Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Horror stories

It’s been a long tiring school holidays. The children spent much of their time squabbling. Blithe Boy is now old enough to join in and cheerfully echoes his older siblings’ pronouncements. Fortunately, with the new part of the house we now have enough staircases, far enough apart, for one per child to sit on and ponder the error of their ways. And the staircases have been well used over the last few weeks. Squabbling children is nothing new but between painting the house which leaves me tired and cranky, adjudicating battles, separating combatants, feeding and watering, failing to keep up with various tasks, receiving a death sentence for our second car and subsequent decisions about how to replace it and a persistent undercurrent of frustration at not getting any writing done, it’s been a very long fortnight (not to mention a run-on sentence).

Blithe Boy has discovered the power of saying no. His latest is that he won’t drink milk after his sisters told him that it comes from a cow. “Don’t like cow’s milk” is his plaint. And so, today inspired by the pair of huge black crows hopping around our yard, I told him that we only had crow’s milk. He was quite happy to drink it and delighted by the notion. It has come to this – lying to children.

Then last night, Mr Blithe told me that I should be writing vampire romances. Apparently, and I have heard this from other authoritative sources, vampire romances are the new wave. As Gail Collins, smart-writing columnist for the New York Times, and a favourite of Mr Blithe’s, advises “If you want to become a best-selling novelist…start by making your hero a little bit undead.”

In her July 12 column Collins is riffing on the best-selling The Twilight Saga written by a stay-at-home Mormon mother, Stephenie Meyer. The fourth novel is about to be released with great fanfare. Collins points out that “People who have tried to write fiction may be deeply depressed to hear that she did it [wrote the novels] in a flash after she had a dream about the characters, who then inhabited her mind and dictated the novels to her.”

My concern, after the last few weeks is that anything inhabiting my mind is not dictating novels to me, or if they are, only of the mundane variety spiced with a dash of horror.

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