Wednesday, March 30, 2022

DECEMBER 2022 Journal

Here we go! It's the end of another year and the end of this journal.

My plan for 2022 is to write a new short story for every month of the year.

Why not join me in this pledge?

By the end of 2022, we could have enough stories for a completed book of short stories.

Here are links to the first two novels of comic fiction.

Hungary for Love Click Here

Showing Off Click Here

This is a link to the darker side.

Lies & Revelations Click Here

When I first self-published these books, they weren't really fit for purpose. That's why they had been rejected by the agents I sent them to. They were peppered with typos, spelling mistakes, and ill-constructed sentences. 

I made the classic mistake of rushing to get my book in print. The excitement of deciding a book is finally finished and ready for publication is always premature.

All my published work has now been through innumerable rewrites and re-publication.

I'd describe my first two novels as contemporary comic fiction.

The third book, Lies & Revelations, is a darker, grittier affair.

As 2021 draws to a close, I look forward rather than back.

I don't make New Year's resolutions. I just resolve to improve.

Fibromyalgia has had a massive impact on my productivity over the last two years.

The fatigue is overwhelming, and it eats away at a massive portion of the day. 

As those in the know will know!

Still, watch this space, and please read the stories I intend to write and put up for scrutiny on this blog.

I wish you all a fantastic 2022, full of inspiration and great success, and, most importantly, health and happiness.

Aurevoir for now.

I should be back with a short story by the end of January!

If you wish to contact me, email me.

Oh, and a big thank you to Grammarly I don't know what I'd do without you!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021


November 25th

'Tis the season to be jolly... and sociable.

Relatives and long lost friends will be parachuting in with their bonhomie and bottles of homemade gin.
They'll be expecting to bask in your warm glow of good cheer as they devour the spread of stodgy seasonal party food laid out in their honour.
Barrackade the doors! You're under attack!
That's what my primaeval brain will be telling me.
Under such circumstances, I revert to the fight or flight mode... of which flight seems the most appealing.
Yes, I want to see these people, but my daily routine will end up all over the place.
A month of chaos and anarchy spreads before me.
What about my daily nap?
What about my writing? 
Yes, OK, there's many a day when pen never finds paper and fingers fail to dance across the keyboard as inspiration eludes me.
No matter, those days are simply the necessary preludes to an incoming tsunami of creativity.
Another not unreasonable concern...
Will I end up drinking more than usual and behave appallingly?
(It's not been unheard of)
Will my medication-induced state of equilibrium erode under the pressure of it all?
There's no definitive answer to any of these questions. 
My husbands' even worse than me when it comes to having his set routine messed around with.
When I first met him, he seemed very gregarious, brash and quite loud, but no, we were one and the same.
The other evening a good friend he'd not seen for months telephoned. 
Then said friend threatened to come over for drinks and was Saturday night alright?
Well, not really.
Our set-in-cement Saturday nights schedule would be in tatters!
We always, but always, have steak and chips eaten in conjunction with watching Strictly Come Dancing.
Well, too bad, until now and the new year, we were just going to have to adapt and bloody well enjoy ourselves in the process.
Fortunately, said friends telephoned later to ask if it was alright to turn up on Friday rather than Saturday. 
What a relief!
There's nothing much on telly on a Friday night (though it's a shame he hadn't turned up last Friday when Children in Need disrupted the usual televisual schedule),
Better yet, he's taking us out to dinner. Neither of us will have to cook.
I realised that my fear of invitations to dinner, drinks, or both, were perhaps extreme when I was forced to see such invites in a different light.
I told a friend of mine (with my face contorted in despair) that I'd been invited somewhere for dinner.
Oh, how lovely to be cooked for! he exclaimed.
Why anyone invites me anywhere anyway is beyond me.
There was one occasion when a couple I know were coming over from Sweden to stay in their Cornish retreat. 
They always invited me to dinner (I was single at the time, so it was just me) and I'd invent an array of excuses as to why I couldn't go.
News of their imminent arrival had sent me into quite a spin as I was running low on plausible excuses.
Fortunately, I nearly collapsed just days before their arrival and I had to have a blood transfusion. 
Although I was only hospitalised for one night, I'd just been given the perfect excuse to reject any incoming invitations.
Years passed, and I finally ran out of excuses, so in the end,  I succumbed to their kind and generous offer of food, wine and good company.
As it turned out, I had a lovely evening. 
The only issue was that back then, I chain-smoked.
As smoking indoors was, quite rightly, frowned on, I had to hang my head out of the bathroom window for a quick ciggy between courses and at any other opportune moment.

