Monday, July 23, 2012

Teachers, preachers, parking meters (with apologies to Bob Dylan)

Kerry Sackville, blogger high priestess, talked about blogging Not only was she informative, funny, and searingly honest, she stuck to the point. 
You know that weird experience, the one where you read the blurb, pay your money, turn up to the talk/class/session and half the time is wasted on subjects that might be fascinating to the look-at-me questioner and all you want to do is shout, " We came here to listen to the speaker" or "Get to the point!"
And  Steven King, in his book "On Writing" which is essential reading for every would-be writer, has put to rest my wild idea I can become great. 
"If you're a bad writer, no one can help you become a good one, or even a competent one. If you're a good writer and want to become a great one, fuhgeddaboudit."
His theory is that, like genetically gifted catwalk models, there are some writers who are so sublimely gifted, even they don't know where it comes from. He goes on to describe his thoughts on how a good writer can become a really good writer. 
Saves me a lot of time and angst thinking I should write a small literary antagonized oeuvre which may sell 900 copies and be praised for ...well, the agony, just so I can say I can do something other than write popular mysteries. Bless him, saved me months and years of ...well, agony.

Preachers...and here I am thinking of my late Uncle Mac, minister in the Church of Scotland and lovely man. From gifted  preachers you can learn rhythm. And the rhythm of how people speak can say more about your character than any adjective. Read Elmore Leonard if you don't believe me. Or listen to the Big Labowski. Or Dr King. Or Obama. 

As for parking meters...take the bus, the train, a tuk-tuk.  As a writer you  learn more about people when taking public transport than any other way I know of. Eavesdropping is good, but wear dark glasses as eyes betray the listener.Especially good is the train from Sydney to Newcastle where everyone seems to be on the phone, sublimely unaware of the writer memorizing the best of lines..."He said, 'You came into this marriage with a suitcase and that's all you'll leave with.' But its been twenty seven years, I'll need more than one."
Walking is good too. Saves money, saves your back, reminds you what fresh air tastes like.

Aa the best

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The scene at the bottom of my garden

I know, I know, "You don't know what you've got 'till it's gone" but I really really do know what I have in this tiny village that I live in.

Early morning, before the heat of the day, open computer, cup of tea by my side, open file, review previous piece of writing, start on new passage, then next thing you know, hours have flown and my eyes hurt,  my back hurts, stomach rumbles,  the tea is forgotten and cold, but the feeling, the joy of having been lost in the story, makes me stop and say, "There is nothing I would rather be doing, there is nowhere I would rather be living."
And I count my blessings.
Now all I have to do is remember to do this often/always/forever.
I've uploaded this because I am so homesick ---and so cold.

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've been to a course, Blogging for Beginners. Hmmmm.
I used to think there are two types of people-- those who are literate and those who are numerate, Now I add another category -- those who are technically competent ...and that is not me.
I've spent two days, days when I should be writing, wrestling with the various challenges of setting up a new blog because I was assured that ANOTHER system was "the industry standard"
Given that I have never had, or done, anything "standard", I don't know why I bothered.
So, I've given up.
If at the 27th attempt you don't succeed, give up. That's my new motto. The only downside is that this OTHER  system has captured my name and they tell me in RED writing, I've lost my name forever and ever. But they don't know my porn-star name so that's OK.

Meanwhile, back in the Highlands in 1958, chapter 4 is shaping up to be very interesting. Not so sure about 2 and 3 so, technical challenges abandoned, it's back to the writing of Maeday, or was it Mayday? Or is it all another name for Procrastination.

Aa' the best

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Procrastination ...reminds me of a song title...isn't the next word ...Jubilation? Wasn't that Cliff Richards (Now 'Sir' Cliff) must have been Wimbledon that did it.
Well done Andy Murray.

Writing -- where were we? Wherever it was, there is not much progress. Which leads to the thought, do I need somewhere, a special place to write?
I hear of writers who can work anywhere ...Trains, Planes and Tuk-tuks is the writer Jan Cornal's phrase. But I can't do that. I seem to need my desk, a blank wall, and as little stimulation as possible.
I seem to need the quiet and calm before I can open the door and step into Scotland circa 1958.
So being in a city (Sydney) even if only for a few weeks, does not help the writing.

Stepping into another person's mind --for that is what writers do, for me that needs a safe quiet spot. And, if disturbed, if snapped out of that dwam*, it is the same as being woken from a deep dream; the same heart palpitations, the same nasty taste in the mouth, the same sense of something having escaped. And impossible to go back to.

I read and listen to other authors talk about the writing experience and the stories are as varied as the writers. but all say the same thing, just get down and do it and don't move until you are finished. Persistence is all.

So...until the next time...
Aa' the best.

*dwam ...Scottish for daydream... kind-of...usually expressed as "In a dwam" or "In a right dwam" and often applied to me by my granny.

It's been a long long time (But kiss me once)

A very long time indeed -- and I’m not about to make excuses, but reasons? Simple. One reason only; I have been adjusting to widowhood. Two and a half years now, and still tough. But I wrote another book, I live on a different continent, a new computer, a new motorbike, and now a new book, due out in November.
Life does indeed go on. As yet in light with many shadows, as the metamorphosis of a  wife of thirty-six years and three months and three days to being a widow is ... I have no word for the state of just-getting-through-it-as-best-you-can.
I like the word ‘widow’. No messing around with that word. Like a knife to the heart.  In some cultures it is a taboo status, the widow as pariah, but the road towards ‘Merry Widow’ is the one I choose to take. Because my marriage was one of great joy, I hope to continue to love life and dance and travel and eat and swim and yes, write.
So, personal update (AKA excuses) out of the way, the books. The third in the Highland Gazette series is due out in November.
Beneath the Abbey Wall,  is out on the 13th of November, and I am now spending far too much time on the internet trying to work out how to travel the vast lengths of the USA on a book tour yes, November, into December when I presume my woody undies will be needed.
I am also write the next book in the series. Just like that -- writing a book. If only it were so easy.
The working title is Mayday, Mayday but as my working titles have never made it past the experienced eye of Marketing people,  I don’t expect this one to either.
So (and I am notorious for not keeping commitments) I will endeavor to make this blog a record of the vicissitudes of an author immersed in a work in progress. Plus hopefully I will shame myself out of terrible procrastination (beach, motorbike rides, friends, beach...lying around doing not an awful lot)
But this much I do know ...I like Mae Bell, i can live with her for a while, this American woman who has turned up in the Gazette office searching for her information about her husband who was lost at, better stop there. This is a blog about a work in progress and the many diversions to writing ---especially for a writer who lives in a small village in Viet Nam with a river at the bottom of the garden.
Until next time, aa’ the best.