I am sitting with a rug over my knees. It’s flipping freezing.
I have been frantically typing towards 50’000 words to complete my nanowrimo novel in November. And, dear reader, I finished it. It is extremely ropey. It is full of appalling clichés and toe curling sentiment. Parts of the plot are held together with deteriorating threads as thin as spider silk. Other parts are bolted together like a Frankenstein monster. It is not lovely, clever, brilliant or sparkling. But it is mine. And after a hard month’s labour, I feel I can perhaps nurture this thing into growth, feed in some goodness, get it standing on two legs and stumbling along until I can clap proudly one day at it’s graduation into being something I feel able to show to… someone. Or perhaps I will just keep it locked in the attic…
So what has sustained this big book birthing squeeze? Strong coffee from our Bialetti and my lovely husband dragging me out for walks in the cold. Where we live, the canals are fantastically inspiring if you can ignore all the junk people have thrown onto it in an attempt to crack the ice. I think it’s the cold weather extreme sport alternative to dead jellyfish poking. We did find one nice patch, where the sluice had partially frozen into little icicles.
Something else that's kept me going was coming runner up in The Guardian Travel Writing Competition 2010 I wrote about our honeymoon hotel in Mauritius. My photo made the front cover of the travel section (the photo was larger than my actual article extract so husband, who took the photo, is claiming the glory). Alongside mine were other winner's photos; a visitor to the Bolivian salt planes, a family skiing in Sweden and a guy driving the Mongol Rally. All very deserving winners... then there was me, getting tipsy on margaritas. I don’t know if this puts me in the best, most adventurous or professional light, but I still loved it and was totally thrilled to have been placed.
I would have been delighted to actually win. This perhaps, though, is a blessing in disguise. The prize was to stay at a stunning and lavish Castle Hotel and review it for the Guardian, which would have been a fantastic opportunity. But I recently went to a wedding there, got sick during the day and vomited violently for a week. Definitely and categorically nothing to do with the hotel food or facilities (I was ill before it got to that point in proceedings), but it left an umm… unpleasant taste in the mouth.
Today I am working on something to celebrate National Short Story Day, which is 21st December. A story about a nodding dog. Yes. Really. Scraping the barrel? No. Not quite yet.