A creature of reading habit

I’ve made no secret on this blog of my love for physical books, how the story inside is often inextricably linked with where I read it, the state of the cover or the position I finally award it on my bookshelves. And yes, I’ll use any excuse to post pictures of my book shelves.

I’ve not yet posted pictures of the books I’ve read while this blog was on hiatus for several reasons, one being that I didn’t read much romance for a while, and another being that I’ve been reading more e-books – and having no e-reader I haven’t been able to take nice pictures of the covers as I have in recent years.

I have been reading romances since my teens, they date from the heyday of 80s excess (including big name bonkbusters) through the arrival of dual pov category romances and the proliferation of ever tightly defined subgenres – small town, family focused, romantic suspense, procedurals, inspirational, explicit and so on. I like to think I’ll read any romance and sometimes furrow my brow when readers claim they won’t read outside of their comfort zone, or find certain situations or protagonists “hard to relate to” (and yes, alas, I’m aware that that’s often code for “I won’t read books where the protagonists, or author, aren’t white”).

I certainly hope I’m not that blinkered (and I know that white privilege confers many unacknowledged biases) but I’m aware that almost all my romances have been from one publisher – Harlequin, and it’s many linked houses like Mills and Boon, HQN, the old Silhouette lines, eHarl, and Carina. I’ve bought recommended books from small publishers, and self-published authors, although I admit I was slow here due to the lack of a hand held reader and I get hot thighs when reading on my laptop – not an innuendo for once, or a comment on the books I read (although I know there are people who claim people only use e-readers to hide the covers of the books they are reading.)

I’ve no time for anyone policing someone else’s reading tastes, and I’ve also been saddened by the snobbery (to take a charitable view) against e-books. I hope I’ve been clear in previous posts that part of my love of my bookshelves and their contents is because I’m a very slow reader and because of how I picture each page as if in a film – well lucky old me, not everyone has that luxury of time, nor wants it. For those who read voraciously, the ease and friendliness of having your entire library at your fingertips and in your bag or pocket night and day is invaluable; never mind the ableist attitude of saying everyone should be able to hold a cumbersome book open for hours and strain their eyesight over unalterable, unilluminated, tiny text.

20190221_153947-1 (1024x798)
A glass of wine and a read outdoors – in February in the UK. I should have enjoyed it but spent too much time thinking about global warming

So yes, I confess that I am a creature of habit in my reading choices and each time I break out it’s usually with delight – as a reader – and horror – for my bank account. There’s also the effect it has on my writing. Having so long read (almost exclusively) romantic suspense, I’ve been reading more contemporary and historical romances and envying the skill of those who keep the reader breathless without cliff-hangers and danger. And every time I read an erotic romance I go back to ideas I’ve had percolating for years and wonder if I should try those again…of course after a rejection that is a double temptation “I suck at this, let’s try that” or “ok, I’ll write something explicitly for this line following their wish lists more than my own inclinations” neither of which is necessarily the greatest reason for choosing a project. But the better and more varied my reading choices, the more inspired I get and I hurry back to my own stories and my own voice; contemporary romance, heavy on the suspense.

And meanwhile, I’ll still be posting pictures of my bookcases, and pictures like the one above when it’s nice enough to read outdoors, but there will also be dusty pictures like this one.

20190312_114304 (1024x465)

 

These books may not be on my bookshelves, but I loved living every minute of them.

 

Advertisements

Blog post number 42. Writing life, what is the universe trying to tell me and blocked drains

I was going to sit down today and blog about my second favourite piece of writing advice. It’s about getting the maximum use from the precious time we carve out of our busy lives. It was about not procrastinating or getting distracted, about not being a perfectionist or waiting for the muse to strike, it was about protecting and valuing writing time.

But I forgot all that advice and so this is about blocked drains.

I had such good intentions; an early start, get writing before even thinking about coffee – it could be my reward after an hour. But then I thought about toast…and had another cup of tea…and where had 45 minutes gone?… OK, now I was sitting at the laptop, better check my previous pots on writing advice…ah, so I’ve written a lot of what I was planning to write already…(is there a name for people who don’t even remember their own advice, let alone take it? Should I look that up? Could I get another blog post out of it? Shut up)…look how windy it is, a good day to dry stuff on the line…

OK, so now this was obviously just procrastination but I had been putting off the handwashing and I’d already lost so much time what was a little more? I know, I really am my worst own enemy, and I have no right to preach what I don’t practice.

So, head full of writing ideas I stepped outside with my wet washing, and wondered why there was a pool of soapy water over the paving slabs. It took longer than I like to admit for me to realise the drain had over-flowed. I remember Prof J saying we needed to check the drain was properly in place after some building work….a year ago…I moved a bench, had a look, recoiled from the sticky sudsy morass and went to put the washing on the line.

After which, the water hadn’t gone down at all.

Everything was fine in the house, no dirty water backed up. Do I call I plumber? OK, I’d better have a look myself first. Prodding the water with a stick had no effect so I plunged my arm into the greasy sludge – and pulled out pebbles. I’m pretty sure they shouldn’t be there. Then I found some broken roof tiles – it’s a big drain. More stones, more unidentifiable sludge whose stench made me gag – and I have a very poor sense of smell.

Eventually the water started going down and as far as I could see all that had happened (all? ALL?!) is that a bucket full of stones and debris had somehow slipped under the plastic drain cover and blocked the grill. It could have been much worse, it was still baffling, there’s a lot of cleaning up to do – some of the lumps I removed were of suspiciously fatty slimy things – I have never flushed a wet wipe down a loo, let alone a sink, but I’ve read about the fatbergs in British sewers and this drain leads from the kitchen so some cooking fat might have escaped. (Trust me, I’m careful, I never knowingly tip away fatty liquid and I have a plughole filter to catch waste)

But by now of course I was mulling over the possibilities of linking this to my writing – if I hadn’t procrastinated with the washing this wouldn’t have happened (until another day). Terrible puns were swirling through my head; Sense and no sense of smellability, drains on your writing time, getting blocked – don’t worry, I won’t use any of them.

There is something oddly fitting about the fact that I wanted to write about protecting writing time and using it in the most productive way possible, and instead I feel sick and I stink. I mean really stink. I’ve washed my hand three times with different soaps, scrubbed it under scalding water, sprayed it with perfume and I can still smell the indescribable smell of blocked drain. I’m not sure even fetid or rancid do this justice, it’s not quite as bad as when I have to get cat poo out of the vegetable patch, or week old decomposing mouse (which is actually oddly sweet) but I cannot get rid of this smell, it’s stuck in the back of my throat and not even scalding coffee has shifted it. I can’t imagine how bad this would be for anyone with a normal sense of smell.

Anyway, that’s my morning so far. This was going to be filed under advice and writing but maybe it should just go under “about me” as it tells you far too much about my lack of domestic skills. I haven’t taken any pictures of the drain and resulting sludge (every shade from fatberg-white to peat-bog-black – names coming to a paint range near you soon) and instead I shall show you the first (sadly out of focus) wild violet that I found this Saturday. Don’t worry, that’s not the finger that’s been in the drain.

20190302_145219 (1024x729)

Oh, and it started raining before I even finished unblocking the drain, so not writing and putting out the washing instead was a really good call. Now I’m off to wash my hand again.