November 14th

Painting, Church Cove, Cornwall, by Gill Watkiss

First of all, two of my books are on a FREE promotion, 
Lies & Revelations (contemporary novel) download for just two more days, so if you're interested CLICK HERE
Showing Off (comic fiction) only one more FREE day CLICK HERE

So, what's been going on this week?
Well, I have been writing with renewed enthusiasm and making improvements (I hope) to the original story layout.
The change in season may have adversely affected my fibromyalgia, but I'm back in the zone writing-wise. 
Anyway, today's a good day, a lazy Sunday. 
I've had a love-hate relationship with Sunday's most of my life. These days, I like them.

(This is my mum, the artist, Gill Watkiss)

On Sunday afternoon, I visit my mum, and she tries to ply me with alcohol so that she's not alone in downing a glass or two of wine herself.
Unfortunately, I can't take the drink anymore, not since my fibro flare-up. Alcohol just wipes me out.
I'm not teetotal (that's an appalling word) as I still like the occasional vodka and tonic.
My hair's still thin, and barren patches of scalp are still evident ... am I bothered? Not really.
I don't have full-on alopecia, so I'm lucky.
My son's corneal transplant seems to be adhering. There are no signs of rejection so far. 
We had a train trip to Bristol Eye Hospital for a routine appointment on Wednesday (another long journey there and back in a day).
I'm not complaining, I quite like our excursions. 
Sitting in a train seat for nearly ten hours in total is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in a good book, and I had one.
The book I'm reading right now is a novel by Bernadine Evaristo's.  It's titled Girl, Woman, Other and I highly recommend it. Absolutely brilliant. 
I think the best lessons in good writing come from reading great writers and taking note of what it is that makes their book so compelling.
What else have I been doing? 
Well, I bought a six-foot-six artificial Christmas tree with faux snow on its faux needles for just £5.00 at the Cancer Research shop.
I'd prefer a real tree, but don't want to deal with the needles it will inevitably shed as I drag it from the first-floor lounge, down the stairs, and out into the yard.
I still come across the odd dried-up old needle from what must now be three years ago.
Anyway, this way, I'm recycling, and I do love a bit of kitsch.
I'm not big on Christmas, but I kind of like the oddness of Christmas week (between Christmas eve and New Year's day).
Anyway, for now, don't forget your free download.

November 2nd

So, here we go, November already. Another year draws to a close.
My mother often says that time seems to speed up as you get older. 
Now I'm older, I know she's right.
The summers of our youth weren't any longer, but they seemed longer. The count down to Christmas seemed eternal.
Anyway, the last few days have been very productive. I feel as though I'm finally back behind my book.
Having had a lot more me-time has helped.
Visits from the siblings north of the Tamer have been few and far between until now.
It's funny, my mother said, the older I get, the more family seem inclined to visit.
Her point being made... that they all think she'll soon be knocking on heavens door.
So, with the sisters staying, I've stayed put.
I haven't stepped outside, not even once, today,
I've been holed up in the living-room tap, tapping away on my laptop.
When I first started this journal in January, I said I'd write a true and candid account of the year ahead.
Well, to be honest, it hasn't really been as true or as candid an account as I'd have liked. 
A fair amount has been withheld. 
What if someone I know reads the blog? 
I can't risk telling stories that they might recognise as having a role in.
Also, to be frank, and completely honest, emotional, is against my upbringing.
We were bought up to suppress unnecessary emotions and feelings, which was...  most emotions and feelings.
Spock, I guess, was a kind of role model. 
My father wasn't.
It's a shame he couldn't practise what he preached as he was very openly emotional. Unfortunately, the emotion that came predominantly to the fore was his uncontrollable temper over everything and nothing.
Still, once I moved from home and met "normal" people, who talked about stuff, there was no stopping me.
Anyway, keeping a few things back isn't such a bad thing.
Next year, I've decided to take the blog in a different direction.
I'm going to challenge myself to upload a new short story every month.
So, watch this space.
If you're into short stories with a dark twist, you might enjoy reading them, as that's how my stories usually pan out.
Of course, December and Christmas are on the horizon, so there's another couple of months yet to go.
You could always join me in a similar pledge.
By the end of the year, you might have a collection of short stories worthy of publication, self, or otherwise.
Or just a few lines of flash fiction.

