Sunday, 30 June 2013

A newspaper is a device for making the ignorant more ignorant and the crazy crazier.

H.L.Mencken - American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American life and culture, and scholar of American English.

This was me yesterday:

Lady Reading a Newspaper by Carl Larsson, 1886
 I cannot tell you how long ago it was I actually read a newspaper, not counting picking up discarded copies of the Metro on the train to London.

Yesterday, I read The Daily Telegraph (hangs head in not-a-Tory shame) in the garden. To me that's an indication of slowing down, relaxing. Usually, I grab snippets of world news from the radio and online. Read a whole newspaper? Me? Simply haven't the time.


For the sudden acquisition of said newspapers - thank Rufus the puppy.

He has to have somewhere to pee in the night.

What better place?

Saturday, 29 June 2013

I'd like to teach the world to sing.

My ear worm of the day, so it's my pleasure to pass it on to you.

Do you know what? I didn't even remember that a version of it was an advert for Coca Cola. Go figure, marketing companies.

I only remembered the New Seekers' version, circa 1973. I was at a turning point in my life, school finished, off to university, life full of possibility.

Actually, listening to it again, it seems quite a feeble song to be the repository of all those dreams!

Friday, 28 June 2013

Eventually, soul mates meet, for they have the same hiding place.

You will not find a soul mate in the quiet of your room. You must go to a noisy place and look in the quiet corners.

So who IS Robert Brault, who said this? Here is his Goodreads profile:

 About this author: Robert Brault hasn't written any books.



He does, however, have a blog - on which I discover he's a freelance writer from America who has contributed to articles and magazines for over 40 years.

End of Robert Brault diversion.

Yes, I spend an awful lot of time in the quiet of my room and therein are no soul mates - unless you count the very many virtual kindred spirits I talk to over the ether.
 Yesterday, I had lunch with a REAL person - a lovely fellow writer, Bronwen Griffiths, I'd met on a course up in London. She's  also a very talented artist and photographer.

How refreshing it was to share experiences with someone who really understands what it's like to be a writer striving to get work published - all the ups and downs, highs and lows. And she has a son too, so we shared about the joys, and the other bits, of having male children.

It was almost as though we didn't need to talk at all.

Do we have the same hiding place? I our own imaginations, sometimes preferable to The Real World.


I very much enjoyed emerging for a few brief hours though!

Thursday, 27 June 2013

I must choose between despair and energy - I choose the latter.

So said John Keats.

 I wonder what he might have despaired about? Finding a word that rhymes with orange, maybe.

Today, I'm not exactly in despair - just, I've run out of steam a bit with all my submitting activity since the beginning of June. It's the kind of activity for which I have to generate possibility and hope and enthusiasm, moment by moment.

It feels like throwing pebbles into an infinitely deep, possibly bottomless, well and waiting and waiting for the splash...

SO  - stop waiting, Caroline.

Move on.

Choose energy.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

By perseverance the snail reached the ark...

said Charles H. Spurgeon. And Caroline Coxon shamelessly borrowed .

So yesterday, when I sat down at my desk, I knew I had only three pages of revision left to do of The Mysterious Disappearing Flower and I'd already selected the lucky publisher to whom it would be sent.

'Easy! That should only take me an hour at the most,' thought I.


Starting at 10 in the morning, I finished the three pages quickly enough.

Then I looked at the submission guidelines. Sigh...why is it that nearly every publisher has different requirements? Ignore them at your peril.

For a few moments I wondered if I could be bothered. Common-sense prevailed. Who would be the only person to lose out if I gave up? ME, that's who.

So - I divided the story up into chapters, which I was thinking of doing anyway, and printed out the first three with a smart title page. Right font, right spacing, pages numbered correctly? Check.

A DETAILED synopsis? I have a short synopsis, but... So, I wrote a detailed synopsis. (There must be some law which states that synopses take longer to craft than the story itself.) Print it out.

