Thursday, 24 January 2013

Janet gets drunk

The other evening my husband was away in Milton Keynes with work (well someone has to pay the mortgage). After passing a lifetime or two on my Facebook accounts, Pinterest and Twitter, I decided to get ready for bed.

At that point I begun to feel very sure I could hear movement and footsteps. Becoming increasingly uneasy, I switched on all the external lights and peered out of the back windows apprehensively. ‘Aha!’ I thought, ’if there’s an intruder I will be able to see his footprints in the freshly fallen snow’ (I'm a big fan of ‘Silent Witness’).

However, I couldn’t see anything, so I moved on to patrol the area to the front of the house, stealthily twitching the curtains by the front door.  Nothing. It seemed it was all in my over-active imagination. I turned, making ready to climb the stairs to bed. And that is when I completely freaked out to find a small person and a demonic charity shop teddy staring at me. My youngest child had apparently been ‘wondering where I was’ and had been following me about the house. Needless to say, despite apprehending the villain, it took me some time to get to sleep that night.
My 'villian' does not look particularly frightening in the daylight...
On the upside however, it did remind me that this week’s challenge is a bit of ‘Flash Fiction crime writing. In just 250 words I was to follow this brief: ‘Thirty-five year old Janet comes home to find a burglar in her flat’.  I just needed to harness the horror I had felt as I crept around the house attempting to out-smart the psychopathic axe-wielding maniac I had felt sure existed. It couldn’t be that hard…could it?

Anywho, when I finally got down to writing the piece, Janet proved herself to be a shameless hussy of a singleton, who comes back worse for wear from after work drinkies. Despite disturbing the thief, come the morning she can’t quite remember why her flat is a mess and presumes she has had it off with a colleague. Silly Janet! And at this point I cannot stress enough that Janet’s story is not autobiographical. I have never apprehended a burglar.
Janet may have drunk all this

So last week extended erotic zombie tales and this week short and snappy crime writing. What next on my whirlwind tour of writing styles I hear you cry? Well, much like that dirty birdie Janet, I’m open to suggestions…

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Zombie sex

Ah, the joy of the initial spend-up that accompanies a new ‘project’! A new project such as, well, embarking on a creative writing career perhaps…

So far I’ve bought a few novels so that I may master the art of appreciating successful writers, the obligatory Writers & Artists 2013 yearbook to ponder which lucky publication/s I could send off completed pieces to and a book on e-publishing, in case I go down that route. I haven’t sold a single piece to offset the expenditure of course. My project is not at that stage yet.
I also bought a copy of Writers Magazine . Deep within its pages is a section full of competitions and markets for short stories. And, as I flicked though, I came across a rather arresting photo – the subject was a bespectacled, petite, woman of my age or more in a black vest top.  Perhaps unusually she was also wearing scarlet red leather gloves and clutching a teddy. She had an over eager smile – and looked rather naughty. I liked her.

It turns out her name is Mitzi Szereto and she is both an author of erotic titles and an anthologist (to be honest at first I thought it said anthropologist which confused me a bit). It transpires that the teddy is also a writer, has a loyal fan base and had chilli for dinner last night. I now follow them on Twitter.
But it gets better. She is compiling erotic zombie stories and is looking for submissions. Well, what’s a girl to do? I’ve had sex at least twice (sorry mum) and at least twice pretty much wished at least one of us was dead before, during or afterwards. I’ll give it a go I said to myself.

But as it turns out I know very little about zombies – unless you count what I learnt from Shaun of the Dead (and mostly I was watching Simon Pegg during that, on nom nom). I had to go to Wikipedia and do a little bit of film studies, where I learnt that zombies are rather rich and complex literary characters.
Full of new-found zombie wisdom I put fingertips to keys determined to do for zombies what Twilight has done for vampires. I even found a way to make light of the drooling.  But I fear I came up terribly short (insert obligatory joke about me being 5ft 2).

I truly struggled to get anywhere near the 3,000 word count. Until I remembered the novel I had just finished (Wonder by R.J. Palacio). In this book the writing cuts back and forth between characters – giving them each as turn as narrator. And it’s a great technique for adding depth to the events within the story. So I did that, and pretty soon, we have a zombie, his lover and her mother to play with.

I made the word count and submitted my story (once I managed to spell Mitzi’s email address correctly that is). While, it’s highly unlikely to get accepted, it was fantastic practice – and I got to justify some of my recent expenditure.  And it has led me to Mitzi and that bear.

I feel my horizons have been broadened, not least because I’ve had to think about zombie sex, red leather gloves and Teddy Tedaloo. Maybe next week I’ll have another new topic to titillate us?

Come back and find out!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Why now?

Recently my husband and I met up with some friends. At different points during the day, both the friends asked me what was new. And that's when it hit me. Nothing was new. Everything was well, but nothing was new. And for the first time since having my children I wondered if I didn't need something more.

As every stay-at-home-mum will tell you, the minute your youngest starts school, so do the questions. 'So, what will you do now?', 'Won't you find the house quiet?' and the ultimate kick-in-the-teeth 'Back to work then?'. I always want to say 'Shut your pie-hole' but since I know that's not allowed, I usually tell everyone I'm considering my options. But inside I'm thinking about the pie-hole thing.

I have never regretted my decision to be a full-time mum. I think it's the singularly most important challenge I ever undertook. Maybe it's because I side-stepped corporate cubicles a while ago anyway, swapping high-level meetings and office politics for the life of the freelancer. Maybe it's because I achieved the career goals I set myself sometime in my 20's. I certainly didn't feel it was a sacrifice and I don't - or I didn't - miss work.

But now I'm faced with some time to myself - which is great. I go to the gym and I can get to the farm shop without a soft toy peeping out of my handbag. But with free time comes head space. For the first time in seven years I can think about myself. The old me, the current me and any future me.

And current me thinks that I still want to be there at drop-off and pick-up, when there is an assembly or show to attend, an event that parents need to pitch in with and if the winter (summer, spring or autumn) vomiting bug comes calling. Current me knows there are packed lunches to be made, reading books to be listened to, number bonds and number lines to navigate and lots of play dates and pick-ups to organise.

But current me also remembers I once enjoyed real writing - and wonders what happened to the schoolgirl me penning pages and pages of stories in a frenzied whirl. Long before I needed to think about a career, cash and commercial writing.

So after a seven-year hitch, I'm going back to basics. I'm blogging and I'm tap, tap, tapping short stories on my laptop. I think I'll have to write pieces that are slightly tongue-in-cheek, because that's mostly the way I think. And I'll be blogging bits along the way that I hope will keep us all entertained. No one wants too much space in their head.

And one day, maybe I'll be able to pick up the girls from school and say 'Mummy sold a story today'. Although they'll probably just ask if I have any biscuits...