decision making ability, zero

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decision making ability, zero

We’ve (almost) made it. Luuk will be back by this time tomorrow. And I… I will be at a Backstreet Boys concert!

I had great aspirations to write a post about the week’s highs and lows but – gotta be honest – it’s not going to be thorough.

so many cheese/bread based meals

There’s been quite a lot of cheese-focused food. And bread.

There were two days in a row in which plastic melted on the stove top. The bread twisty tie was reduced to two wires and a white smudge before I noticed. Elena’s dummy (that’s a pacifier, or a tétine to the frenchies) carked it after we finished making popcorn. That’ll teach me to do a second lot of melted butter… hah. Yeah right. The element was off and I noticed the smell pretty fast. Holy cow, the stink. Stable plastic… to a point.

The popcorn was for a Purim party – it’s a Jewish festival. It’s to celebrate not getting killed, in this particular instance, thanks to Esther. She has her own book in the bible, if you want to look it up.

Elena, a new dummy, and I picked up Louis from school and walked a couple of kilometers to our friends’ place.

The kids got face-painted and ate a lot of junk food, including triangular pastries called ‘Haman’s purses’. I liked the more traditional fig versions but the kids scoffed the nutella ones. And all the popcorn. A cake box-full was not enough.

going home in the smog

Going home in the smog.

On the way home, walking those two kilometers again after 7pm with two pre-schoolers, we were all pleasantly surprised to find the carousel still going. So they each took a ride on a helicopter. Then home for sandwiches for dinner and a late night.Shame that doesn’t equate to anything like a sleep-in the next morning.

And then it was Saturday. I had no plans at all. I had a headache. I had lost all decision making ability. I’m a little food obsessive, most of the time, but I’d lost the ability to decide what to eat. I ate the other half of Louis’ pain au chocolat. I had a coffee (because NOT having coffee is the hard call) but failed to decide to eat anything else.

I text messaged a friend who suggested the ludotheque, so we did that. The kids played. We tried to keep up a conversation but she was about as shattered as me

Louis, at the ludothequeA marvelous man with a flying machine.

Come eleven I was starving. She suggested a crêperie, so we did that. Louis threw my sunglasses across the, thankfully empty, restaurant and cracked them (though I’m still using them – they’re my favourite). But the food was delicious and the cider was an apple and pear, sweet and dry deal. So good. My dear friend made all the decisions, basically, and saved the day.

Then we went home and napped and I felt better.

Sunday was lovely. Took the kids to writers’ group – a first. Husband of the host took Louis down to the river. They threw pinecones and sticks in the water for over an hour. That’s a good husband my friend has… doing that for over an hour so his wife’s writers’ group is not interrupted by a three year old.

eating well at writers group

Ah, writers group. The writing is good too.

Elena slept. Angel. Then the hosts shouted us Chinese food for dinner. Me and the kids were so well looked-after. I only hope the table cloth cleans up…

I’m probably missing something cute or noteworthy. Oh! Elena has started saying ‘à moi’ (french for ‘mine’) ALL THE TIME. She speaks more french than english, at this point. If it’s not ‘la’ or ‘la bas’, it’s ‘doudou’.*

Have I got any writing done? Ah, a little. I wrote a short story and entered it in a competition… within a week. I thought about it a bit before hand and left several days between revisions. I got writers group to check it over. Still… a week? Chances are good, it’s bad. And I paid money to enter the competition.

See? Decision making ability, zero.

I should go to bed now. This is also a decision I’ve struggled to make in a timely fashion. I’m reading several books. And I had a tv show to catch up on. And ironing. But mostly, I played Myst V (a horribly addictive – don’t look it up – computer game). I’ve finished now – as you can tell. I’m doing something other than playing Myst. I’m writing a blog post. Ta-dah!

Yep, so, to bed. Forgive typos, please (Luuk).

 

* La = there. La bas = over there or down there, like when you give directions. Doudou = cuddly toy that children get overly attached to.

