It’s late, I’m tired…

But…

There’s more to this story.

Or that’s what I keep telling myself, struggling to stay awake and write the next sentence then the next sentence, and the one after that.

Long after I should have gone to bed.

Does that sound like your life?

Of course, it doesn’t.  The rest of the world is sane, goes to work, come home, have dinner, watch a little television or play with the children, or maybe not, then go to bed.

None of this writing business, trying to finish the page, the scene, the chapter while the ideas are fresh in your mind.

Only your mind isn’t fresh, it’s been a long day, an argument with the significant other, a bigger argument with the cat, there’s the washing, the cooking, the cleaning…

When do I get five minutes for myself?

At the dead of night when everyone else has gone to bed, getting their eight hours sleep.

In the dark with only the screen to light the keyboard, I’m trying to find the way around the keyboard and turn out what has to be the next international best selling thriller.

The dog next door barks, it means the cat got out and is terrorizing it.

A door slams, it’s old Joe getting home late from the pub, probably drunk again.

Yep, right on target, the vitriol of a bitter woman, and I have to say, I don’t blame her.

Then I hear it, that voice from the deep, “Poppy.”

The youngest of the grandchildren, the very devil to get to sleep.

Writing for the night is over, time to read other people’s stories.

Nothing is infallible, computers or memory

It’s late at night and there are twenty other story ideas that are currently running around in my head, instead of the story I should be working on.

These ideas are impinging on the current story, and somehow are finding their way onto the page.

Writing, cursing, deleting, re-writing, deleting, cursing.

I’m working on the latest book and it is not going well.  I don’t have writer’s block, I think it is more a case of self-doubt.  It’s why I can’t concentrate.

It’s why I’m thinking about the next story and not staying on track.  And that pesky outline, or synopsis, or whatever it wants to be called has gone missing under a pile of paper.

Next resolution, clean up this goddam mess!

This leads me to be over critical of what I have written and much pressing of the delete key.  Only to realize that an action taken in haste can be regrettable, and makes me feel even more depressed when I realize the deletions are irrecoverable.

Damn.  Whatever happened to ‘undo’?

I think I’d be happier in a garret somewhere channeling van Gogh’s rage.

Lesson learned – don’t delete, save it to a text file so it can be retrieved when sanity returns.

If it returns…

I was not happy with the previous start.  Funny about that, because until a few weeks ago I thought the start was perfect.

What a difference a week makes or is that politics?

Perhaps I should consider adding some political satire.

But I digress…

It seems it’s been like that for a few weeks now, not being able to stick to the job in hand, doing anything but what I’m supposed to be doing.  I recognize the restlessness, I’m not happy with the story as it is, so rather than getting on with it, I find myself writing words just for the sake of writing words.

Any words are better than none, right?

So I rewrote the start, added about a hundred pages and now I have to do a mass of rewriting of what was basically the whole book.

But here’s the thing.

This morning I woke up and looked at the new start, and it has inspired me.

Perhaps all I needed was several weeks of teeth gnashing, and self doubt to get myself back on track.

 

Burning the midnight oil

It is an interesting phrase, one that means someone is working overtime at the office till late at night, or early next morning.

You know, “Been burning the midnight oil again, Frank?”

It prompted me to look up its real meaning.  It goes back to the days before electricity where a worker toiled on into the night using only an oil lamp or candles.

In my office, I have neon lights that are so bright you would think it was a television studio.  Not quite the atmosphere needed when looking for inspiration.  That inspiration might be better attained in a more subdued light, and an oil lamp or candles.

That aside, those hours leading up to and after midnight are the best time for me to write.

At times the silence is deafening, another rather quaint but relatively true expression.

At others, there are what I call the sounds of silence, which for some reason are much easier to hear than during the daylight hours.

The bark of a dog.

The rustle of leaves in the trees.

The soft pattering of rain on the roof.

The sound of a train horn from a long way away.

THe sound of a truck using its brakes on the highway, also a long way away.

