Thursday, 22 September 2016

Fit and Sober, Dear God!!

I decided the time had come to stop drinking so much and start exercising more and I have and I feel better, and I've lost a little bit of weight and my shape is starting to change though obviously at sixty five, nearly sixty six I'm not going to achieve a great deal. But the worrying thing is that I have obviously not just lost four pounds and half a tummy but my entire bloody mind!
Tonight at a quarter to eight there I was out there in jeans ( which now fit me ) and a nightie which I put on earlier when I got changed and I was kneeling down on a tea towel clutching great handfuls of leaves so that the guttering would not get clogged and then staggering off to the green bin with them. I kid you not, who does that? I weeded and weeded. The pots look amazing.
At eight o' clock I decided to clean the top of the cooker with Brillo pads to the shiny bits. This is really sad. I never do such things. I have help. I have other people, lovely people who give me time to write but at the moment I am restless. Early in the morning - this is seven, I kid you not - I am in my trainers and off up to the wilds of Weardale or into the town and round the river.  It's exhausting. In town I talk to all the shopkeepers like a desperate old lady and they smile politely and think 'what the hell'.
Also now that I'm not drinking as much I have moved my addictive tendencies into shopping. Yes, I am the woman who this week has bought three pairs of shoes, a dress, a bin ( that's for the caravan and it needs it ) a radio - I already have two - three bottles of expensive olive oil, three lots of tricoloured pasta, ( lovely from TKMaxx), a new coat for the autumn, another dress,  forgot about that one, green and very nice. I suit green, it was goes with my eyes.  I bought a lamp because two had gone off, probably fuses but I didn't look, I put them in the cupboard so I couldn't see them, nine pens. They were on three for two in Smith's. My favourites, they are black ink, very important.
I must try to remember not to buy a house which I desperately want, preferably in Cow's Hill. I have visions of owning collies and mewing kittens and finding a man who smells of manure.  I want to live on a hillside and have the co op deliver and have smoke coming down the chimney when I put logs on to it. I'm going to make my own bread and keep chickens and have a shotgun behind the door.
The trouble is that that was where I started out, well, less the man who smelled of manure of course. I lived in the country and had chickens and dogs and cats and a small child.
The child is grown and the husband is long since dead and all the cats and dogs too and I don't really want the country, I want to want something I can't have. I love the city and my life but also I love to go up there on the tops where the wind tries to knock you over and the birds are circling overhead because they are afeared for their chicks. My family on both sides comes from up there and I can have it for mine and I can still come back here and and buy all those things I don't really need and stay mostly sober and fit but still essentially very greedy and very needy and very addicted to the cathedral and the pretty house where I live and the theatre and the cinema and all the lovely restaurants.
But up on the tops is my favourite place of all and I have to battle the wind to get there so I'm glad that I'm fitter and  more able even though I strive ever for perfection. The trouble is that when you write you never get anything close to perfection and that's the point. If you got it right you wouldn't ever do it again but you never do and I suppose if you did you wouldn't recognise it. You hope not to recognise it so if I'm having a good day when I think I m right have written something which is okay I know that tomorrow it will be another battle and I will not be happy about it and I will go up against the fierce wind in all kinds of ways and love my life the more because of it.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Goodies, Baddies and Assassins

 I hate baddies. I mean I don't believe in baddies.  Doesn't everybody do their best? Doesn't everybody think they are right? I know I'm always right. The trouble with writing fiction is that we are supposed include nasty people but I don't seem able to manage it. Take my present book. I really wanted to have this horrible bloke come up to Stanhope and upset everybody but the trouble is I quite like him.
I like reading about horrible people.  I love Mrs Proudie in the Barchester Chronicles because she is horrible to everybody but when you are a writer like Trollope you can make somebody fascinatingly vile and give them certain qualities which redeem them and this is always the way he does it. Mrs Proudie managed to get a good job for Mr Quiverful and his wife when there was little chance of it and Mr and Mrs Quiverful had fourteen children and badly needed the money. Go Mrs Proudie.

But my man Luke is proving to be rather nice and anyway he had an awful childhood. I haven't quite worked out what happened to him but oh dear me, poor lad. Try as I might he's up there doing his best.
In the book which has just come out I had a gorgeous traveller called Will Hern and he was absolutely ghastly to the two sisters but I did redeem him. I couldn't not. He got himself into all kinds of trouble and really was the pits but he learned his lessons and I was so relieved when I didn't let him die.
I remember in my first saga,The Singing Winds, I had the two main men die at the end. My agent was horrified.  She said, 'you can't kill them off, after all they've been through.'  I am notorious for despatching my characters. So many of them hit the ground that you stand there in awe and desperation. Has the whole of the north east been done in by a Liz Gill novel? By the way I resurrected them, the two guys in the Singing Winds. Phew.
In Snow Angels, my sixth saga there are so few people standing at the end that my friends took the mickey. I hadn't even noticed and yet carnage everywhere!
I have given up trying to make Luke the villain. I am trying to make him difficult and that's easy. We are all difficult so no doubt Luke will have many adventures before he gets to where he's going. In the meanwhile when I was walking in Rookhope this morning, ( I have become addicted to the app on my phone which tells you how may steps you are doing!! ) I found the perfect house for  Luke. It stands about three quarters of a mile beyond the village, halfway up toward the tops. It has a road to it but in those days it would have been nothing more than a track. It's a long house - the barns and outside buildings are attached and it's beautiful and white and it looks down over the dale sideways, no doubt it was constructed with its back to the prevailing wind. I can see Luke going there on his horse late at night in the winter when it's snowing and everything has gone wrong.
For some reason there is nobody there to look after him and since he's thirty, good looking and rich I'm not quite sure where he went wrong. So he gets there and since he loves his horse he looks after it. There is a moon of course, the snow has stopped, he needs some light, so he feeds and talks to the horse and stables it and makes sure it is comfortable for the night and then he goes inside.The house is freezing because he has not been there in months and up there it is silent. There is no sound like the silence of being alone in a house in the middle of nowhere. Luke is alone there. That's why I feel sorry for him and redeem him at least for the time being until I discover other things about him which may make me change my mind. He's going to cause trouble I can already see it but I haven't worked out what kind of trouble yet and that's the joy, the complexity of what Luke has done, what he may do, what he will do and how it will be received in Stanhope. He is needy and lonely and conceited and I do love him!