Monday, January 24, 2005

Four seasons in one day

Word Count: 101,431

It has been the most extraordinary day. Brilliant sunshine, freezing winds, weird hail/snow hybrid being blown across great swathes of West London, while blue skies and fluffy clouds were visible behind it (God, I am so British, talking endlessly on this blog about the weather).

There is something odd going on. I mean, I know I am a very susceptible person (boyf refused to let me watch the DVD of 28 Days Later this weekend because he was worried I’d never go into central London again for fear of catching a deadly bug) but there are huge shades of The Day after Tomorrow in the way the climate seems to be behaving at the moment. Though beyond recycling my bottles and Diet Coke cans, walking rather than driving to work, and wearing socks instead of switching the heating up, I feel powerless to do anything much about it.

Apart from that, what’s happening? Word count is a bit pathetic, I must admit. It seems tricky at the moment, am still in the midst of 1970s barbecue scene, which feels like it’s lasting as long as the entire bloody decade at the moment. Ah well. Am also struggling to think of a brilliant short story idea to run around the time of publication of The Starter Marriage. Have a half idea in my head, so just need to force myself to get on with it.

I’m aware that I am failing in my blogging duty by not highlighting some other brilliant sites, so from now on I am going to include one top writing link every time.

Lovely link of the day:

Romancing the blog: a happy birth-day to this site for tomorrow, 25th January. It looks like great fun, with lots of book gossip and author info. (hmmm wonder how I go about being listed there too?)

Friday, January 21, 2005

Hoorah for six figure word counts. Now what?

Word count: 101,013

OK, so I've hit the six figures. But now it’s hard going. Not helped by the fact that I got a bit drunk last night at a colleague’s leaving do. He’s one of the nicest, most talented guys I’ve worked with and it was very sad to see him go, but great that he’s got a job he’ll excel at. It was a really nice party – one of those where you look around the room and think, ‘oh I can’t wait to catch up with that person… and that person… and them, oooh lovely!’

I didn’t drink that much but because I’ve been mainly off-booze since New Year, I feel rough today. And I was meant to be going out for lunch but I am waiting in for drains people to come to finally fix the problems. Hurrah! It’s going to be like the house equivalent of colonic irritation!

I think one of the reasons for slow progress, apart from the hangover, is that I have so many other things going on at the moment, including thinking up articles to try to promote my new book and also short stories and all sorts… I know I should focus but I am terribly distractible. Always trying to do three things at once, which doesn’t tend to work well when you’re writing a novel!

Anyway, back to WIP.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

A cold snap and a slow one…

Word count: 99,869 (oooh so near, yet so far to six figures)

I know, I know, the point of a blog is that you update it regularly, isn’t it? But I’ve been really busy at work and not making that much progress with writing, unfortunately. I just go through phases – and, without getting the violins out, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing after a day at the computer is to go home and sit at the laptop.

On the plus side, had a wonderful boost regarding my second book, The Starter Marriage, which was a bookshelf choice in The Bookseller magazine this week. I know it’s horribly boastful to post what was said but I’m going to do it anyway as it’s so lovely.

Lisa Milton, from Book Club Associates (which runs bookclubs like said:
‘Every so often, a book comes along that defines a social trend. Helen Fielding did this with Bridget Jones and Kate Harrison’s new book looks set to do the same. The Starter Marriage is the latest buzz phrase, the relationship equivalent of your first home (it gets you on the ladder but is quickly outgrown!). I loved the bittersweet humour and predict that this will really put Kate Harrison on the map.’

Now every writer would long to be as successful as Helen Fielding so this is a top quote. Whenever I am struggling with writing, I will look at this quote and feel all glowy inside.

Am also glowing generally thanks to my healthkick. So far my attempt to shift novelist’s flab is going well. I’ve made a deliberate decision not to weigh myself (and I chucked out my scales a while back in a fit of irritation) so am judging it on how my clothes fit, and so far, so good. Have started doing the Bodydoctor workout and find it tough, but almost enjoyable. And the good thing is, you really don’t get aches and pains because each exercise ‘cancels out’ the lactic acid in the previous one, which is what usually causes stiffness next day. Haven’t given up chocolate but am hardly eating any wheat and for all my scepticism about intolerances etc, it does seem to have stopped my tummy being bloated. Can’t kick the caffeine, though. That really would be a step too far…

In other very exciting news, congratulations to Fiona and Adam on the birth of their gorgeous new baby, Charlotte Grace. She arrived two days after their housewarming party which was full of opera singers (who were also giving me top tips for the operatic aspects of my new novel)… I am sure she will have a very healthy pair of lungs…

Finally, apologies to the people who’ve posted comments on my blog. As until very recently no-one’s been looking at it, I don’t quite know the etiquette of replying… can anyone help? Do you reply publicly or privately. Welcome to my little bit of cyberspace! Equally, I must start adding some links to some of my fave sites soon. One day…

Happy scribbling, all.

Kate x

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Gadget binge

Word count: 96,457

I am fresh from doing my Davina’s Power of 3 workout on DVD. Oh yes, I will stop at nothing to lose my novelist’s flab. I even ate rice cakes today. Actually, the DVD was better than the awful videos I used to buy a few years ago. No ‘whooping’ and they all seem to have a nice, dry sense of humour about the lunacy of the exercises. I bet I am going to ache tomorrow, though.

