Thursday, 31 March 2011

China in my hands

It was a theme she had
On a scheme he had
told in a foreign land...

Doesn't that take you back to the late eighties? Go on, admit it. You went scuttling out to buy that T'Pau single as well, didn't you?

This is me today...well, me...ish. ( notice I'm not wearing the lucky dress.)

What I AM doing is writing about China today. Now you can picture me getting into the zone.

Eating breakfast with chopsticks was less successful.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

I really must stop wearing my lucky dress...

...because when I wear it, exciting things happen.

And sometimes life can be a little TOO exciting, no?

I just seem to have landed myself some great work with an edgy creative media agency...I closed one door behind me and another burst open right in front of my eyes.

If you would like to borrow my dress, it's Size 10, H&M Divided range, purple with black spots which matches my hair (except for the spots)

It's a hand-me-down from Laurie's girlfriend Irene. Well, not so much of a hand-me-down, more a case of me fishing it out of a black bin liner filled with the clothes she was going to donate to a charity shop to clear her wardrobe before she and Laurie set off on their Great Adventure.

I shall never take it off now.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Nuage neuf

I didn't really know where I'd be today.

In my head, I mean.

Yesterday was a bit surreal. No, it was VERY surreal.  I was thinking I might wake up to one of my mega-slumps. It happens.

I am pleased to report that instead I'm on Cloud Nine.

Or maybe Cloud Eight and a Half because to me Cloud Nine is somewhere that's madly, euphorically out of control. A crazy place to be that is too ephemeral to be sought after.

Just, I feel unexpectedly GOOD. Creatively strong. Calm. Content. And other words beginnining with C not including crap.

I must apologise for spewing out the contents of my mind like this. I know it's nauseating.

See, I think of everything...

Monday, 28 March 2011


As I said...

And, in case you didn't get the message...

Just in from my meeting and the director was awesome and I was gibbering and did it go well or was it a train wreck? She shrugs because she can't tell. I think possibly The Colour Of Her Scream may be too dark for him.

The weirdest thing was - he showed me a trailer for one of his short films and it starred  none other than A FRIEND OF MINE who had auditioned for a role in a theatre piece I'd written but she hadn't got the part but since then I read and helped to edit the script for her one woman show and found her some VO work too...


And on that note...

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Big Day Tomorrow!

A breakfast meeting at The Groucho Club with a film director who is 'looking forward to hearing my pitch' for The Colour Of Her Scream before he jets back to LA on Tuesday.

How cool is that? Let me tell you - it's VERY COOL.

(I wonder if they serve Weetabix?)

Yes, very cool but also stomach-churningly-angst-makingly-sleepless-nightingly WORRYING!

I have to catch a train at 05.50 a.m.

I've never been to The Groucho Club and I've never met the director

I have to be pitch perfect

I don't want to let anyone down by making a mess of it

I want to be charming and engaging and compelling without being a gibbering pile of over-talkative idiocy

I have sinusitis and a bad chest so I feel like crap

Can I do it?

Saturday, 26 March 2011

“Flaming enthusiasm, backed up by horse sense and persistence, is the quality that most frequently makes for success.”

This Dale Carnegie fellow knew a thing or two!

Flaming enthusiasm...

Is that 'flaming enthusiasm' as in enthusiasm that burns with passion? Or is it 'flaming enthusiasm' as in feckin' enthusiasm, who needs it anyway?

Horse sense...

Here is some horse sense kindly provided by Alfie and Poppy:

1. Always wait by the gate looking appealing when there's food on offer
2. Never trust a pig. They are DANGEROUS especially when they grunt
3. Never EVER trust a plastic bag in a hedge.
4. Always roll in mud immediately after you've been groomed

Thanks guys but I'm not sure how it'll help me with the novel...


Yeah, I've got it sorted...

Friday, 25 March 2011

Stories don't write themselves? Ever?

Now I'm disappointed! There was me thinking that Rosa, my protagonist,  had taken over my soul and was writing my novel for me...

I even told my good friend Bill, another writer, all about it. He was happy for me. He understood.

But then I read this, by another writer, Joan Swan: 

"I don't think terms like "the story wrote itself" or "my characters write my novels" are either accurate or helpful.

It may be pretty--in theory--all whimsical and mysterious. But, **reality check**, stories don't write themselves. Characters (I know this will come as a shock to some) are figments of a writer's imagination, so, sorry, they don't have the power to write novels.

It gives rise to the idea that creativity is a separate entity. That you, as the writer, have no control over said entity and are at its fickle whim. For any writer struggling with their work, these terms can be discouraging at best, crippling at worst.

