Freedom From The Mundane - A Writer's Blog

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

St. Andrew's Day

HAPPY SAINT ANDREW’S DAY!!!



I‘ve had an early re-subscriber for next month’s batch of Hunting Jack though I've lost one of the five I had at the start which is a shame. I now have four subscribers and I still hope to add to this tally with some careful promotion. I forgot to mention I printed off several hundred A3 and A5 colour fliers at the weekend. All I need now is a small guillotine to cut them up for distribution about town and work.

I always try to make the final issue of a subscription period extra full of suspense and give it a cracking cliff-hanger to help people press the re-subscribe button. It’s a marketing tool I know, but not every issue can have a big dose of drama - I think it would become too heavy for the reader and too much of a burden on me. But some of the ones that I have written are good and there is obviously more to come. Issue 36 ends with a real bolt out of the blue, and while it fits with the story, it also moves it into a new phase – which I am now struggling to connect to for lack of a good location in Glasgow, but I’m working on it.

Over lunch I caught up with reading all my own subscriptions from KIC over the last six weeks. That’s a total of 30 issues because I subscribe to 5 serials from other authors. Keep It Coming really has been wonderful for me – it’s a fantastic medium. As a writer I have learned so much from it and am enjoying the experience more than I thought I would. When it’s all over I do intend to market Hunting Jack for an agent. I am so proud of it (so far anyway). When I printed off the full text so far there were some errors I noticed; missed in the production line of getting issues out. Though not major ones, it’s impossible to get away from the fact that as a novel, this is only a first draft and so will change somewhat to its published state – if it ever happens.

We didn’t really do anything in particular for St. Andrew’s Day. It’s a non-event in Scotland which is a shame, as it should be recognised somehow. The Rabbie Burns celebrations are more part of Scotland’s culture than our own Patron Saint, but I think that’s probably down to it revolving round a set of rules – which involve drinking lots of whisky.

Gail was out for drinks after work so I had to wait until she got home before I could join my mate up in town for a couple myself. He's not usually in town so it was great to catch up on him. We went to Biddy Mulligans on Grassmarket and had a few beers.

It was strange going out at 10:30pm at night. The streets are far quieter than on a weekend at that time and the glow from the street lights reform the look of the city. Being in an empty and darkened Grassmarket is even more spooky, when you look up to see the towering Castle all lit up and standing proudly on it's rock.

Click to enlarge

Colin 10:38 pm | 2 comments |

Monday, November 29, 2004

Stella And 2-Tone

Fresh and freezing, would be the best way to describe the weather. With an ocean blue sky overhead and the autumnal weather toying with winter, my beanie hat days are not far off now. Beanie hats are vital for a baldy during the winter months. Apart from the obvious need to keep your head and body warm, I have a nice selection of Madness beanies, illustrating that they are a not just vital for warmth, but vital for your average Madness fan to look great going to work.

I desperately wanted to listen to Yello’s album Stella again this morning. Regular readers will know I love this album, particularly at this time of year. The problem is that I only have it on cassette tape and have yet to convert it to mini-disc or buy the CD. So I dug out my old 6x4x1.5 inch “walkman”. It is so bulky and heavy but the desire to listen to it was too great.

I printed off all the lyrics to the songs from Stella and am going to write a story based on the soundtrack to the album. I have often thought about this since it was released in '89 and I think the time is right. I see romance, an international spy agency, murder, a vampire, misty moonlight over a river, a deserted railway station, a hint of the Netherlands and maybe Switzerland, a pub called The Three Roses. Hmmmmm.

I spent some time trying to track down the meaning of my weekend dream – the one with the bleach. I wrote to a couple of dream websites and mentioned it in my forum. One idea that came back to me is to get a Dream Catcher. I like the sound of this and am going to look into them; a shop recommended by Devon to which I still want to visit to find out more about Calvanism.

Struggled to write again. My laptop just lay open and nothing came. I’m getting ever frustrated so took a new line and started a brand new short story. It worked. I wrote over 1,000 words but it’s very rough and not finished.

I watched a fantastic documentary tracking the history of 2-Tone and the political/musical influences behind it all. 2-Tone defined my life and one of the bands, Madness, have been the single biggest positive force in my life since I was 6 years old.

2-Tone gave me an identity, and as I moved into my teens it gave me the affirmation that it was okay to be different and do your own thing. Who gave a shit if you didn’t follow the norm? Why reason why – when you can reason, why not? And this is the reason I still go to see these bands, because what they stood for wasn’t just fast reggae, it was multi-culturalism and acceptance of one and all. Many people mistake the skins as being fasciast Nazi’s – WRONG! They were the bad apples who attached themselves to the movement. 2-Tone is based on black and white, and the music is essentially derived from the Rude Boy’s of Jamaica. Hardly racist is it?
Colin 11:00 pm | 0 comments |

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Procrastination Or Quality Time?

Inspiration struck me during the night. It came to me in a dream; the best location for Jackie to have this meeting and advance to Edinburgh. It was about 5am and I was woken by Gail returning from the wedding. By the time I got to my notepad it was gone; lost from my mind forever.

The day proved to be fruitless on the writing front. I could not summon the will to write and caught myself in a downward spiral. I keep telling myself to write anything but I was empty; devoid of inspiration. I still can't find my photo album and am becoming quite concerned.

I spent the day with Laura, watching DVD’s, drawing things and colouring in; the usual stuff, but I drew the line at playing with her Barbie bust you can put make-up on and do its hair.

Here is one of the pictures she drew. Note the word ‘Boys’ on my t-shirt.



So the day may have been a writing loss, but I still had fun.
Colin 11:11 pm | 3 comments |

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Tour Madness

I got a nice wee package through the post this morning, all the way from Holland – a preview copy of Tour Madness, a documentary book listing details and reviews of every single gig and television appearance that Madness have ever played. Spanning 25 years it is a superb record of every single concert from the early days of 2-tone through the secret gigs in the Dublin Castle in May. From a writing point of view, the book contains a few entries I sent the author concerning gigs I attended that he held no information on, hence why I received an advance copy for free.

When I woke, it was to the sound of Laura at the side of the bed.

"Mummy, there's water all over the floor of the kitchen."

I knew what had happened immediately. Gail shot out the bed, then the familiar thuds of her feet returning to the bedroom as she came to kick my arse.

I left the freezer door open all night, confirming that not only am I a "twat!" (Gail's words), but that I did indeed have tomato soup last night, and dipped fish fingers into it for my post-drinking snack. I don't know what's more worrying - answers on a postcard please.

Gail had been invited to a wedding with her pal so I already knew my day’s core activity would involve baby-sitting (or kid sitting as Laura insists on calling it). Laura is not one to be left to get on with things herself and tends to prefer the company of anyone, rather than no-one. Unless that is, The X-Factor or Strictly Come Dancing is on the television.

The opportunity to get my laptop out didn’t arrive until Strictly came on (as predicted) but when it did I struggled to get started. I need a location in Glasgow where Jackie meets up with another character, and it is at this meeting he discovers two key points about his father’s whereabouts and makes the decision to head to Edinburgh. The trouble is, I can’t think of anywhere suitable enough and haven’t been able to for the last day or two. So I wrote my Blog to get the fingers tapping and the brain flowing.

It was a good day to be inside though. Outside, dark clouds provided the occasional shower and it was very dreary and dank. Not the sort of climate suited to a wedding I would have thought. I can never understand people who have weddings in the autumn – it’s just too unpredictable. The middle of winter is fine if you can guarantee snow; cold if you’re in a kilt, but nice for the pictures.

