Dumb blonde

One of my favourite ever sayings comes from one of the smartest dumb blondes I wish I knew….Dolly Parton….’ Honey I aint dumb and I aint blonde’. I love her. I love all her fake, sparkling brilliance. She’s the tin foil to my magpie and ever since I was a little girl I’ve been spinning across the carpet to every homespun hillbilly ditty she ever wrote. She was the reason my mother was able to plough through the ironing pile every Sunday afternoon, while I deftly lifted one vinyl after another onto the record player to transport us both to the Tennessee mountains.

I had no idea what a Tennessee mountain was. No idea who this bitch Jolene was either, but I knew if I ever met her I would smack her chops till her teeth rattled for hurting my Dolly so much. I sang with a hearty deep south twang while my mum nodded righteously along, as if it were the most normal thing in the world for a kid from the North East of England to be sharing the sentiments of an American country singer. Thing was it didn’t matter that I didn’t know, because there was one thing I did know…Dolly was singing straight me. I believed every word she sang,  about her childhood, her family, her lovers, her heartbreak and her joy. The words were saturated with emotion, because she sang from right between those humongous bazookas…where sat a heart of gold.

As you know, I recently made the mad decision to join the twitter community. Hurrah! I thought! And I joined in with gusto, then I slowed a little and got befuddled a little and eventually a few days ago I came to a grinding halt. Exhausted with my new font of knowledge I had to have a little lie down in a darkened room. Welshbear brought tea, but to no avail. He even blew my diet by offering me a lovely choccie biscuit …and although that was seen off faster than a finger  in a piranha tank, I still couldn’t lift my mood.

Thing was, by scrolling through this buffet of tweety trivia one very loud conclusion thumped me on the head. Doh! I know nothing. I know nothing about politics or fashion or music ..the cold finger of fear inserted itself into my spinal column and shoved its way up….fuck a duck! I knew nothing about writing. There they were, lovely authors with lovely books…promoting and marketing and speaking about all manner of stuff I knew nothing about! I could never do any of that stuff. These people are writing about such clever, important things. Oh shit thought I….I am officially a dumb fucking blonde!

Being a Capricorn (Saturn’s child) I am allowed to sulk. The stars say so….so I did. And I decided that nothing I ever wrote would be interesting or clever enough for others to read…. and I defaulted to my music collection…where I always go in times of trouble to wallow peacefully without actually having to have a tantrum…which these days is far too tiring.

There she was my lovely Dolly. Waiting to sooth me with her high- pitched warbling of tales of woe. And while I lay on my bed, with the laundry basket full of heavy towels shoved against the door so the kids couldn’t  get in, a little text pinged onto my phone…

‘ I’ve just been to the marina, cant believe how much its changed’.

It was an old friend of mine, talking about our childhood and the times we spent on my Father’s boat and suddenly, a whole novel spilled out onto the duvet … and that was when the penny dropped. Don’t try and be clever when you write….It doesn’t matter what the rest of the world are doing …..be like Dolly…write what you know and write from the heart…and trust yourself because you aint dumb and you aint blonde.



Get Your Knockers out!

     Monday morning rolled over and gave me a shove and I got up to another rejection. This time it was from an Ezine that I spend many hours perusing, gazing in awe at their marvelousness. I’d given the Nanna mags a week off!  I was let down feather-lightly with a nice letter, a bit of useful feedback and a pep talk …’just keep going!’ All lovely, yet still warranting a half hour sulk, a few tears and a chocolate biscuit. To cheer myself up I opted to attend my Daughter’s school musical evening, which in the blurb boasted an evening of Song! Dance! And playing of the instruments you pay extortionate amounts for your child to blow, pluck or strum, only to spend the whole year screaming up at the bedroom ‘put that fucking thing away! My ears are bleeding!’ so I wasn’t particularly hopeful. Still, off I went in full support of my little angel.

