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Posts tagged ‘writing’

Restrictive library snack policy

Time is a valuable thing,
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it tick down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away.

When I stay with The Outlaws, most days I go into Oamaru to write.

There are too many distractions around the farm: the projectile mud, the violent decor, the mice inhabiting the sofa, Agent of Death’s collection of home-made rum. I also find it harder to ignore the magnetising appeal household chores exert on me when the alternative is writing: unloading the dishwasher, sorting out the spice drawer, fishing out lumps of roast potato from under the oven.

Most critically, I can access the site here. Mathematical and/or logic puzzles are to me as vodka is to an alcoholic, or laxatives to a model. At home, Husband has banned selected puzzle and game sites at the server level. These include: Kenken, Kakuro, Killer Sudoku, Tetris and the NY Times games page. Ooh- that reminds me: I wonder if The Sun still has its games arcade?

Looks like that’s tomorrow scheduled.

Anyway. I occasionally work in the library in town, but the librarians don’t allow you to eat snacks even if you bring them yourself. This TOTALLY stifles my creativity, which is a fragile, sensitive entity that requires calm, quiet and careful nourishment.

I used to go to The Bridge Cafe on Thomas St, but the staff were too friendly. Aggressive conversationalists, they were undaunted by my headphones and loud humming and hiding behind my laptop pretending I didn’t see them. They all wanted to know how the writing was going? – to which the answer became increasingly obvious. I persevered because the owner used to give me free coffee, but when that dried up I resolved to relocate my custom to another establishment.

I chose The Roost Cafe. Regrettably, The Roost is directly opposite The Bridge on 30 Thames St. I still cross the road to avoid walking past The Bridge; then hide around a corner and dart really fast into The Roost when a truck passes.

The Roost is FABULOUS and I can’t recommend it highly enough. Their food is modern and delicious: tortilla stacks, smoked salmon quiche, spanakopita, mushroom and blue cheese tarts, a variety of open grill sandwiches. The coffee comes with a tiny, delectable truffle; and the hot chocolate is made with real chocolate.

The staff don’t seem to mind that I can make a cup of coffee and a scone last 3-4 hours; or that I plug my laptop into their power point; or that I have been witnessed chair-dancing while rapping aloud to Linkin Park.

The other day, after a successful afternoon’s creative endeavour, I went to pay for my hot chocolate and scone with cream and jam. About five people – or basically, the full complement of staff on duty – were clustered around the point of sale system. They all looked harried; an elderly woman was on the phone – obviously to a technician (I heard her say, ‘Yes, I’ve TURNED it off and on. YES I’LL WAIT.’) – with a finger jammed up to the wrist in the opposite ear.

“I hate to bother you,” I said to the young dude who’d originally taken my order, “but I’d like to pay.”

“Oh. Ah,” he said, breaking into a light sweat. “We have- you see- this- we can’t-”

“Look. I can pay cash if you can access the register, or, you know, I’ll be in again tomorrow . . .”

Evidently I don’t look like the trustworthy type, because he said, “Oh, you can pay cash.”

So he calculated the total on a piece of scrap paper and I handed over $10 and he managed to open the cash register without aid of a screwdriver and he handed me my change.

And then I said,

“Can I have a receipt, please?”


Can you believe it?

I might forgive them, because they do great scones.


Last week I finished the first draft of About Time.

The pressure had been mounting for weeks.

At this point, it is worth bearing in mind that, everything being relative, our lives are comparatively stress-free. Right up there at the top of the Stress Scale is what to eat for breakfast, followed closely by when/where to go biking and whether I will get a flat tyre.

So I was totally unequipped for the extremes of anxiety leading up to The Deadline.

You will be glad to hear I epitomised grace under pressure. I was serene, confident and overflowing with gruntledness.

Regrettably – particularly for Husband – this physically manifested in an unpleasant shrillness of voice.

I am now waiting to hear back from my agent. Some might suggest that Peter does not pull his punches; others that he fights dirty.

