Friday, August 28, 2009

The saga of the boob lumpage continues...

It's still there - the wiley wee fecker.
Still waiting on an appointment from the breast clinic.
Still spending an inordinate amount of time groping myself.
Having occasional panic attacks in a 'Who Will Love My Children?' stylee.
Still being dramatic to the husband ('Enjoy it before they chop it off' etc etc)
Still hopeful it will be okay.
Still thinking women have a rough deal of it.
Avoiding reading Tik a Brik or similar doom and gloom magazines about real life traumas including breast cancers.
Still trying not to think about cancer.
Still failing.
Still hopeful.


I realise (like the big eejit that I am) that I have two perfect, wonderful, precious babies and I can't quite believe I ever did anything in my life to deserve such joy.

The last of the summer whine

So summer is sweeping to an end. There are only a few days left until the wains go back to school and we have to accept that the weeks of running to the beach, playing in the park and getting out the barbecue we were promised are not going to materialise.

I’m quite fond of Autumn but I can’t help but feel a certain sadness at the end of summer – and of this summer in particular. This is the one summer I’ve had the chance to stay at home and be with my son instead of dropping him off each morning to my auntie while me and his daddy go out to work.

It has been an all together lovely – if at times exasperating – experience and I’ve felt like a proper mammy and enjoyed relishing our time as a family.

I have spent my days hoping the boy (and the girl, of course) will sleep in past 6.30am. I have watched an inordinate amount DVDS from Ben 10 to Star Wars and Hotel for Dogs. I have struggled with the cries of “I’m bored” (from him and me) and had to become creative with what we do to pass our time.

I have been, as the summer has progressed, a plethora of characters from Princess Peach, to Janine from Ghostbusters and Queen Amidalla. I have become quite adept in talking in a faux American accent when necessary.

I have also become adept at calming a tantrum without necessarily resorting to bribery and corruption – although at times a bar of chocolate has worked wonders. Sometimes I have even let the boy have share.

I have congratulated myself on getting creative with painting sessions or cooking sessions. I felt particularly smug when I managed, for perhaps the first time ever, not to mess up one of those wee ready packs of bun mix. I was even more smug when I made my own cupcake icing and decorated said buns like a true pro. There hasn’t been a Rice Krispie bun in sight.

And when I cooked a spinach lasagne from scratch – with not a jar in sight – I was so lured that I even took pictures. (Yes, I know this makes me either sad or slightly insane, but seriously, given that my usual cuisine is basic pasta and Dolmio this was an achievement.)

My son and I have sat up at night, chatting and singing and having discos in the living room. The boy has cut some moves to 70s classics while I’ve done my best to not entirely shame myself with some mad leaping about to ‘Things Can Only Get Better’ by D:Ream.

We have cuddled, and chatted and read a jillion books. He has learned to send emails and ride his scooter. He has been brave enough top jump into the swimming pool and allow his head to go all the way under the water. He has grown about a foot, or at least it seems, and grown into an even more caring and lovely wee boy who makes me roar laughing at least once a day.

But I think I have learned more from my summer at home with him – and I’m not just talking about learning a whole new appreciation for a glass of wine at the end of a long day.

I’ve learned a whole new appreciation for him – and for being a mammy. I’ve been forced to slow down and do things at his pace. I’ve been privileged to learn more of his quirks and habits. The last time we spent this much time together was when I was maternity leave when he was tiny - and in many ways he was much easier as a newborn. I could put him a cot and he would sleep. I could take him to town in his pram and he wouldn’t demand to go to the toy shop or get bored after fifteen minutes.

Now, I admit, he sets the agenda and I tag along doing my best to keep him in check and make sure he doesn’t turn into a spoiled article.

When there have been times I would have been happy to sit down and relax in front of the TV or with a good book (or, indeed writing a good book) he has encouraged me to head out to the park and whiz down the slides with him or push him higher on the swings.

My summer has definitely been richer for it and I know that when I return to work the memories of the last two months will be even more important to me. Sure I might have donned my rose tinted glasses already and be pushing the memories of the hour long whining sessions to the back of my head – but isn’t that what motherhood is ultimately all about? Take the rough with the smooth – remember the good times and congratulate yourself on surviving another day.

And when all is said and done, the good times are well worth remembering.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A meme - Call yourself a writer?

Lovely Keris tagged me for this one.

