Friday, 30 March 2007

Midlife Crisis!

Do you ever wake up and think, 'I'm in someone else's life!' I mean I look around and they're my kids, and he's my husband, and that's all fine. It's the place and the circumstances I don't get. Ten years in one place. It's the longest I've been anywhere, ever. I grew up on the move, and carried on into adult life. I'm used to being surrounded by different cultures, different languages. The novel is making me quite reflective (it's about identity in people who are culturally hybrid and nomadic). I've even got back in touch with people from 10 years ago, researching Spain, remembering. Always remembering. (You see - writing is bad for you!!!)

And suddenly I find myself living the life of an English person without feeling very English. Too weird. I've been at the University in one capacity or another for 8 years. It still amazes me - the nomadic hippy chick has somehow turned into a statically located academic, not to mention eternal student. When exactly, did I decide to 'settle' in the UK and speak English everyday? When did grow up? I must have taken my eye off the ball for too long. And it's making me feel old. Really old!

So I went and had my hair cut - that is what you do isn't it when your daughter tells you that you look 45 and not 37!? I've had my hair done a total of 4 times in my life. I had a perm in 1986 which was a very bad idea, a disastrous bob in 1989, and a lovely cut in 2002 that looked great until I washed it and got tangled up in those new fangled straightener things. So basically, hair is as it comes, long, and tied back... But then to my absolute horror I found some grey hairs last week, and added to the general dismay of 'fast approaching 40' I summoned up all my courage and got my hair cut. And highlighted. I mean it's not plastic surgery, granted, and it won't help fight off gravity, but it's done something! I can't pass a mirror without going, "Eek!" to myself (in a kind of, who is that?! way). But Hubby likes it. Eldest daughter loves it. Youngest can't stop laughing because mummy's gone blond. It is very blond. But I do look a bit younger... I hope!

It's been an exciting week - what with waking up in the wrong life and new hair. I have a well needed break coming up though, and have been frantically marking essays in a bid to clear my in-tray before the family forcibly removes my pens and paper. (But I shall smuggle a pad and pen in my ski socks HA!) I'm looking forward to having my brain working in French again (well trying to)... to different smells and sounds, to hurtling down a slope, out of control and terrified, and feeling alive just to have survived this far. I wonder, when the novel is finished, the PhD completed, and the kids a little older, whose life I'll wake up in? If fate is out there taking requests, I'd like France or Spain please, and erm... land would be good, with stables and stuff... and erm, money would be useful. Just enough for the occasional haircut!


On a totally unconnected note - Success on the Serpentine! Hurrah! Managed to get Touchee round it in both directions, in a fast working trot, so most pleased. Also did first ever smooth transition from trot to canter - there's hope for me yet!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Squaring the Serpentine - beginners on horses

Serpentines in the Riding School

Learning to ride is a bit like trying to get to grips with Zen Buddhism - the minute I think I've got it, that 'Ah!' moment, something happens to re-assure me that I am indeed a hapless novice. Make that beginner because in horsey circles, novices are really quite advanced of where I am currently at!

So I've been riding for almost 6 months now. I can stay on, in trot, without stirrups, and more recently without the accompanying chafing of the nether regions. I can get the horse to halt, walk, trot, and in the last two months, canter. I'm still quite crap at canter because I tend to curl up, foetus like, rather than sit up tall, so the horse trots again.

Anyway, yesterday I rode a different horse, a beautiful big thorough-bred type with a calm, friendly nature. After riding the other one each week, and getting to grips with all his little foibles, I stupidly thought that Harry would be 'easier'. But his sheer size presented me with a whole new set of problems, not to mention he's really sensitive to the leg. It was the first lesson where I've thought, "okay... I think that's enough for one day!"

Bumpy isn't the word! So I'm trying to get to grips with the increased bounce in rising trot, so that I don't come back down so late the saddle's on its way back up again. I see stars once or twice before I get into his stride. The horse I normally ride ignores me, so my legs appear to have learned how to squeeze each time I sit. It took bloody ages to be able to do this and ride a (rough) 20 metre circle, only on Harry I need to stop squeezing. My legs keep telling him to go faster and faster, and he's getting upset because we're running out of school. He trips up a couple of times (Note to Horsey people - yes, I know it's my fault!) and this is bit worrying. I can't feel my legs, so I can't seem to stop doing it. Oh dear.