 


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objectivity and art

This past few days I’ve been reading over a first draft I wrote last year. My expectations of first drafts are low, and while I’m often pleasantly surprised, a first draft usually needs a major overhaul, serious surgery, more than cosmetic…

An Heir out of Place

But I loved it! Lapped it up. Have started reading it over again. Trouble is, I’m not sure I’m objective enough to see what needs doing. There are a handful of things I’m aware need fixing. The first chapter is a bit confusing – too many characters introduced in quick succession, a lot of dialogue without much description (which is something I like, but I suspect I’ve taken too far), and historical inaccuracies (probably, though I’m not sure what exactly or it wouldn’t be such a problem…)

Objective eyes are the thing, but mine don’t work very well. Can’t reach the on-switch. Readers who happily give lots of rigorous feedback ON A WHOLE NOVEL are few and far between.

A friend and I kicked off a writer’s group this week, a new venture, a COMMITTED group. There are stacks of writers groups going in Paris, for writers who work in English, but we wanted a more consistent group, and perhaps a closer group. We get together again in a couple of weeks and will start sharing work (via email) in the mean time.

One of the challenges is to find readers of the genre. I wrote a play a while ago, partly because my tendency to write page upon page of dialogue led to someone at writer’s group asking if I’d ever considered scriptwriting. I’ve been doing a side-project, designing potential book covers for all my writing projects on the go, or otherwise, and made a few covers for this play.

A few friends in the theatre world saw the covers (and read the blurb, I’m guessing) and asked to read it. Hurrah!

So, I suppose this is my readers request:

I have two near finished novels and would love serious feedback from people who enjoy these genres:

– One contemporary romance about a baker and a professional rugby player. Saucy stuff, and 55 thousand words of it (which is pretty short for a novel, think Mills&Boon length). I think (hope!) this is pretty close to finished now, so I’m a bit impatient. Hope to send it out in September… ie. need feedback soon.

Sweet Somethings

One historical romance. Just under 60 thousand words. I think it’s fab (but it’s possible I’m delusional). No great hurry and I’ll finish another read-through/tweak before I send it to you because I’m neurotic about first drafts.

Of course, it’s possible I’m just getting better at this writing schtick. This was the most recent first draft I wrote, my fifth. I did plan it carefully. Maybe all that paid off.


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dinner on the deck and other nice things

Summer has settled in here, AT LAST! We’ve eaten dinner on the deck every night this week. The laundry has dried in time to put it away before tea – every day this week! Small victories.

Other victories…

– Elena has started walking.

– I like my novel again. I’ve been listening to my own recorded reading of it, as part of the editing process, and was feeling a bit miserable about the whole thing. And now I like it again. Whew. I might even have cover art for it: It Could be a Book.

– A friend and I have been talking about starting a small committed writers’ group, as opposed to a drop-in kind of deal. And we’ve finally got it organised. People are excited! (Not just me.) Our first meeting will probably the next week or two, before several of us disappear on summer holidays. But the ball will be rolling for September.

– My basil plant is still alive.

– I’m so onto it with the laundry this week that there isn’t even enough grubby stuff to put a load on. Je suis awesome.

– The lime juice stuff I put in my fizzy water has 0% of a RDI of sugar. Or anything else. Score.

– I submitted a poem and a short story for competitions (which close tomorrow) from the writing magazine Luuk bought me for my birthday. Money well spent.

Perhaps. Fingers crossed.

And did I mention it’s summer. It’s amazing what overdosing on vit-D does for the mood. I feel less and less like I’m going to lose it. Which is nice.


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ROUSes

pull yourself together

Saturday was a little, how do you say, incroyable. Ridiculous. Pay the damn transport company staff a decent wage already so that we can have the trains run as usual – on time and with enough space to breath.