Find matching paperclips.

(Yes, my story is SURE to be rejected by the publisher if my paperclips don't match.)

The covering letter. (I DO write every one of these individually. No cut and paste jobs for me.) Write the covering letter, giving thought to the submission guidelines. Print it out. Sign it.

The SAE. Find the publisher's address. Address the envelope. Put the documents in the envelope. Check.

Drive to the Post Office before I lose my nerve. Get the package weighed. Buy the stamps. Stick them on.

The kiss for good luck before I post the envelope. (The envelope. Not me, though I could do with one.)

IT IS NOW 4.30.

'What did you get up to today?' asks Pete when he gets in from work.

'Oh, I sent off The Mysterious Disappearing Flower to a publisher.'

'Is that all?'

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

That was the King's advice to me, via Lewis Carroll, when I asked him how I should go about rewriting.

So that's what I did.


How do you know when you've come to the end?

Is it when you've reached the last page?

Is it when you've worked your way through the story three times? Or seven? Or fifteen?

Is it when you're so sick of the sight of your story that you'd rather gouge your eyes out with a teaspoon than look at it again? (Perhaps that would be a good time to take a break...)

Is it when you're COMPLETELY SATISFIED? (Know this, people: complete satisfaction is an ephemeral state which may last only a few seconds.)

You could search for the right answer FOREVER.

The right answer doesn't exist.


The end is whenever you declare it and give yourself permission to move on.

Monday, 24 June 2013

I have rewritten--often several times--every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.

Whilst I can't quite match Nabokov since I don't use a pencil to write, my backspace and delete keys are worn to a frazzle.

I've got over the folly of thinking that the wonderful spontaneity of my stream of consciousness first draft will be lost if I re-write. Regurgitating thoughts and ideas quite randomly onto a page is all very well, all very liberating, but rather unfortunate if it makes no sense to others and they simply think you're a self-indulgent screwball.

Just because James Joyce got away with it...

by Ed Rath
My re-write of The Mysterious Disappearing Flower - the story that I once thought was unsurpassably good (with the confidence of a vastly inexperienced writer) is now about a hundred times better - or will be by the time I've finished slashing and burning. Even if it hurts sometimes.

"Writing a first draft is like groping one's way into a dark room, or overhearing a faint conversation, or telling a joke whose punchline you've forgotten. As someone said, one writes mainly to rewrite, for rewriting and revising are how one's mind comes to inhabit the material fully." - Ted Solotaroff

Say it often enough and loud enough, Ted, and you'll have me well and truly convinced.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

When everything around you is crazy, it is ingenious to stay calm.

Wise words from contemporary Turkish playwright and novelist, Mehmet Murat ildan

Yesterday, on our wet and windy ride on Ashdown Forest, Alfie stumbled when we were going down a steep slope. All muddy and slippery, it was.

Same horse, same ride, different day!
 He went right down on his front quarters, toppled most of the way over on his left side... then somehow stuck his front legs out straight...and recovered his balance. All the time with me on his back.

I remember Serena, my companion, screaming and shouting out. Afterwards, when we'd checked Alfie's legs to make sure he wasn't injured, (he wasn't, mercifully) she asked, 'How did you DO that? You were completely silent. There must have been a guardian angel watching over you.'

I tried to think what I had done. The best I could come up with was... Nothing - except going with him. Not unblancing him anymore by lurching forwards or backwards in an effort to preserve myself. 

I can't claim ANY credit for it, can't claim it was ingenious when everything around me was crazy, because it was completely instinctive.

Those are the best moments in my life - absolute oneness with horses.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Faeries, come take me out of this dull world, For I would ride with you upon the wind,

Run on the top of the dishevelled tide, And dance upon the mountains like a flame.

W.B. Yeats from The Land of Heart's Desire

Oh, how I love to let his words wash over me. I think if ever I were granted the wish to write like another, I would choose W.B.Yeats.

