Archive | November 2009

50k words in a month


I made it. (Novel is nowhere near complete, though). It needs a ruthless edit too.

I loved it. It was hard at times, especially when I was busy with work, but on the whole it was very enjoyable.

Congratulations to everyone else who did NaNoWriMo, whether you made it to 50k words or not. It’s the taking part that counts, not the winning.

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Rocket Stickers, The Moon and Millbrook School

‘Granny,’ said Tyler, ‘I really did get a rocket sticker and now it’s lost.’

His eyes were full to the brim and his bottom lip was quivering. ‘Daddy said it was just a dream, but it’s not, Granny.’

My son-in-law almost shouted at him ‘Look – just get dressed – and stop being such a girl, Tyler. It’s not on your sweatshirt. You’ve either dreamed it, or lost it on the way back from school last night.’

‘I didn’t,’ retaliated Tyler under his breath as he pulled on his grey, school socks. ‘It said well done for knowing my numbers.’

It was 8.25 this morning before I finally began to give my eight month-old granddaughter her breakfast. With my daughter and son-in-law flapping around because they were both late for work, Tyler in a strop over the rocket sticker and Sophie doing her level best to spread porridge all over my work clothes I was beginning to panic. We needed to leave the house by 8.45 at the latest or else Tyler would be late.

Today was just a typical weekday morning. It saddens me that, having worked so hard to get their degrees, buy a nice modest semi for their family and give their children a reasonable standard of living, the price they have to pay for their success is heavy childcare costs and a stressful, hectic lifestyle. Despite my son-in-law having a secure professional job, they still can’t afford for my daughter to be a full-time mum. I feel so sorry for today’s hard-working parents because they have so little choice. They have to take on a hefty mortgage to buy a house and then row their own boat in this upstream world, give up huge amounts of their salaries in taxes and then pay heavily for the privilege of rushing out to work each day – helped by an army of grandparents who had thought their school-run days were over!

On the short walk to school, Tyler said, ‘I told my teacher that you went to the moon.’

‘No,’ I said. ‘I haven’t been to the moon – only astronauts go to the moon.’

‘You did, Granny. You said you watched the men land on the moon when you were a little girl, and your mummy told you off because it was in the middle of the night and you should have been in bed.’

Over a year ago, we all visited the Science Museum in London. It was a throwaway comment about my memory of that night in July 1969 when men first walked on the moon. We had been looking at a replica of the luna module at the time. I couldn’t believe he had remembered that far back but had to smile at the way he had taken my comment literally and had actually thought I had visited the moon in the middle of the night in some sort of magical, fairytale rocket trip.

Going back to Millbrook School every day brings back so many memories for me. I had thought I’d feel old and out of place at the school gates, but the truth is there are loads and loads of grandparents there, just like me, saving their adult children childcare costs before they rush off to work themselves.

Something tells me this is not progress. I think we were all better off when women stayed at home, looked after the house and children and perhaps just worked part-time while their men went out to work, mowed the lawns and cleaned the car at weekends.

Controversial view, I know, but I’m thankful that I was, probably, one of the last generation of stay-at-home mums.

What do you think?

PS: We found the rocket sticker!

RNA Winter Party

Well, first of all let me introduce you all to Emily, my incredibly supportive daughter. Without her moral support I would never have made it to the RNA winter party.

I think I’ve mentioned before on this blog that all my life I’ve felt a bit disjointed. Different, quirky, odd – that sort of thing. The compulsion to drop everything I’m doing and sit down and write has been overwhelming, but my family has always thought I was a bit strange. My husband has, in the past, likened me to a secret transvestite because I kept my writing a secret. They kept it a secret. It was something not to be talked about. A skeleton in the Ireson family closet.

Emily absolutely loved the RNA party, so much so that loads of people thought she was a writer, too. Then she said something really lovely about all of us – published or not. She said that it was such a relief to her to know that there were other people in the world like her mum. She said she felt the same quirkiness throughout the crowded room that she had been feeling all her life and she felt really at home amongst us all.

