Posted on May 19, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
This weekend I had a sudden and almost irresistible urge to get on with editing my work in progress. Normally this would be a good thing – especially on a very wet Saturday when it was madness to go outside – but on this particular weekend I just had too much else to do. I suspect these two things are very closely connected. Either I didn’t really want to edit my novel at all so my mind told me I did while actually knowing I wouldn’t have time so it was safe to have that urge, or because I didn’t want to do any of the other things so I invented something useful I would rather be doing instead of being honest with myself about being too lazy to do anything.
This all seems a bit over-complicated and I could drive myself mad just thinking about it. The time would be better spent cutting up aluminium foil into strips or making paper aeroplanes or even doing some of the housework I didn’t have time to do on Saturday. Regular readers of this blog will know that the last of these is extremely unlikely. The other two are both essential prop-related activities. The good news on that front is that the rest of the props are now in the theatre with the exception of a banner saying ‘Knox Rocks’ which I’m hoping nobody sees in my car tomorrow, and a dandelion which I must remember to collect from the garden in the morning. I’ve been holding back on the weeding for some time to allow enough dandelions to grow, and I think I can say I’ve been rather successful in this.
Although some weird stuff is involved in this show, this isn’t the worst (i.e. most challenging) one we’ve ever done as far as props are concerned, and to prove it I will end with a few pictures I took in our props room earlier today. Some men are due to be doing work on the ceiling while we’re away at the theatre, and we took the pictures as evidence in case they damage anything.
Don’t do it, Mr Spinalzo!
Weird stuff shelf
Wall of weapons
Filed under: drama, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 11, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
The hostility of inanimate objects towards me and my family reached critical mass last night when the central heating switch went wrong and tripped the circuit breakers. We already had a broken immersion heater and a faulty dishwasher. I find it’s possible to cope with some but not all of these things at once, so today I’ve had to give in and use my maintenance contract to call in some help. Unfortunately this also means some serious de-cluttering and scouring of work surfaces will have to take place to enable the heating engineers to get to the switch without injuring themselves or causing a major landslide in the kitchen.
Interestingly (or perhaps not) I am also very suspicious of the new lights in my office at work, which seem to be pursuing some agenda of their own, switching themselves on and off intermittently as if to prove their power over me. We no longer have an actual light switch; instead they work out what to do depending on whether a rare ray of sunshine appears at one side of the windowsill and whether I sit for too long reading my Kindle at lunchtime.
Apart from an exponential increase in my levels of paranoia, this weekend is looking as if it will be much the same as the last one, with lots of little things that demand my attention: at the moment I am relying on memory to tell me I need to get hold of a small wooden bowl (done) and go down to the Money Museum this afternoon to try and source some replica coins, but one of the things I’ve been putting off doing is reading the props list to establish the scale of activity required of me. Yes, there really is a Money Museum, by the way. I will report back on it later.
In ‘other news’, George has moved into the conservatory now that he thinks we’re safe from snow and extreme cold. I just hope he’s right!
George’s new favourite spot
Filed under: cats, lifestyle | Leave a Comment »
Posted on May 4, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
I have lots of little things to do, so my mind is completely cluttered as the weekend starts. My mission over the next 2 days is to try and complete at least a few tasks to leave room in my head for the important ones! For instance, this morning I am in the middle of (a) preparing to post an application for funding for bowling mats (don’t ask), (b) applying bling to a hand mirror (see picture) which will soon be a theatrical prop, (c) trying to decide how many printed books and what sort of publicity materials I will need for a craft fair in 3 months’ time – OK, that one isn’t urgent at the moment but my previous experience of procrastination, though not of craft fairs, tells me that a bit of work now will save a lot of anguish and panic the night before the fair. There are also quite a few other theatre-related things to do such as locating a pack of tarot cards and trying to find the scanner cable. Not to mention urgent housework, which looms large in my mind but actually consists of a multiplicity of tiny annoying tasks.
As far as I’m concerned the important things mostly centre around research and planning for my next novel. Again, my procrastination track record is useful here in reminding me that if I don’t spend some time thinking about this now, I will be staring at a blank page in July, when I plan to start writing. I already know I only have a vague idea about the plot: all I have at the moment is the setting, a handful of characters and a working title which may still change before I start writing, during the writing process or at any time up to the point where I click on the ‘publish’ button.
Now that I’ve written some of it down, it doesn’t seem quite so bad. I think this panic about encroaching mental clutter has been partly caused by the fact that we are getting the lighting changed in our office at the weekend and I’ve had to completely de-clutter my desk there because the workmen are afraid of knocking everything down when they start swinging ladders around. Seeing my desk without its familiar covering of loose papers, papers held together by staples, treasury tags and clips, papers in folders, sticky notes in various shapes and sizes, spare plastic pockets and odd bulldog clips and drawing-pins underneath it all, was quite a traumatic experience. It’s almost as if the clutter has transferred itself from the desk straight into my head. I may need some time off with stress (not really).
Bling for the mirror
Filed under: drama, lifestyle, work, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 27, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
This sounds as if it must be some sort of neuro-linguistic programming idea, but I’ve found yet again during this past week that travelling in the real world makes my mind go to different places too. I wouldn’t say I had writers’ block with my latest mystery, but I was slightly puzzled about how I could fill the last 5,000 words that stood between me and my Camp NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000. Then I had to go to Birmingham for work, and hey presto! My novel took quite a different turn and I got to the end this morning while listening to Beethoven’s 9th symphony (the version conducted by Daniel Barenboim. I am now a bit of a classical music nerd and actually own at least 3 different sets of the Beethoven symphonies. Until recently I liked the Charles Mackerras set best, but now I’m not so sure).
