Grammar is sexy

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Let’s face it; women are fussy, right? Most of us have a list going on that all dateable men must tick.

Must be independent, must show signs of intelligence, must be reasonably attractive, have own teeth, decent levels… of hygiene. Must be witty, must be confident; must be capable of holding a conversation that doesn’t just consist of grunts.

Well that’s all fair enough, but then I have to take it to a whole different level, which is why I will probably be one of those spinster types who grows old with a whole bunch of cats (and dogs hopefully) in a house covered in animal hairs and stinking of pee.

Fine by me, as I like my own space, a lot. I like being fully selfish over how I spend my time, I like my stuff to be exactly as I want it, where I leave it, I get cranky if people are even breathing around me when I am writing, I’m in charge of the remote, I eat what I want, when I want, and I don’t ever have to consult anyone over decisions.

Now I’m not stupid, and I know there is plenty to be said in favour of relationships, but it would have to be someone pretty damn special to make me want to give up my bachelorette life. And it doesn’t help that in addition to the usual list above I have other no-no’s.

It goes without question that my man would have to be an animal lover. Cats, dogs, horses, donkeys, elephants, dolphins, you name it. Nothing warms my heart more than reading heroic tales of men rescuing helpless kittens and puppies (perhaps why I have a thing for firemen and paramedic types) or the policeman who stops the traffic to let a mother duck and her baby ducklings cross the road in safety.

I like a man who reads. I don’t care what the material is, but there is something very sexy about a man with a book in his hand.

My other thing is spelling. I can forgive the odd mistake, hell, I make typos all the time and who can forget grizzly gate? But I couldn’t date a man who was unable to spell basic words, was unable to differentiate between the correct usage of their, there and they’re, or your and you’re.

The possession of correct grammar is a very sexy quality.

I don’t do text speak. Fair enough I can accept the odd ‘c u’ and ‘2’ in a phone message (though expect my own messages to be fully spelt out with capital letters and correct punctuation), but if you write like that in real life I will want to punch you in the face.

And then there is the word ‘honey’. One of my biggest pet hates is people calling me ‘honey’, ‘dear’, ‘babe’ or ‘darling’. I hate these words at the best of times, but especially when they’re coming from people I’m not intimately involved with. And if you’re going to use the word ‘honey’, at least bloody spell it right. ‘Hunny’ and ‘hunni’ are not words and when I see them written down, I just think ‘oh, hello, stupid person alert’.

See, I told you I’m fussy.

 

A day in the life of this writer

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Working full time, I have to grab my writing opportunities when I can, be it a couple of hours in an evening or an afternoon of a weekend. Occasionally I will have a clear schedule; a solid six hour period to throw myself at my novel. Nothing will disturb me, no one will interrupt me; I will churn out twenty odd pages of brilliance.

Except it never quite works like that, at least not for me.

This is pretty much how it goes.

Fire up laptop.

While it’s loading, time for a coffee.

While the kettle is boiling I notice a few weeds poking up in my pathetic excuse for a garden, well… it’s actually more like a verge. Okay, it’s the area I step over between my front door and the bin. I pour my coffee and head outside to remove the offending items.

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Lola follows, because she is not really a cat, she is a sheep. A sheep disguised as a cat.

She rolls around on her back making funny little whining noises in an attempt to get me tickle her belly. I am a sucker for cat belly so I bin the weeds and give her a cuddle.

Her sister, Ellie, hears the purring and realizes she is missing out. More belly rubs and cuddles. That is another five minutes wasted.

Back inside, I grab my coffee and head back to my laptop, which has switched itself off, bored waiting.

I reboot and drink my now lukewarm coffee. Once the laptop is loaded I quickly check Facebook, Twitter and my email. Because you can quickly do that, right?

Half an hour later, after replying to emails, posting a couple of updates (because you’ve got keep yourself out there in the public eye) and making a Scrabble move or two, it is really time to crack on with writing. I log off the Internet and open up my novel.

