Archive for the ‘lies’ Category

Enough Is As Good As A Feast

Saturday, August 20th, 2011

I’ve decided to pack it in.

I’ve been blogging for four years (ish) now. I started because I wanted to have a place to link to the short stories I was beginning to publish in various web magazines and never expected that I would find such a welcoming community. Through this special kind of writing I’ve made friends, found work, been able to talk to my readers, hear what you think about my writing (Cheesy Peeps!) and I’ve been able, I hope, to let lots of people know about my writing who might not have heard about it otherwise.

While I’m NOT FROM MANCHESTER, the Manchester blogging and literary community in particular welcomed me with open arms, and long before A Kind of Intimacy was published I was attending reading nights, vomiting with fear, and testing out some of my earliest attempts at flash fiction and unreliable memoir. That wouldn’t have happened without blogging friends – there’s not a chance in cheese I would have plucked up the courage otherwise. There are too many of you to name, and this isn’t an Oscars speech – but you know who you are. Ta. (Not you.)

Despite my incurably sloppy spelling, tendency to post when tipsy even when I promised myself I wouldn’t, my ignorance of arcane blog etiquette and the occasional (pfft!) indiscretion, I have enjoyed blogging, and enjoyed reading other people’s blogs. A friend, Max, argued that blogging is an exhausted form and has been replaced by newer, briefer, more immediate forms of on-line communication. That newspapers have gobbled us all up. Maybe that’s not true for all of us bloggers, but I think it is for me and for Every Day I Lie A Little. The blog form might not be exhausted, but I am.

It’s always been a struggle for me, like all bloggers, to draw a line around my private and family life. I know you know my children aren’t really called Small Fry and McTiny, and my house isn’t really called Ashworth Towers. For those of you who are close to me in my real life as well as my online life, thank you, thank you so much, for indulging me and collaborating with me on keeping them apart from this world for all this time. For the persistent (two years, you weirdo) person who has been reaching this blog by trying to find out the real names of my children: I am not packing this in because of you.

I want to be more private, and the more private I am, the more insipid my blog posts become. I toyed with the idea of starting again  – anonymously, and saying what I really wanted to say. To write like I used to – without worrying about making a Career Limiting Move. But then I realised, I am saying what I really want to say. In the novel I am writing now, and in the writing projects I’m planning for the future, I am still communicating. My best writing is elsewhere. My blog writing was becoming something much less than second best. So in novels and stories and whatever else I get up to – that’s where you’ll find me from now on. Lying my head off, and letting more of the truth slip through than I’d probably like.

I’m also tired of the energy it can take to be a part of this community. To join in with the exuberant pissing contest that Manufacturing An Online Buzz about your work can be. No-one asked me to do it, and I’m sure many of you would rather that I didn’t. But I did, and now I’m finding that the energy needed to turn myself outwards, to sell and advertise and display, isn’t working well when I need to be quiet, and think, and type and delete and type some more.

And lets be honest, I can’t be the only one to notice that I’m fast running out of ways to make the writing life sound interesting. I get up, do a school run, type, do another school run, cook, eat, drink, type, read, sleep. Every Day. Sometimes it’s really hard, but you’re not allowed to say that because it’s not a proper job, and there’s lots of other people who could do it better than you, or would give their arms and legs to be in your shoes. And sometimes it’s brilliant. And you can’t say that either, because it sounds like bragging. So what is left? I type a lot. There it is.

Let’s not be melodramatic about this though.

I’m converting this part of my website to ‘News’ and will be updating, now and again, with details about events, readings, and gigs. If you want to carry on getting that sort of information, you can subscribe here. I’m hoping to move into book reviewing, and other kinds of online and print journalism. I’ll be reading and commenting on blogs, and writing posts for the Writing Smithy. If you’re wondering how you’ll get by without my ill-punctuated domestic ranting, refusal to be drawn on matters of national import, and puns about sandwiches, I’ll be on twitter and would love to carry on the conversation there.