We met up with Jane Wenham-Jones at the party. She gave me my usual injection of confidence – several times actually – and introduced me to lots of influential people as one of her ‘Wannabes’. As you can see one glass just wasn’t enough for me on this occasion as I had one red wine and one white wine! I also met Cally Taylor, Leigh Forbes and Kate Johnson and was absolutely gutted to find, when I got home and looked on the website, that Liz Fenwick had been there too! It was so crowded I just hadn’t come across her in the huge, awesome library and I really would have liked to speak to her. Sorry Liz – I just didn’t know you were there!

I met people I had met before in Caerleon and others I had conversed with by e-mail or in blogland. I managed to tell Judy Astley that she had won my little sunbed poll of the most popular books when I was on holiday (a 2-week long tally chart of books being read by people on sunbeds – 1st Judy Astley, 2nd Jill Mansell, 3rd Cecilia Ahern and they all beat Martina Cole into fourth place. Judy was thrilled to bits.)Sue Moorcroft and her husband were there too. How on earth have we never managed to come across each other before, I ask myself? We live so close to each other we could practically chuck paper aeroplanes into each other’s gardens (well – a bit of an exaggeration, but I’m talking 20 minutes walk here.) Our husbands have known each other for years and years. I like Sue. She’s such a good role model. There she was, cool as anything, with ‘Starting Over’ sitting in WH Smith on St Pancras Station at No 4, no less, and her name on the cover and in the pages of ‘Loves Me, Loves me Not’. You can’t get any more successful than that, can you?

Elizabeth Hawksley was, as ever, so supportive of me as a new writer, as was Katie Fforde and Melanie Hilton. I absolutely loved talking to Cally about ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and came away feeling so happy for her that she had made it through the confusion and nail-biting agony that is becoming published. I spoke to Judith M about the trilogy, which I am rewriting on her advice at the moment, but am still confused about ‘The White Cuckoo’. My gut feeling tells me this book is ‘the one’ but Judith is not impressed with it because it isn’t a saga and she feels I should be concentrating on them. The RNA are helping me to hopefully find an agent to represent the ‘Cuckoo’ through the New Writers’ Scheme and I am greatly indebted to my two RNA readers for all the help and guidance they have given me, along with Melanie Hilton, the NWS Organiser.When we left, my feet hurt so badly from standing on heels (all 2 inches of them) all night, I really thought I wasn’t going to make it to St Pancras. Emily’s feet hurt, too, but she didn’t moan about it all the way home like I did!

We ate a bag of giant chocolate buttons and another bag of chocolate clusters coming home on the train, and bumped into a Councillor, who looked mightily bemused at the sight of the ‘other me’. Annie the eccentric writer of fiction as opposed to Anne, who is a boring, staid local government officer with personality extracted by years of having to write about protocol, constitutions and standing orders.

He e-mailed me yesterday, saying he almost didn’t recognise me because I looked so different. ‘You looked really happy,’ he said. ‘Had you been on the razz.’

‘Nuff said. Councillor, if you read this blog, now you know!

All in all I would have to say the evening was AMAZING, but I won’t because that word is beginning to annoy me intensely. Why does everyone on TV have to keep saying it all the time?

(PS: Debs – it would have been perfect if you had been able to come, too)

NaNoWriMo Day Three

Dohhh!!!!! I was at a late Council meeting last night (didn’t get home until 9.45 pm). I got up at 6.30 am this morning and managed around 500 words, but now it’s nearly lunchtime and I’d forgotten it was fat club today, so won’t even be able to knock out another couple of hundred at lunchtime.

Then I’ve got another evening meeting tonight. This is so unfair!!!!!!

(Holds head in hands). Why oh why did I say I’d do it?

Day One – Nanowrimo

Well, managed 2,442 words in just over two and a half hours this morning, but it was completely uninterrupted writing time as hubby – very wisely – left me alone and technoson didn’t fall through the front door until 5.30 am and so was in bed in an alcohol-induced stupour until midday.

I’m a bit concerned about tomorrow’s word count (Monday). I’m at work all day and then have an evening Council meeting. I’ve got out of the habit of my early morning sessions, so I’m torn between going to bed now – 9.30 pm on Sunday and getting up at 4.00 am to write, or trying to write a little bit more before I go to bed.

The novel is called ‘Horns of Angels’ (working title) and is set in the Lake District and Crete. I have never visited either place, although I’m sort of hoping for a fact-finding weekend in the Lake District during the re-write. I’m not holding my breath, though. Hubby is not really a weekend break sort of bloke, especially during the shooting season.