My pal Tom told me last night while in Clark’s that he has a wedding to go to on New Years Day! To me, it is a nice effort to have a romantic wedding anniversary, but not conducive to having a good time. Most people will have been out celebrating Hogmanay and there are bound to be a few red eyes and stale breath at that ceremony!

So I finished writing some of my Blog but the rest didn’t come. I couldn’t find the spark or will to fight through it, so as not to waste the evening entirely, I got out my copy of The Complete Works of Edgar Allan Poe and had a good read.
Colin 11:08 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, November 26, 2004

Pre-Christmas Night Out

9am - Woke up. I slept in, though I wasn’t late for work – just later than I wanted to be, but I did get a cracking night’s kip. All this insomnia finally caught up with me and I had my head down by 11pm last night and. 10 hours of some pretty weird dreams and foggy brain shenanigans.

I dreamt I took several gulps of lemonade out of a bottle, but when I looked at the container to see why it tasted flat I realised I had drunk thick bleach. Suddenly the smell from the chemical started to fill my nostrils and my throat burn from its razor sharp taste. I ran to the toilet to try and be sick but my stomach just convulsed, unable to bring it up. It was then I woke up coughing with a horrible feeling in my stomach.

Now, two questions must be asked at this point. 1) What does this mean? 2) Is it possible (like drowning dreams) to kill yourself during a dream like this? I may have to investigate further because this was as vivid as it gets.

10:00 - And as such is the way in the office I did bugger all. Not a whisper of work. Well – I altered some blokes system setup for a tool we support but it was hardly brain surgery.

12:00 - Hit Clark’s Bar with Dave and Tom and enjoyed three of Mr.C’s finest jars of Lager.

14:30 – Back to the office with a cup of Butterbean and Leek soup and a tuna roll. A voice message was waiting for me, left by Gail earlier on when she must have tried to call.

“Not at your desk then?” she said.

“You’re probably in the pub with Dave. Say hi to him. When you grace the Company with your presence please call me about tomorrow’s baby-sitting duties when I am out partying and you won’t be.”

I love her so much. :-)

16:00 – Back to Clark’s Bar (yes, they are sick of the sight of us) for some more of Tennent’s finest drink, and Edinburgh’s finest patter. Dave was due home about 5.30pm to bath his baby girl, but after some intense negotiations over the phone from the bar, persuaded his wife Isla, to take the reigns for the evening too.

19:00 – Back to work. Still had no dinner though I am regretting offering to do this shift now. I would much rather have been back in Clark’s with the lads but I’m what you might call a “money grabbing bastard” so hey – what can you do?

20:00 – I was leaving the office when I met up with one of the Operators and we went to Clark’s for a pint. He headed home so I went round to Hamilton’s where the rest had gathered.

21:00 – Arrived St. Vincent’s Bar and I won in a 15 round game of Killer Pool. I was accused of pilfering bottles of beer from an aggressive Cockney who ended up getting on Zander’s nerves a well. He soon calmed down though.

00:00 – Made it home. No bread left so I couldn’t have a cheese sandwich. I think I remember eating fish fingers and tomato soup – a strange combination I know. Crawled into bed and probably snored a lot.
Colin 11:16 pm | 1 comments |

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Thanksgiving

To all my American writing buddies who celebrate it.....



(While I was searching the net for that Thanksgiving banner I also found this under the heading Thanksgiving Gobbler...)



Well I thought it was funny.


Anyway.

Nobody here (UK) celebrates Thanksgiving (although Sainsbury’s have reported Pumkin Pie simply walking out the door), but I like the message behind it; be thankful for what you have and love your family. It’s a nice sentiment and maybe there is something us lot can learn from it. Obviously if we adopted it as an official holiday it would mean a couple of extra days off work, but think of the value’s it would instil in our young!

So I got to thinking; what am I thankful for? I made a list...

I discovered the art of working through exhaustion today – and I believe it IS an art. After several nights of insomnia and last night’s lateness in getting to bed (though I was out quick thanks to the hops), I feel absolutely knackered. The problem is, I still had some things on this weeks Must Do List that I promised myself I would have completed.

So I fought through the pain and turned in the completed Theatre Review and redrafted the Website Column for KIC Magazine. I also completed the artwork for the column headers and sent them in as well. The Website logo is really good, classy and modern but I’m not so sure about the theatre logo. It’s an embossed picture of the inside of a theatre with the header in yellow bookman – I’ll see what my Ed thinks – it’s easily changed.

I was catching up with my notebook entries and came up with two ideas for short stories and tidied up my desk of notepapers and cutouts from newspapers and magazines. It’s funny how this stuff builds into a mess so quickly and yet within it there are diamonds of ideas and inspiration for future stories.

Then I had an early night – and boy did I need it.


Colin 11:00 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Will Sucking Magnets

Yet again I start my Blog with an exhausted mind and uncoordinated hands. For last night, the third in series, I could not sleep again. The problem is now compacted because Gail is sleeping light and broken, meaning she tosses and turns constantly. I resorted to the radio by my bed but there was nothing relaxing on – who the hell listens to rap on a Tuesday night at 1am anyway?

The result of this lack of sleep is that the small irritancies at work now appear huge in my mind. All the wee snidey comments made by people are magnified and I want to burst the plaster of the fake wall with their faces. Either that or just get up and leave. I can’t stand it. I know I will be able to let it slide when -- as I write, the fire alarm just went off for the weekly test, piercing my ear drums with a mind splitting screech, for my own safety and comfort in this place that we like to call a home from home—where was I? That’s right – I know I will be able to let it slide when I am not so tired, but listening all these mind-numbing tasks and boring conversations about Microsoft’s latest angle on e-Commerce strategy seem to be irritating me more these last few days. I know, that given a damn good sleep, I will be able to ignore it once more.

Each day it becomes more apparent (this is a new subject so stay with me – I know I’m on a rant – don’t need told) – I walk to work after having a nice coffee. Even if the weather is poor, there is still enjoyment to be had from the freedom of mind of being “out” in the open. It’s nice – I enjoy it – it inspires me.

Then, almost comparable to the flicking of a light switch, as soon as I walk in the door of this office, my life is sucked into its irrelevant oblivion. All creativity and freethinking disappears in a puff. You can actually feel it leave the physical.

It’s as if there is a giant magnet around the door that sucks the soul out of you as you walk in and traps you in a huge field of anti-free-thought -electro-magneticism.

At lunchtime I go and get a sandwich or soup (or both when I’m feeling reckless), and things pop into my mind – prose, poems, characters, plots! Then I return with my lunch and it’s gone again - suppressed by the magnetic forces of evil. As soon as the day is over, and the doors are behind me, I feel fine again. No stress, free, inspired to be creative.

This is why I find it hard to write during the day, struggle for hours with a column or review or issue of HJ. No problems when I get out though, no siree. But in here? It’s a cauldron of deceit and greed and restrictive horribleness (is that a word?).

I did get some stuff done though. AM I worked through a press release for a friend and gave some advice where I could, albeit limited. She seemed pleased with it and I hope it helps her promote her stories because she really deserves a whole load of success. I was just glad I could offer my help.

Afternoon I wrote a full copy of my website column, changed it about, added info to it – it still needs work but it’s getting there. It’s a relaxed, easy style so it should be easy to follow.

Evening – went for a beer and beat old Ian again. 6-2. Our usual table was not available due to a function so they had us in the Executive Suite; plush table, private loo and television, comfy couches and a chord to get the bar staff to come through with another round. Bliss!
Colin 10:54 pm | 1 comments |

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

No Sleep, But Battling On

I couldn’t sleep again last night. I don’t know what’s wrong – well, I have my suspicions – but that’s two nights in a row I have seen the clock pass 2:30am. I walked home from work yesterday to deliberately try to tire myself out but it still didn’t work. It’s infuriating, lying there with music blaring in my head, unable to think about writing or anything relaxing to take my mind off everything enough to get me to drift off.

