Monday, March 30, 2009

Another week, another laptop

There are so many interesting things I could blog about. The fact that I attended my 20th year high school reunion on the week-end. Or that after 3-4 weeks of not writing, my characters have become strangers and I'm struggling to remember their names let alone feeling able to write their story. Or that even though my youngest has been saying the word "Mommy" for nearly three weeks, it still makes my heart skip every time she says it.

I could blog about all these things.

But really all I want to do is have another whinge about how technology has failed me yet again. The powers-that-be at work decided to take away the Mac I had last week and replace it with another Acer laptop. My fourth laptop in as many weeks. This one is second-hand too, but seemingly in good working order. And it feels a lot more familiar than the Mac, so I work quicker on it. And it's a Ferrari model, which really should make me happy.

But I'm very far from happy.

I've just discovered that the archiving the previous IT whizz did on my email program actually didn't work. I've been merrily looking forward to recovering the last 6 years of data, only to discover that it is unrecoverable. And now I've even lost last week's emails, so for the third time I'm starting with a blank slate. Which is not as pleasant as it sounds. I'm just beginning to realise how much of my life, both work and personal, is conducted via email.

So right now I am feeling completely unmotivated to do anything except surf the net. I'm going to catch up on reading everyone else's blogs and hope no-one out there mentions the word 'computer'.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Computer News

The powers-that-be at my day job have decided that I'm not worth a new computer, so I've been given a seond hand Macbook to use. Having never used a Mac before, my productivity has dropped dramatically.

As this is entirely a work computer, I've decided to keep it at the office and not to use it for my personal stuff, so my word counts are also going to drop until I can afford a new computer of my own. And the new one is going to stay my own. No more being carted to and from the office every day. No more being lugged onto film sets to get scratched and bumped and jolted around and powered by dodgy generators. And it's going to be hot pink.
(Rachael - thanks for the idea!)

At least I'm back in business and in touch with the outside world. The writing will follow soon enough because I firmly believe that where there's a will, there's a way.

Happy writing to all of you out there and may your technology never fail you.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Whoopee!

At the end of last year I entered a short story contest run by local Essentials magazine together with Mills&Boon. As I hadn't heard anything from, I'd pretty much decided that meant I hadn't won. Out of interest I picked up the new issue this morning - and discovered that I'd made the shortlist of the final 20!

Next month's issue will announce the final winners, so please keep all fingers crossed for me. Apart from the fact that the first prize is a laptop (which I now desperately need!) two of the judges are Mills&Boon editors, so this might be the first slow step to getting out of that slush pile.

This little piece of good news has made all the stress and strain of the past week fade away. Now I can't wait to get back to that last 8,000 words on my current WIP!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Checking in

The bad news is ... a cold front has descended on Cape Town and it was seriously cold on set today (out in the open air in a park).

The good news is ... I don't have time to pine for my girls as I'm too busy to think. After a couple of 15 hour working days I'm so tired I fall into bed. At least I don't lie awake missing them.

The tragic news is ... my laptop hard drive crashed on the weekend. I'm working on a borrowed machine at the moment but everything takes twice as long, as I'm not used to how this one works and keep hitting all the wrong buttons. No idea what I'm going to do for a replacement when I get home to Johannesburg, but I guess I'll leave that to the big boss to decide. The company can either buy me a new one, or save a few pennies and pay me to sit and stare at the walls all day.

The really awesome news is ... my baby is actually talking to me on the phone. It's not intelligible talk, but she responds when I call to say goodnight. And her older sister is getting almost chatty on the phone - though she still has a tendency to nod in answer to my questions.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Adios

I'm off to Cape Town in the wee hours of Friday morning for an international commercial shoot next week. I'll try to check in on various blogs and update this one, but no promises.

If this is anything like the last away job I did, I'll be working 16 hour days and falling into bed too exhausted every night to think of blogging. And there's that little matter that I only have about 8,000 words to go on my first draft, so that is definitely going to be my first priority when I'm off the clock.

I am really going to miss my little girls over the coming week. They're sleeping at my mother's tonight so I haven't even left yet and already the thought of them is bringing tears to my eyes. I'll just have to close my eyes and imagine that wonderful place where I'm a published writer and able to quit the day job (or alternately, go back to freelancing and choose when and where to work). Eyes closing now ...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

External conflict as a motivator

As my WIP has started to take on a life of its own, I'm beginning to worry about the balance between the external and internal conflict. Category romance is all about the internal conflict and too much external conflict is a quick route to rejection. But I wonder if external conflict is acceptable as a motivator of the inner conflict, if it provides a character with the incentive to change?

The situation is this:
My hero is an extravagant playboy who takes nothing seriously. My heroine takes everything seriously. He has inherited a multi-national corporation and she is constantly telling him he needs to step up and be more involved in the business. They uncover an attempt by the board of directors to oust him and he has to decide how to deal with this, whether to avoid confrontation as he usually does or to stand up and take responsibility as the heroine wants him to.

What do you think? Is the business angle simply a plot device or is this external conflict motivating the inner conflict - and does this make it acceptable?

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why I love Jeremy Clarkson

Okay, so he's not likely to feature any time soon as the hero of one of my novels, but the Top Gear presenter is definitely one of my all-time favourite celebrities. I love his irreverent, tell-it-like-it-is style and quick humour.

But today he really put a smile on my face. Check out this link to see why.
http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/jeremy_clarkson/article5821586.ece

Sunday, March 1, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

I attended a talk by Irish writer Cathy Kelly in which she was asked what question she hears most often. Her answer: where do you get your ideas from?

Since then, as I've 'come out of the closet' as a writer, I've been asked the same thing a few times. Every time it amazes me, because I cannot believe that other people don't feel it the way I do. For me, coming up with story ideas is like breathing. There are stories everywhere, too many to write unless I get blessed with a lifetime of a few hundred years or Nora Roberts' prolificness.

The majority of my stories start as dreams. Not day dreams, but real dreams, so absorbing and so vivid that I just have to write them down as soon as I wake up. Often, the dream gives me the characters, the setting and even the basic plot. I am nothing more than the story's scribe.

As I've begun to hone my storytelling skills, I've begun to find new stories everywhere: in the newspapers, in overheard conversations, even in songs. The difficult part is having to sit down and write them.

I wonder how other writers come up with their stories. Is it easy or difficult? Where do you get your inspiration? And do you have vivid dreams?

On a completely separate note, I haven't remembered many dreams lately. Maybe because a night of uninterrupted sleep is rare, and most nights I'm sleeping with my nose jammed up against the empty cot beside my bed, while the 'baby', who is already 18 months old and big enough to take up half our bed, jabs me in the back with her feet.

Now I'm off to bed and looking forward sweet dreams.