First to reread the last few pages I wrote. I like to do this to get myself back into the flow of the story and reacquaint myself with storyland. So I’m up to date and ready to write. I have just typed the first few new sentences when the phone rings.

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It is my mother.

Now I swear that my mother has a magic telephone in her house that is programmed to ring whenever I am about to eat dinner, get in the shower, watch a movie or am working on my book. How else would she have a 100% record of interrupting me whenever I am doing one of these things?

Usually Mum is distressed about something when she calls. This may involve a decision she has made and is now regretting. She does this a lot, and not just with small stuff like agreeing to play golf three days in a row and realizing it is too much for her, but with big stuff too. Only my mum could spend ten years designing her dream kitchen, finally have the money to do it, then realize within a week of it being finished she should have done it completely different. Or spend years living in a house and dreaming of downsizing to bungalow, only to move to a bungalow and complain because she can no longer go upstairs.

If she’s not distressed about a bad decision, it will be about Tesco putting up the price of toilet roll by 15pence or no longer stocking her favorite kind of bottled water. Or it could just be distress because she is knackered. Now don’t get me wrong, Mum is fairly sprightly for a lady in her mid-sixties, apart from suffering from back pain and shoulder pain and headaches, and days where she just can’t put one foot in front of the other. Anyway, you get the picture; Mum has phoned to have a moan.

So I let her have a moan. I join in too, because I am her daughter and I can moan with the best of them.

By the time we are done – usually when her free hour is up – it’s back to the book. I’m thirsty from all the talking though, so first I decide to put the kettle on.

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While it is boiling I notice the flashing light on the washing machine and realize I’ve forgotten to get my clothes out. I make my coffee, sort my laundry and nearly trip over Lola lying on the stairs while I have my arms laden with clothes.

Lola wants a cuddle and shows me her belly. I cave and then have to make a fuss of Ellie, because Ellie is a very jealous cat and if she doesn’t get what she wants she might go upstairs and piss on my bed. (She hasn’t done it yet, but I know the threat is there).

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Back to my laptop with my coffee, I reboot, take another quick look at Facebook, Twitter and my email. Lose another half an hour networking, then turn back to the book. I write a sentence, sip my coffee. It’s cold, so off I go to make a fresh one.

This time I will focus. I won’t get distracted by cats, mothers or laundry. I will stay away from the Internet. Well, okay, I’ll just play a quick game on Sporcle first.

Okay, enough. Get back to the book, Keri.

I type a few more lines before needing clarification of something. Being a writer, research can be very entertaining and very random. One minute I could be looking up the year Google was launched (September 4th, 1998, for anyone who is interested), the next I could be finding out how long a person could survive in a buried coffin. (One to two hours depending on how much you’re panicking and using up air).

So I do my research. Just check Facebook, Twitter and my email while I’m back online.

Hello, I’ve had a few new messages. Better reply.

Finally back to my book.

I notice it’s spitting outside. This isn’t good as I have plans for tomorrow. I check the weather forecast.

All this Internet work is making me hungry. I head off to the kitchen for a snack and another coffee.

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And so the pattern continues.

Finally I notice I have about one hour left of my six hour time frame. This is not good. How have I managed to waste my day again? I sit down to write and suddenly, like the man who ate a bad curry and had the whole wide world fall out of his ass, my writing starts to flow.

I am typing faster than my brain can engage, my characters coming alive and doing their own thing. I’m just documenting it and all of it is good stuff. I can’t stop and I overshoot my six hour window, working into the evening, forgetting to stop for dinner, for a shower or for sleep. Sometimes it’s ten pages, other times as many as twenty to thirty pages.

Eventually I stop. Usually I have to force myself to stop because I have a day job to go to the following morning, but I don’t want to.

I could write all night.

 

Am I the only writer who does this?