We didn’t know the strikes were happening until we’d already gone through the ticket gate and saw we had to wait 23 minutes. Usually three or four trains come in that period of time and the platform was already busy. I’m guessing the platform was busy at Massy-Palaiseau as well. We got on the train and then more people managed to squeeze on at nearly every stop between here and Paris. I had a seat, with Elena on my knee, lucky me. And Louis was in the pushchair, thank god, or he’d have been freaking out, if not crushed. Luuk had to stand, but so did a lot of other people – including me on the way back. And then on the way to Paris again. And on the way back again…

We went to Jardin des Plantes which is fantastic, though I saw only a fraction and will have to go again. We went to the menagerie and zoo parc bit:

ROUSes

The Rodents of Unusual Size, from The Princess Bride, are REAL!! The ROUS is not a myth. Who knew? (Luuk tells me that everyone who’s been to Hamilton Zoo in NZ would have known… and probably a few other people. News to me though.)

Admiring the Tortoises

 

 

Louis loved the tortoises  Among other things. Very cool old-style zoo, actually. Not too cage-like depressing. Lots of different animals and obvious modernising efforts (for the sake of natural-ish environs, etc.)

Luuk stayed on longer, bravely on his own with the two kids, because I had to dash off to get my things and get to writers’ group. I was hosting/running/facilitating – whatever you call it – and couldn’t be late! Only, I was late, by about five minutes. I spent 20 minutes waiting for the train, playing scrabble on my tablet (new favourite app), which would have been fine had it not made me late! Anyway, pas grave, as I’m always telling Louis when he panics over little things. Pas grave.

Coming home after writers’ group I nearly didn’t get on the train. I pushed my way on and people made faces, and I said, with a big smile and clunky French  ‘is it possible?’ And they made faces. And I squeezed in as the doors shut, banging into me twice while I literally pulled my body inside. Fortunately none of the later stations stop with the doors on that side, so I could safely lean against the doors all the way home.

Speaking of pulling our selves, Elena is pulling herself up, and I have video proof (primarily for the grandparents and great grandparents back home, but go ahead and enjoy if you like…)

Not sure about this whole playing INSIDE the toy box thing, but as it’s a microwave box, its destruction doesn’t bother me much. Pas grave. 

Now, I’m off to pull my monday-itis self together and get some writing done. No novel to work on, so I’ll have to be motivated and pick something else. Of course there are five novels to work on and none of them really capital-F Finished, but I need a break from novelling and there are so many holidays and interruptions in the next month or six weeks that I think I’d best do smaller projects for this particular period of time.

My shorter project ideas:

– a short play, possibly an adaptation of something I’ve already written as a short story, or something less developed, but not a new idea.

– editing my three short stories, possibly looking to self-publish these..? Not sure. Very uncertain really with regards self-publishing. With good reason, but I’m not going into all that here.

– writing and putting together Elena’s scrapbook for the first year of her life. I did one for Louis and have no intention of keeping up that kind of thorough record for their entire childhood, but I’d like to do a 1-year thing for each of them. That’s not biting off more than I can chew, I think.

– working on the query letters and synopses for each of my nearly-finished and most recent novels.

– new poems. Nothing long-winded. I’m going all commitment-phobic on new writing. Step away from me with your white picket fence. I have enough children already.

Obviously I need a chocolate or another cup of coffee to get me back in-balance, and then to work! Today, I’m going to look at the scrapbook thing. There’s writing in it because I’ll write a kind of story to go with the pictures, about the pregnancy and what was going on in our family when we were expecting Elena, and after she arrived, and all about her milestones and favourite things… Though I’ll be doing well to finish the pregnancy bit today. The kids are asleep now; must make the most of it.

 


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duck tenders in apricot and white wine sauce

making something good

Well after that last marathon of a post I’ve taken a few days breather and now for the catch up…

I’ve been on a bit of a high this week. My work was well received at writer’s group and I’m still buzzing, just a little. Having been encouraged about the beginning of my book I’ve made lots of progress in continuing to edit. It’s very exciting to discover, after working on something for a long time, that it’s actually good.

