The Turning of the Seasons

The first of any month always makes me a little thoughtful. The first of September especially so. It’s only one day after the end of August, yet the very name of the month is autumnal.

It’s the start of the academic year, and in a day or two the road will be jammed with cars and buses on the way to and from Broadlands School, at the top of our road. In just over four weeks I’ll be registering at uni, and students and staff alike will be catching up with people they haven’t seen since the heady days of May.

The days are noticeably drawing in – it’s almost pitch soon after eight o’clock in the evening and now we rise in the dark as well. On sunny days especially, there’s a bitter chill in the early morning air — especially venturing down into the valley with Alice.                                        

Alice, drying out...

Mist hangs heavy on the ground, and the long grass in the fields is so wet that I need to wear wellington boots to keep my feet and legs dry. Alice takes most of the morning to dry out, and the wet fur smell of damp dog fills the house if I forget to open the windows.

Tomatoes are ripening on the vines, and at night lying in bed the quiet is broken by the constant thud of apples falling from the tree onto the lawn.  It’s a beautiful but elegaic time of year, as we (mostly) unconsciously start the clock counting down to a new year.

• September 1st, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0


Today’s 1400 words duly done, but what a horrible, horrible slog it was — unlike yesterday, when I surged past the quota and probably wrote over 2000 words in total.

I suspect that part of the reason I struggled is because I awoke at about 4am, and couldn’t get back to sleep. Consequently I’m red-eyed and sluggish of thought this morning (and tetchy, for the benefit of any EOn, Npower or other bloody salesmen who come to our gate to incur the wrath of Tourette’s Dog).

Or rather, I was just drifting back to sleep when the alarm went off.

This is nothing unusual, of course. Millions of people suffer sleep deprivation on a regular basis.

Some years ago Science News ran an article which stated that ‘normal’ sleep consists of several hours of deep sleep followed by waking up for an hour or two, then a return to a slightly lighter sleep for the balance of the night.  It’s this last stretch and its dreams that we tend to remember on waking.

What screws it up is the presence of the alarm clock which either brutally interrupts that sleep, or because we’re aware that it’s going to go off, renders us unable to relax and return to the arms of Morpheus.

Hmmm, note to self. If inventing time machine, first call is to man who invented the alarm clock…

• July 6th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

What Do You Actually DO All Day?

This morning Kate asked me over breakfast what I was going to be doing with myself today. There was no hint of checking up, or suggestion that I was going to be playing World of Warcraft until my eyeballs fell out (that comes later) but there was still that sense that non-writers simply can’t visualize what writers actually DO.

The answer –of course– is that we dream with our eyes open.

But the result would be supremely tedious should anyone have fitted cctv to my office (aka the small settee). I just sit here and bang away on keys, and every fifty minutes or so get up and move around to relieve any stress on my back.

I like quiet to work in, so all you can hear from here are distant traffic noises, a periodic clang of the gate followed by the dog going ballistic at the postman, veg deliverer, or other unfortunate.  And that’s it — one day some enterprising burglar is going to get the shock of his life because he thinks an empty house has been left unlocked…

But that’s the difficulty for people who make things, or who work in an office where productivity is judged by how many files you move, or how many orders you process, or how many customers you serve. There is no tangible way of measuring a writer’s productivity. George Alec Effinger once spent all day writing four words. And at the end of the day, he deleted those four words.

Nonetheless, in the spirit of accountability, I may post some of the results of that banging away on keyboard tomorrow, or maybe later in the week, depending on how I feel. Or maybe I won’t. Because I know what I’ve done, and how important it is, and you can’t always measure it.

• May 18th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

A Dog Called Grk

For my Creative Writing Workshop, I need to write some YA or children’s fiction (it’s that or performance poetry…and I think I’d prefer root canal surgery sans anaesthetic to standing in front of an audience reciting pp). 

Acutely aware that my knowledge of YA and kid-litt is almost forty years out of date, I followed Mimi’s advice and went down to Mr B’s in Bath, where I purchased a couple of titles.  I was also hugely reassured that lot of books that I read all those years ago are still available and even recommended.

One of the new titles that I bought was Joshua Doder’s A Dog Called Grk, which is quite simply wonderful.

So, if you’re curious as to why I’m reviewing children’s fiction, that’s the reason. (You may have put it down to increasing eccentricity, in which case you may not be too wrong, either <g>)

If you have a 9 – 12 child, go and buy it for them. If you don’t have children, but you like dogs, buy it anyway.  Actually, just buy it.

• March 20th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0

Back to the Blog

Those of you awake and sober may have noticed an abrupt cessation of blogging about this time last week, and then an equally abrupt resumption, sans explanation. Which makes it sound far more mysterious than it actually is, as this post at Suite explains….

• February 24th, 2010 • Posted in General • Comments: 0