Monday, 12 December 2016

Sucking the Season Dry...

Three years ago my parents downsized and decamped from the family home.  So this is the 3rd year I have hosted the annual Bond Christmas dinner (conversely on Boxing day) and the 3rd year I have been far too stressed about serving raw turkey and seating fifteen comfortably, to enjoy the experience. 

This is OK though.  I have learnt that it is all over by Christmas dinner anyway.  All the festive glow and warm, cosy, seasonal cheer has well-evaporated by the time the main event comes.   I now make sure that I have sucked dry the glad tidings from every early opportunity I can, long before we hit Christmas week.
  •   November is when my Christmas playlist gets its first airing.  Every car journey, no matter how short, is accompanied by the instrumental music to Home Alone.  Every.  Single.  One.
  •   Around this time is when I start scouring the Good Food Channel for repeats of Nigella's and Jamie’s festive offerings from years gone by.  Nothing is as christmassy as watching five different recipes for roast potatoes in one evening.   Promise.
  •   Christmas shopping is a nightmare.  Yeah, really.  Yet there is something lovely about being around the bustle when you smugly know you’re all done, and don’t need to search for that elusive present for the random in-law.   I will train it into town at some point next week, just so I can wander about with a cup of tea, get cold, and be excited at the feeling of it all. 
  •   Now that we are well into December, I get to watch proper Christmas films.  Prior to December, I make do with Christmas specials of TV programmes.  So far I’ve seen off Midsomer Murders, Poirot, and Gavin and Stacey.  Now that we’ve reached the twelfth month, it’s time for the real deal.  Classics such as It's A Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street, and more recently Elf, are all essential viewing.   (At the time of writing, Elf has yet to appear on the schedules.  There aren’t many films I will regress to watching on DVD, but this is one).   Obvs it is the law, but no Christmas film can be watched without fairy lights on, main lights off.  Standard.
  •    Finally, a recent tradition (blame Nigella) is ham.  The Domestic Goddess has convinced me it is of the UTMOST importance that a ham should be cooking, pretty much 24/7 all through December.  I am restricting myself to participating in this tradition for 23rd and 24th December only, when I will be recreating her twenty-four hour, black treacle ham recipe for the second year running. 

With all that seasonally cheery build up, I really won’t care a jot come Boxing Day, about who has to sit on an upturned laundry basket to eat, or who has become a vegetarian since the previous year.   I will be prosecco-ed up to my eye balls, and long past worrying. 

Season's Greetings one and all.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Greetings from my bed...

Morning Campers,

Today I have the sniffles.  (Thank you in advance for your prayers.)  But rather than having to drag myself out of bed after a 6.30am alarm, and slaver myself in layers of Vicks before leaving for work, I get to stay in bed.  I get to do that because…. I am a writer!

Yeah, I know, I hate myself too.   I have come to realise over time, that there are some marvellous perks to working from home on a laptop.   The most notable being that I get to do this unwashed and in PJs whenever I feel like it.  Today is one of those days.  PJs, a wooly jumper and fluffy socks, no less.  Anyone turned on yet?  No?  Oh.

Colds, hangovers and period pain are all far easier to deal with, now I don’t need to leave the house to be productive.   Even when I am feeling tip top, there is something rather lovely about sitting at the desk in the clothes I slept in, and bashing out a couple of thousand words, before stretching my back and going to have a shower.  Usually sometime around 3pm.  Yeah, I know, you all still hate me.  Soz.

So to redress the balance, I’ll share a few of the negative aspects of a writer’s existence.  It isn’t all leisure-wear and coffee shops, honest.

Being Asked What You Do For A Living
Unless you have sold millions of books and your name or face are instantly recognisable, there is no way that answering ‘I’m a writer’ can make you sound anything other than a dick head.  And yet I still do, because if I don’t take myself seriously, no one else will.  But still…. a proper dick head.

Having To Explain What You Are Writing
This week alone, three relative strangers have asked me about the plot of my book.  This is kind of them, and I am genuinely grateful for the interest.  It becomes clear each time however, that I haven’t worked out a pithy, succinct way to explain the basic story on the spot.  I can write blurbs and synopses, but when I try and answer in my own words, it sounds dull and vague.  Pitching is not my strength, clearly.

Writers’ Block
Yes, this is definitely a thing.  On the one hand there are days when the words pour out without you having to think.  On the other, there are days (lots of them) where everything freezes and it’s as if your brain has shut down.   And that’s when the ‘I’m crap at this, I can’t do this’ stuff can seep in.  Inner saboteurs must be ignored!

Flexible Hours Are Still Hours
Obviously it is brilliant to type in bed, and leave showering to the afternoon but a routine is still essential.   I have become even more reliant on ‘To Do’ lists (I was pretty dependent before) to ensure I actually DO a bunch of stuff each day.  Today’s list is…

Get up
Drink tea
Do crossword
Write blog
Answer emails
Pluck eyebrows
Cook noodles

To be fair, it is a light day.  But then I do have the sniffles.  

Stay well, folks.