I have the spatial awareness of a piece of coal. When my instructor says, "Change the rein at M and ride the long diagonal to K, picking up a 20m circle at A," my mind starts free-falling. Diagonal? K? Circle? A? I think "where am I?" but on the back of a fast moving horse, 'here' is but a brief moment in the greater scheme of things. I see A whiz past and I've no idea what rein I'm on. I'm now on the wrong diagonal no doubt, look down to see even though I'm still not sure what I'm looking for, and miss the circle completely, going large around the school. This is silly, I think, I can do this on Touchee! Good job my instructor is a patient young lady.

So we tried a serpentine (see pic above). Ha! What fun! Not. My unruly legs kept telling Harry to go faster, so he couldn't get his huge body to turn in time - and this may have been made all the harder because I was relying on him to know where we were going. After all, he has done this before, and I haven't. But he obediently did what I asked, and I erm... wasn't asking very clearly. My attempts are shown below.

I know you're impressed... I can tell!!! ;-) I'll do better next time.

Riding is a case of trying to get your body to ignore all its basic survival strategies, to become one with the animal. If patting your head and rubbing your tummy is difficult, try squeezing with the lower leg, keeping the upper leg still, tensing your tummy but keeping your hips fluid, holding your hands still while the rest of you is going up and down (quite violently at times), and on top of all of this, think "right then, where are we going?" in time to let the horse know. And this while ignoring the chafing and bruising that occured at the beginning of the lesson! I'm very, er, saddle sore today!

I will get there one day, but once a week makes for slow progress. I'll be in my seventies. I rather need a horse. But then I'd need all those hours to look after it, and feed, and somewhere to put it (I don't think the garden is big enough!)... It's an expensive pastime - I'd need to win the lottery.

Saturday, 24 March 2007

Tax tax tax

I'm just listening to Radio 4 at the minute - big discussion on the budget and the tax thing. Ah, yes - the tax thing. As someone who earns a pittance as an hourly paid lecturer I'm just rolling over in glee at the fact that I'm going to LOSE out, but if I were earning, say, £30K, I'd be much, much better off. Fan-bloody-tastic! And yes, I know it's all very complex, and some will gain, and some will lose, but no matter how you look at it, it's back to the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

And there were such high hopes for Labour. What have we got now? Nurses are going to work in Australia because conditions are better, prospects are better, and the life-style is better. The NHS is on its arse. Small businesses are disappearing faster than you can say Budget. By the time our kids get through the education system, they have 25 billion A* but still don't know what a verb is, can't punctuate to save their lives, and get out done in mental maths by pensioners with Alzheimer's.

So brilliant, Labour. Well done. Hope you're pleased with yourselves.

Of course all this does is strengthen my resolve to emigrate again!

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

novel racing - limping along

I'm still hanging in there with the novel race although I did hit a brick wall this week. I think it was the whole proposal thing. I couldn't think straight for days and then got side-tracked into reading lots of text books, and writing poetics instead of fiction. I have managed to get back on track, but am only just limping along.

It's strange how it goes like this, this writing process. That sometimes it flows and flows and I can't write fast enough to get it all down, and then it stops. Abruptly. The ideas are all there but I can't make any decisions as to how to tell the story. Where to start? At which point in the scene? Whose perspective? What am I trying to show/say here? Etc., etc., etc.

I'm working on three chapters concurrently at the moment, unable to decide which bit of the 'big' story should go in each of the 'little' ones. It's a bit of a juggling act only I keep losing track of the clubs. Still, one we go, and the word count has shifted at last. I keep having to repeat, "You have permission to write crap now and fix it later," the mantra of the desperate.

I look at the novel racers and am half inspired and half reduced to tears. Their word counts rise swiftly, some have books out there on shelves already. It all seems so far away for me, at a quarter of the way through, especially with some of you - you know who you are! - mocking up book sleeves so beautifully! I'm still grappling with how to write a novel, let alone what I want it to look like - although you've got me thinking now...

But hang on! A quarter of the way through - well almost. That's good isn't it?! There's a long way to go, but there's also a nice fat pile of words on my desk (mostly crap admittedly - but I will fix that later!). I'm going to put the kettle on and celebrate!

Saturday, 17 March 2007

A busy week, and a bit on drafting and editing

Thank God last week is finally over I can get back to just being run off my feet!

