Dither and Delay Tactics VI

The Journal. I keep a journal in which, unlike a log or a diary, I make intermittent comments. Sometimes I write a paragraph and at other times a page or even two. I stick in ticket stubs and newspaper cuttings. Sometimes I divert from recording my opinion of events to sketch in an outline for a story or poem.  Given this is the easiest form of writing whereby I can simply smear words around with no real regard for structure or vocabulary you would think I would write often. However, I do not.
This week I have not opened the journal to scribble a line because I have been painting a bedroom. Preparation, purchase of paint and application of the paint has taken much much more time and effort than I anticipated. Painting does give a person time to reflect but I did not unstick myself from the paint brush to pick up a pen. The labour required to wash paint off my hands and brush, close the tin and fold over the dust covers makes me push on and stay painting walls for much longer than is sensible.
I did think about my Uncle Reg, who taught me how to drive, and about his truncated career as a painter and decorator. World War 2 made him a soldier. After his experiences he could never return to painting and in the end returned to the busyness of the army. I can understand why as painting a wall with one colour leaves too much leeway for the thoughts to skitter around and lodge firmly in the depressing corner. I ended up using the radio to drown out uncomfortable musings but then it quashes any productive thinking as well.
I was going to paint the hallway as well this month but instead I am going to write in my journal. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

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selling my books 2

This time I have a stall at a craft fair. It is in a big hall which is light and airy but warm. Some of the other stall holders are already there when I arrive. I hurry to set up my stall. A trestle table is supplied and I have a table cloth to cover it. I arrange my posters and books carefully. I check that they look good then sit down and wait. The customers arrive and I wait. Someone comes to chat. We have a good talk and I tell him about my book, he tells me about his childhood (we are about the same age).
“Nice chatting to you. I’ll buy one.”
A woman comes up next but no sooner has she arrived than she turns and leaves walking away quickly to the opposite side of the hall. It’s then I hear voices drifting over to me.
“I love the colour.”
“How many pockets are there?”
“Is there a bigger one?”
“How many pockets? How many zips?”
“You can never have enough can you?”
I look up and see a handbag stall opposite me. It’s full to overflowing with handbags of all colours. Some are spotted some and are striped but all are selling like hot cakes.
At the end of the afternoon I have sold several books but I have an idea. Next time I could do better if I sold handbags at a slightly increased price with one of my books tucked inside!

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Dither and Delay Tactics V

The weather over Easter has been grim; has it been anything else this year. Okay, Easter Sunday showed us sun and rainbows but it was water and mud underfoot. Most of this week I have walked the dog in horizontal rain! After which I have spent almost as much time drying her and then drying myself before we could re-enter the house as I had spent on the head down squelching walk. So as soon as I was inside I sought the comfort of a hot drink and a jigsaw.
A jigsaw is a marvellous waste of time. While I am engaged in searching for those elusive pieces, from of the 1000, to perfectly fit a particular spot I am completely unaware of how many minutes, hours, have disappeared. I like it also because in is one of the few times when I can multi-task; have a conversation at the same time. I like it because I ponder on the meaning and context of the picture. I have decided that it could, in my case, be considered a form of meditation or I am simply dithering.


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Dither and Delay Tactics VI

I was contemplating the title I have awarded this blog and decided the words I selected required a little further contemplation and explanation.

I like the word ‘dither’.  It points to a spontaneous and momentary hold up in the proceedings; longer than a hesitation but nowhere as long as a postponement.  I also like the word because it so aptly describes the fiddle-faddling I engage in before I take the plunge and launch myself at the desk.  The sort of dithering I do before I jump in cold water, go out into the rain or blazing heat and at the front door when recheck I have all that is necessary. It does not have the negativity of procrastination that ‘thief of time’ Dickens/Edward Young against which so many politicians, reformers and philosophers rail; see the raft of internet stuff on beating the problem. (I liked the words of Martin Luther King Jr. ‘You don’t have to see the whole staircase , just take the first step.’)   It is a much less sinister word than equivocation which infers moral dodgem cars about shouldering proper work; Shakespeare explains it so much better than I do in the Porter’s speech, Macbeth Act 2 Scene 3.

I also think that delay is relevant description of my approach to my work.  A delay implies a considered and necessary hiatus in the planned programme.  It is tactical rather than impulsive; a logical response to unforeseen circumstances or a social interruption to the routine.  Delay is about choice.  Though I do bear in mind Pearl S. Buck’s admonition that one ‘should not wait for moods.  You accomplish nothing if you do that … just get down to work.’

Top Pocket Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (Longman top pocket series): Roget, ...

I must make a ‘shout out’ for my dear, diverting companion when I consider the intensity of words.

