Monday, 28 January 2013

My Writing Agenda

The kids have been dispatched to school and the breakfast things shoved unceremoniously aside. I move to my desk, and consider my agenda.

Today I’m working on short stories. I have several in progress. One needs a final edit and I’m submitting it to a competition. Another needs a total review, if I have time.

My writing group is meeting next week. I also want to write 500 words on the subject of ‘A Family Meal’. These things are always harder than they sound. I don’t feel inspired. Yet I know that after a brainstorming session and a little simmering time, I'll manage to write something and it may even be decent.

Tomorrow I’m back to the hard slog that is my novel. I wrote the first draft, put it aside for six months, reread, and decided there were holes everywhere. In the past few months I have revised the plot, added, rearranged and improved scenes, worked on the character arcs and plot points. I’m confident that it’s a good story. I’m about to embark on a major edit and am striving to finish sometime in February. The self-imposed deadline is supposed to keep me motivated.

Then I’ll begin to send it out to agents and editors and hope that it attracts some interest. It’s the third novel I’ve completed but the first I have confidence in. I’m embracing the slush pile, and the possibility of rejection. But I do believe that perseverance and patience will get me there this time.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Gascon Conviviality

Gascony, in the south-west, is very different to other parts of France. La Gascogne has its own culture, language and local cuisine.

The people too are very different to Parisians or people from northern France. I see lots of similarities with the Irish. Compare:
  • Le quart d'heure gascon - punctuality means turning up 15 mins after the agreed time
  • The apéritif: any excuse for a drink... Ah sure, one more for the road! 
  • The weather (OK, that's just today!)
I play the flute in the village orchestra and we're often invited to play at local festivals but our biggest demand is from the priests of the canton. We're lured to the Sunday mass gig with the promise of an apéritif afterwards.

Sunday mass... Ah! The memory of cold churches and long sermons. The prayers may be in French, but the intonation is familiar. Today we played in Beaumarchés, a village in the hills with wonderful views of the snowy Pyrenees, and afterwards we went to the village hall for foie gras, saucisson and a glass of something warming. There's a great community spirit here - a good way to spend a Sunday.

Adishatz! *

* 'Hello' and 'Goodbye' in gascon

Friday, 18 January 2013

¿Habla espagñol?

Have you ever learned a new language as an adult?

I'm taking up Spanish. I started two weeks ago using the Michel Thomas method and I'm listening to it in the car every day for about twenty minutes. I wonder how well I'll be able to speak by the time my summer holidays roll around...

Learning languages is a something I've always been interested in. I studied French and German and live in France so I use French every day. My children are bilingual and I'm often amazed at their ability to process new vocabulary. They're starting Spanish in school now so it's interesting to see the difference in the way we learn. They're already mocking my Spanish accent, even if they only know about twenty words themselves! 

Now how to pronounce that dish? Paella!!!

I've been following Benny the Irish polyglot for a while now and I love the way he has the courage to jump in at the deep end and even post up videos of his progress. So, rather than 'fluent in 3 months'  I could call my challenge: Paella en seis meses.