Thursday, May 21, 2015

Surfing The Funk and having a Whinge

You might remember I told you all about my Plan? Get 85,000 words written by the end of June? Yeah. The first week went really well, with the tally running at 12,000 or so words (some of those needing serious deleting) and then everything ground to a halt. As in complete stop. Not so much writer's block as writer's fortress wall. 

I couldn't even open the word document where my words lay in wait. I couldn't even blog. 

If I say the last couple of weeks have been trying, this is an understatement. 

Yes, I could have done things: writing exercises, physically exercised more, done art, done some poetry. Instead, I just had a bit of a funk. It's not like I've been depressed or unhappy. I just couldn't be creative. 

The last couple of days haven't been a barrel of laughs. Not especially helped by Rummy being a bit of an asshole during the night, leading to me not getting much sleep and being very shouty and sweary with him. 

It's partly not his fault. Since his last few encounters with the bastard lynx (may the fleas of a thousand camels infest him and give him heart worm), his confidence has been severely knocked to the point where he hasn't wanted to go outside, not even for a comfort break. Not helped that the bastard Lynx (may he ever get hangnails and meet hungry foxes at night) has been spraying our front door, making clear that our territory is his. I swear if I get my mitts on that bastard cat I will rub his ass down with chilli oil or worse. Given that he high-tails it every time he sees me, my chances are slim at best. More's the pity.

At 3 am, the hint of dawn in the air, Rummy decides that it's time to get up, make lots of noise and play. I eventually resolved the situation by hunting him down, catching him and tossing him into the morning. By then I was so wound up, sleep eluded me for hours after. 

Last night, he decided he'd behave, but that didn't stop me waking up for a couple of hours in expectation of him being a dick. 

Today, I've crawled out of my Pit of Doom to potter around the house. I've also had a bit of a chemistry experiment. Now I'm no longer required to appear normal, I thought I'd have a bit of an experiment with my hair colour. Last time, I went to my hair dresser and asked for a bright red. It was not a success. Given my hair is so incredibly dark and she decided to err on the side of caution, it came out more mahogany than red. This time, I figured I'd give it a shot myself. It's brighter than the professional job and way cheaper, but still highly unsatisfactory. It was a lot of effort and mess - the bathroom looked like I'd murdered a clown - and it's come out more like Bad Tranny Red, than bright red.


I'm now wondering whether I should abandon reds completely and explore other, wilder colours. Perhaps bright blue? 

On a happier note, Boy finishes his second year today after his last exam and will be home tomorrow until September and the start of his final year.

I've missed his awesome self. 

Sunday, May 03, 2015

The Calm Before...

As planned, I had a couple of days off with my Boy in Lincoln. It was exactly what I needed. That, and the three hours driving time there and back. The trip up gave me another writing project, the trip back sorted out some of the issues I was still struggling with. I'm not sure Boy will welcome me rocking up unannounced on his doorstep every time I need to sort my writing issues out. I think I should start looking into hostels or cheap B & Bs. 

Tomorrow, I start writing proper. I've planned as much as I can and now I can't put it off any longer. Tomorrow, I start. Needless to say, I was awake for two hours last night, wide awake and thinking about things that did not immediately need my attention. I did however, remember that I need to pay a bill, so it wasn't all wasted time. I am not convinced of the urgency of the thinking that my house would benefit from a quick flick of a duster in the morning or that there was laundry to do. I disturbed Rummy enough that he flounced out of bed and house at 4 am. He woke me up just before 9 am, a very hungry and soggy sight. I was unimpressed with his enthusiastic affection. It was moist. And not in a good way either.

I am not great with stated goals. I set them, write them down and then go and do something completely different. You may therefore understand my reluctance to say I've got a structure that I must work to, if I am to complete the book by the 26th of June. 

My brother and his family are doing a European vacation arriving on the 26th, hence my deadline. While they aren't going to be with me for the whole month, we do have plans to spend a week in France together at the beginning of July. It will be great  to have finished the first draft by then, it can then cook on my desk until my return. I can then edit it and send it to the eejits dear friends who have agreed to read it through for me. If everything goes to plan, I should be able to get the manuscript off to the publisher by September August latest. I can then expect my first rejection letter anywhere from Christmas to February next year. In the meantime, I will have my second writing project well on the go. Hopefully, that one will flow more efficiently.