Saturday, October 9, 2021


October 26th

Despite feeling below par today, I've actually managed to work on my novel.
So, yes, I'm making progress at last. Although I did have to delete as many words as I've written because one whole chapter was, on re-reading, puerile rubbish. 
It's still progress, good progress, a step in the right direction.
Strict self-editing, well, it may seem like a step back when a couple of hours of work end up in the recycle bin, but it's not.
Despite a lingering cold, sore arm from a winter flu gab and unexpected ten-minute nose-bleed, I'm back in the seat.
It's been a good day!

October 23rd

Well, I've written something every single day this week. Some good, some bad, some that needed deleting the following day, but it's getting into the rhythm that counts. I feel I'm back on board with the new mood of Autumn.
Even as a child, Autumn has been my favourite time of the year. Everything calms down, and I become creative.
You never know what winter has in store. Spring is the re-awakening, and Summer's all rather manic.
This week I decided to change the names of most of the characters and altered the personality of one character altogether, which was a mistake, so I changed it back again.
I had fun with dialogue and managed the marry up the newly inserted chapters with the main foundation of the story. For a while there, I didn't know what was going on!
Unfortunately, I feel a cold creeping over me.
I'm just registering its arrival... in my nose, head and chest.
How bad it will be, I don't yet know. Let's hope it's not Covid!
Anyway, my beloved cat Mitsy has just landed on my lap, and I'm going to call it a day.
Yes, I'm sorry, it's been an uneventful week. 
No one has done or said anything interesting and worthy of report. 
I'll be back when I have more to offer.
UPDATES on other stuff.
Fibromyalgia, not bad.
Thinning hair, not growing back.
Son's corneal transplant seems to be adhering.

October 17th

Travelling to and fro from Bristol Eye Hospital with M had taken its physical toll.
The Fibromyalgia's seen me spending most of my afternoons in bed dealing with a level of exhaustion that makes me feel physically sick.
I'm going to cut out all alcohol and see if that helps. Drinking definitely aggravates the condition, and although I was having no more than a couple of vodkas and tonic here and there, I think they're draining me dry.
My hair's looking better.
My sisters keep furtively glancing at the thinning patch on top of my scalp and insisting that there's sign of new growth. 
It's funny when people talk to you and think you haven't noted their true line of vision. 
I did go and see the latest Bond movie with my eldest son. 
Yes! He did ask me to go with him, which was nice and not an opportunity to be missed. Some moments in time need to take priority over everything else. The film itself is about two and a half hours long, but the pre-movie adverts and trailers must have lasted an hour, which is probably why word on the street is that it's too long.
I don't particularly like Bond films and haven't watched one in years. However, No Time to Die was excellent, truly epic, and I remained enthralled throughout. Every scene was incredibly well filmed and the acting was excellent. Again, I've never been much of a Daniel Craig fan either, but he really acted his pants off in this film... and managed to keep them on, most of the time. 
The moviemakers have gone out of their way to stamp out the unsavoury misogyny and sexism that sullied Bond's of a pre #metoo era.
Although I've not managed to add any word count to my new novel this week, the train journeys have provided a golden opportunity to spend several hours reading, and reading's very important if your writing. If you're enjoying a book and can't put it down, then it's a worthwhile exercise figuring out how the authors managed to, so skillfully, suck you in.
I'm currently reading the very brilliant Jonathan Franzen's book, Freedom. The first book I read by this author was The Corrections, which inspired some glowing literary reviews and I suspect the publishers might have then asked him to dig up any previous works in the hope of cashing in while the fire was hot. The second book, the title of which I don't recall, was nowhere near as good.
Anyway, big thumbs up for Freedom.
Next week nothing, but nothing is going to stand in the way of writing.
I have an appointment-free week and have made a pledge to be utterly selfish where others needs are concerned. 
There's going to be gallons of coffee going down and no more vodka, complimented with some gentle yin yoga and dogged determination.

