Sunday, 31 July 2011

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...

Bloody hell, Dickens had a point.

Why does the human brain have to be so changeable? Why can't it just settle on a feeling or emotion and stick there? Drives me loopy.

To explain, I've had the best few days. Well, Thursday was the best as it was when Dos and I went to see the mighty Iron Maiden. I broke down I admit. Just like those crying Brazilian fans from the Flight 666 movie. Weddings don't make me cry, funerals don't make me cry (if I have it's from sheer discomfort rather than sadness), new babies don't make me cry but a sweaty bunch of fifty-somethings (or sixty?) singing about the Devil and I'm blubbing like Gazza at the 1990 World Cup. I'm not even going to address with myself the reason why - I'm too scared to open that can of worms - but suffice to say, it was a happy moment for Emma.

This weekend also saw me finish the Motley Crue Autobiography, The Dirt, which had me hooked for the last couple of weeks. Without doubt the best biography I've ever read - hands down. The first half of the book had me laughing so hard I couldn't breathe but the second half was...well, a bit depressing really. It unfolded into a story about a bunch of spoilt has-been rockers that couldn't accept they weren't the coolest mother-f*ckers on earth anymore and proceeded to fire each other and their loyal staff, all the while falling in and out of love with money grabbing whores. The story takes the reader up to 2001 and everything is still unresolved between the band. However, I went to see them a few years back at Manchester Apollo (Tommy Lee had injured his arm and couldn't drum but still hung around the stage like a bad smell, passing a bottle of jaiger round the audience) so I know the story does ultimately have a happy ending - even if the The Dirt doesn't chronicle it.

Other highlights of the weekend included, walking into a tattoo parlour for the first time in my life to get a quote for the tattoo I want (£120 if you're interested) and developing a rather wicked taste for Jack Daniels and coke (you're to blame for that, Crue). I watched the Lemmy movie another couple of times as well (he's another reason for the current JD obsession), just to round off my rock and roll weekend.

Great stuff.

Enough inspiration and material to pick up my laptop and do the last read through of Driving Exile. Except there's been something wrong. I've just not been in the mood to read it. Every sentence I've written doesn't flow and I found myself frowning at it today over a cup of coffee and struggling to stop myself from getting distracted by every little thing.

It's supposed to be going to the printers tomorrow for me to get a number of copies printed for the mail-out to agents but I'm only a third of the way through it so far. I'll hammer it again tonight but I just don't feel like my heart is in it at the moment. I don't get why, I mean, shouldn't this weekend of all weekends have been the ultimate kick up the ass I needed? It was full of inspiration and a hint of the exciting times to come now that I've made the vow to embrace rock music in the way I should have done years ago but it's left me feeling ancy and blah towards my book.

My dream on Friday night didn't help where my ultimate literary agent actually turned up at my door demanding to read the rest of the manuscript. In the dream, I'd furiously searched the flat to find him a copy and all the while I couldn't wipe the silly smile off my face at the realisation I'd done it. I'd written something that other people wanted to read and that may one day be on book shelves or downloaded on iPads and Kindle's. As you can imagine, I was pretty bummed out to wake up in the morning to the sight of my dog-eared manuscript covered in notes and my laptop practically beaming that it'd be spending even more time on my lap.

The saving grace of the day was the sight of Dos sans chest hair after a waxing incident on his latest night out. As I sat glaring at my computer screen this morning after a restless nights sleep, he shuffled into the room yawning, with mascara under his eyes and a patchy bald chest (the mascara was pirate-related I'm told). Overnight, my ex has actually turned into Nikki Sixx and I love it. One of us should be out tearing up the town and as I'm getting more and more bogged down in the land of Exile (seriously, I'm actually getting mad at my own characters for the stupid things they do and say in the book these days - I just want to reach into the pages and throttle them a lot of the time), the lovely Liverpool is seeing less and less of me.