I confess I am a bit terrified nervous. Funds are running low and time is running out. As my dad used to say "it's time to shit, or get off the pot."

Over the next eight weeks, I will not be logging on to social media through my laptop during the day in an effort to keep my focus. Of course, I have my phone next to me, so you will still see me about lunchtimes and sneaky breaks. Blogging is part of my writing process and I have no intention of losing track of you lot. I will still be exercising like a mad thing, either first or last thing I haven't figured out which will be better for me; I do know the movement will do me good. 

So here it is: 

The Plan: 85,000 words written in 8 weeks. That's 11,000 words per week. 2,500 words* per day assuming two days off.

*yes, smarty-pants I know my maths doesn't add up. I'm correcting for sick days, injury days or days that just won't go to plan.

Monday, April 27, 2015


Sometimes stringing thoughts together and following them through is asking a bit much and as it's still early this bright Monday morning, today I blog in bullet points.

  • I am holding the fort while Z is canalling in Wales, this means the menagerie are my responsibility. This means chasing the velociraptors around the cows
  • In order to better chase the velociraptors around the field with the cows, Dave bought me a thumb stick. I look like a proper fake country person now
  • The velociraptors like bananas, but not cabbage 2 days in a row
  • They don't appreciate my fumbling under them for eggs.

  • It's Spring here
  • Last week, I found myself going through my wardrobe and removed 3 bags of clothes
  • Over the weekend, I found myself going through my chest of drawers and removed all the old pants, tights, socks and vests that I never wear
  • Last Monday, I had no intention of doing any of that. I still have one more section to sort out. I'm not ruling out the possibility it'll happen today. Or not
  • Dave and I re-arranged my place for the Summer. The fireplace has been cleaned within an inch of its life, I dusted and hoovered
  • My desk is now back in the study part of my bedroom
  • Where it was in my front room, is now my art area.

  • I also sorted through my herbs and spice cuboard
  • It was well overdue, there were two packets of ground cinnamon, both out of date
  • I go to an ethnic supermarket in Norwich and buy everything about half the price of mainstream shops, for more of the product and chances are it's far more fresh
  • I finally got around to labelling my jars. Something that makes Dave very happy
  • Apparently, it's been a source of frustration. I think there are times when he's not very adventurous
  • I thought that having 4 different types of oils and vinegars was a bit hipster
  • That was until I chatted to La Diva Cucina on Facebook
  • It seems I have a way to go yet.

  • A walk into town on Thursday made my knee grumble to an extent I started limping
  • It has been grumbling off and on before I went back to the gym, I thought strengthening it up would sort it out. It hasn't
  • I went to my osteopath who turned it this way and that, stretched everything out and got my back to make the noise
  • It's a tendon injury, not cartilage
  • This is good news
  • The bad news is, I mustn't load it. No deadlifts, no squats and I am to do exercises to strengthen the patella. He also suggested sports massage
  • Sports massage, for the uninitiated, is not the gentle stroking with candles, incense and whale song playing as you sigh with pleasure
  • If you're not crying during sports massage, they aren't doing it right
  • I'm not looking forward to it
  • However, I want to deadlift sooner rather than later.

  • My work-out appetite hit me last week
  • Now, if I need to eat - I need to eat NOW
  • No more waiting until lunchtime for the first meal of the day
  • I've also noticed my portion sizes have increased as well
  • As long as I keep working out as hard as I have been, I should continue building muscle mass, rather than fat
  • It's quite nice being able to eat without evaluating every calorie.

  • I went into Norwich last week. Twice
  • My friends who live in Norwich are good people and I love them dearly
  • But Norwich has turned into a festering pustule
  • There are more Big Issue sellers than there are corners for them
  • The sign indicating the Food Bank drop off point, took me by surprise
  • Shops I was expecting to go to, have shut
  • The levels of aggression of people walking around the city centre at lunchtime, was breath-taking
  • The trickle down effect of the economic recovery doesn't seem to have reached the Norfolk capital
  • I remember twenty years ago, I would walk around the city at 3 am if I couldn't sleep (when Boy wasn't with me obvs)
  • I don't much like how the city has grown up. Part of the Plan was to move back into the city after Z moves on from here
  • That part of the Plan has now been crossed off.