So I got up and watched Monday Night American Football Live – New England versus Kansas (27-19) with a glass of milk and ham sandwich. Not that I know anything about the sport, but at that time on a Monday night it was a choice between the NFL or Chinese sign language, skiing, an audio-dubbed film with horrendous acting and BBC News 24 showing looping repeats of the news.

I did finally fall asleep, but as a result I slept in. My work flexi-time starts at 10am and my eyes opened to see the clock flick onto 9:50am. I never even heard Gail or Laura getting ready or leave the house – which is amazing in itself – and it was only by chance I woke up because I had one of those ‘falling off the pavement’ dreams.

I was too tired to notice anything today, too irritated by lack of sleep and un-motivated to be inspired. I just want to sleep. Even when typing this Blog I am making stupid errors on the keyboard – as if my fingers don’t seem to be in line or fit over the keys anymore as they slowly try to find remember the way to go.

I got given some ‘real’ (*snigger*) work to do today which took all of five minutes and so I spent a large chunk of my non-creative time (9 till 5) rewriting my theatre review for KIC. It didn’t take all day, but I made sure it was one of the things I finished. I’ve been doing a lot of reading of reviews on the net and decided an overhaul of the structure would be in order. It’s much better now but instead of being 200 words over the limit, it is now 400 – so more editing was required when I got home and it is now just under the required amount..

The Website Development column is also taking shape. I decided to go with an introductory style to the column as well as for anyone classed in the beginners’ category of web design. I have also decided to include a ‘write to me’ section where readers can fire in questions and I will answer them in the next issue.

The travel column is not urgent as there are several contributors already, which is good because I haven’t decided what I am doing for this anyway. I still have the graphics to do for the web column.

All of this MUST be completed and sent to the editor by Friday. The deadline for the articles is 1st December, which is a week tomorrow so I simply must get this done – no excuses.

Sent off issues 35 and 36 of Hunting Jack after a quick check and scrub up. My subscribers are all in periods 10 to 18 so I am a minimum of 2 months ahead – so I know I’m going to be safe over the Christmas holidays at least.
Colin 10:16 pm | 0 comments |

Monday, November 22, 2004

Patience and Publicity

The Company is really trying my patience. Today, although they never announced it officially, they have put information up on the company intranet explaining there are to be no bonuses paid to staff next year.

I had to insert a search term into the web page to find this information out (rumors were wild), and even more incredibly, I knew 4 hours before my boss. At 2pm he sent out a memo to staff saying there was the "possibility of a change to the bonus structure over the next few years and an announcement would be made soon". I wrote an email to him saying, "Remove the word possible, we already know". He was less than amused at HR for allowing it to happen, but it is typical of this place to be so irsit towards its staff.

I suppose I should have seen it coming with the bonuses being so low this year, but I rely on it for my Christmas presents and to get me through January. Looks like there will be no heading for the highlands in 2005.

Meanwhile the company bigwigs sit on their million pound salaries. One of them, who shall remain anonymous (for the moment), had the cheek to buy himself a Ferrari at the same time he made the decision to ditch 25% of the workforce? No wonder someone took a key down the side of it.

I got a letter with a Sheriff Court postmark on it - my heart stopped. But it was just a letter informing me I am on the jury list for the next two years and can expect a citation. I got one of these once when I lived in Glasgow but moved to Edinburgh before I got a call-up so this should be good. It will definitely be an experience that can be used in future writing adventures.

Due to my late night walk through the ice-cold streets of Edinburgh late on Saturday night, and the fact I have no hair (by choice), I can feel myself getting stuffy and sniffly. A cold is impending so I took one of my vitamin C tabs to try and stop its progress. Time will tell but the random sneezing is doing my head in.

And it's not just me - some of the people in this office are so damn loud whether talking on the phone or sneezing or coughing or laughing out loud suddenly - I mean how's a bloke meant to get to any sleep in here?

I started sending off my batch of completed issues to my ed at KIC. From 28 onwards, stopping at 34. I have to check a couple of things for accuracy in 34 and 35, then I can get them off, probably tomorrow night. I wrote some more on 38 and redrafted 36 and 37. Almost at the half way mark now.

Speaking of which, I removed my NaNoWriMo meter from this Blog. You will see it is no longer there, a sign of my defeat in this particular exercise. I'm not deflated, I had to register to at least give it a go but I didn't have the time, being too absorbed in a giant roll of creativity surrounding Jackie. But - the story is still there, and it will be told.

I replaced it with a new status bar, which tracks the number of words completed from an expected amount. As I expect Hunting Jack to reach the region of 90k for the 9 month contract, you can see where I am in relation to this now.

I was about to go to bed and I checked my email one last time, and was delighted to see I received a response to one of the press releases I sent out at the start of the month. It was from the editor at a new publication based in the University of Paisley called The Banter and they are interested in doing something to promote Hunting Jack.

When I sent the PR to them, it was on the basis they had not published yet, so it was a chance sending it to them as no details were available on the student association website of content etc. However, I got my degree from the same Uni and so I think that may be the angle they want to play it from.
It is primarliy an news forum for the students but they wabnt to expand it to include features, so here's hoping. The Ed will be in touch end of the week and has sent me a sample copy of the magazine in PDF format. Click here to read Issue 1 of The Banter
Colin 1:05 pm | 3 comments |

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Back To Business

Woke up with a hangover (unsurprisingly) and tried to get as fresh as I could before doing some organising, but it was a struggle. The house was generally in a lazy mood - me trying to type on the computer and having to make lots of coffee in between paragraphs. Meanwhile Gail and Laura lay on the couch for most of the afternoon watching Disney videos.

The bedroom is still full of boxes because I have yet to put away everything after looking for that damned photo album. Gail hasn't seen and I have looked in all the usual places. I will have to find it - it's becoming a necessity now I know it is taunting me as it lies quietly waiting to be found. Besides - I want to see that photo of the blackbird and post it here.

Despite the feeling of overwhelming laziness I managed to get through a bit of work - but it was slow. I gave issues 28 onwards another reread and found more editing was required. I'm unsure if this is down to me writing lazily and fast or just part of the process. I think it's the process because what I have feels right and feels good so I'm not changing much.

After last weeks revelation of Jackie's history meaning the story has to be set in 1995 and not 2004, I found a reference to a football match in 1997 and Windows 98 - both of which were swiped.

Gail made one of my favourites for dinner - mince and tatties.

I am going to make this coming week, full of excitment and creativity.
Colin 3:20 pm | 0 comments |

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Party

Well the meal was cancelled, but it didn't stop me and Gail heading out on the town ourselves. We haven't had a night out the two of us for a while and so with the babysitter rolled into action at 3pm, we headed out.

We arrived at Bannerman's on the Cowgate to see the Rab Howat Band play, which they do every Saturday in the back room - for free and with offers on Jack Daniels so Gail was in her element. The played a lot of Beatles (as usual) plus some rock crowd pleasers. I can't stand their ballads though - much better when Rab does his thing on the guitar. In fact, you could just have the drummer and bassist up there supporting Rab and that would be enough.

It go to about 7pm and hunger was setting in. We walked round to Pancho Villas on The Royal Mile, and had a nice meal - plenty of chilli's jalapeno's for me and spicy chicken for Gail - washed down with a bottle of South African Red. Things were getting merry by this point.

By the time we left the restaurant the blanket of ice cold air that had been threatening finally came down. It was freezing - and I emphasise the word freezing. We walked round to The World's End and took a seat near the bar. There we sat till closing time, drinking vodka, Jack D and playing the jukebox. Gail took to dancing in her seat as we relived the indie days of the early 90's and she accused me of not partying enough (ie. dancing on my seat). I took a photo on my mobile phone of her after she came out the loo without doing up her belt - she laughed.

