Thursday, 31 December 2009

Day 31 of #100days: Happy New Year!!

Today I wrote about how I spent Millennium eve for my friend Sian. Her novel, Fluids, begins in the early hours after 1999 has been partied out, and she’s gathering Millennium stories for her blog at the moment. If anyone wants to add their own story, she’d be well chuffed. Just drop her an email. (They can be anonymous if you like.)

And now I'm about to start on the wine, in preparation for the musical festivities above.

Gleðilegt nýtt ár / Happy New Year to everyone! Hope it's as loud, quiet, fun, lovely as you want it to be!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Days 26 to 30 of #100days: Late Night Scribbling and Short Story Bliss

[26/100] Wore my new wellies but still nearly ended up on my face on the ice. Drove home very slowly. Creativity FAIL. Knackeredness won.
[27/100] Italian friends Simona and Maurilio are over from Turin. Spent most of the day just hanging out, but came up with a story idea once I’d gone to bed, so had to quietly scribble it on the back of an envelope in total darkness.
[28/100] Spent all day in my pj's. It was awesome. Read all of one of my Christmas books and started on another. No proper writing, just more scribbling of ideas.
[29/100] I wrote a story that might be called 'Something Inside Me Has Jumped The Track', although the final story doesn’t fit the title, so I will probably change it and steal the title for something else. It’s a story about kissing and gin, and I really like the main character in it. After reading a book of Michel Faber’s short stories, I’m back in short story mode for a bit. I’ll try and get a couple more done before the novel sucks me up into its bowels again.

Which brings us to today [30/100]. Fellow Hundred-Dayer Lizzie Poulton has come up with a brilliant idea: 10 Weeks Of Plagiarism - To Make Me A Better Person. In her own words:
Basically the plan is for the next 10 weeks (the remaining 70 days) I will copy/rip off/pay homage to other people’s inspired 100 days projects in the hope of improving my creative output.

Now why didn’t I think of that? I sort of wish I hadn’t been so vague with my pledge, but I knew that Christmas was coming up and that I’d feel like a constant failure if I’d set myself big tasks. Maybe I’ll break it down into weekly projects? I’ll have a think and see what January 1st brings.

Well, it feels like I've been updating for hours, but I'm finally all caught up.

I've been learning the months. I'm finding it fairly easy to read Icelandic, which is encouraging. I'm nowhere near mastering it yet, though. But I'm enjoying it a lot.


Day 25 of #100days: Gleðileg Jól!


I got very creative with my baby nephew’s xylophone, did some making-up-of-songs, that kind of thing. (It counts!) Santa brought me some ace wellies with daisies on, so I would no longer have to cry in my no-grip Cons when the ground got slippy. And my sis got me a proper Icelandic course, so now I have no excuse.

Talar þú íslensku?

Days 20 to 24 of #100days: Wrapping, Rasputin and Wellington Dreams

Siobhan from wigglymittens very kindly made me a couple of Rasputin stickers. I spent more time than is probably healthy posing Rasputin around the house. I think he looked most at home in with my peace lily, though. He looks a bit like a jungle explorer.

I finished off my robin cards, wrote a bit, did some very creative wrapping, and marvelled at the lovely snow whilst wishing for wellies.

And I learned some family words:

mamma (mum) pabbi (dad) foreldrar (parents)
systir (sister) bróðir (brother)
amma (grandmother) afi (grandfather) barnabarn (grandchild)

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Days 15, 16, 17, 18 and 19 of #100days

I finally got my very overdue submission sent off to my mentor tonight. He is probably going to go mental. I’ve been messing around with the novel so much lately that I wasn’t even sure which bits to send this time. And I haven’t felt like I could do anything else until I had it done. But now it’s off in the ether and there’s nothing more I can do to it. So...sewing?

Yesterday’s [18/100] creative thing was drawing possible Christmas card designs. I always make my Mum’s card (and my sister’s if I can be bothered/have the time) by hand. I decided this year, since I was being creative and all, that I would be bothered and I would make the time. So today [19/100] I bought the things I needed, and I made these little fellas ...