Which words do you use too much in your writing?
I'm told I use the word "wee" too much. In fact one reviewer said it marred her enjoyment of RD&T - only on reflection did I realise it really was quite prolific in the book.But that's us Derry ones for you - we say "wee" a helluva lot to describe absolutely everything on the eeny side.
I was also told in Jumping in Puddles there is a fair smatterng of chided.
It is arguable whether or not I overuse the word feck.

Which words do you consider overused in stuff you read?
Ooooh, toughie. I can't say anything springs to mind but I cannot read RD&T any more without cringing at every single "wee". I think also melee is a word which is overused as I've yet to hear anyone say that outside of a news report.

What's your favourite piece of writing by you?
Probably either this from RD&T
When I was in labour, when I thought I was literally going to be torn apart, when I was begging for death or, at least, an epidural that worked, my midwife told me it was time to get angry.
She told me I was to get angry with the pain and use that anger to get through this trial and succeed in having my baby. By Christ, did I get angry – only problem is, for a long time after, I forgot to get un-angry again.
And when that anger did subside, when it faded to nothingness, it was replaced by an overwhelming sadness. I felt, and I don’t know why, a grief – the loss of me, Grace. The loss of what motherhood should be like, the loss of that dream that I’d always had that being a mammy would be perfect and wonderful and I would never have to question my feelings for that little bundle of love I called my child.
I felt empty, like I could do what I needed to do but I couldn’t feel any of that love and joy it was my right to feel. Surely my months of pregnancy, my hours of labour, my bringing this gorgeous boy into this world entitled me to be happy?
I couldn’t look myself in the face. I couldn’t say I felt like a mother. I couldn’t accept the compliments heaped on my child because I was a fraud. I was a failure. I didn’t swan through my pregnancy enjoying this most natural of states. I didn’t even bloom. Well, I did for three hours one day before the heartburn hit again and I threw up.
And when I was giving birth to my much-wanted, much-needed child, I begged for someone else to take care of that birthing process for me – to cut my child from me, to suck him out; to beam him up – whatever the fuck it took to make the pain stop.
But the pain is still here. I can feel it now, pushing through, and maybe, just maybe, it is time for me to angry again. To get angry with that pain, to push it aside, to tell it to piss off and leave me alone and let me be me. Let me be a mammy.
And I’m angry now. Angry for all the times I’ve cried when I should be laughing. Angry for all the times I felt lonely in a crowded room. Angry for the size 20 trousers in the wardrobe when I used to be a 14. Angry for not standing up for myself when I knew I was right. Angry for all the chocolate bars I ate to try and make me happy again. Angry for not demanding to be listened to. Angry for pushing Aidan and Jack away when the thing I wanted most in this entire world was to pull them as close as humanly possible and never let go.
And I’m throwing things. I can hear my shouting and grunting and I can see plates smash on the floor – those fecking ugly plates I’ve kept using just to keep my mother-in-law happy. And I’m tearing up those stupid books the so-called parenting experts sent me. I’m going through the photo albums and tearing out any picture where I’m with Jack and I don’t look happy because how dare I not smile in the presence of such innocence?
And then the tears come. I run upstairs, spurred on by some force I’m not quite sure of and I throw some clothes in an overnight bag. I leave my mobile sitting on the hall table. Scribble a note saying that I love Jack and I’ll be back tomorrow and I jump in the car – my body heaving with sobs, my ribs sore from the exertion of all the squealing I’m doing – and I start to drive.
Or this from Feels Like Maybe
“It will be alright,” he said, “and if it isn’t all right then we have options. This isn’t the end of the world for us.”

I nodded, grateful for his tenderness. Who knew what was ahead. I certainly didn’t. Maybe we would be fine and we would just have to continue our monthly dance. Maybe we would need IVF or some other intervention. And maybe, although I’m not sure I wanted to contemplate it just yet, if all that failed we could adopt. We would make great parents. There were children out there who needed a happy home and we could be the people to provide it. But for now, I didn’t really want to think about that. I wanted to think about my baby. Our baby. I wanted to feel the nauseous waves of morning sickness. I wanted my trousers to tighten and my bra to get uncomfortable. I wanted to buy trousers with elasticated waistbands or those funny tummy panels which go up under your boobs. I wanted to curse heartburn and drink Gaviscon by the bucketload. I wanted to feel those first magical bubbles Aoife had spoken off. And I wanted them to get stronger and stronger and turn into thumping great kicks. I wanted to gasp, hold my tummy and say with a smile “That was a big kick”. I wanted to sit on the Tube and rub my bump and when I got home I wanted Dan to rub Cocoa Butter cream into my stretching tummy and laugh as it jumped about. I wanted my waters to break in Tesco and I wanted to make a frantic call to Dan telling him “It’s time”. I wanted to suck on gas and air and cringe as a doctor did an internal. I wanted to watch the contractions ebb and flow on the monitor by my bed. I wanted to swear at Dan and tell him he was never, ever getting near me again before pushing with all my might. I wanted to hear a moment’s silence, a pause for an intake of breath and then a shrill cry. I wanted the midwife to tell us we had a son or a daughter and then hand him or her to me and for me to cuddle my baby – our baby – close and look at my husband and see love in his eyes like nothing I had ever seen before.

