Story Planning and Design


The highlight of my week has been attending a workshop on Story Planning and Design. In fact, I am just back from Sydney, ninety minutes up the road, which in Australian is expressed as “just around the corner”.

Since my first manuscript took seventeen “tinkerings” (I can’t say that each of them was a complete rewrite), then I guess it is time I learnt some rules before embarking on my next project, which I hope to be an historical novel. Although – I have just started working on a travel memoir to fill in the gaps until I feel I have done enough research for the novel.

It was a very compressed course – after all, what can one expect from five hours? We did, however, address the main issues: character, plot, theme, setting, point of view, voice and genre. We got to take the face of a man and woman and characterise them: give them a name, description, personality and so on. By the end of the day, we got to give them a storyline, book blurb and opening page.

At lunch, another writer and I got into a conversation about what a delicious word is “crap”, and how we are grateful to our older brothers for inadvertently introducing us to it when we were so very young and impressionable. Inevitably, that conversation re-surfaced in my writing. I can’t apologise. If I start apologising now for everything I may write in the future, then I may  never write another word again. I can only hope it does not cause too much offence :-) Please consider yourself warned.

The room was 80/20 in favour of the females. It was surprising how many of the women despatched the male character. One dealt with him by putting rat poison in the home-baked pastry. She is a writer of flash fiction, so he was done and dusted in the first page. Another’s female character was into sharpening the knives, in preparation for the day she couldn’t cope with the twentieth call of ‘are you making a cuppa?’ Unfortunately, she had a slip with it in the kitchen, and he didn’t bother to tear himself away from watching the football to help stop the blood flow. There was a lot of blood flowing today. Another story started with a domestic violence scene. Let’s hope those two female characters get justice by the end of the novel.

We each had a book in front of us and were asked to fashion our ‘back of the book’ blurb around that example. Then were asked to select an opening line from about twenty on offer. We had fifteen minutes to write.

I always find this writing on the spot confrontational. I don’t suppose I am alone in that. But thanks to regular blogging, and reading the efforts of some of the bloggers I follow who are into flash fiction, I find it a little easier now.

So without any tidying up, here is what I came up with.

Blurb:

Liz Thurlow leads a comfortable life in Sydney’s leafy north shore. She has it all, successful husband, two children and beautiful house. But she is bored and hungry for change. When Tony Babic enters her life – a working class builder with an eye for the beautiful ladies – she is drawn to him, and to the excitement of an illicit affair. When her husband discovers them together, Liz’s life is changed forever. For the better. . . But it takes a murder first.

Opening (the bolded sentence is what I had to work from)

She was restless and more than a little bored. Liz Thurlow’s life was comfortable. Comfortable, safe and predictable. Twenty-five years married to Bob: Bob the banker, not Bob the builder. Two kids in uni, one of each type. The five-bedroom mansion in leafy Killara, every room professionally decorated, just like Liz, with her designer clothes moulding into her gym-toned body. She had it all.

But Liz was bored. So bored. She voiced it in her head. It’s crap. It’s all such crap. She liked the sound of it, tried it out on her tongue. My life is crap . . . Bloody crap . . . My bloody life is bloody crap. How she’d love to try that out on the old biddies a the tennis club. Bugger, bugger, bugger, my life is bloody crap. That would raise an eyebrow or two.

What if I told them it was effing bloody crap? Could I? she thought.

She was just getting her lips around the ‘eff’ when she noticed the van. It was trundling up the road towards her house. She imagined it was going to come straight into her driveway when at the last moment it swerved into her neighbour’s. She read the sign on the side: “Tony Babic Builder”.

She watched the driver jump out with an agile movement, saw the flash of a muscular thigh as his shorts rode up.

