Tuesday, December 31, 2013

It's All About The Build Up

I have been known to fall asleep during the ten minutes where something actually 'happens' in a film; or get bored during the battle but thoroughly enjoy the events that have led up to that battle or event. It happens a lot in in Statham films and to be fair, most action films because that fifteen minute car chase or ten minute shoot out is the least significant point for me. It's the build up that matters; the relationships along the way; the way the characters interact; guessing the plot before it happens and the eventual outcome that may or may not involve love or two characters eventually getting together; or the baddies getting their comeuppance or the goodies prevailing.

I feel this way sometimes in books. The first 300 pages can completely grip me, but those last fifty where the battle happens or the outcome is reached, somehow lose me. I crave the build up. I crave that eternal struggle, where anything is still possible; where the characters are still pushing towards something, against something, where the ending can still be re-written; a never ending crescendo of poignant events, cliff hangers, injustice and more often than not, pain. 

I find this can also relate to times of the year and significant events and festivals. Quite often it's the preparation more than the actual day that prove the most enjoyable. For instance, Christmas - unless you are between the ages of 3 and 12 - is all about build up. It's about that Christmas shopping; stressing out over who to buy what for; taking in a mulled wine whilst exploring a Christmas market and wrapping things up. It's about baking and the smells of cinnamon and ginger. It's about decorating the house and seeing as many people as you possibly can before the big day and it's about opening that window on your advent calendar every morning. (Yes I am thirty and have an advent calendar. What's your problem?)

But the day itself is just presents, food and drink and television. It's not a life changing, earth shattering day. It's just a day that is hyped up more than others and I find new year just the same. Yes it's fun to think about the new year and what it will bring but the night itself is always a let down. Does anyone really do what they want to do? Are you ever with all the right people? Is it ever this miraculous night where elephants dance on clouds and hyenas speak in deep voices whilst kangaroos eat lemon cake? No. It's just a night where everyone stays up longer than usual; no one can send a text message and people decide to try and better themselves in odd ways usually relating to diet and fitness.

I sometimes wish that feeling of excitement for something to happen, that preparation and build up could continue; that you never quite reach the slightly disappointing goal but exist in that perpetual notion of working towards something.

It's the same with writing. Writing creatively is tough but so much fun. Creating things; inventing things and basically letting your imagination out of its shackles can be so liberating and rewarding. And as you write and re-write and evolve your characters and plot you really begin to feel that something substantial has happened; that you have something tangible from these bizarre thoughts and notions that have plagued you for months.

But its the next stage, when you have to send it to someone else in order to progress. It's all good and well to write something and only have your friend or colleague or partner read it but when you reach out of your cosy little bubble of support and love, to someone else, a stranger.......that's when things get a little tricky. That's when your mind decides to conjure up countless other ideas to delay what you feel will be an inevitable rejection. That's when you decide to find any excuse to not send a submission; and it's why after a whole year I haven't, because I've been editing and editing over and over again; interrupting the flow, stagnating the time and putting off that disappointment of the event.

Preparing a submission is like eating far too much and then feeling so uncomfortable for the rest of the day that all you can do is watch shit television and groan. And that's what I have to look forward to in the next couple of weeks. Because it is that time again. There are no more windows to open on the calendar; no more cocktail opportunities with friends (though actually that's not entirely true) no more presents to buy, no more build up left. This is the end of the crescendo, the fortissimo section with all the instruments playing at the same time. It's loud and chaotic and a little scary but maybe this time it won't be the disappointment I think it will. Maybe this time the big day will be just as thrilling as the preparation. And maybe just maybe it will also smell of cinnamon and ginger.


N. B Don't get me wrong, I love being with my family and friends at Christmas. I love roast dinner and Christmas pudding. I love the idea of Christmas Day being this magical day but I just don't feel it anymore. Adult hood knocks a lot out of you. Not only those things you were so sure of as kids, such as the existence of Father Christmas and the knowledge that it would snow at Christmas, but things like your relatives that would always be there and just aren't. The people that are no longer with us; the dwindling numbers around the table; wondering if that time is the last time you'll see someone. It's actually a hugely depressing time when more often than not you think about what you don't have or who you no longer have, rather than who you have left.

