… and biscuits…
Writer’s procrastination crisis
I am a writer
I am ready for a rest at the end of a rather hectic week. The book launch was one thing; a charity I’m treasurer for had an important meeting about funding, the children made big decisions which involved me-as-mum making difficult phonecalls, (paid) work was normal but included an evening seminar and the nation (UK) has had a referendum on staying in Europe. All of great importance in different ways.
But today I realised that I am a writer. (Just putting that in words makes me feel like I’m coming out at Writers’ Whinge, or whatever our equivalent of Alcoholics Anonymous is). Obviously, I kind of knew that before: spending years writing, preparing and publishing In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree, and then repeating the process for Beware the Falling Avocados, does imply that I am a writer. My suspicion is that a proper writer would take less time and be more efficient and procrastinate less (yes, I really want to put the washing out/ walk the dog/ meet friends for coffee/ complete my tax return/ check twitter and Facebook…).
I spend time thinking and time writing and time editing. I spend time publishing and publicising. I promote my books as much as possible and purposefully push myself to the edge in order to get them known, against my better nature. Writing is what I do in between all the other stuff (see previous procrastination and hectic week paragraphs!)
This is why I know I’m a writer: today I concentrated on the next book. I have the outline of a novel which – with a bit of luck and a fair wind – will set sail into the publishing sea at some point in the future. Probably a long way off; possibly never, as I gather most authors leave their first novel in a bottom drawer… and their second and third… and only get published after many trials and errors. Not only did I work on the book I loved it! I spent three hours in the library sorting through paperwork and drawing a diagram of the plot structure. There are still some weaknesses to iron out, and a lot of questions to answer, but as a basic outline I feel quite confident. (Until I look at it afresh tomorrow, no doubt…)
I have no title for this venture. I feel I should give it a pet name, like ‘Bert’ or ‘Edith’ or ‘Fair weather friend’, but am likely to stick to ‘Novel 1’ for the time being. Perhaps a title will spring to mind as I actually put pen to paper/ tap away at the keyboard… That is the next job: harnessing the discipline to sit down and write. Not just when I feel like it, but regularly, so that the words accumulate, the characters come to life and the story takes a form of its own. I can’t wait to begin this exciting adventure!
In the meantime, I’m praying for peace for my country and the world. Who knows what the next 24 hours (let alone the eternity of ‘future’) will bring. The UK has already been rocked by the murder of Jo Cox MP and has been split by so much venom on both sides of the EU argument. I hold to Jo’s words: More In Common.
Make tea, not war.
(Obviously, particularly read Beware the Falling Avocados, available on line as a paperback here and for kindle here. Just can’t keep that marketing and publicity department down!)
My sister gave me a Christmas tree of teabags for Christmas. If I’d been really clever, I would have taken a photo of it, but you’ll just have to imagine the pyramid of colour: predominantly green, with the odd splash of red and gold. (She also gave me Yorkshire Tea Gin, which I’m saving for a special occasion… which may yet be this evening… and some gingerbread biscuits shaped like tea bags, which I’ve eaten. Obviously.)
Despite the tagline ‘fuelled by tea and biscuits’, I’m not a big fan of herbal teas. I like the fact that they aren’t laden with caffeine (of which I think I consume too much) but I’d prefer a hot ribena to most options. In Zambia I got used to drinking rooibos occasionally – the South African ‘Red Bush’ tea – but, to my mind, a decent English cuppa is what’s usually required.
Anyway, it was a gift, and I’m prepared to give tea flavours ago. They’re not likely to kill me. Here is my tea analysis:
Three Cinnamon – I find cinnamon a difficult flavour, something that I never like as much as I feel I should. The tea was no exception. A bit floury, and its most impressive part was the manufacturer’s feeling that a blend of cinnamons from three different countries added depth to the flavour from just one country.
Beetroot Burst – red, earthy, surprisingly drinkable! Happy to drink this late in the day.
Butter Mint – smelt like Werther’s Originals, sweet and sickly. Nearly gagged just on opening the teabag, so threw it away without trying. Sorry – not a great review if I can’t even try it, but life’s too short.
Moroccan Mint – ok. I could stomach this and it was quite refreshing.
Salted Caramel – also sweet and sickly, not a flavour I would choose. My sister said it tasted better with biscuits. I feel it might need a lot of biscuits to compensate, and unfortunately I’d already eaten all the ones she’d made.
This concludes my random review of herbal teas. My dislike is in no way reflective of the wonderful gift.
