It’s 8am on Sunday and another week has rolled by so quickly I’m not sure where it went. I’ve been busy all week editing the first three books of the Blackwood family saga ready for republication soon, and my eyes are tired of wearing glasses and looking at a screen.
All day yesterday I kept thinking – “I must write my blog” – but the sun was shining so I pootled about the garden instead, I had breakfast out there with Miss F and I made six bookstack challenge posts for Instagram next week.
In short, I did everything but write my blog.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy my blog, because I do. And I know there are people who read it religiously every Sunday and I certainly didn’t want to let them down – all six of them. It was more I was tired. Tired of looking at my glowing laptop screen and tired of words. So tired of words. In fact, after a whole week of moving words around, taking them out, putting them back in again, and looking for the bad words that I’ve used one too many times, and yes, I am looking at you – just, suddenly, really and only – there was a real reluctance to look at any more.
As any author will tell you, editing sucks. Oh, not in the beginning, it doesn’t. In the beginning when you’re still in love with your story and it’s all fresh and shiny and new, it’s great fun. Polishing and perfecting it. But. When you’ve gone through it a gazillion times and you’re still finding things to fix, then it’s not fun anymore. In fact, you are so sick of looking at your story that the temptation to just forget the whole thing is immense. And you know, no matter how many times it’s edited, no matter how many editors, beta readers and arc readers look at it, there will always be that one mistake that is missed by everyone. Like a cockroach behind the skirting board it will lurk, waiting until the book is published and you hold your beautiful paperback copy in your hands for the first time. You open it up to feast your eyes on this masterpiece you have created and wham – that’s when it hits you between the eyes – the error on page 56.
Usually it’s not a massive error, it’s a missing full stop or a too instead of a to, no one else will probably even notice it’s there. But you know it’s there, and yes, it is possible to change it and republish it, but is it worth all the hassle of having to get another pdf made simply for that?
So, that’s what I was doing all this week. And sorting out new covers with my cover designing team and trying to write blurbs – which as any author will tell you is the hardest thing about writing a book – an 80,000 word story which all ties together and has a beginning, a middle and an end – no problem. A succinct blurb of under 200 words that effectively sums up the story without giving away any spoilers, and that tempts the reader to buy the book without putting the entire plot on the back cover – impossible. I’ve seen many a writer reduced to tears by writing the blurb. And I’ve had three of them to do this week.
I was also rather stuck for what to write this week. After all, it’s not like I’ve gone anywhere or done anything exciting. I’m sure you don’t want to hear about my single trip to the post office where a man in front of me in the queue couldn’t stop coughing and everyone in the queue, as one entity, moved back to give him and his possibly germ infested breath, lots of room.
Or how I went shopping and did my usual forage of whatever I could find on the shelves before scuttling home again, so relieved to be able to close my front door on the world for another week.
Maybe you would be interested to hear that the previous week I spent a very long day deep cleaning my bathroom? I managed to remove the shower screen and propped it up into the bath and spent hours simply going at it again and again with some very powerful limescale remover I’d bought and some mould remover. ** note, do not mix these two together. Trust me on this one. Unless you want to be forced from the bathroom wheezing, with your eyes tearing and your lungs feeling like you’ve just inhaled acid, keep these two far apart! **
When I’d finally finished, Miss F came in for an inspection.
“The shower screen!”
“What about it?”
“You can see through it! I didn’t know it was supposed to do that!”
I told you it was powerful limescale remover. It took several applications and much scrubbing and even chipping at the layers, but I finally got off stuff that I think pre-dated the Jurassic period. Oh, the joys of living in a very hard water area.
On a depressing note, I think my dishwasher is finally kaput. It’s been getting more unreliable over the past few years. There are certain “dead zones” in there, that I know if I put things in that zone they won’t be cleaned, but now it’s like I forgot to switch the machine on at all. Stuff is coming out as dirty as it went in. So yesterday I once again took the filter apart and thoroughly cleaned it, I topped it up with salt and rinse aid, and I used an expensive dishwasher cleaner on it. Has it made a difference? I don’t know. We’ll find out when we next use it.
I hope it can be salvaged. Although it is seventeen years old it was a very expensive, top of the range model, and I have looked after it, to replace it is going to cost me a lot of money. As well, it’s one of those built into the cupboard ones so that limits the models I will be able to choose from. Once I’m allowed to, I will get Rob my trusty appliance man, to take a look at it. It’s possible there’s a problem that can be fixed and keep the machine going for a little while longer.
Miss F got her college results back for the year. Luckily, she and most of her class, had managed to complete the majority of their exams before lockdown. There were a couple of presentations she had to complete at home and submit via the internet, and one rather interesting practical demonstration she had to do via Skype involving our long-suffering cat and a towel which left the cat a bit traumatised. I am happy to say though, that pending additional points that will be awarded once her work placement report is finalised, she has passed this year’s exams with at least a merit and possibly a distinction.
It’s all she needs to be able to move up to the next level in September – if the colleges are all open again by then, that is. She has now completely finished with her college work for this school year, and even if schools reopen for the summer term, I don’t think she will be going back to college as there wouldn’t be much point. Although, who knows?
