Tag Archives: Tider

Feeling WiP-ped

The poppers have all been popped. The bubbly’s been drunk. The streamers have faded and the clean-up’s been done and life, in short, has had to return to normal.

So, yes. I got a book deal. It’s fabulous, and all, but it doesn’t mean all my work here is done, or anything. Quite the opposite: it means I’m at the start of something which will, hopefully, take up the rest of my working life.

Writing books.

Photo Credit: srgpicker via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: srgpicker via Compfight cc

I’ve been working on a new WiP for the past few weeks, and the other day I took my word-count past the 20K mark. This, I have to admit, feels pretty good. The story is flowing (so far); things are holding together; I’m even enjoying it, despite the sheer slog. For, even though my mind has been all over the place these past few weeks, this is no time to rest on one’s laurels; rather, it’s time to push forward and keep going. One tiny victory doesn’t mean the battle’s won, and all that.

A general rule when you’re writing is: never gather dust. As in, when you’re waiting to hear back from an agent, or when you’re chewing your nails as competition results loom, or when your book is out on submission with publishers, or – as in my case – when you’re in that limbo between accepting a deal and getting on with the necessary paperwork, the best thing you can do is keep writing. Work on something else. Take your mind off what is, no doubt, the giant crater of stress which has smashed its way into your tender, tender psyche. Soothe yourself with more words, and do whatever you can to keep yourself from dwelling too much on things you can’t control (like the entire publishing industry). Plus, the fact that my deal was for two books means that anything I write which goes towards a second book is a good thing. (I’m conveniently ignoring the fact that my publisher has yet to see, sanction or even vaguely approve of this second book I’m writing, but we can worry about that later. Right?)

It might interest some of you old-timers around here to know that my new WiP is (drumroll…) Tider. Mark III. Yes, yes, I know – haven’t we been down this road before? Well – we have. Tider was the first book I wrote when, as a newbie with no idea about word counts and such, I created a 150,000 word beast of a novel which was part SF, part epic fantasy, part YA and all rubbish. I rewrote it last year in a much neater package, remodelling it as a futuristic MG story about a fracturing family and one girl’s bravery, and it was loads better.

Loads better, but still not right.

The idea for Tider is one which has been in my head for years. I have been tormented by it for at least a decade, now, and every so often the babble of the characters becomes too much. I thought, when writing the last version (the futuristic MG), that I’d cracked it, but it proved not to be the case. The core of the idea is still there, waiting to be told properly, and this newest version is my attempt to finally put it to rest.

I’m a bit afraid that, much like my beloved Inigo Montoya when (SPOILER ALERT) he finally kills the Six-Fingered Man, my life will fall apart when I finally tell this story the way it should be told, and get it out of my brain for once and for all. ‘I have been in the revenge business so long,’ Inigo says, ‘that now that it is over, I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.’

Preach it, Inigo.

Image: twitter.com

Image: twitter.com

I have been thinking about Tider for so long that now that I’ve finally written it*, I do not know what to do with the rest of my life.

Well. I can always move on to my next idea, which is already starting to take shape. I have a heroine, and she has a name (and it’s amazing), and she has a very cool pet which she’s trained to do incredible things, and she…

But, yeah. *ahem* We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, here. Write the current WiP first, and then think about the next. This time, I’m determined to write Tider the way it should’ve been written all along, but if it doesn’t work – again – then I think I’ll hang up my spurs. Maybe I’ll sell the idea to Neil Gaiman and see what he makes out of it.

Come to think of it, that’s not a bad plan…

Happy weekend, everyone. Tune in tomorrow for my review of a brilliant, and astonishingly accomplished, book, Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, and with any luck I’ll see y’all back here on Monday.

 

*Fingers crossed I’ll be able to say this in a few months!

Today’s Post is Brought to you…

…by Old Age, Increasing Decrepitude and the Depths of Despair.

Why, you may ask, and the answer is simple. Today – lo! – is my birthday.

Image: mashable.com

Image: mashable.com

However, instead of dwelling on the relentless march of time, and the fact that I now have knees that crack in weird ways and hairs in strange places and the tendency to prefer a nice evening in by the fire watching ‘Antiques Roadshow’ to a night down the pub, I am going to list five things about myself that I didn’t know this time last year, and which – on the whole – are positive, self-affirming and causes for hopefulness in the face of my rapidly advancing age.