I also started another short story yesterday. It’s a novel idea but I’m going to try the opening as a short story. The advantage of short stories and poems is that they get finished faster! Or as I read earlier today, in a quote put up on twitter:

“I decided to write short stories because they got rejected quicker.” ~ Caroline B. Cooney

In other news, Louis (2) is sleeping in a bed, as opposed to a cot.

A wee man in a big bed.

Potty training has taken a little pause in progress, but he has cut two canine teeth and sleeps in his bed without a problem, so ups and downs. He’ll hardly eat a thing and we’re getting more tantrums than calories but this is the terrible twos, I suppose.

Elena (8 months today!) is so close to crawling and not a little frustrated. She’s sitting. She’s eating. She’s bouncing, giggling… lovely.  No teeth yet, just threats. Brilliant timing on the sleeps – she’ll be out to it most of the time Louis is awake and then she wakes up just when he goes to sleep. So no naps for me. But they both sleep right through the night, so I can’t really complain.

I am a bit tired though. Last night we had pizza delivered for dinner and did the grocery shop online. Brilliant and lazy and hurrah for that. And for the leftover slice for lunch today.

I’m hosting a coffee group/play group this morning so we’ve done tidying and laundry and baking… My variation on the Edmonds basic biscuits recipe:

Edmonds basic biscuit recipe with smarties and chunks of chocolate

Here’s the Edmonds recipe:

125g butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla essence, 1 egg, 2 cups flour, 1 tsp baking powder…

And here’s my bit:

… and as much chocolate/candy as you fancy (to the point where there isn’t enough dough to hold it together)

Cream your butter & sugar then add vanilla and egg. Beat some more then add flour and baking powder. Mix till doughy and then add chocolate, etc.

Ball up, squash and bake at 190°C for 15 minutes or so (shorter if you make smaller biscuits, I suppose)

Voila!

Actually I made up/adapted another recipe recently. Luuk occasionally gets adventurous in the meat department when he does the groceries and a couple of times now he’s bought home ‘aiguillettes de canard’ or duck tenders, if you’re thinking close chicken equivalents…

Anyway, I googled recipes for them and found that they’re often cooked with fruit. I had a jar of apricot conserves that has been using up space in the peanut butter shelf so I wanted to use that.

duck tenders in apricot and white wine sauce

And this is what I came up with:

Sautee lots of fine-chopped garlic and shallots in butter, then add sliced capsicum, seasonings and apricot compote (probably about a cup-full!)

Leave that to simmer and thicken and make the rice up with stock, or ‘bouillon rice’ as it’s known, apparently.

I sliced the courgettes and shook them up in a bag with oil, salt and pepper, and ‘persilade’ which is garlic salt and parsley, I think… so very haute cuisine, I know. They went under the grill and when I turned them over I added some cherry tomatoes and put it all back in.

I added a cup of white wine, or so, to the apricot sauce and did a little dish juggle (rice into a bowl, apricot sauce into the saucepan the rice had been in, and that freed up the fry pan for the duck… all to save dishes).

The duck only needs a gentle fry up or grill, not too much, but cooked through. Once it was near-done I poured the now-reduced apricot sauce over and plated up the rice and vegetables. The apricotty, garlicky, winey aiguillettes de canard went on last and were trés délécieux! If I do say so myself…

So there it is. If you can’t get duck at a reasonable price I’m sure chicken would be fine. I’ll definitely be making that one again!

I was meant to do french homework this morning but as the email never arrived (the one telling us what to do for homework) I’m hoping I get away with it. It’s time for another coffee and guests to arrive.


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worth bothering

My weeks are feeling rather full. I have two french lessons, at least one playgroup, Louis goes to Halte Garderie three times, and then the gaps fill up with other friends, visitors and errands… It feels managable, and then all of a sudden it doesn’t. Or that’s the way it usually goes:

under control, under control, under control, YIKES!

Yikes comes along faster as soon as I get sick or can’t sleep. Fortunately, this week, I’m on the improve. The weather is miserable (picturesque but miserable) and at least one, possibly both, of the kids are teething, and not particularly well along with it.

