It’s almost the end of January 2020. Already the year is going too fast, and this is a particularly special year for me as I have a big birthday in October. But, before I get to that, I still have two terms of my MA to work through. I’m loving it. There is so much reading and writing to do. Who could complain about that? This will be a quick post because I have to finish reading the last story in Alice Munro’s Runaway, a book of short stories. Every single one was a great read. I love the way her stories slowly unfold, and because of her ‘relaxed’ style of writing, I find myself easily drawn in and carried along. I never feel panicked or stressed when I read Alice Munro. Short stories are definitely back in fashion and thank goodness for that I say.
How I Image Alice Munro Writes… How I write!
This term I’m taking two modules, and one of them is a Prose Writing Workshop. There are twelve of us in this module plus the lecturer. Three people each week write their stories and send them to the rest for a critique. I offered to be one of the first to send in work. It was an interesting experience. I sent in 2500 words of a memoir. They didn’t hold back! Everyone seemed to like the actual content, although I got the impression that quite a few thought I had tried to include too much information for a first chapter. Looking at the suggestions and corrections, I decided they were correct in their comments. I will be able to go back and edit now with more confidence.
I do have a bit of a block about commas and general punctuation. I thought I was okay, but looking at all the ‘red markings’ on my work from my colleagues, I think I need to take a few lessons. Anybody got any suggestions for a good grammar book? Or anyone prepared to take on my ‘commas’ which seem to have a life of their own?
A long time since I wrote any blog but I haven’t been idle. Apart from a holiday between Christmas and New Year in Cornwall at St Michael’s Hotel Falmouth where the food and facilities were great but the staff and running of the place left a little bit to be desired. Wouldn’t put me off going again though, but, I just don’t like being called ‘dear’ by the hotel reception staff. We did a quick trip to Gran Canaria in February to stay at the Lopesan Villa Del Conde. Both places were memorable in their own way, but the sun in Meloneras has to be the winner.
Walking the Coastal Path and Cream Tea at St Michael’s Resort
The Man did plenty of cycling while we were in Gran Canaria and I did plenty of lazing about and sunning myself – I did do some writing, which leads me on to the next bit of news.
I have finished the first draft of my novel! *drum roll* It’s only taken about four years! I am aware, that now the hard work really starts with editing., I do feel a great sense of achievement having been able to write the word, THE END. I’m going to a novel-writing retreat from 9-12 March, a bit late you might think but no, there are people on there who have already written and published one or more books and I think the weekend will help me to move quickly onto the next phase.
Other news is Brexit? No, I’m not going to talk about that except to say that I’m waiting until after the 29th March before I begin to put the dog through any unnecessary blood tests for a planned holiday in France in September.
Not Sure Jpeg wants to travel in the car to France…she’s ten years old now
I’ve been to London to visit the Discover – Children’s Story Centre and can recommend it to all you people out there with children or grandchildren who have a love of books or even if you’re not book obsessed it’s a wonderful day out with imaginative play areas inside and out. The day we were there featured a story-time of The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr. A lovely story (even if a little dated). We went with a child of two and a half and a five-year old and both were entertained admirably. There was a fabulous area containing several child size ‘sets’ of stories about Mog the Forgetful Cat, also by Judith Carr. We had trouble dragging the children away from there, so many little rooms to play in and props to play with. The centre also has a cafe and a book/toy shop and plenty of toilets placed on every floor!
Bridport has not let us down this winter with so many films, plays, comedy nights etc., it’s impossible to keep up. This week the Electric Palace has hosted a Mike Leigh Film Festival and The Man and I went to see Secrets and Lies. Brilliant film with some superb acting from Brenda Blethyn and Timothy Spall. Afterwards there was a Q&A session with Mike Leigh and Andrew Dickson (the musical composer). It was wonderful to hear them speak about film making and collaboration between composer and director. The music for Secrets and Lies is so good that you hardly notice it – which is how it should be. A member of the audience asked Mike Leigh how he chose his actors and he said that first and foremost they had to be character actors and intelligent. He didn’t want anybody with a big ego. I loved watching the film but it made me feel a tad regretful. If I had my time again I would definitely have worked harder at my acting career. Maybe go to drama school, RADA if they’d have me. Oh, how I would absolutely love to be in a Mike Leigh film. *sigh*
Secrets and Lies…try and find it online or on a DVD such a brilliant film.