I could not comment personally, since he might sue me for slander.

Also, see above.

I am, however, looking forward to his perspective (unfortunately, I misplaced mine). He will no doubt ask me to rewrite vast tracts of About Time – I’m guessing the last third, where I literally lost the plot – and it will be a better book for it.

I decided to take a week off and enjoy not having to write anything more creative than a shopping list. (Note: normally these are models of creativity with footnotes, appendices and surprising application of nouns. However, at the moment my shopping list consists of nothing more imaginative than mushrooms, ginger ale and scouring pads).

I am only just starting to feel half normal again.

Everything being relative.

Essay: How did you become a writer? – Discuss

When I was a little girl, I knew exactly what I wanted to be when I grew up:-

A long-distance lorry driver.

That was until I decided to follow a glamorous career as a princess. Then, at the age of 9, I realised my skill set was more suited to professional figure-skating. Unfortunately I never found the right doubles partner, so I set my heart on international espionage specialising in the termination of shady, highly placed political figures. I would have liked to have been a rock star, but I always knew that was more a sideline than a full-time career.

At no point did I consider writing as a way of life – and even less so when reality caught up with me. At school, English was not my best subject – although in fairness, neither was anything else. My annual reports gloomily chronicled my ongoing failure to achieve my potential (NB or anyone else’s). Even though teachers pronounced themselves ‘satisfied’ with my work, they never made that sound like a positive thing.

In college, I studied Applied Maths and Computing, mainly because with mathematics the answer is either right or wrong and doesn’t involve a ten page essay discussing the importance of the motive of revenge in calculating an answer.

When my application to the Irish Secret Service was rejected, I became a project manager (or if you don’t mind, I prefer frustrated rock goddess).

I moved to London in 1996 and graduated from letter writing to email, my preferred method for notifying my parents I was still alive. Occasionally I included heavily censored accounts of my life. It seemed pretty action-packed at the time, mainly because I was spectacularly self-centered. (My father had just been ordained as a priest, so it was inevitable bordering on cliche that I would hit a kind of delayed puberty at full throttle, which I celebrated by drinking inhuman amounts of alcohol.)

Two years later, I started sending friends 4000 word accounts of my experiences settling in the Middle East. Many responded suggesting that, if I had never considered writing, I really should. They might have been biased and/or delusional, but I was touched.

It was another year or two before I started taking it seriously.

In 2000, I took some time off between jobs to write. I wasn’t sure WHAT, but I had romantic notions of sitting at an antique desk in a sun-dappled room crafting a great literary work containing inspiring words like ‘shinsplints’ and ‘ficus’.

There were a number of reasons my 9 month sabbatical was a dismal failure. Mainly, it was because my writing desk was modern. But also, I underestimated how much I defined myself by my career and earning potential. I struggled with peoples’ assumption that I was dependent on Pre-Husband for financial support, and that I lay around all day snorting grapes and flirting with my muse.

It took another 7 years to complete Smart/Casual

Qualified author

I have just been offered a publishing contract! Yippee! Apologies in advance for the number of exclamation points in this post – I’m not proud of it! Little Black Dress Books have offered me a one, two or three book publishing deal!

This afternoon, Husband and I went into Borders at Sylvia Park to check out Little Black Dress publications in the romance section. Husband demonstrated an uncanny ability for opening books at the paragraphs detailing hot shafts and throbbing rods. He did a rather unheroically unmanly amount of giggling.

When I thought about Smart/Casual fighting for space on these shelves I got quite squeaky and overexcited. With any luck the cover won’t feature martini glasses, fluffy mules, poodles in raincoats or female apparel.



When Róisín left, the writing limped along for a while. I’m happy to report that it’s roughly back on track, and I only have the Grand Denouement, The Twist and The Epilogue to write. Andrew has procured me a pair of Tiffany earrings which are proving more effective than any willpower I’ve ever managed to dredge up. He refuses to even let me sniff them until the book is finished


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