But for Every Day I Lie A Little, it’s curtains.


NaNoWriMo – The Verdict

Wednesday, December 8th, 2010

I didn’t write 50,000 words – so I don’t get the badge. But I wouldn’t have got it anyway, as I never bothered to sign up officially on the site. Even as I began I doubted that I’d complete the big 50k but I’m still a little disappointed.

50,000 words was a big and daft ambition as I’m mothering most of the time right now and I needed to check the proofs of Cold Light during November. But more than this, I couldn’t leave my research alone.

I’ve been reading up on cognitive dissonance. Researching the way people who have an opinion on something will filter out any evidence that seems to contradict that opinion. Even scientists, if there’s room for interpretation of their results and someone with an interest is paying them.

One of the ways we overcome a particular kind cognitive dissonance is called Sour Grapes.

Well, I didn’t want the stupid NaNoWriMo badge anyway…

I have been reading about historical revisionism – the way organisations do this and why, and how they’re able to resolve the dissonance between claiming to be honest and reliable while spinning / editing /  censoring and lying about themselves by claiming (and really believing) that they are enhancing, clarifying, simplifying and improving. And how on the smaller scale individuals in bad marriages do this.

I was reading more about memories. Revising things I already knew. We’re all bad historians of our own lives. We all revise. We all have blind spots about our own self justification (the means by which we sometimes resolve dissonance) but others’ is glaring.

We’re all biased, unreliable hypocrites.

I know these things have always been interesting and important to me. In one way or another all my writing is circling around the problem of telling the truth, and of using words to do it. But I have been realising why it is so important to me. I don’t want to say any more about it right now, other than it has been tiring.

I found it all so interesting that although I was able to plan the rest of my chapters and write a lot more than I thought I was going to, and that I solved a couple of plot and character problems, and found out what I needed to know about Crufts, and decided I needed to know a tiny bit more about postmen and about fixing cars, and I got over the blank-page doldrums, I didn’t get 50,000 words.

Oh well.

Hooray for everyone else who participated!

A List

Monday, April 13th, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve done a list. Today will be a list post. Lists are nice ways to ease back into writing after a long weekend off.

Current Affairs:

I might not write novels anymore. I’ve got an excellent plan for a whole series of marvelously written and intricate text-adventure games and I want to do those instead now please.

People keep asking me about my influences when they’re interviewing me. I never know what to say. I worry I sound a bit like a big tit. I’ve had a long think about it, and I’d like to correct the record and say that if anyone were ever to compare me to Patricia Highsmith or Dostoevsky, I’d be very happy. Plummeting amazon rankings tell me this is unlikely, but so was writing a novel anyone would want to publish/read/review.

Fringe. I need either to cut it, or grow it out. I’m in limbo. I’ve got a hairband at the moment. For some reason, probably completely random, I am reminded of a line in Martin Amis’ Experience, where Amis quotes his father Kingsley inquiring about what galaxy of acne is hiding under his floppy fringe. Hmm.

I’d like to get an allotment and grow vegetables. It’s either that, or write this novel, and number three – which is SEETHING to get out of my head and onto the computer. But I like the idea of me wearing a halterneck and boots, digging. Freckles on shoulders. A worm tapdancing on my palm. Do other people fantasise about themselves in third person? I am always the star of my own film.

Please recommed me a book. I’ve been reading lots of long, difficult things recently. Don Quixote and Montaigne. I’m after something different now. Short, spare, plotted. I like Raymond Chandler very much, but I’ve read all of his. I like crime, mystery, thriller, suspense, psychological. I like reading to find out what happened and admire the writing along the way. Story must come first. Not all the time, but that is what I am in the mood for now.

I watched this last night. What was I thinking? Have also been watching this a lot.

Poor Little Blog

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

This thing has been neglected. Don’t worry. It is all fits and starts with me, as you long time readers will know. I will come back. My time and energy are elsewhere for now. Editing book 2, interviewing a series of writers for the PWN blog, tweeting, and generally drinking tea and eating oranges.