Ready? Okay. Here we go.

1. I make the best cup of tea out of anyone I know.

This has only come to light in recent months because I now make a lot more tea, from actual scratch, than I used to. In my previous life, I used to stand in line in a cafeteria and press a shiny little button, and my cup would magically overflow with tepid, tasteless brown liquid pretending to be tea (or coffee, and sometimes a barely potable mixture of the two.) Now that I no longer do that, I have learned that I make a darn fine cup of tea, whether it’s with loose leaves or teabags, and that it’s not a skill to make light of. Having the ability to make a good cuppa will take you places, I always say. Having said that, it hasn’t taken me anywhere yet, but I live in hope.

2. I have an almost unlimited ability to amuse myself.

As a child who read from an early age, I have never (to my knowledge) been truly, properly bored. The idea that a person could possibly have nothing to do while there are books to read or stories to write has always been alien to me. However, over the last year I have truly realised that if one is satisfied to live inside one’s own head, one can never properly be unhappy, and that my favourite place to be is – as you might have expected – inside my own head. Over the past year I’ve often been stressed, and I’ve often been frustrated, and at least fourteen times a week I’ve been convinced I’m an idiot who’s taken one step too far into the wide blue yonder, but I have never once been bored.

3. ‘Twenty thousand words’ sounds a lot longer than it really is.

So, this time last year I was deep in the throes of ‘Tider: Mark I’, which is now languishing in a box file, never to see the light of day again. Since then I have written ‘Tider: Mark II’, ‘Eldritch’ and am currently well over halfway finished with ‘Emmeline…’, and I have learned that no words are wasted, all ideas are good for something and that the idea of writing thousands of words is more daunting than actually writing them. Honestly. I would never have believed I’d be well on my way to knocking out three novels in one year unless I’d just put aside the little doubting voice that whispered ‘Poppycock! It can’t be done!’ and decided to go for it anyway.

It can be done. Words add up pretty quickly. Twenty thousand words is not a lot of words – it just sounds like it is.

4. Asking for, and receiving, criticism and feedback is not as bad as I thought.

All the publications I now have to my credit have happened in the last year. My work is now out there in the world, forevermore, eternally.

*Mweee! Mweeemweeemweee!* (translation: I'm Freaking Out!) Image: threadbombing.com

*Mweee! Mweeemweeemweee!* (translation: I’m Freaking Out!)
Image: threadbombing.com

This time last year, the very idea of anyone casting their eyes over my work would’ve brought me out in hives. Now, a year later, I’ve been privileged enough to have received feedback from all over the world, from other writers and from several agents, and I’ve realised that receiving feedback on my work is not the world-ending, mind-bending thing I thought it was. Of course, I’ve had to overcome one of my greatest fears and actually put some of my work out there, on the chopping block (so to speak), in order to reach this happy situation; once upon a time, I would’ve believed submitting my work was beyond my capabilities. It isn’t. I’ve done it, and I fully intend to do it again, quite possibly repeatedly, and I’m going to keep doing it until I get tired of it – which, I suspect, will be ‘never.’

5. It’s possible to be rejected, and not die.

I’ve been rejected a lot over the last year. Take it from me when I tell you that I have entered literally millions* of competitions in which I have not been successful, and I have submitted work for publication which has come back with a polite ‘No thank you, but best of luck with your future career, &c.’, or which has received no reply at all. The important thing is: I have lived to tell the tale. It has taken me a long time to realise that every rejection is a learning experience, and I have learned a lot about my own resilience over the last year.

Being rejected isn’t nice – but it’s not fatal, either.

To be honest, I had hoped I’d be further down the road to success by now, but – realistically – I am happy with my progress. Writing is a game of patience, determination and constant focus, which I now know I can bring to the table. I have also learned, over the past year, that deciding to chase the shiny, ephemeral bubble which is my dream of a writing life was the right thing to do, despite the near-hourly jitter attacks it gives me. The most important thing I’ve learned this year, however, is that I have the best friends and family in the world, who have cheered me on every step of the way, and without whom I could do none of it.

Image: stelzlfamily.com

Image: stelzlfamily.com

So, it’s happy birthday to me. I hope I’ll keep learning, and keep writing, over the year to come – and, with any luck, I’ll have even more to report this time next year.