We did venture out today – to take Louis to halte garderie. It’s not a long walk but a bit of a workout with the double stroller. We were first to arrive, except for the teachers, but we were also first to leave. I was phoned in the middle of french lesson and had to go pick up Louis, who had a fever… oops.

The plan for the week now: lots of naps and movies and avoiding going out in the snow.

Sometimes I feel like I’m mad, trying to write novels as well as everything else. This morning I read a blog post by someone else who does something similar, which made me feel less uniquely bonkers.

Laura Joyce Davis, writing on Megan Ward’s ‘Writerland‘ blog:

“But being a writer makes me a better mother, because even when the words come like weeds from the ground, writing nourishes me for the rest of life. It gives me the grace to allow my son to find a voice of his own.

“Most days, I manage to make time for the whisper of words on the page. I say no to a lot that other moms embrace: play dates, timely returned emails, a vibrant social life. (Yiyun Li once said you only need one friend; she is a writer and mother, too.) I’ve banished the goal of the woman who has it all together. There isn’t time for her anymore. But that’s just as well…”

’tis. The woman who has it all together has left the building, if indeed she ever was here, and the woman who is editing two novels at once is left behind. I am, in theory, editing ONE manuscript at the moment, but I took along the first chapter of another to writers’ group on Saturday evening and all the critique is fresh in my head, so rather than being distracted (and distressed, if I’m honest) by all that was said, I’ve decided to get on and make the revisions to chapter one of that book. And then, tomorrow, I’ll get back to ‘grandma’s house’ – which definitely needs a better working title.

But titles are one of those things publishers mess with and I don’t want to waste a bunch of time on that at the moment. A decent title will certainly help to get interest in the book – from agents or publishers – so it is important, but for now I’m editing.

Editing editing editing.

Ick.

I read another blog post this morning, on just how difficult editing can be.

Behler Blog‘s advice on editing:

“Do this slowly. Reason being, you need to make sure that your “now” voice blends in with the “you” who wrote this story ages ago. It’s a strange thing, but I’ve seen a number of cases where the writer has evolved, and the rewrites stand out from the old work.”

I suppose that’s a good problem to have, but it’s a problem all the same. I’ve written a whole nother novel since I finished the one I’m editing now. My writing has changed (improved, fingers crossed) and so editing, if I do it as best I can, might in fact turn out to be a full rewrite.

And some days it feels like an overwhelmingly huge job and I wonder why I bother.

But, on the whole, I’m glad I do.

To finish: today’s small stone.

A glorious crunch, gives this stolen chip, from my kid’s bowl, full of calories that don’t count unless he catches me thieving, and then there’s trouble. We go to the bag, top shelf in the kitchen, hidden and pegged shut, and retrieve ONE for a replacement. Fair is fair.


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sharing is b(e)aring

In the past months I have discovered the importance and joy of sharing my writing with others, and of hearing their writing shared. To be involved in the creative process, with others, is a wonderful thing. I am motivated, inspired, emboldened to try new forms and I am learning a lot.

Sharing is baring.

But sharing is not easy. Sharing something that is still in drafting stage – perhaps not a first draft but far from ready to publish – is to expose one’s flaws. The writer knows that their work is incomplete, unfinished, imperfect, and they are asking for feedback on those very imperfections, as well as for an objective eye to point out the good stuff (too easy for the writer to miss).

Sharing is vulnerable, but it is also empowering. A writer’s goal is to have some kind of effect – to entertain, to teach, to interest, to move the audience, to make them think or feel something they did not previously, to make them remember something, or hope for something…

Sharing is bearing (1)

So not only do I reveal myself, through my work, in all its in-progress-ness, but I also bear a responsibility – the responsibility of affecting readers/listeners. The worst response a writer can get is apathy. If the piece is forgettable and doesn’t engender a response, even a brief change in thought or feeling, then I have failed. And so, when I write a story or a poem I am hoping it will have certain effects.

