Category Archives: Thoughts

My week of: Murdering my darlings

I had to kill them. All of them. This is the only way to make it better apparently. It’s been hard and I think there might still be a few left, but the majority are gone now. It was my mum and Stephen King who encouraged me to do it. I owe them. Things are going to be much clearer from now on.

And just incase you think I’ve finally gone round the twist and become a serial killer like Charles Manson (who, incidently, I share a birthday with), ‘murdering my darlings’ is a metaphor. It means taking out all of your ‘best bits’ when it comes to writing. All those unnecessary adverbs and adjectives. All that annoyingly flowery loquacioness and those seemingly, completely irrelevant descriptions.  See? It only causes clutter in a sentence.

This week I have been reading  ‘On Writing’ by Stephen King. It has helped me more than any text book, writing guide or journalism course ever has. The first half is autobiographical and very funny. The second half is advice for aspiring writers. It covers all the nuts and bolts of writing: style, dialogue, narration, editing, proofreading. The book is aimed at wannabe fiction writers – I’ve never considered writing fiction but I’m feeling rather inspired to after reading it. My mother has also been dishing out advice. She calls every Sunday evening and critiques my latest blog posts: “You write really well my darling, but you tend to be rather… verbose.” Ouch. I know she feels bad criticising my work, but she knows and I know that she is right.  I am ever grateful for her advice. Your best critics are usually those closest to you.

So there is a possibility I might try my hand at writing a novel. I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to write about and I wouldn’t expect any Booker Prize nominations just yet.. (I can dream can’t I?) And for those who read my writing, please do let me know if I’ve left any ‘darlings’ alive.


My mid-week mid-life crisis

When I say ‘looking forward’ I mean it in the literal sense.  As in ‘I’m thinking about the future, planning ahead.’ My 30th birthday is one of the things I’m currently contemplating. I didn’t want to think about it and have actually been in denial about this milestone until recently. But people keep asking me what I’m planning so I’ve been forced into thinking about it. Yes, I know age is irrelevant but the thought of being thirty terrifies me. I feel as though I should have achieved more by now: be settled with a career, husband, kids and a mortgage. At the moment I have none of these things. Well, I have a career, but not the one I really want. I remember thinking about being thirty when I was in high school and imagining someone very different to who I am now. While I sometimes feel I’m lagging behind in the race of life, I’m also quietly pleased I’m not yet burdened by all of these grown-up things. “What a childish thing to say” you’re probably thinking. A family, home of your own, and successful career are fundamental to a fulfilled and happy life, right? Probably, and perhaps I am childish, but I think growing up is over-rated. I want to keep my youthfulness for as long as possible. Don’t get me wrong – eventually I would like those things too, but I’m in no hurry. I have great friends who also like drinking tequila, who inspire me and who I can go disco-dancing with. I have a wonderful lover who takes me to Tuscany to eat gelato, who does the crossword with me and who sings (off-key) to me when I’m sad. And these things make me feel fulfilled and happy. So even though I’m daunted by the prospect of being thirty it’s an inevitability I have to deal with. And I plan on growing up at my own pace.

Me thirty years ago.

Turn that racket down!

I’m worried I’m turning into an old maid. Mrs Grundy. A prude. A prig. More and more often I find myself tut-tutting, turning my nose up, and casting disapproving looks at the general public. Someone drove past my flat the other night with music blaring out of their car so loudly that my lounge windows rattled. Back in my teens I would have thought that was quite cool, but now, only in my twenties, I caught myself saying “How on earth can he listen to his music so loudly?” and shook my head like a head-mistress shakes her head at a disobedient child.

That same day I found this column in the Evening Standard on the way home from work. It’s written by a burlesque dancer called Millicent Binks who, it seems, managed to get her own column in a daily paper due to her buxom figure and bedroom antics, not her beautifully written prose or insights into human nature. It is quite possibly the most offensive, self-indulgent and badly written piece of drivel that I have ever read. And I was shocked that an article which focuses on how this woman likes to “suck her boyfriends banana” and describes the act in great detail could be printed in a daily paper which is handed out to little old ladies and naughty school children on almost every street corner in London. Now I’m more open-minded than most, but this really is not something I want to read about when I’m coming home on the tube after work. And I definitely would not want to be seated next to a hormonally-charged teenage boy who comes across it either. It is already uncomfortable as it is on the tube, thank you very much.

I also worry that I am getting old before my time. Just a few weeks ago my friends were all out throwing shapes on a dance floor somewhere in Hoxton. Some other friends were drinking cocktails in Soho. And I was at home in my pajamas, drinking tea. More specifically, I was happy and content at home in my pajamas, drinking tea on a Friday night in London. No, I did not have flu. No, it was not that time of the month. No, I didn’t have a huge pimple on my face. No, I wasn’t in a car crash and bound to a wheel-chair.  No, I was not in mourning because my petite lap giraffe died either.  I was a bit tired but that’s not really a valid excuse for not going out.  Is it?

Recently, I have found myself relishing the idea of a quiet weekend at home, baking muffins, doing the crossword and catching up on some reading. The thought of standing in line out in the cold, queuing for drinks at the bar and arguing with cab drivers over fares, holds no interest whatsoever.

Oh dear. At any moment I expect Withnail to lurch into my lounge and say that he’s going to put a jukebox in here and liven all us stiffs up a bit.