Stories and characters may take on energy, but it's your (the writer's) energy, not the story's, not the character's.

So next time you hear someone breezing about how their story is writing itself or how their characters have taken over and they (the writer) are but mere transcription tools, remember:

1) The writer is having a good day, is in "the zone", or is writing pure crap and they just don't know it yet.

2) The writer is experiencing a rush of subconscious communication that he or she has been cultivating--whether known or unknown to the writer--for months, if not years.

3) Your creativity is part of YOU. It is cultivated by you, fed by you and ultimately controlled by you. So if you're not feeling it on a particular day, or during a particular week or month, that doesn't mean it's gone.

You, too, will have these in-the-zone days. So when they come and words seem to be flying out of your mind and through your fingers out of nowhere, don't give inanimate objects credit! You think hard. You plot hard. You write hard. Claim your victory!"

I prefer my version, Joan Swan. And so does Rosa.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Rise early. It is the early bird that catches the worm.

 "Don't be fooled by this absurd saw; I once knew a man who tried it. He got up at sunrise and a horse bit him!"

So said Mark Twain. I, of course, beg to differ. 

Each morning, except for Sundays, I get up at 6.30 a.m and go to the yard to see to the horses - all twenty eight of them. I have never been bitten. I have, however, had two fingers broken but that's another story. 

For me, it's a great way to start the day - not having two fingers broken, it goes without saying, but being in the fresh air, working hard, enjoying the company of beautiful animals.

The rest of the day, pretty much,  I'm inside, at my computer, working hard, wrestling with the beautiful animals that roam around in my head - those words that need taming.

Not so much my tongue as my mind and my fingers on the keyboard.

Horses are easier.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011


"In reality, serendipity accounts for one percent of the blessings we receive in life, work and love. The other 99 percent is due to our efforts." (Peter McWilliams)

Yes or no...or yes AND no?

You judge for yourselves.

Yesterday started badly (apart from the ducks on the pond) and The Colour Of Her Scream seemed to be teetering a little despite my fine words.

BUT I remembered (wrongly as it turns out!) a New York-based director, a stunningly good director, who works with a prestigious global company and who had AGES ago expressed an interest in one of my scripts.

SO I mailed him. A very cheeky e-mail. He replied by return. This is the serendipitous bit (I'm glad I had the word written above for reference!)

He's currently filming in London, leaving for LA on Tuesday and would I attend a breakfast meeting on Monday? He's 'looking forward to hearing my pitch.'


Serendipity? Effort?


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

“A cloud cannot cast a shadow unless the sun is shining beyond it”

 All projects have setbacks and The colour of her scream just had one. The director on whom the producer had pinned his hopes is unable to commit to it (or doesn't want to!) with his own demanding schedule taking up too much of his time.

So...we must look beyond the cloud and find another director. An EVEN BETTER one and one whose heart and soul is engaged in the film because otherwise it won't be the extraordinary creation that it deserves to be.

And we will.

There's no point in wasting too much emotional energy wallowing in regrets about What Might Have Been so I for one am not even going to begin.

I tell you what made me very happy this morning. A pair of ducks has taken up residence on our fish pond and already I'm knitting little webbed bootees for babies...

N.B. Our pond is a bit bigger than this (but not much!)
There aren't even any eggs yet.

Caroline: The Eternal Optimist.

Monday, 21 March 2011

Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.

So today, I'm very busy writing, but I'm NOT WORKING!

The world is, metaphorically speaking, my oyster and I'm hoping to find I'm not allergic to shellfish.

Here's one of those lists everyone loves so much. It might focus my mind which is in Dangerous Butterfly Mode...

  1. Pitch script for Kickstarter for The Colour Of Her Scream
  2. Finish Of Night And Light - the novel
  3. Write the first ten pages of a new feature for the MoviePoet contest - which I can't name because submissions are meant to be anonymous.
  4. Look at existing short screenplays to see if one could be a theatre piece for Off Cut
That should keep me busy today!

And in my spare time...

I have an awful lot of admin and marketing and promotion to do. Isn't it odd (not) that when I try to think of writing tasks, I CAN? When I try to think of admin, marketing and promotion tasks my mind goes BLANK.

Image courtesy of inz-feelgood on DeviantArt

Funny that!

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Turn your face to the sun, and let the shadows fall behind you

Thank you to the Maori nation for the proverb and to the photographer Holly Kempe from Queensland for the stunning image. This is obviously going to be an Antipodean-influenced blog.

Except...I can't think of any super slick link to make...

Today I'm tidying. My desk. My room. My life. Tying up loose ends. Making crackling bonfires of unwanted documents. Making virtual bonfires of unwanted electronic documents (not NEARLY as satisfying!)