It was the most natural thing in the world to want, wasn’t it? And if I had to switch that off, I would switch it off – but I didn’t want to yet. Just please, God, not yet.
What blog post do you wish you'd written?
I'll steal this answer from Keris who said anything by Catherine Newman, whose book 'Waiting for Birdy' helped me survive pregnancy - either that or any of the stories at Slightly South of Sanity
Regrets, do you have a few? Is there anything you wish you hadn't written?
I sometimes read certain sections of my past work and have a little cringe - but they are all part of a learning curve I suppose. Just as a writer, I do a lot of my learning in the public eye.
How has your writing made a difference? What do you consider your most important piece of writing?
I hope that by speaking openly and honestly about Post Natal Depression in RD&T I helped break down some of the taboos surrounding that awful illness. I wrote with humour too - to make it accessible. I know I received so many emails from women who had read the book and said it prompted them to get counselling. Indeed I received a couple of emails from men who said it had helped them understand their partners.
Most of all though I hope my work entertains. I write about tough subjects, PND, infertility, unplanned pregnancy, bereavement, domestic violence etc but I hope I do it such a way that people never feel preached at.

Name three favourite words
Feck. Streaming. Dusk.

...And three words you're not so keen on
No thank you.

Do you have a writing mentor, role model or inspiration?
Marian Keyes inspired me to be a writer. Her books convinced me that people would read the kind of things I so loved to write. And her personal story is so very impressive also. I am also in deep awe of Melissa Hill, who is incredibly prolific and incredibly talented - and a nice person to boot.
But when it comes to mentors or role models, my writer friends keep me going - Sharon Owens, Anne Dunlop, Fionnuala Kearney, Keris Stainton - they are the folks who keep writing and pick me up when I need it.
What's your writing ambition?
In the short term my ambition to be published outside of Ireland and to have some degree of recognition away from this lovely island. But I'd also like to be a "household name" here - and my publishers seem to have faith that I could just get there.
Beyond that I want to be recognised as a writer - not a chick lit author, or "yer wan who writes books" but as Claire Allan and have people rush out to buy my latest releases with the same urgency I rush out to buy the new MK with.
Plug alert! List any work you would like to tell your readers about:
Jumping in Puddles is OUT on September 24. It's a fabulous read about love, loss, longing, friendship and Donegal villages and I'm exceptionally very proud of it.
Do the tagging thing:
Erm... would pick Keris but she's done...
The rules:
If you have time to do this meme, then please link to my original, then link to three to five other bloggers and pass it on, asking them to answer your questions and link to you. You can add, remove or change one question as you go. You absolutely do not have to be what you may think of as a "published" or "successful" writer to respond to this meme, I hope people can take the time to reflect on what their blogging has brought them and how it has been useful to others.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Some people may class the following as child abuse

I on the other hand prefer to think of it as exceptionally cute. This is my gorgeous girly at just under six months with a ridiculously cute hairband planked on her head (and it is not a fascinator, regardless of what Keris might think ;)).
Of course she doesn't need it, but that doesn't take away from my right to make her look like an eejit as cute as possible and take photographic evidence of same.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

A women's world?

