Monday, 30 April 2012

Can Anyone Help Me Find My Mojo?

I was planning to write lots of stories while I was on holiday but somehow I couldn't find the inspiration.  I came up with a few new ideas but on reflection, they all seemed a bit run of the mill. The feedback I've had recently is that although my stories are well written, the themes are well used, with nothing to make them stand out from the crowd.  So I kept rejecting my ideas because I didn't think they were original enough to be worth writing up. 

The other thing is that I'm working on my novel for the RNA's New Writer's Scheme and I'm finding it hard to switch between long and short fiction.  I did manage to work out some plot problems I had with the novel and I've been working on that since I came back which is taking up rather a lot of my time.  The trouble is I fear its taking up too much time so I can't get my head round writing and submitting short stories.  Part of me tells me not to worry, to get the novel finished and then go back to the stories, but I don't want to loose the momentum. 

Redundancy looms and I would really like to have a bit of time to try and earn some money from writing, but if I concentrate on the novel now and it bombs, I'm back to square one. Now, while I'm getting paid, should I be concentrating on getting my stories out there or should I pin my hopes on the novel? Or can I find a way to do both?

So, my question to all you freelancers out there is - how do you balance short term projects against long term ones?  Answers on a postcard - or in the comments box - please.

Friday, 27 April 2012

Pirate Ships and Camel Rides

We went on two trips while we were on holiday. Close to where we were staying was the marina at Port El Kantaoui . This was a beautiful place with musical fountains, stalls, restaurants and the obligatory high maintenance boats.

I love harbours and marinas and love sitting in a quayside bar with the sun on my face, a cold drink in my hand and nothing more important to do than watch the hive of activity around me. While we were there we decided to venture out on a pirate boat.

The boat was filling up nicely and at the last minute we were joined by, I assume, an extended Tunisian family with numerous children.

All went well, we got out to sea and were served fish salad and bread. It was a bit basic to say the least but our fellow family seemed to be enjoying it, until I noticed that one of the men looked rather ill and was dabbing his head with a handkerchief.

It was a beautiful sunny day but the waves were quite choppy and before long the man was encountering a rather intimate relationship with the side of the boat. Then several members of his family decided to join him.

Not having the strongest of stomachs we moved to the front of the boat and enjoyed the wind in our hair (or bandanas) as we pretended we were sailing the seven seas.

The sad thing was the family were all out to celebrate a little one's first birthday. They had brought a deliciously gooey birthday cake with them and the whole boat sang happy birthday to her while her father was otherwise engaged, still over the side of the boat. I'm not a cake lover myself (more of a savoury person - give me cheese any day) so I politely declined and I was glad I did because several more people walked off that boat sporting faces in several shades of green. I shouldn't laugh but it was a truly original experience.

At one point on the boat we did drop anchor and the boys were given lines and experimented fishing off the side of the boat. My husband even caught one (probably later used for the food on the next trip) and which made his day. The crew were all really friendly especially Eddie, who sat down with us before we set sail and told us about his life experiences in the navy. I've never been on a trip like it and really enjoyed it.

I suppose we should have quit while we were ahead but because we've never done it before, we decided to go on the aforementioned ill-fated camel ride. My husband is a painter and decorator. For the last month or so he has been working on the outside of a large residential home. He's got a bit of a dodgy knee and all the ladder work had inflamed it. Before we went away it was quite swollen and sore. Nearly two weeks of rest and relaxation, and it was on the mend, that was until two days before we came home.

There were six adults on the trip, and our two boys, but only three camels, muzzled and tied together, and led by a man on a donkey. I don't know what I was expecting but it certainly was something a bit more exotic, or at least sandy, than a gravel path in the middle of farmland.

At first it went well, my husband and my eldest went on the middle camel while me and my youngest sat on a horse-drawn truck.


After a while we stopped to change over. The first camel was made to kneel down while the first girl got off and another tried to get on. Half way on, the camel decided it was going to stand up and the woman came stumbling off. At the same time my husband handed my eldest down to one of the men but the camel he was on decided it was going to kneel down. Completely off balance, just like humpty dumpty, my husband came tumbling down. At first we thought he had just suffered a few cuts and grazes but late in the day, when the dodgy knee swelled up and he was having trouble bending it, we realised it was a bit more serious.

He spent the next two day smothering it with ice, supplied by the wonderful staff at our hotel, but by the time he came home he decided that he needed to get it checked out. Fortunately nothing was broken or torn but the tendons were badly bruised and he was told that if he wasn't self-employed, his doctor would have signed him off for a month. Lots of ice, taking it easy and some very strong anti-inflammatory drugs and things have improved, It was only after the event that we realised what date it was we ventured out on the ill-fated camel ride. Of course it was Friday 13th!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

I'm Back!