Here are some links:

Nik Perring, blogger, poet, writer, teacher and general Good Egg (also author of this) interviews me on his blog about Annie, fountain pens, running fast across a busy road, and the untidyness of my writing process.

Valerie O’Riordan, up and comming and soon to be moving up north writer (Ace!) and author of this does a little review of A Kind of Intimacy here. I especially like the part about her sitting hunched on her sofa saying, oh God, no, oh God to herself.

I’ve also been working with Chris Skoyles to update my website. We’ve done a page all about A Kind of Intimacy. There are some deleted scenes (no spoilers if you haven’t had the pleasure yet) and an interview with James Nunn, designer and Keeley Mullins, owner of the cracking set of legs who talk about the behind the scenes work of making the cover.

Linky + Sicky

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

I’ve been reading this blog a lot recently. I hate twee mummy and baby type writing, but this one is not like that at all.

There are so many stereotypes about young single mothers that when you are one, it is very difficult to be anything other than a walking, sleep deprived cliche. And when, as well as a pram-face, you’re also a writer, the cliche bit is a horrible thing to drag around with you. But this blog isn’t like that, and everyone should read it immediately.

A shy friend of mine has just joined blog-land with an amazing post stolen from a Facebook meme than turned into a bit of a rant.

I am not a fan of memes and internet quizzes and tagging and all that other strange stuff. But if I could work the ’25 things about me’ meme that’s going around Facebook right now as well as my friend the Capt’n has done in his new blog, I’d be more inclined to join in with them. I demand that you read and comment so he will carry on blogging.

I read this, and nodded a lot

This should be a good-enough answer to the question I’ve been asked more and more often recently: how autobiographical is your writing? Of course it is. Yes, all of it. If I hadn’t have spent a lot of time thinking about it and experiencing it in my head, I wouldn’t have been able to write it. And for me, things experienced in the head are much more solid and real and memory-making than the other kind of experiencing, which mainly involves sitting in chairs or putting books on shelves.

Now – my Small Fry has spent twelve hours vomiting over everything in the house. Now is the time for me to turn off the computer and don my rubber gloves.

The next post will be about meeting web designers and photographers, planning launch parties, and getting my author copies. There will be real ‘author glamour’ in the next post. But not now. My whole house smells like sick.

UPDATE: Sorry about all the typos, especially if your reader got it before I corrected it. Put it down to the 3 hours of sleep I got, and the 10+ hours of nursing I’ve just done. And now she’s running about crazy demanding Santa, chocolate and ‘a type.’

Growing Up + Dead People’s Coffee Tables

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

It has been brought to my attention that the best way to store your possessions is not in piles on the floor, in cardboard boxes, or in piles on or under the bed. There are lots of different coloured plastic buckets in the Small Fry’s bedroom, and that seems to work for her (its better than it sounds, I promise) but us adults have decided its time to grow up and get furniture.

Living like a student has had its perks so far, but now I’m going to have to deal with a tax return, I need somewhere other than an empty cereal packet to store my Paper Work (everything I do is Paper Work – writing a novel is Paper Work, isn’t it?) so furniture it is.

My friend thinks buying furniture means buying an x box. I’m no better. The last furniture I bought was a pink tub chair. I didn’t actually buy it. I found it in the ginnel. Three days, and it was dry again. Two bottles of Febreeze, and it was a fresh as a daisy.

I lie. I do buy furniture sometimes. Like yesterday. I went to the shop I usually go to when I need large things, because they are cheap and second hand and they deliver and the money goes to help people who are ill, which although I pay tax for that kind of thing too, is actually quite a nice thing to do with your money. I got a really nice white couch from there a couple of years ago. And two brand new wooden bed frames, and a coffee-table.