That said, the staff in Coffee Republic, Caffe Nero and Costa are getting used to the sight of me. (By the way, David, I didn't appreciate you mocking me for ordering two peppermint teas today. And yes, they do settle your stomach, you should try one). Rock on, baristas!

Right, I'm off to carry on reading. Wish me luck.

Oh, and I know there's not an awful lot of you reading this blog (put it this way, no advertisers are knocking on my door) but I really do appreciate people taking to time to read my ramblings. It means a lot.

Keep rocking.



Monday, 25 July 2011

Looks can be deceiving

Okay, okay, I hold my hands up - I'm NOT finished with the editing. After all of the crap I was sprouting in the last couple of blogs, I had another read through and decided I needed to ADD some things rather than take away. Annoying, especially as I'd already sent it off to my dream agent :-S Ah well, what can ya do?

I've been a recluse for a while now while getting the book finished and over the past year I've become more locked into my own little world. It's only now I'm close to finishing that I'm waking from the self-imposed hibernation and have started looking carefully at the people around me. The one's I'd judged and dismissed without actually knowing them. I've made some interesting and enlightening observations...

Turns out that one person who pisses me off more than any other (who shall remain nameless) isn't actually that bad after all. Also, someone who I thought was just quite rude, may actually have some underlying issues causing the rudeness. Another person I thought was nice (well, sort of) turns out is actually an arsehole after all! Whadyaknow eh?! I feel stupid and guilty at the same time for committing the ultimate cardinal sin of a writer - judging a book by it's cover.


A story I'd like to share with you (non-fiction as well!) was the time I worked at a chintzy shop in Manchester as a student. One Saturday afternoon, a handicapped man wandered in. We had a really strict policy on approaching every customer and my colleagues pretended not to see him and awkwardly skirted around trying not to engage in conversation as he clearly made them uncomfortable. I distinctly remember leaning on the counter and rolling my eyes at them.

What was the big deal? He was bloody shopping like everyone else.

I bowled on over in my usual bull-in-a-China-shop manner and asked if he needed any help and lo and behold he did. I helped him pick out a necklace for his Mum and we both giggled when I struggled with the lock on the jewellery cabinet. I was in the middle of animatedly telling him about my annoying habit of losing bracelets (seriously, I'll put one on in the morning and by lunchtime it'll have vanished) when he reached out and took my arm.

Out of the blue, he looked me in the eye and said, "It's nice to talk to you. People talk to me like I'm a baby because of the way I am, but up here," He pointed at his head, "I'm fine."

I remember feeling like I'd been hit with a sledgehammer and despite being a bit of an ice-queen (I know, you wouldn't think it from some of my hysterical book related blogs) I went home that night and sobbed my heart out.

Why do we do it? Why do we judge people? I have to constantly remind myself of that man whenever I'm launching into a scathing verbal attack on someone I really don't know. I've learned I need to sit back and watch and listen to people before I make up my mind about them.

After all, who am I? A single twenty-something who stays in at the weekend to write and (by her own doing) doesn't really have a circle of friends to speak of.

What a saddo! Someone buy the spinster a cat! ;-)



Sunday, 10 July 2011

A love letter

I prattled on last night that I was finally 'done' with the editing. Well, today more than proved that. I spent a lot of time trying to get my bloody printer to work (honestly, the whole Wireless element is a waste of time, it's never worked) and printed off the first 'pack' for an agent.

I might be completely shooting myself in the foot by saying I'm only sending it off to my dream agent firstly. The agency is very prestigious and it's a long shot but I have to try or else I'll never know.

I've pulled together the following pack:

Covering letter
500 word synopsis
First three chapters
SAE for the return of the manuscript

The envelope is sat, burning in the corner of my eye on the side board. Posting it tomorrow and then I've got the long wait for a response. I know it's silly to put all of my eggs in one basket at the start but I'm going with my gut feeling.

I've been running around like a mad woman all day today and in-between furiously wrestling with the printer, I've been attempting to make the flat look presentable for Dos' fathers visit tomorrow.