(But I don’t want to think about this time next year, because by then I’ll be another year older, and that’s too depressing to think about. )

Have a great day, and always remember – as long as you’re learning, you’re living.

Image: cakedvintage.com

Image: cakedvintage.com

*Okay, so not literally millions. I’ve also learned I can be guilty of gross hyperbole, for which I apologise.

The Beginning, and the End

I have written the first paragraph, and the last chapter, of ‘Tider’ about fifteen times. There were no fewer than five attempts to get these vital parts of the book right during the course of yesterday alone. Soon my back garden is going to look a bit like this:

Image: sangbleu.com

Image: sangbleu.com

I’m starting to wish I lived in an era of candlelight and scritchy quill-pens, because back then you had to make every single word work for its place in what you were creating. There were no conveniences born of technology, no handy ‘I’ll just print out these millions of sheets and then recycle them’; if a word went down, it stayed down.

Then again, if I had lived at a time like that, chances are I wouldn’t even be literate, let alone be allowed to create something like a book. So, scratch that. But you know what I mean, I hope.

Beginnings and endings are hard.

The beginning of a book, of course, has to be snappy and engaging and attention-grabbing and interesting, as well as hinting at what’s to come and flinging the reader, in medias res, straight into the fictive world you’ve created. It has to do a lot, and be a lot, and carry a lot of responsibility. Then again, so does the conclusion. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time you may already be aware that I have trouble with endings; ‘Tider’ is no exception. I find it difficult to tie up short stories well, and I often agonise about the conclusion to my blog posts, too, which – now that I think about it – may be the reason why I usually sign off with a salutation.

Oh, yeah! Image: atlaschiropractic.com

Oh, yeah!
Image: atlaschiropractic.com

Why, then, would concluding a novel be any less difficult?

I think, however, after a long and hard struggle yesterday, that I’ve finally managed to carve out a beginning and an ending for ‘Tider’ that I’m happy with – or, at least, it’s the best I’ve yet come up with, and that will have to do. I think, as the book stands at the moment, I might have erred a little on the side of schmaltz, but at least it’s genuine, and meaningful.

To illustrate how bad I am at wrapping things up, here’s an example of a pair of concluding sentences so cheesy that you could chop ’em up and put ’em in your sandwich. They’re based on the original finishing flourishes of ‘Tider’, and even though they’re not exactly accurate, they’re close enough to give you a flavour:

Without warning, the police – huffing and puffing with exertion and doing a lot more yelling than was strictly necessary – burst through the door. As they surveyed the scene, probably wondering what on earth had happened, Jenny, Buck and Vincent could only gape at one another in amazement, before exploding into laughter.

This is a pathetic ending. I knew it was pathetic when I wrote it, and I wanted to put my fist through the computer screen yesterday morning when I re-read it. It was such a poor, lacklustre, wrong conclusion; just before this, there’s been a scene of high emotion, and so laughter – even relieved, slightly hysterical laughter – is not a true or authentic emotional response. Truth and authenticity are important in fiction writing – characters have to act logically, and in accordance with reason, and it irritates me when a character is brokenhearted in one scene and five sentences later has carried on as if nothing has happened, or something similar. Of course there are occasions when these rules can be broken for narrative effect, but overall I think characters have to act like people, with ‘real’ responses to what’s going on in their lives. Otherwise, how can a reader relate, or respond, to what they’re reading? How can a book make sense, or seem believable?

Anyway.

So, I’ve taken away that tooth-grindingly bad ending and I’ve replaced it. I’ve rejigged my opening paragraph so much that the words are getting travel-sick. I’ve done my absolute best to make ‘Tider’ as good a book as I can write, and so I’m sending it off to an agent, and that horrifyingly scary event is going to happen today. I have no expectations and I have no hope of success, which might be for the best.

Despite all this, maybe you’d like to send me some good vibes, anyway, and perhaps even a prayer or two if you’re so inclined…

Image: fancy.com

Image: fancy.com

 

 

 

Proof Of My Silliness

As if you needed proof, right?

So, it’s NaNoWriMo, as we know. I have a project to complete, as we also know. Other stuff that I knew, but which perhaps I should’ve taken into account when deciding to bash my details into the NaNoWriMo sign-up page included:

The fact that it’s my dad’s birthday this month;
The fact that it’s
my birthday this month;
The fact that my husband is taking several days’ leave this month;
The fact that I have at least two medical appointments this month; and, last but by no means least:
The fact that I have no fewer than three really important family things to attend – yes, you’ve guessed it – this month.

