The Line of Days

I've been marching the line of days, left, right, left, right, with garrisoned military tedium - write, clean, shop, eat, and the rest, repeat.  Saw the play 'into the woods' and a few local concerts along with a couple movies a the theater.  I'm still growing into my work change of working three days a week, something now complicated with a new very hands on second level manager.  Work little entices me.  What I'd always found to be true, that work is a boring and tedious fruitless time chewer, is being validated three days a week.  I sink below that weight, sigh and count the days until I leave, regretting that I signed a contract to stay on.

Internet browsing has offered some diversions.  Sometimes I dip into news stories but they so often lower my hope.  Cops tasered a 62 year old woman for walking away from him after he accosted a group of people walking in the street...which they were doing...because the streets don't have sidewalks...and charged her with obstruction.  Ferguson simmers, as does Syria-Palestine-Israel-Iraq-Iran-Afghanistan-the Ukraine and people in America are now pumped about the ebola virus now that some...well, one...case has been found in America.  It's in Texas, which often seems like another country, so that relieves a few people.  Billionaires have become wealthier and the number of billionaires in China are now over 350.  

Pumpkin Spice flavors are big.  It's the season.  Halloween!  Thanksgiving!  Pumpkin Spice!  Put it in and on everything, like dog treats, Tampons, condoms, and in bagels.  I've not checked but I'm open to wagering that pumpkin spice flavored edible undies are out there somewhere.  Science...amazing stuff.  

Science is making headways on several beaches.  India has MOM out there checking out Mars.  The Navy is testing unmanned drone ships.  A new material is said to enable humans to breath underwater and science thinks they're coming up with the means for telepathy.  3D printing continues exciting everyone about what can be printed and used.  

Flip science over and the dirty obverse is that climate change is growing faster than predictions, GMO is considered a savior for some and the devil for others, and humanity has wiped out about fifty percent of the animal population in the past 40 years.  We've been busy.  

Wife and her health, cats and writing occupy me most.  Wife's health is imitating an active yo yo.  Tucker has frustrated us by chasing other cats and peeing in inappropriate locations, like a new bed cover.  Brand new out of the box, literally purchased less than an hour before, and he jumps up and pees on it.  I think he's trying to tell me something.  My wife's brother-in-law has brain cancer.  He survived hep C, then lymphoma.  That went into remission but re-emerged to take a kidney last fall.  Now cancer is eating his brain.  Doesn't look good.  

Writing remains steadfast.  I write every day, escape, pleasure and task. Where once upon a time I thought myself close to the end, the plot and resolution was found to require rewriting so I'm pursuing it.  It's sometimes difficult thinking like one of the main characters as I'm pretty intuitive and he wants every dot connected to the next one in an orderly string.  His thinking forces me to sit and think like him so the writing has slowed to about 1200 words per day.  I've also edited some items out, slicing away side paths and unneeded paragraphs.  It remains, though, I am not a simple writer and my stories are complex. 

Read, of course, but it was all fluff.  If I listen when I read, I can often hear the writer muttering to themselves about what they're doing and how and why. in all but the very best books.  It's useful to hear those voices.  Keeps me grounded and balanced, at least in the writing way.

Time to write like crazy, one more time.

 

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Spit

After all the products I've tried to clean my computer throughout my computer use, which goes back to 1984, I've concluded that human spit is the best cleanser for the keys, mouse and monitor.  To borrow from Brill Creme, just a little dab will do ya.  If you don't understand the Brill Creme reference, Google it.

Mom taught me the miracles of using spit to clean.  When I joined the military, they also highly recommended using your spit to polish your brass and boots.  Spit and tissue, toilet paper if necessary, did a great job of bringing out the brilliance.  Shining your boots in basic was greater than the task but a matter of sitting down together with strangers in your unit and bonding as you buffed, asking one another questions and listening while goading each other into petty competition about having the shiniest shoes. 

There was none of that with Mom.  She was brutal about it.  "What's that on your face?" she'd demand of one of us.  "Come here."  Faster than a striking cobra, she had us in her grip.  Licking a thumb, she would mutter about 'you kids' while she vigorously rubbed the spit loaded thumb against the dirt speck until satisfied you were clean.  Meanwhile, my sisters and I were horrified that Mom was using spit to clean us, but she was doing it in public.  Mom didn't care where she was, and that included grocery and department stores, other people's houses, walking on the streets or in restaurants.  Dirt wasn't abided and spit was the cleanser. 

Her spit cleaning was more than learning about using spit to clean.  From using spit and a thumb because nothing else is available, I learned to improvise.  If I didn’t have what I need, use what I have, think outside of the standard space, explore what else can be done, and use imagination.   

So there I was, staring at my dirty keyboard, fifty plus years removed from Mom spitting on a thumb to clean my skin, licking a finger, rubbing down my computer because, well, I was writing and didn’t want to break away to go get something to clean it with.  That was really usually the case.  I just didn't want to leave the keyboard.  Besides, I had some spit available. Why waste it?

 

The keyboard looks a lot better now.