And New Year just means an extra number tacked on to your age, again not so fun. So whilst I may have lost sight of my original point and I may have bummed you all out; what I'm trying to say is: Just give me the build up any day.

Happy New Year


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Spiders In The Sports Bra And Other Festive Tales

Hello and welcome to a rather festive Christmas Eve edition of Rants of a Bitter Northerner. It's been a few weeks in the making and long overdue. Expect eight legged freaks, world domination and novel despair.

So let's get crackin', after all it is Christmas Eve and you all have plenty of important things to do as well as reading this blog; whether it be wrapping, last minute shopping, visiting, food preparation or getting wankered in the pub. They are all viable ways of spending your last day before Christmas.

And so to our first tale: When looking after kids finally pays off......

My last teaching day was last Thursday. I had a family of two in the morning; a private music lesson in the afternoon and a last minute babysitting in the evening. So if you look past all the crap and the changing times and changing days and cancelling sessions and bed time negotiations and tantrums, then you find the good bits.......It's a shame you have to wait all year for them but it's worth it......
  1. For all the cuddles. 
  2. For sentences such as: "Helen, I'm going to miss you."
  3. For the handmade cards with all the words written independently inside.
  4. For beautiful homemade biscuits. 
  5. For the wave from the window and how much it makes you smile. 
  6. For the torrential downpour that still doesn't stop you delivering Christmas treats even though it's a twenty minute walk.
  7. For feeling appreciated and to know that you help. 
  8. For seeing the development and achievements they make. 
  9. For the nights when babysitting involves wine, the movie Tangled and two of the most amazing little ladies ever. 
That's when it's all worth it. 

Now you're probably thinking Rants has gone soft on us during this festive time, so it's definitely time for tale two: The Trials and tribulations of Chapter 21. 

Okay, so the third edit, this year, of my long awaited - though mainly by me - novel has hit a snag and not a slight one, a freakin' huge one. It's name: The Twenties. I am really quite happy with Chapters 1-19 and 30+ but 20-29 are proving to be the biggest ball ache. I change something and then I change it back and then I question that and then I throw a strop and then......Blah blah blah it continues on and on. It's the curse of the pissin' twenties and I need help.

I think the pursuit of perfection has taken an OCD turn in that no matter what I do or what tweaks I make, I know I'm then gonna tweak them. It's a never ending tweaking freaking machine (not at all to be confused with a twerking jerking machine, dear lord no!) and I can't switch it off.

So I have made the decision to fuck Chapters 20-29 right in the ear and prepare to send off submissions in the new year. Let's face it, they are only gonna ask to read more than three chapters if they're interested and the likelihood of them being interested is slim to none, so therefore why should I be stressing the fuck out of myself in mythical chapters that no one is ever likely to read.

By the way agents, I really hope you do ask for more and in the bizarre turn of events that you do, please only ask for the next 16 chapters and we'll be fine. If you could then sign me up then you would have to accept  the 20's warts and all. Muhahahahahahaha. And then you would have to help me edit it and basically make it good for me. Yippee. Can't wait.

And so to tale three and one of terrifying proportions: Spiders in the Sports Bra. No this is not the latest book by Claire Freedman (Author of Aliens Love Underpants) it is in fact a festive trauma that makes me never want to don my sports bra again. Prepare yourselves for absolute terror. You have been warned.

So A and I are not only vowels but partners in crime. Ha ha. Made myself laugh. Anyhoo, back to the tale. A and I were packing for our trip to Italy (first year not in my home village of Standish with my parents and brother) to see his family. We decided to pack running gear to enable us to stave off the Italian feasts that were bound to make us podgy.

I should probably note here that I haven't run in about three months as I'm a lazy bitch!

So I go into my bottom drawer and pull out my stretchy pants, stretchy skirt, sports bra, fleece top and a bandana. (I always run in a bandana and a skirt, this is not the terror.) I take them to my already overflowing suitcase and start to pack them when I spot a tiny crawling creature. Thinking it is the only one, I squish it.
Yeah, yeah, whatever, gods creatures and all that bullshit but I can assure you, I am much more scared than it could ever be.