I submitted my proposal/bid for funding on Thursday, which felt good, but rather scary too - a bit like handing a child over to someone you've never met. I just hope it manages to get through the long list of stages on time, and reaches its destination with all the boxes ticked, not to mention looking as pristine as it did on Thursday morning!

Teaching on Thursday and Friday ranged from inspirational and fun, to dentistry i.e. pulling teeth - my own! Was this due to my own exhaution, or it being the end of the week for them too? Whatever it was, there seems to be a general unwillingness by students to enter into discussions these days. They seem to want more and more teaching and less and less thinking, debating, chewing the fat. In response to "What do you think?" there are sighs and shrugs, indignatious looks of, "Aren't you supposed to tell us that?!" My favourite lecturer/teacher ever, was Pam Jackson. She never told us the answers. She gave us the text and discussed it with us. She was/is brilliant. She knew her stuff, but she encouraged us to find out for ourselves. She explained difficult concepts but she did not read the text for us - that was our job - and I loved her for it. She allowed long pauses, patiently waiting for someone to speak up, and we always did. I've been trying to do the same - leave long pauses - but how long do I wait? An hour? Two?? Until the seminar is over?!

Today I've been putting together a handout on drafting and editing for my writing students. It's taken me all day, but it's been a worthwhile process, as it's made me break down what it is we actually do when we move on to the second draft and beyond. I've been re-reading The Creative Writing Coursebook by Julia Bell and Paul Magrs, particularly the sections by James Friel and Paul Magrs.

Here's a summary of some of the points I thought important.

1. You’ve got to be quite brutal with yourself at times.
2. If something isn’t working, get rid of it.
3. If it’s too opaque, too obscure, get rid of it.
4. If it’s too explicit, too expository, get rid of it.
5. Get rid of lines that are not meant for the reader, but notes to ourselves.
6. Readers like to be told just enough to work it out for themselves.
7. Readers do not like to be told everything, making them patronised and redundant.
8. Revision can go on forever. Part of the skill is knowing when to stop.
9. Take out all the material that anyone could have written so that you are left with something that only you could have written.
10. Show your work and listen to feedback. Some will be useful or surprising , at other times it will be spurious and partisan. Utilize or jettison it at will but listen to it all before you make up your mind.
11. Dialogue: is this how the character really talks? Is that what they’d really say?
12. Ask how each component connects to the broader theme.
13. Is the plot twist necessary or does it seem contrived?
14. Have you shown where you should have told, or vice-versa? (Lindsay Clarke)
15. Are we being dragged through the story too quickly in one part?

1. Be Kind – Don’t judge your first draft too harshly.
2. Be Patient – Put it aside for a while and let it brew.
3. Be Calm – Type up your first draft without changes, even though you may be itching to. Just see what is there in black and white first.
4. Be Colourful – “Once you have read it, read it again. This time attack it with red pen, pencil, scissors, glue, cut it, cross things out, tick the good bits.” Or like Tony Warren, get a set of markers and go through it making a line in the margin; one colour for plot, another for dialogue, for subplots, character development, style policing etc.
5. Be Versatile – John Steinbeck says be 3 people; one to speculate, one to criticise, and one to correlate. It usually turns out to be a fight! (And Dorothea Brande says 2: Creative, and Editor – it amounts the same.)
6. Be Curious – Ask questions. All the time. Is this what I want? What is it I want?
7. Be Heard – Read your work aloud. Note where you stumble over your own prose.
8. Be Flexible – Sometimes great changes must be made. Salman Rushdie wrote Midnight’s Children, all 900 pages, in the 3rd person, and then decided to tell it in the first person. That meant every sentence had to be changed.
9. Be Meticulous – Sentence level.
10. Be Dependent – Check for punctuation/spellings/grammar. Get help if you need it.
11. Be Independent – Use readers but don’t abuse them. Know your own anxieties, worries, fears.
12. Be Stealthy – Most drafts are either under written or over written, or a mixture of the two.

After all of this I'm giving them a first draft of something to play with. I wonder what they'll do with it?!

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Poetry, Poetics and Professors

Last night was the Inaugural Lecture of Professor Robert Sheppard at Edge Hill University. The lecture was entitled Poetics as Conjecture and Provocation and was divided into four sections: i) Writing as Inaugural ii) Measuring Experience iii) Doing Poetics and iv) Poems

The lecture was wonderful,and Robert was in top form, looking rather dashing in his suit and tie. Scrubs up well, as they say, although the jacket and tie were discarded just before the poetry reading! It was inspiring, complex, enlightening, challenging, and funny - all the things a good lecture should be. Delivered with impeccable timing and humility, even the baby in attendance, 6 month old Paul, made appreciative comments in all the right places!