I get asked about feminism a lot. As an author of women’s fiction, and especially the brand known as Chick Lit, it’s one of the topics that people expect me to have strong opinions on.
And I do. But it seems a lot of people feel, well, a bit ‘meh’ about the whole issue of feminism.
The movement has had a bad press. People often will associate feminism with Germaine Greer, hairy legs, dungarees and bra burning. Some think that feminism is about proving that women are not only equal to men, but better.
The mo
Some people just simply can’t be bothered with it. In the modern world so many of us don’t even think about it on a regular basis, mostly because we have no need to.
We get up and go to our jobs, drive our cars, take money out of our bank accounts and make our own choices as to how we dress, how we control our fertility and whether or not we marry or take a partner.
We vote, we get an education, we have a plethora of employment laws which – when they work properly – protect our rights to be gainfully employed and not discriminated against because of our gender.
While things are not perfect and there is always room for improvement – the truth is that many of us live a life where we are independent and valued and have a degree of freedom perhaps not experienced by our grandmothers or great-grandmothers and so on.
It’s hard for us to believe that these most basic and fundamental of rights would not be protected and promoted throughout the rest of the world in this day and age. I certainly was shocked to read this week of a new Shia law introduced in Afghanistan which allows husbands to withhold food from their wives if their wives refuse to have sex with them.
The same law removes the need for consent when it comes to sex between a husband and wife.
This law – in the simplest of terms – legalises rape and takes away the most absolute and basic right of any woman – the right to say no.
It reduces a woman to nothing more than a possession – a sexual object for her husband to use as and when he wants. She can be raped. She can be starved. She can have her children taken from her. She can become a complete non-entity in a society and this is the 21st century.
And this is only one example of abuses against women in these modern times. It’s not isolated. We probably shouldn’t even really be shocked. Outside of the relative safety of the modern Western world women and female children are all too often treated as commodities or second class citizens.
A report by Amnesty International revealed that in North Africa, 6,000 women are genitally mutilated each day. An estimated 135million girls (yes, children) have been subjected to female castration with often dire consequences.
In 2001 more than 15,000 women were sold into sexual slavery in China. 200 women in Bangladesh were horribly disfigured when their spurned husbands or suitors burned them with acid. More than 7,000 women in India were murdered by their families and in-laws in disputes over dowries.
Honour killings, rape of female prisoners, the legalisation of sexual assault within marriage… It is happening each and every day throughout the world and it isn’t going away.
It is thought that the Shia Law was passed n Afghanistan to help the country's president, Hamid Karzai, seal his victory in the country’s elections – which were due to take place yesterday.
Karzai sold out the women of Afghanistan and he did so because he places less value on them than he does on his own desire for power. They are commodities to be traded for another term in office.
So if anyone asks me if I have strong views on feminism my answer is simple. How can I not? How can I, or any one of us, sit back and say we are not feminists while such things are happening?
How can we say feminism is a thing of the past when there are women out there in dire need, who are being raped, murdered, mutilated and disfigured because of their gender?
If anything now is the time for feminism to come back stronger and bigger than ever. And it’s not about taking the pill, or glass ceilings, or burning our bras. It is about saying we are equal – each and every woman in this country and the next - and we will no longer tolerate such blatant abuses of our human rights.
Until we can say we have tackled these issues head on – until we have stopped such abuses – then feminism is most definitely not over and done with.

I'm playing with ideas for book 5

Which is what always happens once a book reaches a certain stage.
I'm loving (and I mean LOVING) writing my book 4. It is a funny, sexy romp about friendship, the search for love, confidence and acceptance.
But that doesn't the characters for book 5 aren't starting to shout "My turn, my turn!" from the sidelines and look for their shout in my brain.
There are times when it completely freaks me out that I've written nearly four books - had four sets of characters live in my brain for a year at a time and become as real to me as the people I talk with every day. And that I'm already in the process of creating some new folks to live there once Annie, Fionn and Darcy have had their happy ending.

Some times, it is just amazing to be a writer.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I was reminded of this poem today

... so I'm off to rock my babies...

Mother, O Mother, come shake out your cloth,
Empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
Hang out the washing, make up the bed,
Sew on a button and butter the bread.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?
She’s up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.
Oh, I’ve grown as shiftless as Little Boy Blue,Lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo.
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
Pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peek-a-boo
The shopping’s not done and there’s nothing for stew
And out in the yard there’s a hullabaloo
But I’m playing Kanga and this is my Roo
Look! Aren’t his eyes the most wonderful hue?
Lullaby, rockaby lullaby loo.
The cleaning and scrubbing can wait till tomorrow
But children grow up as I’ve learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down cobwebs; Dust go to sleep!I’m rocking my baby and babies don’t keep.

A little musical interlude

I luff this song, very, very much at the moment.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday night

Glass of wine.
Candles lit.
Children asleep.
1500 words written.
Feeling sleepy.
Ignoring the worries.