- and so ended my fifteen minutes -

 

When the Kids are away, then the Grown Ups can play


After a two week break, NSW kidlets returned to school yesterday. Luckily for us, we were able to have grandchildren #3 and #4 stay with us last week. We don’t see enough of them, but whenever they stay they are happy to go along for the ride; they never have any shyness or awkwardness with us. They are very good kids, and even though they tell me they fight, I assure them – sincerely – that all they are doing is negotiating. It is impossible to expect that they will both want to do the same thing at the same time, but their diverse ambitions are quickly brought to a win-win decision. And we have so much on-site to do – before we even venture afield – that is not hard to bring them to a quick compromise.

The boy, CA, who is almost ten, turned up with his PlayStation. We set it up on the small television in our bedroom.  I don’t know why we have this spare TV, because our eyesight has become too unfocused to be able to see it clearly, which is bad news considering I have a penchant for sub-titled movies. As well, Bill drops off to sleep straight away, so he is a lost cause. Oh! Now I remember! We decided we slept so well in front of the tellie in the lounge room, that we just had to get one of those for the bedroom! ha ha de ha.

Anyway, CA banged away on the PlayStation for the first couple of hours of his visit. It seemed to require a lot of repetitively pressing a button on his joystick handthingy – no particular skill involved, unless it was developing his eye to hand co-ordination. All the same I had to agree with him – “the graphics are really good!” Thank goodness he hasn’t yet acquired the current slang, he might have said they were, “awesome . . . “

A couple of days of family activity later, I needed a half hour to finish dinner. “You can go on your PlayStation in my room if you like,” I said to him. “No thanks Nonna,” he replied, “I’d rather stay out here with my family.” Sweet kid, that CA. He’ll go far.

EG, the girl, is almost twelve. She is at that age when her appearance is changing dramatically. Since we only see her every three months or so, it always take us by surprise.  I try to remember not to just think it, but to tell her (positively), how she is blossoming. Not in a way meant to embarrass her, but to build her up. I never had any practice with my own mum at these things, so it is something I have to remind myself to be conscious of.

Really, we can all take a lesson from that in everyday life, wouldn’t you agree? If we think something nice about another person, why should we be shy to tell them?

EG is a smart and thoughtful young girl, easy to talk with. She was born a tree-hugger. When she was very young, she would hang out with people for a while, and then wander off to talk to the trees, and then give them a hug for listening.  She hasn’t lost that sense of empathy. I hope the world returns her kindness in the years to come.

Even though we did lots of things together, there are also times when I found myself hanging around. An hour or more in the swimming pool at the end of the day is a must for all our grandchildren, winter or summer – and there is no way I am jumping in with them! Brrrrr. They also like to go on the computers in our library. Their current passion is Pinterest. The boy was fascinated with a photograph of a “fat horse”, otherwise known as a Shetland to my equestrian friends. They had great fun sending emails to each other, even though they were in the same room. (I had a sudden flashback to my corporate workplace, which became so busy and technologically constipated, that we could no longer speak to the person in the next office, and resorted to emailing them instead.)

So – I picked up the Book Thief to amuse myself in my off-duty moments. My girlfriend has been recommending it to me for some time, and I have seen the movie twice.

Well . . . I have rarely enjoyed a book so much in recent months. I had been warned it was hard to get into at first, and I suppose that could be the case if you were unaware that the narrator was Death. In my case, I just “got” where the author was coming from, right from the get-go. And such beautiful language – oh my! So lyrical, musical, evocative, so encompassing. I loved every word of it, and the humour as well. “Humour” you ask? “it was a war story for goodness sake!”

Well, yes, I did find a light, almost humorous tone running through the book. It is one of the features, I believe, which sets it miles apart from the film. The film was interesting, but it was visually and emotionally dark. I believe the book handles the tough, heart-wrenching material with a lighter, more observant, philosophical touch. To put it in Death’s words, Proof again of the contradictory human being.  So much good, so much evil. Just add water.