Then I spot another one, so I squish it. Then thinking it was quite weird as we never get spiders up in our lofty fifth floor flat, I opened my sports bra to find loads of them crawling around on the bloody booby holding bit. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!
I threw it on the floor and called for A who shoved it straight in the washing machine. Then I started to investigate the rest of my running stuff and anything with a spider on it went in the washing machine to be exterminated.

Can you imagine how grossed out I was at this point. I mean one day I may have to wear that again and all I can think is, I don't wear a bra with that, what if a spider touches my boobs? AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!
So A then decides we have to check the whole drawer and finds a few more. He then says in a tone he thinks is reassuring: "Oh I think a spider made a nest in here and had lots of babies." AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Needless to say, that didn't help.

I did however manage to find my old sports bra devoid of crawly things and another stretchy skirt so I still was able to take a full running kit to Italy.

So, that'll teach me for not going running for so long. And if that is the punishment, I won't let it happen again. Spiders breeding in your sports bra....it's enough to make you go running every day........well not quite.

Now for my fourth and final tale: A Slow Domination of the World.

I have recently taken on a second school for music classes with under fives. The response has been huge and I almost have two full classes already. I also have a third school lined up for February time. Muhahahahahahaha. It's a slow domination but one day you will all bow to me. Or at least your kids will during a half hour of musical fun. Whoop!

I also have two picture books written and two more on the way, so expect domination of a picture book front too.

And so, whatever you're up to tonight, whether it be with friends, family, or just watching the Santa tracker - which incidentally crashed when A looked at it - enjoy yourself and make sure you're in bed before he comes otherwise he'll take those presents elsewhere. You have been warned. Oh and ladies, air out those sports bras every so often, you don't want a colony of creepy crawlies using it as a breeding ground.

Merry Christmas


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Snotisms and Hungry Bottoms

So, you know when I quit my job as a Pre School Teacher - glorified bum and nose wiper, though never with the same tissue - and I thought, hooray! no more snot and nappies and being sneezed all over and being a human tissue and climbing frame. Well........

Okay, so I didn't have to look after kids anymore - technically - but then money for unpublished, freelance writers who are not at all paid for their work, really doesn't grow on trees or bushes or hedgerows or anywhere really. And when you're good at something that can make you a few bob, then you do it, regardless of the extra fluids.

Today I took two kids to the play centre where they have three floors of soft cushioned climbing stuff and two slides and ball pools, etc. I get paid for essentially being a big kid, I know, not all that bad. Both the kids had bad coughs and runny noses, as all kids do at this time of year and I was constantly wiping one then the other and back and forth.

Then they both started snurching, which not only bugs me as a sound but defeats the whole object.
I said: "Don't snurch it up, you don't want to keep it in, you want to get it out."
The four year old replied: "I won't keep it in, it will come out in my poo poo."

Cue laughter. Now it's a nice idea but it doesn't quite work that way. I like her line of thinking though.

Then a little girl was crying and I helped her down to her mum, who had no intention of climbing up to help her child and as she came past her nose was running. Cue tissue. Damn it. I'm not even getting paid for wiping this one.

Oh and the other day when we were at the rhyme time at Kentish Town Library, one of the mum's couldn't take her eyes off her kid but seemed oblivious to the fact her baby's snot was in his mouth. Come on, give it a wipe. 

So far I've been unaffected by this surge in green nose slime but I have a feeling my time will come.....soon.

Now to hungry bottoms. We all have them and we all know just what they're hungry for.......
According to my four year old charge, "My bottom is eating my knickers." Genius!

I have now started saying that instead of my knickers are up my bum. It's much better. "Oh, my bum's hungry today. It can't seem to stop eating my knickers. Greedy bugger." Love it.

Oh to think like a four year old, that your boggies if snurched up will come out in your poo. Now that would be a disgusting thought. Urgh my poo's all radioactive green. Oh it's okay I was just snurching all last night. And that our bottoms are hungry enough to eat our underwear.

Makes me laugh anyway.

Enjoy a hopefully snot free Tuesday. No snurching please.And I hope your bottom is full, or those knickers are gonna get it.