The sound of people talking in the street.

I’ve never really thought about it until now, but it will be something I can use in one of my stories.

Perhaps it will be the theme of another.

Damn, sidetracked again!

That’s two days of my life I won’t get back

Yep…

I just spent 26 and a half hours in planes and in airport terminals getting home, and lost two days in the process.  The 15th of January just didn’t exist for us.

This is what happens when you fly from Vancouver in Canada to Brisbane Australia, via Shanghai.  The thing is, everywhere way, way overseas is a two-stop run.  We have to break our journey somewhere, like Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Shanghai, Abu Dhabi, and for the sake of managing delays at the originating end, we usually end up with a mid airports stay of five to ten hours.

It all means that when you finally arrive in Australia, you are tired, and look it.  I feel sorry for the Immigration officials who must rarely see people looking good on their arrival.

This time we were fortunate to get back in the morning.  To save being picked up by relatives we arranged for a limousine service, and it worked out well.

I couldn’t say the same for some of the pickup services overseas, but that was more the fault of the travel agent here than anything else.

It only reinforced my thoughts on travel agents, some are excellent, and some are complacent, relying too much on travel wholesalers whose knowledge of the products they sell is appalling.

The original bookings were fine, the agent we used knew her stuff.  But she left and someone else took over, and not so good I’m afraid.

However…

On the whole, it was an incredible expedition, from temperatures of 30 plus celsius to temperatures of -21 degrees Fahrenheit, and rarely above 6 degrees Fahrenheit.

The highlight:  Lake Louise in Canada.  Everyone should see this place in Winter at least once in their lifetime.  Certainly, my wife’s 65th birthday, spent there, was something she will never forget.

And the sleigh ride, in -14 or -15 degrees, well, we might be eligible to be declared start staring mad, but seeing the frozen waterfall was just another of those magical moments that reinforces why we should be preserving the planet, not trying to destroy it.

But…

We’re back home and glad to be so.

 

 

Thoughts impinging on reality

You know how it is, you’re sitting at the lights waiting for the green, and everything is calm around you.

It’s a warm day, the sun is out, the sky is blue, and because they’re taking so long to change, you’re almost drifting off, somewhere else than in traffic.

Bang!

That awful sound of two metal cars crashing, short, sharp, incisive, intruding.

Lights changed, driver next to me, in a lane that ends on the other side of the intersection, pushes his foot to the floor, trying to get in front.  Another driver running a red light hits him.

I sit in stunned silence before moments after the scene bursts into life, people getting out of cars to help.

My eyes are on the car than ran the red light.  The door slowly opens, and a person is getting out.  I look closer, it’s a woman, bright red hair, and blood running down her face.

She is standing, stunned, looking around, then sees a man coming towards her.

Is that panic.  She looks in my direction, our eyes meeting for a brief second, then she’s running.

Towards my car.

Seconds later the door opens, she gets in, and the door slams shut.

Two men are now running towards my car.

“Drive,” she yells.

“You’re injured, you should wait for …”

“Drive, now, or I’ll shoot you.”

I see the gun, now pointing at me.

“You’re joking.”

One of the men is pounding on her door, which I noticed she’d locked.

“Drive.”

I did, pushing the accelerator pedal to the floor.

The two men were now running towards another car, reaching it before I’d got more than 50 yards.  My car was tired, old, and not very quick in a standing 100.

I didn’t tell her she’d picked the wrong car and driver if she hoped to make a getaway.

Before I made a 100 yards, there was a large black 4×4 hurtling towards us.

“Turn left here,” she commanded, pushing the barrel of the gun into my side for emphasis.

I did, nearly losing the rear end of the car in a slide towards the curb, just touching it before moving forward.

My heart was now in my mouth and pounding.

Death by a bullet or an accident, both were high probabilities.

Who was this woman, now indistinguishable because her face was covered in blood.  She should be bleeding out.  Perhaps she might, and that would save me from an ignominious death.