(I got a bit carried away. I think some people might be getting two cards off me this year)

This is going a bit in reverse now. On Thursday [17/100] some Vikings came into the library. With my basic grasp of Icelandic I managed to ascertain that they were doing a project on schoolchildren. So, I found them some books.

My Icelandic words were skóli (school) and barn (child) and also bók (book).

Wednesday [16/100] and Tuesday [15/100] were all about the novel. Lots of creativity, but very boring to look at. However, I did manage to learn: skemmta sér (have fun, have a good time, party), and hatta (go to bed). Important things.

I’ll leave you with a joke Nath told me. A joke that’s definitely on a par with Jenn’s ‘baker with brown hands’ one.

Q: Who’s the coolest person in the hospital?

A: The ultra sound guy.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Days 11, 12, 13 and 14 of #100days: Sasquatch

(Or, I have been a slacky mcslackface blogwise, but honestly, it would be really boring for anyone to read “I wrote some words for my novel and then went to bed” for three days in a row.)

[11,12,13 and 14/100]

I tried drawing on Friday and gave up. I messed up the mouth horribly. And I’ve just realised now that I can cover that mistake with hair, too, just like the other one. Hooray for beards! ...Except I just messed that up too, (too Jesus-y) so I decided to go the whole hog and make it Sasquatch. But it’s really not very Sasquatch-y either. Again, this is why I write.

Days 12 and 13 were good for writing. Although as a kind of distraction, (I had to eat!) I did discover a TV channel that shows made-for-TV Christmas films non-stop. I’ve been limiting myself to one a day. They are truly terrible and absolutely amazing. I love them.

I also found this game to help with my Icelandic, and I got every answer correct! My pronunciation obviously leaves a lot to be desired with some of the phrases, but I’m beginning to recognise and understand words when I read them.

Halló. Hvar er klossettid?

I think I’m going to write a paragraph each day about people who come into the library. I think that will be a fun thing to do to help me pass the time when I’m at work. I can make my workday 100% more creative if I’m imagining encounters with people who are or aren’t really there. I just thought of this now, whilst picturing Sasquatch in the library, trying to fit into one of the little wooden chairs we have for storytime. Nice one Sasquatch. So...

Today, Sasquatch came into the library. He needed to use the computer, but there weren’t any free. I told him I could book him onto one in ten minutes’ time, and he said okay and handed me his library card. He’d chewed it in one corner. I made his booking, and when I went to hand him his card back he grabbed it, which made me do a little scream. He was instantly apologetic, and so was I. He said it was a survival instinct, and I nodded and said ditto. And then we just smiled awkwardly, and he went over to browse the Local History section until his computer was ready. When I looked across a bit later, he was watching a YouTube video of a cat playing the keyboards, and when he laughed, the whole building shook like there was a miniature earthquake.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Days Nine and Ten of #100days: Bless is Goodbye in Icelandic

[9 and 10/100]

Talar þú íslensku? (Do you speak Icelandic?)
Ja, ég tala íslensku. (Yes, I speak Icelandic.)

This is a lie. I should be learning, "Nei, eg tala ekki íslensku." (No, I can't speak Icelandic) but that would be defeatist. It's only day ten.

It's just been me and the novel for the last couple of days. Too boring really to blog about. I just want it done now, so I can have my life back.

One of my favourite borrowers died recently. It always upsets me when a husband or a wife or sibling comes in with a library ticket and says they won't be needing it anymore. And there are some borrowers I haven't seen in a while, and I wonder if they're okay, and steel myself for the worst. But this particular borrower has been coming into the library every week for all the time I've been working there. He would only read Jack Higgins books, and over the last few years all he's been able to manage were large print copies. Over the years I consulted "Who Writes Like..." a few times, trying to find him someone new to read. And he tried a few, but no one could match good old Jack Higgins. I got excited once when he asked for a book by Harry Patterson, only to find out it was Jack Higgins' pseudonym. I would print him off lists of all the Jack Higgins books we had in stock, and he would order a few at a time, checking them off. Once he'd got through his list, (and luckily for him it was a fairly long list) he would start again from the beginning. The last time I saw it, there were six ticks next to some of the titles. I printed him a new list about two weeks ago. I issued him "Wrath of the Lion" for the seventh time just last week. He seemed fine.