I sat down for a minute about an hour ago and caught up with my text messages and I had a lovely one from Dos' uncle saying how sorry he was to hear we'd split up. Biting my lip, I threw the phone onto the sofa and sipped my tea, the sound of the kitchen clock echoing around the room. That's when it hit me. I really am done, aren't I? In the time I've been writing the book (started drafting it for a laugh four years ago), I've changed cities, changed jobs, got a promotion, watched my parents divorce, made good friends, lost touch with others, moved in with my partner only to split earlier this year. All against the backdrop of the book.

There's a paragraph I wrote for Driving Exile about guitars and although I promised myself I wouldn't bore any of you with extracts from the book, I'd like to share it:

“I understand what a guitar means to someone and what an important investment it is. I know that when someone finds the guitar they love…” I trailed off, thinking about Dad. I swallowed and felt my eyes fill with hot tears, “They’ll have it forever. And no matter how shit life gets,” I wiped away a stray tear and saw another drop onto the table with a splash. “No matter the mistakes you make, the guitar’s your haven and your sanctuary. It’s a friend. No, wait, it’s more than that. It’s a soulmate.”

That's been Driving Exile for me. I've been bawling my eyes out all evening at the realisation of how much it's meant to me - often to the detriment of other things in my life but I wouldn't change it. Not for the world. Seeking comfort in imaginary characters probably makes me borderline insane but they've been constant amongst the madness and now it's almost as though I have to wave them goodbye and stop tinkering with them just so that I have some form of contact. 

The time has come to leave it alone now and concentrate on getting it published. 

This is my love letter to the thing that's kept me afloat over these past few years and made me smile when I should have cried and gave me a glimmer of hope when things were looking particularly lacking in that region. 

Driving Exile - I'll be eternally grateful and forever in your debt.

All my love,



Oh yeah, they call me the recluse...

I've been missing from here for a while. In fact, I've been missing from everything over the past two weeks.

Another read through and for the first time I got a sense of finality about the whole editing process. I can now safely say that I'm done. I thought I was done a while ago but the book was too long. I've now managed to shave another 20,000 words off the final cut which is great. Not great for the self-indulgent writer in me but it helps the story motor along at a good speed.

I've even made the manuscript look a bit prettier and drafted my covering letter. It's getting printed again next week so...I'm ready for action.


No more excuses.

I plan on sending out a number of manuscripts but at the moment I have a 'dream' literary agent and I'm going to send one to that person before the others. I don't expect it to get picked up by this person but I have to indulge my little dream.

Because I've turned into a complete recluse, I've been indulging in some serious classic rock. My trusty old playlist has had a hammering, as well as Planet Rock Radio (heart Nights with Alice Cooper!). I've also discovered two more mellow artists that are dominated my ipod at the minute - Boyce Avenue and John Butler Trio. Beautiful. So beautiful in fact, that I listened to the same two John Butler Trio tracks on repeat for four days solid whilst staring into space.

Classic Rock has been my magazine of choice and I've been hooked on the interviews and in-depth stories about some of my favourite bands. Classic Rock - where have you been all of my life? My passion for the mag was cemented by the purchase of Glamour magazine tonight. Tell me, which would you choose?

Option 1
Guns N' Roses - Drugs, rifts, hirings, firings, general chaos, the sound of a band falling apart
Grunge Wars - Two decades ago, grunge and hair metal were the two sides in an epic battle.
Judas Priest - They thought they'd just made one of metal's great albums. More than 20 years later, it landed them in court.


Option 2
Cut 350 calories a day without going hungry!
Jessie J - "What no one knows about my love life"
30,000 women's sex secrets - Hot, honest and 100% stealable!

Hmmm.....needless to say, this may be the last issue of Glamour I ever buy (I mean 'stealable'? What the fuck?!). Bring on the rock!

My next blog won't be as long in the making, I'm determined.

Keep rockin'