I’ve been a bit contradictory myself this last year. I have developed a habit of reading the reviews AFTER I have seen a film or read a book. So I was astounded to find that many people hated the book. With a passion. Some hated the language (really?), some hated the annotations at the beginning of each chapter (okay, it is an experimental structure that might irk some – but really? – reject the whole book on that basis?), some hated that it was “yet another book about the Holocaust” (really? – you can set a book anywhere in Europe in WWII and not mention the impact on the Jewish population? That is hardly focusing on the Holocaust.)

Well, as my girlfriend often says, she “wonders if she read the same book as the reviewers.” For my money, I loved every moment of it, and I am still thinking about it a week later. I can only imagine what Markus Zusak went through to produce the final outcome. I hope the good reviews helped him shrug off the negative ones. You sure have to have a tough skin in this writing world.

Sth American SkelchersSo – you remember when we were kids ourselves, and could hardly wait for the grown ups to turn their backs so we could play up? Well, living here, we are the big kids on the block. As soon as the grandkids were back home, we turned our attention to the next restaurant party. This time, the theme was South American. I toyed with putting feathers in my bikini, but just as well I decided to cover up, because the Brazilian dancers who entertained us would have been just too much competition! Instead, I dug around in the wardrobe, and before I knew it, had transformed into my version of a ‘gaucho’. I even trotted out the wig from the 70s night, and managed to plait it to finish off the look. Hope you like it!

Showing Off makes me have funny expressions

Showing Off makes me have funny expressions

Dancing with my imaginary friend

Dancing with my imaginary friend

Sth American professional dancer 1Sth American Professional Dancer 3

Book Review: The Milk of Female Kindness, an Anthology of Honest Motherhood, contributing editor Kasia James


Many months ago, fellow blogger Sandra Danby, asked if I would like to review The Milk of Female Kindness: An Anthology of Honest Motherhood by Kasia James (Contributing Editor). Sandra has two entries in the anthology, and arranged for me to receive a soft copy.

First of all, I should mention that my manuscript, now titled I Belong to No One, did at one stage, have the working title of Where Have all the Mothers Gone? Also, it is now broken into two parts: Motherless Daughter, and Childless Mother. Had she known that, Sandra might have thought twice about my suitability to give an unbiased review of the anthology :-)

Well, this is the first time I have ever done a review, so here goes.

The first thing to say is that I skimmed over the title “HONEST” motherhood. However, if I was expecting a white-washed, greaseproof-filmed collection of happy ever after joy-of-motherhood stories, then I was pleasantly surprised. The mothers in these stories aren’t all perfect, and they aren’t all sure it is what they want for themselves. “I don’t think I ever want to have children,” says Kitty Brody to her boyfriend’s mother, in her story Distance. Move forward five years, and she has two toddlers, “beautiful, clever, sensitive children“, of whom she is very proud. The twist in this tale is that her marriage has broken down, and now she is learning to cope with the guilt arising from being the “absent” mother – her ex has custody.

The anthology is a collection of stories, poems and drawings. Rhyannon Yates has only one entry, her poem “Only Only”, but her words pack a punch, a visual sketch of a woman who is about to have her second child, clinging to those last moments of sharing herself completely with her first-born.

There are stories from the past too, the Welsh Shawl by Ceridwen Masiulanis, and Hiding the Knives by Maureen Bowden, take us back to the times when motherhood was not a choice, and romantic expectations of attachment and affection were not a given.

In her story, The Biscuit Tin, Sandra Danby references the traditions we inherit from our mothers, told through the memory of the mother, who, in her dying days, speaks to her absent daughter. And in her second (short) story, Tin-Can, Sandra Danby explores the effect of dementia on the mother-daughter relationship.

There are plenty more stories and true-life accounts. The anthology’s editor, Kasia James, has both literary entries, and interviews with professionals involved in motherhood. One particularly touching and thought-provoking piece is from Heather Harris, a midwife delivering babies in third world war-ravaged countries.