Today, June 22nd. The day after the summer solstice. Summer? I had planned a sunshine picnic. Instead, we have rain and wind. Alfie, Ripple, Serena and I were blown across the forest.
It was completely exhilarating.

I was going to say, we went out when most sane and sensible people stayed inside, wrapped up against the elements.

On second thoughts, WE are the sane ones!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Sweet Thames run softly, till I end my song.

My goodness me, I'm such an ignoramus.

Marlow. Once home to T.S. Eliot. I feel I should have known that.

He lived there around the time he wrote The Wasteland ...

Lets look up and smile
a poem that meant the world to my father, and is very special to me too, studied in those hazy days at university.

Not QUITE enough of an ignoramus to think that Eliot wrote the lines about the Thames, which are oft misattributed to him. The lines were taken from Prothalamion, a poem written by the Tudor poet Edmund Spenser.

I DID know that Jerome K Jerome lived in Marlow and wrote much of Three Men in a Boat there.

I DIDN'T know that the Shelleys lived there. Mary finished Frankenstein and Percy wrote Revolt of Islam, in a house a couple of hundred yards from The Hand and Flowers.

I simply adored Marlow.

A beautiful town with such literary echoes.

Which writer could fail to be entranced?

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Listening with that plastic smile people wear when they are trying not to scream.

Yesterday, P.G. Wodehouse, today, Raymond Chandler.

No, I'm not planning a lie-in...I was referring to Philip Marlowe, detective. And even that's not true because today we're off to Marlow, without the e...

...and I got distracted by Philip Marlowe, when looking for quotes.

More inspirational figurative language:

“The wet air was as cold as the ashes of love.”

“He looked about as inconspicuous as a tarantula on a slice of angel food cake.”

“The girl gave him a look which ought to have stuck at least four inches out of his back.”

Reading phrases like that really makes me up my game and inject surprise and variety into my own writing, so to Raymond Chandler and P.G. Wodehouse...

 Yes, off to Marlow today to have a meal at Tom Kerridge's pub - The Hand And Flowers.

This is Pete's Christmas present from me. June 20th was THE FIRST AVAILABLE DATE when I booked in early December, last year. Should be the best meal ever.

I am doing the honourable thing and going with him. Such self-sacrifice!

Back tomorrow. Late blog.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Make heavy weather of: To exaggerate the difficulty of something to be done.

Today, the weather is heavy.

Marguerite Takvorian-Holmes
The sort of weather where it's hard to catch your breath and even the smallest exertion leaves you (me) bathed in unseemly sweat.

(This is England! People from properly humid countries can laugh in a derisory manner. With absolute justification.)

Heavy weather and I'm making heavy weather of everything I'm doing. Even though nothing I'm doing is demanding. I blame the weather. That's just so I take no responsibility for my lethargy MYSELF, see?

This cheered me up, though. I was looking for 'heavy weather quotes' and came across nothing except a book by P.G. Wodehouse - Heavy Weather

And here was the quote:

  “Good God, Clarence! You look like a bereaved tapeworm.” 

P.G. Wodehouse and his figurative speech - an inspiration!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

It's okay to write crap. Just don't try publishing it while it's still crap.

SM Blooding, who said this, lives in Colorado with her pet rock, Rockie. 

In her bio it also says, 'She’s survived hurricanes in a tent, and ditches in winter. She’s sometimes crass, often crude, and almost always blunt.'

 Note to self: make own bio less dull. 

Anyway - about not publishing crap...

I wrote a series of children's stories called Quirky Tales in 2005 or thereabouts.

They were the best I could possibly write. In 2005. 

I didn't try to get them published. Two of them were recorded as audio stories, then taken up by and serialised on Fun Kids, the children's digital radio station. They were well-received. And that didn't translate into sales.

Now I AM trying to get them published - as books. They are by no means crap - however, I have developed as a writer, so I'm now making them the best I can possibly write. In 2013.

