Quote for the day

If you live only for yourself you are always in immediate danger of being bored to death with the repetition of your own views and interests.

– W. Beran Wolfe

Writing Prompt: Happy New Year?

It’s 4:16pm on the last day of the year and I’m still at the office. Everyone with any sense has gone home to get ready for whatever festivities they have planned for tonight. Yes, I’m going out too, just not until later. However, as I sit here I wonder, what’s all the fuss about? The Earth made it once more around the sun, but what’s changed?

When I look out the window, the streets are closed off for the Edinburgh street party.  I’ll be there later, trying to avoid scary drunk men in kilts.

Aside from the office being quiet and getting more sleep than usual, I feel nothing during this time of year, but the impatience that comes with waiting for something extraordinary to happen when the clock strikes twelve.  It’s dark outside and the lights above the castle are lit.

I’ve spoken to a few friends this past 48 hours and there is a universal sense of anticlimax about the New Year’s festivities. Is that a sign of age or a symptom of a disillusioned society? No one has said anything optimistic or shared any goals for the new year with me, they just want the year to be over…I have a list of things I want to do, but that list never changes, only reaches certain degrees of completion as the years go by.

I don’t mean to sound so miserable, but I keep hearing people say that they can’t wait for the New Year to start. Are they going to be different people when it’s the 1st of January? Will their circumstances have changed from one day to the next just because it’s 2009 instead of 2008? I somehow doubt it, yet people have a tendency to put goalposts and deadlines on the start of a new year. If you really want to change something, what difference does it make whether it’s the 1st of Jan or the 18th of June? Just bloody get on with it.

I’m the same, and I know it. I have endless lists of things I want to do before I hit mid-30’s as if I’ll have failed in life if I don’t beat the clock. The thing to remember is that its about getting it done, moving forward, staying inspired every day, regardless of the date. I know it’s hard to stay focused, that putting something off until you hit a nice round number you like or a date or a time is easier, but that mentality leads to stagnation.

So, what am I trying to say? I guess that I hope everyone has a nice time tonight, but New Year’s Eve shouldn’t be an excuse to celebrate, to wipe the slate clean and start again. That should be every day. Have fun and do stuff that makes you happy regardless of what the calendar says…

Writing Prompt: Happy New Year

Writing Prompt: Random

My mind is going in a hundred different directions. It drifts to work and some intense meetings I had today.  I’ve been thinking about next year and the things I have to do to make it successful. I’m excited, but it’s going to be busy.  I have so many plans and ideas and there are so many people I want to share them with.

Thoughts have wandered to my family back in California and for the first time, I understand that if I wished it, I could leave and go back there. It would be hard, it would take a few months to get it all sorted, six at least, but I’m free to go when I choose.

I thought about Wanda, one of my dearest friends and how much I admire her independence. I wonder if the guy who invented paperclips still gets royalties. Titch is on the sofa with me asleep and although I know this is a long way off, just the thought of not having her with me makes my throat constrict and heart beat a little faster. The Terminator is on TV and I remember where I was when it was released in the cinema and how scary Arnold Schwarzenegger was to me at that age.

I feel restless and I wish my mind would sit still for just a minute. I’m hoping that by having a bit of a stream of consciousness brain-dump, I’ll feel better and have a chance to sleep, an activity that has avoided me for some nights now.

When I feel like this,expressing some random thoughts sometimes helps. I use this exercise in the morning sometimes, when my mind is still working, processing my dreams and trying to push them back until they’re nothing more that an indent on my pillow, waiting for the night to come again.

Try this, just write freehand for 30 minutes. Don’t edit, don’t stop. Just let your mind wander and see where it takes you.

Writing Prompt: Random

Writing Prompt: The why behind the words

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I’ve scribbled bad poetry and silly ideas since I was a little girl. My favourite thing was to wander through the book stores running my hand along the spines of the paperbacks. I have shelves and shelves of journals and blank books waiting for me to write in them. I choose them for their beautiful covers, the soft untarnished paper, the steady lines waiting for me to pour my head onto the pages.

Although it gives me great pleasure to see a story completed, sometimes just the act of drafting ideas and thoughts calms me. Every day I feel like there are a million things unsaid in me and that I’ll burst if I don’t at least try to express them on paper. I guess the answer is that I write because I need to, because even if there was no novel, no short fiction, no verse, there is still life and pondering and there is a story in that every day.

Why do you write?

Writing Prompt: The why behind the words

Writing Prompt: What’s your flavour?

I cast my eyes along the rows of colour. Deep, dark, seductive chocolate with fudge chunks peeking out at me, smooth, unassuming vanilla whispers, “come to me”. I run my fingers along the glass, “iny, miney, miney, moe”…

I pause at the raspberry sorbet, deep crimson like wine and sweet as a summer’s day. Then I remember my first taste of Cherry Garcia Ben & Jerry’s, a reminder of my home state. Cherries, chocolate, gooey greatness. I reflect on my first job at a deli over the baseball season, next to the local stadium and think happy thoughts of the bottomless tubs of mint-chocolate-chip and rocky road, thick with marshmallows and layered in fudge sauce.