The anthology includes a discussion section at the end, something perhaps the analytical mothers might like to ponder over – if they have time while juggling that work-life balance problem most of my younger friends are experiencing!

So – the verdict? An interesting, realistic, touching and poignant mix about motherhood over the last century – and who can resist this 1890 excerpt from “A Century of Advice to Australian Mothers” by Dr Carla Pascoe?

“Don’t forget the girls of the present will be the mothers of the future. Don’t fail to instil early into the minds of your little girls an interest in small household duties; the most womanly of womanly accomplishments consists in the ordering, managing and sustaining a home, as it should ever be found, clean, comfortable, peaceful, and homelike.”

Footnote: I did not receive any payment for this review. Sandra Danby’s blogs (2) can be found at: http://sandradanby.com/ and http://notesonaspanishvalley.com/

First you learn to read, and then you read to learn


I am not the only “writer in residence” in the complex where I live. My neighbour already has two books published: Blow the Wind Southerly, and Black the Night and Wild the Sea. I read the latter recently, a rollicking Australian adventure set in the days of sail, where brutal sea captains abduct natives from the wilds of Melanesia to work as virtual slave labour, and missionaries fight to protect them. And there is a love interest also, between an Irish rogue and a beautiful Eurasian missionary.

It is one of the few novels I have read in the last year. Others which come to mind are Nor the Years Condemn by Justin Sheedy, which is based on the young Australian men who volunteered for the Empire Air training scheme and ended up flying Hurricanes and Spitfires in WW11 (and there is a love interest). Also Pomegranate Soup by Marsha Mehran which is a quirky little tale about three sisters who escape Iran (around the fall of the Shah) and end up establishing a restaurant in an Irish village (and there is a love interest). Each chapter is preceded with an Iranian recipe, and I do so love their cuisine. But I can’t say I have ever eaten pomegranate soup.

Following advice that a writer should read in ‘their’ genre, memoir or biography has dominated my last few years’ reading. Even within one genre, my reading has been eclectic, including gems from well-known writers, stalwarts of Australasian literature, such as Ruth Park’s “A Fence Around the Cuckoo”  and Janet Frame’s “An Angel at my Table”. I even dared to hope I might one day be an established writer just like them.

Memoirs from lesser known authors – and more recent ones at that – have included: Judas Kisses, by Donna Carson, recounting how she came to be doused in petrol by her defacto, and how she went on to survive and recover from the resulting horrific burns but almost lost custody of her children in the process; and Nefertiti Street by Pamela Bradley, the story of a middle aged school teacher who goes to Egypt in search of spirituality and ends up marrying a much younger man.

I read two memoirs which are closer to my subject matter: Boy, Lost by Kristina Olsson which re-imagines how her mother lost her infant son, in the course of escaping a brutal marriage, and what happened when they met forty years later; and Ten Hail Marys by Kate Howarth, in which she writes of the struggle she put up to bring her son home from an unmarried mothers’ home, and then how she subsequently lost custody to his paternal grandparents, who denied her access.

This is just a smattering of the various books which have occupied me over the last few years, and all have been interesting in their own right, and all have approached the writing in a different way, with some styles being more engaging than others.

However, now my first manuscript is off my hands, I thought I could lighten up on subject matter. Apparently, readers of today are looking for a light read with a happy ending, or so I am led to believe. But I can’t help myself. Anne Summers wrote “Damned Whores and God’s Police” in the mid-seventies, a seminal Australian work on women’s rights. I never read it then, because at the time I was too busy surviving life to theorise about it. So I decided I should look into it now. I had to get the local library to order in a copy.

As the librarian was entering my request into the computer, her colleague looked over her shoulder.

“Oh – Damned Whores and God’s Police! I remember studying that in High School” (clearly a woman younger than me :-) )

My librarian squirmed, and looked a little uncomfortable, but it took me a while to work out the problem.