I could see the 4×4 closing the distance between us quickly.

Perhaps there was another way to die.

“Right,”

Another swerving turn.

“Left,” she yelled almost instantly after the last order.

A few seconds later, “Right”.  Then another “left, then floor it.”

The wrong car, I muttered under my breath.

No sign of the 4×4.  Had we lost it?

At intersection coming up, one I recognized.  The railway station.

“Don’t slow down, straight across.”

“Are you mad?”

Prod.

Apparently so, and with a death wish.

The front of the car crunched on the driveway, as I hit it at speed, the slammed my foot on the brake.  A train was waiting at the platform.

She was out and gone before the car had stopped, and the doors of the carriage had closed, all just before the 4×4 pulled into the station carpark.

 

Tap, tap, tap.

I looked over at the passenger side and saw my granddaughter looking in.

“Have you been daydreaming again, Poppy?”

 

© Charles Heath 2018

 

What do they call it? A busman’s holiday?

It has any number of names, from Leave of Absence to Vacation, but it is meant to be a time where you can rest and relax.

And by the time you finally get to go away, preferably somewhere as far from home as possible, you are sure ready for it.

Those long days at the office, the decisions, the deadlines, the endless pressure of having to achieve the impossible all melt away when you walk out the door, and what a feeling it is when you tell everyone, ‘I’m off on holidays, see you when I get back.’

As anyone will tell  you, it’s not wise to travel the next day if at all possible, because you need some time to decompress before tackling what sometimes can be an arduous getting to the final destination, especially if it is at a peak holiday period, or on planes where anything and everything can go wrong very quickly.

Been there done that.

We traveled the next day, nothing went wrong, and all is fine.

Except …

As a writer and having spent the last few months finishing off my last novel, I was looking forward to some down time.  The editor has the final draft, and I’m happy.

Then, as it always does, the best laid plans of mice and men …

It all comes unstuck.

Inspiration often comes out of left field; something happens, a piece in a newspaper, an item on TV, or just lying down staring at the ceiling, when ‘bang’  it hits you.

The start of a story, a theme that you can run with.

Damn.

I’ve been away for four days now and written seven chapters and the words will not stop.

If only …

Hey, what a great title for the story.

Sorry, got to get back to work!

 

 

More from here

So, I have partaken in two distinctive American pastimes, though probably not for all.

The first is ice hockey.  It’s not for everyone but I’ve adopted the Toronto Maple Leafs as my team, and they were playing at ‘The Rock’, otherwise known as the Prudential Center.

It’s not as big as the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, or as noisy, and the 80’s theme, I thought, fell a bit flat, but the game was good edge of the seat stuff and went down to the wire.

The Maple Leafs won, so I didn’t leave disappointed, like the last time in Toronto.  I could not say the same for the many thousands of Devils fans.

Going to the game involved negotiating the underground and NJ Transit, which with a little help was painless, just two stations on the A train, and two stations on the NJ line, about 45 minutes each way.

Before the game, we dropped into a bar and burger place and the burgers and beer were spot on.  So far we have not had a bad burger experience.

That was yesterday.

Today we went to a diner.  The Brooklyn Diner to be exact, and it was everything I expected it would be, atmosphere wise, as it looked old, and had a picture of Ebbets Field where the Brooklyn Dodgers used to play.  That the waitresses were not in the dress of yesteryear was perhaps all that was missing.

I was looking for traditional American food and was not sure what was on the menu, but there were spaghetti and meatballs, chicken pot pie, and thanksgiving every day.

I chose the turkey, and it was delicious.  I had a local beer which was different, and I finally got a cup of coffee that was exactly what I wanted.  Who thought it would be from a Diner?

Now, all we have is one day left, and that’s going to be for Red Lobster in Times Square.

Oh, and we did go for a walk in the Park just to lose some calories.  It was cold, about minus three, but we were undeterred.

Tomorrow its going to be warmer.  How odd it is to be cold one day and warm the next, then cold again.