There’s a place in my heart for cherry vanilla and cappuccino with cream; the flavours on the menu at the restaurant I worked at when I was sweet sixteen. I fast forward to a goblet of lemon sorbet, seemingly inoccuous with its little mint leaf of top, but tangy and electrifying when it touches my lips. The shock of its cold sweetness sends my heart racing and although my cheeks go numb within two bites, I can’t stop myself from wanting more and feeling the sugar dissolve in my mouth.

I decide. My favourite flavour in the world sits in a half-empy tub at the back row. I gesture with a tilt of my head and a smile on my face and a dripping, melting cone is handed to me. I lick the sides and nibble at a piece of frozen strawberry. Within a minute, its gone. There’s a spring in my step as I walk through the park, sugar-rushed and happy that I’ll be passing that way again tomorrow.

Writing Prompt: What’s your flavour?

Just a thought, what does your favourite ice cream flavour say about you?

Quote for the day

“At night, when the objective world has slunk back into its cavern and left dreamers to their own, there come inspirations and capabilities impossible at any less magical and quiet hour. No one knows whether or not he is a writer unless he has tried writing at night.”

~H. P. Lovecraft

The Book List

Every year I promise myself I’m going to read a book every week. I’m not rigid on the subject or genre, but I want to try to pull myself away from the TV and blockbuster rentals. Each year I make this promise, each year life gets in the way, I make excuses and I fail.

So, this year, I’ve made a list of the books I want to read. They’ve either been gifts, recommendations or 3 for 2 deals at Waterstone’s that I collected over the years and never got to.

I used to have a habit of wandering into the Waterstone’s on Fleet street when I was a bit down. I would launch myself at the fiction section and flick through the pages of the new hardbacks. I read the back covers of the paperbacks gathering the ones that caught my interested in my arm and replacing the ones that had the misfortune of having a poorly written publisher’s blurb on the back. I read the little cards on the shelves with the staff recommendations and nodded in approval at the ones I agreed with and chuckled to myself at the ones I disagreed with or I felt sounded too much like a book report.

This was my mini-break. I spent the whole of my lunch hour wandering between the shelves and trying to find the appropriate number to full-fill the requirements of the 3 for 2 offer. I inevitably had four in my hands and either had to sacrifice one for another day, or buckle and pick two more. I was their perfect sucker, promotion hound, target audience for whom these promotions were designed.

I’ve finally run out of shelf space in my house. There are officially too many un-read books on my shelf for me to justify buying any more until 2010. So, I’ve made a list of books that I’m determined to read this year (there are a few alternates in case some turn out to be duds).

The List

1. The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
2. The Almost Moon – Alice Seabold
3. A Certain Slant of Light – Laura Whitcomb
4. The Road to Avalon – Joan WOlf
5. The Little Friend – Donna Tartt
6. The Land Girls – Angela Huth
7. The Light of Asia – Sir Edwin Arnold
8. Twilight – Stephanie Meyer
9. Anansi Boys – Neil Gaiman
10. Acacia – David Anthony Durham
11. Making Money – Terry Pratchet
12. Fugitive Pieces – Anne Michaels
13. Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte
14. Tropic of Cancer – Henry Miller
15. The Wings of the Dove – Henry James
16. The Mill on the Floss – George Eliot
17. The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner – James Hoggs
18. The Trial – Franz Kafka
19. White Teeth – Zadie Smith
20. Fragile Things – Neil Gaiman
21. The Unbearable Lightness of Being – Milan Kundera
22. Natural Selection – Bill Dare
23. Fury – Salem Rushdie
24. Never Let Me Go – Kazuo Ishiguro
25. The Photograph – Penelope Lively
26. Heart Shaped Box – Joe Hill
27. The Scandal of the Season – Sophie Gee
28. The Woman in White – Wilkie Collins
29. The French Lieutenant’s Woman – John Fowles
30. The Magic Mountain – Thomas Mann
31. The History of England
32. Beloved – Toni Morrison
33. Q – Luther Blissett
34. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom – T. E. Lawrence
35. The Queen of Subtleties – Suzannah Dunn
36. Far From the Madding Crowd – Thomas Hardy
37. In the Company of the Courtesan – Sarah Dunant
38. Rope Burns – F.X. Toole
39. Smashed – Koren Zailckas
40. New Moon – Stephanie Meyer
41. Lucky – Alice Seabold
42. Northanger Abbey – Jane Austen
43. Intruder in the Dust – William Faulkner
44. Look Homeward, Angel – Thomas Wolfe
45. War and Peace – Leo Tolstoy
46. Moll Flanders – Daniel Defoe
47. Daniel Deronda – George Eliot
48. Anna Karenina – Leo Tolstoy
49. Middlemarch – George Eliot
50. Rebecca – Daphne Du Maurier
51. Human Croquet – Kate Atkinson
52. Sophie’s World – Jostein Gaarder

Right, that’s it. I’m allowing myself three alternates in case a few of them are boring and I need to swap.

Ok, so what’s your 52?

Good luck and happy reading.

Update: I’ll be highlighting them as I go along.

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