My university professors hammered in a phrase: “readers make meaning“, ie. a piece of writing is open to interpretation. What the author intended is rarely explicit. Once something is published, it is open to misconstruction, not that this is always a bad thing. The reader, in other words, is entitled to making what he likes of the story or poem or essay. But the writer is responsible for guiding, for opening up the possible meanings, for limiting others.

That said, I shared a poem at writers’ group last night. I got great feedback and have since edited a little… and here it is:

sink in

hot water comes slowly
jerks and shivers
steam thick with promises, clouding reflections in soft focus
I take my place, tingling
feet afire, thighs warming wax
cold tendrils on my neck, invited,
embraced. Weighed down by pleasant ache,
by heavy heat, holding me,
moulding and melding. Never cool,
I will. Never chill, I pretend, forgetting what’s been
what will be, as if languor will not turn,
itch and irritate, should heat last.
Or relish tepid, dry distance, fresh clothes,
a cool glass of water.
Another day, with soggy socks, craving warmth
I will come again.

 

Sharing is bearing (2)

There is one other kind of ‘bearing’ that follows sharing a piece of writing, or any art really, and that is to bear the burden of others’ responses. Last night was a rush – I got overwhelmingly positive feedback, and perhaps it was because I went first and was not harmed by comparison to some more talented poet, or perhaps the readers/listeners were just overly kind, or perhaps they’d heard some awful description of what to expect at The Other Writers Group and were just glad that this first poem wasn’t explicit, violent, absurd or aimed at shocking them. There were lots of new faces, but nonetheless, very positive feedback.

Other times I’ve shared there has been a lot more critique, suggestions, questions, confusion… Here’s hoping this progression means I’m becoming a better writer!

The thing is, it’s hard to forget harsh criticism, and while I’ve never received anything brutal at writers’ group there is no way to guarantee nice responses. I wouldn’t be sharing my work if I didn’t want criticism, but there’s criticism and then there’s cruelty, and when you share art, even for the sake of criticism, there’s no protection from cruelty. The words, the looks, you get in response might be a heavy burden, and as Pretty Woman so deftly put it, “the bad things are easier to believe.”

Sharing is beer-ing (if you like, probably)

One other play on bearing, while I’m on it: beer-ing… at the pub after writers’ group. 3 euro pints at Cafe des Artistes, apparently the cheapest pint in Paris. Or 2 euro for a glass of wine, and sometimes it even comes in a wine glass! Great fun.

I must recommend writers groups to writers – the gamble of baring and bearing (and bearing), in my experience at least, has definitely paid off!


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a coherent thought

I don’t think I’ve had a coherent thought, beyond ‘go to sleep’ and ‘holy cow, cheese scones have a lot of calories in them,’ all day.

I was up numerous times in the night trying to calm down Louis who has picked up some nasty cough and was quite wheezy. I had trouble sleeping to begin with and then had to get up to feed Elena a couple of times as well… it all added up to a pathetic smidgen of sleep.

So today was pretty much a write-off from the beginning. The overall goal: sleep.

But Elena isn’t having that. I think I got a nap this afternoon but it felt like I was woken just after I nodded off. The clock tells me differently, but my head doesn’t believe it.

Right now Louis is playing happily on the couch, and Elena is bouncing/dancing in the Jolly Jumper to a little Billy Joel. I sat down to work on my chapter one fix-ups. I got some great advice and ideas from The Other Writer’s Group on Saturday night and now I just need to apply it. I need to find a smooth way to integrate a few tit-bits about the exact setting and circumstances of the opening scene so that it makes more sense. It seemed easy at the outset, but sitting down ten minutes ago I drew a whole lot of blanks.

So I wrote this instead. Perhaps I’ll make another coffee and try again once Elena has gone down for a nap.

At least Louis is a placid invalid. That should be conducive to productivity. I doubt he’ll be going to nursery tomorrow. My chances of finishing this draft by Friday are not looking great. But I’m too tired to care.