Nite nite all x

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So the doctor thinks it is probably okay

I went today - really dreading the experience if truth be told.
I'm not accustomed to getting my boobs out in public and I'm certainly not accustomed to letting people I barely know have a feel of them.
But needs must. I kept thinking that if something is up, I'd rather know that spend my life worrying about it.
I went and the doctor did an examination while I tried not to cringe with embarrassment (which was easier than it sounded because my GP is lovely and put me at ease).
Anyway, the upshot is that yes, she felt a lump. No, she doesn't think it is anything serious. But it needs checking anyway - so I just have to wait for a referral to the local breast clinic and see what happens.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Things that go bump in the night...

Okay, so I'm off to the doctor tomorrow.
And I may have to expose a breast.
I am very nervous about that but I can't ignore the fact that I think I may have found a lump.
Of course I did just have a baby (well, 5.5 months ago) and it most likely will be nothing. After all 95% (or something) of breast lumps are nothing - apart from lumps, obviously.
But I feel a little jittery.
And being me I feel a little catastrohphy-y (NB: I'm allowed to make up words. I am on "me nerves").

I shall report back... hopefully with a "and guess what, the darn lump went away before I even had a chance to get me baps out" story...

Random Conversations with the Boy... Jacko

Okay, I'm in a narky mood.
And Joseph is all in my face and being five (as five year olds are want to do).
I kind of lose it. Just a little.

"Please," I plead. "Just give me peace. Just for two minutes. Please."
J: (on a death wish) "Why do you need peace mammy? Why? Why do you need peace?"
Me: (Rather than tell him he is doing my fecking head in) "Because I'm in a bad mood and just need to calm down a little. Just give me two minutes."
J: "Who are you in a bad mood with mammy? Is it everyone in the world? Is it (pause for dramatic effect) Michael Jackson?"

You have to laugh.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Wee snippet from my new book....

We all know someone like this, right?

She was physical perfection, with her long legs, glossy hair, flat stomach and amazing sense of style. She had boobs that could make grown men weep and grown women want to gouge her eyes out. She had skin that never seen a spot or blemish – not even when she was 14 and pumped full of hormones. She was one of those jammy bitches who could get away with not wearing make up and not only did she not look any worse for it – her skin was so damn peaches and cream perfect that no one really noticed. I swear she produced her own lipgloss naturally, secreting it from her Angelina Jolie- like pout effortlessly. Simply put, she was gorgeous. But she couldn’t dance. Not even a little bit.
As she flailed and flounced to her own beat while Gloria Gaynor got into full disco queen mood, I smiled to myself. And then, I got funky.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Well it made me laugh

I put the girl's hair into a mohican today.
Pictures will follow.
No, this does not mean I'm losing it.

And the word count is now 52,000... on the nose.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

The great lasagne adventure

Let it be known, I am a rubbish cook. I mean, I burn smilie faces. Annabel Karmel has nothing to worry about when it comes to me.

In fact my renowned crappiness in the kitchen means that when I actually cook something that does not poison the whole house or ming like you wouldn't believe then I feel ridiculously proud of myself.

Well, it began last week with the lovely lunch at Anne Dunlop's house where she made a yummy vegetarian lasagne.

I thought to myself that I could give it a go - there was no tricky white sauce to deal with, just a concoction made of ricotta - and so when I went to do my weekly shop I stocked up on the ingredients I was faily sure Anne had used. I bought tinned tomatoes, fresh basil, broccoli and ricotta.

I was sorted.

But I couldn't find a recipe (and Anne, I believe is on the other side of the world just now and too busy to worry about such matters as sending recipes to me).

I googled - but nothing seemed to fit.

So I posted on Facebook and my friends came to the rescue - except now the lasagne had morphed into some kind of spinach cannelloni hybrid and there was more cheese to be bought.

So I went back to Tesco and bought yet more ricotta, and some spinach (the broccoli has been pureed for the baby...) and some mozarella.

And I went home and prepared to cook - but no, I didn't have any oregano, or parmesan or creme fraiche. So I went back to Tesco - the cost of this dinner now adding up to about £3000* due to all the other things I remembered I had to buy in the supermarket each visit.

And I still wasn't convinced the whole thing wasn't going to go to hell when I - with my burn water cooking skills - got my hands on it.

Meanwhile hubby has announced he hates ricotta and isn't a big fan of spinach while the boy says he doesn't want lasagne, he wants pepperoni pizza....

I opened the wine.