One of the best things about working in a community library is watching people grow. The toddlers who listen intently to "Hairy Maclary" are soon doing homework projects on The Tudors, and the schoolkids who'd spend hours copying facts out of Encyclopaedias soon become moody and amazing teens. And it's a strange thing to observe people like this, week in week out. But sadly, we also see the reverse. We watch people grow older, notice their coughs getting worse, their bodies growing shaky and frail. And even though we might interact, we are not part of their lives, we are just witnesses. But that doesn't make it any less sad when they go.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Day Eight of #100days: Colouring, Re-capping and a Kreativ Blogger Award


I spent the afternoon colouring in snowmen (not the snow parts, but hats, scarves, brooms, carrot noses, etc) for the Christmas display in the junior library. I like 'quiet days' at the library. I always forget how therapeutic it is to do colouring in. When I studied Anatomy and Physiology, the lecturer gave us The Anatomy Colouring Book, and we'd spend every Monday morning colouring a different muscle/muscle group. It was a brilliant way to learn. Hello gastrocnemius! Bonjour sternocleidomastoid!

So that was my creative muscles being worked today, but I'm all settled in for a night at the coal face, chipping away at the novel wordcount, too. Colouring in AND writing. Blimey.

We're one week into the hundred days project now. It's been a strange week. Some days I haven't felt like being particularly creative, whereas others, I've gone crazy with it. Work does get in the way. Sometimes all I want to do when I come home is curl up in bed. This is why I didn't set anything in stone. I know that there will be days when the most creative thing I'll do is sprinkle cocoa dust on my coffee. So I've allowed for that. Sometimes small things matter just as much as the big things. But I also know that I enjoy being creative, and so pledging to do more things will make me feel better in myself. It's nice to give myself permission to do all these things I usually put off because I don't have time.

And I'm learning things, too. Getting my daily dose of Art History from Howard, who makes it fun and accessible and incredibly moving. And I'm getting to see original pictures/comics/stories/poems being created daily, all under the Hundred Days banner.

Jessica from Writer's Little Helper has very kindly nominated me for a Kreativ Blogger Award. Thank you Jessica!!

The rules are...

* 1. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
* 2. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
* 3. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.
* 4. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.
* 5. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
* 6. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
* 7. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

Seven Things...

1. I cry at anything, especially that dog advert that's on in the daytime, when it's raining and the dog says, "Nobody wants you when you're old." Breaks my heart. The News gets me sometimes/often. Happy tears, sad tears, all the tears you could possibly imagine. I've long since given up being embarrassed about it.

2. If ever I'm given fancy soap as a gift, I use it as soon as the current soap runs out, because I read a poem once about a woman on her deathbed, who regretted not using the owl-shaped(or was it rose?) soap she'd kept 'for show'. I might have a lot of regrets on my deathbed, but hoarding soap will not be one of them.

3. I'm a trained masseuse.

4. I will sew for chocolate. Buttons, hems, you name it. Only one of my housemates has figured this out so far.

5. I want to live in a lighthouse.

6. The scent of privets makes me feel seven years old.

7. I wish I could travel through time.

The seven people/blogs I pass this award on to are...(in no particular order)

Forgetting the time - Annie Clarkson's lovely lovely blog.

Every day I lie a little - Jenn Ashworth's most excellent blog. Dead funny.

A Salted - Sara Crowley's newly-snazzied-up blog. I love her championing of the short story and wish she worked in the Waterstones near me.

Follow the yellow brick road - Katherine Woodfine's arts and culture blog that's won awards for being so ace. I always want to visit the places/exhibitions she writes about.

Wigglymittens - Siobhan Britton’s art blog. She's a fellow Hundred-Dayer, and I'm loving her sketchbook updates. The other day she made Rasputin stickers!

Missyaggrevation - another fellow Hundred-Dayer(it's beginning to sound like a weird cult!) on a mission to see the sunny side of everything for the next 92 days. Admirable.

Confessions of a middle-aged coffee addict - films and books and strange goings-on in the library. Makes SH! seem quite sedate.


Oh and this blog post was brought to you by the word handleggur (arm). I'm remembering it by thinking of my arm as my hand's leg.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Day Seven of #100days: Decking the Halls


Today's word in Icelandic is sjö (seven).

