies earlier than the newsagents but of course they would. I should have given up hope by mid August! ;o)

Jude - I wish! Ah well, better luck next time and all that. P.s. the fridges are still winning. Goddamn!

Lane - thanks for the best wishes and the good luck. I did check with the Post Office if there was a strike and they said no so fingers crossed! You entered too didn't you? Good luck to you too :o)

Liz - thanks for the get well wishes. Still coughing like a 40-a-day smoker but feeling much better in myself now.