As she handed me my order receipt, she whispered to me, “That man standing behind you is the local parish priest. I’m not sure we should have been talking about these things in front of him.”

Clearly, she hadn’t been required to study the book.

“Don’t worry,” I said, “It’s not Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s an academic book.”

Then another thought struck me,

“Anyway,” I said, “Aren’t we supposed to be able to talk to a priest about anything?”

She just grimaced – so I guess I’ll never know the answer to that rhetorical question.

I’ve had a few weeks now to get started on my next book. Or at least, I could have started on the research. However, it seems procrastination must be my middle name. I have such a bad attack of it that I even made an apple pie yesterday. Let’s see . . . the last time I did that must have been around . . . 1995. I even made the pastry from scratch! Here’s the result.

Home Made Apple Pie

Home Made Apple Pie

 

Lavender Bay and Wendy’s Secret Garden


Cousin C, whose nickname is Smiley, rang me out of the blue the other week. I don’t often hear from him.

“How are you?” his warm voice with its unmistakably Aussie accent was mellow on the phone.

“All the better for hearing from you,” I said eIn Wendy's secret garden lavender bayMeandering paths in Wendy's secret gardenWendy's secret garden lavender bayWendy's secret garden lavender bayFormer boat slipway at Lavender BaySydney harbour from lavender baynthusiastically.

“Gee, that’s nice!” he replied.

“Yep,” I said, “I read it in a book.”

It is not only Smiley’s voice which has mellowed over the years. He is getting a bit soft in his senior years. He was ringing to organise a family get-together, and wanted to go back and check out Lavender Bay, the place where he, his brothers, and my brother spent their childhood. I was a part of it also, although given I was only six months when we moved, it’s fair to say I don’t have a strong first hand memory.

But this place comes with a unique history, and it was my  mother who first drew it to my attention. I had been doing family history, and had discovered her grandmother had been a Whitley. So when Mum was on about Whiteleys living in our former home at Lavender Bay I dismissed what she had to say as dementia talking. I was wrong. The home had indeed come into the ownership of the Australian artist Brett Whiteley and his family, and in the forty or fifty years they have owned it, it has been transformed from a run down, albeit waterfront home, into something very chic and trendy.

Brett Whiteley died tragically in 1992. Less than ten years later, his daughter also died, aged only thirty-five. Wendy Whiteley, wife and mother, sought solace in creating a garden from derelict railway waste land in front of the house, next to Clark Park. It is called Wendy’s Secret Garden. The garden is a credit to her passion and artistry, and is open to the enjoyment of any who chance there. It includes sculptures, seating, nature paths, plantings selected for height, colour and texture, as well as the fabulous Sydney signature, Moreton Bay fig trees.

My photos of the garden do not do it credit. I had forgotten my camera and was happy snapping on the iPad. Grand-daughter TR had been playing with it the week before, so of course any of the settings I was familiar with had miraculously disappeared, and I didn’t know how to keep the sun out of dazzling the lens. By chance, we stumbled across a professional photographer in the grounds, so there is more to be heard about this garden in the coming months.

Our nostalgia day included a further walk around Lavender Bay, with the guys checking out another park, Watt Park, which contains a sandstone rock face with a natural pool, which in the day, was their favourite tadpoling spot. This park also contains some massive old trees, and in the base of one, we found a possum curled up in the roots. Very unusual. It was definitely breathing, but we were most perplexed to find it at ground level. We left it alone, and can only hope that it was okay.

Natural rock pool in sandstone rock face watt park lavender bayTree in watt park lavender baySydney turned on a spectacular day for us, even though we were only a few days off the shortest day of the year, and it is winter here. As you can see from the photos, it wasn’t a bad place to grow up, even if they didn’t have a shilling between them. Three generations in the one house, a park at the front, harbour beyond, a boat slip nearby, Luna Park amusement park around the Wendy's secret gardencorner, and the harbour bridge just beyond. Of course, the Sydney skyline was much lower then, and all the hHuge tree in watt park lavender bayigh-rise around Lavender Bay did not exist, nor did the Opera House. Not that you can see that exactly from the house, but a short walk down to the water’s edge brings it into view.