The final section was a reading of four poems, and whilst I feel that Sheppard has mellowed somewhat in his approach, this is for me, a most favourable development. Admittedly, a lot of avant-garde, postmodern poetry goes clean over my head, so I was delighted to find last night's offering accessible and witty, with a sharpness and skill in language I can only dream of acquiring. I have plenty of ideas and thoughts to chew over now, at any rate.

The lecture was well attended. I thoroughly enjoyed catching up with lots of people I haven't seen for ages, and felt quite priviledged to be surrounded by so many academics, writers, poets, journalists etc. I also met some new people, most memorably Eddie from Dublin, so Eddie, if you ever read this - lovely meeting you! A select group made it to the pub afterwards where we declined the pub quiz only to find the questions were about Ireland, and that Eddie knew all the answers. Bugger!

Today I had a meeting with my PhD supervisor and we had a look at my funding proposal, which of course needed yet more nicks and tucks, and some important additions - so the poetics lecture really did come in useful (Thank you, Robert). But I have now finished it, and despite the one sentence I hate, I'm putting it to bed, or rather sending it off on its merry way through referees and various departmental institutions. All of which means I can get on with writing my novel, and concentrating on my PhD.

I'm off now, to get in touch with my domestic side i.e. cook dinner, so have fun y'all!

p.s. You can read Robert Sheppard's Blogzine here.

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Ticking along

The word count is trickling at the moment, but the counter really helps to monitor progress, especially when you feel like you're not making any! The funding application really helped me though, to keep fixed on the themes and issues I want to explore, and it's quite satisfying to see that the chapter outlines I've done so far are in keeping with the general premise of the whole thing. A small sigh of relief before the panic sets in again at the gargantuan task that lies ahead (or that I'm in the middle of, even).

It's another one of those mad days today though. Horse riding lesson - last week Touchee was totally spooked by the top half of the school, for some reason, and no matter what I, or my instructor did, we couldn't get him past the half way mark for more than a few seconds before he turned around and headed back down the school. He is a funny one. Last week I discovered he doesn't like the hoof-pick with the yellow handle, and even after I let him mouth it and sniff it, he kept his ears back and stamped his feet - not to mention reaching right around with his head so that his teeth hovered unsettlingly next to my rear end! Let's hope he's gotten over whatever it was for today's ride!

This morning, and all of last night, I marked essays, but the good news is that they're out of the way, hence the slight increase in my word count today. I've not done the shopping yet (Bad Housewife), or the cleaning (Bad, Bad Housewife), but I have arranged childcare, ferrying to gymnastics of children, and my mother is feeding them all, husband included (Good organiser).

After that there's a rather exciting event which goes on all evening I think - but I'll tell you about tomorrow!

Hope everyone is well and that the novel racers are hanging on in there... looking at everyone's blogs you all seem to be careering along despite the odd hiccup along the way!

If you're a teacher and you hate the old adage, "Those who can do, those who can't teach!" then check out the Taylor Mali video on Rob's blog - it's truly wonderful - and what's more, may lead you to check out some more Slam Poetry.

Monday, 12 March 2007

A Little Light Reading for The Weekend, Madam?

The interested out there will note that my word count has not budged this week - but all is not lost. You see I've been working on an application for PhD funding which means I've had to condense around 6,000 words into the space of 500. And I'm tired. Really tired.

I started it a couple of weeks ago and by Friday evening was in tears, surrounded by over 30 books and the same number of Journal Articles. By Saturday I'd narrowed it down to the texts in the pic, plus half of the articles, and gone through half a forest scrawling the words, "My research project will..." followed by lots of gobbledegook and ending with expletives. So instead of taking the kids out (like I promised) and doing the shopping, housework etc., I sat in the office screaming at the walls and writing lots more rubbish until 2 am, and then started again at 8 am Sunday. I finally finished it by 4 pm. Hurrah! It's probably crap. Argh!

The good thing about this exercise is that it's made me have to think about my novel in a gargantuan amount of depth. I know what the novel is about, and I know how I'm going to put it together, but how do you explain it in a few lines? I've also had to think about how my novel is original, and how it fits in with the rest of the literary genre I'm writing in, not to mention show the research I've done so far. It was like trying to fit a giraffe into a tea-pot.