And all this so that, tomorrow, I can truly turn my face to the sun.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

"Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer. "

...I wouldn't dream of being profane on my blog though, even if given permission by Mark Twain.

Not effing likely. You never know who might be reading this.

However, today no profanity required. I have relief enough coursing through my veins because yesterday, after a tumultuous day battling with technology and office politics and general machinations (remember Boris Johnson on working from home?)...


Last night, I could feel my heart thumping in my chest and I had the shakes. This was NOT delirium tremens.

Today, I KNOW I made the right decision.

'Being naked in school' is a metaphor for doing what I do best, doing what I love, with the shackles off...


Friday, 18 March 2011

“It's not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.”

Oh yes it is! (I think) I'll have to take time to ponder on that...

Heaven help me, I couldn't even decide which quote to use, which illustration, whether or not to have another cup of coffee...

I'm sure Stephen is right...

BIG decision day. Yesterday, I was asked for the whole of the manuscript of my novel by THE literary agents for teen fiction - this after submitting the first four chapters, a short and a long synopsis.

Panic panic breathe panic - but I haven't FINISHED the whole manuscript. What to do? I gave them a completion date of April 18th and they said 'No problem, whenever you're ready.'

I'm understatedly, Britishly ecstatic.

I KNOW it's only the first of many hurdles BUT...

I'm also very unhappy at one of my jobs. I've been wanting to quit but it's my main source of income. It's also my main source of worry and stress.


Yesterday I was certain I was quitting. Today I'm less certain because I hesitated.


I'll let you know...

In the meantime, I'm preparing a box full of ice-cubes and a saucepan on a little heating element...

Thursday, 17 March 2011

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress.”


Sometimes...I think the very opposite pertains - if there is struggle, there is NO progress.

A friend once described it to me in a way that made perfect sense to me.

He put it to me that very often I behave like a wasp trapped in the double-glazing, battering myself against the glass in a desperate attempt to escape. What I failed to realise was that the window was open at the top and open at the bottom. If I could just stop struggling, let myself sink effortlessly downwards or float upwards then I'd be free.

He's so right...and I promised myself I'd keep that image in my mind ALWAYS and remember it especially when I was struggling with things. Did I? Of course I didn't!

 But thankfully, I remembered it this morning...

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

"In real life, it is the hare who wins."

 "Every time. Look around you. And in any case it is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market. Hares have no time to read. They are too busy winning the game."

It's 6 a.m and I woke early in a panic because I have too much to do today. I had too much to do yesterday as well and it made me, well...out of kilter, to put it euphemistically.

So I thought I'd do my blog NOW.

 There I was looking for a 'busy quote' and I came across the words of Anita Brookner. Not only is she a damn fine author, she also made me feel better today...
I think...

Perhaps being a tortoise, which I never seem to achieve for very long, isn't all it's cracked up to be?

 It's now 10 a.m and already I'm chasing my tail.

The cotton-wool bobby one that tells me I'm a hare.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Between the wish and the thing life lies waiting

I always seem to be waiting for something, often many things.

At the moment I have a list (yeah, yeah, me and my stupid lists)

I'm waiting for:
  • A publisher to pass judgement on a picture book for infants
  • A literary agent to pass judgement on ME as a writer of children's fiction
  • A director and artist to agree to come aboard a film project
  • An iPad interactive story to be completed
  • A DVD of the film Damage to be produced
  • A producer to approve a script re-write

Waiting has its up side - when you're waiting you can still HOPE.

Waiting has its down side - sometimes I'm so busily engaged in the waiting to hear back torture that I forget to function at all and burn a lot of creative energy looking out for the postman or checking my In-Box or picking up the phone to make sure it's still connected.

The silly thing is I'm SURE people don't have to wait for ME...

Except, that is, when I'm so busy waiting for other people that I don't get my work done...

Monday, 14 March 2011

Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.

You can see what sort of a Monday this is going to be when I start quoting American business maxims from books about How To Be Successful And Achieve World Domination In Less Than Three Days.

Remember, my daemon is a hare. Now remember Aesop's fable - The Hare and the Tortoise...

So today I'm going to try to be a little more tortoise-like.

But I still love hares.


 That's better.

SEE! I shouldn't have rushed things.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Smashing fun at the bottle bank

 More spring cleaning - resulting in a happy time at the recycling centre.

