Friday, April 25, 2008

Grace Kelly - A Life In Pictures

My dear, dear friend and critique partner, Lisa surprised me yesterday, with a touching gift. She knows how much I adore Grace Kelly (she does too), and when she saw this book of photos on her life, she bought two copies. One for herself, and one for me.

The reason for this gift? A celebration of us both finalling in the RWA Emerald competition. As it turned out, we haven't made it to the final three, but that's no reason not to celebrate being in the top 15 entries. Every step forward is important, and no matter how small, it means we're getting closer to our destination.

So thank you, Lisa. Your advice and support is invaluable to me. You make the journey fun and prop me up when I'm feeling low. I hope I do the same for you. Writing can be a solitary endeavour, which requires positive, understanding colleagues who will be frank and firm as well as gentle and kind. A good sense of humour is as mandatory as checking any preciousness at the door. I think we do all of the above quite well.

Before I get too mushy, I'm going to end this post by including a tribute to Grace Kelly. A montage of so many wonderful and enduring images of her screen life and private life. Many of these are found in the book, but what I liked about this selection of film clips and images was that it includes some of my favourite romantic moments from movies I absolutely love. It's almost impossible not to be captivated by her amazingly versatile on-screen presence with such iconic leading men as Frank Sinatra, Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant.

Grace Kelly was truly amazing. Refined and dignified, with distinct upper class manners, yet still managing to exude an earthy sexyness. The word 'beautiful' doesn't begin to do justice to her exquisite flawlessness. A quality that went far beyond skin deep. In the words of Tommy Hilfiger, who provides a foreword to the book:

'Her looks were simple, clean and classic. She was a natural beauty, not at all pretentious or overdone. Grace Kelly didn't have to worry about hair and make-up, or being weighed down with jewellery. She was refreshingly wholesome, confident, compassionate and full of poise. Purity, I believe, was her greatest asset.'

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tight Jeans

Well, of course that's not me in the photo. For one, I'm not blonde. And for another, I would NEVER stand at a balcony without my shirt on.

The reason I included this photo is that I must have been suffering from a bout of temporary madness, thinking I looked like this woman when I bought THAT pair of jeans two days ago. I'd already tried on several pairs in other shops, and I guess when I walked into ESPRIT, I must have been just a tad shop weary. Grabbing two pairs of the same jeans in sizes 10 and 12, I walked into the dressing room brimming with hope that one of those pairs would be fabulous.

These were button fly jobs. Three buttons - no zip. I tried on the size 10... too tight, and too low. I tried bending over and it felt like my bum was going to fall out of them. But that feeling of tightness, of working hard to do up a pair of jeans took me back a very long time. All the way back to the days of wearing such tight jeans that I'd have to insert a coat hanger hook into the zip, lay on the bed and pull!!!! Feeling these tight jeans cut into me reminded me what it felt like to be wearing jeans as a young person. And it also made me think about how long I've been choosing 'comfortable' clothes over 'hot' clothes.

Don't get me wrong, comfortable clothes are great. They feel great, at least, but maybe they put us in the granny box just a tad. Which brings me to the 'hot' bit. I was never into looking 'hot'. Still am not. But there's something about being over 40 that makes you want to hold on to any shred of youth you have left. Now that I'm 44 I kind of regret having passed up the chance to be hot when I was young enough to do it without looking ridiculous.

Anyway, I'm digressing. Okay, the size 10 were too tight, so I moved on to the size 12. Too loose. Even I could see that.

The sales girl thought the 10's were fabulous, and she was so definite about the 12's being too baggy, that I couldn't bring myself to buy them. I put on the 10's again. Then the 12's, just to make sure. Then I got dressed in my old clothes, went back out to the pile of jeans at the front of the shop and picked out another size 10, just in case that 10 was just a teeny bit bigger.

Back in the dressing room. On with the new 10. Tight. On with the old 10. Tight. Old one, new one, old one, new one... so many times that in the end, I couldn't remember which pair was the original 10 and which was the new 10.

End of story? I bought them. I can't believe it, but I bought them. They look fantastic. They're the true skinny jeans, and I have to say I look fabulous in them. Pity every time I sit down they cut into me, and every time I stand up, I have to pull them up a little where they slid down my hips, and every time I bend down I think I'm going to be arrested for indecent exposure.

Ah, what a woman will do to look good...

Monday, April 14, 2008

***!!!*** Newsflash ***!!!***

A few days ago, I found out that I'm out of the running for the Emerald award run by the RWA. I'm still waiting to receive the feedback, which I hope will be useful. I'm feeling quite okay about it. It was fantastic to be in the top 15 from so many entries. And for an aspiring writer, this kind of rejection should be viewed as both expected and essential on the road to being published. Aren't I just so wonderfully magnanimous? Time to go off now, and have (another) glass of red.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Guilty Treasures

You know what it feels like. Some people call it writer's block, I call it procrastination. The novel has ground to a slow crawl because I have all the time in the world and no definite deadline to meet. I'm spending far too much time playing computer games when I turn on my laptop. Just five minutes, I tell myself, and perhaps it's not such a bad thing. I know of at least one (multi-published) writer who gives herself a half hour of computer solitaire before she begins writing for the day. But she's producing more than one novel a year, so I guess she deserves her solitaire fix.

I know I should just delete 'Treasures Of The Deep' from my computer, but the truth is, I don't want to. I really enjoy having a few games. And when I'm being disciplined, I can stop playing while my brain's still working and get some writing done. Which leads me to another issue. The reason I start playing 'Treasures...' is that my brain is already fried for the day, and I have nothing left. Sure, I've turned on my laptop (brownie point for that), but sometimes I should just admit defeat and give myself a guilt-free evening in front of the telly. At least there I can pick up some writing tips while analysing dialogue and storylines of good TV shows. Ah, guilt... I do wonder whether it's a byproduct of being Catholic or it's just genetic.

Currently, I'm in chapter 8, fast approaching the 'Point Of No Return', in chapter 9. I have some good ideas, options for the story to go, and I think they will work, but I need to pick up pace and move the writing along. Apart from anything, I'm spending far too much time going back over what I wrote the previous day and playing word shuffle. I replace one word with a synonym, only to re-read and change it back the following day. That can be a trap when I read the writing far too many times, and I become de-sensitised to the language. It's then that any changes I make are likely to dilute the impact of the language and make stale the prose.

The RWA conference is not far away, either, and perhaps that is just the motivation I need to get moving again. I need to think characters and plot, not ball strategy and free lives!