  • When I was in Norwich having my teeth cleaned, Rummy had his butt seriously kicked
  • Sadly, it has knocked his confidence considerably and he is very hesitant about going out
  • It didn't stop him squaring off with Benji the dog
  • If I get hold of the bloody cat, it's going to discover what a real arse kicking looks like.

  • Problem with my plotting became clear as I tried to explain it to Julia (who must be worshipped) 
  • I will get the issue resolved this week, but won't begin writing until next week
  • This week, with the fort holding and the fact I am going to visit Boy in Lincoln, means my week has become fragmented
  • I am visiting, shopping, velociraptor chasing, cooking and being generally creative in the intervening period
  • Next week, I write.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Removing the filters

...of my insecurities and body issues, I see the Shiny Gym and its users in a new light. When I first went, all I saw was the fit young men and women in glowing health, lifting weights, on the machines barely breaking a sweat. I wore my fitness gear uncomfortably: black lycra bottoms and my long sleeved running tops, covered up by a sweater. I did not feel worthy in this Temple of Fitness, Health and Beauty. 

I've only been going a month. I went shopping for new fitness gear: loud, bright and I've been showing off my arms. I still have my sweater for when I start, they believe in air-conditioning and it's a bit chilly until I get going. 

The people at the desk and the other trainers greet me and we have small chats about the weather and my rather colourful leggings. What can I say? They were relatively inexpensive, comfortable and they make me feel great. 

The other users? Well, they aren't looking at me, but I am looking at them, mostly in wonder. 

There's the guy who looks like he fell off the Grateful Dead Tour Bus, stubbed out his toke and threw on some shorts. There's the woman who should be an exotic dancer: she's drop dead gorgeous, long straight hair, dancer's physique and a smile to melt the ice in anyone's Pimms. There's the identikit gay couple flirting and showing off to each other as they lift small mountains balancing on medicine balls. There's the woman who can't walk, but still goes large on the leg press; the man for whom walking is a challenge and kicks butt on the rowing machines. There's the two nearly-retired women, really good friends who chat about their pensions, children, husbands and work throughout their session and into their clean-up time. They smile and laugh as they sweat and pull tired and insecure women into their conversations. There's the granny who came in her cardigan and loafers to walk a few miles on the treadmill. The 50-something woman who carried out a conversation with the sweaty guy on an exercise bike next to her while she pounded the arse out of a treadmill for half an hour. 

When I started I didn't think there was a place for me. I have been physically lazy for most of my life and it shows in my posture, my aches and pains, and the flabbiness and weakness of my muscles. Now, when I finish my workout, I want to high five everyone there. I suspect it won't be long before I start thumping my chest on deadlift days. I'm now wondering whether in a few weeks time, I could include some yoga or Pilates classes to get some flexibility into my regime. 

As awesome as it is right now, there's so much more I want to do. I want to run again. I want to be fit enough to run/bike/walk to the gym, do my workout and get home again without needing to ring someone to pick me up. I want to go on bike rides around the countryside with Dave. I'm hoping that I've got the next 45 years to make up for the sloth of the last 45 years. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Have you seen my Plot?

Procrastination is going well, thank you for asking. I have done a load of laundry, dug out the kitchen, loaded up the dishwasher, done the dishes (that couldn't fit in the magic cupboard) and sorted through my wardrobe (and will be re-homing 3 bags of clothes). Not bad for a morning's work, if I don't say so myself. Unfortunately, I am no closer to coming to a conclusion about my plot. I wonder if I am over-complicating it somewhat? This is supposed to be a paranormal romance, so the focus must be on the budding romance. However, the imprint also demands an exciting plot to go with it. There's a reason why I'm procrastinating and until I can resolve this issue, I'm not going to be able to plant my butt on the seat of my chair and start writing proper. 


Funny isn't it? I've been having a little stress and thought I'd procrastinate by blogging and the act of writing has shown me the problem. Don't you just love this process? No wonder I'm interested in counselling etc, everything goes on at a subterranean level. Clearly, I'm going to have to ease up on myself and slide into the process. Planning an 85,000 words novel is a completely different kettle of fish than writing a novella of 15,000 words, and I thought that was hard enough.

Anyway, I was nominated to do Seven Random Facts about me (that you may, or may not already know), by the lovely Tara, who ironically enough, I met on my first ever creative writing course. 