‘All this stuff is nearly brand-new,’ I’d said, bouncing on a mattress that still had the tags on. I laid back, breathed, lazed, luxuriated like a particularly cheap-skate cat.

‘Why would someone want to give away something as nice as this? It still works, there’s nothing wrong with it?’

(You know the ending to this story, don’t you? Oh yes you do.)

‘Well,’ Mr St Catherine’s Hospice Man said, and coughed, ‘many of our items come to us through, well, um. Bereavement.’

‘Ace,’ I said. And bought the lot. And went back yesterday for a bookcase and a dresser for my backroom (tr. ‘ dining room’).

We’ve all got to die sometime. Someone’s got to get your furniture. It might as well be me.

P.S Creative Writing Workshop People: remember that conversation we tried to have about point of view and tense? Here’s a piece of writing by Sally Cook. Second person, present tense, and moving into future tense at the end. It is hard to do but it works here. I like it.

A List of Things On My Bed

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

Emma just wrote a blog post about her writing place and her crisp white bedsheets. I’ve got white bedsheets too. I want them to be crisp and inspirational, but mainly they are not. I wrote a little bit about them a while ago in this story. I haven’t written a true facts story about my bedsheets or anything else for a while.

Here is a list. The list is of the number of things that are on my bed right now.

1. Four pillows
2. One duvet.
3. One red and orange sock.
4. My work bag
5. The belt and the chain and the emergency silver whistle and the big jailer’s key ring and tally I use for work.
6. Two very small black shiny shoes with silver buckles.
7. A tiny white computer I am not typing on now but might do later.
8. A bit of see-through cellophane. I think it used to be around a packet of biros, but I can’t be sure.
9. A pink hi-lighter.
10. A pink etch-a-sketch.
11. A miniature plastic dolls house in the shape of a toadstool.
12. A white underthing (small fry calls it ‘booby vest’)
13. A bent Kirby grip.
14. A (frankly, quite disappointing) wage slip.

Later, when I go to bed, I will get in and wave the duvet about a bit and kick my legs about until all these things are in a place where I am not. I will sleep surrounded by them all. If I thrash about too much in the night I might knock the miniature dolls house and open it by mistake and set the music off. This will make me angry.

Tonight I am writing about cremated remains (if they aren’t called cremains, they should be) and someone wanting to chain herself to a tentacle, and yellow all purpose cleaner and a bad, bad girl called Chloe who I am not sorry for at all. Not At All!

Also, I am about to find out exactly why salt melts ice, and if other sprinkled things could melt ice, like cremains. Could cremains melt ice? Even just a tiny bit? I need to know. Also, why does the sea make icebergs when salt melts ice and there is salt in sea water?

Memoir + Fiction + Remembering + Pork Pies

Thursday, May 29th, 2008

I have been meaning to write this post for a bit. I think there should be more content to this blog – instead of photographs of things I have made and plugs and lists of procrastinations. So this post constitutes ‘content’. Make it last, because I am still working hard and I will not post every day again for a while.

The ‘content’ is mainly some thoughts about the post that Stephen Daniel Lewis wrote about making things up and memoir and compassion and empathy. These were things that I thought a lot about the last time I was writing a book, and now I am writing another one, I am thinking about them again. They must be my ‘pet subjects’ or ‘recurring themes’ or something. I am glad other people are thinking about them too. I don’t know why that matters.

I used to think that stories should be very realistic and not have things in them that wouldn’t happen. Now I have been writing short stories for a while I like to write about odd things happening and try to make them realistic. I just submitted a story about a man being driven mad by his recycling bins. I think the bins actually kill him. I think that still counts as a realistic story because even though it is third person it is all from his point of view, and I was telling the truth. I mean, I wasn’t lying about what this character thought and felt, even if he might have been eccentric or slightly inaccurate in his understanding. I think that is okay. I think there are more important ways of telling the truth. Things can be emotionally true or credible without having to have events that are possible in them.