It's so SATISFYING smashing bottles, while at the same time feeling that you're doing something GOOD (while at the same time feeling slightly guilty that you've accumulated so many in such a short space of time without even the excuse of hosting a party for at least sixty seven people)

 Wendy Cope is one of my favourite poets. Here's what this morning brought to mind:

A Green Song
to sing at the bottle bank

(from Serious Concerns)

One green bottle,
Drop it in the bank
Ten green bottles,
What a lot we drank
Heaps of bottles
And yesterday's a blank
But we'll save the planet,
tinkle, tinkle, clank!

We've got bottles -
Nice, percussive trash
Bags of bottles
Cleaned us out of cash
Empty bottles,
We love to hear them smash
And we'll save the planet
tinkle, tinkle, crash!

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Spring has sprung?

...the grass is ris.
I wonders where them birdies is?
They say the bird is on the wing.
Ain't that absurd?
The wing is on the bird.

That rhyme reminds me of my mother because, without fail every spring, she used to repeat it in her best Brooklyn accent.

Well, spring has sprung TODAY. Spring has sprung HERE. But there's snow in Scotland...

I've been busy doing spring-like, sweeping, tidying, flinging open windows so that all the dust I just chucked out of the front door can come back into the house more easily.

I've found a new incentive for uber-cleanliness. I have put forward my house, yes, the very same filthy, dusty, HOMELY house in which I slob about in jodphurs and sometimes boots if I forget to take them off...I have put forward THIS house to be a film location.

The company fear it may be too far out of London for filming but are very interested in using it for photo shoots. They want more photographs of The Interior and wonder if our garden is Overgrown because they have a prospective client....

SEE, I always told Peter there was a REASON that I don't help much with the gardening.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Permission to write

Yesterday was a STORMING day for me, creatively. It was wonderful.

I gave myself permission to spend the whole day writing. Writing MY stuff, I mean, not corporate stuff for other people. Sounds simple, eh? Not simple for someone with the Dreaded Puritan Work Ethic.

I've had a frustrating and stressful week so far. I feel churlish even mentioning it because there's stress and there's stress and on a global scale, my stress is derisory. However much I castigate myself for this it's no good, it can sometimes do my head in. Here I was on Wednesday:

(Excluding the cigarettes which I just noticed) It was madness. I was getting ill with it all.

Common sense prevailed on Thursday.

I abandoned all my paid, career-enhancing projects and JUST WROTE.

I finished my screenplay. I wrote another two chapters of the novel. It was quite extraordinary. I'm now re-thinking my strategy of spending part of the day on Work Work and part of the day on Me Stuff. It really isn't successful. I'm going to try allotting whole days to one or the other.

The question I ask myself is 'Can you do it?' My answer:

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Eat a live toad the first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day

Now THAT'S a good maxim. But I won't, if it's all the same to you.

(Perhaps that's a frog? I don't know)

Since I seem to be morphing between childhood storybook characters at the moment - how about Toad of Toad Hall as the role model of today?

This bit of his personality:  "Oh, what dust clouds I shall make! What cars I shall fling into the ditch!"

Not this bit: (from prison cell) "Ohhh - Oh no, that's the end of everything. Or at least the end of my career, which is the same thing. I should have listened to my friends."

(That was yesterday)

Most of all, this bit:

"As soon as the door had closed behind him, Toad hurried to the writing-table. A fine idea had occurred to him while he was talking."


 A fine idea has occurred to me - well, several, if you must know, so... if you would just close the door on your way out?

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Sigh Defects

Doctor, doctor, ever since you put me on these tablets, I've been unable to release a long, deep audible breath.

Don't worry,  they have been known to cause sigh defects.

(It's the way I tell 'em!)

However, a sigh defect isn't something I can lay claim to.

Yesterday, I seemed to spend most of my day sighing. That and saying 'Never mind' and 'It doesn't matter.' Is that something that's peculiarly BRITISH? Is that something that's particularly FEMALE? Is that something that's peculiarly British AND particularly female?

I complete a tedious piece of work as instructed which takes forever and just when I've finished I'm told it wasn't necessary. So what do I say? I say, never mind.

A promise from someone to guest-blog on Quirkyworks hasn't happened and nor is it likely to. No apology. No explanation. What do I tell myself? It doesn't matter.

I give constructive feedback to a colleague because I care about the company and its standing in the world. I get no response at all. Never mind.

(Don't worry, I'll stop before everyone completely glazes over)

Well, folks. Here is some news for you.

I DO mind.

It DOES matter.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily...

 "If it is a good morning," he said. "Which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."
 Yesterday I was Tigger. Today I'm Eeyore. I won't bother you with the
It's made me grumpy. Too grumpy, by the end of yesterday, to finish the screenplay. Which made me even grumpier. Oh, it's SO good to have something to blame apart from myself.
Don't worry, I took some Arnica and Aconite remedy so I'm not going to commit murder.