To make up for not buying cake, I have been on a gadget-buying binge: new pedometer (old one had a radio that cut out all the time, so have now got a talking one. I bet it won’t talk but I am a sucker for such things), a gym ball for sit-ups (well, not really a gadget but it does come with a foot pump) and a daylight alarm clock that wakes you up as though the sun is rising. Boyfriend's got one (I bought it for him) as he works in construction which means getting up BEFORE the crack of dawn in Winter. But mine is a cheap Boots own brand version – with added relaxing birdsong (!) or rain sound effects – so it is probably not going to be as good. Will let ya know…

Generally the writing’s gone OK this weekend. I am feeling odd about it because I have an awful premonition that I am writing a LOT of scenes that will end up being cut in my first edit, because I have too much going on. But I feel I have to go down the path I have set myself… even if it turns out to be a dead end. Or something. Enough metaphors.

Have a great week….

Friday, January 07, 2005

Writing against the clock

Word count (at 3.35pm): 92,330

My first Friday-off-for-writing of the New Year, and time for regime change. For too long I have faffed about far too much, so today I set myself a ridiculous but quite amusing timetable of events. Three one-hour uninterrupted (ie, no web surfing, no scoffing of random food from cupboards) writing sessions. Forty minutes of housework (which took far longer, actually, a sign of what a sloven I have become. Or is the word slattern?). Thirty minutes of plotting this children’s book idea I’ve got. Plus various bits of admit related stuff.

So far, so good. The one-hour concentrated writing worked very well, I managed 1,100 in the first hour and then 1,470 in the one I’ve just done. Which is pretty good going. Now it’s not high quality stuff, but it’s OK for a first draft.

Also got my Public Lending Right statement through and was amazed that it’s a very tidy sum. So thank you, everyone who has borrowed my book. Finally this afternoon, got a call through from my agent to say that The Starter Marriage will be recorded unabridged on tape… so that’s jolly and is also a little bit of extra cash.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Rainy back to work day...

Word Count: 88,414

Hey, that's about 1,600 words, not bad on a work day. Haven't got much to say about work except, it's lovely being back in the office in some ways. But lots of people are leaving - partly a natural cycle in my department, and partly because I think the whole job loss spectre is putting the wind up everyone - so it won't be quite the same soon with some of the best brains gone.

While I'm writing my WIP, am also pondering where to go with the idea I have for a children's book. Well, actually it's a series. Hey, why not bite off far more than I can chew?

Pedometer: 4,884 but that's because I forgot to switch it on for my walk home.
Broken umbrella count: one. First outing for said umbrella as well.
Soup count: two. Lentil and herb for lunch, tomato and basil for tea.
Broken bits of filling count: no new ones. See soup count.

Monday, January 03, 2005

The end of the holidays

Word count: 86,796

So that was Christmas… and what have I done? Another year over, and a new one just begun… (apologies for the misquote. This is one of the strange habits that writers develop, because to use a lyric from John Lennon in a novel would probably swallow up the average five figure advance in one go… misquoting is the only way round it).

I can now announce my official total for the Christmas writing marathon:


Now I was actually slightly disappointed in this figure, as last year I managed 33,900 over the festive season. The shortfall this year could be blamed on a number of things, including having toothache, and having Broadband. But I suppose it ain’t bad going, given that if I could maintain that pace, I could finish a novel in eight weeks.

I can’t, of course, maintain that pace as tomorrow I have work to go to, but my aim of finishing the first draft by Feb remains in place. If I was feeling mathematical I could work out a daily rate for that, given that I estimate the book will be 120,000 long. Oh go on then. If I work for the next 30 days, I need to write 1106.8 words per day. Hmmm. The 0.8 will be interesting.

In other news, am imposing a liquid diet on myself of soup and water (Oh, and some leftover port) as a result of losing the filling from root canal. As my next dental appointment isn’t till the 15th I might lose loads of weight! Am also looking forward to receipt of the Bodydoctor book from amazon. The enthusiasm will of course last about 10 minutes until I admit to myself that I actually have to do more than buy the bloody book to lose a stone and 5 inches from my waist in a month.

On the exercise front, today have been out with boyf for some ‘his and hers’ pedometer action. 7000 steps though it felt like much further. Can’t believe you’re meant to do 10,000 a day.

Finally I had the strangest dream overnight about the first guy I ever fell in love with, back in ‘86 when I was doing my A levels (it ended in a typically teenage disaster). In the dream we all met up, him, his wife, his parents (his dad was no longer a carpenter but the ancestral owner of a rather fancy stately home) and had a lovely chat over tea. The weirdest thing was how positive it made me feel when I woke up, really full of the joys of spring. Perhaps it’s remembering being a teenager, and realising how even the things that mattered badly in those days, now give you a strange nostalgic glow.

And if you happen to be reading, ATF, (not likely, I realise) I’ll never forget your Mini Cooper.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

2005 Day One and a half

Word Count: 83,621

Happy New Year, everyone! (well, that’s assuming anyone reads my blog except me, in which case, Happy New Year, Kate)

Abba hits

Snacks (I am googling all these terms and snacks throws up all sorts of weird links, this one has a recipe for apple shoe leather. Hmmm)
Jools Holland

And then it was 2005. Can you believe that?
So far today I have watched lots of Little Britain, finished reading The Closed Circle (I enjoyed it a lot, though I agree with some of the reviews that there are irritating bits, eg when he doesn’t name TV programmes, as if he’s already expecting his book will be a classic so he has to explain the shows as if to space aliens) and seem to have lost part of my temporary filling. Have tried to refill if with weird white clove oil-flavoured stuff called Dentemp which I am worried I will swallow but it’s better than having a cave-sized gap in my upper jaw.