Image: likeablequotes.com

Image: likeablequotes.com

Over the weekend, I attended a (very fun, and wonderful in every way) birthday party for one of my dearest and oldest friends. I got to see so many people – some of whom I hadn’t seen for ages – and much laughter and catching up was had. We also visited my husband’s aunt and uncle, and that was great too. The silliness in all this, of course, kicks in when one considers that I also knew about all this before I signed up to NaNoWriMo.

So.

I am, at the moment, trying to do several things simultaneously, all of which are vitally important. I am attempting to do them all in the one month so far this year when I have the least time. It’s definitely silly. It’s even perhaps a little on the ditzy side. But you know what else it is?

It’s great.

Image: kwasistudios.com

Image: kwasistudios.com

It’s a privilege to have friends and family to spend time with, and it’s great to have so much to celebrate. (The medical appointments aren’t so much fun, but we’re not thinking about those, right? Right.) It’s also fantastic to be busy, and to have so many opportunities to submit and create work. Having said all that, I still really wish I’d engaged my brain a bit more before making the decision to begin NaNoWriMo. It’ll be NaNoGoSlo at this rate. I was doing really well last Friday – I was way ahead of schedule for the day, and the site was predicting I’d be done with my 50,000 words a week early if I kept up the same pace – but, of course, over the weekend it all went to hell. I’m afraid to check the website now, in case it yells at me – or, worse, tells me how disappointed it is in me, and how it expected better.

I hate that.

The current picture of my situation is like this: I am just over two-thirds of the way through my line edits for ‘Tider’, but the manuscript has been sitting on my desk now since Friday, so I hope I can get back into the right mindset to get through it. I want to finish that job and get the manuscript sent away to the kind agent who gently rejected ‘Eldritch’, but who wanted to see my other work. So, my heart is (not literally, because urgh) in my mouth as I work. Once that’s done, then it’s NaNo time, and to stay on track I have to write something like fifty million words today (approximately.) Then, it’ll be time to turn my attention to my story for Walking on Thin Ice, which has been neglected so long I’ve forgotten what it’s even about. (The closing date for this contest is coming up, by the way, so if you’re preparing a story, get ‘er done.) On top of all that, then, we have the usual stuff – living, eating, breathing, sleeping, attempting to keep the house from turning into a hovel, and all that other incidental stuff.

If someone finds me gibbering gently in a corner, don’t worry. Just leave me be. If you really need me for something, however, just waft a book in my direction and I’m sure native curiosity will drive me out of my stupor.

Happy Monday and happy new week. I’m armed with a brand new jar of decaf, my biggest mug, and my game face. Let’s do this.

Nicolas Cage speaks the truth. Image: brightestyoungthings.com

Nicolas Cage speaks the truth.
Image: brightestyoungthings.com

 

A Little Bit of Kindness

So, I have received another rejection.

Image: dailymail.co.uk

Image: dailymail.co.uk

The funny thing is, though, that this time – it’s not so bad.

I mean, yesterday (when I got the word) I felt sad, and disappointed, and upset. I felt angry, but it was at myself – how could I have written something that didn’t fit the bill, for so many reasons? Didn’t I know any better? – and I was glad I was alone when I got the news, because I needed to be. I think the reason I feel a little low, but generally okay, today is because the rejection was done so kindly, and so generously, that it was the next best thing to an acceptance. It was full of praise for my work (except, of course, for the bits that weren’t so strong) and it was full of encouragement and support. It gave me an option to rework and resubmit, and it expressed an interest in seeing more of my writing.

So, really, I couldn’t ask for a better rejection email, if that makes any sense.

Now, however, I have several things I need to do – and, of course, because life is like that, they’re all happening at the same time.

Item the First: Tweak ‘Tider’ – just a little – in order to get it ready to submit. I’m almost happy with it, but there’s just something not quite right about the end of it. This weekend will be partly spent buried in my printout of the text. Yay? Yay.

Item the Second: Get my NaNo project (still nameless) off the ground. I felt so deflated yesterday that – just for a second – I considered pulling out of NaNoWriMo, but luckily I came to my senses and realised that would be stupid. So, I’m still in. Today, I plan to write at least 1500 words, which is slightly under-target, but a good start.