Stephen wonders about stories where the line between memoir and fiction is blurred. I really like stories like that. All my stories are like that. Even if they are not about things that I know are true because I have experienced them, the feelings behind them are true. I don’t think I could pretend to be another person and write about them unless I had an idea how they were feeling. Writing is like empathising with someone imaginary. Stephen isn’t sure that there is a point to this. I think it is good for your empathy muscles. You can identify with fictional people, and it might make you be better at imagining what it is like to be other, real people. This comes in handy for not hitting people or starting wars. But also, I don’t mind if there isn’t a point or a usefulness for stories and empathising. I think if there is a point it should be a bonus side effect and not the reason why I set out to write. That is true for me, anyway.

I also think that when you set out to write something ‘true’ like a memoir, the act of writing it will almost certainly make it into fiction. It will be unreliable, because it is only one point of view. Even if you get a few points of view in there, it will still be unreliable because you are using words and writing to tell the story, and words are not things, just the noises we make to point at things. And writing is mainly re-writing, and remembering. I like it how ‘remembering’ is a word that reminds me of dismembering. And also ‘re’ + ‘membering‘. It might mean something like giving something a body. So when we are writing we are giving ghosts of memories little word bodies. I am not sure what this means. They are just thoughts that I like to have.

I don’t think ‘true’ stories are possible. Maybe it is possible to have true music or true paintings. I don’t have an experience of making music or paintings.

This is the end of ‘content’. As you were.

Pork Pie Frenzy

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Here is a list of some of the lies I have told today. It is a ‘selected’ list of lies. The ‘collected’ list of lies would be laborious to type. The ‘complete’ lies would wear out my keyboard and set my cranky wrists going.

1. If you don’t go to sleep, you won’t grow. In fact, you will shrink, and then you will disappear, and then you won’t be able to go to playgroup tomorrow.
2. Yes, I put the bins out.
3. Yes, the stock list is ready. I will email it to you right away.
4. No, I really did put the bins out.
5. If you put your shoes on the settee, the monsters in the radiator will come out and get you.
6. I believe you.
7. I will have to speak to my line manager about that.
8. The seeds will grow tomorrow. There will be a tomato on your tree tomorrow.
9. The cheese plant will grow cheese strings if you water it nicely and don’t pull the leaves out.
10. I am going to have an early night tonight.

My mum told me when I was little that when I lied I had a black mark on my forehead and she could tell. I was a bit scared of this for a while. Then I tested it. A lot of the time, she didn’t notice the black mark. For example, I once told her that a sweet I wanted was not chewing gum (banned) but actually it was chocolate (okay). I knew it was chewing gum. I beat the black mark. That made me think I had special powers.

I also thought for a long time that I had switches inside my coat pockets that could make the wind blow. I never told anyone this.

If my mum is reading this blog I think she should post in the comments whether she remembers telling me about the black mark or not. I think it was a good thing to say. It encouraged my early talents. I am a bit concerned I made it up because it would make a good story or would help me explain myself to myself. I would like confirmation.

I remember I was standing in the back alley when she told me. There was a plastic wendy house frame but no wendy house on it in the back yard. I think there was a brown baby bath in the back yard too. That might have been for paddling, or she might have been bathing one of my siblings.

Tag thing

Sunday, April 27th, 2008

Nik Perring tagged me. Apparently I am supposed to forward this on to six people. Most of the people I know with blogs have done it already. I am late to the party. This nasty little tinterweb thing will die with me.

Six “Interesting” Things About “Me”

1. I have eight middle names.
2. I am allergic to other people’s spit.
3. Once, I killed my whole family and framed my Sunday school teacher for it. She’s staying at one of the Windsor chain of hotels at the moment, and I still visit her often.
4. I have lucid dreams a lot more than is average.
5. I can do really good magic tricks with coins and packs of cards.
6. I am the one person in the world who forgot how to ride a bike, and, after a three year break of not riding the bike, had to learn how to balance again.

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