Writing Prompt: Sleep

Titch is at the foot of the bed. Her head is buried in the duvet, a foot away from me. I have had the most irregular sleep the past week, through travel and going out. Last night, having got home from a trip at around 8pm, I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep. By 3am I decided to have another go at getting my head down for the night. I woke to find Titch licking my forehead in the most vigorous manner. It was 11am – I has slept 8 hours, the longest I has slept in three weeks.

It’s funny how sleep is something we all need and have different associations with. Sometimes I regard it as an inconvenience, feeling deprived of time for everything I wish to do each day. At other times , it’s a haven, a place to escape to when I’m tired and have no further desire to think on the day.

I don’t often remember my dreams, but when I do, I like to write them down. They can be a great source of inspiration for stories, ideas and allow you to explore possibilities that my not be open to you in your waking life.

I also find that when you write things down first thing in the morning, your mind is more free. The filter hasn’t been placed there and you’re less likely to edit what you write. So, try this, keep a notepad by the bed and write down everything you remember when you wake.

Writing Prompt: Sleep

Language Lessons

I just had my first German lesson. It was an hour and a half of learning numbers, how to say “what is that, who is that, this is a country, this is a city…” Basic stuff, but it was fun to concentrate on something totally unfamiliar. It was a break from work, from home, TV, everything I’m use to.

It’s funny, language has played such an important part in my life over the years. I grew up speaking Spanish at home. My mother learned how to speak English watching American soaps on a black and white TV as my brother and I grew up. My first few words were a blend of English and Spanish and I simply took it for granted that everyone knew what I was saying all the time.  To this day, my father has only uttered a few words to me in English my whole life and whenever my mother and I want to keep a secret, we switch in and out between languages, depending on our audience.

I took French now and then over the years, addicted to French films and the smooth tones of the language. I like being able to order in restaurants and to read the street signs in the Metro. La Cité des enfants perdus, by Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet is still one of my favourite films.

I love the sounds and textures of language, each one a treasure chest waiting to be unlocked. But, for all their complexity, words are simply the tools of communication. They need depth, feeling and craft in order to carry meaning to others. Like an artist at his easel, without dedication, practice and understanding, they can be as clumsy as a finger painting or a stick figure.

Strange, for all the possibilities of language, despite my love of all the weird and wonderful sounds, I can’t seen to get past a certain level in any language, not even English.

I’m hoping that someday, with lots and lots of practice, I’ll master the art of speaking the right words, at the right time, to the right people. Wish me luck.

Peace and Quiet

I’ve had a lazy weekend. I don’t often have a weekend where I feel at liberty to relax and do as I please. At some point from the time I leave work to the time I get home, I feel guilty if I don’t pick up an industry book or do research online. Today, I woke at 930am and found Titch curled up next to me in her usual place. The house was quiet and a bit of sunlight was coming in from window. I put on my glasses and turned on the TV. I had put in a DVD of season 1 of Battlestar Galactica the night before, but didn’t watch it. So, I hit play and buried my head under the blankets so that only my face was peeking out.

I was due to go to my friend Arlene’s house for brunch at 11.30, followed by a walk on a farm nearby with her two dogs; Blue, a hyperactive Border Collie and Sky, a black and white pointer.

We strolled along the muddy fields, avoiding the snow patches on the ground, remnants of last week’s snowfall. We chatted about nothing in particular and she gave me a tip on a place to get a massage nearby. I had an appointment booked within half an hour.

On the way home, I bought everything I’d need to cook a week’s worth of food and when I got home, set to work in the kitchen. There’s now enough bolognese sauce, chili and Mexican stew to last over a week. I love my freezer.

So, now I’m watching Ghostbusters, an old favourite from when I was in High School. Titch is asleep at my side (again). I’m heading up to bed in a few minutes and I don’t feel even remotely guilty about the fact that I’m going to bed earlier than I have since I was ten…

Good night, I’m off to have some peace and quite.

Quote for the day

Writers are not just people who sit down and write.  They hazard themselves.  Every time you compose a book your composition of yourself is at stake.