Item the Third: Think about ways to make ‘Eldritch’ right. As hard as it was to hear that my beloved book just isn’t quite good enough, I realised that the person giving me this feedback is a professional in the industry who knows exactly what they’re talking about, and who is, furthermore, completely right. It’s funny how writers just can’t read their own stuff exactly as a reader would; no matter how hard you try to detach, it’s always going to be a different experience for you, the writer, reading your own work as it is for someone coming to it completely fresh. I had always imagined ‘Eldritch’ to be the first part of a trilogy – from its earliest existence in my mind, that’s how I pictured and planned it. Now, I know that the story isn’t enough to sustain a trilogy. And I’m okay with that.

Really. I am. Image: runningofthereeses.com

Really. I am.
Image: runningofthereeses.com

Submitting your work to agents is scary. The idea of a knowledgeable, business-minded, critical (in a good way), and exacting pair of eyes reading your tender words is akin to that feeling we all remember from our teenage years – the terror of trying to impress someone we like, and hoping against hope they like us back. The tension of waiting for replies and praying, every day, for an email or a phonecall with news one way or the other is a major drag on your health, both mental and physical. I personally feel like I could sleep for a year, but I know that’s not an option.

But making a dream come true isn’t something you can leave to your Fairy Godmother. It takes work, and devotion, and sweat, and pain. It takes the bittersweet realisation that you’re almost, but not quite, good enough. It will – hopefully, at least – be lined with the sort of kind, compassionate email that I received yesterday, the type that tells you ‘You’re not ready yet, but very soon, you will be, and I want to be there when you are’; it will be full of days like yesterday. And all you can do is be grateful for the help, smile, and move on to the next step.

Easier said than done, but believe me – it can be done.

Happy Friday, and happy weekend to you all. I hope a restful couple of days are ahead for you. And, while we’re on the subject, happy November! How did that happen?

Image: businessinsider.com

Image: businessinsider.com

The Waiting Game

I have a pile of paper on my desk which is almost two inches tall. It’s neatly stacked and clearly laid out; it is double-spaced and indented for new paragraphs and dialogue; each chapter has its own new page. It is 254 pages of hard work and mental toil, and it is mine.

It looks a lot like this! Image: hopeloverun.blogspot.com

It looks a lot like this!
Image: hopeloverun.blogspot.com

‘Tider’ lives!

Yesterday, I did my ‘last’ edits (I say ‘last’, but of course I don’t mean it – I’m sure I’ll have filleted the whole thing and sewn it back together again before the year is out.) The book is now at a stage where I’m happy to leave it to one side for a few weeks, hopefully allowing me to come back to it with fresher eyes and a more acute editing brain. The entire ending has been restructured, which involved working back through the whole book in order to shift the plot around slightly, just enough to make room for a new dénouement, and almost 10,000 words have been sliced out of the MS in the process. It’s now at about 76,000 words, which is still a little on the long side, but it’s a whole lot better than it was.

Also, recall if you will that the word count for ‘Tider’, in its first incarnation, was 150,000. I think that deserves some sort of editing award, or something.

 

Annnnd the Oscar for most copious editing goes to.... Image: homespunscrap.blogspot.com

Annnnd the Oscar for most copious editing goes to….
Image: homespunscrap.blogspot.com

I have a huge amount of words in my Offcuts file, too – something in the region of 60,000 for this book alone. Many of my favourite scenes, including whole chunks of lovely, lovely dialogue which were funny and sweet and so wonderful to write have ended up on the metaphorical cutting room floor. Entire characters have fallen. As plotlines shifted, huge swathes of the book became redundant and could not be salvaged. I have to admit I find this merciless cutting a little bit easier now than I have done in the past, but it’s still not a lot of fun to realise, after you’ve been grappling with a beloved paragraph for a few hours, that it’s just not going to fit any more and needs to be retired to the scrap-heap.