     They tried hard, God love them all, they did. They ignored the audience, the eye rolling, the sniggers, a few snorts and one outright guffaw, and powered through. And then they had the last laugh. A student took to the stage and nearly blew my knickers off with a gorgeous rendition of ‘Nothing’ from ‘A Chorus Line’. Now, all who know me will concur, I am indeed a gay man trapped in a woman’s body, for my love of musical theatre knows no bounds. What, I ask is wrong with belting out show tunes whilst tramping round Tescos? So, I was in heaven. She was gorgeous but more importantly she whiplashed the audience into submission like Christian Grey on a brunettes butt. If any of you are not familiar with song, here’s a brief synopsis. Student joins an acting class, teacher is a dick, tells her she’s ‘nothing’, student is distraught , believes him for a bit, then gets a power surge, leaves class, joins another , becomes an actress, teacher dies, she feels ‘nothing’, all set to a jaunty melody. Point is, she shamed the audience. Our behaviour was unacceptable! Her message came across loud and clear……

Get your knockers out!

…of your life, that is.

As a writer there are so many articles to read about the importance of criticism. And sometimes the Scorpion sting of it can be harsh… but fair. My sister called me up to tell me to pull up my grammatical socks.

‘I’ve read your blog. Your grammar’s shit. Sort it out!’

‘But I write like I think’, I wailed, fast, without a filter. A rush of shite that tumbles out.  ‘Well, don’t, idiot,’ was her sage advice.

And she was right. If I want to be taken seriously as a writer, it’s a key point. My gorgeous friend JoW reads my little tales and gently sorts it all out, but with such enthusiasm and encouragement I barely feel a thing. I have friends and family who read and I tell me they love my stuff and more importantly, my tutors guide me with a firm hand. And all of these are great.

But also on this path I’ve been brave enough to say, ‘I’m writing now.’ And there they were. The snorters, the sniggerers, the eye –rollers and certainly more than one outright guffaw. These are the knockers that are filled with glee when you fail, when they learn about your rejections, when you constantly say no, not yet, nothing published. But these are the knockers with no constructive criticism, no advice to give and the ones you need to omit from your life… Because they offer ‘nothing’. It’s a hard path and rejection is an integral part of it. I love feedback, being the needy princess that I am, but this week’s learning point has come across loud and clear. I will most definitely be…getting my knockers out.


Valentines day ding dong

To be fair the ding dong didn’t happen on Valentines day, that’s tomorrow, so unless I’m Marty Mcfly that wouldn’t make any sense. Anyhoo, I digress. What does a needy princess like me do when Valentines day rolls around and all I got is a grumpy Welshbear?

Let me take you back a few weeks. There were tears, mine. Tantrums, also mine and bewildered raising of a large hairy monobrow, could be either but happened to be his, due to his failure to organise the birthday to end all birthdays.

Mine falls at the beginning of January when the post-Christmas gloom has descended, smothering the earth in misery and sucking the life from even the cheeriest of souls. so, it was a fairly hard task in the worst of circumstances for him to rustle up a birthday treat, I admit. Also the fact that this was not a ‘Special’ birthday, one with an 0 or a 5 on the end, was again I admit, a somewhat hazy indicator of my expectations. But I wanted something. a gathering at least. A litre of vodka,  a night out, something sparkly, gift wrapped  and placed lovingly on my pillow when my birthday dawned…however, the birthday Gods conspired against us and it was deemed fit that I should spend the day on a plane, two days late from our holidays having missed our previous flight and spending two days tramping around Dubai looking for sympathy….(that’s a whole different story!). but still I was hopeful. this was midweek. there was a weekend to follow….he must have arranged something for then?

I tentatively asked around..erm nope? we haven’t been asked replied friends? ooohhhhh I thought, a surprise….wrong again! Eventually I figured out that nothing was planned. …nothing at all. ‘You’ve just had a holiday,’ was his response when I complained. ‘Don’t be a spoilt cow,’ chided my good friend Fiona, always sympathetic to my neediness. ..but it’s my birthday I wailed….then I scowled…then I stropped…then I hastily rustled up a lovely couple Jo and Dave and dragged us all out for a perfect evening of cocktails and grub.

still, I brooded…..it took a couple of days before the cyclone hit. the full moon graced us with her presence and Welshbear started his manstrual cycle (moody few days involving man cave and mutterings, happens once a month, learnt to let it go) and  I let rip. it was a collision of epic proportions resulting in screaming, shouting, four days of black cloud sulking and finally a two day make- up period that frankly, at our age was exhausting and expensive…a trip to the chiropractor can cost you that way!.

