Snails, olives and other distractions

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According to many websites, blogs and kindle guides, lists are very popular and are bound to increase your traffic flow. With this in mind, and ignoring the advice that the list should really be value laden, I came up with this one.

This week’s Top Ten distractions from writing

1. The need to pop outside (just for a few minutes), to see whether the slugs and snails have eaten the newly planted petunias. Then the battle of spotting them and finding an ethical method of disposal – without anyone seeing.

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Having a bath

I never feel so much myself as when I’m in a hot bath.

A woman in a bubble bath (Berlin, February 1930).

A woman in a bubble bath (Berlin, February 1930). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Reading this line in The Bell Jar has made me think about the whole bathing experience. Today you can have a hot tub in your back garden, place something that looks as if it’s a cream cake in the water and watch it explode, or buy a Victorian bath with chrome plated feet.
I am now on a quest to find a story where a bath is integral to the plot.

In Praise of Prompts

I’ve been starting my day with writing prompts. They are so much fun, and if you don’t take them too seriously can go anywhere.
Here’s my current list feel free to add, take and comment.

He wished that she wouldn’t do that ……( I used this one yesterday and got 2000 words from it)
She’d never stopped feeling bitter……
He’d lied so much already…..
He wondered what would have happened if she hadn’t seduced him …..
It was their worst fear …..
She looked just right …..
She couldn’t put up with it a moment longer ……
As he entered the room he was overwhelmed …….
God, she had to move on otherwise ………

Lessons from Anne Tyler

Cover of "The Tin Can Tree: A Novel (1st ...

Cover via Amazon

Although I’ve read all of Anne Tyler’s books I make sure I go back to them as often as I can just to soak up all those characters that she fills her pages with.

I’ve just re-read The Tin Can Tree. Here is what I learnt this time round.

  • That you can let the reader know all about a person’s thoughts without the other characters having a clue what they are thinking or even what they are about to do.
  • Show the change of season by what clothes the characters decide to put on in the morning.
  • The importance of food to a novel. What the characters choose to eat, how they eat and what they don’t want to put in their mouths.
  • How you can show so much about a character from what they collect.
  • The way a conversation can move from comfortable to irritable to conflict in just a few short paragraphs. Anne Tyler also shows so well how a tiny disagreement can just be a cover for something much more significant.
  • Lastly how you can show a character’s worries by what keeps him or her awake at night and of course what they dream about.

The Zip

A ginger haired young man clucked at Phoebe as she walked into the waiting room. He was moving his arms as if they were wings.

Phoebe looked down at the stained red carpet as she hurried to a spare seat. The room was busy and everyone was trying not to watch – but really they were. She could see them peering out from behind their magazines, glasses and iPhones.

The man kept fiddling with the zip on his jacket. Phoebe put her bag on the chair and picked up a glossy magazine. She wondered whether the jacket wouldn’t zip up, or if it was stuck and he couldn’t undo it.  The waiting room was hot; she’d taken off her coat as soon as she’d come in. There were no windows, just a skylight through which you could watch the clouds roll past.

The man stood up, arms and legs jerking.

‘Bloody bastard zip.’ He looked over and she quickly looked down at the double page spread of Jordan in a swimming pool.

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