Writing and Cucumbers

Cucumber Fail

This is a picture of my cucumber crop so far. Impressed? In all my years on this planet, I have never seen such a curved cucumber. It’s a definite cucumber fail.

A while ago, I started to write a story that appeared, half-formed, in my head. And it was SO good. At least, the SEED of it was. I worked on it on and off for a few days and then it began to mutate into something that barely resembled the original idea. Suddenly I didn’t know where it was going, or even how to take it back. I was forced to abandon it.

But the thing is, you never need to throw writing away, because every piece of writing contains something useful. In the same way that the mutant cucumber can be turned into compost, I can add the disastrous story into the rich mix of practise and imagination that will nourish future stories.

As long as you keep on doing, nothing is wasted.

“Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”Denis Waitley

I found Daisy’s Bike!

Daisys Bike

Has anyone else had the odd experience of coming across their fictional character’s name in an obscure place? This is the first time it’s happened to me, and it felt like a lovely little link had been made between the real world and my imaginary one, and gave me a warm glow for the rest of the day 🙂

Daisy May’s bike was leaning up against a fence in the old (for New Zealand) town of Lawrence in Otago, half a world away from Daisy’s home. It might have been ironic, because Daisy is highly allergic to exercise, but it would be just like her to have a bike that was only useful as decoration.

Has something similar happened to you? I’d love to hear about it!


Daisy May plays a hopeless game of netball – an excerpt from ‘The Curtain-Twitcher’s Handbook’

NetballWhen I got to the Sports Hall, the teams were already being selected.

“Aah, there you are, Daisy,” said Mrs Bennett. “You were meant to be choosing today but I wasn’t sure where you’d got to.”

I closed my eyes briefly, thanking whoever was in charge of this whole mess that I hadn’t had to choose a team from amongst all these people who hated me. A small reprieve. Continue reading

Can a Witch REALLY Turn You into a Toad?

Toad

Witches don’t exist. Not the ones who fly around on broomsticks cackling at the moon and turning people into frogs. That was all made up by some nasty men to get rid of little old ladies who knew a lot about plants and healing, but not much about the Lord. Of course, that’s a very broad sweep over the subject because I can’t go into it now. Continue reading

Great Goodreads Giveaways: Someone has to Win…

Got a second? Head over to Goodreads and enter the giveaways for one, or both, of my beautiful, solid paperback books. Someone has to win, and it might just be you. Oh yeah! It just might 🙂 Continue reading

What was your Oddest Job?

oddjob

I want to hear about it… the odder the better!

I’ll start you off…

Most odd jobs are summer holiday jobs. Students with a chocolate addiction, like me, had to make enough money to feed their habit with Cadbury’s Buttons, Mars Bars and Double-Deckers. They are generally not fussy about what they do because it’s only for six weeks, after all.

Funnily enough, I often get a bit nostalgic about my summer jobs simply because a few of them were so very odd, and odd things don’t happen quite as much any more.

Here are a couple of my oddest jobs:

Continue reading

A Little Under-dressed

No pyjamas

Spotted this interesting note in a cafe in nearby Kaitaia, New Zealand.

The incidence of people coming into the cafe in their PJs must have been fairly high to warrant a sign on the front door 😀

The Protest

model-2405131_1920

“Mummy, what’s that lady doing?”

“She’s protesting.”

Jenny pushed Tom before her, guiding him past the other shoppers with a gentle, but insistent, hand on his shoulder. The sports shop closed in five minutes, and she had to make sure she got the right golf balls. She bought the wrong ones last time, and Mark had not been happy.

Tom craned his neck to look at the woman as they passed her by. She was holding a sign he couldn’t read, and shouting, her face determined.

“What does… ‘por-testing’ mean?”

The first spots of rain fell, and one landed on Jenny’s nose and made her jump. She reached out and pulled Tom’s hood over his head. Why hadn’t she brought the pushchair? At three and a half he was getting too old for it, but it sure made shopping trips quicker.