We left at closing time and the reality of Edinburgh at 1am hit us - no taxi's for love nor money. We walked down the North Bridge, along Leith Street and London Road, all the while Gail moaning that she shouldn't have worn her leather boots as they were hurting her too much and that she wished she had gone to the loo before leaving because she was bursting. I had this in my ear for 3 miles until she eventually took her boots off. I told her she would ruin her socks doing that and she said, "Doesn't matter - i'm wearing your socks anyway!"

We got a taxi eventually, and got home about 2am. But we weren't ready to goto bed yet and so sat up and talked and drank more until nearly 6am. While we haven't had a night out like this on our own for so long, it's been a while since we opened up and talked about 'everything', so it was good.

It was quite a party.
Colin 3:07 pm | 2 comments |

Friday, November 19, 2004

The Road To Recovery

Felt better today. I was able to eat something and keep it down and could feel the energy rush almost immediately. My chest is still sore from the retching but other than that - I'm feeling a whole lot better.

I took the day off work just to make sure there were no after-shock's of sickness *ahem*, and so had an empty house, with a laptop, a hi-fi and real-flame gas fire all to myself.

I wrote from 12 noon till 2am - 14 hours of pure art (stopping for coffee and lunch obviously) and listened to Stella by Yello. It is bitterly cold outside so just the weather for listening to the album. I must get it on CD though instead of cassette.

I tried to dig out that photo of the blackbird - can't seem to find it anywhere, I emptied two cupboards looking for the album that it is in. I told Gail I was doing a spring clean when she got back from work, so she let me off with the mess.

I redrafted Hunting Jack issues 28 through to 34 and wrote a further 4 issues. I now have ten full issue almost ready to submit to KIC. My readers are only in the period 10-18 so I'm miles ahead.

I redrafted my theatre review for KIC Magazine, but I still need to cut it down by about 150 words before sending it in.

I also wrote out the first draft of the script example for the freelance job application. It was fun because it is new, but the format is not anything I have done previously. I like it, but I want to approach it from a couple of angles and then decide what's best for I submit my application.

I received a rejection from NFG Magazine for Daffodils. Although it made it through the slush pile and ot was generally liked (including one of the harder senior ed's), it was voted out. I am both happy and surprised it made it as far as it did, and I can take a lot from the experience. Put it this way, if I start to doubt my writing (which I do regularly) I can always look at the kudos I recieved over this piece of fiction to give me a lift!

Oh yeah - and someone (I suspect Zarina) posted a comment yesterday about, "Why 'sick as a parrot'?". I'm not entirely sure why I used that phrase. It's one of those old-wives phrases I think that gets used without thinking about. So I did a bit of research.

Experts at about.com say:
"I imagine that the expression "sick as a parrot" stems from how parrots deal with illness. Generally they show no signs of being ill at all until they're extremely so -- so you rarely see a sick parrot until they're close to death. But at that point, they're very obviously sick, and I suppose the expression "sick as a parrot" was inevitable!"

That's all I could find that sounded reasonable. :-)


Colin 1:02 pm | 3 comments |

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Sick As A Parrot

I felt reasonable when I got up this morning. Had a few beers last night, won at the snooker and went to bed feeling fine, normal even.

When I woke up, I still felt okay. I ironed my shirt, jumped in the shower, then started to feel a rumble in my tum. The shower never got completed - I made it to the sink for the first wave of chunky carrot and lime soup. For the second wave, the toilet bowl itself got the treatment.

Gathering myself from the shock, I called work. "Don't expect me," I said. "Just as well," said Roger. "Because I've got the flu."

I crawled back to bed and slept in patches throughout the day, getting up to be sick in between.

By early evening I was able to check my e-mail and do a Blog but that was all. By night time I managed a sandwich but still had cramps in my stomach.

And that was my day really. Sad and pathetic, with me lying in bed thinking what a waste of a day.
Colin 1:28 pm | 3 comments |

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Not Much Of A Blog Entry, I'm Afraid

Im, struggling to write today's entry. I usually write my Blog during the day, adding to it when thoughts occur or an event happens. Then I publish it the next morning. Problem is, as I type this, I am at home sick. Of course, you shall have to wait until Thursday's entry to reab about it!

I had plenty to write about today, the seventeenth of November, like the fact I was annoyed at having to take a night off writing. Snooker night you see, but this is the way of the world. There is work that needs attending to on Hunting Jack, like the fact I realised now I have developed the history, he has a date of birth. Having a date of birth means the story now has a time frame and I have had to alter a couple things in future issues.

I received an email pointing me in the direction of a freelance writing job opportunity. It's very interesting, so I started to build the application from work. And why not? I think it's about time I started to develop a plan. I have had a good year with my writing - much better than anticipated - but if it's going to be a career I should start to plan the finer details.

I also receieved some excellent feedback from one of the Senior Eds of NFG Magazine over my short story, Daffodils. Fingers crossed, because it looks to have caught their collective attention. It may need a redraft based on some of the feedback but I have my fingers crossed for this one.
Colin 11:32 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

I can See Clearly Now....

The rain is back with a vengance along with low, damp clouds making it rather dank and dreary. Not even the splatter of constant drizzle is enough to dampen my spirits after the last three days however, having worked through 6000 words of Hunting Jack, developed all the links for the crux of the story and mapped it all out all in the last couple of days.

I know, in time, the passage of A to B will change again, but the root is there and that's what counts. I feel I have reached a major milestone in my serial - not so much the word count (currently at 40k), but with the whole pint of it all - the goal - the mission!

I typed up all my notes I took last night about the history of crime in Glasgow and write an entire background of the links between Jackie's history, his adoption, Neil and Sadie, and his real family, and how it all ties back to a specific period in Glasgow's history, (which is still, to this day, in the news). I'm totally pumped!

I drafted issues 28 through to 34 of HJ and will give them one further read before sending them off. The story seems tidier in my head now it has a point and I understand the historical links. I am more comfortable and while I have acres of room to manouvre within, (add new characters and plots etc.), I know where I am ultimately going.

When I look back, I amaze myself to think I was worried I would not have enough to write about, or time to do it in. I know I've blogged a lot about HJ lately, but I am totally absorbed in it and it really has become the focus of my attention. The last four or five days have been incredibly productive for me, and I can't deny it has been great fun. If only this were all I had to think about career-wise...

Still to do though, is my redraft of the theatre review and the website development column. Once these issues are sent off I will have to tie these down before I end up getting rushing over the finishing line.

I'm having trouble gettign an empty office so I can utilise the colour printer. It's a great quality machine but if I stood next to it printing hundreds of HJ fliers it migth not go down so well. If I don't get it done this week I will do it next Friday the 26th as I am working that night. Then I can get them down tot the book sale and watch my subs roll in! ;-)

Arranged a meal on Saturday with friends of Gail and myself. Sarah and Rob are expecting their first child and we haven't seen them in a while so it should be good fun. We're off to The Shore for a Mexican and some drinks. to make it even more exciting, we have been allowed to drop Laura off at her Grans early afternoon so we are going to Bannerman's to watch a band play. Can't wait!
Colin 11:45 am | 3 comments |

Monday, November 15, 2004

Research Reveals The Truth

No writing done at all today - but that does not mean it was not productive. I put together a spreadsheet with the issue numbers along the top and then divided it into two halves. The top half is colour coded for each character which is then coloured in under every issue they make an appearance. The bottom half holds the key points from each issue in text.

This means I can track who is in what issue and what happens that is key to the story, and when this sheet is coupled with the issue summary document I can see the full picture.