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Well, I suppose it's cheaper than champagne which Georgian gentlemen used to make their Hessian boots glow refulgently ... Read More
Monday, 25 August 2014 17:19
Michael W Seidel
It certainly is cheaper than champagne, Rosy. Refulgently - great word! Didn't know it. Thanks for expanding my vocabulary and f... Read More
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 06:04
Rosy Cole
Not my word, M. It was in common use in the 18th century to convey the importance of a fastidious turnout. Beau Brummel, the arbit... Read More
Tuesday, 26 August 2014 10:57
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So I Write

So I write, finding or creating these characters and their situations, trying to delve into their stories, seeking words and phrases and syntax, struggling over punctuation to tell enough of the story that it's entertaining.

But ~

We always have the qualifiers, don't we?  The 'but' in our ointment.  But - for whatever reason, perhaps something missing in me, I just enjoy the writing.  I love finding these stories and the people in them and trying to understand who they are, where they from and going, and what they're doing.  I don't know if I ever get it right.  Sometimes I don't think that it's possible to get right.  It's just too heartbreakingly complex, like most human situations.

But ~

It's another but, but I try, I try to share these tales with the rest of humanity.  Yet I need to confess, I've grown enamored of what I write.  I don't care if the rest of the world reads or likes it.  I like these places and people.  I worry, though, that I escape through it, that it might not be healthy.  Yet, what is writing but a combination of, well, a combo of trying to understand, striving to explain and share, while withdrawing and escaping.  Perhaps that's only how I see it.  Others may proclaim, that's not good, that's unhealthy. 

Do I care?  I profess sometimes I do because I want to be heard, read, understood and appreciated, but other times, I'm happy to withdraw into the false realities my writing creates.

I wish you could all come in and see and hear and feel what I see and hear and feel.  I wish I could go in and see and hear and feel what you see and hear and feel.  I guess that's the chasm we're all trying to cross, between who we are, who we think we are, and who and what we believe of everyone else.  Not everyone starts the journey but writers often do.

And then we can't stop.  It's an endless journey of infinite mind-numbing steps.  

I pity the people who never begin it.

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On beating bashfulness: why marketing my book is about them, not me...

b2ap3_thumbnail_72a58f27fbf1fa965aa56b3cc05d98c2.jpgThis is my first blog post here in The Green Room. I thought initially that this wasn't something I could sign up to. Not because I didn't think it was a good idea - it is a fabulous one and I have already enjoyed reading some of the posts published in recent days. No - it was about my ability to commit to writing for another blog, in addition to my own and at a time when I am getting ready for the October publication of my book Shell Shocked Britain: The First World War's legacy for Britain's mental health. But then I thought about the opportunity it offers to get things off my writing chest and perhaps learn a little more about what it really means to be a writer from those who have been there, done that, bought the paperback.

I posted on my book's Facebook page recently that I am worried about putting my head above the proverbial parapet and really getting Shell Shocked in front of those who will stock the title or offer me the opportunity to have a signing or do a talk for their organisation. The publisher (Pen & Sword) help a lot but still, the social media and talk booking side is largely down to me. For all of my adult life I have disliked that feeling of imposing on someone's goodwill - selling raffle tickets, asking for a donation to charity, marketing a business event. Even pitching for work has proved a challenge. Why would anyone want to read what I have to say, over and above all those other writers out there? How do I make my work stand out from the rest of the slush pile? Why bother?

It has taken three years of counselling to deal with that last one. I know I bother because I love writing, and thus far people seem to have enjoyed reading what I have to say. I look at other writers with admiration now, rather than awe. I have met and spoken to enough new writing friends (virtual and physically present) to know that I am not unique in my lack of confidence and that a certain humility is preferable to insufferable arrogance. But the selling thing is still a sticky one, and talks and signings even more gluey. What if I fall flat on my face? Look an utter pillock? See people fall asleep and hear snoring in the back row (if sufficient attend for there to be anything other than a back row.....)

When I wrote of my fears, I was wrong if I expected any sympathy for my own feelings in the matter. I was forced to consider whether this self-consciousness is itself a form of vanity. I am writing non-fiction, therefore it is not about ME at all. It is about all those who find their stories within the covers of my book; all those people whose struggles with the lasting trauma of a war experience and enduring mental illness I felt needed to be heard; about a view of our nation that, two or three generations ago, some assume to have been unaffected by a devastating loss that would leave society utterly devastated should a similar conflict happen today. It is them I will be talking about, not me. Stop thinking about yourself, I was told, very politely (for most writers are very polite). The audience (who more than likely will turn up,) won't be there to hear about you, or your own worries, so think about the stories and how important they are. Get over yourself woman!! (OK, that last one was me...)

So I am trying to lose a little weight and get fit, just to ensure I can stay resilient over the initial weeks after publication (and not to look too hideous in the photos) and I will buy a new outfit, keep clear of the dog (so I don't look down and spot hairs and dribble on my crotch at a vital point in the talk) and take the writer Gill Hoff's sage advice and resist eating before talking; burping is never a good way to show respect for your subject. I know there are writers on here with a lot more experience than me so any more tips will be gratefully received. 

And hopefully it won't be 'me me me' on here from now on....

Recent Comments
Rosy Cole
Suzie, thanks for being upfront and writing about this with such honesty. Believe me, marketing is an utterly cringe-making nightm... Read More
Saturday, 19 July 2014 17:44
Katherine Gregor
Your book sounds very, very interesting Suzie. So – go for it! And bestestest luck!
Saturday, 19 July 2014 18:45
Sue Martin Glasco
You described what many authors feel about promoting themselves and their work. And you are so right that it is far better to fee... Read More
Saturday, 19 July 2014 21:38
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