It's a temptation to look back and to think 'How COULD I have thought these were good enough?'

It's a temptation I'm resisting.

Monday, 17 June 2013

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.

Today, I'm taking my inspiration from Confucius Hesay (Yes, I DID once think that was his surname.)

 And in a typical Caroline almost non sequitur leap...when I was at university in Liverpool, I used to listen to dear old Radio City. The very best bit was the quiz section. (And this REALLY HAPPENED)

D.J. :What was Hitler's first name?

Very long pause...

Contestant :(tentatively) Heil?

Your Monday morning entertainment, courtesy of Caroline's Random Memory Bank.

Back to small stones and the carrying away of them.

I have to confess that sometimes I DO get a bit resigned - all this applying and pitching and submitting my work, the contents of my soul, and seemingly, very little or nothing coming of it.

It's important not to lose sight of the mountain to be moved. The bigger picture. What is important to me. That which makes all this stone-carrying mean something.


Sunday, 16 June 2013

There’s nothing that makes you more insane than family.

Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more . . . secure. (A quote from Jim Butcher's Vignette)

 Security, when I was a child, always meant...Daddy.

This is the picture I have above my desk so every time I look up, he's there.

I wish it wasn't just a photograph.

Happy Father's Day, Daddy.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music...

said Nietzsche (and one day I'll be able to write his name without checking the spelling 27 times)

It happens at parties, doesn't it? There are those who dance and there are those who watch people dancing, with slightly curdled expressions on their faces. These could be the designated drivers.


H.P. Lovecraft's theory is that “Almost nobody dances sober, unless they happen to be insane.”

SO - last night I was one of the dancers (AND, incidentally, the designated driver) I didn't dress as a cowboy in the end, at the East Meets West party - see yesterday's blog - I dressed as a belly dancer.

Well, more...

with less flesh revealed, not in high heels, no jangly bits, and a flabbier belly. I daresay there will be embarrassing pictures on Facebook.

 I didn't do any belly dancing. The hits of Abba don't somehow lend themselves to it. And my belly muscles don't seem to be able to ripple very much. They can flob though.

Discovered a new music genre too, thanks to half the guests being from The East - Uzbekistan or other Stans I can't remember.

The very BEST music to dance to, drunk, sober or insane. "Awesome house balkan gypsy fusion."

Great party! Thanks so much, Mark and Madi.

Friday, 14 June 2013

It is easy to decide on what is wrong to wear to a party, such as deep-sea diving equipment or a pair of large pillows...

but deciding what is right is much trickier.

It is indeed, Lemony Snicket.

So what do I wear for an East Meets West party?

This is the sort of party I usually go to,  so admirably described by Jessica Nelson North.

The Tea Party

I had a little tea party
This afternoon at three.
'Twas very small-
Three guest in all-
Just I, myself and me.

Myself ate all the sandwiches,
While I drank up the tea;
'Twas also I who ate the pie
And passed the cake to me. 

Undaunted, I have the idea to go as a cowboy tonight...

Only trouble is, people won't realise I'm in fancy dress. They'll think I just haven't bothered to change...

Yee hah!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Aerodynamically, the bumble bee shouldn't be able to fly

...but the bumble bee doesn't know it so it goes on flying anyway.

From Mary Kay Ash, founder of the eponymous (nearly) Mary Kay Cosmetics company which I'm sure produces wonderful products but I've never heard of them. More marketing required? Oh - they call themselves 'a trusted global name in skin care.' Not on my globe they ain't.

I digress. Which, as you know, is Very Unusual for me. Back to bumble bees.

(Now I'm puzzling about aerodynamics... Don't go there, Caroline.)

Leaving aside any inaccurate assertions about the interaction between air and solid bodies moving through it.- what a great way to live your life!

With that attitude, anything's possible.

Except perhaps flying.

It's the aerodynamics, you see...