But it's done now, and I can finish my marking and get on with some writing again. Hopefully the kids will forgive me for working all weekend, again.

The Books

- I don't know why Morrison's Beloved is in there - must have got scraped up! It should be Erdrich's Love Medicine
- Dictionary and Thesaurus for double checking and word reduction.
- Derrida and Kristeva are heavy going but fascinating if you want to tie your brain in knots.
- Same for the Postmodernism.
- Allende is wonderful - I recommend her autobiography to anyone who is suffering from cultural plurality!
- Cuentos Andaluces is a recent acquisition and most enjoyable despite the fact I have to keep looking words up. Mind you, I have to look words up for Kristeva and Derrida too, and they're in English!
- Cixous is a must for anyone interested in writing processes and languages.
Feel free to ask about any of the others! I expect to be inundated... not!

Saturday, 10 March 2007

Grice's Maxims

Grice’s Conversational Maxims

H. P. Grice probably knew someone like me. Who knows, he may have even married them, because he was inspired to come up with Conversational Maxims – or Rules of Conversation. Four of them. With sub-clauses. These aren’t really rules, more observations on how people (normal people, that is) co-operate in conversation.

Take last night for example, when I collected my youngest from a party. When the mother said, “How are you?” the expected response was, “I’m fine thanks,” and not, “Oh, since you ask, I’m shattered because I’ve been working so hard. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. I feel like crap, and look even worse! I’m working on my PhD, marking stacks of essays, coaching gymnastics, etc., etc., etc.” As the poor woman backed away into the corner, I realised I had broken the Maxim of Quantity, which states, “Do not make your contribution to the conversation more informative than necessary.”

Then her husband made the dreadful mistake of asking me, “How is it going?” The correct response to this question is, “Fine thanks,” because really, in hindsight, he wasn’t asking me about the PhD that is so prevalent in my thoughts at the moment. But, oh no! Off launched I into the finer points of fragmented identities and cultural hybridity, the complexities of the composite novel and the emergent tradition of the American Short Story Cycle…” thus breaking the Maxim of Relevance which states, “Say things related to the current topic of the conversation.” I also broke the rules of Manner in being totally obscure, ambiguous, and disorderly. I blame lack of sleep for the last two. The poor man just stared at me, nodding politely, before he found a random child to assist with birthday cake.

You’d think I’d just collect my child at this point, bow my head in shame, and leave, but Katy is still looking for her shoes, and so the wife is still making polite conversation. “So is Nigel okay then?” “Oh yeah,” I replied, “He’s fine.” I should have stopped there but found myself explaining that we had to put the rabbit to sleep this week, and Toucheé (the horse I ride on my lessons) was totally spooked last week so that was an experience, and, and, and…” Oh dear. Thankfully the child arrived with shoes in hand and saved me any further conversational faux pas (how do you make faux pas plural?!).

So you see, I am crap. Better not to ask, “How are you?” because I will actually tell you, being socially inept as I am. At least I can swear, hand on heart, that I never knowingly break the Maxims of Quality, so I will always tell the truth, and will never say things for which I lack sufficient evidence. Well, it’s something, I suppose!

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

A fifth!

My word counter has just popped over the 20% mark - hurrah! A fifth of the novel written. Already! And boy, does it feel good!

That's all I wanted to say!

Wanna go to Spain!

To get into the mood for writing (a novel set in Southern Spain) I am listening to a rare recording of Manitas de Plata. Manitas de Plata means Little Hands of Silver. The 3 LP set (remember LPs?!) was the first-ever commercial recording of Manitas de Plata, and "was recorded live in a medieval chapel in Arles, France over two nights, with an audience of Gypsies and friends to provide support and appreciation." I'm loving it! Also on my listening list is Maktub Andalucia's 'Tangos' - listen here- you have to switch off the player in the top right, scroll down and look for Tangos on the player in the Sounds Like box. It's worth it - trust me! And then there's Marelu, Ketama, Camaron, and Pata Negra. Oh, and Radio Tarifa which I simply can't get enough of!

But it's not enough! I want need more! ¡Quiero ir alli, a España! I want to breathe the air, soak up the rhythms, let my ears drown in the rising and falling cadences of Andaluz. I said earlier that a short story is a love affair, and a novel is a marriage - but I think my novel is a love affair, one of those poignant ones that never leaves you . It is a love affair with a people, with a culture and a language, with Andalucia!