 

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1/ Uses every excuse going not to sit down and write, from cat cuddles to Googling to ‘I’ll just make another cup of coffee first’, but then when I do start writing, sometimes get so caught up I forget to stop for dinner.

2/ Has characters living and breathing in my head before I can commit them to paper. Sometimes I will hang out with these people for months beforehand. Their name has to be right, I have to be familiar with their look and mannerisms, know their history and what makes them tick.

3/ Likes to people watch.

4/ Gets irrationally mad if someone disturbs me when I’m in the zone.

‘Do you want a cup of tea, Keri?’

‘Fuck off!’

5/ Has such an overactive imagination I suspect everyone of everything. My neighbours are doing a bit of DIY: Well actually they might be having a fight with a chainsaw. The guy in the white van: He’s a serial killer on the lookout for a new victim. The posh guy at work: He keeps his mother’s corpse in the attic and has a fridge full of eyeballs and brains. Seriously, when my cat went missing, I managed to convince myself that a giant eagle had swooped down out of the sky and grabbed her from the garden.

6/ Obsessively watches my Amazon rankings. When they are good, so is my mood. When they slip, I get a full on black cloud over my head.

7/ Sometimes writes drunk.

8/ Test reads bits of the book to my pets.

9/ Lies in bed at night having whole conversations between my characters in my head, which I then have to try and commit to memory or get up and write down.

10/ Gets over excited every time someone says something nice about my book.

 

 

A writer needs companions. Meet mine.

Ellie and Lola raiding the fridge

Ellie and Lola raiding the fridge

I was tricked into these two by a crafty rescue centre person. I had just moved into my bachelorette pad and wanted a cat for company, so rang a local shelter to enquire about a sweet little three year old tabby who’d had a traumatic life, thinking I was doing a good thing by wanting to home an adult cat.

‘Oh no’ said the lady, having never met me. ‘I don’t think she’s right for you. However, I have two five month old kittens here who I think would be perfect.’

So off I go to meet Tiger and Angel (as they were originally called), “sucker” written on my forehead, and yes, they were super cute little balls of fun, so I foolishly handed over a donation and brought them home.

Two days.

Yes, two days is how long it took for those fluffy little bastards to destroy my house.

Favourite vase – Crash!

New sofa – Scraaatccchh.

Carpet – ‘Well hello new litter tray’.

They had to go back, I knew they had to. But then they looked at me with their big dark eyes and I realised in that moment that I was stuck with them for good.

So we have learnt to live together with a little compromise.

Lola jumps on to the kitchen worktop, I shout at her and put her on the floor, turn my back and she gets straight back up there. I buy a new rug, Ellie pisses on it. I shout at her and she defiantly pisses on it some more. The rug moves out.

My clothes are a magnet for cat hair and have holes from their claws, the towels are shredded and my glass dining room table has become their race track. Ellie on top of the table, Lola underneath as they chase each other round in circles.

And when they’re done playing they eat me out of house and home.

Whiskas say eight out of ten cats prefer their food. Well, mine are apparently the two who don’t. In fact, cat food goes out of the window the second human food comes into play and I have had to lock myself in the bathroom before just to get away from the little vultures so I can eat my dinner in peace.

Ellie is a weirdo who runs to the car to greet me each night I arrive home, chattering about her day so loudly that sometimes the neighbours stare. She wakes me up every morning at 6am by meowing the house down, is obsessed with Austrian smoked cheese and hiding my hairbands and thinks the hoover is an evil monster that is out to gobble her up.

Lola is a weirdo who like to get on top of my wardrobe and jump Indiana Jones style on to the bed. She spends much of the day hanging half out of the cat flap, much to the amusement of the people in my cul-de-sac, likes to have a five minute snuggle under the duvet with me the second I wake up and insists on drinking the glass of water I take to bed rather than the stuff in her own bowl.

We have been together for six years now and would I change my monkeys?

Never in a million years.