Posts Tagged ‘cats’

Creatively Writing

Sunday, September 5th, 2010

DISASTER! A fully-fledged disaster has occurred in the world of Sarah Haynes. You all know that I indulge in the occasional glass of wine, well, last night my eldest daughter sent one flying across the keyboard of my laptop. I reacted quickly – and volcanically – but it became clear this morning that the machine has died a death. This is very sad but it did occur to me that if you’re going to die then being saturated in wine is probably the way to do it. As an emergency measure I was using an external keyboard connected somehow to my computer but this was difficult because some of the keys worked on my laptop and some didn’t so I had an interesting time typing things on two different keyboards and not being able to see what I was writing half the time.  Luckily, we are the type of family who have spare laptops in the loft and so I do have a temporary one. Don’t panic – I will still be able to fire my innermost thoughts and observations into the worlds of Twitter and Facebook. I cannot imagine life without the internet now actually. Would it be possible to exist?? It was sad but inevitable news the other day that the OED will no longer be produced. Apparently people are not buying dictionaries any more but using the internet for definitions. I understand this, but games of Scrabble will never be the same again. I’m getting more used to Twitter now by the way, and I have nearly 100 followers. For those of you on Facebook, you will all have seen the great big fuss I was making to get 100 fans on my Facebook author page. I’m now up 116 at the time of writing and considering having the same sort of foot-stamping episode for Twitter.

Anyway, in other news, over the last few days my husband has been reading Things He Never Knew. This was for the first time – he didn’t read it as I wrote it. And I hesitate to say that I forced him into it….but….well….I kind of forced him into it. To be fair, it really isn’t his sort of book, it’s commercial women’s fiction, and I’d just like to make clear that this isn’t his usual chosen genre, but unfortunately I don’t write the philisophical stuff he favours. I genuinely wanted his opinion, he reads a lot and is a very intelligent and thoughtful person and I knew that he’d give it to me straight, good or bad. So I signed a copy for him, wrote nice things inside and presented it to him. He really didn’t have a choice. Obligingly, he began reading it immediately, which is harder than it sounds because I was watching him like an absolute hawk; studying his face for traces of emotion – smiles/grimaces – and generally trying to assess whether he was enjoying it or not. I held back from asking him because I wanted to wait until he’d finished the whole thing and I managed to wait until he was one chapter away from the end before I finally gave in to my ‘now now now’ mentality and demanded “Well???”. He looked at me and just simply said “Brilliant. It’s brilliant.” Obviously I then demanded a complete in-depth rundown of exactly what he thought and felt and why (not restricting myself to the book) and his responses were both gratifying and obviously truly held. So there you are – my husband says my book is brilliant. I realise that it’s only a small step away from saying that my mother thinks it’s brilliant, but still. I sent a copy to her as well but unless she’s reading it aloud to the flock of cats as their bedtime story I can’t imagine that she’s had the time to finish it yet.

There was another interesting dimension to having my husband read my book and that was forcing me to think about how I develop my characters. This was because he kept quizzing me suspiciously as to how I knew so much about the characters emotions when I’ve never been in that situation myself. I know that sounds very cryptic but you’ve all seen the back cover blurb – or you SHOULD have done seeing as it’s plastered all over here, my website and my facebook page – and I don’t want to give too much of the plot away. So anyway, I tried explaining that it’s not real, I have made it up, but he simply kept saying “Well you must have got it from somewhere.” And he’s absolutely right, I did. My IMAGINATION!

So it got me thinking about how I do create my characters and where the elements come from. I’ll write about it next time because it is quite interesting and there’s too much to say for now. But every time I think about the actual creative writing process I am inevitably drawn back to a description I once read in a book of how Enid Blyton used to write. I bought the book (a biography of Enid Blyton by Barbara Stoney; absolutely excellent) last year in Corfe at Ginger Pop, the Enid Blyton shop. It’s a fascinating shop, lined with her books; she was a prolific author. An estimate puts her total book publication at around 800 titles, not including decades of magazine writing. I can’t see myself achieving that. Anyway, in that book Enid Blyton describes creating her stories, and she says that it was like watching a play and writing down what happens and this is the best description of writing fiction that I have ever found. Except for the manuscript that I am currently working on – for that I am literally watching what happens and writing it down. Friends and relatives: you have been warned! On which note, thank you to anyone who has recently left me a comment or clicked ‘like’ on my Facebook author page. It’s an easy thing to do and is a great help to me. And if anyone does have any questions/comments/concerns/queries, or just wants a chat, you can email me at  I’d hate to think that I have to write 800 books before I get any fan mail.

A quick aside

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

This is ridiculous and I am going home. I had planned to stay until tomorrow but on hearing the plans for the day I decided to revise my timetable and go back to Hampshire tonight. I have concerns about my lack of an author press kit so I want to get going on that (author bio, photos, etc.) but also a situation has arisen here.

Steve, my step-father, hates cats. With a passion. I don’t know where this antipathy comes from but for years my brothers have been begging for a cat, and he has steadfastly refused. He doesn’t like the look of them, the feel, the way they climb all over you or anything about them at all really. As I mentioned before there are already two (formerly three) dogs, a pygmy hedgehog, a tortoise, a tank of tropical fish and a handful of chickens. And it is this last which is causing the problem, because along with chickens come rats. Hundreds of them if you listen to my mother, which I generally don’t, but how to keep the rat population down has long been a major concern here. For a while my parents experimented with allowing my brother (he who eats peas wrongly) to shoot them with an air rifle. But then presumably it occurred to them that allowing a fifteen year old to roam freely round the garden in the dark with a gun might have dangerous repercussions for anyone else out there.

So I got up this morning and my mother announced “I’ve discovered a way to get rid of the rats.”

“Really?” I said.

“Yes, really. I’m going to get some cats. Feral ones that will live in the garden and keep the rats down.”

“But doesn’t Steve hate cats?”

“Yes but these ones will be fine because we won’t see them, they can sleep in the shed in the straw and they’ll eat rats so we won’t need to feed them. I’ve found out where to get them – we’ll go today.”

So my poor step-father, who is currently working abroad in Ireland, will travel home at the weekend to find that my mother has got not one cat, or even two. No, she will have installed a flock of cats in the garden. Quite apart from Steve’s view I find the idea ludicrous. Clearly, I can have no part in this.

The other thing I noticed last night was that my mother is growing some plants in the corner of the large and beautifully decorated sitting room. I imagine most of you are now thinking of nice pots and flowers and things but NO, do not leap to this logical conclusion. I mean that there are two green things with leaves literally growing through the carpet by the window and have been for some time. When I saw that they hadn’t been removed, I commented, something along the lines of “Mummy! Those plants are still there?!” My mother looked unconcerned and said “Yes, I know. Steve thinks they’re disgusting but I want to see how big they get.”

I rest my case.