Seven Random Facts About Me (cause it's all about me)

1. I now wear a nose ring rather than a tactful nose stud. I woke up a few weeks and realised that as I am moving Heaven and Earth not to work in an office again, I don't have to pretend I'm normal anymore.

2. I don't miss TV. Although I have internet, I no longer pay for a TV package. I do however, have NETFLIX and I have boxset marathons of any TV series that takes my fancy. 

3. There are three baby name books on my desk. It gave Dave about two seconds of WTF?! until he figured out why I have them. It gave me two seconds of mirth watching his face. 

4. Much to Boy's annoyance, I still call him a teenager. He's only been able to vote for three years and stopped being a teenager two years ago. My excuse? I'm an ageing parent and he was a teenager for longer than he's been an adult. It's a lot to get my head around.

5. In ten days time, I will officially be middle aged (hopefully). When I look in the mirror I see the signs of ageing: grey hairs and wrinkles. Truthfully, I am excited for the future. While there are people my age who are beginning to think about retirement in 15 - 20 years time, I am thinking about establishing myself as a writer, my training to become a counsellor and whether or not I'll be able to run 5k in sub-30 mins. After 43 years of sitting on my backside, my body is ready to be pushed. My Life is finally taking off. 

6. I am that slightly out-of-step, culture of youth mum. I say "down wiv da kidz" and try to be all current. Boy is kind and doesn't roll his eyes, but I see the amusement in his eyes as I get it ever so slightly wrong.

7. The older I get, the political I become. I am impatient with people on social media who aren't going to vote. I find I am sharing more and more politically themed posts on Facebook and Twitter. I sometimes wonder if I am the only person who ever paid any attention to history when the struggle for socio-political reform was taught. 

By the way, if I was Empress of the Universe, our society would be inclusive. If a person worked 37 hours a week or 16, they would get fair recompense for their labour, no matter their race, gender or gerbil. Fresh fruit, vegetables and meat would be less expensive than junk and processed foods. There would be no tuition fees for university students. The NHS would be the institution it was meant to be, before it was monetised and run down. There would be proper public transport. 

In case you hadn't noticed, I'm an idealist. That can be your bonus number 8. 

Monday, April 20, 2015

Too Much of a Good Thing... wonderful. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. It's Monday morning and like most Mondays recently, I'm moving slowly. I'm gathering myself for the week ahead. I had hoped to start writing this week, but I realise looking at the plot outline I worked on over the weekend, that I'm a bit of a coward.

A good story is all about the conflict and how our intrepid heroine gets her dessert with proper whipped double cream and her man. I've been tiptoeing around and the plot is a bit like the cucumber you left for a month in the bottom of the vegetable crisper - you could kinda see what it should be, but it's all mushy, squishy and smells bad. Not what a writer needs. 

Therefore, this week I will be thinking of ways to torture my poor heroine. My readers and I will only see what she's made of in how she gets through that obstacle course. As always, it's not what you say, it's what she does that's important. 

I also have to remind myself that I am not writing Game of Thrones. I don't need to quite go into gratuitous character torture or culling. On the other hand, GoT reminds me the stakes have to be high, so high as to seem out of reach, but she's got to stretch her muscles. 

This week, I am going to have to learn to be a sadistic God and come up with things to throw at her. Wish me luck.

On the other hand, I'm beginning to see the work at the gym paying off and it's got bugger all to do with the scales. My confidence is coming back up. Did I tell you I invested in some new gym gear? I look like a gym bunny on LSD now. I feel fabulous wrestling into my gear and swagger around the gym. The motivation has finally kicked in, to the point where I abandoned Dave on Saturday to go do Leg Day. Happily, he was still here on my return and was able to provide TLC when I hobbled through the door. We spent the rest of the weekend curled up on the sofa watching trash on Netflix, but even managed to go for a walk at dusk. 

I've also got to the fun part of the whole strength training process - the humungous appetite. Unfortunately, people think that in order to lose weight that hours and hours of cardio is the answer. After all, they can check their stats and think "I've burnt 450 calories, go me!" The problem with that is the calorie burning process stops as soon as they step off the treadmill. Strength training on the other hand, keeps the calorie burning up hour after the workout ends. Rebuilding muscle requires energy and it's got to come from somewhere. My focus isn't about weight loss, it's about dumping my body fat and building dense muscle. If you start bleating on about muscly girls be warned, I will have to slap you. 

