Tag Archives: hot weather

Wednesday Write-In #75

Well. So this has been somewhat of an unexpected morning, so far. I’ve finally managed to get something written for CAKE.shortandsweet’s Wednesday Write-In, however, as I’m sure you’ll all be delighted to know.

This week’s words were:

fly :: heatwave :: parchment :: beeswax :: boiling

And here’s what I did with ’em.

Image: sumosamtshirts.co.uk

Image: sumosamtshirts.co.uk

On A Long, Hot Summer Night

‘Oh my God,’ I panted. ‘I. Am. Boiling! I don’t know how you’re sticking it.’ Shelley, lying beside me in her brother’s heavy Thin Lizzy t-shirt, didn’t answer.

This heatwave was like nothing we’d ever known. A couple of days before, a guy from the end of our road had fried an egg on the bonnet of his car, just to see if he could. Talk had been flying around town about a kid who’d got heatstroke and who was now a foaming, raging lunatic locked up in a darkened bedroom. My own brother had managed to get himself stuck in a patch of melting tarmac like a fly in a spider’s web – but I had a feeling he’d done that on purpose.

‘Will we see if someone can bring us to the beach?’ I asked. ‘Maybe Joe, or one of the other lads?’

‘Ah, no,’ said Shelley, in a weird voice. ‘Joe wouldn’t be bothered with us, would he? He’s probably off with that girl from Ballyconnell – whatshername. You know the one.’

‘No. Who?’ I said, rolling onto my front, leaning over to examine my friend’s face. ‘I thought you and him were, you know.’ Shelley was lying flat out on her back, her eyes scrunched shut. Her cheeks were a faintly boiled pink, and her long blonde hair was spread out around her head like she was underwater. My own mousy brown locks were plastered to my skull, and every inch of me was doused with sweat. Shelley looked like she’d dropped out of the pages of a magazine by comparison, even with the stupid shirt on.

‘Yeah. Well.’ Shelley’s lips were drawn so tight that they were barely visible.

‘Shel, what’s up?’ I swished away a curious wasp, buzzing about beside her head.

‘Mind your own beeswax, Trish! Honestly. You’re as nosy.’ Shelley sat up, suddenly, and started gathering her stuff.

‘Here! I’m only asking. Are you all right?’

‘God, yeah. I’m grand. Not a bother on me,’ she spat, flinging her sun lotion into her string bag. She scrunched up the parchment paper that had been around our sandwiches, and shoved it in between her bottle of water and whatever book she’d brought with her. She was always reading something, usually stuff I’d never heard of. But then, that wouldn’t be hard.

‘You don’t sound like you’re grand,’ I said, propping myself up on my elbow.

‘Don’t worry yourself about it,’ she said, turning towards me. ‘You wouldn’t have a clue, anyway.’

‘What’s that supposed to mean?’ I licked my lips, tasting the horrible mixture of sweat and suncream on my skin.

‘I mean – Jesus. I don’t know what I mean.’ She drew her legs up and wrapped her arms around them. Kissed golden by the sun, they made my limbs look like they were made out of toothpaste by comparison. ‘I mean, fellas don’t treat you they way they treat me.’

‘Yeah. Well, I know that.’ Fellas didn’t even look at me. They couldn’t keep their eyes off Shelley. Not just their eyes, either, most of the time.

‘I wish I was you, sometimes. It’d be great to have a bit of peace.’ A spike of pain drove itself through my chest as she said this. Yeah, being me is fantastic, I said to myself. Fat, ugly and alone. Bloody brilliant.

‘You’re such a cow, Shelley Malone,’ I said, hefting myself to my feet. ‘A stupid, selfish – ‘

‘Trish! God, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant.’ Shelley looked up at me, squinting against the sun. Her face was blotchy, and her eyes were full of tears. My insides tied themselves in a knot as I looked down at her, sitting on the grass like a lost child.

‘Shel – look!’ I flopped back down beside her. ‘Just tell me, will you? I want to help.’ Really, I just wanted to know, but I didn’t tell her that. Shelley didn’t answer me for ages; she just sat there, breathing deeply, her face thrown back against the wide blue sky like she wanted to melt into it.