So I took this home and tried to develop it into graphic form - not easy. I tried several ways but couldn't get it to slot in logically. I settled on clouds; one for each character. Next to the clouds in a wee box of different colour is a description of the key events in the story that character is involved. I then linked up the characters and showed their relationships with each other.

The result was most interesting.

First of all the shape is a star, the origin of which is Jackie. Everyone branches out from him and I had to make desicions on some of the character's relationships to him, and one another.

Secondly, it highlighted some major holes in the plot, least not why Jackie was adpoted in the first place. The whole history needed to be detailed for me to write on because although I know the rough area in my head, it is now at the stage of the small print requiring to be defined.

I knew that once I had filled these holes the story would be complete. And so I turned to the books I bought recently concerning the history of Glasgow, and took down 7 pages of A4 notes. I did some googling and got some news reports related to Jackie's history, which all ties in. I didn't feel as if I was forcing the links - they spoke for themselves after the star formation appeared. Quite surreal when I think about it.

With the holes now filled, I can move on with the story, but I am going to spend tomorrow writing them up and detailing out the links I have come across. Put it this way, if anyone is reading this blog and also reads Hunting Jack, you are in for some surprises because nobody is who they seem.

My levels of passion for this are going into overdrive now!!
Colin 11:02 pm | 2 comments |

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Writing Rush Now In Spate

Gail wasn't feeling too well today so I dropped Laura off at her Gran's in the afternoon for the rest of the day (and night) and returned to the house, gave it a tidy and let her sleep.

With the light dimming rapidly outside, gas fire on at full blast and the laptop on the table, I wrote 4000 words of Hunting Jack. That is around issues 32 to 35. Over all this weekend I have written over 6000 words which is damn good.

Though I now have a problem.

The story is getting very complicated. A side character has worked his way into the story without me realising his importance which left me with a decision - ditch him or have him join Jackie. The connection to Edinburgh has been made, as has some clues as to Jackie's family history as well as Katie, PLUS another shady character is on the scene, so I left it open for now. I suppose he will make his own mind up over it when he finds out more about Jackie. He may not want to be friends after this.

What's more, Jackie is changing. For the first few issues he was quiet and reserved and I think a lot of that has been down to the experience of making the break from his home. He is becoming so much stronger and is challenging people who think he is an easy target. He is prepared to take the lead now and not follow all the time. His change in attitude, subtle as it is, is challening me also in that now, ever more than before, he is beoming more unpredictable than before. His new friend Tony is a loose cannon and a bit dodgy but it looks like a bond is growing between them and I think he might end up being very loyal to Jackie - which he looks like is going to need. We shall see.

My issue summaries aren't cutting it anymore as the issues progress so I am going to need to find a way of linking up all the plotlines in graphic form. I think I might nab some large sheets of paper from my office tomorrow because if I don't tie this down now I run the rick of losing control. What's more, I don't want to reveal too much because there are still just under 50 issues to write. I don't mind if I go over the 9 month contract, but I have to make sure I don't fall short.

I'm glad to have got through so much and didn't really want to stop, but I had to eat. I will need to get these HJ issues completed soon so I can send the stuff into the editor - having it on my machine is one thing, but it needs to be polished and sent away. While it remains on a disk, there is always the temptation to alter it later so I need to make the decisions now.

I still haven't done any more with NaNoWriMo - so that's a flop, but I like the story so I will use it. Also did nothing on my columns which is getting worrying. I'll complete the Theatre review asap and do the website one. I have had it on my mind and I know the approach.

I still have to dig that photo of the blackbird out my box in the cupboard - I keep thinking about it and I really want to see it now.

As for my one remaing to do task this weekend: we plumped for Chinese and watched a film by candlelight.
Colin 11:23 pm | 1 comments |

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Hubcaps And A Writing Rush

I slept wonderfully last night. I went to bed at 10pm and woke 12 hours later and I felt fantastic. I must have really needed a good night like that. Not only that, but the weather is fantastic (if you like the autumn that is - why I do). Clear blue skies, crispy crunching pavements and a pleasant chill. This is the weather I like to listen to the album Stella by the band Yello. It reminds of the same weather that we had when I still lived at home with my parents back in 89 when I was sitting my Prelim exams for my Highers. From my bedroom window I could look out over our back garden, beyond which were fields, a golf course and a hill. With the first fall of autumn bringing a blanket of frozen white particles that lay over the land freezing it in time. I have a photograph somewhere of the blackbird which made nest in a nearby tree, and every year it could be seen in the same tree, waiting, or was it looking at me.

Might write a poem about this now I have the memory. I'll get the picture first and scan it in for posting - might be Monday before I get to that though.

Forgot to mention in yesterday's Blog we got our payrise and bonus letters for the year. It's the lowest bonus I ever had but it's down to the cutbacks - we were expecting it. Some teams got nothing so I should be glad. Gone are the days of 15% pay hikes and 15% bonuses me thinks. The salary rise will probably only cover the cost of the contributions we also have to make to our pensions from now on, so in effect, no rise in real terms.

Had to nip out to Halfords to get new hubcaps for the car and took the car through the car-wash while we were at it. This caused an argument because I remember going through carwashes with my Dad when I was a kid and I always went mental when the big leather strips came flapping over the roof. The same was for Laura, but with me joining in with the hilarity of it all Gail got fed up with my immature ways and told me I would never know what it is like to be "the only adult in the family". Ah well - she knew that when she married me :-)

I updated my submissions list, redrafted issue 28 and wrote 29, 30 and 31 so I am well on the way to completing issue 32 by the end of the weekend. I reckon my targets are very achievable now after a writing rush like I had tonight.
Colin 2:17 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, November 12, 2004

Sadly...

...it was a most non-productive day. I got nothing done of any worth and struggled to make the time to write. I'm disappointed because after meeting Dave for our weekly Friday lunchtime pint in Clark's - where we discussed a lot about our respective work - I got home feeling tired and lethargic and fell asleep later on in front of my laptop.

Hopefully we will be able to get tickets to hear Ian Rankin and Alexander McCall Smith speak about their latest work in the Assembly Rooms in a couple of weeks - should be interesting.

Things to do this weekend:

Colin 11:04 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Bobby Mackerel Joins The Smoking Ban Debate

The seasonal weather is getting grimmer each day. The whole country is slowly diving into darkness and, while I said a couple of days ago that I like the dark, it makes being stuck in the office even worse. There is a world of difference between the pleasure of the dark at 4am to seeing the sun disappearing at 3.30pm.

I took a public swipe at my boss for not including the two recent weekend implementations I was involved with in the monthly departmental report. He apologised and asked me to forward the information on. I never - the damage already having been done in my eyes. Our team may only consist of three people, but not including us in the reports is rather insulting to the good work we do complete.

It looks like we have decided to go to a Jamaican restaurant for our Christmas lunch this year. It’s a new place up by The Meadows called Coyaba and although it only opened in March, it recently got 9/10 in the Sunday Herald Restaurant Review. I checked out their website and it is run by a genuine Rastafarian so it’s bound to be the real deal. Needless to say, I am really looking forward to it (assuming we get it booked in time).

I walked home and came up with a couple of neat ways to add more twist to the plots I am working Jackie through at the moment. Another character has worked his way into the story, though I don’t know anything about him myself – he was uninvited and is a dark and foreboding figure. I don’t think Jackie will be able to keep running forever – his demon’s will have to be faced at some point or another.

I also designed a new banner for my Blog (up top) – hope it looks nice. Might change it though if I think of a better design.

I am delighted that my posting yesterday provoked some responses. Mr. Bobby Mackerel posted his side of the argument - cheers big man! Bob’s as bald as I am by the way, which is why he was one of the Ushers at my wedding – I didn’t want to look out of place heh.