And I started cooking - chopping garlic (my hands still pong...) and shredding basil leaves an wilting spinach like a good un. I even put on my apron and felt all "uber mammy" about it.

Here I was preparing food for my family (who wouldn't eat it... but still) and there wasn't a hint of a fish finger or a jar of pre-prepared sauce anywhere.

I grated, I chopped, I sprinkled, I added pinches of things - herbs and seasoning and I drank more wine.

I cooked it all and it worked out okay. In fact it was bloody lovely. And even the "I hate ricotta" husband ate some and declared it delicious. The boy tasted it - but opted for the pizza anyway (he's fussy like that) and there is a tonne of it left. We'll be eating it for a week, no doubt.
And yes, I am so proud of the fact that I have to blog about it. And Yes, I know that is sad.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Random Conversations with the Boy - continued

The boy is in that delightful "all bum jokes are hilarious" stage.
So today he said the word "ass" and fell about laughing. Of course I should have adopted my best serious mummy face and told him off but the context was very very funny.
My niece was commenting to my sister that she loved her handbag as it was really cool and trendy.
I mocked offence and asked my niece "Are you trying to say you don't just love my huge big red..."
(I was going to finish this sentence with "changing bag")
Which is exactly when J butted in ('scuse the pun) with "ass"?"
We did of course tell him that was not acceptable language and he asked why.
My sister replied: "Because it just isn't J. It's bad enough when you say bum or butt, never mind ass."
The boy looked at us, a wicked glint in his eye and proceded to sing
"Bums and Butts and asses, oh my..."

I didn't know whether to ground him or sign him for the Edinburgh Fringe.

Big Girls Do Cry...

A report released this week has revealed that women over the age of 26 (that would be be then) cry for an average of two hours and 14 minutes a week.
Apparantly we cry babies are most likely to get blubbing over a soppy film, a falling out with a partner, a bereavement, feeling tired or hearing someone else’s bad news.
Interestingly the survey found that the only age group which cries more than us grown ups are babies under the age of two.
Yes, on average, women over the age of 26 shed more tears than the average pre-schooler having their requisite 94 tantrums a day and bursting into tears over everything from Peppa Pig ending to the lack of a decent supply of Smarties when they have a sugar craving.
We grown women also cry more than teenagers going through all the hormone overload and teenage angsty stuff. I’m pretty sure I spent most of my teenage years weeping about one thing or another in an overly dramatic fashion from the state of the environment to the demise of my favourite pop group. I almost had to be signed into Gransha when Bros split up and went into an official period of mourning for at least a week.
I think as many of us get older we find that we become more emotional. I’m certainly more prone to letting down my defences and having a good oul cry from time to time.
That blasted ad for SMA, for example, can have me weeping into my cup of tea while I don’t even try watching sad films any more after a very unfortunate incident following my viewing of ‘What Dreams May Come’ with my husband. I think I used up a few weeks worth of crying in that night alone and had a headache for two days afterwards.
Needless to say falling out with my partner (which nearly happened when I couldn’t pull myself together after watching ‘What Dreams May Come’) is upsetting – and it’s hardly surprising that the survey found people tend to cry over a bereavement. It’s hardly rocket science that either falling out with the person or people who mean most to you, or losing someone you love will have you reaching for the hankies. There are few people who can experience such things without letting their emotions out in a damn good cry.
I’m not surprised that ‘feeling tired’ ranks up there in the top five too. We all seem to be busier than ever before – even with the invention of labour saving devices – and there is a culture out there at the moment of keeping going even when you are sleep deprived, ill and feeling as if you are running on empty. I’m sure there isn’t a person reading this who hasn’t, at least one, had a ‘stop the world I want to get off’ moment and yes, I admit some of my most spectacular crying fits have been when I’ve been over tired. Those will generally be the times when I lose it all together and do one of those horrendous ugly cries where anything I try to say comes out as inaudible snorts and squeals and I’ll phone my mammy and cry on her shoulder. (The husband is still too traumatised by my previous big crying fit to cope with me on emotion over load any more).
What does surprise me, however, is how hearing other people’s bad news really can affect me in a way that it never used to. It isn’t a case that I used to be hard hearted but recently I find that it takes very little to have me sobbing. If I hear of someone losing their job, of someone trying to cope with a sick child or ailing parent, or if I just hear that someone else is finding life a little tough I do find myself more affected than ever before.
Bizarrely I can also find myself welling up at things which really, actually aren’t that sad at all. I remember vividly visiting the boy’s school for an induction meeting and looking around the big assembly hall, imagining my wee man there, and having to fight back the tears. He wasn’t with me and the headmaster was wittering on about the uniform code but something in my brain found this overly emotional and I had to take a few deep breaths to steady myself.
Thankfully I’m also more likely to shed happy tears this weather. There is nothing better than laughing til you cry or being so overwhelmed with love or admiration for someone that you get misty eyed. I’ve cried when friends have married, when they have had babies, when they have achieved their goals and dreams and some times just when I am sitting in a room with them having the craic and I realise that I’m very lucky to have those people in my life.
Crying is a healthy way to release our emotions and while I think no one other than women really get the concept of a “good cry” I’m glad that I don’t have to feel I should bottle up my emotions, be they positive or negative.
If that makes me a cry-baby, then I’ll happily wear my title with pride.

