That Monday feeling…

The holiday is over, normal life will resume shortly. Until then, I have been in a holding pattern of alternating tiredness and complete absence of brain. But the post-holiday laundry mountain has been conquered, the fridge restocked, so eveything else must fall into place shortly.

Two weeks ago today, we were taking the scenic route to Sofia after some sort of technical glitch brought Gatwick (catflap to the world) to a standstill, which meant that we missed our connecting flight from Budapest. We ended up being rerouted via Munich, arriving at Sofia nearly eight hours late. Our luggage caught up with us two days later, coincidentally when the weather improved from sullenly thundery, to clear blazing heat. The rest of the holiday went swimmingly, with good food, good company, too many mosquitoes, and plenty of good Bulgarian red wine. Dipping into Twitter occasionally via my phone, I learned that the UK was taking the fast track to Hell-in-a-Handbasket, and the Home Secretary throwing her weight about declaring all police leave cancelled. (A decision that was not hers to make, but rather the Chief Constables’, and not a decision that they backed; this amuses me.)

Apart from the food and drink thing, what did we do on our holidays? My husband spent a great deal of his time heaving the mower about the hayfield that is the garden at the house where we stay: by the time we left, there was even the suspicion of stripes. My daughter flitted about with her little cousin, or playing in her inner world of fairies, rabbits and The Hobbit; and I slept a lot, drank a lot, read a lot, and scribbled a bit. We went up the mountain, (and came down again), we caught the sun, watched the moon and stars, listened to the cicadas. In short, we relaxed. Bliss.

Next week my daughter goes back to school, and the routines will change again. My hours per week at the Bookshop will be increasing – hurrah! – and who knows, I may even begin the <whispers it> Second Draft?


The holiday starts here

It’s 1.30 in the morning, and I’ve almost finished the packing. In half an hour I must wake up my husband and daughter; we’ll be out of the door by 3am. My ipod has dropped its charge, so will be out of action for a few days, which is INFURIATING (it does it every few months or so, and then works perfectly; but it’s bloody typical it would happen NOW). There are jelly beans waiting to be enjoyed once we’re on the plane. Everything is under control, or as much as is reasonable, and I’m really looking forward to the heat, the food and the wine. Oh yes, and I’ve finished the First Draft.

170,461 words that all add up to one baggy behemoth of a narrative monster. I can’t wait to pull it all to bits. See you in 10 days!

(The reading list was whittled down to A Game of Thrones, Green, The Tiger’s Wife, and The Hobbit and Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone, both of the latter to read with my daughter.)

How to while away the hours…

I am perched on the horns of a dilemma. Not a terribly big dilemma, and certainly, in the grand scheme of things, an unimportant one. But still… in a few days we’re packing ourselves off to Bulgaria; I’ll be away from my desk, from my Mac, from the WIP – that’s always a bit of a wrench – and I can’t make up my mind about what I’m going to take with me to read. I don’t need to worry about the journey – I usually sleep through most of it. But all those long hours of rich golden light – varied with cracking great thunderstorms that break the deadlock of heat – with what shall I fill them?

These are some of my possible options;

George RR Martin A Game Of Thrones – actually that one’s a given as I’ve already begun it.

Roland Barthes Camera Lucida – I’ve been meaning to read this since March.

Téa Obreht The Tiger’s Wife – it has a Balkan setting appropriate to the holiday, making it a strong contender.

Edmund De Waal The Hare with the Amber Eyes – not sure about this one, although people keep telling me I should. The thing is, I don’t much care for being told that I should do something… hmm.

Alison Weir The Lady In the Tower – good historical biography; I love her writing, and her detailed research really does enable her to reconstruct her subjects’ lives into a lively narrative. It doesn’t surprise me in the least that Alison Weir has subsequently turned her hand to writing historical fiction as well.

DH Lawrence Women In Love – haven’t read this in years. Watching the recent BBC adaptation made me realise how little of it I remember.

Salley Vickers Aphrodite’s Hat – a collection of short stories by a writer whom I greatly admire.

Keith Richards Life – how is he still alive?!

Michael Ward Planet Narnia – another one that I’ve been meaning to read for a while.

Jay Lake Green – I’ve had my eye on this one for a while…

There are other contenders, but these are the ones that spring immediately to mind, and are also in paperback. Perhaps that indicates a subconscious whittling of possibilities into this shortlist. Except that it isn’t a particularly short list. I have until Sunday night to decide. Which would you choose?

In the meantime, the WIP’s First Draft is at last winding towards its ending. I completed the penultimate chapter in the early hours of this morning, when the Principle Heroine took advantage of my weakened state to become an ipso facto fairy godmother. The edit will tell whether she gets to keep that or not. Can I write the last chapter before we leave? Now that’s a challenge!

Taking Stock, Part II

2010 is almost done with. 2011 almost ready to begin. And what have I done with the time that has been given to me? I’ve been angry, a lot. I’ve been ridden by the black hag-bitch Depression. I’ve had rotten miserable damned inconvenient back pain. I drove a petrol car for the first – and so far only – time – my husband was terribly brave – it was our first ever brand new car! (Yes, it’s still in one piece.) I had a wonderful time at a friend’s party, drinking Cosmopolitans, and owned up to the vodka hangover the next day. (Note to self, vodka hangovers are vile horrible things, even though Cosmos are delicious.)

What else? I’ve written a lot, I’ve been rejected – and not just by editors – a lot, and I’m gearing up to go through most of all that again. I’ve watched my daughter begin to blossom from a little girl to a more sophisticated, complicated little girl, and am much amused by her frequent exasperation with me ; ‘mu-um’ is becoming a normal noise in this house. We have a lovely time together, mostly being silly, giggling a lot. I love giggling with my daughter – there will definitely be a lot more of that in 2011.

I’ve enjoyed glorious weather in Devon, and in Bulgaria. I’ve listened to music and let it take me to new places in my head. I’ve started this blog; that was pretty momentous, wondering if anyone would ever read it, and you are, and I thank you. It’s nice to know I’m not just shouting into the void. Again, I thank you.

The snow happened – I’ve had my first ever white christmas – so what if snow was not actually falling from the sky in this neck of the Cotswolds? It was still beautiful, and as long as I wear my red wellies, I don’t fall over. Perhaps they are imbued with some sort of super-power…? (Sadly the thaw has set in, and all is now sadly dank and muddy where once it was crisply gleaming white.)

I made sloe gin for the first time, and I’m drinking some now – it is truly delicious and  without the vicious nastiness of a hangover next morning. I have learned that not all friendships are equal, that not all friends are worth the wait when they say one thing and do another, make promises and consistently fail to keep them. I’m better off without them. That lesson has cost me a lot in terms of hours and days of despair; time that I’ll never get back, and can bill no one for. That makes me angry, but que sera, progress is progress, and perhaps one day I’ll achieve some sort of equanimity.

So what’s coming in 2011? Lychees. Every year begins with lychees. Otherwise the only thing I can say with any certainty is that I’ll be turning 40.

Apart from that? Who knows? Bring it on.