Saturday, February 10, 2007

Discontinuations, surprises and a jittery novelist

Goodness me, Lord H's birthday ended with a surprise firework display at Charterhouse School last night - no idea what they were celebrating but, seeing as the flat overlooks the grounds, we had a top-class view of the proceedings. Naturally, I told Lord H that it had taken me months to arrange, but I suspect that he thought I was being less than honest. Still, one can always hope I've gained extra Wife Points purely from chutzpah. And the display itself was grand.

This morning, a late start, and then a joint outing into Godalming, mainly so that Lord H could put in his birthday cheque from my mother (thanks, mother ...) and I could spend my £50 book tokens. But, my goodness, Waterstone's seemed to take an age working out how to help a customer spend tokens on books I wanted to order rather than those they were actually stocking. Has no-one ever asked them this before? Perhaps we are indeed becoming too much reliant on the joys of Amazon shopping. Anyway, items ordered included Nick Maes' "Not Dark Yet" , Rupert Smith's ( "Service Wash" and the two latest novels by Paul Burston ( So I can look forward to having decent reads fairly soon, hurrah! Shame I couldn't seem to get them to order any Joseph Hansen books though, as they were convinced I'd made him up, so I shall have to fall back into the arms of Amazon for those later on, no doubt.

And I attempted to restock my lovely bath/body Detox Oil at Between The Lines, only to be told (again!! What is it about me? Am I indeed to Kiss of Death to all commerce??!) that the item had been discontinued. Serious groan ... Soon there will be nothing left for me to buy at all and I will have to live in a lonely room with only empty shelves for company. So be warned - the moment I find something I like and buy it, I suggest you take your custom elsewhere as I can guarantee that, whatever it is, it won't last long.

I've been doing some more to "The Gifting" for the rest of the day - more tinkering than serious commitment though. I did make one section into a nice dark blue colour - like this - as I wasn't sure if it was in the right place, and that's what I always do in those circumstances as it makes me feel as if I'm achieving. Lord preserve me but I really am a sad git. Then I put it somewhere else, altered a few sentences and made it black typeface again. Goodness, this writing malarkey is exhausting, m'dears, I'll really have to lie down and have Lord H bring me a gin or two ... Anyway, I think it's to do with the fact that I've got to that point in the ruddy novel - which usually occurs not less than three-quarters of the way through - when I have so many bloody balls in the air and have no idea if any of them will land in the right place. It happens every bloody time, and makes me so damn jittery - terrified that (a) I've lost it entirely and will never get myself, let alone any reader, to the end in one piece, and (b) I've missed some vital piece of sub-plot - or, worse, have failed to write one - that will mean none of it will make any sense at all, and (c) all those plot balls I'm juggling like a mad circus act will come toppling down on my head and crush me into the earth. Hell, just writing this is making me as twitchy as sin. Of course I try to offer myself comfort by telling myself that if I didn't get that feeling each and every time, then maybe I wouldn't be able to find that "edge" at all - much like a clapped-out actor who knows that if he's going to get through to the curtain call then the first few lines will always be wrapped in fear. Hell. Sod the first few lines though - they're not my main problem. My main problem is this bloody three-quarters stage. Can I get Simon through to the final leg of his journey? Currently the two of us are dragging ourselves across the page hoping for a kindly hand and a glass of water, so God alone knows. I can only keep on trucking and hope that my pen knows a damn sight more than I do. Hey, somebody has to ...

But the one great thing that's cheered me up is the amount of extremely bitchy book reviews in today's "Telegraph". Utterly lovely. With some marvellous, super-bitchqueen turns of phrase from Lionel Shriver (as reviewer), amongst others. Oh, how the knocking of a major novelist can still bring a heartfelt smile to my face; I did so enjoy reading these over my lunch! Schadenfreude and chocolate is the ideal combination for any struggling writer, don't y'know. And I do understand that this only goes to show what a mean-spirited slapper I am indeed. But, hey, don't try to tell me I'm the only one ...

Tonight, Lord H and I have made a token gesture of cleaning - sometimes just glancing at the floor cloth and the Cif (Jif for us mature people, eh?...) is really more than enough. And later we're going to watch the fun new dino-adventure series, "Primeval", on TV. I do so love anything with dinosaurs and time-travel. I'm a sucker for a T-Rex in full spate. Bliss indeed. At least, it'll give my jitters something else to think about.

Today's nice things:

1. Last night's fireworks
2. Spending my book tokens
3. Reading bitchy book reviews.

Anne Brooke

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