Well, I have been for a while now but I have to confess that I just haven’t found the time to blog – naughty, naughty!

We had a lovely relaxing holiday – well until my husband fell off a camel that is (more about that later)! The weather in Tunisia wasn’t brilliant – sometimes it was quite hot and that was great, but when the clouds came over, it was really quite cold.  The weather changed for the better on the day we left so what does that tell you?  The swimming pools were freezing which was a bit of a disappointment for us all.

The hotel did have its own private beach though, which was lovely.  It was great to be able to read my book(s) to the sound of the waves, without having to schlep for miles to find it in the first place. The boys loved playing in the sand too which definitely compensated for the swimming pool.

When we booked we didn’t realise that the tourist parts of Tunisia shut down over the winter so we were there right at the start of the season and it was really quiet.  I couldn’t believe how few children were there considering that it was the Easter holidays. That was good in one way but meant that the boys didn’t really make any new friends which they love to do on holiday.

The staff at the hotel were absolutely fantastic. We didn’t have to lift a finger it was A-MAZ-ING.  They couldn’t do enough for us and were so friendly and welcoming (we did tip a bit so maybe that helped but I think the service would have been excellent anyway).  Instead of the usual queuing at bars and drinks in plastic glasses, proper drinks in proper glasses were served to you at the table which was quite a unique experience in an all-inclusive hotel.  However, the fact that we were really spoilt makes it harder now that we are home.  Maid service? Oh yes, that me. Waiter service –me again. Chief cook and bottle washer – yes you guessed it!

The Tunisian people were lovely, lovely people but they were a bit desperate and because of that whenever we went out of the hotel complex we were constantly bombarded by people trying to sell us things we didn’t want to buy. Don’t get me wrong, they were lovely and polite about it but they were incredibly tenacious and reluctant to take no for an answer.  A lot of the stalls had colourful but bulky pottery items which would have been impossible to get in our suitcases, let alone survive the journey home intact. Although the constant bombardment was irritating, you had to admire them for their work ethic and desire to provide for their families. It’s a shame that a lot more people in this country aren’t prepared to work so hard for such little reward.  Let’s face it, there are many people in this country who don’t think that they should work at all – they just want everything handed to them on a plate.

Meeting the Tunisian people was a wonderful experience and it was a truly relaxing holiday.  Shame that it already seems like such a long time ago!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

I've been tagged

The lovely  Teresa Ashby has tagged me - sorry Teresa, I've been a bit slack in replying to this.

The tag has the lucky 7 meme. It’s all about the number seven – lucky for some. The tagged-one has to turn to page 77 of their current work in progress, go to line 7 and copy out the next 7 lines, sentences or paragraphs. Then 7 more people must be tagged

I'm afraid page the lines 7-14 on page 77 weren't especially exciting, but this is only a rough first draft.

So here goes:

My reflection doesn’t please me at all.  Once upon a time, in days which are a blip in my memory, my stomach was flat.  Now, a roll of fat hangs over my Caesarean scar in a wobbly unattractive dollop.  But I can’t just blame it on the children. Somehow I’ve managed to add to the weight I gained carrying them and the result is a heavier more maternal figure than I’m happy with. I’m really going to have to do something to stop the rot before I turn into a complete dough ball. Exercise: something else to try and cram into my already packed day. There’s no point joining a gym; it would be a waste of money.  But an exercise DVD could be an option. I might just be able to find some time to do that when the children are asleep – if I’m not too knackered that is.

Not very exciting is it?  I don't know who to tag on this one so I'll just leave it open. If anyone wants to try this and leave a comment I'd be really interested to read them.

Well, now, I'm off to Tunisa in the wee small hours of the morning. Have spent the last week, shopping, washing, ironing and packing.  Now my head feels as though it's about to explode trying to remember who needs to take what and if there's anything I've forgotten.  Of course there will be.  One year I forgot to pack the chargers for the kid's DS's - I wasn't exactly a popular mummy that holiday I can tell you. I'm not the best of packers, I find it impossible to decide what to take and end up taking far too much and usually coming back with a suitcase full of clean clothes.  But strangely this year, I've managed to fit everything for the four of us into three suitcases, one of which is rather small.  This has left me with a feeling of dread because it doesn't feel right at all. Who knows, I may have finally got the hang of this holdiay lark but somehow I doubt it.  But if anyone moans this year I'm not going to apologise - they can do their own packing next time.

One thing I won't be forgetting to pack though is my Kindle (with its charger) my writing magazines, my notebook and plenty of pens.   Then if anyone does moan, I'll just stick my head in a book and ignore the lot of them.

Happy Easter everyone, hope you don't overdose too much on chocolate.

Oh and yes, I have remembered to pack the mini eggs for the Easter Bunny but don't tell the kids!