Pick up your order at Collection Point A

I've decided I'm going to give Cosmic Ordering a shout.
I figure if it worked for Noel Edmunds, it might just work for me.
So, according to my wee daily messages from the Universe all I have to do it ask for it, go and get and think like I already have it. In other words, fake it til I make it.

So here - if I could pick my future from the catalogue of life - is my list

  • A book deal outside of Ireland. I love Poolbeg and all who sail in her and I hope to be a part of the Poolers family for many a year to come - but someone else will publish me and I'll be proud as punch to find out how Rainy Days and Tuesday translates into Polish.
  • A resurgance in house prices so that my wee house stops veering towards negative equity and back in the right direction. Not massively - just enough. I will be paying a decent interest on our remortgage and thinking "Phew, I worried about that?" for years to come.
  • I will be self confident and sure of my own worth - as a friend, a mother, a sister, a wife, a daughter an employee and as a writer.
  • I will no longer sweat the small stuff.
  • Happiness for my children - they will be confident, happy, likeable children.
  • And a cordless phone. (Wait! This isn't Argos???)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The quest to get the damn book finished continues

It seems the more I write, the more there is to write.
Maybe it is because the book has taken off and reached that very exciting big story arch bit, or maybe it is because deadline is looming but I just want to get it done now.
It's the best thing I've written. It's gonna be huge (I'm cosmic ordering, okay?) and I'm so excited about it I just want it done and out there.

48,200 words down... 61,800 to go....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Seriously, sweat and fish... who thought that was a good idea?

I'm traumatised by that Lynx ad on the telly at the moment where the man keeps two fish alive in his arm-pits due to his excessive sweat.
Seriously, who thought of that?
The very thought of carrying wriggling fish on your body and under your arms is just wrong, wrong, wrong.
The sweat bit is gross but not as gross as the damn fish.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The surreal side to this writing game

Seventeen (or so) years ago a very lovely author lady called Anne Dunlop walked into a classroom at Thornhill College and spoke to a group of 15 and 16 year olds about writing.
She led our writers' workshop for weeks and sat through a lot of very painful teenage prose - most of it from me.
I read her books (The Pineapple Tart trilogy) and thought she was perhaps the coolest person on the planet on account of her mad red curly hair and fantastic gold shoes. And she wrote about grown up things and teenage love affairs and all the sorts of things 15 and 16 year old girls aspire too.
When she finished the course she signed my copies of her book and wished me more confidence with my writing.
And when I did my first ever work experience at the local rag she was the first person I did a proper interview with. I still remember the headline "Anne has the Write Stuff" (inspired or what?).

So all those years passed and I became a writer myself and struck up a friendship with fellow Poolbeg author Sharon Owens who had in turn struck up a friendship with Anne - who had just recently returned to writing after a 10 year sojourn to Bahrain and Africa and all sorts of exciting places where she married a very lovely man called Nick and had four gorgeous children.

Anne and I shared a few emails and yesterday I found myself, along with Sharon and her lovely family, at Anne's house in Co. Derry enjoying vegetarian lasagne and chatting about everything from books to birth.

And all I could think was this is the lady who had the nice gold shoes who wrote about shifting and f**k me knickers and who didn't run from the room when I wrote the most godawful shite about Bob Monkhouse (Seriously... I cringe at the very memory) and I'm in her house, with her family and the lovely bestselling author Sharon Owens having the craic.

And then she asked me to sign a copy of Rainy Days and Tuesdays... which was too weird, and too wonderful for words.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Friday night ponderings...

