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Friday, 25 October 2013

Grumpy Granny on the Rampage - Again

Now, I know I’m being a Grumpy Granny, but I’m going to have a moan. If, like me, you are a stickler for good English then hang on, I’ve a point or two to make. If you’re not a stickler, then hang on as well, because you’re about to learn something.

Let me admit right here, my grasp of the intricacies of English is limited. What I know I seem to know instinctively; stuff learned with mother’s milk you might say, or beaten into my skull with a ruler by the nuns at the convent, so I hope you’ll forgive me if I’ve got this wrong.

My grumble is about degrees of comparison. We have adjectives that are positive, comparative and superlative. Examples: bright, brighter and brightest. Or happy, happier and happiest. Or costly, costlier and costliest. Or pale, paler, palest. And so on.

But hang on, says me. What about ‘full’? ‘Full’ is an adjective that means (OED quote)... ‘Having within its limits all it will hold’. So, can you have ‘full, fuller, fullest’? No! You flamin’ well can’t. You cannot ‘live life to the fullest’. You can only ‘live life to the full’. It really riles me when I see good writers use the word ‘fullest’. Poor writers use it sometimes and journalists, of course, use it all the time. So, let’s deface books. Let’s cross out every ‘fullest’ we can find. Let’s hang, draw and quarter people, especially writers, who use the word ‘fullest’ because, ladies, gents and all those in-between, there’s no such word.

Another pet hate is the use of ‘amount’ instead of number. You can’t say ‘the amount of people’. It’s wrong. It’s ‘the number of people’. I was always taught that if you can count something then you use the word ‘number’. You can count people so you use the word ‘number’, as in ‘number of people at the soccer match’. If you’re talking about snow on the mountain, you use the word ‘amount’ because you can’t count it. Simple? I would have thought so.

And don’t tell me because it’s in common use it’s alright. It isn’t! Don’t get sucked in by that hoi poloi, cheapskate argument. That’s an excuse used by people who don’t know any better.

Okay, now that I’ve let off all that steam, I think I’ll go and have a cup of tea.

Jenny Harrison

Friday, 18 October 2013

Gabrielle Rothwell on life after The Sunken Garden

I going miss it.  I really will - but there’s another one waiting in the wings.

That’s my book I’m talking about and I’m about to put it to bed after working on it for more than three years. Because its part-memoir-part fiction it has been a difficult book to write.  What to put in?  What to leave out?  French author Laurent Binet says he spent a whole day wondering whether to take out a comma then at the end of the day put it back again. It’s an apt quote for someone like myself who has written and rewritten chapter and verse and agonised over tenses and punctuation and historical accuracy. I always remember one of my teachers saying “If something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. There have been so many rewrites, notes on pieces of paper, notebooks and exercise books filled with observations and thoughts, etc all scattered around my study – and of course conversations, thoughts, visualisations running through my head over these last few years.

I have eaten, slept (precious little) and lived with this book for a very long time. In the end I had to give myself a deadline- actually two weeks which will run into three as although I have printed out the manuscript to give to my husband to read, I do have to print the good copy for publication.) And yes, there are still the odd pieces of paper with notes that I have to insert (notes I’ve forgotten about which simply have to go in!)  When I tell people this they look at me and I can see their minds ticking over saying: For God’s sake, just put the bloody thing to bed!

 One famous novelist - can’t remember who - took ten years to write what was eventually hailed as a masterpiece. Maybe Leo Tolstoy and War and Peace? I’m sure the likes of Stephen King, Bryce Courtney or Wilbur Smith would look at me in disbelief if they read what I’ve just written.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to bang out a novel every few months or so?

They say a writer’s work is never done.  Why couldn’t I have chosen a simple 9 – 5 job?

There is always the big question – have I written rubbish? Is it publishable? And – oh no - can I make it better?  I have to squeeze out the very last creative thought just in case ...

And the one waiting in the wings? Now that The Sunken Garden is almost at an end – I hope to bring to light my next creative venture, one which has had to be put on hold. It’s the story of a Special Forces agent during World War II – a book I actually started writing before Sunken Garden. Rather than rest on my laurels I’m going to try to cash in on the anniversary of World War 1 which every man and his dog will probably do. So another deadline in sight and the whole process starts over again.

Happy Writings,


Friday, 11 October 2013

Rod Dearing on rest and refreshment for writers

Healthwise the last six months have been a tad trying for me (and 
for my family) but from a creativity and writing point of view I can’t complain.

You see because of my aches and pains I was forced to slow down and rest up. Take some morphine pain killers. Stay in bed longer. Snooze out in the sun. Snuggle deep into the cushioned comfort of the old grandfather chair and doze off. Forget about the stresses and tensions of the outside world. Let my mind wander aimlessly and dream a little. Dream about the really important things in life.
It's extraordinary how life’s priorities change in Dreamland where there are no boundaries and restrictions, pressures or timings to meet. Creativity can flourish unfettered.

Fresh plots emerge out of the mists. New characters make their acquaintance and either stay to converse or, as in Macbeth ‘is a poor player who struts and frets his hour on the stage and is heard no more’.  The impossible becomes possible and acceptable. New norms are created and a myriad of hitherto undiscovered views offer themselves for exploration.

‘Ah,’ I hear some sceptics say, ‘it’s the morphine pain killers!’ And in my case, having led a very sheltered life that could well be a contributing factor. But on the other hand it’s far more likely to be that I was forced to take time out to repair the body and spirit.

Do you think that we writers should deliberately plan to take ‘time out’ as a means of recharging our creativity?

Settle down, switch off and ... dream a little.


Rodney Dearing

Author of 'Brilliant Mr Badger' and 'Cadet Willie McBride' stories.

74 Temple Street,


Auckland 1072

New Zealand.

Tele + 64 09 521 5193

Mobile + 64 027 3333 984

Friday, 4 October 2013

Evan Andrew on the annoying popularity of Bridget Jones

Well, last week we fought the good fight and lost to technology, and a bottomless purse! So, now back to normality, and yet, I still feel grumpy, irritable, and generally out of sorts.
'Why do you watch the news?' said my better half wearily the other night.  'All you do is complain, and say they are all a bunch of idiots.'
She is of course, quite right, and I slink away, gin and tonic in hand, mumble under my breath, and wonder... am I becoming a grumpy old man?
My latest gripe with the media is ... all the hoopla and news time taken up recently on every TV news channel, (also radio, women's magazines, newspapers, etc, etc,) with the sequel to 'Bridget Jones's Diary.'
Now, I have never read the book, (and full marks to author Helen Fielding, and I assume her publishers) for what must be a brilliant advertising campaign.
To be able to sell the book, film, play, TV series, song, clothing campaign, makeup range, and whatever else they can dream up to sell through the media with this type of promotion, without spending a pound, euro, dollar, or anything else.
'You are only jealous,' sniffed my better half, and of course she is absolutely right, as always!
What wouldn't I give to have my book taken up and pre sold for free like this, by the news moguls that control the media worldwide.
How amazing it is, to think that a fictional character like Bridget Jones, can relate to so many women worldwide, (and possibly men too) to become such an icon.
Congratulations again to Helen Fielding.

Ah well, back to the computer, to escape into the plight of my heroine, even if she bears no resemblance to... Bridget Jones!
Evan Andrew