Possum on ground!Do you detect a note of envy in this post? :-)   Close up of possum on ground curled up in base of tree

Getting Back to Where I Once Belonged . . .


I’m baaaaack  . . . I have a theory that as we get older, the brain cells which record time, die – and that is why our lives appear to be zipping away in front of our eyes, speeded into fast forward flickers. Perhaps that is why it seems to me as if it has only been a fortnight since my last post, when in fact, it was two months ago.

I use the term “fortnight” deliberately as I am reliably informed it is not in use in American English – so I am just throwing it out there (as my informant also does) in the hope it will entice some commentary on exactly what time period it represents :-) (The lines are open now. Our helpful staff are waiting to take your call – I mean – comment.)

Interestingly, my readership statistics have been strong over the last two months. I am not a blogger with thousands of followers, I am just chuffed that anyone wants to read what I have to say, but unbelievably, May was my busiest month since I started blogging twelve months ago. I had more than a thousand hits. So what can I learn from that? “Keep your mouth shut, Gwen! You say it best, when you say nothing at all!” (hmmm . . . could be a good line for a song).

By the way, what has been my most popular post of all time? (apart from the “about me” page). The post, (part of a larger travelogue on our European adventure last year), on travelling from Belgrade to Sarajevo by bus. Some hundreds of people must be contemplating the same adventure. Lots of luck with that :-)

Regular followers may recognise my silence has been due to yet another re-write of my manuscript. It absorbed all my attention. Well, the blessed thing went back to the editor yesterday, and now my role in the process is to forget all about it for at least another two months. Who knows if it will ever see the light of day? But, it is in good hands. This editor has had great success with female dramatic memoir, and her last four placements were from debut authors who were not studying creative writing at university. This is my latest cause of despondency. It seems everywhere I look, it is young undergraduates and PHD students who are being published by the mainstream Australian publishers. My editor has re-assured me that I am wrong about that. Fingers crossed.

Some of my blogging community are keenly interested in new books, so for the record, two of her recent successes are:

Saving Zali, by Lisa Venables: a mother’s account of every parent’s worst nightmare: a diagnosis of cancer with a shocking prognosis. (Pan Macmillan)

Call me Sasha, by Geena Leigh : Told with raw honesty, this is the true story of one woman’s life as a callgirl – and her ultimate redemption. (Allen and Unwin)

Okay, well, my manuscript is not about those topics, but I still have my fingers crossed. Mine centres around the loss of motherhood, with particular focus on the practices of the Forced Adoption period, which led to the Australian Government issuing an apology in March 2013. A secondary theme is the impact of mental illness on the ability for women to be functional mothers. (There are some jokes in the manuscript, but they are cleverly disguised as irony).

Goodness! I must be debriefing. After an intense two months of living in the late 60s/early 70s, it is obviously taking me some time to get back to the here and now.

Well, just before we leave nostalgia altogether, I will mention that I did come out of my bat cave to party from time to time. One was for a 70s themed party (would you believe?).

Here’s the real deal – A hot-pant wearing sixteen year old in 1971 before blow dryers or GHDs were invented (nice lace blouse though); contrasted with her alter-ego – wearing a top which normally has leggings underneath, and donning a wig which made her look more like Hiawatha or Pocahontas. There are so many things wrong with the passing of years! I stuck on a pair of silky pantyhose to deflect attention from the leg cellulite – ladies of my generation – I suspect you know what I am talking about :-), but what to do with that double chin?

1971 Hot-Pants Teenager

2014 70s night

 

 

Rome Was Not Built in a Day


Belly Dancer hard at work

Belly Dancer hard at work (not me!)