But the bottom line was this. Welshbear doesn’t do birthdays. he has a very limited emotional range ,eyebrow raising, small smile with glint in eye, sigh with eye roll and about once a year a  loud outburst and possible withdrawal of tea making duties as punishment, that’s about it. So when Valentine, in all it’s loved up glory raised its ugly head last week and I started twittering on about diamonds, fancy dinners, roses et al, he took the staggeringly brave step of saying ‘shut up, woman! don’t start all that bollocks again.’

I retreated for a think…. and a good one it was. Thing is, grand gestures aren’t his thing. and probably aren’t your other half’s  either.  Some do it and do it well but others, well they show their love a bit differently. This is the man who takes care of us . He is a great step-father to my gorgeous eldest girl and wonderful daddy to our little one. He’s the one who has sat by hospital beds and cooked dinners and done school runs and cleaned up my sick when I peuked all over my sister’s bathroom after a vodka/karaoke binge. He’s the one who’s paid my bills and let me write and wiped my snot when I’ve cried over rejection letters. He’s the one who makes my tea with just the right amount of milk and offers me the first biscuit and puts fuel in my car and carries my cases at the airport. and he’s the one who lets me shout and rant and be a needy princess, then quietly gives me everything I REALLY need. So there will be no Valentine’s ding dong this year…I love you Welshbear……..and yes I have seen the email about the snazzy dinner reservation 😉



Late to the twitter party

It was another brutal start to the week. All hail the Nanna’s who graced my Monday morning doormat with another rejection letter…I swear I will die trying! But, a good  old natter with my mate Mandy ( gorgeous trolly dolly, established author , all round good egg) and I felt brighter than a set of Hollywood gnashers.

‘Its all in the marketing, doll,’ she instructed. You need a blog, get on twitter, put yourself out there. Ah yes, I replied. I am a blogger , I do blog, I’ve posted A blog, I am a blogee. Unimpressed she instructed me expand my horizons. So I set out on my little journey into the virtual world of the little white bird.

Now, to say I’m late to the party is an understatement. I’m so late to this party I’ve just stepped over a naked guy with a drawn on moustache and one eyebrow, I’m crunching over broken bottles to get to a kitchen strewn with Dorito debris in order to drink moulding milk to calm my  scorching throat, I’m desperately trying to remember the name of the bloke I’m currently hand-cuffed to , I’m ….well you get the picture. Twitter just isn’t my thang. I’ve resided quite merrily in the land of facebook but apparently that is not the place to be….if you want to be a writer….which, in case I was unclear about it , I do. In my defence, being a trolly dolly for twenty years does mean that the technical age completely bypassed me. I smiled, made tea, saved the odd life. No need for  virtual worlds.  (apart from one small deviation years ago when I got addicted to my 12 year old nephew’s tomb raider. Tackling a child to the ground for a game controller is apparently not acceptable).

So off I went, like a blind woman in a batcave. I managed to get as far as setting up an account.( @Kathyhoyle1 is my shameless plug.  ) then I was stumped. I bumbled around for a bit then went back on facebook.’ Help!’  I cried then spent half an hour waiting for someone to take pity on me.

In the meantime, I called my sister. ‘You on twitter?’ I inquired. ‘No’ was her curt response. ‘Why?’ I implored. ‘There’s nowt shitter than twitter’ she replied. Now normally I’m inclined to believe everything she says because she is my big sis so , therefore, I am genetically programmed that way. But for once I persevered down my own path of enlightenment and what do you know….

Facebook responded, well three cousins and two friends, armed with pity and bite sized instruction manuals to help this poor elderly soul.  Get followers and get following they chorused. We will help you. and so they did. Bless them all for their patience over the next 24 hours. It was carnage! half tweets, media mistakes, more questions than a university challenge quizathon. How do I delete, tweet, upload, follow? In the end a ten minute phone call from technowhizz  Dave  and tutorial from the lovely  Donna sorted it all out and I was finally up and running.