Bob mentioned some important points which I will not attempt to come back on.

I am the first one to say that people have a right to smoke

This is true, and I think most people will say this. However, surely it is the individuals right to choose to smoke. I don’t mean in the same room or whatever, I thought the compromise of designated smooking rooms on other levels was quite a good one. But it is the Governments way of handling this situation which frustrates me more than anything else.

They have already caused riots outside Westminster by trying to ban Fox Hunting. Game fishing is next by the way so I guess I’ll have to score that off my ‘Interest’ list. Now the smoking ban. Blair sits and allows people to talk but will ignore the will of the people he relys on. It’s political suicide if he wants a third term. He’s alienated the smokers and the countryside people – who is left? Not enough to win a general election that’s for sure.

however if you are a non-smoker you have no choice but to inhale other people's smoke and this is of course, wrong.

I agree – hence separate areas with good air-conditioning to suck out the smoke from the building.

I made the decision not to smoke and I want to stay as fit and healthy for as long as possible.

Stop riding a bike to work then because from what I hear it’s MORE dangerous than smoking. I mean Bob – crawling over car bonnets at 30mph just isn’t on bud. ;-)

I think that it is a brave decision by the Scottish Parliament to bring in legislation that will without doubt be hugely unpopular amongst smokers and may in the short term have ramifications for the Scottish economy.However, as I train to be a nurse I see how much people's health and lives are screwed up by ciggies and something has to be done.

Again, I agree. Can’t be nice way to go but I still think it is a good way to solve the pensions crisis. Actually, that was deep cynicism more than anything else but it is the way politicians think. Nobody wants a slow death but if John Reid is anything to go by, the only enjoyment in life that single mothers in council houses have IS smoking cigarettes. (his words, not mine).

Anyway, I'm off to have a beer, as since everyone knows alcohol does your body no harm at all and adds at least thirty years to your life.

If that is the case, I should live to be 150!

Summarising, it is not the ban on smoking that I am really protesting about. Smoking isn't pleasant for sure; the smelly clothes, smelly breath, chest disease and everything else.

My main point in all of this is it is NOT the Governments right to tell people they cannot smoke. They are taking their remit too far. Political Correctness has already been through the wash, so has Euroism and the countryside. Don't forget, one of the key things Blair pledged when he came to power was to "allow people to be able to make choices for themselves". This action, by cloaking it in health reasons, is not allowing people to make choices for themselves.

It borders on totalitarianism which is the compete opposite of what Blair based his election campaigns on.

My nipple is much better now by the way.
Colin 11:06 am | 1 comments |

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Writing Columns And The Smoking Ban

I seemed to get more tired as the day wore on. Fresh as a daisy AM – sluggish PM. By the time I was supposed to go out (snooker night) I really couldn’t be bothered – but I went anyway and had a couple of beers and frames of snooker. Ian is relying on his OAP excuse more and more now due to the hammerings I am delivering but it won’t wash.

I wrote the first draft for the Theatre Review column I am doing in KIC's new literary magazine. I reviewed We Will Rock You – The Queen Musical that is playing in London - I went to see a few months back. I actually took notes at the time and so used them to get me going in this genre. I will use this column as a spur to go to the theatre more with Gail and then write up about it. I’m more used to writing gig reviews but my friend Devon pointed me in the direction of some famous theatre critics for inspiration. I share this column with another person who *I think*, works in theatre himself. Nevertheless, I plan on sending in reviews as and when they are done. Should be good. Just thinking about it actually; Gail is more a fan of musicals (Grease, Beauty and the Beast etc.) whereas I do quite like plays. I took Gail to see Stones In His Pockets not that long ago and I loved it. Maybe I will write up that one too.

I still have to do the first write for my Website Development column which is proving surprisingly difficult. When I am working with computers my mind switches into techy mode. When I write, I am in artist mode and the world changes. This column is going to be a challenge in that I have to mix both mindsets and I don’t think this will be easy.

Our internal mail department has given me the go-ahead to provide advertising leaflets for Hunting Jack. I plan to put one in each book which they are selling for charity – though I am told there are around 200 books so I will have to use the colour printer in work rather discretely. Hopefully this will pay off – it did for one of the ladies in my writing forum when she did a similar thing at her work.

And now a short shpleel about this...

BBC: Scotland to ban smoking

Labour: traditionally left wing and concerned with socialism. Now becoming ever more right wing as the months and years pass.

In roughly 18 months time, a law will be passed in Scotland that will ban smoking in pubs, clubs restaurants and indeed all enclosed spaces is banned. Heavy fines for both the smoker and the publican will ensue should this ban be broken.

Now, I have some things to say about this.

1- With the loss of tax the government will no doubt feel when people give up smoking , or stop buying their ciggies in the pubs themselves, who is going to make up the deficit? Car drivers? People who drink? Income Tax payers? Maybe the non-smokers who were so loud in their disapproval of smokers won’t be so smart when they see it has hit THEIR pockets when taxes go up to pay for it.

2- This is a great way to lose the pub culture in this country. If Ireland is anything to go by, the pubs will empty of smokers – but so will heir non-smoking partners who will drink at home with them instead. So the bars will be dead, jobs lost and the premises close down. Then the government will start to wonder why the influx of foreign tourists and students has fallen ecause of there being no part-time bar or waiting work to be had.

3- Despite what the government thinks, this will NOT take the heat off the already over-burdoned National Health Service (NHS). Contrary to popular belief, smoking does NOT mean you go to the doctors more often then a non-smoker. It just means you knock 20 years off the end of your life. so if the Scottish Parliament were to think about this logically they would find the following.

Smokers, by the very act of doing it, increase their body's immunity to more illnesses in that their body builds up it's defences to cope with the poisons being inhaled. This means they go to the doctors less in their lifetime than a person who doesnt smoke and yet always seems to be off work with the flu.

So taking this argument, we can see that smokers will probably die 10 or 20 years earlier than a non-smoker, thereby solving the £60 billion pensions deficit in one swoop! Throw voluntary euthansia into the equation and all of a sudden Blair won't have anyone to pay out to and he can start to concentrate on important things like foreign policy.

4- Where is this going to end? Will drinking be banned? Will alcohol be banished totally? Will Blair become President of Europe? Will we have to accept that all our phone calls and email messages are recorded and monitored? Will we only be allowed to marry heterosexually within the same race and creed? Will we have to stop having sex? Will we have to stop needing each other and start using ‘Orgasmatrons’ to attain sexual satisfaction? Suddenly, those futuristic Woody Allen films I used to watch are becoming not so far from the truth!

5- We got rid of Hitler. Now we have Blair and McConnell. ‘Nuff said.
Colin 11:09 pm | 1 comments |

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

PSNS And A Good Bit Of Progress

It seems my tale of nipple horror yesterday stirred up some emotions in some of my readers, and responses were both thick and fast in their arrival. Most people it would seem were sickened, but some found it hilarious. I am still too tender to even think about what side of that particular fence I am on.

Other than a slight irritation on the left hand point of my chest brought on by Post Squeezed Nipple Syndrome (PSNS), I felt good today. On form, sharp with my banter and managing to put the crap into a box and shove it into a dark corner. I started planning the Christmas lunch for our team of 3, so I invited the bloke who got made redundant a few months back too as well as the guy who decided it. Ain't I a stinker? The decision is still up in the air as to where we go; in the running is a Jamacian restaurant on Causewayside, Palkhi’s (Indian), The Basement (Mexican), Berts Bar (pie and a pint), or Clarks for liquid refreshment only. My vote went to Clarks. I need to diet anyway.