October 9th

OK, I've just written several lines for this October the 9th journal entry and have now deleted them.
Why? Well, if I'm lapsing into a boredom-induced coma reading my own writing, what will any potential reader make of it.

I'll be back soon when I think I've got something worth saying.
Or, I could try for a job on the local paper, where writing about nothing having happened can fill several pages.
One of my favourite stories appeared in our local rag a few years back.
It was all about how (rumour had it), some kind of disturbance by a group of local ner-do-wells might have been planned for the previous weekend.
The police and their riot van were dispatched to round up any ner-do-wells that looked as if they might be loitering with intent, no one was loitering with any intent, and, apart from some tumble-weed blowing along the empty main street, nothing happened
I think the title was, ON FRIDAY NIGHT POLICE WERE DISPATCHED TO  such and such a town, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED.
Honestly, I kid you not, an entire paragraph had been given over to a non-story about how something might have happened, but didn't.
I used to send the best/worst clippings to one of my sisters upcountry and she'd glue them into her scrapbook. 
However, after the front page heading, BOLDER STOLEN FROM LOCAL BEACH, I just gave up. The fun was in finding the banalest article buried amongst all the others. It was game over.
So, I won't bore you with how nothing has happened.
Having said that, there's a lot to be said for living in a place where not much happens.

Thursday, September 9, 2021


Sept 27th

So, there I was, fingers poised, flexed, and ready for action.
A window of opportunity had just been flung wide open (a whole hour to myself) and I was ready to fill it with some choice words and plot progression.
At which point, that window slammed firmly shut.
M had just been woken with a call from the local Covid testing centre. 
He needed another Covid test.
Although M had been given a Covid test only a few days ago, the appointment at the eye hospital had since been rescheduled and a second test was necessary.
After close inspection (on our previous visit), it seems that one of the stitches holding his new cornea in place was loose and needs tightening. 
We're back up to Bristol on Thursday.
How does this involve me? Well, the test centre is three miles away and I need to ferry M there and back.
The test was swiftly undertaken, we were back within half an hour. 
So, there was still time (not much, a quarter of an hour maybe) but I figured that even if I only managed to type up a couple of sentences, those two sentences might be really brilliant.
However, I'm hardly through the door when my mobile rings.
The first call was from an unknown source asking me if I wished to discuss my funeral arrangement. We could talk costs and preferences, silk-lined mahogany coffin, cardboard or wicker? burial or cremation? Economy or deluxe, flowers or weeds?
Second call...
It's Diedrie (not her real name, I haven't known a Deidrie since I was at junior school, Diedrie was my best friend, and I wish I knew where she was now).
Anyway, Diedrie wants to talk, divorce.
This time, truly, no kidding, no second chances, really, for real, going to divorce the miserable bastard who's ruined, what could have been, best years of her life.
I know, a messy sentence, but it's messy.
This might have been breaking news had I not already heard it all many times before (on an annual basis, since the year 1990).
The minutes of this one-way conversation turned to hours.
Who might get what and how, it could probably all be worked out amicably (Ha!Ha!). 
Anyway, as I've said, deja vu.
So, when I finally invented an excuse to end the call (feeling guilty that I'd deprived Diedrie of at least another hour discussing how she intended to cut the marital cord), the window of writing opportunity was so tightly shut, I was left gasping for air.
Despairing, that's how I feel.
Last night I actually had a dream that I was massively depressed. 
Honestly, yes, a dream about being depressed.
It was so good to wake up and realise that the dream was just that.
I wasn't back in my early twenties.
I wasn't self-harming and just hoping that someone might realise I needed an intervention.
What a dark and sad time it had been.
Over the years, I've dipped in and out of depression, but that was my first... and you never forget your first.
Back in the day, people didn't talk openly about mental health. The subject was extremely unfashionable and truly taboo. 
I recall, a year after that hugely oppressive cloud lifted I found myself, by chance, watching a morning television programme in which a young man talked candidly about depression and how he had felt during his lowest ebb. 
Suddenly I didn't feel so alone.
I completely identified with this young man and everything he said.
What helps me now? Writing.
To be fully emersed in your writing is such a joy, you're inventing new people with their own lives and stories, and while you're tapping away at the keyboard, you're right there with them, somewhere else.
I don't know why this post has spiralled off in this direction.
I really liked a quote in an article I recently read.
It was something said in answer to a question.
Amy Winehouse was asked what she feared most.
She'd replied...
Me, that's what I fear most.
I get that.
I'm glad it's Autumn. I love Autumn. Summers are too loud and noisy.

