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Sunday, 8 January 2017

Writing Guilt. Female phenomenon or general writerly angst?

I was having a discussion recently with a bunch of on-line friends. Yes. I have friends. Okay, so some of them I've never met in real life, but that doesn't stop me calling them friends - and yes, I am very aware of the rules on who I might be allowed to call a friend, believe me, someone with as many injunctions as me is very well aware of that sort of thing.  Anyway. What we were talking about was Writing Guilt.

We were a group of women (this is relevant, honestly) talking about having to get on with writing but our behaving as though writing was our own little 'treat' - something we must do quietly, and only when all housework etc is completed. As though, somehow, our writing was not a valuable contribution to the household earnings and/or our desire to write was something that must be placed lower on the ranking scale than the dog's desire to have a four mile walk and the cat's desire to have a really clean set of pillowcases to sleep on.

I call this Writer's Guilt.  And the topic of discussion with those friends (yes, they really ARE friends. No, not in the same way as Tony Robinson is a friend - see above re injunctions) was whether or not male writers also suffer from Writer's Guilt if they take themselves off to add a chapter to their WIP, or whether they are better able to prioritise their writing lives.  Does this depend on whether the writer is earning a living solely from their writing (ie, is it easier to ignore the hoovering and the dog if your writing is paying for the electricity and the Pedigree Chum, and I can't imagine that Sir Terry Pratchett ever delayed sitting down in front of his keyboard until the bath was clean and he'd completed the Sainsburys order)?   Is it just women who feel somehow guilty about sitting down in front of our keyboards, as though by writing we are neglecting something or someone else in our lives?
And where does this guilt come from? It seems to be felt right across the board, so it's not just an extension of the natural guilt that motherhood thrusts upon you, associated with the feeling of always being in the wrong, lack of sleep and never being able to find a pair of socks that match. Is it ingrained in us from birth? Are there men that also suffer?

Or is it just the way the dog stares at us?
Try not to weaken...

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Most bestestest ever! Heroes - do they really have to be QUITE so fabulous?

Right. Christmas is over - so put down that tin of Celebrations and stop drinking double cream straight from the carton with the fridge door open to cover what you are doing... I am going to force you in to a discussion here, because it's either write this or take the dogs on a three mile run, and there's freezing fog out there and a fire in here, plus two packets of unopened biscuits and the tail end of a Christmas pudding, so...discussion it is!

Reading a lot of blurbs of a lot of books lately, has made me realise that there is a whole stream of books, maybe even a sub-genre, where the active participants in the story seem to have beamed down from the planet PERFECTO.  I'm not talking about the multi-billionaires here, they are a different species already, we all know that.  I'm talking about the ones that aren't just ordinary dog-trainers for the average person in the street whose terrier won't stop widdling on the mat (and yes, Teal, I AM looking at you...and no, insanity is not a defence, so I'm told)

No, they have to be training dogs for military defence work. Or mountain rescue work. Now, I have a reasonable grasp on dog training (although, evidenced by my mat, not a complete one), but have no knowledge whatever of what it takes to train a military dog. More sturdy mats, perhaps. So are these men more attractive by virtue of doing a job that I don't understand?  Dog training is just an example - these men seem to have jobs that are so far outside my normal comprehension of the world that I find them vaguely unrelatable. Of course not many people are going to be interested in reading about a man who cuts lawns and plants potatoes for a living, but there's surely some ground in between him and the TV landscape gardener with the limitless budget who can get five acres of turf down without blinking?

So, my post Christmas question to you is - when does a hero become more than his job? Is a man more attractive because he test drives Lamborghinis rather than Fiats? OK, he might get paid more, but is that all it is - a rich man in a borrowed Lamborghini is more hero-worthy than the bloke down the road in his Fiat 500? How much of who he is is affected by what he does?

Yeah, okay, not doing myself any favours with these pictures, am I?

And now I'm back to mopping the carpet and trying to pretend that the last of the pudding just happened to fall out of the fridge and be eaten by the dog. Or cat. Yes, the cats look slightly guilty. let's blame them..

Sunday, 11 December 2016

My day out with not-evil-sock-puppets!

On Wednesday I had the most brilliant day. Partly in the interests of research, but also because I'd been given a voucher as a Christmas present. Yes, last Christmas. Yes, I am a trifle disorganised when it comes to arranging things like this. Yes, it would be entirely my own fault if I got soaked, frozen and then dragged through nine foot mud by a deranged llama.

Anyway.  Last year my lovely OH Steve (who doesn't get nearly enough credit for quietly enabling me) bought me a llama walk for Christmas, and this Wednesday was when I got to go. And everything conspired to make it the most wonderful day... the fog that had prevailed lifted, the temperature was a ridiculous (for North Yorkshire in December) 13 degrees, the sun shone...and there were llamas!  (For reference, we went to Nidderdale Llamas, which I can thoroughly recommend), and we walked around the dales... with llamas!  Although I had an alpaca, called Paddy, so not a llama, but basically the same only smaller and cuddlier and with more fur.
I am the one on the right. Slightly less furry and a lot less cuddly
Steve had a proper big llama called Toby.
It's like the Little and Large of the camelid world
And, even though it was December, we walked around in sunshine and looked at llamas...although sometimes they do look a bit like evil sock puppets...
...they are nothing of the sort. And it was great, and I even found myself assessing my bit of rough paddock out the back to see if I could fit the odd llama out there (the answer was 'yes', but you really need to keep them in pairs, and two of these would drive the terriers into fits).  And now I want to go again...(PS, there was also tea and cake, which were instrumental in no small part in my desire to revisit...)