Can’t believe it’s nearly the end of February and March is looking very busy already. Must fit in more time to write my blog – I’m sure I have tons more to tell you but hey, the sun is shining and it’s time for a cuppa!
I was pondering this question this morning after reading for half an hour or so. I’m nearly at the end of a book by Edith Wharton, The Custom of the Country. I’m reading it because one of Sophie Duffy’s #100WomenNovelists focused on her and her book Summer. I tried to get that from Bridport library but it wasn’t in stock. They did have The Custom of the Country, so I took that instead and I ordered Summer from Amazon and it’s here but sitting on the bookshelf yet to be opened.
The Custom of the Country is a wonderful piece of literature, beautiful words, interesting characters and a story long in its unfolding. However, the heroine Undine Spragg is an annoying specimen of an early 20th Century American, social-climbing, empty-headed, spoilt brat! Her husband is weak and he takes on the same attitude that her father had previously, allowing her to ‘spend, spend, spend’ for fear she might have a fit of the vapours and take to her bed for weeks on end. We are not supposed to like her I’m sure, but I detest her to the point where I want to smack her good and hard. It’s been a long read for me and I’ve tried hard not to skip pages, but I have found it somewhat unsatisfying that she hasn’t yet had her comeuppance, although the third husband, I think will provide this. I hope so anyway.
I was cross this morning with the fact that her second husband shoots himself because he can’t come up with enough money to ‘buy’ their son. A child she hasn’t bothered with for a few years and does not care for at all. She knows that she can win him in the courts without a problem and sees it as a way to fill her rather empty bank account. In the end of course, she gets the son, and by chance ends up getting a portion of the money left to him by his father. It’s a long story but the ex-husband gambled on the stock market and the money didn’t come through in the desired time, it did however, come to fruition some time after his death. Poor man. Undine’s status, meanwhile, goes from being a divorcee to a widow which is far more appealing to her ‘Paris Set’. She always comes out on top…until now I suspect/hope.
I closed the book this morning and found myself feeling fed up and in a grumpy mood. All because Undine Spragg is such an unpleasant character. I’ve only a few pages left to read…let’s hope it ends in a way which be satifying and put me in a great mood for the rest of the week. I’ll let you know.
Whether the weather be fine Or whether the weather be not, Whether the weather be cold Or whether the weather be hot, We’ll weather the weather Whatever the weather, Whether we like it or not
It’s been a long winter this year in Italy, even though we managed to escape for a couple of weeks to Thailand in December where the sun shone and the temperature was warm on most days.
Last week in Le Marche at the end of March the sky was blue and I thought the winter had ended. It’s now April and today is Easter Sunday…and…it’s pouring with rain, misty and cold…at least 10 degrees colder than last week.
I know it is widely said that the English are obsessed with the weather but the fact is the weather determines your mood – well I think it does. So during the winter or bad weather you have to work hard to make yourself feel happy. That’s what we’re doing today. I’ve been out with the dog, she got wet and so did I but the pleasure in that is coming back home, drying off, having a hot drink and being glad you are lucky enough to have a lovely home. I am very aware that there are many people in this world who are not as lucky as me so complaining about the weather is very petty. You can’t change it so go with it… Now the lunch is cooking (slow braised lamb in red wine), the fire is lit and it’s time to relax, read, write, play cards and enjoy our one chocolate Easter egg – The Man and I are sharing; sharing is caring. The forecast for next week is changeable, so my mood will be too. Friday’s looking good! News on the writing front is that I was short listed in the Fish Publishing Memoir Competition – down to 90 out of an original 780. A boost to my confidence for sure. I’ve written lots of ‘bits’ of my memoir, the test now is to find a common link, join it all together and make a book of it. The novel is coming along. That’s what I plan to do this afternoon, at least 3,000 words…after lunch and chocolate of course… Happy April everyone, wherever you are and whatever the weather… PS I was in New York a couple of weeks ago and there it was still extremely cold..it even snowed!