P.S. While I was writing this journal entry, my husband kept nudging me in the hope that I would stop what I was doing and pay attention to Richard Osman's House of Games.
No, there isn't a spare room or a study.
By the way, The Thursday Murder Club was puerile rubbish. I gave up after chapter 5.
I've finished reading Zadie Smith's novel, On Beauty and it was as good as its excellent reviews.

Sept 14th

I'm beginning to realise that the only way I might grab any quality writing time will be to rent a static caravan somewhere in the middle of nowhere.
I can't salvage a clear two hours out of any day at the moment.
Family matters, that's one. 
The feud (as mentioned in previous posts), has been raging without any real sign of a breakthrough for a couple of months now. There's a stubborn old mule on one side of the fence and a deeply wounded donkey on the other.
Both have become unremittingly stuck in their own emotionally-charged fields with no sign of a clear exit.
I'm strategically and geographically placed to be the ideal go-between.
My role over the last few months has been to relay to each party how much the other party is hurting, in the hope that each party might want the other party to stop hurting and suggest a feasible way out.
Things have been said which can't be unsaid. 
So, what to do?
The only way out, as far as I can see, is to place a virtual black box on the table, and in that box, place all the grievances and accusations that so recently raised their ugly heads above the parapet. 
That Pandora's box must then remain tightly shut for all eternity.
With a telephone call scheduled for 1.00pm today, all hinged on the mule and donkey mutually embracing the big black box idea.
They would agree to disagree about all that had been said that would have been better off left unsaid and move on.
Unfortunately, the old mule in this tiresome drama had either deliberately (very likely) or innocently (not very likely) left their telephone off the hook.
(No, they don't have a mobile, we're talking dated technology here. A big lumpy phone with a cord and everything).
As the old mules stable is just up the road from me, I had to march up that well-worn road, kick open the stable gate, and ensure that the stubborn old fool conversed with the donkey.
She recognised the fire behind my eyes and complied.
Yes, it was worth it. The donkey just texted me to say that a treaty had been sealed and the lid of, said box, nailed down like a coffin... and as we'll all be in that particular box one day, the less time wasted festering on past grievances, the better.
A secondary factor responsible for my lack of literal productivity can be blamed on no one but moi.
I recently downloaded a language learning app to my iPhone.
It's called Duolingo.
I've always wanted to be bilingual, with French as my second language of choice.
Not sure.
I don't have a villa in France, I can't afford a trip to France, I don't have any French friends or a French Poodle.
Over many, many years of cerebral struggle, I've learned to parle un petit Francais. 
What I CAN'T do, is understand any french unless it is spoken tres lentement.
I watch French films and dramas (with subtitles) and eavesdrop on random French nationals wandering the street in the hope that I might instantly comprehend their conversation, but no, they simply talk, trop vite!
Back to Duolingo, I've become obsessed. 
It's a very well designed and addictive app.
I tap on the silly green bird icon and find myself transfixed on reaching the next level of achievement. Minutes become hours. I've fallen down the rabbit hole and can't crawl back out of it.
So, take heed, don't go there. Hang on to the one language you have and win that literary prize instead.

Other news...
Fibromyalgia... yes, but medically under control.
Alopecia... yes, and still taking the oil of primrose.
Mood.... wavering.
Also, I've found an old memory stick that may contain the forty-five thousand words of a novel I accidentally deleted a year ago.
I will let you know.

UPDATE The old memory stick did not contain the lost novel (of which the world will now be forever deprived... there goes my Booker), no, it contained two sleep hypnosis tracks, c'est tout.