That seems to be the underlying theme at the moment. Nobody knows what is going to happen. We’re definitely in lockdown for another three weeks at least, which I must admit I’m relieved about. But all around me I can feel how frustrated and agitated people are becoming. On my weekly trip up town I have noticed there seem more people out each time. Most are obeying social distancing rules, but many are not.
My own neighbours in my road are all displaying signs of cabin fever and are clutching at any excuse to linger for chats in the street. They begin by religiously obeying the 2m apart rule, but as they gossip you can see them drifting closer and closer together. They are also in and out of each other’s gardens and again not adhering strictly to the rules of 2m apart and don’t share food from each other’s kitchens. I can understand it, I can, but at the same time it makes me uncomfortable.
It was VE Day on Friday and the Government sent out very mixed messages about coming together to celebrate but still obeying social distancing rules from your front garden. Well, I live in a Victorian street where the houses don’t have front gardens, not really. A short path and steps up to the front door, is all you get.
We hung out whatever flags and bunting we could get hold of, there was wartime music being played from someone’s house and people stood outside their houses with a drink of something and called out to each other, and that was nice. But then, after a while and as I expected, people began to drift up and down the street chatting to each other, and again, the 2m rule began to be bent, ever so slightly. At that point, I said goodnight and went indoors. They are lovely people, but at the end of day, I don’t know where they’ve been or who they’ve been in contact with.
The weather has been very changeable, after all those weeks of gorgeous sunny days and balmy evenings, it suddenly changed to cold, wet and windy, and the sheer weight of water knocked a piece of my guttering loose at the front of my house. This caused much consternation amongst my neighbours who all rushed to tell me that I must get it fixed or it would cause major problems. Yeah, no kidding? Easier said than done though in the middle of a lockdown. Luckily, the problem has been fixed without too much effort on my part. The neighbour opposite to me has had decorators re-painting all his exterior windows this week. They are a local firm who have carried on working but only on exterior jobs. They are a husband and wife team in isolation together and live in the town so can pop home whenever necessary for lunch and toilet breaks.
Anyway, I was in the garden on Friday collecting in the washing, when Miss F came running out to tell me that there was a man at the front door asking to speak to her mum. Curious, I went to see, and it was the painter from across the road asking if while he was there with his extra long ladder, would I like him to fix the gutter for me?
I was delighted and offered to pay him, but he refused to take anything, scuttled up his ladder and pushed the gutter back into position. But, I did ask him to give me a quote for sanding down and re-painting my fascia boards as they haven’t been done since about 1909 – certainly not in the thirty years I’ve been living her – and they look terrible and desperately need doing. So, they will be coming back next week, weather allowing, to get this job finally done.
Speaking of finally getting things done, we at last have a working doorbell. After at least twenty years of mine not working and having to stick a little note over it ordering people to KNOCK, Miss F ordered us a wireless one from Amazon. With brute force and ignorance, I managed to prise the old one off the front door – the screw had corroded into place – and screwed the new one on.
It’s really fancy – with two receivers that you can plug in anywhere in the house and about fifty different ring tones! It will be useful to be able to take one of the receivers outside and plug it into the outside socket in the garden. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve been out there and heard the phone ringing indoors, so have come running in to answer it, only to find it’s someone standing on my front doorstep unable to make me hear their frantic knocking.
What will happen in three weeks-time, I don’t know. I work for a company selling beds and mattresses, which in the short term can in no way be considered essential. Indications are that lockdown will be eased gradually, with the more essential businesses opening up first. Like I said, beds aren’t immediately essential, so I don’t know if that means we’ll be left in lockdown for longer. I’ve heard nothing from my firm, other than the odd reassuring text from my manager checking that we’re all okay and still alive, so all I can do is wait to be given instructions.
The temperature is due to drop next week, but still remain dry, so I’m thinking I should begin on the mammoth task of painting my garden fences. I know me. If I go back to work and I haven’t even started the job, then that paint will remain in the shed for another year or two. But, if I have at least made a good start, then the impetus will be there to finish the job. I’ve dusted off my old iPod which I can listen to the radio on, together with a pair of lightweight headphones. Painting fences is such a boring job that I’ll need something to stop me going insane. If I can do even just a couple of hours a day then perhaps over the next three weeks, I’ll make real inroads into the job, maybe even finish it. I will keep you all posted.
This is not the most exciting blog I’ve ever written, but at least I’ve written something. I was reluctant to break the habit as I’ve managed to produce a blog every single week (with the exception of Christmas) for almost a year now.
I hope you all enjoy your Sunday – as most of you know, it’s sofa Sunday for me and Miss F, when we slob on the sofa and binge watch films with snacks and drinks, and there’s pizza for dinner. We’re now watching our way through all the Marvel films in the correct viewing order. We’re up to Thor 1 and also Avengers Assemble, if there’s time. I enjoy these Sundays when we completely relax and do nothing but watch movies all afternoon, but I wouldn’t want to do it every day. That would very quickly become boring.
My tea is long gone and somehow, I’ve dredged up 2400 words. I’m now going to make coffee and breakfast and get this day started, so, stay home, safe safe, stay healthy.