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up and down… or just a normal pulse

Louis’s nursery teacher waved her hand up and down in a zig zag graph kind of gesture to indicate how things had gone on Friday afternoon. Up and Down, in other words. He was fine, happy as larry, and at other times he wasn’t – like when I arrived and he burst into tears again, running toward me, clutching Elmo. I passed Elena to the teacher, as she held her arms out in anticipation, then I gave Louis a big hug and he was fine again.

It has been his first ‘normal’ week at the halte garderie and there have been a few tears each day, but he’s always excited about going, when he sees his backpack in the pushchair, and happy to be there when I take him in. So it’s an adjustment, something he’ll grow into. On Wednesday he actually fell asleep while he was there – in a room full of playing children and all the associated noise… my little boy slept. I suspect tiredness accounts for most, if not all, of his tears. Perhaps I should have encouraged him to have just one sleep a day before now.

But that’s life isn’t it. We don’t start new things because we’re ready for them. They make us ready, eventually. Something new is beyond us. It stretches us, we grow and learn. It hurts a bit at first, but that’s just the way it goes.

I’m taking comfort from this thought, writing this blog post while copies of the first chapter of my young adults novel are spewing from the printer. I’m taking them to writers’ group this evening, if all goes to plan. I’ll read them aloud and brace myself for all the questions and concerns and critique… though they’re all very nice and will probably be full of praise. Helpful and specific praise, hopefully.

Maybe sharing writing will always feel a bit uncomfortable. The writing itself might get easier, I suppose, but then that’s not necessarily a good thing. If I am stretching myself, improving my craft, taking on more complex characters and challenging themes, then maybe (hopefully?) writing will always be a bit uncomfortable. But still fun. Like an extreme sport.

But not. (Though I do risk my neck and shoulders, and if I’m not careful, my wrists and hands.)

Louis will get used to halte jeux and in a couple of weeks he’ll stay for the full four hours on Friday afternoons, and a couple of weeks later he won’t be tired or upset. And next September, if we’re still here, he’ll start Maternelle, which is like kindergarten, but at school. That’ll be new and hard and in between there’ll be loads of other difficult things to learn – toilet training comes to mind, and enunciating the consonants on the end of words.

Every day looks a bit like this, doesn’t it. Rather than the highs being ‘good’, I’m going to label them as ‘easy’, and the lows are not ‘bad’ so much as they are ‘difficult’. I can order my selection at the bakery in french without a moment’s forethought, but today we’re going to lunch at a french friends’ place and I will absolutely have to plan out what I want to say in french. I’ll struggle, forget things, get it wrong and confuse everyone. Sure. But in a year it won’t be so bad.

When things have been easy for a while they stop being such big highs. Sitting in a cafe with Elena sleeping in the buggy, my coffee steaming beside kindle – that’s a high at the moment. But one day it’ll be ordinary and easy to read and drink my coffee in a cafe by myself. For now, it’s a thrill. I’ll always enjoy it, probably, but it will (oh, I really hope it will) one day be less exciting.

And something else will be a challenge. And something else will be newly-easy, a great thrill, progress made! Hurrah!


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Other writing

The Other Writers’ Group has got me thinking about Other writing. On a regular basis I write novels and blog posts and diary entries. But I used to branch out more.

I once wrote a children’s book. I started a second, and a third.

I once wrote terrible poetry and song lyrics without music.

A few days ago I wrote a poem – the first in a very long time. Thought I’d share…

 

Reminders of you

Aubergine, all creamy,
only firm for a moment, then
melting away like ice cream.
Cooked perfectly, they remind me of
you.

Coriander (or cilantro),
how you abhor it.
An over-reaction, I think,
but, still, it reminds me
of you.

Salvador Dali, a poster
in Paris, (en route to the Dutch embassy)
for an exhibition you would adore.
I won’t go, but it reminds
me of you.

Macaroons (or macarons)
at every patisserie and
boulangerie, and chocolaterie.
They’re everywhere. And they
remind me of you.

You’d like it here.
I’d like you here. In a way
you are here.
Because all these
things remind me of you.