Okay, so I'm a little hungover today. Last night I went to my friend's house to celebrate her engagement. It was a girls only night - just me, my friend, my sister and her sister and a couple (okay 5ish) bottles of fizzy wine.
The craic was great - I laughed more than I have done in a long time - til my sides ached and my eyes filled with happy tears - and this meant a lot to me because this particular friend and I have gone through a very tough patch the last few years.
It's strange to think that 5 years ago I would not have contemplated so much as cutting my hair without discussing it in great detail with this friend. She knew everything about me and we kept each other company through the best of times and worst of times.
I saw her blossom into a loving and caring mother, a beautiful woman, a talented dancer but somehow - be it through my depression, my own journey into motherhood or just life, we drifted apart until things were said, wounds were opened and such nights of sitting, yapping, enjoying the craic were all gone.
But last night it was how it had been. We laughed - ridiculously. We screamed at her very bling-tastic engagement ring and I got all emotional listening to her tale of falling in love with her very own Tom Austin.
I did impressions of being in labour with Cara. We discussed butt plugs (for my book, in fairness, not from personal experience). There were references to dominant Germans in the bedroom, there were memories of when her little girls were very tiny and from when we used to dance the night away.
Today, hungover, I can't decide if the experience made me very, very happy or very, very sad. Am I more happy that the friendship is being rebuilt? Or more gutted for what has passed and cannot be undone?

I'm being unduly deep for a Friday night and no doubt doing a typical Claire and thinking too much about it all. I should just embrace the journey. What has passed has made me who I am - be it this friendship going to hell and back, be it depression, be it shouting "Pressure, pressure, pressure, pressure" in a kind of Janice from Friends voice when in labour...

We are all the sum of our experiences and yet it is hard to look back on the sad times and appreciate them for the learning curve they are. Sometimes they just feel like sad times.

The universe likes me

Keris recently brought the whole Notes from the Universe thing to my attention.
Okay, so it's a bit geeky. You sign up and you get sent a message every day - basically saying very positive, life affirming things.
But ya know what, it helps. It's put a wee smile on my face from time to time and makes me think that yup, I can do this. I can get through this day. I can get through this week and what happens or doesn't happen to me.
When my mood is dipping - as it is at the moment a little - it gives me a little glimmer of hope.
It will be okay.
Things will work out.
Life throws all sorts of things at us and we just have to realise it part of a journey.
(That was me, by the way, and not the universe).

But the universe did tell me this much...

If you can just remember where this is all going, Claire, no road will be too bumpy, no night will be too lonely, and no price will seem too great.
Plus, with just a wink your confidence will bring peace to nations.

ETA for those who asked the link to sign up for the notes is here

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

I read this quote tonight

And I loved it.

So true...

No person is your friend who demands your silence, or denies your right to grow - Alice Walker

That's one for us all to remember!

I can't believe she is five months old today

I can't believe how fast the time is going - how quickly she is growing. How she is developing this amazingly funny and cute personality. How her cheeky smile can light up a room. How she can let us know - through screaming very loudly - that sleep is for wimps. That she is placid and docile the rest of the time. That she is everything I dreamed of. That she has the fluffiest, softest hair I have ever kissed.
That the way her little chin juts out when she is chatting makes my heart melt. That I get to dress her in pink things. That she smiles with her eyes. That she chats nineteen to the dozen already. That she has made me love her brother even more. That one person really can complete another. That she is perfection.
I don't know what I did to deserve her.... but I'm glad I did.

Monday, August 03, 2009

You take the High Road

Just in case any readers of this blog happen to be heading to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival over the coming month I thought it would be nice to point out that my brother - the very talented Peter E Davidson - will be performing with his comedy ensemble 'Love the Concept' at the Gilded Balloon (which is apparantly a vay vay big deal) throughout the entire month.
See them, have a laugh and never look at pound shops the same way again....

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Note the progress

in the wee widget-y doodah which marks what progress I'm making on my next novel 'Finding Annie'.
I've set myself a 1000 words a day challenge - with the hope of reaching 50,000 words by this day week.
I'm in the writing zone so my writing efforts are going into fiction and not blogging at the moment - but please note some of the changes to this blog.
If you look at the sidebar you can now read extracts from all three of my books.
This week I'll add a diary which shows what I'm doing and when - and will hopefully highlight some press coverage also.

It's not really in my nature to push myself in this way - I'm really quite reserved (no laughing at the back) but needs must. It's a competitive industry out there!
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