Many retirees will have heard the joke . . .

“What are you doing?”

“Nothing.”

“But you did that yesterday.”

“I know, but I didn’t finish.”

 

 

 

I’ve been a bit like that the last fortnight.  The problem with time in retirement is that it is often elastic.  What doesn’t get done today, can be finished any other time, whereas I really need the stress of a deadline to accomplish things.  For the last couple of weeks, I have let external prompts set my priorities, but along the way, I have severed my ties with the last of my pre-retirement life, and tidied a few loose ends as well.

The best prompt was when hubbie said “That’s opened up the room.”  He is referring to the way we re-arranged the lounge room furniture last Christmas, when we needed to make room for ten at the dining table.  I never mentioned we should put it back into its original place, because in my mind, our Christmas layout was only ever a half-way measure until I could get him on side to move even more of the furniture.  He is a “here is sofa, here is television – job done!” kind of guy, whereas I have been feeling claustrophobic for a long time now.  I knew if I planted the seed and waited . . . and waited . . . It only took four months. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Now I am waiting for him to get used to the new arrangement before I ask him to re-hang the wall art to suit the new furniture layout. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Our television, which had been suspended from a wall bracket, switches itself on at midnight.  The first time it happened, the sound of murmuring voices woke me with a start, and I thought we had a break-in (even though we live five floors above ground). I got around the phantom switch by turning the electricity off at the wall, but with the new layout, I can’t reach the plug. So hubbie played with the television settings, until between us, we worked out the root cause. Problem solved. It only took four years. Rome wasn’t built in a day.

A former work colleague rang to pick what is left of my brain.  That reminded me that we had started to clean out the garage a while back, and hadn’t finished by the end of the day. I recalled that I was about to throw out a box of “stuff” that could be useful for him.  Now all that was left of my work-life is packed up in a big box which is sitting in the hallway, waiting for me to arrange to get it up to Sydney.  At least that has a deadline . . .

In fact, “Finish cleaning the garage” was on my supposedly motivational list of “things to do“. I keep a filing cabinet in the garage, and we have bought a you-beaut shredder.  I dragged everything up into the lounge room, because it was dark and lonely in the garage, and I made an almighty mess all day, sorting out old “stuff”.  The shredder overheated and had a dummy spit several times during the day, but with hubbie’s help, that is actually one job that was completed.  A two inch strike-through on the to-do list is hardly representative of the day’s effort.

I don’t know if it was on account of moving the furniture :-) but poor old hubbie came down with gout.  I think it was because we had a fun Arabian night here at the complex, complete with a belly dancing exhibition.  I suspect he was so frightened he might be called upon to dance, that his ankle swelled up.  Hanging around, laid up on the couch, he got so bored he started reading appliance manuals.  He worked out how to turn off the clock on the microwave overnight, so that it is not consuming electricity unnecessarily.  Not that it will save much, but every little bit helps.  We’ve had the microwave almost six years, and it only needed two buttons to be pressed simultaneously to stop the clock display . . . but Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Hamming it Up for Arabian night

Hamming it Up for Arabian night

Note my belly dancing coin belt - note to self - must take it up again

Note my belly dancing coin belt – note to self – must take it up again

And so it went.  There were twenty-five items on the list, some needed a few minutes, some needed hours, some were trivial, some were important – none were urgent.  There are five still to be crossed off.  They will never get done, until something that is even less important pushes them to the top of a new priority list.

 

 

It was the same when I had a paying job.  The last three things in the in-tray never got attended to, even if I had worked hammer and tongs to clear the decks.  I always lost motivation once the pressure was off.

And in the last few days, I have a new priority that has pushed all the others into oblivion. I have received the report on my manuscript from my editor.  Now to settle to tinker with it some more. I cannot share how long I have been writing this story. It is just too embarrassing.

Well, we all know – Rome wasn’t built in a day.

But it WAS built – – – eventually.