It wasn't an easy existence, living from hand to mouth, and yet those azure skies never failed to lift the spirit -walking my eldest child to school beneath orange trees, and walking back along the beach - everyone gathered together for festivals, moragas, inpromptu music sesions. I've never been so financially poor and yet so spiritually rich in all my life.

And besides, I need to practise my Spanish before it dies away completely!

Saturday, 3 March 2007

Bleeding Moon

Pic from NBC Technology & Science

The moon looks like it is bleeding this evening. A full moon is not usually red! So I googled it, and guess what... it's a total eclipse, the first one since 2001. And it's a good one here, in the north of England - cloudless. If you read this in time, go and have a look - it's very strange! You can observe it safely too, because it isn't like a solar eclipse.

I'm sure lots of people will blog about this, but I just can't help myself! It started at 20.16 and mid eclipse will happen at 23.21 - that's 6 minutes away. It'll all be over by 02.25.

What's happening

The earth has moved in front of the sun and so what we are seeing is the earth's shadow being cast. You'd think that this would make the moon invisible, but because of light refraction, some light still bounces onto the moon. Furthermore, blue light is scattered through our atmosphere more than red light, so this is what remains, and we end up with a beautiful bleeding moon. The clever people at Jodrell Bank explain this in much more detail. Right - I'm off to watch the rest of it!

Pic from Jodrell Bank

Sea Poem

Just had to share this with you! My youngest seems to have been born with the writing disease. I found a note book in her bedroom the other day full of little poems she's written!

Any way - this came home from school the other day, and it made me smile. Check out the spellings! Don't you just love 7 year olds!

Friday, 2 March 2007

On writing - again!

I had such high hopes for this blog! I still have loads of things I want to blog about - more sciency stuff to try at home, interesting newsy items, and so on, but at the moment the novel is all consuming. Perhaps that's a good thing though!

I had a major re-think last week, about the novel. After the first 10,000 words I started working on a section near the middle of the book, and realised that not only do I work best that way, in a non-linear fashion, but that the novel itself might work that way too. My writing tends to be multiplicitous in terms of narration, and I like to piece bits together to make a whole, so I've chucked the rule book out of the window and am following my heart. It seems to be working, and the latest bits feel much better than my first tentative pages. I now have a very strong 'vision' of what the finished project will look like - the fiction part of it at least.

The other part of it is the thesis that will accompany the novel - that's the bit I get the PhD for, and it's some 50,000 word on top of the fiction! It is also very daunting and means I'm trying to read as much theory and philosophy on writing as I can - all in the name of research. I also have to produce a conference paper at some point - but more on that nearer the time.

So the themes for the novel/thesis are language, culture and identity. The novel is about being linguistically and cultural displaced and is based on experience (write what you know, eh!). I've been spending hours checking Spanish vocab and researching traditional festivals, filling in the blanks in the notes I made in my diaries. What a journey! It's been interesting trying to render Spanish into English and vice-versa, and I'll be fascinated to see how the Fiction Research Group responds to what I've done!

Now it's that time again - kids home from school, dinner to cook, life to live - so better go and get on with it.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

Workspace Challenge (and Exhausted!)

Novel racer Nichola has set us a challenge to share our workspace, so here goes! I have taken over the front room with wall to wall cabinets overflowing with books and files, so I'm only showing you the neat looking bit in the corner where I sit! A friend brought me some daffs yesterday - you can see them on the window sill. They really cheered me up, especially as we had to take my little one's daftodils into school!

I have dozens of little bits and bobs around me, each one full of memories and ideas, from my totem pole, to my tiny little dragon a student gave me many years ago. They keep me sane!

The novel writing is going well. I've realised that the first 10,000 words are not going to be used in their current format, so the first page is no longer the first page. Argh. But all is not lost. At least I know where I'm going now - what I want to create, and it isn't a straight-forward narrative at all. I'm beginning to wonder what I've taken on, what a challenge I've set myself, but I am equally inspired and excited.

I promised my husband that I would get an early night and not sit up writing until 2 am every morning. I think I might just listen to him for once, because I am shattered! I don't know - I wanted it all - kids, husband, career, studies - and now I find I'm a one woman juggling act!

So, as the word count trickles along, I'm switching the pc off, and heading for bed. A pile of marking awaits me in the morning, planning and preparation for next week's teaching. I can hardly wait!