There’s a scene in the Scarlett Johansson movie ‘Lucy’ where the drug finally kicks in that allows her to use 100% of her brain instead of the usual 10% humans normally opt for. She starts to process and download masses of information at a rapid speed until finally she explodes …..I swear it was exactly like that. Holy bananas!…all that stuff…in one arena…publishers, bookstores, writing courses, blogs. I spent 40 minutes just watching Marian Keyes (my heroine) power tweet, one after the other after the other.  And I tweeted too…oh yeah, get me!

The best part? I got 18 followers…in one day…in one day I tell you! The thrill was intoxicating.  Everyone’s on twitter…literally everyone. I was the only one who wasn’t…well me and my sis! I even found my 70 year old father on there….when questioned about this devious behaviour he surreptitiously disclosed he liked it ….for the news! I am a convert. .. give it another 24 hours and swift nudge from me and my sis will be too. The only problem now is this. …..between the blogging and the tweeting and the facebook and the candy crush addiction…….how the hell am I gonna find time to write?

Non-literary writer in a literary world

So, my first blog! and I have I a confession to make. its the same confession you all made with your first blog, so I’m not gonna pretend to be a revolutionary here…but the thing is…I have no idea what I’m doing!!!

I started this writing journey four years ago when I signed up to the OU literature/creative writing degree course. I love writing. I do, but what the fuck is going on? I thought, yeah! write some stuff…make it good….people will read it…you might even get paid.. what can I say…I dream big!  turns out it doesn’t quite work like that.

I wrote some stuff. I sent it off to magazines…but damn those Nannas! they hate me. I sent some more…nope, the endings too predictable, its a bit left-field for us…we don’t like ghost stories…we don’t tackle those kinds of issues…the story on the whole was well written but too ‘nice’. what? what does any of it mean?

AHa! I thought…. and pulled my hat of arrogance firmly down over my ears. I must be too good a writer for these low brow rags. I shall enter short story competitions instead. I shall wow the literary world with my insights into the human psyche, drown them in their own tears as their hearts break with the beauty of my prose. I will win the Bridport, the Bath , The Exeter. the Writers and Artists , The Costa….

or no, I wont. not even a long list to rest my laurel on.

but I love writing. I write about everything. anything. magical, memoir, realist, romantic, you name it I write it.  so where am I going wrong? obviously its time to blame the parents. well my pops anyway. he reads all my stuff. he loves it. mostly because he features in most of it! but how can you write about shagging or drugs or mental moments if your dad reads it? well you cant. so I blamed him for a bit. he was stunting my creativity. my three year old’s need to impress him ( look what I did Daddy) was suffocating my 43 year old’s voice…… until my sister kindly pointed out the obvious…’just don’t show him you dick!’ Damn…who could I blame now?

I tried Welshbear and the kids. your all too noisy ……….I have no time………..im too busy cleaning up your shit to write!

I blamed the OU…I cant write creatively I have assignments to complete, I’m choked by Academia. I don’t know about the Brontes, shakespear, Wordsworth, I’m out of my depth. I cant write like them. just learning about them makes me doubt my own abilities even more. what a waste of time. I know I’m getting good marks, and my tutors are excellent. but its hard word…taking up too much time….stressing out my poor vodka-addled elderly brain.

Then I got around to blaming myself. I’m a crap writer, I’m too lazy, too boring , not enough original ideas. I drink too much. I’m a crap mother, partner, friend. I spend too much time writing badly instead of being wonderful and lovely and a caring, a responsible citizen who doesn’t go to the shops in her slippers.

And finally I started again. sat myself down and slapped my own hysterical face.

write from the heart. keep going. this a learning curve and you need to know all of this stuff before you can produce some really good work.  learn everything you can. sponge it up. write a blog. write more , write more then write some more. learn your craft. practice practice, practice….and one day….one day those Nannas will love me….. watch this space.