Besides, I’ve still got the gin…
Here we go again…
I know: there was more of a gap in blogging than I’d planned. Please excuse me on the grounds of (1) falling and thinking I’d broken a toe, (2) then getting a skin infection on the same leg that after three weeks (!!!) of antibiotics is just about gone, and (3) the funeral of a dear friend.
Term resumes, and it is all change as my youngest is now at secondary school. This has its drawbacks: she leaves home about half an hour earlier than before. And its positives: she returns about half an hour later than before. More time for me. In theory, more time for writing.
Lovely theory. So far I have spent the time cleaning, washing and tidying up. It turns out that when I’m ill and unable to walk none of these things happen… For someone who is not very house proud I am actually ashamed of the state of Chateaux Withenay just now.
Still, can cleaning be more important than writing?
So my writing term is kick-starting with the Festival of Writing in York. A weekend without children, a weekend with writers, a weekend to focus solely on my book and the writing craft. What can go wrong? As I originally come from York it feels like going home. My husband’s concern should only be whether or not I’m coming back!
I need this. I need to get Book 2 completed. I need the motivation to be put given a jolt. I know Book 2 is good, but it isn’t yet good enough to release as a publication. I want it to be as good as it possibly can be. There are stories to tell, tales to make you laugh and cry. That is how it should be, and (eventually) that is what you will get.
But for now, I re-schedule my days and I try not to think about the piles of dust and tumbleweed of dog hair that rule the house. For now I think of Zambia: of friends, family and foreign living.
It brings a smile to my face. Time for another cup of tea.
Put the kettle on!
Fuelled by tea and biscuits…
Greenbelt Festival this weekend and – in all honesty – I’m only really looking forward to one thing: Folk On (Monday, 2pm).
Not heard of them? More shame you! A trio of ‘west country folk’ singing unique cross of folk music and comedy… Indubitably hilarious, but astonishingly musical too. Derek Tinkleberry, Edmund Sidebottam and Donald Cornfoot come from Little Dribblepatch … need I say more? Anyone who can get away with a song called I’m in love with a Morris Dancer deserves all the credit they can get.
And why do they get a mention on my tea break? Because of my favourite song: Hug it out. Go check it out on YouTube, such as here.
There are few song lines better than this:
Now if by chance you’re a world leader, trying to sort out global peace
All those pesky border conflicts somewhere in the Middle East
It’s time to try new tactics: the argument’s gone on too long.
Take advice from my Aunty Cath…
Have a custard cream, put the kettle on…
In a world that is full of conflict (just look at the news, about Gaza, Israel, Iraq, South Sudan, Syria, Central African Republic, Afghanistan…to name but a few) perhaps we should spend more time with a cup of tea and a biscuit: talking, sharing, getting to know one another.
Fuelled by tea and biscuits: a place of peace for me.
The Student Baker
Fuelled by tea and biscuits…
As ‘A’-level results have come out this week, many will be considering the prospect of University. Here in England degree courses now cost up to £9000 per annum, funded by the students taking on personal debt. For me, who came through a completely free education, I find this horrific (and, having children of my own, a terrifying prospect!) and I just hope that it doesn’t deter people from taking a degree.
Apparently this year was a good year to be taking ‘A’-levels. A dip in the birth rate means there are more students than places, so young people have a good chance of getting the degree they wish even if their grades slip a little. My congratulations go out to everyone who has battled through the stress of exams and has succeeded in getting the course they desired.
But – going back to my first diversion into the costs of university education – students are renowned for blowing their budget on alcohol rather than food. Can I, therefore, introduce you to the blog thestudentbaker94.wordpress.com. Clear, simple, CHEAP recipes for those who enjoy baking, costed out so you can also budget in your drinks! So far, lots of cupcakes and frosting ideas… but I’m most excited by Cookies & Cream Ice-cream – yum yum!
(And now I disappear for a moment or two…)
How to eat a biscuit…
Fuelled by tea and biscuits…
There is only one way to eat a Club biscuit.
Firstly, carefully remove the paper wrapper, keeping it all in one piece.
Then carefully crease the paper wrapper along the long edges to get lovely sharp corners.
Rub the length of the silver wrapper, like brass-rubbing, until you can read the words in the chocolate beneath.
Then turn it over and remove the biscuit from the wrapper.
Assess which end has most chocolate. If it is obvious, save that for last. Insert biscuit into the paper wrapper.
Oddly enough, most of my family have finished eating their biscuits before I start…