Women do not have the ability to build muscle mass like men. We simply lack the testosterone to do so. Yes, the female body builders you see are incredibly defined and bulky. Here's the thing, they are on incredibly strict regimes, with every calorie accounted for to keep off the body fat and all of the hours in their day dedicated to working to look like that. Unless you are prepared to be totally obsessed and committed, it's not going to happen to those of us part-timers. Oh, here's a totally fabulous article why women should definitely not lift weights.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Progress Report

You'll remember I was whinging at my lack of organisation a couple of posts (weeks) ago? Well, I sat down and worked out a bit of a timetable for the blank days and then Easter happened. Last week, I was just about chewing the carpet in frustration of not being able to get on, but I had other things/people to prioritise. This week I began.

Monday got off to a very slow start, but there was a start. Yesterday, I hit the ground running and despite being led slightly astray by social media, I kept on target. The organisation certainly worked yesterday and it seems to be working today. If I can keep it up I'll be able to sit down and start writing next week.

I've been using my time to do all the ground work I should have done before I sat down in front of my laptop in February. But that's okay. I don't look at it as wasted time. The time I've spent nurturing my creativity, working on the foundations of this project has got me to this point. The next few days are going to be crucial, I've got a story arc to plot up and the challenge there will be to ensure that I've got all the conflicts covered. There probably will be swearing. I apologise in advance.

My time at the gym is beginning to pay off. Yesterday, for the first time in about 10 months, I was able to deadlift! How happy does that make me feel? I hear you ask. Ecstatic.

Dave gives me the look when I talk about deadlifting, I'm going to assume you are too. Let me explain. As a weedy and fairly wimpy woman, the act of walking up to a weightlifting bar is incredibly intimidating. Deadlifting is a move for buff, muscle-bound weightlifters who need a stick to wipe their bum...wrong!

Deadlifts are a compound exercise that works the quads, glutes, spinal erectors, abs, traps and upper lats. It's a deceptively move, you pick up the heavy thing and you put it down again for  5 sets of 8 - 12 reps. Simples. Hah! Form is everything. Get your form wrong, you will hurt yourself. Every lift you have to concentrate: keep your chin and chest up, push from your heels, focus on your breathing, keep the move smooth and seamless. It's all about control.

I still can't quite figure out what it is about this move that gives me The Freakin' Awesome. It doesn't matter what I lift. Yesterday, I started with just the bar which is 20 kg and then went on to lift 30 kg. I suspect it's the fact that I am facing my fear - I am a weedy, wimpy woman - and beating it into the fucking ground. How can I possibly think I am that, when I can pick up that bar loaded? Deadlifting challenges all the assumptions I have about my limitations. I have to stand taller, I have to support myself better when I deadlift because I know I'll hurt myself if I don't. Today, I have to be upright because I ache if I don't

Today, I can name the muscles that worked. I am practically bouncing off the ceiling with energy. I was up before the alarm, got a load of laundry on, got the dishwasher empty. I've got a lot of work to do today and I'm charging through it. I won't go to the gym today, I know if I am to keep on building my strength, recovery is just as important as the sessions at the gym.

With the programme I'm on, I have to be realistic about my weight. I have maintained my weight just under 9 stone for over six months, with the usual monthly hormonal fluctuations. I'm losing inches everywhere and that confirms I am losing the body fat and building more muscle. I am going to get to the point where the scale will not be my friend, but hopefully, I will be the same size I am now. I will then laugh at my BMI. I am trying to eat more meals and more regularly, just smaller portions with a greater emphasis on fruit and vegetables. I thought about going back to the 5:2, but my weight is happily in the "normal" part of the graph. Yes, I could try to lose weight but my concern is that I will lose the muscle with it and I want a strong body, not a thin body.

Last year, I was asked a very good question that I couldn't answer: how do I get the motivation to start and keep doing the exercises? At the time, I was going to the gym and running regularly; I hadn't hurt my back or wrists or had the three weeks off and then the horrible months of my existential crisis. Now, I know how to answer that question. 

You can't wait for motivation or inspiration to start anything. You just have to go for it. Motivation and inspiration are like the wall flowers in at a village dance, you have to hit the dancefloor first and start busting some moves. Once you start dancing, they'll join you and then you can all get down and groove.

And yes, I am grooving people. Next week: running! Oh yeah baby.