‘Well, unless you have money, or a way to get to England, you can’t help me,’ she said, her voice so quiet that I barely heard her. My heart skittered around while my brain absorbed her words, and I thought about the book in her bag. Her dreams of going to Dublin to study. The life she should’ve had.

‘Is it – is it Joe’s?’ I asked, putting my hand on her arm. ‘Does he know?’

‘Even if he did, d’you think he’d care?’

‘But there has to be something we can do, right? Isn’t there?’

‘Who’s ‘we’?’ she said, and at her words it felt like the sun had gone behind a cloud. I shivered, my skin prickling, as I looked at her. ‘There’s only one ‘we’ here, and it’s not me and you.’

She grabbed her bag and rose to her feet, and I watched her walk away. Part of me knew, even then, that she was never coming back.








Teeny-Tiny Tuesday

Hello, all.

I’ve not been feeling well for the past couple of days. Yesterday, I struggled with a headache that strangled my brain to the point of affecting my vision, and today I feel rather like a person who has been shoved into a barrel and rolled, willy-nilly, down a rocky mountain path. I managed to get a good night’s sleep last night, which has – to be fair – worked wonders, but I’m still not feeling my best self, shall we say.

I think the recent hot weather has been playing havoc with my person – and before anyone accuses me of complaining about the good weather, I’m not, okay, it’s been great – but, as always happens, by the time I’m used to the heat, no doubt it’ll be gone again and I’ll have to re-acclimatise to our normal weather conditions. I’m always one step behind, weather-wise! While it really has been wonderful to see blue sky and to be able to go outside without a rainjacket in the middle of the summer, some of us (i.e. me) are built like Yetis and can only function properly at low temperatures. Heat is not my friend.

This is my baby picture. No, seriously! Image: scaryforkids.com

This is my baby picture. No, seriously!
Image: scaryforkids.com

Also, I’ve been doing my usual ‘mad panic pressure have-to-do-everything-all-at-once’ nonsense again, and I really feel like I’ve blown a gasket in my brain. Yesterday was a total disaster, writing-wise. My blog post took twice as long as normal to prepare, and as well as that I couldn’t concentrate for longer than five or ten minutes at a time; trying to get any meaningful work done was a frustrating torment. However, instead of leaving the writing behind and going off to do something else, like a sensible person, I tried to truck on through. I never learn, do I? I do have competition deadlines coming up, and I want to put my best work forward for them, so I am going to have to try to remember that sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is not to write. Work you produce under pressure, or when you’re not feeling well, is never going to make the grade – all it will do is make you feel worse, set you back even further and give you a lot of sub-standard words and sentences to unpick when you’re back on your feet again.

So, I’m going to take it a little easier today. I’m going to write, of course, but I’m going to remember that it’s supposed to be enjoyable and fulfilling, not something which makes me cry over my keyboard. If I can only do it in ten-minute bursts, that’s fine; if I need to have a lie-down (which I never do in the middle of the day, on principle), then I’m going to allow myself to do that. I have to realise that if I don’t look after myself, nobody else is going to. Not to mention that I’m going to need my brain, my body and my mental health to see me through the rest of my (hopefully long and happy) writing career, and that means taking care of what I’ve got, however humble it might be.

But then I keep saying this, and I never actually do it. Today, I promise, I will take my own good advice. And I don’t have any fingers or toes crossed!

This picture made me laugh, so I'm passing it on to you. Happy Tuesday! Image: futurity.com

This picture made me laugh, so I’m passing it on to you. Happy Tuesday!
Image: futurity.com

Have a good day. Hopefully I’ll be back on form by tomorrow, and raring to go for the Wednesday Write-In, as normal. See you then!