And today's creative act was to put the Christmas tree up and decorate it, deck the halls, etc. I've been off the internet most of today. I think it's good to take time out from it. It can sometimes steal my creativity without me realising.

I'm going to do a proper post tomorrow. I have good things to write about but right now I'm soooo sleepy.

Góða nótt.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Day Six of #100days: Novel Novel Novel and Post-it Notes


Ég er að skrifa. (I am writing)

That's pretty much all I've been doing all day. It's been good.

I love One Hundred Love Stories. I'm fascinated by how couples first met, so this is definitely one I'll be returning to.

And for the tea-lover, there is 100 Days (of Tea) - lovely pictures celebrating all things tea.

I've figured out some good things tonight, about how bits fit together and how I can make things better. Good old Post-it notes, eh!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Day Five of #100days: Not-so-sneaky Afternoon Naps and a Story Called "Hat"


It's been a fairly lazy day today. I got up, drank lots of water, ate a massive bag of Rainbow Drops, then got back into bed to catch up on yesterday's blogging. Then I had a nap. I like naps. Another 100-dayer who likes naps is Siobhan from Wigglymittens. She's been drawing in her sketchbook every day, and on day four she documented her "sneaky afternoon nap time". Yeah! Sneaky afternoon naps are the way forward!

Am also loving Benjamin Partridge's Random Article, where he writes a story every day based on what he gets from pressing Wikipedia's 'random article' button. Genius.

Today I learned the words blár (blue) and kaffi (coffee).

Before I hit the hay, I am going to finish a short story I've been working on. At the moment it's called "Hat". I sometimes have a problem coming up with titles. Sometimes I steal them from song titles. I think this is okay. I read somewhere that song titles can't be copyrighted. I'm sure it's fine.

Day Four of #100days: Brautigan, Stitchery and Reading Out Loud


I had every intention of writing about my Day Four escapades on Day Four, when I got back from the reading I was going to be doing in Nottingham, but when I finally stumbled home, I was a little worse for wine and decided it was best not to do internet things in that state. I'm all good now, though. So...

Day Four was a good one. It began with the words Gott kvöld (good evening) and Góða nótt (good night). This boded well.

Inspired by Josie Long's amazing homemade Kurt Vonnegut t-shirt, I decided I wanted to make one of my own, only with a jumper, and with Richard Brautigan on it instead. (No, I wasn't thinking at the time about how the hell I was going to fit "B r a u t i g a n" across a jumper.) So I got my sewing stuff out

and cut out the letters in turquoise felt.

before deciding that it was "too blue", and so I then cut out some pink letters to make it look prettier. The fun part was trying to get it all to fit on the finished jumper. After various shufflings about, I realised that it would have to be diagonal. I started sewing at four-thirty, and finished just after six, so in the time that I would normally be panicking about reading in front of people, all I could think was: just keep your fingers away from the pins and do big stitches. (Maybe I should do more sewing before reading nights?) Here's the finished jumper...


I wore it for my reading with Hello Hubmarine at Beatnik Guild. As soon as we got there, host Hannah Heartshape gathered us up in a group hug, which was lovely. The Arts Organisation is an amazing open space, filled with big sofas and excellent artwork. They also let you bring your own alcohol, which meant that me and Nath got through both of our "two bottles for £5" wine. Classy.

There was some great open mic poetry and then we did our set, which has changed slightly since the Summer Sundae one. I read an older story, Communion, from the Coffee chapbook. (You can download the PDF for free here, if you like.) And Nath and Jonezy did extra bits to make up for Biff's absence, as he was playing a gig back in Derby. We also had Jo Lewis on singer/songwriter duties, who completely blew everyone away. The crowd was warm and friendly, and I actually felt comfortable on stage, which doesn't happen very often. Huge thanks to James Walker of WriteLion (and LeftLion) for inviting us!

The rest of the night included a horrible dash across Nottingham for a bus, a drunken bus ride, and arriving at Big Blue just in time to watch Biff's (and the Mr's) band play. Day Four was a good day!