– E. L. Doctorow


I’m raising money for Cancer Research UK but getting people to sponsor me in the Paris Marathon in April. I haven’t trained hard enough and I’m worried I won’t be able to cut it, but I’m still determined to try. There are a lot of reasons why I’m doing this. I want to prove to myself and to others that I have the discipline to follow through.

I want to raise money for CR rather than any other charity because we lost my father in law, Chris to prostate cancer two and a half years ago. I remember the day we found out about his illness. My husband and I had just been to the cinema watching LOTR The Two Towers. I was elated, having loved the first film and the books. I was impressed with Peter Jackson’s interpretation and suddenly developed a crush of David Wenham, the Aussie actor that played Faramir. We got into the car and the phone went. It was Mum. She told us the test results and we sat there quiet for a moment. It didn’t quite sink in for a while. In fact, it was months before I allowed the possibility of anything ever really happening to him to penetrate my mind. This man had climbed mountains, was a scholar, taught me rugby, took me to my first Arsenal game at Highbury, taught me badminton and covered the back court when we played doubles. He was my Dad away from home in California. He’s the reason why I run races for that charity every year and it’ll be him that I think about when I crawl over the finish line on the Champs Elysées.

I’m not a noble person. I’m actually a bit of a self and work obsessed fuck up. When I run, whether its on the road or on the treadmill, I have my ipod set to play fast tracks to set me pace, but I’m not really listening. I’m thinking. I shut out the world and think about things. I think of my family, so far away from me and the fact that I never call. I promise myself to be better, knowing that the habit of waiting for my mother to ring me at the weekends, instead of picking up the phone and dialing myself is a hard habit for me to shake. I think about my husband and how he puts himself at risk every week by climbing mountains in the snow for fun. Climbing is in his blood and although I’ll never stop him, I hold my breathe whenever he pulls out of the drive at 6am. This is our 15th Valentine’s Day. I want at least 15 more, but I spend more time with my Blackberry and my laptop than I do with him. I think about my workaholic tendencies. As I run, I make resolutions about being better in all the ways people need me to be. I run and run and promise myself to change my priorities, to read more, to spend time with the people I love, to get away from remote control and computer a couple of days a week.

I push myself hard on the treadmill, as though I’m running away from the unpleasant things I don’t want to face when I’m around others. I’m running this marathon to test myself and in some small way to atone for the things that are wrong in my life. It’s odd and makes no sense, but I feel like finishing that race will somehow help me prove something to myself. Maybe it’ll prove that I have the strength of mind and the will to change.

Writing Prompt: Valentine’s Day

Holidays mean different things to different people. Some people think of Valentine’s Day as another commercial opportunity for greeting card companies and chocolate makers and florists. To others, its an opportunity to show people they love their feelings. For others still, it can be a reminder to the single cynics out there that romance isn’t dead.

Most people have had at least one romantic moment in their life. Think back. What was yours?

Writing Prompt: Valentine’s Day

Writing Prompt: Snow Day/Moonlight

It’s funny how different people react to the harsh weather. I looked out the window and saw the fields behind my house covered with snow. The hillside wore a white blanket, inviting me to slide down on a sledge. When I went to the front of the house, the street and gardens were hidden and unfortunately, so was my car. There were at least six inches of fresh, fluffy powder over the windows, on the driveway, all over the garden. Down the steps, there were deep, tiny footprints where Titch had clearly stepped out and disliking the cold, had turned straight around and back to warmth on the house.

Trains have been cancelled or delayed every day. The roads have been treacherous.  As I drove down the hill to the train station this morning, my back wheels skid slightly, but I was able to correct them and carry on. A friend was not so lucky the other day, having ended up in a hedge. I was grateful to hear he was all right, but it has made me more careful than usual.

The fire is lit, Titch is at my side. I looked out the window a moment ago and the full moon is out, huge and magnificent in the sky. It’s strange, it’s a little quirk of mine. I love the sight of the full moon. I’ve seen it over so many cities over the years and I always associate it with happy memories.

So, a cold but beautiful day, followed by a freezing lovely night.

What do you think of when you see snow covered hill and a big full moon?

Writing Prompt: Snow Day/Moonlight

Up ↑