Printing the MS has a few benefits. Mainly, it’s easier to read from paper than it is from a screen, and reading from a printed page makes you feel like it’s a ‘real book’; I’m still of the generation, I guess, who feels that when something’s down on paper it’s legitimised and made official. However, the most important benefit to printing, for me, is the fact that it serves to move me forward in the writing process. That might sound strange, because I now intend to leave the printout alone for as long as I can before continuing with the work, but what I mean is this: if I left ‘Tider’ on-screen, I could literally spend the rest of my life just tweaking and fiddling with it. When it’s on a computer screen, and saved in a file, it’s an amorphous, unfinished thing, malleable and never-ending; it’s all too easy to allow yourself to keep waiting for it to reach a certain, undefinable point before printing it. ‘I’ll just fix this bit… oh, and that bit… and maybe I’ll rewrite this paragraph… and, you know, perhaps I’ll just fidget with this character for a while…’ This sort of procrastination could go on forever, unless you pick a point and just print the thing, and so that’s what I’ve done. Now, finally, I can – with any luck – come to the final stage in the whole process, and get it ready to query.

Having said all that, my brain is still clanging with things I want to fix and change. Every few minutes I think of something else that needs to be altered. ‘This reaction here is unrealistic’, or ‘surely if event A has just happened, event B would unfold a bit more like this…’ – but I’m trying to quiet that inner voice, just for now. I’m certain those observations will occur to me as I read through the printed MS in a fortnight or three weeks, or however long I can force myself to leave it. Printing the book and then trying to come back to it with the eyes of a reader, instead of a writer, is a vital thing; it’s so hard to get a feel for the story overall when you’re stuck right in the middle of it. Getting a broad view is important in order to work out whether the story makes sense, has a logical progression to it and – most vitally – is interesting.

This is not the look I'm going for. Image: igniteimagery.deviantart.com

This is not the look I’m going for.
Image: igniteimagery.deviantart.com

So. While I’m waiting for ‘Tider’ to settle in my brain, my plan is to work on short stories for a little while. There are a few competitions I’d like to enter, including The Walking on Thin Ice Short Story Contest, which I can’t recommend any more highly, and I’m looking forward to changing ‘format’ for a while. Breaking away from writing a long-form novel and getting stuck back into short stories will, I hope, help me to forget about ‘Tider’ for the minute as well as enjoy the process of creating something new.

It’s all action over here this Thursday! Hope your day is going well. It’s almost the weekend, folks… hang in there.

Keeping Count of the Good Stuff

Today is ‘Budget Day’ in Ireland, the day when our government will announce the latest round of cuts and taxes designed to take over €2 billion out of our economy without throwing us back down the plughole of recession. Not an easy thing to do, I’m sure; I don’t envy them the job. Things have just barely started to nudge in the right direction here, and our ‘recovery’, if you can call it that, is still on very shaky legs. I hope today’s budget will be gentle enough not to cause stress and worry to too many people as we face into the colder months.

I hope.

Image: intervene.dugfree.org

Image: intervene.dugfree.org

Yesterday, I spent some time with my brother. It was an unexpected joy. I hadn’t seen him in a very long time, and he happened to call over out of the blue. It made an otherwise ordinary day into something that sparkled with happiness, and even though it meant I took an unscheduled day away from my writing, it didn’t even really seem to matter.

It’s on days like this, spent with loved ones and making the most out of life, that I try to count the good stuff.I’m not much of an accountant, and I don’t have a lot of anything to count, but I like to think I know a little about keeping things in balance.

If I were to prepare a personal ‘budget’, designed to maximise potential and encourage these elusive ‘green shoots’ and keep my own small economy running, it would look a bit like this:

Negativity – to be reduced by at least 75%;
Pessimism – to be taxed at the higher rate of 90%;
Fear – to be eradicated through greater reliance on existing support structures;Self-belief – to be nurtured through tax breaks on ‘You can do it’, ‘You’re good enough’, and ‘It will all be okay in the end’;
Ambition – to be fostered through cuts to Negative Self-Talk and Doubt;
Peace of Mind – to be the focus of spending for the coming year.

Image: thejournal.ie

Image: thejournal.ie

It’s a cold, clear day, with traces of the frozen north on the wind. It’s exactly the sort of day I love. I have some final edits to do on ‘Tider’ – things like tidying up chapter numbers and making sure my pages are properly laid out, that sort of thing – and I have at least two new ideas bubbling in my brain. I have several competitions I want to enter, and I’m looking forward to opening up my idea-chest and having a good old rummage inside. The sun is shining, and I am alive.

By anyone’s account, that’s all good.