Shedding Skin

The weather in Ireland for the past few days has been like this:

Image: startribune.com

Image: startribune.com

It is, in many ways, utterly wonderful – it’s sort of like everyone in my little green sponge of a country has been given a free holiday to the Mediterranean (well, besides we’ve all brought our work with us, which isn’t so good) – and it has lifted the mood of the nation a little. Of course, the sun coming out in Ireland means that a lot of people are going around with the ‘farmer’s tan’ – i.e. snow-white body, sunburned arms and face – and are doing crazy things like running across motorways in order to fling themselves bodily into the cool canal waters far below (I kid you not); generally speaking, though, the sun is a blessing, and one we badly need.

Because I am far more middle-aged than I really ought to be, however, perfect weather doesn’t mean crazy things, to me. As soon as I see the sun peeking out I immediately think ‘that’s great drying weather, right there. Let’s wash everything in the house, and get it out on the line!’ So, we’ve spent the past four or five days washing anything that can be washed, getting four or five loads of laundry done every day. Now, there are piles of clean and fragrant clothes everywhere, and I’m waiting patiently for the energy to put everything away again. That’s a struggle for another day, though.

However, we also had the bright idea of clearing out the wardrobe in our ‘home office’ (really a bedroom, awaiting its transformation into a home office. Bear with me); this wardrobe was, until the other day, jammed full of stuff that neither me nor my husband will ever wear again. The doors used to groan under the weight of clothes that used to fit me in my younger, slimmer days (let’s have a moment’s silence in memory of those blessed times), but now they groan no more. Every stitch of it has been washed, and dried, and now awaits a new future, via charity shop recycling. Hopefully, the clothes will bring someone else the same joy they brought me, and I’m looking forward to passing them on. Going through it all was sort of bittersweet for me, though, as it was like throwing out a whole different life, and each item of clothing was more than just a shirt, or a skirt, or whatever – it was a memory, and it represented my youth, and I remembered the life I had when I was able to wear these items of clothing, what I was doing, and my dreams for the future. Perhaps it’s because I look different now, or because I was much younger then, but I find it hard to even recognise that ‘other’ woman as being myself.

It reminded me a little of what I’ve been doing with ‘Tider’ over the past few days, too. I’m almost 12,000 words into the first draft of the reworked version already, and the words have been flowing, so far, with ease. The book is almost entirely unrecognisable from the first version; the only thing it has in common with the earlier book is that the character names are the same. The planning, and the work, and the effort, that I poured into ‘Tider’ (Mark 1) have not been wasted, as such, but all the words, and the dreams I had for them, are going to have to be jettisoned, and I’m gradually coming to terms with that. The older version of ‘Tider’ is like the outer shell of the story now, or a layer of shed skin, which falls away to reveal a new and hopefully better tale which had been lurking beneath it all the time.

Sometimes, this skin-shedding is painful. It’s hard to watch the dreams of another life pass away and fall into disuse; believe me, I know. It hasn’t been easy for me to put away the giant box-folder that holds ‘Tider’ (Mark 1), and tell myself I won’t be looking at it again for a long, long time – if, indeed, ever again. But something deeper than my hurt and disappointment is telling me that I’m doing the right thing, and that the story will be so much better for this extreme form of pruning, and that this story – the one I’m writing now – is what ‘Tider’ was always meant to be. I couldn’t have reached this point any other way, and so the layers the book is shedding are, in a way, more vital than anything else in its development process. That doesn’t mean it’s easy, but it’s true. Shedding skin, getting rid of excess, closing doors on the past, changing direction and going around new corners are what life is all about, and this is just part of that process. I’m embracing it as hard as I can!

Perhaps it’s fitting that my brain felt ready to tackle ‘Tider’ (Mark 2) at this time of year, when the sun is shining and the whole country feels new. It’s easy to feel positive and full of hope when the world is sparkling with happiness and everywhere you look you see a smiling face, and when inspiration is in the air.


Well, okay, so what's mainly in the air is pollen, and not inspiration, but you know what I mean! Image: treehugger.com

Well, okay, so what’s mainly in the air is pollen, and not inspiration, but you know what I mean!
Image: treehugger.com

Anyway. Even though we’re going to have fifteen hours of sunshine today – allegedly – I’d better get started on the work before any more of it passes me by. Happy writing, and happy Thursday, everyone!