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Day Three of Eitt Hundrað


Not the greatest day for creativity, although I did get to play with the staple gun at work to make an "advent-Christmas-tree" type thing for a display in the junior library. It was a little bit creative. Not very. So I decided to finish the day with a hundred word short. (100 words including the title.)

And We Swim Right Into The Middle

We’re caught in this swamp, that isn’t actually a swamp. The water is still clear, but overhead there are hundreds of branches, like brambles but without any thorns or green, just wood, like there is some kind of basket being woven above our heads as we try to swim our way out of here. It’s the kind of place there would be crocodiles, and as soon as I think this, I start to panic. I want to be back where it’s just a river. I want to be out in the sun again.

And in case you didn't notice, my Icelandic words for today are One and Hundred.

End of Day Three.


Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Day Two of One Hundred


Early edition...

Today I got the urge to draw. I used to draw a lot, but I get quite frustrated when things don't turn out the way I see them in my head. Maybe that's why I favour writing nowadays. Words are always words. So the words I see/hear in my head can always be perfectly replicated on the page. This started out as a cunning ploy to cover up yesterday's attempt at "calligraphy". If you look closely, you can see some writing beneath the hair.

I'm loving the Hundred Days website. It's ace finding new blogs that I'd never have stumbled on before.

This morning's find has been Untitled #23. Howard is going to write at least 300 words about a work of art every day. Day One actually made me cry. It's beautiful.

Late edition...

I got some writing done this afternoon/evening. 726 extra words of the novel, and a chunk of editing. Woop!

Góðan daginn/Góðan dag means 'good day' in Islensku. I know a bit of German, so some words are sort of familiar, which is nice. But obviously the pronunciation is different. It feels softer, less glottal. It's early days yet, though.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

One Hundred Days To Make Me A Better Person


About a week ago, I discovered Josie Long’s new project "One Hundred Days To Make Me A Better Person". It is part of the London Word Festival, starts on December 1st 2009, and finishes on March 10th 2010. I knew I wanted to take part. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do for it. I also knew it would have to be realistic. Even though I was thinking "pledge to write a thousand words of your novel every day", I knew in reality I had no intention of spending Christmas day typing. Or Boxing day. Or New Year’s Eve.

This is from the website:

From 1 December 2009, Josie Long cordially invites you to pledge to do one thing every day for 100 days in a bid to generally make things better. The plan is simple:

1.Register here with your name, email and pledge

2.From 1 December, this pledge must be fulfilled every day for 100 days (or longer if the spirit of goodwill takes hold!)

3.Document your activity where possible - snap it, film it, write about it - and keep us updated on how you're getting along

I ummed and ahhed, and finally decided on my pledge(s) yesterday, at four minutes to midnight:

1.Learn a new word or phrase in Icelandic every day.

2.Do something creative each day.

3.Blog about it here.

I like the vagueness of the "do something creative" part. It can mean I write a thousand words of my novel, or it can mean I arrange some pasta into pretty shapes. Perfect.

So, today, Day One, the first of December, what did I do?

I played with fridge magnets and took photos of them (see picture above), until the batteries in my camera died. I had bigger plans. But, I have bettered myself tonight by recharging said batteries, so that next time I come to take a photo, I will be able to. Good stuff.

And I learned “Ég heiti Emma.” My name is. I always thought it would be good if I hung out with Eminem, because we would be referred to as "Em and Eminem". It would make me laugh every time.

Anyway, other hundred days projects that I’ve checked out so far:

100daysofnonfiction - Hannah is reading a chapter of a non-fiction book each day and then writing about what she’s learned. This one ties in with my favourite quote, “It’s impossible to open a book without learning something.” Go Hannah!

100tinymoments - Every day, Edward is illustrating a tiny moment from his past, present or future. This is one I wish I’d thought of. I especially like the idea of the future moments.

my bit of sky - I love the title of this. And the idea of photographing things people have left behind.

missyaggrevation - Toni has started a blog and is going to see the sunny side of life. Lovely and positive. Yay!

All this and it's only Day One!


I just read the poem "Love Yourself, Or Else" by Daniel Bailey, in the brand new > kill author, and these lines jumped out...

"the only thing i trust is the sound of a magnet
sticking to a fridge"


end of update***********************************************