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Sunday, 28 May 2017

The Rocky Road to story telling

I've not written much lately.

Not because I haven't got any ideas, but because I've got too many.  What should I write next? Should it be the one with the llamas in? Or the 'quiet man in the caravan' story? Or should I finish that vampire novella that's half done and sitting on my desktop like a big accusatory finger wagging at me whenever I start my machine?
Yes, I'm inclining towards the llamas myself

It's like...you know when you fancy a bar of chocolate?  You just think 'mmmm, I want some chocolate,' so you go to the shop and you stand in front of the 'chocolate' section and... do you want milk, plain or white? Do you want ordinary chocolate, or chocolate with bits in? Posh chocolate, which you tell yourself you will only eat a little bit of because it's so rich, or cheap chocolate where you know you will scoff the whole bar in seconds? Or would you rather have something covered in chocolate, like peanuts or raisins?  Or even a pack of chocolate biscuits, because they are chocolate and you can also dunk them in your tea?
Choose fast, choose wisely
Too much choice, you see?  I sometimes wish the inside of my brain was like Soviet-era Russia, no choice, one item and you have to queue for a fortnight to get it. If I had to work for ideas I wonder if I would value them more and feel more inclined to work on them - rather than discarding them if they seem to have too many nuts in in and not enough toffee.

And then I have the tendency for my ideas to become like Rocky Road - llamas, plus quiet man in caravan, with a few vampires floating around for good measure.
But, whereas nobody ever said 'what that Rocky Road needed was a few less cherries and not quite so many marshmallow pieces', a book CAN have too many elements in it for proper storytelling.  Too much going on and you can't focus on the characters.

I think I'll go and stare at the chocolate section again for a bit. Warning: my next story may contain nuts.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

The Cake of Disappointment...

I apologise for the sporadicity of my blogging lately.  I used to be hugely regular, but since I started a job where I frequently work weekends, I have found myself with less oomph on the bloggage front.  And, I suppose, there are only so many pictures of my dogs and cats that I can put up to entertain you with...

So, anyway.  On Tuesday, my book 'Can't Buy Me Love' came out in paperback!
You can buy it  at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1781893535
And I duly celebrated by baking the world's worst cake,  I know, I know!  I should have just gone out and bought myself a fabulous cake from a proper shop, preferably one with 'Congratulations' on it in fat icing (I love icing).  I debated buying fourteen cupcakes and icing a letter on each one, so that I could eat them in a 'GIVE ME A C!  GIVE ME AN O!' flamboyant sort of a way.  But I didn't (mainly because I took the dogs on an 8 mile walk and was too lazy to go out to the shops afterwards. Honestly, my feet hurt).  And I'm generally quite good at cakes and I had a big thing of ready made icing in the cupboard that needed using up so... anyway.  I made a cake.

Well.  Quite clearly I have offended the Gods of Baked Goods.  Because that cake was the worst cake I have ever made (and I once mistook wholemeal bread flour for ordinary self raising and made a cake you could have laid as a foundation stone).

It looked all right when it came out of the oven, all puffy and spongey and like it was supposed to. So I left it to cool, whereupon it listed sharply to starboard and sank sideways.  It looked less like a book celebration cake and more like a Titanic memorial sponge. But there's no such thing as bad cake, right?  So I cut it in half (revealing its patchily soggy middle) and filled it with jam and buttercream, spread icing on the top and prepared for a feast.
No.

It tasted like it looked.  A slightly-sweetened brick, with overtones of raw egg.

I hold that there are few disappointments quite as...well...disappointing, as food disappointment.  You know, when the icing from your bun sticks to the paper bag, or your eclair topping melts, or that yummy jam that you thought was apricot and spread all over the middle of your victoria sponge turns out to be marmalade?  It was like all that.

It wasn't so bad when it was fresh, but after two days, when the icing went hard, it was almost inedible.  But only almost.  I mean, it was a celebration cake - I had to eat it!

Next time it's straight to the Co Op...

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Dear Diary...I have a big, pink ball...

I read back through some old posts on my blog the other day and it struck me that writing a blog is a little bit like writing a diary, only it's a diary that you hope other people are going to read.  Not like the one you wrote when you were fourteen, documenting every exchange, however slight, with that boy you fancied something rotten in 9C. Hopefully you've now looked back and realised that him tripping you up and laughing every time he saw you was not, in fact, a sign of deep love and was because he was an enormous bully.  And you only fancied him because he was the tallest boy in Year 9 and you could always see him in the corridors, six inches about the cloud of viruses that hovered around everyone's heads.

Now diary-writing has been replaced by blogging. We lay ourselves bare (in a manner of speaking, you wouldn't want to see me with my vest off) on the internet instead of between pages of 'narrow feint and margin' and those little photo-booth pictures that used to pepper the pages, where we posed with our BFFs with our tongues poking out and careful hairstyles to conceal the acne, have been replaced by pictures from our phones or plucked from elsewhere on the internet to illustrate our points.

These are my BFFs. I'm not quite sure what point they illustrate, other than that having terriers drives you to madness and/or extreme fitness.

Anyway, dear blog... I have just splashed out and bought myself a ball to sit on.  A big, pink thing it is, designed to help my balance, so I'm sitting on it as I write this.  It's a bit like trying to blog whilst sitting on a small, restless pony, to be honest. It keeps shifting from side to side and it's only the nobbly bits on the top that stop me from sliding off.
The observant among you may notice that it is resting on cushions. This is not because I am concerned for its comfort, nor to give me a softer landing should it shy dramatically to the left and throw me. No. The cushions are there because, in purchasing my ball, I neglected to ensure that when blown up and sat on, it would enable me to reach my keyboard.  I tried without the cushions, which resulted in me typing somewhere at shoulder level, like an infant trying to do the washing up.

However, I am assured that the ball, in conjunction with the terriers, should ensure that I end up with a bottom like two halves of a tennis ball, only less yellow and furry.  Dear Blog, I shall report back...