Of course it was more or less impossible to write while actually in transit, even on a Virgin Pendolino [irony alert], and I also found my hotel room wasn’t conducive to it. The change of scenery seemed to put new ideas into my mind without much effort on my part, which is always welcome, and by the time I got home I was almost desperate to write them down and resented even more than usual the fact that I had to get up and go to work the next day. Sadly the new ideas will result in some re-writing further down the line as I try to make the earlier part of the plot fit into the later part. I just hope nobody will be able to see the join by the time I’ve finished with it.
As well as the joyous feeling of the plot being rounded off in the end, I now have the freedom of two weeks to do research for my next novel before I force myself to look again at the April one. In some ways I am quite looking forward to the edit. It’s often very satisfying to bring order out of chaos, although I must say that in my life it sometimes works the other way round.
Before I go and celebrate, I’d like to mention that while in Birmingham I visited an interesting place, Winterbourne House and Gardens, owned by Birmingham University and open to the public. It has been the subject of house and garden restoration in recent years and is well worth seeing.
Filed under: lifestyle, NaNoWriMo, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 20, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
I’m having a lot of trouble staying focussed on writing the first draft of my latest mystery novel, which is slightly worrying in case it means readers will have a similar problem with it. Of course I have the ‘excuse’ that I’m not used to writing a novel in April, although that’s not exactly watertight. Apart from having my birthday in it, April is one of the quieter months of the year as far as distractions are concerned, and I got off to a flying start with this novel too. Anyway, I’ve reached 40,000 words so I will definitely get it finished now, even if I have to go back later and put some more gripping scenes in it to keep people spellbound.
In a way I’m a Kindle victim as I have been reading approximately a novel a day for weeks now and although I intended to stop while I was writing, this hasn’t happened. So I am probably getting too many stimuli from different kinds of fiction. There is also a lot going on at work, and in fact I have to go to Birmingham on Monday. I will conscientiously take my netbook with me and try to keep up with the word count, but that may turn out to be impossible with all the PEOPLE around! On the other hand, it may give me a bit of a kick-start, especially if I come across any different ways of murdering my hapless characters.
I suppose I’d better explain the heading for this post. It’s a little snatch from a song my son and I once wrote for a children’s pantomime (‘Treasure Island Reloaded’). The song started with ‘Sailors jigging on the rigging’ and got rapidly worse as you can probably tell from the locust reference.
Filed under: lifestyle, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 13, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
This will be even quicker than last week’s report on how my latest novel is going. I feel quite conscience-stricken as I have now consigned another long-standing character to a hospital bed (and not for the first time in the series either). However this news is eclipsed by the fact that I’ve had my ‘escape to the cattery’ moment – not sure yet if it will be the only one in this novel or whether I will need the ‘time-travelling doughnut’ device mentioned last week too. It’s nice to know the magic still works. I am never quite sure until it happens.
In other news, the nextdoor neighbour stopped her car on Thursday to apologise for the fact that she hadn’t cleared up the dead pigeon in the car park behind both our houses (she’s nice like that!) and I broke into fawning apologies for the fact that my cat had to be the chief murder suspect. When I got out of my car a few minutes later, I found a row of pigeons glaring at me from the fence. It was almost like a scene from ‘The Birds’ – but not quite. Assuming Jacques was indeed the killer, of which I’m not at all sure as the local pigeons seem to be incapable of telling the difference between panes of glass and the wide open spaces of thin air through which they fly, I suppose the pigeons as well as the magpies now have a grudge against him. At least the pigeons make a more soothing noise, although I’ve yet to hear them when they get really cross.
Filed under: cats, writing | Leave a Comment »
Posted on April 6, 2013 by mccallumogilvy
This will be quite a quick report on how I’m getting on with the latest novel in my mystery series, not because I can’t wait to get back to writing it but because I ‘have’ to go out to the theatre this afternoon. When I say ‘have to’ that means I have the ticket, in fact I have 2 tickets, one for me and one for the friend I usually go with, and the friend will be expecting me to bring them along at 1.45 pm when we usually meet. Having seen a bit too much of the inside of a theatre in the past couple of weeks, sitting in the audience doesn’t exactly fill me with joy and wonder, but I mustn’t be so grumpy because I really do like going to the theatre as an innocent bystander. Unless I notice something annoying about the set or props, that is.
Anyway, I’ve now written over 13,000 words since Monday morning, killed a character off and cast several more under suspicion of murder. A long-standing central character has been exiled to some dangerous but unspecified location, and – the worst thing of all – the Queen of Scots pub, centre of social life in my little town, has closed its doors. So I am really putting my characters through a lot of anguish this time. Who knew I could be so hard-hearted?
As often happens, the plot isn’t developing quite as expected. Something that was meant to happen in chapter 4 has now been moved back to chapter 8, and a lot of characters from previous novels in the series have suddenly poked their noses in. I haven’t yet had one of these ‘escape to the cattery’ moments as I call them, referring back to a situation where two of my characters had to take refuge in a cattery while being chased by the police and others. These moments, also known as the ‘time-travelling back to Greggs’ in Kirriemuir for a doughnut’ episodes, only happen when I am completely desperate for somewhere to go with the plot. I haven’t quite got to that point yet. But it’s only a matter of time.
Filed under: drama, lifestyle, writing | Leave a Comment »