Pro-testing,” Jenny corrected. “When you’re annoyed about something, you can tell everyone why and ask them to help you change it.”

“Like when Daddy is annoyed with you?”

Jenny smiled and shook her head. “Not quite, Tom. Bigger things than that. Come on, we need to hurry.”

The shop was in sight now, in the distance. As she herded Tom towards it, she saw a fit-looking guy in a polo shirt come to the door and flip the sign from Open to Closed.

“Shit!” Jenny couldn’t help herself.

“Mummy!”

“Sorry Tom.”

She picked him up now and swung him into her arms, ignoring the sharp pain in her back from her fall down the stairs the week before. Mark didn’t want her to go to the doctors, but she might have to, because it was getting worse. Tom gave a cry of surprise as she began to run towards the shop, every step making her gasp.

The guy was outside the sports shop locking the door now.

“Wait!” called Jenny, “Please…”

Continue reading

‘Write What You Know is the Stupidest Thing I Ever Heard’

And when it’s someone like Kazuo Ishiguro who’s telling you that, it’s definitely worth listening.

Kazuo

There was a great article on LitHub this week, with writing tips from the Nobel prize-winning author. Not only does he stick two fingers up at writing what you know – yay! – but he also tells of the CRASH approach to writing, which enabled him to write ‘Remains of the Day’ in just four weeks!

Many years ago, I took a writing night-class. I was about twenty years old and had a lot to learn about writing. Unfortunately, the people in the class were not the sort to learn lessons from. We were given a story prompt. Something innocuous like ‘The best day of my life’.

After listening to one elderly ladies story (the average age of the class was about sixty-five) about her trip to a sweet shop when she was a little girl, it was my turn. I stood up, absolutely petrified about reading out loud, and immersed them in a story of a first world war aeroplane designer who suddenly realised he was in love with his (male) mechanic.

When I finished, there was silence in the room. I balked and sat down, thinking I must have done it all wrong. And then one of the ladies coughed and said:

“It’s better to write about what you know, dear.”

 


Banner

Creatives with Claws.. Gggrrr!

creativeswithclaws.jpg

PublishThe ‘Publish My Book’ button seems to be a multitasking piece of HTML. Not only does it somehow transfer all your words and pages into a proper book that people can buy on the other side of the world – wow! – BUT it also opens some kind of hidden tap in your brain through which all your creativity magically begins to drain away.

There you are thinking, ‘right then, onto the next book’… You have so many awesome ideas, all written down in a pile of ragged notebooks. There is even the odd chapter or three of a shiny, new project hidden away in your computer. It’s calling to you in a polite ‘excuse me’ kind of voice. You look at it. It doesn’t look quite as good as you thought it did, but you read to the end. You raise your fingers above the keyboard, ready to carry on. And…

Continue reading

Odd Books #3: Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop

If you are writing a book and want it to stand out amongst the stiff competition, you could do worse than give it a really bizarre title.

The Diagram Prize is an annual literary award which recognises and rewards unusual book titles. It started originally as a sideshow at the 1978 Frankfurt Book Fair, and is now a much-anticipated competition, decided by public vote. Occasionally there have been years when no winner has been announced, due to the entries not being ‘odd enough’!

Past winners include:

Strangers have the Best Candy by Margaret Meps Shulte (2015)

Managing a Dental Practise: The Genghis Khan Way by Michael Young (2010)

The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America by Julian Montague (2006)

Bombproof your Horse by Rick Pelicano (2004)

How to Avoid Huge Ships by John W. Trimmer (1992)

But my personal favourite has to be Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop by Reginald Bakeley (2013)

from the Amazon description:goblinproofing2

Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop is the only complete manual on how to identify, track, defend, and destroy those bothersome brownies, goblins, dwarves, scheming flower-fairies, and other nasty members of the fairy realm.

The Editor said of the triumphant win: “Reginald and I take this as a clear sign that people have had enough of goblins in their chicken coops. Our campaign against the fairy kingdom continues.”

A very deserving (and useful) winner! 🙂