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Selling my books 1

I took some books to Yorkshire recently. It is 150 miles away across the Pennines. ‘It’s not a boy!’ is about growing up in Yorkshire. The books went to the Georgian Rooms where I did a book signing at the end of last year. All was well. So far so good. Then while I was there I received an e mail from Lodge Books also in Yorkshire – could I drop some copies off? Some people had been asking for them. I hadn’t taken enough books! I would have to go to the bother (and expense) of posting them. And the customers may have gone.
Lesson learnt
Always carry spare copies of your book in your car.

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Dither and Delay Tactics V

I am not driving to and from Northumbria (when I am a passenger the time is reserved form reading; unless it is dark in which case I am assisting driving); I am not in the garden due to a cold, bitterly cold wind; nor am I writing up minutes or writing letters but still I am not writing stories.

I did write in my journal and I have been reading a gripping fantasy by Tanya Huff and I perused the papers and I cooked lunch for our visitors.  And now it is essential that I watch the rugby.  Thus it is that another day whizzes past and I have not transformed my notes and journal jottings into a cultivated, polished piece of prose or poetry.

Tomorrow …..


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Robin on my Tea Cup

New copies of my Robin book have arrived at last!

Available at Whittington Castle shop.
Visited the little shop today and met the treasurer helping behind the counter. He told me that Whittington Castle is the only castle in England owned by a village.



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I’m glad I haven’t had a drink yet,

Thank you, John.  Fingers crossed it will all make sense in a while.

We’ve obviously bored poor Dennis to sleep. Never mind, Dennis. That’s what IT stuff does for me too.


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Dither and Delay Tactics IV

Progress has been made.  I have hurdled family matters, indolence, house, garden, travel and the dog and Iave put together a collection of short stories that I am pleased with.  Now I just have to negotiate the input from the publishing team.  I am waiting thus there is a lull and I have escaped from my desk.

It is four layers weather as the wind is blowing cold from the snowy Welsh hills.  On the top lake I see a kingfisher and a heron.  The dog chases a grey squirrel. Grazing on the grass beside the bottom lake are fifteen Canada geese; that pair were very successful.

Home for porridge and toast and my addiction, strong coffee.

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A Perfect Sequel?

Hi there readers.
I’ve received an email telling me how much one of you enjoyed ‘A Perfect Alibi’ and that you were eagerly awaiting the sequel. Well, I’m sorry, but there will be quite a wait. The sequel consists of only 23,000 words at present, but is growing daily. Meanwhile here is an extract from Chapter One.

Jack turned to the boy. ‘When did you see what had happened to your father?’

‘As soon as the…argument…began I got out of bed and ran downstairs.  I was already awake. I’d been reading one of my GCSE texts –Lord of the Flies it was- then I saw Dad lying in the hallway, with blood seeping from his head. I knew at once that he was dead.’

Mrs Talbot gave a little gasp, and sobbed again.

‘Was there anyone else downstairs?’

‘No, but I heard a click and saw the back door close. I ran to look, but there was no one there. There’s a little copse at the back of our garden, so it would be easy for someone to disappear. I started to go back upstairs and met Mum coming down. I told her not to come any further, but she’d already seen Dad and she screamed and screamed. I thought she was going to faint so I helped her to down to the kitchen and went upstairs for a blanket to wrap round her. I was just making tea for us both when there was a knock on the door. It was Colonel Briggs, one of our neighbours.  He lives in the end cottage, number four. He told us not to touch anything and he went back to his cottage to call the police.’

That’s all for now…

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Sequel on its way.

For anyone who has read and enjoyed my novel ‘A Perfect Alibi’ I am able to announce that a sequel is on its way. This one begins with a definite murder rather than an unexplained corpse. As usual I am writing the novel in linear fashion, that is I don’t know what will happen until it happens, except for a vague idea about how it all might end. So far I have written 15,000 words and it is growing daily. I usually write from about 5.30 in the morning, for about an hour, and rewriting happens anytime in the day. Several of the characters from the first novel appear again, especially DI Dundee and DS Eccles, but the setting this time is North Shropshire, with Whixall Moss playing a particularly important part. Anyone who has walked on the Moss on a cold wet Winter’s day will know how appropriate that place is for nasty goings on. So, be patient, the book will be ready before too long.

All the best,

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Dither and Delay Tactics III (July)

I have made some big decisions about my work. I have imposed some order on my short stories, rewritten Chloe’s Story and I have begun to actually, sequentially and properly write a fantasy novel for which I have been creating card systems of characters and plots, maps and extracts for … quite a while. It is fun and absorbing to watch the novel begin to take real shape so you would think that I could maintain a degree of regular attention.

But, well, it is SUMMER. The raspberries and black currants require picking. Also, there is Wimbledon. There is something magnetic about this gladiatorial contest. It is waged with graphite/carbon fibre rackets, strung with multifilament polyester and cow gut strings, by competitors who use them to propel balls of pressurised air in a hollow rubber core with a yellow wool nap at speeds often exceeding 100mph passed each other. They are athletic, have stamina and at times they are balletic. The psychological part of the game is as interesting.

Suddenly whole hours are gone and I am not where I thought I would be in my book.


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