During a lazy afternoon I caught up with my issue summary for Hunting Jack and spotted a glaring error in it. I referred to a hostel where Jackie is currently residing differently in a previous issue. The original hostel was my first choice, but after researching homeless hostels I changed it to another one more suited to what I needed in later editions. Luckily, none of my subscribers are up that far in the story yet so my editor replaced issue 21 with the corrected manuscript. I also polished up issue 27 ready for submitting later on tonight. I got nothing done on A Point Of View for NaNoWriMo.

I walked home in the dark. It’s always the same – the clocks go back and suddenly we go to work in the dark and then come home in the dark. The lights start going out over our sky at about half three in the afternoon which is just no good.

Having said that – I love the dark. If I was able to, I would live to write from 7 or 8 at night until 7 or 8 the next morning – then go to bed. I love the peace, the silence, the blanket of comfort the stars provide.

I stopped on the way home and got a chippy. I know – so much for a diet but I’ve not had one for ages and the last thing I could be bothered doing when I got in was cook. Black pudding and chips - unbeatable.

Sitting down to write after dinner was a bit of a struggle. I wanted to write, but seemed to be finding little ways to procrastinate; flicking the television on, re-checking email, making cups of tea (Gail loved that bit). So eventually I gave myself a slap and forced the issue.

I sent in the updated version of issue 21 and followed that up by issue 27. I then re-read issue 27 as a warm up even though it was finished earlier in the day and sent in to the editor. Issue 28 was slow in starting but it soon came. I know what the next two or three issues will involve and once I got into it I really enjoyed it. I wrote two full issues so I am now up to issue 29 - only about 52 to go for my current contract.

I have managed to write Jackie into attending a Scotland versus England football match and the whole thing from the journey to Hampden Park to being in the ground brought back a shed load of memories from my football days. I miss the buzz, but not the parochialism and bigotry.

Speaking of which, there is an Old Firm game on tomorrow night – I’m glad I’ll be playing snooker.
Colin 10:47 pm | 1 comments |

Monday, November 08, 2004

Nipple Problems And NaNoWriMo

The weather over Edinburgh was so nice this morning, it was a real downer having to go into work. Mild and calm with a blue sky behind the jutting branches of tree-lined streets, casually dropping golden leaves onto the cobbled ground. I love that scene, and I love mornings like these; it makes me want to sit on a bench and just think about things, watch people, observe the city functioning and the life all around. Yet I drag myself to this hovel of tightly packed bodies, all (most) of which with their compressed brains and little desire to do anything else than satisfy their bosses agendas.

Georgina, one of the Admin girls in here, handed in her notice a few weeks back and an email came round for her night out this Friday. She is going home to Australia; signing off from the ratrace to pursue other interests. She’s young and a recent graduate so I know she won’t mind me saying she is totally wasted in here doing what she has been. Not sure if I can make it to her night out but it makes me jealous to see people make the break, and I wish it all the more for myself. I have ties though, and this entails my transition will be slower – not unachievable. People who say I shouldn’t make the same break can go and boil their heads.

For a couple of weeks now my left nipple has been giving me some jip. It started off as a slight pain but it got to the point where the pain was so intense I couldn’t not wear my shirt without feeling it. It became extremely sensitive to the touch and as a result, was stiff beyond all natural expectations most of the time. It was permanently stiff and the constant rubbing from any top I wore seemed to make it worse.

On Saturday I found myself looking for “male nipple problems” on the internet but only found websites that catered for gay fetishes rather than health problems. I asked Gail if I should see a doctor, she stifled a laugh.

Tonight Gail asked to take a look and promptly told me to squeeze it. Squeeze my nipple?! I hate my nipples being tugged, pulled, manhandled, bitten, anything! But the pain was getting so bad I had to do something, so I inserted my little pink mountain between my two fore-fingers and started to squeeze. A little white dot appeared just on the tip of the nipple itself - my eyes watered and I wanted to scream. I waited ten minutes and tried again. This time a huge pop echoed through the house and a big blob of puss tore through the skin of the nipple and landed on the floor in front of me. After the initial shock of this unwelcome outburst, I noticed the pain start to subside almost immediately. Weeks of torment it seemed, were about to draw to a close. There is of course a lesson to be learned in all of this: never leave it too late to squeeze a sensitive nipple.

I added the NaNoWriMo speedometer to my Blog in an attempt to provoke some action out of me. Every day I will see it and hopefully it will act as a spur. I made a start during the day to the story – made some initial notes on the protagonist, gave him a name and a very rough idea of the story. There is huge gaps which I am confident enough to know will be filled out for me when I get into it. Fingers crossed, because I quite like the idea. Working title for this novel: A Point Of View.

The latest issue of Greenshoots Magazine was released on the website in PDF format. None of the five poems I submitted in the middle of August were used, however, the magazine itself was published in August so I will check it again at the start of next year to make sure they did not put it forward for the next publication given my submission was so late. There are no deadlines so you never know. I entered them into my submission tracker as rejections for the time being anyway.

When I got home I wrote around 1500 words of A Point Of View, redrafted issue 27 of Hunting Jack and made a start on issue 28. Then it was the finale of The Soprano's fifth season - superb stuff - had me revitted the whole way through.

An email came in from my editor at KIC; she has withdrawn 32 stories from production because the author's were not 9 issues ahead at the beginning and she is about to check which authors are not 9 issues ahead at any point in the middle....better make sure I keep going!
Colin 10:12 pm | 3 comments |

Sunday, November 07, 2004

An Uneasy Calm

I was rewarded with a lie-in this morning, justly so I think given my efforts on the domestic front yesterday. I rose lazily, had brunch lazily and eased ever so comfortably into the early afternoon with a coffee and toast.

Once more I found the house to myself when Gail took Laura round to her Grans. I was invited this time, but refused on the grounds that even though I like my in-laws, I don’t feel the need to see them every day. Besides, I just wanted to write.

I spent the afternoon working on and completing issues 22 through to 26 of Hunting Jack. I had a bit of reading to do concerning some factual points but I got them all done and I now have Jackie in a wonderful position. He is at a point where he is taking decisions and forcing himself to act more rather than go with the flow. I have even managed to write in a Scotland versus England football match – which is great fun to do.

Looking back, the story has come on leaps and bounds and Jackie himself is developing into a likeable character, but with an edge. He has his flaws like everyone else and they are beginning to show. At the same time though, he is getting visibly stronger.

I have yet to write a single word for NaNoWriMo and I can feel a backlog building again. I should write it all down on paper and use it as a work tracker. I think I will do that tomorrow at work.

I feel very calm today, focussed and relaxed. Feeling like this is nice, welcome even. But it always feels like a calm waiting to be disrupted. Storms are everywhere, we just don’t always see them coming, and I am always suspicious when the winds and rain die down just a bit too suddenly. As if they know something I don't.
Colin 10:58 pm | 0 comments |

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Brownie Points But Not Much Writing

Up early and away to take Laura to her new season at the dance school. There was much confusion since the timetable had altered and at one point we thought we had missed Junior Tap. I grabbed hold of a teacher and got it all sorted. It's a funny place to be on a Saturday - millions of girls running about with mostly their mothers sorting them out. There is one boy - a kind of Billy Elliott figure - and I always wonder how much guts it takes to do it, or if he is aware what he is doing. I hope he is not being forced into all this dancing, as I think he does ballet as well as disco and tap.

The mothers all congregate in the canteen, some of them for hours, while their children dance in the halls. It is very cliquey when you walk in, but perhaps that is because I am a bloke. I prefer to drop Laura off and leave it at that - she prefers that setup up herself anyway - less embarrassment for her when I kiss her in front of everyone.

