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There are, admittedly, some days like this, but after twenty three years of writing novels, they are few and far between. I do keep a notebook next to my bed, just in case brilliance does strike, but usually, when I read it in the cold light of day, it is nonsensical.
The kind of gobbledegook you can only write when you are actually still half-asleep. What I have learned, after all these years, is that the only way a novel gets written, even when perhaps especially when you feel stuck, is to sit down and write it. And so, a few weeks ago I left my house every morning, drove to my office, left my phone the distraction to end all distractions in the car, and wrote. I wrote even when I had no idea what I wanted to say.
I wrote when I thought my characters had run out of steam. And, as always, the magic happened. The characters woke up, as did I. Their lives got busy, and it became a pleasure, coming in to the office every day, looking forward to seeing what they would do next. Of course, the work is only beginning now. I am taking a week away from the manuscript so I can return with slightly fresher eyes, and then the edits will begin. I will read through and check the rhythm of the words, build up one of the characters, move a dramatic plot point to earlier in the book.
But I am almost there, and the having written, even after twenty novels, is just as sweet today as it was all those years ago. I have started a pottery class. Every time I log on to Instagram or Facebook I see that yet another of my school friends has taken up pottery. My mother has taken up pottery. Seventy percent of the women I know have taken up pottery.
For a very long time I fought the urge, but the pull became too strong, and now I have succumbed. I am very well known for my obsessions, not least because they tend to make their way into my novels. My obsessions do not last long, but they are all-consuming, and I usually produce an astonishing body of work during the brief time they last. When I completed a silversmith course at our local art school, I set up a jewelry studio in the basement of our house, complete with professional work table, soldering equipment, every tool and machine you can think of, used it for one month, then never went in there again.
My candle-making occurred in our kitchen. For around six weeks, it became a candle-making factory, with trays of candles cooling on every surface, and the delicious smell of fig and gardenia filling the air. A few local shops sold the candles, and then I got bored, and moved on to something else. Someone recently told me how upset they were that I stopped, because the scent had become her favorite smell for her house. And now it is pottery. The packaging itself is so gorgeous, it pains me every time to have to unwrap them.
Past experience has taught me that my obsessions are finite, and they are never too long for this world, which means I have to get as much done as possible while I am still interested. The first lesson was last week. Everyone in the class stood around making a pinch pot. I took the teacher aside and explained I was there to make something specific, and would she mind if I did my own thing.
I whirled around the studio as if I had taken amphetamines, while my friend, The Scientist, stood there and laughed, for she knows me very well. I attempted throwing a pot on the wheel, but I decided it would take me too long to become halfway decent, plus it hurt my back. If you are a friend of mine, there is a massive spoiler in this piece, because I am highly likely to end up with a hundred or so platters and bowls, and you will all be getting them as gifts for the next couple of years.
Part of my adjusting to my new hair color has involved me changing my make-up, which I am realizing is far easier said than done. I once knew a woman who continued wearing her brunette hair down to her waist, with heavy dark eyes and pale lips, into her seventies. It looked absolutely terrible, but no one had the heart to tell her how dated she looked.
I realize I have essentially been doing my make-up and my hair in exactly the same way for years. I will happily adjust my hair color, and I am worried that I am reaching the age where I am beginning to consider going short. Not short short, but shorter. Perhaps a style rather than boring old long hair.
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Far less expensive than Botox, and surely just as effective? My eyebrows were plucked into submission some years ago, and of course have never grown back in quite the same way. I now spend hours with an eyebrow pencil every day. Some days, they look magnificent. On others, I look like Liz Taylor on overdrive, and this is not a good look. I regularly find myself poring over pictures of the Kardashians, wondering how their eyebrows look like that, and after I dyed my hair back to dark, when everyone told me I needed darker make-up, I found a make-up tutorial on YouTube which promised me that I would look like Kylie Jenner.
Oh reader, this was fun. I spent an hour contouring the contouring! So much contouring! I lightly sketched in my eyebrows so they were perfectly arched, with actual sides that was the weird bit with the over-plucking — the sides were the only bits that never grew back at all. Archived from the original on November 15, Retrieved December 19, Archived from the original on December 22, Archived from the original on May 8, Archived from the original on January 14, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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