I still had a tenner book token from my Mum so I went up to Waterstones at the east end of Princes Street. Even at quarter past ten in the morning it is mobbed. I was going for one book in particular and I got it: Frightener - The Glasgow Ice Cream Wars by Douglas Skelton and Lisa Brownlie. Part of Jackie's future is determined by something that happened back in the 1980's during the Ice Cream Wars, and so I need to read up on some particular detail. I already habe shed loads about it, but there is an aspect that I only found in this book that I now need.

Gail was out last night with her work (I think I mentioned that yesterday), so got in late. She was still in bed when I got back at half past eleven. That's fine - it's her lying-in day anyway. I made her some tea and she went to get Laura to take her to see her Gran (Laura's Great-Gran). I wasn't invited (seriously!) so I spent the rest of the afternoon tidying up the house and cleaning the rooms. It meant I got no writing done until the evening, but there are mega-brownie points to be gained from having your wife return home to a spotless and gleaming home.

With everyone fed and Laura off to bed, Gail went on another night out. Cleopatra thought she had it good - she should spend five minuted with my wife.

This gave me time to polish off the outstanding HJ issues sitting on my PC. NaNoWriMo has fallen flat for me but I am not giving up.

I checked my email and my editor had written to say three from five of my subscribers have renewd their orders for HJ taking them up to issues 18 and 19. This is why I have to make sure to keep on track, and tomorrow I will move on with it. I am worried I might lose momentum with HJ though as it is by far the most important (and enjoyable) piece I am working on and so NoNoWriMo may just have to wait.
Colin 2:33 pm | 0 comments |

Friday, November 05, 2004

A Brain Wave

I had a massive flash of inspiration concerning the future of Hunting Jack. The plot, while taking many turns and twists that I never anticipated myself, is still moving in a general direction I am happy with. However, a bolt hit me which will contain such a twist and cause much drama and excitement I can hardly wait to write it. It all concerns the future, the tieing up of the story and thus the end of the tale. But it is pure dead brilliant and I am going to go with it - unless I get a better idea than this - but I doubt it!

I met Dave over lunch, he is working away on his ms but having problems getting to it every night to turn the thoughts into words on paper. It is hard going, and if I didn't have a signed contract with KIC I might be suffering the same problem. Which is one of the blessings of KIC - you HAVE to keep going even when you don't feel like it. In saying all this, I haven't written a word of NaNoWriMo. I know only 5 days are gone but I really should have done better. Life has gotten in the way but that's no excuse.

On the bright side, I have my submission for the theatre review almost ready to submit. I need to go over it again in a few days before handing it over though.

Gail was out with her chums from her old work so I watched the fireworks display with her from the back window. We are in a lucky position to be able to see many of them around us but the weather was not the best - mostly drizzle - and so the cracking of the fireworks didn't seem to last as long as it has in recent years.

It's been a long couple of weeks - I'm hoping for a restful and recharging weekend. I also hope to get about 6 issues of HJ sent in to my editor as well as the theatre review so there is scope for it to be productive also.
Colin 3:07 pm | 0 comments |

Thursday, November 04, 2004

A Slow Day

Not a good day for having a hangover. Is any day?

Parents’ night in the evening; Laura doing well all round – exceptional artistic skills which is good to see.

Slept quite a lot.

My story Daffodils, originally intended as a competition entry, has made it through the slush pile of the NFG Magazine editorial process. It is now doing the rounds amongst the editors of said magazine so I await to see how far it gets. I am prepared for a rejection, but making it past the initial review is no mean feat given the standard of NFG and of the reputation of the editorial staff that work on the mag. Not a bad rep I should say - just very hard to please.

Colin 2:58 pm | 0 comments |

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A Day On The Town

Bush won – Blair looked relieved – many of my American friends were not impressed.

Met my bro’ in Filthy McNasty’s – a nice wee bar in Rose Street at 11am. It was more or less empty but that was fine as we had a lot of catching up to do – as is always the case with their being so many miles and time between each of these events. A few beers later and we headed over to The World’s End in St. Mary’s Street so the rest of the lads could dump their luggage in the nearby Travel Lodge and meet in a local place.

For some reason the woman behind the bar gave me a glass of Red Bull then poured two Mocha’s for us. Our confusion was baffling; "That’s not a can of Red Bull and two vodka’s," said I. "Oh, I am such a tube," said shen and the bar laughed in unison at her error.

Soon enough Paul Stewart arrived and the one and only Group Captain CVO (so called due to a lifetime of dedicated service protecting the Realm in the name of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II).

We went to some more bars ending up in Stockbridge before hitting the West End and Rose Street again. I was bestowed a huge honour by the Group Captain CVO – a genuine Glengarry with orange plume, for "services above and beyond the call of duty." I shall wear it with pride.
The only thing was, I had to get on my knees before him to receive the honour which attracted a few raised eyebrows from the local’s unaccustomed to Royal honours being flaunted in their faces – so to speak. That sounds quite gay so I’ll stop there!

It was a fantastic day. No sightseeing - just laughter. Much needed laughter.
Colin 2:55 pm | 0 comments |

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

US Election Fever

All the news coverage is live from Stateside. The American public is in a frenzy over the Presidential elections and the waves are lapping the shores of GB as the world awaits the outcome. Blair must be kacking it that Bush doesn’t win.
It's hard to imagine us Brits getting as hyped up about it all. Yet the silent majority usually remain silent until it is too late. Let this be a lesson.
Colin 2:52 pm | 0 comments |

Monday, November 01, 2004

Woke Up This Morning

A blue sky and mellow weather front gave the impression spring had arrived early. The sun even made an effort to poke out from the clouds.

None of the calm in the air made it through to me though, and work was awful. Can’t concentrate, can’t focus and can’t sleep. About all I have been able to do is write which is just as well because I signed up for the NaNoWriMo writing marathon – write a novel of 50k during November. 33,000 people have entered from 12 nations, and while I know I may struggle at times to manage to keep up, it will still result in a piece of work that may, or may not, be finished by November 30th. Either way, I am sure it will be a worthwhile way of generating work for myself.

My goals and ambitions have all been knocked sideways out of my head. A lot of us in the writing group are working on our goals, dreams and ambitions for 2005, but since Friday it has been pushed to the back of my mind along with everything else. It’s a Groundhog Day syndrome; I get up end everything is fine – all hassles gone from view. Then my brain starts working and I start to think too much; so I worry and by lunchtime my head is pounding. By nighttime I can’t sleep for the fighting and re-runs of scenarios in my head so I get up and scribble some lines or watch BBC News 24. That’s how Perfect Place was penned over the weekend.

It’s like the song, Woke Up This Morning by Alabama 3:

“When you woke up this morning, everything was gone,
By half past ten your head was going ding-dong.”

Laura had her dance show tonight and I went. She was in 3 dances out of an incredible number of performances spread over 3 and a half hours. To make matters even more interesting I was sat next to my Mother-in-Law and we swapped funny jibes to each other about who would look more ridiculous on stage. Naturally I won, given I have an incredible amount of sex appeal even if I had to squeeze a bright blue leotard over my plump belly and prance about on stage.

The show was alright though, albeit a bit long for most people. There were kids as young as 3 doing dances and a couple of 5 year olds did solo tap dances on the stage as if they had been doing it all their lives – which they probably have but you get the point.

By the end Laura was shattered. She had left school and gone straight to swimming lessons they straight to the Church Hill Theatre and so went without a dinner or a moments rest. What a wee soldier. We got a couple of the professional photographs that were taken as well for our album.

Got home in time to tidy up issues 26 and 27 of HJ before the penultimate episode of The Soprano’s. It’s building to a hell of a climax; can’t wait till next week.

Countdown till RAF Squadron 55 hits town: 2 days
Colin 11:17 pm | 0 comments |